Promotions: Marketing and Sales 8.13. Affiliate Marketing Software

If you decide to do affiliate marketing on your own, then you will need to install or sign up for affiliate marketing tracking software. While measuring impressions and clicks is incredibly simple, measuring performance is much more difficult. You need software that not only counts the visitors an ad sends to your site, but also tracks their progress through your site and, if you’re using a cost-per-sale pricing model, tallies up their pre-tax order. The software must present reports accessible both by you and your affiliate partners. Finally, affiliates typically want to be paid now. Affiliate networks make you deposit money to pay affiliates whenever an action or sale triggers a payment. Affiliate marketing software often automates payments to make life simpler for everyone.

8.13.1. DirectTrack

Built by DirectResponse, which also runs the affiliate networks DirectLeads (8.12.3) and DirectClicks, DirectTrack® is an accurate, fully featured affiliate tracking and adserving software designed for both merchants and affiliate networks. DirectTrack comes in three versions: Merchant, Merchant Pro, and Network. The last is designed for affiliate networks so packs much more muscle than you need.

The Merchant version is a fully featured affiliate management system that is limited to one Web site and one Web site URL but can track an unlimited number of affiliates. The software will support any type of campaign: CPC, CPM, CPA, or CPS. Merchant comes with one significant limitation: affiliates can only link to a redirect page hosted on the DirectTrack servers. Users click an ad and are taken to these redirect pages; the pages then redirect them to your Web site.

MerchantPro can be used for up to five Websites and allows your affiliates to link directly to your site. Affiliates can also link to any product in your catalog and you can customize the payoff for each product. MerchantPro also allows you to exclude users from any country. Finally, MerchantPro allows you to insert custom code provided by individual affiliates so that they can track performance as well as you.

All the DirectTrack tracking and adserving services are hosted on the DirectTrack servers. You pay a setup charge and a monthly fee. Your fee depends on a monthly limit set on the bandwidth, ad impressions, and click-throughs; exceeding any of these limits invokes overage charges. If you use MerchantPro, you can host ads or images on other servers to keep bandwidth usage down.

8.13.2. My Affiliate Program (MyAP) and Kolimbo

One of the oldest affiliate tracking software systems, KowaBunga’s My Affiliate Program, is a full-featured, robust, and accurate affiliate marketing tracking system that also integrates with KowaBunga’s Kolimbo, a free affiliate marketing network exclusive only to MyAP users.

MyAP is a server-based program that requires a Windows server running ASP. The MyAP technical services will install and set up the software and custom design a public “Affiliates” page for your Website that allows other Web publishers to request membership in your affiliate network. Your program will also be listed for free in the Kolimbo affiliate network. Affiliates who sign on to your program will be able to monitor their statistics by going to a custom branded Web site.

Like other affiliate management systems listed here, MyAP is hosted on the MyAP Web servers. You get 50 GB of space to store your ads.

Features include:

  • Cross Channel Tracking and Reporting: Track impressions, clicks, sales, and other activities generated by any and all of your marketing efforts―including affiliates, paid ad placements, paid search, and organic search campaigns.
  • Cookie Trail Tracking and Reporting: You can track every point of contact a visitor has had with your various marketing channels before they actually buy from you or perform some other action. Most other software tracking systems limit the reporting to the first or the last affiliate to refer the visitor to your site and credit that affiliate for the sale.
  • Web, email, PDF, or Excel-export reports.

KowaBunga runs Kolimbo!, a totally free affiliate network for MyAP merchants. Once you have the MyAP software installed, your affiliate program will appear in the Kolimbo! network, which includes over 500,000 affiliate Web sites, search engines, and other Internet properties. There are no network commissions, bandwidth fees, or impression/click-through overage charges. The only thing Kolimbo! does is connect you up with affiliates.

Kolimbo! is one of the only “open” affiliate networks. Other affiliate networks are “closed,” that is, the network “owns” the affiliates. All you know is that you’re putting out ads and that affiliates are driving traffic to your site. Kolimbo!, on the other hand, gives you full information about the network’s affiliates: who they are, how to contact them, and where their Websites are located. You are free to pick and choose among individual affiliates. More importantly, you can build relationships with your affiliates, which gives you far more power and far better results.

8.13.3. Affiliate Shop

Affiliate Shop is an affiliate management and tracking system that involves no custom software installation. You simply insert a couple lines of HTML code onto your site. Since Affiliate Shop does not include or integrate with an adserver, the system requires that you either deliver ads to your affiliates or run your own adserver.

The software helps you manage affiliate recruitment, affiliate commissions, and track results. Monthly pricing varies by plan, but for all plans there are no setup fees, no integration fees, and no commissions. All plans offer you unlimited affiliates, unlimited clicks, and offer the full software feature set. The standard plan clocks in at $45 per month. The Network plan, which offers a listing on their affiliate network, will set you back $50 per month. The Maximum Exposure Plan, at $120 per month, offers free consulting and assistance.

AffiliateShop is primarily designed for CPS (cost-per-sale) campaigns and integrates with your shopping cart. You must do your homework, though; it only integrates with a select number of shopping carts.

8.13.4. AffiliateRunner

AffiliateRunner tracks visits generated by affiliate Web sites and allows you to analyze those statistics to optimize your affiliate programs. AffiliateRunner operates virtually from the AffiliateRunner Web servers. Integration simply involves inserting some code into your shopping cart’s confirmation page.

The software supports any kind of program―CPC, CPM, CPA, or CPS―and allows you to set paybacks, tiered commissions, and view all the network statistics. The software includes a powerful fraud detection system and integrates with QuickBooks and PayPal so that you can automate payments to affiliates.

AffiliateRunner offers four plans ranging in price from $19 per month for Runner Basic to $49 per month for Runner Expert. The plans primarily differ in the number of monthly click-throughs they allow ranging from 50,000 per month for Basic to 155,000 for Expert. Exceeding the monthly click-through allowance triggers overage charges.

8.13.5. Interneka

Like AffiliateRunner, Interneka is hosted software that tracks visits generated by affiliate Web sites. Like other tracking systems, you insert some code into the confirmation page of your shopping cart.

Interneka comes in three plans ranging in price from $29 per month for Interneka Standard to $129 per month for Interneka Dedicated. Setup fees are rather steep and range from $79 for Standard to $450 for Dedicated. The plans primarily differ in the number of monthly click-throughs to your site; Standard tops out at 50,000 per month while Dedicated offers unlimited click-throughs.

You can also purchase a software license for $799 and install the software directly on to your Web server. This is a one-time fee, but you have to manage your own installation.

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