Building anything properly requires the right tools.
And that’s as true of your affiliate marketing business as it is anything else.
Part of the reason we’ve been so successful in building and selling affiliate sites is that we employ the right tools at the right time.
We use them to scale up our business and improve our efficiency.
So yes, you can manage without many, if not all, of the affiliate marketing tools or WordPress plugins featured here.
But if you want to be successful you’ll have to invest at least a little in your affiliate marketing business.
Let’s take a look at the tools that might benefit you the most.
Before you can get an affiliate marketing campaign up and running you need to build a website first.
And the first stage in building a website is finding the best web hosting company you can afford.
Using shitty, low-cost web hosting is no longer an option because speed is now a ranking factor in Google.
Most blog posts on this topic include a recommendation for Bluehost.
That’s probably because they get paid $65 per referral.
And there’s nothing wrong with them doing that.
SiteGround doesn’t pay out as much but we still happily recommend them, simply because we think they’re a great choice for new affiliate marketers.
Their WordPress hosting plans start at just $3.95 per month, and you get a lot for your money, including SSD hardware, PHP 7 support and even a free SSL certificate.
P.S. We’re not implying there’s anything wrong with Bluehost – we just prefer SiteGround.
Once you start getting into the 100,000-unique-visitors-per-month territory it’s time to look at cloud hosting.
Your existing host will probably suggest you move when that happens– but that’s a sign of success in our book.
Cloudways is exactly where we’d send you because you can select from a range of fast cloud hosting providers, you only pay for the resources you use, and you also connect to the Cloudways CDN.
So yeah, Cloudways is awesome and plans start at just $10/month.
Kinsta is the web host that powers the Authority Hacker site, and any of our other big sites.
We chose them because they’re the premium web host, using only Google cloud servers for blistering speed and reliability.
For $30 per month (1 site) you get
- Fast hosting
- Exceptional customer support
- Free KeyCDN
- Daily backups
- Weekly WP database optimization
- Malware removal
- Free SSL certificates
Kinsta is a rarity in the world of web hosting – it’s really, really difficult to find anyone with a bad word to say about them.
Oh and they also have an excellent affiliate program.
Page Builders & LP Builders
Being asked to put together a website that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing is enough to strike fear into the hearts of most affiliates.
But building a website has never been easier than it is today, even for complete technophobes.
And that’s coming from somebody who coded his first website in Notepad.
Yes, the text editor.
These days even a newbie can go from zero to completed website in a single day.
But the key to that is choosing a great page builder for WordPress.
Here are our favorites.
Elementor is – in our opinion – the best content builder for WordPress if you want to create professional-looking websites and blog posts with the minimum of fuss.
Elementor is fast, easy to use, and you create your site with a drag-and-drop interface.
We use Elementor Pro on all our websites, and it really is one of the best investments we’ve ever made.
Recently, we reviewed the top 5 WordPress builders and Elementor not only took first place but at a starting price of $49/month it also turned out to be the best deal out there.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Elementor, then Thrive Architect might be just what you’re looking for.
At face value, both of these WordPress page builders look almost identical.
But there’s a key and subtle difference – Thrive Architect is aimed more at pure marketers than beginner affiliate marketers.
You can use Thrive to build affiliate sites, but you just might find it a tiny bit “top-heavy” for that.
But if you’re a serious digital marketer then Thrive Architect is pretty much made for you.
If I was to say to you that “….content is king” I’d understand your urge to punch me in the kidneys until I pass out.
But it’s the truth.
You need to ensure that the words on your page aren’t just engaging your human visitors, but are also feeding Google’s bots exactly what they expect to find.
Here’s what we use.
Grammarly is a tool that protects you from using terrible grammar. And also frum teribel speling.
It comes in two flavors: Free and Pro.
Both versions come with an extension for Chrome, so you can check your grammar without ever leaving Google Docs.
The Pro version also comes with an advanced plagiarism checker, so you effectively get the features of the Hemingway app and DupliChecker in one very affordable package.
Grammarly Pro packages start at $29.98/month, but you can get it for as little as $11.66 if you sign up for an annual plan.
Basically, Grammarly is a free affiliate marketing tool every affiliate marketer should use.
If you’re a regular visitor to the site you’ll know how much love we have for Surfer SEO.
Surfer SEO analyses your competitor’s pages down to the tiniest detail and then gives you a blueprint for improving your rankings.
We’ve tested this and it works, really, really well.
So we’d suggest that you make this tool part of your overall SEO strategy, both for affiliate marketers and pretty much anyone involved in the digital marketing industry.
