The Best Affiliate Marketing Tools of 2018
The affiliate marketing industry is incredibly competitive.
With the industry poised to touch $7B in revenues within 5 years, the competition is only going to become more intense.
As an affiliate marketer today, you aren’t just competing against other solopreneurs and 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.
In this post, we’ll show you exactly which affiliate marketing tools you need to understand your market, attract traffic, and convert visitors.
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:
Domain Registration: Namecheap
A domain registrar is essentially a service that allows you to register any available domain name for a period of 1 to 10 years.
Namecheap is our recommended service for domain registration 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.
Web Hosting: Traffic Planet Hosting
A good web host will help your site load faster (which equals better SEO and user-experience), keep you secure, and save you hours in site management.
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)
Site Builder/CMS: WordPress
We use WordPress to build all our blogs. This blogging software/content management system is used by 26.6% of all websites in the world. The next biggest competitor - Joomla - is used by just 2.8% of all websites.
Some of your favorite 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.
Site Theme & Landing Page Builder: Thrive Themes
Thrive Themes offers a suite of tools for attracting and converting traffic. With the monthly membership, you get conversion-optimized themes, lead generation plugins and a landing page creator to turn visitors into subscribers and leads.
We use Thrive Themes on all our websites and is one of the best investments we’ve made, especially the Thrive Content Builder.
Thrive Themes is available in two plans:
- Thrive membership ($19/monthly)
- Agency membership ($49/monthly)
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. This is the reason why email marketing consistently ranks as the best digital marketing channel as far as ROI is concerned.
Here are some tools you will need to create your email list:
Capturing Emails: Thrive Leads
Thrive Leads is a lead generation plugin for capturing emails. The plugin allows you to create custom opt-in forms, display targeted offers based on categories, A/B test, and show an in-depth and actionable report. We use this plugin on all our sites.
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.
Sending Emails: GetResponse
There are plenty of tools out there for sending emails, 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 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
Market research is often the 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:
SEO and Competitor Research: Ahrefs
If you plan to get a lot of traffic from search engines (as you should), you can’t go wrong with an Ahrefs subscription.
Ahrefs boasts arguably the most comprehensive link index of all SEO tools. Use it to gauge the strength of your competition, spot link opportunities and analyze keywords. The new content explorer also makes it easy to brainstorm content ideas.
At a starting price of $99/month, it isn’t cheap but it is also a necessity for any serious affiliate.
Competitor research: WhatRunsWhere
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 ($329/month)
- PC only ($249/month)
- Mobile only ($175/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:
Facebook Advertising: AdEspresso
If you’ve ever wanted to test hundreds of different Facebook ad variants, AdEspresso is the tool for you. Think of it as Facebook advertising on steroids.
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)
PPC Management: AdStage
Adstage is a all-in-one online advertising platform which lets you manage ads across Google Adwords, Bing, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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 marketers with up to $10k 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.
Here are two tools to help you with tracking your visitors:
Click Tracking: ClickMeter
Clickmeter helps you create more effective campaigns by telling you the conversion rate for each of your links. Use it to track where, when and how many times people click your links. 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.
Link Management: GeniusLink
Genius Link is an intelligent link management tool. It allows you to create shortened links to any domain, target your traffic based on country, device, operating system or time.
Use it to manage all your 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 10,000 clicks.
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 hundred in record time.