When you think about marketing strategies for your online business, what comes to mind? Social media marketing, paid ads, and email marketing are some of the most popular. But have you considered affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is the process of partnering with bloggers, publishers, or influencers who promote your products to their own audience. They earn commission for any product they sell while you gain access to new potential customers.
Growing in popularity year over year, affiliate marketing is responsible for 16% of online sales in the US. What’s more, it’s a low-risk, low-effort way to grow revenue. It’s even easier to manage with affiliate marketing software. Ahead, browse software options for affiliate programs to find the right tool for your business.
What is affiliate marketing software?
Affiliate marketing software (or affiliate management software) is a type of marketing tool brands use to support their affiliate marketing programs and streamline business operations. Depending on the software, it can track sale referral methods (such as coupon code or affiliate links), earnings by affiliate marketer, affiliate commission rates, and payments. You can also use it to market to, recruit, and manage affiliates.
The best affiliate software integrates with other ecommerce platforms such as Shopify. Software costs can vary, but data shows fees can range from $25 to $750 per month.
To get in on the action and create your own affiliate marketing program, you need a tool to create custom links, track commission, and pay affiliates. Running your affiliate program using affiliate management software can free up time to spend on higher impact tasks.
Now that you understand the basics of affiliate marketing, dig into the criteria to look for when choosing new software to manage your affiliate program, plus eight recommendations to get the ball rolling.
The best affiliate marketing software for brands
Now that we know what to look for when evaluating different options, let’s take a look at seven popular affiliate marketing software you can use to streamline your business’s referral program. For each affiliate marketing tool option, learn its top features (like coupon codes and advanced analytics), as well as cost and user rating.
Affiliatly is an affiliate marketing tool that helps you manage partners from one dashboard. Able to integrate with your Shopify store or other platform, the software tracks sales happening on your website and connects them to the affiliate that diverted them there. Track affiliate sales by email, SKU, coupon code, link, and more.
Some of Affiliatly’s best features include:
- Affiliate portal. Partners can log in to their own dashboard to create custom affiliate links, see previous sales, and track commission payouts.
- Custom commission settings. Reward your top affiliates with generous commission or offer different payouts for different products. For example, you might tie your commission percentage to the amount of profit you make from an item: An item with a 50% profit margin might earn an affiliate a 10% commission, but one with a 20% profit margin might only earn 5%. You can even offer store credit or gift cards to convince affiliates to purchase their own products from their payout.
- Checkout affiliate pop-up. For many brands, finding new partnership opportunities is the hardest part of running a referral program. There’s no better affiliate than an existing customer who knows your products inside out. Use Affiliatly to add a pop-up box to your Shopify checkout page that invites new customers to join the referral program.
G2 rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars.
Pricing: Starts at $16 per month, including a 90-day trial.
Everflow is a partner marketing program that tracks sales data from various sources—including referrals and affiliates. Designed for established or scaling online stores, Everflow’s best features include:
- Coupon code tracking. Instead of having affiliate partners divert traffic through custom links, create coupon codes for their audience. Not only is it an incentive for them to buy, but Everflow tracks coupon code usage and attributes sales to the affiliate marketer who shared it.
- Click-to-conversion reporting. Prevent affiliate fraud and link misuse with this feature. You’ll get an alert when engagements look suspicious.
- QR codes. Working with affiliates who have influence in a particular area? Help them make sales in-person with trackable QR codes. Each affiliate can print their own code and get credit when people purchase through it, extending the reach of your affiliate marketing program.
G2 rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars.
Pricing: From $750 per month.
Refersion is another tool to consider when looking for support with your affiliate marketing campaigns. It provides real-time insight into who your affiliates are (and how much revenue they generate for your business), alongside a built-in post-purchase marketing channel that invites customers to become an affiliate.
Used by successful online businesses like Magic Spoon and Pura Vida Bracelets, Refersion’s affiliate marketing software offers:
- Access to the affiliate marketplace. Find more than 5,000 qualified influencers, content creators, bloggers, and influencers through the Refersion marketplace. Invite them to join your affiliate program in just a few clicks.
