— February 15, 2019
Trust in digital marketing is at an all time low. Consumers rank their trust in digital ads below that of print, tv, and radio ads. Fake news and the recent data breaches by the likes of Facebook, Marriott, British Airways, and several other brands haven’t helped and have pushed the trust needle further down the meter.
Meanwhile, affiliate marketing is booming. Rampant mistrust in digital advertising has sent consumers scurrying in search of trustworthy product reviews to help them make educated decisions on their journey to purchase. Many of these review websites are, in fact, product affiliates who have been consistently growing their share of online traffic.
In fact, 81% of eCommerce brands and 84% of digital publishers are already leveraging affiliate websites, and, in particular, product review sites, to guide buyers on their journeys. If you’re looking for a digital marketing trend to watch in 2019 then the growth of affiliate marketing is as close to a sure thing as you will find.
However, not all in the land of affiliates is upward trending revenue graphs. Issues like click attribution, ad fraud, and conversion tracking have become commonplace. And when those issues appear, software solutions follow close behind.
By 2020, US affiliate marketing spend by retailers is expected to reach $ 6.8 billion, which equates to 45% incremental growth over the previous 3 years.
What is Affiliate tracking Software?
Until recently, 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 emerging as powerful affiliates capable of driving significant traffic.
This is actually good news for affiliates, retailers, and, ultimately, the consumer too because it enables the brand and the consumer to easily connect using the medium that is most comfortable for the consumer.
However, this creates customer journeys that are difficult to track, and with 16% of online orders coming from affiliates, it creates a massive tracking and attribution overhead quickly becoming the biggest concern affiliates and retailers are facing in 2019 and beyond.
To successfully take advantage of the potential that affiliates bring, eCommerce retailers must find a reliable and affordable way to track conversions and attribute them to the correct channel. Here are the affiliate tracking tools that are most successful in helping eCommerce make sense of this attribution nightmare.
Top 7 Affiliate tracking tools
1. Post Affiliate Pro
Post Affiliate Pro is a globally recognized affiliate tracking platform that provides an end-to-end solution. Its intuitive, fast, and effective user interface delivers access to a detailed Merchant dashboard. Your affiliates enjoy an affiliate dashboard where they can manage their promotions and see their sales.
This comprehensive platform also enables the automation of affiliate programs. It has consistently received glowing reviews from its happy users for years. You can expect Post Affiliate Pro to tick all your boxes especially when compared to other solutions of a similar price.
“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 5 years.” Source: Capterra
Strengths: Advanced Features, High Visibility, Good Integration
Weaknesses: Complicated Interface, Mediocre Support, Pricey
TrackingDesk is a popular tracking platform for affiliates and media buyers providing a full management suite such as analytics, landing page rotation, call to action optimization, A/B Testing, conversion tracking, user agent targeting, geo target and campaign management. It can be deployed via cloud, SaaS or web.
A big advantage of Tracking Desk is that you can add an unlimited number of traffic sources with customizable variables to track any parameter you wish. Loyal users also name competitive pricing, professional customer support, and ease-of-use as reasons for their decision to renew their contracts with Tracking Desk.
?TrackingDesk makes it easy to see what traffic networks, sources, devices, countries, and more convert at the most profitable rates so you can scale the winners and cut the losers,” a loyal user shares. “It can be overwhelming if you’re new to tracking at such an in-depth level. Fortunately their support is very helpful.” Source: Capterra
Strengths: Great Customer Support, Great Integration, Reasonable Pricing
Cake offers a solution called Journey, which is 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.
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
Strengths: Easy to use, mobile attribution modeling, A/B testing
Weaknesses: Price, rigid reporting
One of the most popular affiliate management solutions is HasOffers. HasOffers 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. As the next-generation performance marketing platform, 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 reports with visualized data snapshots as well as advanced counter-fraud features for ad networks. In addition, you pay only for conversions, while getting unlimited clicks. This feature is very useful with 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.” Source: Capterra
Strengths: High Visibility, User-Friendly Interface, Good Integration
Weaknesses: Poor Customer Support, Paid Version Can Be Expensive
6. Affiliate Payment Automation (Tipalti)
This Tipalti offering, also known as Affiliate Payment Automation, directly integrates affiliate payments to systems such as LinkTrust, HasOffers, HitPath, and CAKE.
Tipalti powers mass payments to global affiliates and automates the entire process, from white-labeled affiliate onboarding to payment method & currency selection, global remittance, early payments, payment status communications, payment reconciliation, and tax preparation reports.
Mega-companies such as GoDaddy, MaxBounty, and GlobalWide Media already 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.” Source: Capterra
Strengths: Actionable Insights, Good Customer Support, Good Integration
Weaknesses: Lackluster Interface with Minimal Customization
In a nutshell, 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 (YouTube videos, banners, images, links, pins, etc) directly.
“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 takes some time to figure out how to get around.” Source: Capterra
Strengths: Actionable Insights, Strong Customer Support, Good Integration
Weaknesses: No Integrated Mailing Feature, Requires Technical Knowhow
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 to overcome on the road to building a viable affiliate program. Once you are able to attribute your leads to specific affiliates you can reliably measure ROI and make solid and data-driven decisions that will propel your eCommerce business forward.