81% of eCommerce brands and 84% of digital publishers are leveraging affiliate websites to guide buyers on their journeys[*].
Affiliate marketing has become a cornerstone of any eCommerce digital marketing strategy
However, not everything is rainbows and sunshine in the land of affiliates.
US affiliate marketing spending is expected to top 8.2 billion dollars by 2022.
What Is Affiliate Tracking Software?
Affiliate tracking software is a tool that helps brands and affiliate marketers accurately track and manage affiliate marketing campaigns.
In the past, most affiliates operated a simple product review website with informative articles and affiliate links. However, YouTube vloggers, Instagram influencers, podcasters, and OTT video producers are becoming powerful affiliates capable of driving significant traffic from several sources.
This is good news for affiliates, retailers, and, ultimately, the consumer, too, because it enables brands and consumers to connect on multiple platforms, including video and social media sites where consumers spend hours a day.
There is a drawback; however— it makes the visitor journey all but impossible to track. With 16% of online orders coming from affiliates, it creates a massive tracking and attribution issue that is quickly becoming the most significant concern affiliates and retailers face in 2021 and beyond.
To successfully take advantage of affiliate marketing, eCommerce retailers need a reliable and affordable way to track conversions and attribute them to the correct channel.
Here are the affiliate tracking tools most successful in helping eCommerce make sense of this attribution nightmare.
Top 10 Affiliate Tracking Tools
1. Post Affiliate Pro
Post Affiliate Pro is a globally recognized, end-to-end affiliate tracking platform. It’s intuitive, fast, and delivers access to a detailed Merchant dashboard where affiliates can manage their promotions and see their sales.
This comprehensive platform also powers affiliate marketing automation. It has consistently received glowing reviews from its happy users. You can expect Post Affiliate Pro to tick all your boxes, especially compared to other solutions at a similar cost.
“At first I was pleased to find a flat monthly fee, so I signed up for the free trial,” a client explains.
“My setup experience was positive, but it was their customer support that really turned me into a fan. The product quality combined with the affordable pricing and exceptional service is the reason I have been a loyal customer for nearly five years.”
Strengths: Advanced Features, High Visibility, Good Integration
Weaknesses: Complicated Interface, Mediocre Support, Pricey
AnyTrack.io combines ease of use and tracking complexity all in a single line of code. Integrations with Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel are differentiators not currently seen in other platforms.
This platform currently features over 50 integrations with affiliate networks and ad networks. Their approach focuses on continuous development, and their road map shows a commitment to adding more integrations and features at a fast pace.
“AnyTrack solution has been such a game-changer for us. Whereas there are technical limitations with Google tracking offline conversions, AnyTrack has solved them with a beautiful and eloquent solution, that was super easy to implement and has already, over just the last few months been paying off significantly for us.”
Weaknesses: Basic reporting (Although made up for by how well data is integrated into Google Analytics)
CAKE offers several tools, including an affiliate marketing software built to track all your performance channels and provide real-time data. It would appear that the team behind Cake is very aware of the attribution kerfuffle eCommerce is dealing with.
They offer various attribution models, including ones based on influencer affiliates and models that provide different weight to different channels in the buyer journey. Their Smart Insights dashboard offers real-time insights into campaign performance as well as alerts.
Here’s what one of their users had to say: “Cake, in my opinion, is the most user-friendly panel I’ve used in the last three years since entering the industry. Navigation and Reports are easy to read and thorough in reporting what information is necessary for me to do my job accurately.”
“My advertisers appreciate accurate billings and my affiliates appreciate accurate payments. I like being able to see specifically what bills I have to pay for each billing cycle with just a click of the mouse button”. – Tracie J, Accounting Manager
Weaknesses: Price, rigid reporting
One of the most popular affiliate management solutions is Tune, previously called HasOffers. It can track all of your performance channels and make sense of the potential attribution mess. It offers real-time tracking, like CAKE, and cross-device attribution.
“With HasOffers, we are able to effectively manage all of our mobile campaigns—from targeting specific devices to operating systems and geographies. The powerful mobile reporting gives us the ability to truly understand our users”. – Matthias Lesch, Tab Gmbh
Strengths: Reliability, built-in fraud prevention, online training, professional services
Weaknesses: Price, user experience, and usability
Offerslook aims to make managing ad networks easy and cost-effective with unlimited clicks, performance-based payments, and 50% savings. Offerslook enables users to customize a platform with their own brand, run offers, manage publishers, generate invoices, and so on.
The Offerslook solution provides real-time data via visual reports and advanced counter-fraud features for ad networks. Also, you pay only for conversions, while getting unlimited clicks. This is ideal for scalability and makes Offerslook suitable for companies of all sizes.
