E-commerce Marketing Blog

How to Select Affiliate Software for Your Ecommerce

December 18th, 2013

How to Select Affiliate Software for Your Ecommerce

Having a great affiliate marketing software is very crucial for ecommerce companies running an affiliate program. Since there are many affiliate marketing software options available today, we have created this buyers guide to go through all the aspects that ecommerce owners need to know when shopping for affiliate software. This guide will help you to determine how to choose the best affiliate software for your ecommerce company.

What is an affiliate program?

An affiliate program is performance-based marketing wherein a merchant awards affiliates commissions for every product or service that a customer buys through the affiliate’s link. There are four chief participants in this type of business: the merchant (e-retailer), the affiliate tracking software, the affiliate, and the buyer.

Affiliate programs vary. Some pay a percentage of the sale, others pay a fixed amount, while others scale up based on the number of purchases that have been made from the affiliate’s links and banners. Many affiliate programs are provided by ecommerce companies on a direct basis using affiliate software.

Running affiliate programs through affiliate software

Affiliate managers use affiliate software to run affiliate programs. Depending on the software, multiple affiliate programs may be managed using a single affiliate software account. Basically, affiliate managers use the software to track individual affiliate sales statistics and commissions, oversee the automatic generation of invoices, and monitor the affiliate programs in operation.

Features to look for in affiliate marketing software

Affiliate software programs come with various features and functionalities. Below are several features that you should look out for when choosing an affiliate software:

Easy to set up
An excellent affiliate marketing software package should initially require a simple setup process. There should be no need to download any tool or plugin for the software to work. A good program should have everything built and developed into the software and necessitates no HTML knowledge to start. In fact, the program should have a built-in feature that provides instructions on how to get started and the basics of using the software in order to enable the user to start using the program right away. All in all, there should be no need for a web developer or software for the software to work.

Unlimited affiliate programs in one installation
Often, merchants have a diverse range of products or services to promote, which makes it beneficial to have an affiliate marketing software program that allows users to add multiple affiliate programs. This is possible with a software program that lets users create numerous affiliate programs for a website and decide on what affiliate programs should go with the addition.

Compatibility with mobile devices
Affiliate programs accessible through mobile devices are appealing to countless affiliate marketers as this allows them to sign up for affiliate programs via their mobile devices. Additionally, affiliates can easily check their control panel and commission reports and take care of all aspects of their affiliate program through the mobile option.

Securely hosted
Food affiliate software should not require a dedicated server in order for it to run effectively. Ideally, it should be hosted on the affiliate software’s server to ensure security and reliability. Also, having the program hosted on the software maker’s server eliminates the need for backup, software updates and upgrades as well as management of security-related tasks.

Easy integration
An affiliate marketing software program should provide an easy means to integrate a merchant site to any payment getaway or shopping cart.

Full management control
Good affiliate marketing software should provide various types of users with the tools within the industry to ensure total management control. Ideally, an affiliate marketing software program should work with whatever purpose a user has. Whether for business, web hosts, shopping, or multi-tier purposes, the software should provide complete management control from running multiple affiliate programs to obtaining adequate support tech, integration with other software systems, e-mail marketing newsletters, to back-office management.

Effective tracking even without cookies
Affiliate marketing software programs typically provide tracking cookies for a certain period to track and award sales made through affiliate referral links. However, they are unable to guarantee credit for a sale if a buyer clicks on an affiliate link and clears the cookies. A commendable affiliate marketing software program uses different methods for tracking which affiliate user sends a sale. A flash cookie comes in handy when a user attempts to delete cookies from their browser. This is in addition to the regular cookie. If these two fail, there should be another way to track the affiliate user, such as through their IP address. What all these means is that the software ensures that the affiliates get credit for sales made through their affiliate links.

Multi-tier marketing
One way to create a successful affiliate program is by means of multiple tiers. A good affiliate marketing software program should provide multiple levels of marketing, in which affiliates recruit other affiliates that will then create additional revenue for the merchant.

