In the US, companies spent $1.6 billion in 2010 on affiliate marketing. In 2022, this amount increased to $8.2 billion. As such, it’s clear that affiliate marketing is undergoing exponential growth, causing more and more commercial interest in its potential benefits. Moreover, these businesses are also investing in affiliate marketing tracking software, allowing them to check their campaigns and affiliates’ performance.
What is affiliate marketing?
Today, eight out of 10 brands are trying to reach more people and scale up their business-run affiliate marketing programs. But why is there so much interest in affiliate marketing? And what is it?
Affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy. In it, an advertiser (or brand) pays an affiliate partner (or publisher/ad network) a commission for increasing traffic and undertaking a specific task. This action can encompass anything a user might do on an advertiser’s website or landing page.
Affiliates promote a product or service to their audience through various marketing channels such as social media, email, or content marketing. When a person clicks on an affiliate link, proceeds to make a purchase, or meets a desired action, the affiliate will then earn a commission.
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
Brands choose affiliate marketing as it allows them to promote their products by leveraging the reach and influence of other websites and social media platforms. Therefore, brands can tap into a broader audience group and benefit from the trust and authority that affiliates have established among their followers.
Additionally, brands only pay affiliate commissions when an affiliate completes a sale or an action, making it a cost-effective marketing strategy with a measurable return on investment (ROI).
By using affiliate marketing, companies can increase their brand visibility and generate much-needed conversions. And by using the best affiliate marketing platforms at their disposal, they will also be able to monitor their efforts with ease.
What is affiliate marketing tracking software?
Affiliate marketing tracking software is a tool used by advertisers (brands) and affiliates (publishers) to track the performance of their affiliate marketing campaigns. The software allows advertisers to monitor the traffic and sales that affiliates generate. An affiliate marketing platform also enables affiliates to track their earnings and commissions.
An affiliate tracking solution typically works by generating unique tracking links for each affiliate. These links contain a unique code that identifies the affiliate and the specific marketing campaign they are promoting. When a user clicks on an affiliate link to make a purchase or completes an action that the brand wants them to do, the software tracks the activity and attributes the commission to the appropriate affiliate.
Tracking software can also provide real-time reporting on key metrics such as clicks, conversions, and earnings, enabling brands and affiliates to optimize their campaigns.
Today, there are many affiliate tracking software solutions available, from simple plugins to comprehensive platforms offering advanced features such as multi-channel attribution and fraud detection.
Benefits of using affiliate marketing tracking software
For advertisers and affiliates alike, there are several benefits that come from using an affiliate marketing platform:
Affiliate marketing tracking software ensures the performance of affiliate campaigns is accurately tracked so that commissions are accurately attributed to affiliates. As a marketer, you can only distribute commissions properly when you have this information.
Tracking software provides real-time reporting on key metrics such as clicks, conversions, and earnings, which enables advertisers and affiliates to optimize their campaigns for better performance.
Affiliate marketing is a cost-effective advertising strategy. This is because companies track and pay commissions only for completed actions, such as sales or leads. An affiliate marketing platform ensures that commissions are only paid for verified activities.
Advanced tracking software can detect and prevent fraudulent activities such as click fraud, fake leads, or fake sales, which helps to protect the interests of both brands and affiliates.
Tracking software can track affiliate marketing campaigns across multiple channels, such as social media, email, and content marketing, providing a comprehensive view of campaign performance.
Easy to manage
Affiliate tracking software makes it easy for brands and affiliate managers to manage their affiliate programs by providing tools for managing affiliates, tracking commissions, and generating reports.
Overall, an affiliate marketing tracking software solution allows you to streamline and optimize the affiliate marketing process, providing benefits for both brands and affiliates.
How to choose the best affiliate marketing software
With so many affiliate marketing platforms available, choosing the right one can seem like a daunting task. To help you pick the right affiliate marketing platform, here are some things to keep in mind:
Identify your tracking needs
Before you begin your search, identify which metrics your affiliate marketing program needs to track. Consider the types of data you want to assess(e.g., clicks, sales, and conversions), as well as any specific features you may require, such as multi-channel attribution or real-time reporting.
Learn about the best features
What makes affiliate marketing software unique? Talk to sales teams from different brands to understand the features of the various products available to you. Try to compare the features of two or three tracking platforms and find out which suits you best.
Also, remember to research and compare affiliate marketing tracking platforms. Look at reviews, customer feedback, and any case studies available to get an idea of the features and capabilities that these platforms offer.
Real-time tracking and reporting
Choose an affiliate marketing platform offering real-time reports on clicks and sales. As an advertiser, you will make better decisions when you can access real-time data.
These reports will help you check which marketing campaigns are performing well. If your affiliate marketing tracking platform is able to provide detailed information, your strategic planning with your affiliates will be enhanced.
Fraud detection and prevention
The ability to identify and prevent ad fraud is a crucial feature of any affiliate marketing software.
For example, Swaarm’s optimization rules enable you to discard invalid traffic and allow only high-quality traffic. Through this, you will safeguard yourself from ad fraud and protect your marketing budget from fraudsters.
Easy to migrate
If you already use affiliate marketing tracking software, you should look for an alternative that allows you to migrate data easily from that platform.
The platform’s sales team should be able to inform you about the steps you need to take to migrate from your existing platform. You should also check to see if there will be any data loss. If you do this research, you’ll know if the platform is suitable.
Read Swaarm’s case study about “How Spyke Media migrated to Swaarm without losing a single click or conversion“.
Check tracking accuracy
Ensure the platform you’re considering has a good reputation for tracking accuracy. Check for any reported tracking issues or discrepancies to ensure the software has a system to catch and resolve tracking errors.
Easy to navigate
When picking affiliate marketing software, see if the platform is easy to navigate and use. The software you choose should make it easy for you to do tasks and shouldn’t complicate things.
Look at pricing
Consider the pricing structure of each platform and if it fits within your budget. Look for hidden fees or charges that may impact the overall cost of the affiliate marketing platform.
Check if the platform integrates with the other tools and systems you use in your marketing efforts, such as your website, email marketing platform, or customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Check customer support
Look for a platform with a strong customer support team to assist you with any issues or questions that might arise. Do they offer support via email, phone, or live chat, and will that meet your requirements?
Another way to find out which company provides the best customer service is old but simple: read reviews. Platforms like Capterra offer the best comparison and review resources for software buyers.
Free trial period
Check to see if the platform offers a trial period. If so, take them up on the offer and see if it suits your needs.
If you are already using a tracking platform, then see if this competitor offers a better service. Doing so will help you decide whether to migrate or continue searching for alternative providers.
Affiliate marketing is a stream in digital marketing that is growing exponentially. Many companies are embracing affiliate marketing since it helps get results and boosts brand awareness.
Advertisers should therefore invest in an affiliate marketing platform that can accurately track their marketing campaigns‘ results, allowing them to make informed decisions using the software’s real-time reports.
By following the 11 steps outlined in this article, you can select an affiliate marketing tracking software that meets your specific needs, one that helps you track and optimize your affiliate program effectively.
Swaarm is one such performance marketing tracking platform that can scale your marketing efforts. Book a demo here!