Managing affiliate programs is hard work. Affiliate managers are pressed with key performance indicators (KPIs) that are often times out of their control — they have to rely on their affiliate partners to release content and drive sales and support program growth. What many affiliate managers don’t realize though is there are affiliate marketing tools that can help their efficiency dramatically.
The need for affiliate management tools
On a daily basis, affiliate managers are working on a mix of big projects and hundreds of small tasks. Often, the immediate results can be intangible, where results of partnership development may take months to generate results. The job itself can be overwhelming, especially if they are on their own living on a lonely affiliate island.
To excel in this profession, efficiency is vital for affiliate managers to maximize their productivity. In my opinion, affiliate managers today are under-utilizing partnership software tools, and this article is going to highlight the affiliate marketing tools I’m seeing affiliate managers use to strengthen their approach to partnerships and generate more revenue for their programs quarter over quarter.
Top affiliate management tools
PartnerStack: The PRM and tracking solution supertool
With more than 13 years in the affiliate industry, I’ve managed dozens of affiliate programs — and my favorite platform to work with is PartnerStack. The biggest reason behind that is their devotion to creating the most complete solution for brands.
Tracking flexibility is the staple of a good affiliate program. It allows the program to adapt to the changes in business and partnerships. PartnerStack has developed a top-of-the-line product, and then has continued to make improvements. What I like most about PartnerStack is that their product development team listens to the needs of the clients and they make improvements regularly.
Other key components that make Partnerstack a favorite:
- Partner management: Their internal PRM allows you to take notes on your relationship without leaving the platform which is a huge bonus for organizing.
- Discovery and recruitment: The ease to find the right partners for your brand is simplified their their internal search of affiliates on the platform.
- Comission campaigns: Create contents and invite new and existing partners to sign-up.
There are other really great features on the platform, but when it comes to serving the affiliate manager’s needs, PartnerStack is setting the bar for the industry.
LinkedIn: Leveraging professional networks for recruitment and growth
In the world of affiliate marketing, building strong professional networks and relationships is essential for success. Do a ton of affiliate partners spend time on Linkedin? Not necessarily, but the folks that work at big publications do, and finding the right contact at a company is easiest using Linkedin.
Linkedin is the platform for the professional world that can give you instant credibility and connect everyone you know to the professional world. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used a college friend’s name in a conversation with strangers that opened the door to selling them something in the future. If you don’t have 500+ connections today, work on getting there immediately. Expanding your network creates more opportunities for networking in the future.
LinkedIn offers numerous advantages to affiliate managers, including the ability to search for and connect with potential partners based on their skills, industry experience, and connections. By utilizing LinkedIn's advanced search features, affiliate managers can identify individuals who are well-suited to promote their products or services and reach out to them with personalized connection requests and messages. I would highly suggest investigation into Linkedin’s Sales Navigator to help expand your reach. I personally use this every day when trying to identify the right contacts. If you can’t afford it personally, ask your company to front the bill to help improve your workflow.
Superfiliate: Streamlining affiliate management and communication
Superfiliate is a co-branded landing page builder that improves conversion rates for brands. For affiliate managers, Superfiliate helps alleviate a giant hurdle of asking the internal development team to create and test new landing pages. Instead, they work with the content partners to curate brand aligned landing pages that give audiences a warm greeting.
Not only does this tool increase conversion rate and improve the program KPIs, but it also makes the partner feel special which helps improve the relationship for future partnership opportunities.
This tool can integrate with your existing PartnerStack solution to make tracking seamless. The robust tracking capabilities which provide real-time data on affiliate performance, conversions and revenue. Additionally, Superfiliate's communication tools, such as in-app messaging and email templates, make it easy for affiliate managers to maintain regular contact with their partners, providing updates, sharing promotional materials, and addressing any concerns or questions that may arise.
Loom: Simplifying communication with video messages
Effective communication is a cornerstone of successful affiliate marketing. Loom is a video messaging tool that can significantly enhance communication between affiliate managers and their partners. With Loom, affiliate managers can easily record and share video messages, providing an engaging and personal way to communicate updates, training materials and feedback to affiliates.
Loom is probably my most used tool throughout the day. Giving feedback in a 1-minute video rather than a long email is clutch to save time for both parties. Also, there is no room for miscommunication; you are talking to a camera and sharing your screen. Affiliate partners really love this catered feedback and often take action faster than written communications. Give it a try; it works!
By incorporating Loom into your communication arsenal, affiliate managers can not only streamline their communication processes but also strengthen their relationships with affiliates. This improved communication can lead to increased affiliate satisfaction, better performance, and ultimately, higher sales and revenue for the program.
