The affiliate marketing industry is incredibly competitive.
There’s a good reason why.
The size of the global digital economy is worth $12 trillion and heading towards double that amount by 2023, according to the latest study by Huawei.
That’s about 30% of global GDP or the major shift in wealth creation the history ever experienced.
What’s more important; affiliate marketing plays a key role in pretty much every e-commerce aspect of it. In fact, 81% of brands have by now adopted it.
In other words, it’s the right place to be, but that usually means something else too.
As an affiliate marketer today, you aren’t just competing against other solopreneurs and affiliate marketers; you are competing against multi-million dollar publishers and sophisticated marketing companies.
To win this battle, you need a robust set of marketing tools to succeed and join the ranks of the vital few.
Here’s what’s been getting us results.
1. The Essentials: Domain, Website and Web Hosting Tools
Before you can even get an affiliate marketing campaign running, you need to buy a domain and build a website.
Fortunately, building a website today is easier than ever. In fact, you can create a highly customized website without ever touching a line of code.
These are the essential tools you’ll need to get your affiliate marketing site up and running:
We recommend Namecheap for two reasons:
- Free WHOIS privacy: WHOIS is a public record of the registrant for any domain name. As an affiliate marketer, you might want to keep this information private. Namecheap offers WHOIS privacy for free with every domain.
- Easy to use: Unlike GoDaddy’s cumbersome interface, Namecheap is a breeze to use, right from registering a domain to managing it. Plus, since the service is smaller, you’ll also get better customer support.
Traffic Planet Hosting is our recommended web hosting service. This is the service that helped us increase our site loading speed by 22 points.
Traffic Planet currently offers three plans:
- Business ($24.99/monthly)
- Professional ($49.99/monthly)
- Elite ($99.00/monthly)
We use WordPress to build all our blogs. This blogging software/content management system is used by one third (33.3%) of all the websites on planet Earth. The next biggest competitor – Joomla – powers just 2.9% of all websites.
Many of the most popular websites run on WordPress, including the NYTimes blogs, CNN, TechCrunch and this site itself.
Best of all, WordPress is completely free and takes less than 5-minutes to install.
It’s fast, easy to use and quite seamless so it saves you a lot of time doing your job. Moreover, it offers a wide-ranging set of elements that simply drag and drop and are easy to customize.
We use Elementor Pro version on all our websites and is one of the best investments we’ve made so far.
Recently, we reviewed the top 5 WordPress builders and Elementor not only won but at starting price of $49/monthly turned out to be the best deal out there.
2. Email Marketing: Capturing Leads and Sending Emails
Email marketing is the “secret sauce” of affiliate marketing success.
If you have a strong email list, you can send them any offer, at any time, and as many times as you want to. You control the relationship with your email subscribers, not Google or Facebook.
In fact email has 3.7 billion users worldwide.
This is the reason why email marketing consistently ranks as the best digital marketing channel in terms of both ROI ($44 for ever $1 spent) and conversion rates.
Here are some tools you will need to create your email list:
If you purchase a Thrive Themes membership, you get Thrive Leads for free. Since it also plays nice with other Thrive Themes plugins, you’ll have an easy time capturing emails.
Unlike some of its competitors, GetResponse won’t penalize you for sending affiliate offers. You’ll also have a higher deliverability rate for emails with affiliate offers in them (provided it’s not outright spam).
Prices depend on the list size with the cheapest package starting at $15/month for 1,000 subscribers.
3. Market Research
“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”
Said one of the grandfathers of statistical research, mathematical physicist W. E. Demings.
Data means an edge. And market research is often the actual difference between successful and unsuccessful affiliates.
It’s not enough to build a website; you also need to build it in the right niche, spot opportunities and out-market your competitors.
Here are some tools to help you research your market:
Ahrefs boasts arguably the most comprehensive link index of all search engine marketing tools. Use it to gauge the strength of your competition, spot link opportunities and analyze keywords with the best Keyword Analyzer on the market today.