Multiple creatives
For affiliates to effectively promote a product or service, they need to have access to a range of creatives instead of merely equipping them with affiliate links. There should be diverse ways to promote, especially in this type of marketing technique. Thus, an affiliate marketing software package should give users the ability to develop banner ads, flash banners, replicatation, lightboxes and page peels.

Enhanced SEO
The affiliate marketing software should also have the ability to improve Google rankings. One way for that to happen is through the option of using a hash tag URL for an affiliate link, which includes the tracking information for each affiliate user. Search engine optimization experts have advised to use the hash symbol in affiliate URLs to improve search engine rankings.

SEO-friendly affiliate links
An affiliate marketing software program should provide affiliates with SEO-friendly links that will help them to maximize their revenue. The program should allow affiliates to easily create links that will make them visible in search engine rankings.

No long-term contracts
Long-term agreements have been known to cause problems that resulted to unsatisfied clients who have no choice but to stick with a service until their contract is up. An affiliate marketing program should not require contracts set to expire for several months to a year. Rather, it should be a pay-as-you-go service that can be cancelled when necessary renewed at any time, without going through a complex process.

Increased conversion
Set up a program with an affiliate software provider that helps to increase conversion rates through added traffic to a merchant’s website from all affiliates. Most affiliates are regarded as trusted influencers and, therefore, have better potential for higher conversions.

Option to rebrand
An affiliate marketing program that offers a rebranding option can be beneficial to users and affiliates. Basically, this option allows you to rebrand and resell the product as your own and charge your customers on a periodic basis. There should also be an unbranded user guide that can be provided to clients.

Use of own domain
The affiliate marketing software should likewise provide the option to use a preferred domain. Affiliates who already have their own domains should be able to point their domains to their affiliate programs through a simple process of setting modifications. For affiliates who have yet to obtain a domain, the affiliate marketing software should be able to assist them in purchasing a domain without needing to go to another website.

Option to translate to any language
Affiliate marketers can be anyone from anywhere in the world. Merchants who use affiliate marketing software that offers language translations can get affiliates from other countries to promote their products and services for them. This type of software provides the option to translate to any language so as to make it applicable and usable anywhere in the world. The software should require an easy process for language translation, such as requiring only the modification of a file to activate language translation.

Free trial period
A free trial period is an extremely useful way for potential subscribers to get an idea on how to use the affiliate marketing program and to give them a glimpse of how effective the software is. Usually, account cancellation is done before the period is over so that the user will not be charged. Cancellation should not involve a complicated process and should not require users to pay setup and termination fees.

Phone and ticket support
Users of affiliate marketing software programs often come across technical problems that they cannot solve themselves. Having easy access to support can help iron out issues immediately and avoid downtimes and delays in implementations. An affiliate marketing software provider should offer 24 hours support through different methods including ticket system and phone appointments.

Open source code feature
With open source code feature in an affiliate marketing software program, you can have additional features installed and integration with third party applications and software. A program that uses the open source code typically provides an API to make the integration seamless.

Access to discounts
Getting discounts is an appealing idea for merchants who need an affiliate marketing software program to promote their products and services. Choose a program that extends discounts from the software provider’s vendors to users of the software.

Affiliate marketing resources
An affiliate marketing software program should come complete with the necessary tools to make the advertising process easier for affiliates. Among the tools that should be provided are templates for websites, email, WordPress, ecommerce, landing page, Joomla, Facebook, and flash sites.

Free resources for business growth
Apart from the core resources needed in affiliate marketing to make advertising a product or service easier, it is also critical for users to have access to timely resources created to help them grow their business. Resources can be in the form of videos and articles provided by marketing and affiliate managers as well as podcasts, premium affiliate e-books, an affiliate manager resource center, and scheduled webinars and online events.

Now that you know what to look for when searching for affiliate software, find the best affiliate software for your company and start increasing traffic, leads, and sales for your company.

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