The Best Affiliate Tracking Software Platforms For Starting Your Program

"What affiliate tracking software should I use?" is probably THE most regular question I get asked as an affiliate manager.

It’s also the hardest question to answer without delving deep into features, capabilities, and pricing. You see, what affiliate software you choose really depends on a lot of things. It depends on the product you’re selling, the platform you’re selling on, the price of your product, and so much more!

I’ve pulled together this ultimate guide to affiliate marketing tracking software so you can find out which tool will work best for you and your product. This blog post talks you through:

  • 🙋🏻 what affiliate tracking software is (and what it isn’t)

  • 🤔 what you need to think about before you find an affiliate marketing tool

  • 🙌 my top 3 affiliate tracking software platforms, their best features, and their cons

  • ⚡️ 10+ other software recommendations for you to check out

I also have a free checklist to help you get started with creating an affiliate program of you own! Don’t miss out!

The Best Affiliate Tracking Software Platforms For Starting Your Program | Want to start an affiliate program to increase your passive income and scale your business? You need to look into these three affiliate tracking platforms. Click through to learn more if you're a digital product creator, online course seller or an online entrepreneur. Don't forget to download your free 'Start Your Affiliate Program' checklist!

What is affiliate tracking software?

Affiliate tracking software is a tool that will host your affiliate program. This tool will onboard affiliates, provide them with a unique link to your chosen landing page, and track any sales that come through each link.

I just want to make it clear that an affiliate tracking software is NOT an affiliate marketing network, like Share A Sale, Amazon, or ClickBank. You don’t use an affiliate tracking software AS an affiliate who is a part of a program - you use it as an affiliate program manager. All good? Sweet!

The best affiliate tracking software will:

  • act as a ‘hub’ for your affiliates

  • provide reports on affiliates’ link clicks + conversions

  • let you customise your affiliate commissions + cookie length

  • host your affiliate promotional assets

  • allow you to set up multiple landing pages for affiliates

  • and way, way more!

Related Post → Why You Need An Affiliate Program For Your Digital Products

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What you need to think about before you research affiliate marketing tools

Before you start Googling which software is best for you, you really need to think about these four things.

AFFILIATE PROGRAM STRATEGY

First, you need to think about your goals for your affiliate program. Are you planning on having hundreds of affiliates? Are you wanting to offer different commission levels for public affiliates vs. influencer affiliates? Are you planning on having different landing pages for affiliates to share?

These are all factors that should go into your decision making process but I’ll make it super easy for you to see which platform is best for what in a minute!

YOUR PRODUCT

What product are you actually working with affiliates to sell? This may seem silly but you want to make sure your affiliate tracking software is built to work with your creation.

For example, if you’re selling a membership site, you want to make sure your affiliate software can handle recurring commissions (which, I believe most can!). If you’re selling an online course, you want the affiliate software to integrate with your course hosting platform!

THE PRICE

The price of your product plays a big role in what affiliate tracking software you choose. Not only do your affiliate sales need to cover the cost of the software, but you’re also knocking off commissions too!

Let’s do the maths. If you had a $49 product at 40% cut for affiliates and your affiliate tracking tool was $199 a month, you’d need your affiliates to make at least 7 sales per month just to cover the cost of the software. Whilst if the software only cost you $69, you’d only need to make 3 affiliate sales. See?

YOUR SALES PROCESSOR

You need to know what sales processor you’re using before you start doing any research as it’s probably the biggest factor in deciding what your affiliate tracking software will be. This is because you need your software to integrate with your sales processor.

If you are using Shopify, for example, you want to find software that integrates well with this. Or, if you’re hosting a course on Teachable, you might want to use Teachable’s built-in affiliate software.

My top 3 affiliate tracking software platforms

Okay, let’s get into my top 3 picks for affiliate tracking platforms! If you don’t think any of these suit you, keep scrolling because I have a list of more recommended platforms at the end of this post!

ThriveCart’s affiliate centre

I’m pretty new to ThriveCart but I LOVE IT. ThriveCart is an amazing checkout processor that has SO much built into it:

At the time of writing this post, I’m switching over from Teachable’s built-in affiliate tracking + payment processor over to ThriveCart. It's a relatively new product so there are definitely kinks that need to be ironed out but they DO have amazing customer service to help you with everything!

Affiliate Features of ThriveCart

  • You can add numerous landing page URLs for each product

    • This is so affiliates can have their commissions tracked for different sales pages, landing pages, etc. This means that you can ask affiliates to send their audience to a freebie landing page, for example, but they still get commissions for any sales in your built-out funnel.

  • Set up rules for affiliates

    • I.E. If an affiliate makes 10 sales, tag them in ConvertKit or when an affiliate signs up, send them your welcome sequence. This helps you automate your program and save you a lot of time in the long-term.

