Affiliate software is designed to run your entire affiliate program – from top to bottom. So you can only imagine how much the affiliate marketing program you’re about to run will be depending on it.
There’s no denying that how your ecommerce company fairs on after setting up an affiliate program, for the most part, depends on the affiliate software you choose. Of course, you have dozens of software options to choose from. So how do you determine which affiliate software is best suited for your ecommerce company?
What’s Affiliate Marketing?
People rely on recommendations for the buying decisions they make. Car mechanic, Chinese food, or the latest gadget – they want to hear it from the person they trust if that’s a great purchase. That confirmation seals the deal. It’s the last thing they need to hear to squash whatever little doubt they still had.
Essentially, affiliate marketing is where you promote your products online by leveraging the power of influencers. It’s a strategic move to grow your sales and reach clients that you’ve never interacted with before.
What’s an Affiliate Program?
An affiliate program is a well-defined performance-based marketing system where a merchant pays commission to affiliates for every product or service a customer purchases through the affiliate’s link. This program has four key players, and they include the merchant or the e-commerce retailer, the affiliate, the affiliate software, and the buyer.
Affiliates programs come in different forms and shapes. So while some are designed to pay affiliates in terms of percentage, some have a fixed amount that they pay. That goes without mentioning those that scale up based on the total number of purchases people have been making through the affiliate’s link.
Many of the ecommerce companies that you know do provide affiliate programs that you can run.
Running an Affiliate Program through Affiliate Software
As a business owner running an affiliate program, you have the option of using affiliate software. Choices abound when it comes to the software you can use to run the program. It’s even possible to run multiple programs on a single affiliate marketing software account.
At a basic level, affiliate software allows you to track payout commissions and affiliate sales statistics for individuals, monitor your affiliate program, and facilitate the invoice generation process.
What qualifies one affiliate marketing software over the other?
Not all affiliate marketing software programs are fashioned from the same fabric. That’s to say, each one of them comes with its own set of features and functionalities.
However, you might want to make sure the affiliate software you’re about to choose has the following list of features:
A Simple Set up Process
An excellent choice of affiliate software should be one that takes you through fewer hoops while trying to set it up. It should be one that doesn’t require you to download a second software or plugin to make it work.
Rather, good affiliate software should come as a full-suite, with everything you’ll be using stuffed in it. It should feature an intuitive interface, without pushing you to learn HTML or any other programming language, for that matter, to understand it.
Even more important is that the program must come with all the installation instructions built in. It must feature clear instructions on how to get started or achieve something without pushing you to hire a software developer.
Supports Multiple Affiliate Programs
Many of the merchants you know don’t just sell one product or service. They have a diverse range of products or services that they’d wish to promote.
That means they’ll be looking for an affiliate marketing software that can run a series of these programs at a go. So, unless you’re sure you won’t be adding another product or service in your pipeline, you might want to consider going with an affiliate marketing software that allows you to create multiple affiliate programs.
Compatible with Mobile Devices
Not all affiliates own laptops and desktops. And even those that own one don’t always have them with them wherever they go. So you might want to consider choosing a program that works just fine on a mobile device.
You affiliates would want to check their control panel and go through their commission reports or handle any other aspect of their affiliate program using their mobile devices. The last thing you want to do is to restrict them to a laptop or desktop.
Good affiliate software won’t require you to get a dedicated server or VPS for hosting it. Ideally, it should be cloud-based, hosted on the software creator’s server. That way, you can be sure it’s at least secure and reliable.
You also don’t want to be backing up your site from time to time just in case something goes wrong or whenever you don’t make your payment on time. It also shifts the responsibility of updating, securing, and managing the software back to its creators.
Easy Integration with various payment gateways
Before you jump on any affiliate program, take a look at the payment gateway options that you have. Which one among them is supported by the program?
And after you’ve singled out which gateway option could work with the program, you want to make sure you’ll have an easy time integrating it with the system. If it’s too complicated to the point that you have to hire a web developer to help you out, consider checking out the next available option.
Should stack a full set of all the required tools
For an affiliate software program to be termed as good, it must contain all the tools both the merchant and affiliate will use to manage every key aspect of affiliate marketing. It should also be flexible enough to serve whatever purpose a user has in store for it.
It should work with your business, regardless of what it is that you do. It should not discriminate based on hosting or which CMS program you’re using. Even better, it should be able to run multiple affiliate programs, integrate with other software programs, offer back-office management, and even support email marketing.
