12. Affiliate Marketing Tools to Use
Affiliates, or publishers, will be using a variety of online marketing techniques when promoting the affiliate links, which means some tools will come pretty handy during the process. Affiliate software is essential for merchants, allowing them to organize and monitor the affiliate program. On the other hand, affiliates will need a lot of organizational and promotion tools. Affiliates should start with the essentials, which include tools to optimize and monitor the website, tools for content distribution through social media and email marketing.
Essentials include a website, social media and content tools that are crucial for setting up the site and managing the online presence.
Apart from hosting and domain name to host your website, you will need a couple of tools to monitor the performance of the website and to optimize it. Since potential conversions are conditioned by the performance of your website, one of the top priorities when starting out with affiliate marketing is improving your website.
Google Search Console – Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, this tool is free for webmasters. Once it is connected to the website, it tracks indexing status, visibility, errors, keywords, etc. In general, it helps you monitor your presence in the Google search engine. The Mobile-Friendly test (checking if your website is mobile-friendly) and the Structured Data Testing Tool (showing how your pages look like in SERP) are two features you should also explore within the Search Console.
Google Analytics – For a more insightful analysis of the website traffic, you will also need to integrate Google Analytics to your website. It is helpful for tracking specific links and how they perform on different media.
QuickSprout Website Analyzer– This tool helps you analyze how well your website is optimized. Additionally, it enables you to follow the tips to edit each segment and recheck if those changes improve website optimization.
Fruition – The free version of this tool provides the Google Penalty Checker, which can be quite useful. Affiliates often notice a drop in ranking when a search engine update is introduced, so it is helpful to know what causes the penalty. The paid version includes site analyzer and other analytics data.
When you start looking for new ideas to improve your current strategy, a considerable part of the process will consist of research. Hence, the research tools you could explore.
Google Keyword Tool – A major part of developing an online marketing strategy is based on keywords. They are used for website optimization, content creation, paid campaigns, etc. To gain access to this tool, you will need to login to your Google AdWords account.
Moz Keyword Explorer – Here is another tool that helps you explore keywords, showing you search volume, difficulty, etc. The free version of the tool is limited to 20 queries per month.
Majestic SEO – Offering site explorer, search explorer, backlink history feature and many more, this tool is a great option when you want to find out more about your website, or even about your competitors. A free webmaster account shows a glimpse of the data you can obtain through paid plans.
Moz Open Site Explorer – This is one of the most recommended tools to research a backlink profile of a website, as well as to discover opportunities in terms of link building. It is possible to gain some insights for free but to access a full scope of data, you will need MozPro account.
KeywordSpy – Interested in learning what keywords your competitors are using? Affiliate marketing can be quite a competitive industry, so it would not hurt if you could check out your competitors. From a free lifetime account to the most advanced agency and enterprise plan, this platform includes a variety of tools and data to help you improve your online performance. Some of the features include pay per click intelligence data, organic intelligence data, affiliate intelligence, export options, alerts, etc.
Content is the core of affiliate marketing as it enables a foundation for affiliate link promotion. Optimization of content and maximizing its performance are some of the top tasks you will need to focus on. The following tools can help:
Portent’s Content Idea Generator – If you are all out of ideas, here is a tool for you. Type the subject and reload until you get some ideas you like. Just be careful, you might end up with some crazy suggestions such as “The Hunger Games Guide to Sunglasses”, “Will Sunglasses Ever Rule the World?”, but keep reloading until you find sensible ideas.
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer – Once you have the title, use this analyzer to improve the viral potential of that title. You will have to signup using an email address to see the title score and how you can optimize it to drive more clicks.
Content Idea Generator – You will need to register for a free account and to answer some question about your website (and products you want to promote), and the tool will generate hundreds of content ideas that can be used for blog posts, social media updates, e-books, podcasts, etc.
Buzzsumo – The tool shows you which content is being shared, and this is useful for discovering new content ideas. It also shows who shares the content so that you can find influencers for an outreach campaign.
SharedCount – Use this tool to find out the number of shares a URL gets. It is handy for analyzing your content, but it is also great for spying competitors.
Free images – Visual content increases the performance of content, which is why it is helpful to include images as a part of your content marketing. There are numerous websites online to find free images, including Pixabay, Pexel, and Unsplash.
Links and tracking
This section is all about tools that help you with creating links and tracking their performance. Having in mind that you will be promoting affiliate links it is essential to track the performance of content that features affiliate links. You will learn more about content that performs well, about channels that are promoting the link the most, etc.
Bit.ly – It is one of the most popular URL shortening services online. Basic analytics reporting is included for each link you track through this tool.
TinyURL – This tool is an alternative for link shortening.
Google Campaign URL Builder – By adding campaign parameters with the URL to track, you can get pretty detailed reporting on how the URL is performing, as well as which parameters affect its performance (for example, social media shares, an email link, etc.).
ClickMeter – This tool creates custom tracking links for you providing a very detailed data about the link you are tracking. It comes with several reporting options enabling you to focus on a particular aspect, such as clickstream, conversion, comparison, etc. It is a paid tool.