The new content explorer also makes it easy to brainstorm content ideas, and site suite will help you pinpoint your website’s weaknesses.
At a starting price of $99/month, it isn’t cheap but it is also a necessity for any serious affiliate.
WhatRunsWhere is a competitive intelligence tool which provides insight into what advertisers are doing online. Use it to find out where, how and what kind of ads your competitors are running.
The service is available in three price points depending on which mediums you want information in (for example, mobile-only ads vs mobile and pc ads combined)
- PC + Mobile ($399/month)
- PC only ($299/month)
4. Buying Traffic
While getting free, organic traffic is the holy grail of affiliate marketing, at some point in your campaign, you’ll want to experiment with paid traffic.
Running a well-optimized ad campaign, however, often requires tons of testing and investment. To make your job easier, here are two tools you should use:
Use it to A/B test ad variants, target different audiences, and analyze performance to improve ROI and reduce spending. The service is available in three different plans:
- Base ($49/monthly)
- Premium ($149/monthly)
- Elite ($299/monthly)
Features such as creating full-featured ad campaigns, bulk editing, data-driven insights, A/B testing and custom performance reports make this a powerful tool to improve your ROI.
Prices start at $199/month for affiliate marketers with up to $15k in ad spending.
5. Tracking and Converting
Tracking the performance of your campaigns is the final ingredient in the affiliate marketing cookbook. Without strong tracking, you can’t determine which channels are performing, which are not.
The result is a poorly optimized campaign that leaks money.
Obviously, Google Analytics is the monster in this space. Here are two other important tools to help you with tracking your visitors:
Also a great tool for making sure that your networks aren’t scrubbing your commissions.
ClickMeter is free for 1,000 links. Paid plans start at $29/month for up to 25,000 clicks.
Use it to manage all your affiliate links and send your visitors to highly targeted offers (such as sending a UK based visitor to Amazon.co.uk and other traffic to Amazon USA).
Genius Link starts at $9/month for up to 5,000 clicks.
6. Content Ideas and Creation
Content is the bread and butter of affiliate marketing. Creating quality content is what sets you apart. As Sturgeon’s law says; 90% of everything is crap.
Moreover, there is a direct link between how much quality content you can get out and the traffic you get. In other words, more content = more traffic.
To get there, however, you need quality, quantity, and some smart automation.
These tools will make it happen for you.
It’s a fantastic tool to find trending content and content ideas on social media. It’s a great fit for Influencer marketing and PR outreach as it allows you to quickly find relevant people to reach out to.
Pro version starts at $99 per month, which makes it a bit hard to justify over Ahrefs but if you’re serious about getting great content out, it should give you the ROI.
The cools starts at helping you make content more readable and finding duplicate content as you write. This basically includes Hemingway app and Duplichecker in one package.
You can use it free for basic grammar check with pro version starting at $19.98 or $11.66 if you buy an annual license.
Canva makes it easy to create beautiful visuals, charts and graphics if you don’t want to hire a designer. It’s free with premium version starting at $12.95.
Experienced affiliate marketers know the headlines make 80% of the sale.
There’s a famous saying from Gene Schwartz that the purpose of the headline is to make you read the first sentence and purpose of the first sentence is to make you read the second sentence.
After reading a couple of sentences, you’re hooked.
So CoSchedule is a content calendar tool. It also has a headline analyzer. You can start using it free or at $20 with a starter plan.
If you don’t fancy using CoSchedule for other features, go ahead with an analyzer from Advanced Marketing Institute that’s free and works like magic.
Over to You
Affiliate marketing is only going to become more competitive in the near future.
While it is still possible to run a successful campaign manually, you’ll increase the scale and speed of your success dramatically by taking advantage of professional affiliate marketing tools.
Use the above tools to take your affiliate marketing campaign from zero to a hundred in record time.