We go over exactly how it works in our review of Surfer SEO – if you want to nerd out for a while.
The latest addition to the tool is the ‘Content Editor’, which plugs into Google docs, so you can optimize as you write.
This can be a game-changer for your SEO if you let it. It’s one of those affiliate marketing tools that you use and then wonder how you ever managed without it.
The time for debate is over – speed is now a ranking factor.
So if you want to be able to compete with your big gun competitors, your sites need to load in under 3 seconds.
The good news is that you don’t need to be some kind of web-coding genius to make that happen.
WP Rocket is a premium site optimization and caching plugin for WordPress.
So you pay $49 per site, per year, to improve your overall site speed.
But it’s worth the price because WP Rocket is far more than just a caching plugin.
It does tons of other neat stuff like integrates with your CDN, optimizes your WP databases, and much more – we cover each feature in our detailed review of WP Rocket.
And it does most of this straight out of the box.
NitroPack is a site optimization and caching service and not just another caching plugin.
The beauty of using NitroPack is you won’t need to remember which features you want to use because that’s taken care of in the background by the NitroPack team.
You do have to install a plugin, but you won’t have to go through page after page of settings – you just set it and then forget it.
So for as little as $19/month you can give your site’s ‘PageSpeed’ score a pretty substantial boost.
If email marketing tools have one intrinsic flaw it’s that they try to be all things to all marketers.
And that’s typically where the problems start because either the analytics aren’t as good as you’d like, or their pop-ups are a bit meh.
That’s why we use a separate lead collection tool, and you probably should too.
OptinMonster is a great choice for taking your lead gen efforts to the next level, with excellent A/B testing and analytics features.
It also provides a very granular approach to capturing email addresses with their behavior automation “triggers”.
You can set your form to trigger on everything from exit-intent, on-click, time-on-site, or even based on geolocation targeting
It’s what we use on Authority Hacker, and you can take it for a test drive for 7 days.
Thrive Leads is another lead capture and generation tool worth looking at.
But what sets it apart from the competition, I hear you ask?
Well, that’s down to its drag-and-drop editor, which is the best of its type. You also get tons of templates to work with, and a stack of very powerful targeting options.
Put simply, Thrive Leads gives you complete control over where opt-in forms appear on your site.
Are there downsides?
The reporting could be better, and the UI is a little clunky and could do with an update.
Thrive Leads prices start at $69/year for 1 site.
If you have a responsive 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.
Now, all you need are the right tools to help you create your email list.
There are literally dozens of email marketing tools and platforms to choose from, but GetResponse gets our vote because of its affiliate-friendliness.
Unlike some of its competitors, GetResponse won’t penalize you for sending affiliate offers.
You’ll also enjoy a higher delivery rate for emails with affiliate offers in them -provided it’s not outright spam.
How much you pay will depend on the size of your list, but their cheapest package starts at $15/month for 1,000 subscribers.
If, however, you don’t either don’t need a full-blown email marketing solution, or you just don’t have the budget for one, then you should seriously consider MailerLite.
The beauty of Mailer Lite is that it has many of the same features as its competitors but at a fraction of the price.
Their ‘Free’ plan covers you for up to 1,000 subscribers, who you can email up to 12 times every 30 days.
And when you outgrow their ‘Free’ plan you can simply upgrade to a paid plan instead.
We posted our in-depth review of MailerLite here.
Yes, yes, social media is addictive and a total time-suck for far too many people.
But it’s also a critical part of modern digital marketing, including affiliate marketing.
The downside is that managing social media can turn into what feels like a full-time job.
It doesn’t have to be though – not if you’re using the right publishing/scheduling tools.
Social media can be a lot of fun…unless you’re doing it for a living.
Because what happens is you wind up trying to juggle multiple accounts, with different post formats and scheduling systems.
Buffer makes marketing via social media a lot easier by linking all your social accounts to one unified interface. From there you (or your team) can create posts that are tailored to each social platform.
You can even schedule your content to post on specific dates and times.
Buffer can and will save you a ton of time if you actively use social media as part of your marketing plan.
Prices start at $15/month for one user, eight linked social accounts and 100 scheduled posts.
MeetEdgar is a social media publishing and marketing tool that is very similar to Buffer in that it allows you to create and schedule content for publication to multiple social accounts.
This social media tool supports posting to Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube…but there’s no Pinterest support. Yet.
MeetEdgar is a lot more affordable than Buffer, with their Pro account costing $49/month versus Buffer’s $65/month.
But MeetEdgar only supports single-user access to the tool, whereas Buffer can support up to 6 users if you’re willing to pay for them.