Offers Effective Tracking not dependable on Cookies
Typically, affiliate marketing software programs offer tracking cookies that run for a certain period. These cookies are meant to track sales and award them through the affiliate referral links provided.
However, if a buyer clicks on a link and clears their cookies before completing a purchase, no credit will be awarded.
However, for a good affiliate software program, there are other ways that the software can track a sale and reward it accordingly. Examples include a flash cookie, which can still track a sale even if a buyer decides to clear their cookies.
Another tracking option that affiliate software can use to track a sale is through IP addresses. A software program that uses all these options will be working to ensure that every sale made through an affiliate link will be tracked and rewarded accordingly.
You should be thinking in terms of creating an affiliating marketing program that has the potential to grow. There should be no limit as to what length it can grow, and that’s where multi-tier marketing comes in.
With good affiliate software, there should be an option where you allow your affiliate to recruit other affiliates and continue earning from them. We’re simply talking about creating a multi-level kind of marketing.
Your goal should be to recruit as many affiliates as it’s humanly possible. But you don’t want to do the job yourself, so you assign the job to your affiliates and let them go around looking for someone they can bring on board.
Your affiliate software must have more options that an affiliate can use to promote your products or services. It must have a series of features that an affiliate could use to target even more users of your product.
The software tool must grant your affiliates the power to create ads, peel pages, create flash banners, and replicate lightboxes.
Does the affiliate program come with any SEO value? Does it, in any way, propel your ecommerce store up the search engines’ ladder? Or is it deadweight when it comes to this?
One way to tell if an affiliate program can enhance your visibility in the search engines is by making sure it facilitates the use of hashtags. Also, make sure the program has affiliate links that it provides to your marketers. And most importantly, it must be able to track your marketers’ info and use it to award your site with a higher ranking in the SERPs.
Seo-friendly Affiliate Links
Are the links provided by the program offering any SEO value? Do they utilize keywords that search engines can pick on and reward them in the SERPs?
You don’t have to over think the whole thing. A good affiliate marketing program will be quick to mention if its links are SEO-friendly. Alternatively, look at the nature of the links. Should it turn out that the links can integrate keywords, then you don’t need further explanation as to whether or not they’re SEO-friendly.
No long-term contract
Good affiliate software shouldn’t have contracts that hold you hostage. You don’t have to continue using the program even when it’s not serving its intended purpose to the expected standards.
No contract should bind you to a particular affiliate program. Should you feel like quitting it or jumping ship, the process itself should be as easy as clicking on a button, and that’s it.
Their payment system should be one that you pay as you go. You should be able to cancel it any time the program fails to meet your needs without being taken through unnecessary hoops.
Can help you with conversion
To what length does the program go to ensure that you have an easy time getting your leads to take action.
An affiliate program isn’t just concerned about driving added traffic to your site. It goes the extra mile to ensure that a good chunk of the traffic that comes in ends up as customers.
Of course, the whole idea of affiliate marketing works to ensure that the quality of traffic you direct to your site is quality enough for easy conversion.
Use Your Domain
How easy is it for you to use a customised domain name? Does the program come with any feature that facilitates the process of registering your domain? What’s the process of pointing the program to your preferred domain?
If it’s easy, then that’s another reason you should consider using that particular software. The process of setting up a new domain and even modifying the general setup and everything else should be one you can handle with zero amount of strain on your part.
The least they could do, just in case you’d wish to use a customized domain name of your choice, is to help you set it up.
Option to Translate to your Choice of Language
How many language options does the software offer? Unless all your customers are in an English speaking country, you’d want to make sure the program can be translated into a language the bulk of your customers understand.
The option to translate to different languages eliminates the restriction your affiliates are likely to have when targeting customers. In other words, they can target absolutely anyone, regardless of where they are or which language they speak.
Also important is that the process for translating the language be an easy one. It should only take you a few minutes of your time to set up.
You want to get a handle of the program before you can go ahead and invest your hard-earned cash on it. By the time you’ll be shelling out your cash for it, you want to be sure that you’d have known how to use it and that you’re not using your money to experiment on something that may turn out to be a huge disappointment.
That should be followed with an option to cancel the program should you find it unsatisfying.
Lastly, you want to make sure the cancellation process isn’t one to strain you. Just a simple click of a button and that’s it.
The Final thought
Most of the challenges ecommerce companies encounter while shopping for affiliate software is not asking the right questions before choosing one. This post touches on all the key points of what you need to know before deciding on the software to choose. For more information regarding this or help with managing your affiliate program, kindly talk to us at MediaOne marketing and let’s get the ball rolling.