Affistash: Affiliate partner recruitment super tool
Finding and connecting the right affiliate partners is the biggest hurdle I face as an affiliate manager. Ten years ago when I started managing programs, there were no tools available to help find partners. Everything required manual labor to find websites and the right contact information. But over the last decade, there have been major breakthroughs in partner recruitment technology.
A partner recruitment tool to keep an eye out for in 2024 is Affistash, which may be the most complete solution to help affiliate managers save hours of work each day.
Affistash uses AI to identify potential partners that are ranking for keywords your brand wants to rank for on Google, Youtube, Instagram, and many other platforms. In a matter of minutes, Affistash can help your program to:
- Identify high-potential partners
- Find the right contacts
- Scrape email addresses
- Create a customizable email campaign to your target
- Document the process with a partner relationship manager (PRM)
This tool is not only finding new affiliates, it is helping affiliate managers reach out and document the relationship. This tool helps me personally save dozens of hours each month and makes recruiting partners much easier.
You might also like: Recruit your first 100 revenue-generating partners.
The Search Monitor: Gaining competitive intelligence and protecting brand reputation
Protecting the integrity of your brand is an important role for the affiliate manager. There are affiliates out there preying on brand’s trademark name and profiting off consumers clicking their link on paid traffic. The Search Monitor is the defense tool that catches them red-handed and helps protect your brand from fraudulent rewards.
Many affiliate managers are worried about reaching their lofty goals of revenue and could be turned off by a tool that is taking away from that bottom line. But in this case, the affiliate manager has to put the company hat on for a few big reasons:
- Protect the trademark: Ensure no one is using your trademark besides you and trusted partners that are authorized.
- Keep a fair playing field: Cheating affiliates are taking dollars out of other partner’s pockets.
- Save the company money: The sale would have happened anyway.
If you ask the CMO for $500 for a tool, they might laugh at you. But if you ask for $500 for a tool that will save the company $5000, you are going to look like a hero.
Additionally, The Search Monitor has many other cool features beyond brand protection, including competitive intelligence and partner recruitment. This tool will make you a more analytical thinker and better marketer in the long run.
Personal Virtual Assistant: Streamlining daily tasks and processes
As an affiliate manager, you may find yourself juggling numerous tasks and responsibilities daily. From managing routine administrative work to ensuring smooth communication with affiliates, the workload can become overwhelming. This is where a personal virtual assistant (VA) can make a significant impact on your efficiency and productivity.
A VA is not a software; They are an extension of your work capabilities at the fraction of the price of hiring someone under you. A good VA can be trained to do all the remedial tasks that burn time like scheduling appointments, data entry, social media management and more. By outsourcing these routine tasks to a VA, affiliate managers can save valuable time and focus on core responsibilities that require their expertise, such as strategizing, building relationships, and optimizing affiliate programs.
Ask your company to handle the bill. A full time VA is 1/8 of the price of a full time employee once you factor in benefits and salary. If they don’t want to pay for it, consider investing yourself to help you get to the next level of your career faster.
Appointlet: Streamlining appointment scheduling and meeting planning
Every task, no matter how small, eats up time throughout the day. Efficient appointment scheduling and meeting planning is one of my favorite time savers and Appointlet is my favorite tool for it.
When trying to schedule a call with a partner, the traditional way is email back and forth, trying to find a time that works for both parties. Appointlet alleviates the back and forth to save time with a link to your calendar availability.
One of my favorite ways to utilize this tool is to add it to newsletters and as an email signature. This also lets your partners (and anyone with your link) book a call in the future, helping save your inbox and fill up your calendar with calls. By streamlining this process, affiliate managers can focus more of their valuable time on strategic tasks
Publisher Discovery: Identifying high-potential affiliate partners
Publisher Discovery has been helping companies recruit high-quality partners for years. This software offers several benefits to affiliate managers, primarily by providing access to a vast database of potential affiliate partners. By analyzing various factors, such as website traffic, niche relevance, and audience demographics, Publisher Discovery enables affiliate managers to identify high-potential affiliates that are most likely to deliver strong results.
One of my favorite features of this tool is the program migration functions. Migrating a program to another platform (Say CJ to PartnerStack) can be a nightmare to convince affiliate partners to switch out their links. Lots of emails need to be sent, many of which are ignored. However, Publisher Discovery can identify exactly which websites are still using old links, which makes your life so much easier when finding who you still need to pester.
Integrating tools into your strategy: Final words from an affiliate expert
Affiliate marketing tools are an incredible way to improve efficiency. Whether you're a new or experienced affiliate manager, utilizing the right tools can make all the difference in reaching your goals.
I like to think of it as A/B testing my workflow. For every product listed above, I tried three that didn’t work. The worst case scenario is that you’re out a few bucks to try something new for a month. Most products have a freemium model though, letting you test it out. Don’t be afraid of change. Get out there and try a new tool that could save you hours of work.