$19/month gets you 3 linked social accounts, 10 automated posts per week, and unlimited manually scheduled posts.
Tailwind is a perfect example of an app that found a gap in the digital marketing industry.
It doesn’t try to be the best social media posting app for every social platform.
Instead, it just focuses on being the scheduling tool for Pinterest and Instagram.
Tailwind makes posting images and videos to Pinterest and Instagram a lot less work and the ‘SmartSchedule’ feature also means you only post your content at the best possible times.
And yes, they do offer a free trial.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the bread and butter of any affiliate who relies on organic traffic for clicks and revenue.
The funny thing about SEO is that it can either be as complicated or as simple as you need it to be.
All you really need is a good SEO plugin for your site, and keyword and backlink research tools.
Using an SEO plugin is the best way to make sure you nail the search engine optimization basics for your site.
But these types of plugins fall in and out of popularity all the time.
So it can be difficult to know which one you should actually use.
Rank Math is the SEO plugin I’ve been hearing great things about over the last year or so.
Little touches like being able to automatically ‘Nofollow’ external links or defaulting to opening external links in a new tab are all real timesavers.
Rank Math also has a 404 monitor, redirection, and Schema markup tools built-in, so you won’t need separate plugins for those functions.
Oh, and it’s completely free, by the way.
If you plan to get a lot of traffic from search engines (as you should), you can’t go wrong with an Ahrefs subscription.
There are many reasons every affiliate marketer Ahrefs user, but the two key ones are:
- It has arguably (because God knows we have) the most comprehensive backlink index
- Their keyword research tool is excellent – nothing else comes close
Our Ahrefs review shows you exactly what this tool does, and why we use it.
The new ‘Content Explorer’ also makes it easy to brainstorm content ideas, and the rank tracker allows you to keep an eye on your position in the SERPs.
At a starting price of $99/month Ahrefs is far from cheap, but it is a necessity for any serious affiliate marketer.
It’s also one of our absolute favorite affiliate marketing tools.
Some big affiliates (like Charles Ngo) bypass organic marketing and struggling with rankings completely and instead go straight to paid advertising.
Because you can send traffic to an offer whenever you want, and for as long as you can afford it.
The thing is that you need to meticulously track every single aspect of your campaigns unless you want to wind up remortgaging your home.
Here are some tools we’re happy to recommend.
Performance marketing is a tough game to be in, especially if you lack a competitive intelligence tool of some sort…like WhatRunsWhere.
Without accurate data on what ads work best for your target audience and what your competitors are up to…you’re really just shooting hoops in the dark.
Hope isn’t a very robust business strategy.
Reverse engineering your competitors’ campaigns is a smart move in organic SEO.
And the same logic applies to paid/performance advertising.
WhatRunsWhere costs $299/month for PC only, or $399/month for PC + Mobile, so it’s really only suited to marketers with a high 5-figure monthly ad budget.
AdPlexity is another spy tool for performance marketers.
So what’s the difference between it and other tools like WhatRunsWhere?
It comes down to ease-of-use – AdPlexity is just easier for a relative newcomer to use.
You can tell it was designed by affiliates, for affiliates.
Part of its power comes from being able to choose exactly what type of ads you want to analyze, from mobile or desktop to push.
The major downside is that you have to pay for each subscription separately, but you can get discounts if and when you purchase multiple tools.
So, their “Push” tool only costs $99 per month if purchased in conjunction with another subscription, for example.
AdPlexity is powerful but pricey!
SpyPush does what it says on the tin – it allows you to spy on your competitor’s push ads.
But so does AdPlexity, so what’s the big deal with SpyPush?
Well, a big thing is that they have access to the 10 largest push ad networks available today, with the goal of covering every network in the near future.
You can even download your competitor’s entire ad with one click – either as inspiration for your own creatives or to back-engineer what they’re doing.
Oh and SpyPush only costs $49/month, or 75% less than any similar tool.
Tracking & Analytics
Tracking the performance of your campaigns in terms of traffic, clicks and user behavior are all important ingredients in the affiliate marketing cookbook.
Without strong tracking, you can’t determine which channels are performing, and which are not.
The end result always trends towards a poorly optimized campaign that leaks money.
Tracking and analytics might seem “nerdy”, but if you ignore them you’re leaving money on the table.
Here are some tools to consider for your business.
Analytics, traffic stats, and abandonment rates can only tell you so much about how your visitors actually interact with your site and/or your business.
After that, you’ll need a tool that allows you to really dig into user behavior – something like Hotjar.