- Email marketing. Stay in touch with your affiliates by automatically emailing them when their application to join the program is approved, when they make a sale, or when they have a payment processed. Use custom broadcasts to inform them of new products and discounts.
- Pay affiliates. Send bulk payments to affiliates at month’s end with Refersion’s PayPal integration. Or, if you prefer to offer gift cards as an incentive for customers to refer their friends, send unique codes via email to qualifying affiliates.
G2 rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Pricing: From $99 per month (if paid annually). Offers 14-day free trial.
Tapfiliate is an affiliate tracking software that integrates with Shopify. Ecommerce brands use this affiliate marketing tool to track commission earned by referring customers, affiliates, or influencers they’re partnering with.
Some of Tapfiliate’s most popular features include:
- Brand asset manager. Make it easier for affiliates to promote products with premade brand assets. Upload logos, social media templates, and HTML banners so any marketing they do on behalf of your business stays on brand.
- Top affiliate bonuses. Reward top affiliates by issuing bonuses once they reach a certain number of referred customers.
- Multi-language support. Looking to expand your audience and reach international customers? Lean on affiliates with audiences in those regions. Tapfiliate supports six languages, including French, Spanish, and German.
G2 rating: 3.6 out of 5 stars.
Pricing: From $89 per month. Free 14-day trial available.
5. Post Affiliate Pro
Post Affiliate Pro is an affiliate marketing platform that handles every aspect of your program—from inviting influencers to join to monitoring results and sending commission payouts.
Ecommerce brands use Post Affiliate Pro for:
- Site replication. Create custom landing pages for each affiliate’s audience. It’s easier to influence a sale if someone a new customer knows, likes, and trusts is visible on the product page.
- Top URL reporting. Exclude all non-affiliate sales to find your top-performing products. Share this information with your affiliates, especially new ones—they might find it easier to earn their first commission by promoting bestsellers.
- Advanced payment integrations. Many affiliate programs allow brands to only pay commission via PayPal. Post Affiliate Pro integrates with tools like ReCharge, WorldPay, and Stripe to pay affiliates however they prefer.
G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Pricing: From $129 per month. Free trial available.
LeadDyno is a Shopify app designed for software as a service (SaaS) and ecommerce businesses to run their own affiliate program. Use its dashboard to recruit and engage affiliates. Remember: The more products they sell, the more revenue your business generates through affiliate marketing.
As part of the software, LeadDyno customers get:
- Branded dashboard. Add your brand name, logo, and custom colors to the affiliate dashboard and attach it to your online store.
- Affiliate invitation form. Collect key information about potential affiliates—including their audience size, social media links, and follower count—with an onboarding form. Only accept those who meet your criteria.
- Mobile app. Affiliates can check their reports on the go with LeadDyno’s mobile app. This is especially useful if their audience is offline.
G2 rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars.
Pricing: From $49 per month. Free 30-day trial available.
Working with little to no software budget but need a tool to manage your affiliate marketing efforts? Designed for small business founders with limited technical knowledge, UpPromote’s affiliate software solution has:
- Real-time tracking. Instantly see which affiliates are driving sales with real-time reporting. No more hanging around, waiting to see whether the people they referred end up purchasing.
- Professional email templates. Get your affiliate program up and running with premade templates to email new affiliates, confirm payouts, and motivate partners to continue promoting your products.
- Affiliate marketplace. Search for influencers in your industry through the UpPromote marketplace. It’s a great way for beginners, including new brands without a loyal customer base, to start their first affiliate program.
G2 rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Pricing: Free plan available. Plans start at $29.99 per month.
Find influencers to drive sales with Shopify Collabs
Shopify Collabs makes it easy to partner with creators, promote your products, reach new customers, grow your sales, and track affiliate campaign performance all from Shopify admin.