  • Automatic PayPal payouts

    • Paying affiliates is something you need to do once a month and it can be time-consuming and fiddly. ThriveCart makes it easy by allowing you to setup PayPal to automatically payout affiliates after your chosen timeframe (from ‘Immediately’ to 90 days).

  • Customise commissions + payout settings for each affiliate

    • You’ll have a base rate commission for each of your products but you can also customise these per affiliate. If you have one person you want to receive a higher commission rate (because you did a JV webinar with them, for example) then this is super easy for you to adjust!

  • Limit product access per affiliate

    • If you have multiple products but only want affiliates to promote certain ones, you can limit which products affiliates have access to and you can grant access on a case-by-case basis. It’s super customisable.

  • Upload promotional assets for affiliates to share from their portal

    • If you want to store all your promotional materials in one place, ThriveCart make it super easy to do that! You can upload swipe copy, image banners, videos, and HTML files for affiliates to use to promote your product.

  • See leaderboard of top 5 affiliates

    • When you login to your affiliate area, you can see a leaderboard of your top 5 affiliates and their total conversion amount! This helps if you want to quickly see who’s doing well so you can send them an encouraging email or thank you gift!

  • Edit affiliate attribution post-sale

    • Let’s say an affiliate wasn’t tracked to a sale. No worries! You can easily add an affiliate to a transaction post-sale so they still receive their due commissions!

Cons of ThriveCart

  • The integrations aren’t super sophisticated

    • ThriveCart is a relatively new platform so the integrations aren’t completely polished yet. For example, their Memberpress integration is very top level and requires a lot of manual input, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for automations!

  • You can’t export affiliate information

    • In a program like Tapfiliate, you can export CSV files of all your affiliates, their clicks + conversion stats, their payout info, etc. ThriveCart lacks in this area! That said, this feature is only really needed when you have a large number of affiliates in your program and it becomes nearly impossible to track their stats on a manual basis.

  • Affiliates need a PayPal business account in order to be paid out

    • If an affiliate doesn’t have a PayPal business account, you’ll need to send payouts manually, which can add an extra thing to your to-do list each month. Then again, manual PayPal payouts are pretty much expected for every other affiliate tracking software.

Pricing

ThriveCart is a one-time investment of $595, not a recurring subscription. In the long-term, this can save your business a whole ton of money!

Click here to learn more about ThriveCart!

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Tapfiliate: affiliate tracking platform

Unlike ThriveCart, Tapfiliate is a dedicated affiliate platform. I’ve been using it for one client for nearly a year and it’s my go-to recommendation for someone who wants an affiliate tracking tool that integrates with their current checkout provider.

Tapfiliate integrates with:

  • Payment processors such as Stripe and PayPal

  • E-Commerce tools like Shopify, SendOwl, and WooCommerce

  • Membership platforms including Memberspace and Memberful

  • Digital product delivery tools such as SendOwl and Teachable

  • A/.nd way more! Click here to read all their integrations.

Affiliate Features of Tapfiliate

  • Upload promotional assets for affiliates to share from Tapfiliate

    • Tapfiliate allows you to upload assets for affiliates to easily share your product. These are mostly in a HTML format but you can also upload click-to-tweets, ready to go Facebook posts, and video embeds.

  • Create affiliate links for any page on your website

    • If you set up your Tapfiliate program to work as a Query tracking method with Referral Codes switched on, then affiliates can create links for any page of your website. For example, my affiliate link for The Contract Shop is http://www.thecontractshop.com?ref=zoelinda but I can send people to a specific product by adding ?ref=zoelinda to the end of any The Contract Shop URL (like this Affiliate Agreement template).

  • Set up multiple affiliate tiers

    • ThriveCart allows you to personalise affiliate commissions - but you have to do it manually for each person’s account. With Tapfiliate, you can set up different ‘programs’ - each with it’s own commission rate, cookie length, landing page, etc - and simply send affiliates to the sign up link that applies to them. If you have an influencer you want to receive a higher commission, just send them to the sign up page for that program - no fiddling around in your settings!

  • Easily customise commissions post-sale

    • Let’s say you want to treat an affiliate to extra commission for one month, or you just want one affiliate to earn more without creating a whole new program? In Tapfiliate, you can easily change an affiliate’s commission amount after the sale has been tracked. As long as you’ve not already paid it out yet, you can alter the commission amount the affiliate will receive.

  • Export detailed stats + reports

    • Tapfiliate makes it super easy to export CSV files of all your affiliates, their clicks + conversion stats, their payout info, etc. You can also see a list of the top referring URLs that are sending traffic your way - this comes in handy when you want to audit your affiliates’ content!

  • Set up MLM structure

    • If you want to grow your team, why not offer current affiliates incentive to spread the word about how great your affiliate program is? You can set up an ‘MLM structure’ so affiliates receive a cut of the sales for any new affiliates they referred your way.