Now instead of trying to guess what visitors do when they land on your pages, you can use different types of heatmap to better understand their behavior.
Or just choose to record a user’s interaction with a given page, including their mouse movements and what they highlight or click on.
Also, Hotjar’s funnel analytics can provide you with invaluable insights into where your funnel is leaking traffic and/or sales.
You can try Hotjar for 15 days, free of charge.
Google Analytics is the staple of all affiliate marketers who want to better understand their web audience, but without spending any money.
The simple truth of it is this: For a total cost of zero dollars and zero cents, no other basic analytics package comes close to what Google offers.
If you’re not using it then you should be.
You do have a click tracking solution in place for your affiliate business….don’t you?
And no, Google Analytics and your affiliate dashboard don’t count.
Enter ClickMagic – a click tracking solution created by a super affiliate.
The interface looks very 2008, but underneath the fugly exterior lies the power of 125 different tools you can use to track links, run split tests, prevent click fraud, etc.
‘ClickMagic Live’ is also a nice touch – you can join a Slack ‘support’ group, where other users answer your questions.
Plans start at $27/month for 10,000 clicks.
Voluum is a cloud-based click-tracking solution designed for anyone involved in performance or direct response advertising.
Which is you, if you’re an affiliate who uses paid ads to drive traffic to affiliate offers instead of relying on organic search.
The difference is that Voluum does all of its analysis in real-time, so you can get live data from your campaigns.
All this power comes with a price premium, with Voluum plans starting at $69/month.
If you’ve found Voluum just a little bit too technical for your tastes, then we think you’ll like what RedTrack has to offer.
This cloud-based ad tracking software is very similar to Voluum in what it does.
But there’s an important difference, and it is that RedTrack’s interface is aimed at beginner to intermediate affiliate and performance marketers.
Plans start at $41/month but you can take RedTrack for a 14-day test drive before you sign up.
One of the most frustrating parts of running an affiliate site is managing all of your links across different affiliate networks or campaigns.
Which is why you’ll need a link management tool.
Thirsty Affiliates makes building and managing affiliate links easy – it even allows you to “nofollow” any of your affiliate links by default.
You can choose between the Free and Pro version, although the Pro version does cost $49 per site per year.
With that being said, the Thirsty Affiliates Pro does have really cool features, like automatic keyword linking, advanced reporting, and geolocation link redirects.
Creating an affiliate link has never been easier.
It can be a bit of a struggle for newbies to stay on the right side of Amazon’s ToS at times, especially when you’re writing product reviews.
What AAWP (Amazon Affiliate WordPress Plugin) does is integrate with Amazon’s API, pulling in whatever data you need for your product reviews.
Basically, your reviews will feature the correct pricing, image, title, description, discounts and CTA buttons.
You can even import lists of bestselling products with just a few clicks.
AAWP isn’t free, but it is a must-have for serious Amazon affiliates.
Courses & Communities
Owning the tools of the trade is obviously important, but becoming an affiliate marketing pro is about more than just having the right tools.
What’s equally important is what you can learn from people with a lot more skin in the game.
The Authority Site System
As much as we do our very best to be impartial, this is an absolutely shameless plug for our TASS course.
And we have very good reasons for doing that- the course is crammed full of everything we know about affiliate marketing.
But what many of our students find even more valuable is the Authority Hacker community.
This is where they can get honest answers to questions and insights from some heavy-hitters in the affiliate marketing game.
Yes, affiliate marketing forums are still very much a thing, but STM Forum isn’t like most of the others, particularly one that rhymes with “harrier quorum”.
STM is a premium forum for super affiliates, which is why it costs $99 per month.
If you have an affiliate marketing business that you want to take to the next level, the monthly fee for STM is chickenfeed compared to the returns you can make from one single piece of advice.
If you’d still like to have access to a whole pile of information on affiliate marketing, but without the almost-$100 monthly price tag, then AffLift is a great place to hang out.
But it’s still not a free forum – you’ll have to cough up $20 per month.
AffLift is really well laid out, and there are threads on everything from affiliate marketing to SEO to landing pages.
Over to You
And that brings us to the end of this blog post on affiliate marketing tools.
You can do affiliate marketing free of charge, but you’re going to have to work 100x harder.
Affiliate marketing is only going to become more competitive in the near future.
You can increase the scale and speed of your success dramatically by taking advantage of professional affiliate marketing tools.
Using the above tools could take your affiliate marketing campaign from zero to a hundred in record time.
If you enjoyed this blog post let us know with a comment below – like what your top 5 affiliate marketing tools would be?