Capsulink – Basic statistics and URL shortening are available for free with Capsulink. More advanced paid plans include extra features such as editable URL shortening, broken link notification, advanced statistics, etc.
Linktrack – Enabling simple and easy link monitoring, Linktrack is an alternative you could consider when monitoring link performance. The free account comes with unlimited links monitoring, real-time tracking and charts, while paid accounts include additional data such as conversion tracking, email click alerts, IP geo-location, etc. as well as downloadable reports.
One of the distribution channels you will most likely end up using as an affiliate marketer is an email. With the help of the right tools, you can fully optimize and monitor your campaigns to ensure the highest conversion rate.
HubSpot Marketing Free – Capture leads with customizable popups and analyze users’ on-site behavior to increase conversions. This tools provides a lot of information about your leads allowing you to optimize email campaigns based on these analytics.
MailChimp – As one of the most famous tools for email marketing, MailChimp assists with creating, customizing, and monitoring email marketing campaigns, accompanied by marketing automation features. The tool is free for 2,000 subscribers or less, and it is limited to 12,000 emails per month.
GetResponse – This is a platform that joins together email marketing, landing page creation, and marketing automation. Everything you need to run a successful email marketing campaign is found within this tool. It is a paid platform.
Hello Bar – If you want to increase the number of emails you collect through your website, try using Hello Bar tool. Besides lead generation, the tool can also show announcements, so you can promote an individual product here as well. It is quite straightforward and easy to use.
Social networks are another channel you will probably use for promotion. Even if you do not promote affiliate links directly through social media, you will still share content that contains affiliate links. You will need to get acquainted with social media strategies you can use. Some of these tools could be helpful along the way:
Buffer – Use this tool to schedule posts, track performance, and manage all your social media accounts from a single platform. The individual plan allows one social profile and up to 10 scheduled posts, and it is free, while paid plans enable you to unlock more features and add more social accounts to manage.
SproutSocial – If you are looking for an alternative when it comes to social media management and automation, here is another tool you could consider. It is a paid tool offering some amazing advanced features such as various types of reports, advanced keyword listening, and custom URL tracking.
Social Mentions – Searching specific keywords with this tool provides insights into top keywords associated with the subject, as well as other helpful data such as top users, reach, etc. It basically allows you to find out what is trending, which is helpful if you are looking for content ideas.
Woobox – This tool enables creation of marketing campaigns such as contests, giveaways, etc. The campaigns can be hosted on a website, blogs, social media, in popups or as landing pages, which means that you can maximize the reach of such campaigns using all of the distribution channels.
Snappa – Snappa is a graphic design tool which is pretty user-friendly, with lots of drag & drop options. You can choose from hundreds of pre-made templates or create your own custom images using the elements provided. When you connect Facebook and Twitter accounts, the tool allows you to share the images instantly on social media. Buffer integration is also available.
Another option for promoting affiliate links is through paid advertising. When using this type of online promotion, it is essential to have in mind the terms of service of the affiliate program, especially those terms that regulate promotion through search engine ads. The following tools can help with paid campaigns:
Google AdWords – It is most likely that you will run a search engine paid campaign, which is done through Google AdWords account. The platform enables the creation of ads, scheduling, targeting and analyzing ad performance.
Bing Ads – If you are looking for an alternative that is designed for Bing, use this platform for search engine ads creation and management.
Facebook Ads – A lot of social networks offer advertising through the platform which can be done in a form of sponsored posts, or purpose-driven campaigns, such as driving traffic, increasing signups, etc. Using Facebook Ads Manager allows creating, managing, and monitoring of ads on Facebook and Instagram.
Unbounce – The tool enables the creation of landing pages using drag and drop elements, templates, A/B testing feature, form builder and many more features. Since the landing page is usually the page linked to the paid ad, the first one the users will see once they click on the ad, this tool can help with increasing conversions.
Over 25% websites out of the top 10 million sites which were analyzed use WordPress platform. As an affiliate, it is very likely that you will use this platform for your website and blog, so here are a couple of tools and add-ons that can be useful:
ThirstyAffiliates – It includes several affiliate marketing tools to help you manage your WordPress website, including statistics, redirects, Autolinker feature, the option to import affiliate links form Amazon and other programs, etc. The tool is free on WordPress.
Amazon Product in a Post Plugin – This free WordPress plugin enables you to add Amazon products to your blog post without using banner and widgets.
Easy Affiliate Links – Manage the affiliate links using this plugin with features such as short links, categories, visual and HMTL editor, import, export, etc.
Auto Affiliate Links – This plugin can save a lot of time because it automatically adds affiliate links to your content.
Once you start with affiliate marketing, you will soon realize which tools can really help you increase performance and be more productive, and which ones are those you could manage without. The list here features suggestions on tools that could be helpful, but you could always look for alternatives that provide similar or the same features.
It is also important to note that some of these tools are paid, while some are free. The decision as to whether to go for a premium plan is based on how much of use you will get from a certain tool. Think about how the tool will help you improve your strategy and then make a decision based on that. The good thing is that most of these tools offer a free trial or at least a free plan, which is usually quite limited. This way you can see firsthand how you can benefit from the features offered by a particular tool.