A senior affiliate manager says: “We have been using Offerslook for a long time and it’s a great product with a great support team. It has an easy-to-use interface and good functions such as Offer start/pause automation (that saves me the trouble of waking up at midnight to pause an offer), and setting up a team in the system.”
Strengths: High visibility, user-friendly interface, good integration
Weaknesses: Poor customer support, the paid version can be expensive.
6. Affiliate Payment Automation (Tipalti)
Tipalti, previously called Affiliate Payment Automation, directly integrates affiliate payments to systems such as LinkTrust, Tune, HitPath, and CAKE.
Tipalti powers mass payments to global affiliates and automates the entire process, from white-labeled affiliate onboarding to payment method and currency selection, global remittance, early payments, payment status communications, payment reconciliation, and tax preparation reports.
Mega-companies such as Roku, GoDaddy, Twitch, and Twitter use Tipalti for their affiliate payment and tracking operations.
“Our researchers love the lower fees compared to just PayPal payments and the variety of money transfer choices,” a VP Product says. “It’s dependable and our researchers get paid in a dependable manner. The ability to capture payment details and tax forms without the headache of PCI compliance has been a big help for us.”
Strengths: Actionable insights, good customer support, good integration
Weaknesses: Lackluster interface with minimal customization
Tapfiliate is cloud-based affiliate management software. It enables you to create, track and optimize your own affiliate programs. It offers unique social media integration for enhanced exposure, where affiliates can share or embed your branded content, and provides automation for tracking and management.
“I was new to using affiliate tracking software, but the support people at Tapfiliate were an unbelievable breath of fresh air,” a user shares. “There is a learning curve to find the right navigation to do what I wanted to do. There are navigations within navigations that take some time to figure out how to get around.”
Strengths: Automation features, automatic fraud detection, easy to use
Weaknesses: Slight learning curve, no newsletter feature
One of the things I really like about Refersion is their homepage. They do away with the fluff and their main “hero” image is the actual dashboard. This demonstrates confidence and an understanding of their audience’s needs. They even scroll through different features, so you can see it in action.
Refersion is competitively priced, and starts at $89 a month, which includes up to 130 affiliate orders a month and all the basics you need to get your affiliate program off the ground. However, Refersion lacks pricing tiers between their basic “Professional” package and their “Enterprise” package.
Finally, Refersion offers all the integrations you would expect to eCommerce platforms and payment solutions. Most importantly, their users are happy with over 650 reviews on Shopify and an average score of 4.7/5.
Here’s what one happy user had to say:
“So far this app has been absolutely everything I need it to be, and is very easy to figure out. The couple times I have had to email support it has been handled with haste (thanks Emma!) and TOP TIER customer support tactics” (Shopify Apps).
Strengths: Transparent pricing, powerful dashboard, responsive customer service
Weaknesses: Interface has a learning curve, integrations are confusing
As one of the industry elders, iDevAffiliate knows what their users want and how to deliver it at a low cost. In fact, pricing starts at $39 a month and is generous with unlimited affiliates, commissions, traffic, and 28 language packs.
They offer a wide array of integrations to eCommerce platforms, billing, and marketing automation solutions. Platform plugins are available as well.
The solution itself is also highly customizable, making it a good fit for agencies looking for a low price white-labeled solution. However, like most platform solutions, it’s not that easy to use. If you’re reasonably techy and looking for a basic solution to customize on your own, iDevAffiliate could be right for you.
Strengths: Customizable, white-label options, affordable
Weaknesses: Can be challenging to use, the lower package doesn’t offer social media sharing
Like Refersion, Partnerize shows you the dashboard right on their homepage. On the other hand, they don’t provide a free trial, so this is all you will get. Partnerize isn’t new to the affiliate marketing game and has been around since 2010, which has given them a lot of time to differentiate themselves from the market.
Partnerize is unique in its focus on larger brands, and brands that use Partnerize enjoy a partner management platform that boasts AI capabilities.
According to Partnerize, they can predict future results of affiliate programs using their artificial intelligence abilities. As is the case with all AI, this has the potential of being a truly remarkable selling point if it works on a consistent basis. If you have medium to large-sized marketing operations, Partnerize could be a good fit.
Strengths: Automation features, allows you to see all data in one place, scalable
Weaknesses: Can be difficult to use, expensive for some users
Solving The Affiliate Attribution Headache
While there are other challenges to building a scalable affiliate program like click fraud, brand integrity, and more, getting over the attribution speed bump is probably the most important challenge on the road to building a successful affiliate program.
The tools above will help you attribute your leads to specific affiliates and manage the process so you can measure ROI and make data-driven decisions to propel your eCommerce business forward.