  • [PRO PLAN ONLY] Set affiliate bonuses

    • You can set up bonuses for your affiliates so they receive an increase in commission rate or a fixed cash bonus if they reach a certain number of sales or make a certain amount of money for you!

Cons of Tapfiliate

  • You can only track sales on one URL

    • Tapfiliate is a little restricted in the way that you can only have affiliates sending traffic to one URL. If you have a Squarespace site, for example, you can’t ask affiliates to send their audience through a LeadPages funnel. Well, you can ask but the affiliate won’t get their commissions tracked! Like I said, Tapfiliate does allow affiliates to easily create affiliates links for any page on your website, as long as it all falls under the same domain.

  • Payouts are manual

    • No autoMAGIC payouts happening over here. You can generate payouts in a way that make it really simple to see who’s owed what, what their PayPal emails are, and who you’ve already paid. Aside from that, it’s a pretty manual process.

  • Can’t easily customise commissions + cookie length settings per affiliate

    • This is fiddly to do and isn’t possible without setting up new ‘programs’ within Tapfiliate. This means new affiliate links whenever you want an affiliate to have an increase or decrease in their commission rates.

Pricing

Tapfiliate’s Essential subscription is $69 per month and the Pro plan is $149 per month! It seems pricey but you probably only need to make a few affiliate sales per month to cover the cost!

Click here to learn more about Tapfiliate!


SamCart’s affiliate centre

Last but not least is the digital product creators crème de la crème; SamCart. This tool is best for hosting affiliates if your product is already selling well because - oof - it's super pricey. Like ThriveCart, it has a lot of built-in checkout and funnel features, such as:

Affiliate Features of ThriveCart

  • You can add numerous landing page URLs for each product

    • This is so affiliates can have their commissions tracked for different sales pages, landing pages, etc. This means that you can ask affiliates to send their audience to a freebie landing page, for example, but they still get commissions for any sales in your built-out funnel.

  • User-friendly affiliate hub

    • As an affiliate for many products myself, SamCart is one of my favourite portals to login to. It’s super easy to find links to specific products and get access to email swipe copy. I can also see what spot I am in the affiliate leaderboard for that program, which is pretty motivating!

  • See leaderboard of top 10 affiliates

    • When you login to your affiliate area, you can see a leaderboard of your top 10 affiliates and their total conversion amount! This helps if you want to quickly see who’s doing well so you can send them an encouraging email or thank you gift!

  • Easily upload email swipe copy

    • In SamCart, you can easily add promotional emails for affiliates to copy + paste. The emails are HTML based so you can add formatting and links throughout the copy, which make it even easier for your affiliates to save time and get promoting!

  • Edit commissions per product

    • If you want to set different commission rates for each of your products, you can very easily do this within SamCart. SamCart automatically sets your affiliate commission rate as 50% for each product but these amounts are editable. So you could change some products to 40% and set your lower-ticket item to 20%, for example.

  • Edit affiliate attribution post-sale

    • Let’s say an affiliate wasn’t tracked to a sale. No worries! You can easily add an affiliate to a transaction post-sale so they still receive their due commissions!

  • Limit product access per affiliate

    • If you have multiple products but only want affiliates to promote certain ones, you can limit which links affiliates have access to use and you can grant access on a case-by-case basis. It’s super customisable!

Cons of SamCart

  • Payouts are manual

    • Like Tapfiliate, there are no autoMAGIC payouts. Payout CSV files are generated for you on the 1st of each month but you need to go in and send the money to your affiliates manually.

  • Can’t easily customise commissions + cookie length settings per affiliate

    • To be able to do this, you’d need to set up a new ‘product’ in SamCart - which means a duplicate sales page and email funnel just to have a different commission rate for certain affiliates.

  • Reporting isn’t very detailed

    • You can’t export a list of top referring URLs or affiliates’ individual performance based on clicks + conversions. However, there are graphs and tables within SamCart that show the affiliate program’s performance as a whole.

Pricing

In order to access the affiliate centre in SamCart, you need to invest $199 per month. This is the reason I suggest earning a good amount from your digital product before investing in SamCart. You need to know it will pay for itself!

Click here to learn more about SamCart!


other options

Here are some options for those of you who don’t think ThriveCart, Tapfiliate, or SamCart are a great fit!

For just getting started:

  • SendOwl - a checkout software with built-in affiliate capabilities

  • Gumroad - super similar to SendOwl but with less reporting available

  • Affiliate WP - a WordPress plugin with fairly advanced affiliate capabilities!

  • Rewardful - an incredibly simple software to integrate with your Stripe account

For course creators:

The below are all course hosting platforms with built-in affiliate capabilities!

For advanced affiliate tracking:

You can click here for way more options - though they’re not ALL suited to creative entrepreneurs or digital product sellers.

Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links.

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