When it comes to affiliate marketing software, you have two broad categories- software for affiliate marketers, and software for those running affiliate schemes.
Link Shortening, Click Tracking & Conversion Tracking
The first category is a suite of tools used by marketers to promote other people’s products.
These typically fall into two categories- tools designed to be used when purchasing paid traffic, and tools used for promoting other channels, such as social, email and content marketing.
When looking for a tool to use with paid traffic, your best bet is Voluum, as it contains a number of features specific for dealing with ad networks.
For other purposes, you have Linkly (which we use), ClickMeter and LinkTrackr, which are all similar. Linkly comes out on top as it has a free plan for 2000 clicks per month, and also includes features such as link cloaking, conversion tracking and UTM tags.
There’s also ClickMagick, which is targeted at individuals just starting out.
Running an Affiliate Scheme
The second category is for merchants who are hoping to run an affiliate scheme. You can use a third-party service such as ShareASale to manage a scheme, but if you’re looking for an in-house solution, you have two main categories to choose from – self hosted, and cloud hosted.
Cloud hosted solutions include Tapfiliate (which has special features for SaaS merchants) and OmniStar. There’s also TUNE (formerly HasOffers), but typically that’s geared towards enterprise customers. One issue with cloud hosted solutions is that they normally have quite significant start-up costs (you need to pay a subscription from day 1, even though it may take 6-12 months to build up a group of profitable affiliates).
Self hosted solutions include CPV Lab Pro and iDevAffiliate. iDevAffiliate, while old, is still very popular, as it is cheap and offers most of the features a merchant might need.
Both CPV Lab Pro & iDevAffiliate require a webserver, so you’ll need to factor that cost in, as well as the cost of an IT guy to install it for you. However, the long term cost is almost certain to be lower, and this may make sense for low-volume merchants.
Finding the Best Link Tracker
We maintain a list of link trackers here. It’s regularly updated, and has categories for conversion tracking, retargeting, link shortening, and self-hosted/cloud.