Choosing affiliate marketing software: 8 considerations
- Online store compatibility
- Affiliate breakdown
- Commission structure flexibility
- Cookie window options
- Payout options
- Fraud detection
- Built-in CRM
As you get ready to build your affiliate program and attract affiliate partners, You should know what to look for in an affiliate marketing tool. Here’s a simple checklist of things to consider when choosing software to support your affiliate marketing efforts.
1. Online store compatibility
When choosing affiliate marketing software, research its compatibility with popular ecommerce platforms such as Shopify. Having your business tools integrated provides transparency across your brand so there is a full picture of how much revenue your affiliates are generating for your business. Access to such information, especially if given the option to track in real-time, can help inform your affiliate marketing decisions.
2. Affiliate breakdown
Any successful affiliate marketing program has clear insight into who its top affiliate partners are. Choose an affiliate management tool that shows relevant metrics for each affiliate you’re working with—including how many sales and clicks they’ve generated and the purchase conversion rate of their traffic. (Benchmark this against the average conversion rate for affiliate marketing , which is 0.5% to 1%.)
3. Commission structure flexibility
There are many ways to reward affiliates for diverting customers your way. These include coupon codes, cash bonuses, and percentage commissions. Choose affiliate software that offers the flexibility to incorporate different commission structures into your affiliate program, including pay per sale, pay per action, pay per click, and pay per lead.
4. Cookie window options
What’s the timeframe between an affiliate’s audience visiting your site and making a purchase? High ticket items usually have a longer purchase process, whereas low-cost, trending products can convert to sales in one session. Choose affiliate tracking software that considers your average sales cycle and allows custom cookie window attribution—or the period of time that a customer must take action before the affiliate’s commission expires.
5. Payout options
To make things easier and streamline the process, look for affiliate software that syncs with your business bank account or PayPal. Ideally, you’ll want to pay affiliates within just a few clicks—no spreadsheets or manual payments necessary.
6. Fraud detection
Unfortunately, some marketers may try to scam the brands they partner with by sending spam traffic or making fake orders that qualify for commission. Double check that your affiliate software has fraud detection and reliable customer support should this happen.
7. Built-in CRM
Sending seasonal promotions, marketing messaging, and new product launch information helps affiliates create their own campaigns. Choose a tool that includes built-in customer relationship management (CRM) and seamlessly integrates email marketing and direct messaging so there’s one less tool to keep track of in your techstack.
Affiliate platforms often use automations to send affiliate invitations, onboard new influencers, and pay out commission without human intervention. By having your affiliate marketing program run on autopilot, you can divert resources to other areas of your affiliate market business and help you operate more efficiently.
Which affiliate marketing tools are in your techstack?
When starting an affiliate program for your business, there are tons of affiliate software options to choose from. Looking for even more options? The Shopify App Store is home to several affiliate marketing tools—many of which come with free trials. Take one for a test drive and see which best suits your needs.
Affiliate marketing software FAQ
What software do I need for affiliate marketing?
To set up an affiliate program and manage affiliate partners, you need a tool designed to help you manage all the moving parts. Affiliate software can help you track sales attributed to affiliate campaigns, integrate with your store and other tools to streamline your processes, and recruit and manage affiliates.
Which software is best for affiliate marketing?
The affiliate software that’s best for your affiliate marketing program is the one that matches your budget and ecommerce business goals. Some popular tools to help manage affiliates and track marketing campaigns are:
5. Post Affiliate Pro
What does affiliate marketing software do?
Affiliate marketing allows you to partner with bloggers, publishers, and influencers that promote your products to their audiences in exchange for a commission on sales. Affiliate marketing software can help you manage your own affiliate program, create custom affiliate links, track commissions, and pay affiliates.
How do you automate affiliate marketing?
You can use affiliate marketing software to automate much of the processes involved in creating and managing an affiliate program. The best affiliate software will integrate with banking tools to automate affiliate payments, work in tandem with email marketing campaigns and analytics tools, and perform other marketing automation tasks to work seamlessly with your ecommerce platform.