Affiliate Marketing should be treated like any other serious online business.
There are affiliate marketing tools that are absolutely essential to get started, and there are ones that are recommended at later stages to help you scale hard and fast once you hit certain revenue levels.
Your toolkit will expand as your business grows.
Regardless if you’re a beginner and just started affiliate marketing, the right affiliate marketing tools will help you set the stage for success.
You can certainly get started with just the bare minimum, but keep in mind, you likely won’t achieve any real success unless you make some investments in your affiliate business.
You don’t need to invest thousands of dollars per month (although that will help), but you should have a growth mindset to this business.
I recommend making investments that are proportionate to the stage of your business. For example, in the beginning you may only be investing say $150 / month because that’s all you need right now and anything else is overkill.
But don’t be surprised if after a year or two you’re spending a lot more than $150 / month to continue growing.
This industry is maturing every day and doing the bare minimum is not a good long term strategy. Plus, making investments into your business and your future will reinforce good habits for success.
The most successful affiliates invest in whatever tools they need and don’t think twice about it. They don’t really have another option. The competition is fierce and the top dogs are constantly reinvesting in their businesses.
One quote that I love and think is relevant to this post is:
“Are you playing to win or playing not to lose?”
Let’s play to win.
Here’s my thought process when evaluating tools and the characteristics I look for:
- Is the service “affiliate marketing friendly”? For example, Mailchimp, one of the most popular and recommended email marketing software states loud affiliate marketing is prohibited.
- Can the service be easily integrated with other services that I am using or thinking of using?
- Can the service be integrated with Zapier or Integromat?
- How’s the pricing structure and how will it evolve as my business grows?
- Does the service align with the type of marketing campaigns I currently or plan on running?
We need to think long term and big picture when evaluating which tools to use. So, what are the most essential affiliate marketing tools (both free & paid)?
Let’s start with Website Hosting.
There was a time where you could buy dirt cheap web hosting, throw up a landing page, run some Google Ads and make money.
Those days are gone.
People will not tolerate slow websites. I mean look at your own browsing habits. How many times have you waited more than a few seconds for a site to load before bouncing?
Also, Google’s rankings now factor in your sites speed & performance as well. So, you’ll need a website that performs fast on desktop & mobile.
Remember, Google’s all about user experience so that means you should be too.
A slow website will kill your online business.
SiteGround is a personal favorite of mine. I’ve been using them for years. Their website hosting is affordable, high quality, and their customer support is outstanding.
They’ve got plans that scale with your website’s needs and are highly recommended. They also offer cloud hosting which becomes a necessity for high traffic sites (~100k+ unique visitors / month)
Another thing I like about SiteGround is their suite of website performance tools available for integration. For example, their integration with CloudFlare, a CDN, will boost the speed of your site and keep it extra secure.
The price as of today for their entry level hosting starts at $6.99/month. This is a special price and discounted from $14.99.
Once your site grows and you’re looking for dedicated cloud hosting then you can check out WP Engine.
Once you’re ready for cloud hosting be sure to check out WP Engine. WP Engine is a premium website hosting service and are specialists in WordPress. They are the go-to guys in the hosting industry for WordPress offering expert help.
Their hosting is completely optimized for WordPress making it the fastest hosting provider for WordPress sites.
The only drawback is it’s more expensive than other hosting solutions.
Website & Page Builder
You know the story.
The business owner needs a professional website but isn’t tech savvy.
That’s where website builders come in.
They solve a big pain point for all business owners that need a clean and professional site, which is all of them.
So, you have 3 options:
- Hire a developer and/or designer to build your site from scratch (can be very expensive!)
- Build the website yourself using the website builder (can be very time consuming & frustrating!)
- Hire a designer to build your site USING the website builder (best bang for your buck)
I prefer option #3.
When you’re just starting out, it’s infinitely better to hire a designer to use the page builder to build you a site or landing page. It’s more affordable than building a site from scratch and saves you a ton of time and headache.
These website builders are easy to use so once it’s built, they’re easy to maintain and update.
Elementor is one of the best page builders for WordPress. It’s easy to use and is as simple as dragging and dropping the design you want.
You can get started for free with limited features or make the small investment for Elementor Pro, which gives you full access to the platform.
The paid plans start at $49/year for 1 site making it perfect for the affiliate just starting out.
They also have tons of templates which will save you even more time. You can also build beautiful pop ups which will help you collect more leads.
Are they affiliate friendly? Yes
Divi, by Elegant Themes, is another awesome page builder. One thing I like about them is their live chat feature where you can speak with support for any website questions.
Divi also has many beautiful & modern design templates to choose from. Their drag & drop features make building websites and landing pages a breeze.
Their pricing starts at $89/year which gets you 1 license that can be used on unlimited sites! That’s an awesome deal. You can also pay $249 for lifetime access.
It’s worth noting that if you choose not to renew your license, nothing happens to your site. You just won’t get access to further updates.
Tracking & Analytics
Having good tracking & analytics tools are the difference between making a few sales and dominating a niche.
Google Analytics is a must and is free to use. It will track all the traffic for your website.
Once it’s set up, you’ll be building upon Google Analytics with tools that will help you solve your unique challenges as an affiliate, like tracking conversions that happen off your site.
A good conversion data platform will make your life as an affiliate much easier.
Not only will you be able to track all the conversions that happen off your site, but you’ll also be able to track all user engagements with your links in real time and have access to this data within Google Analytics (using the AnyTrack integration).
Taking it a step further, a good tracking tool will enable you to do advanced marketing tactics like building custom audiences using your SEO data and running remarketing campaigns after creating intent.
I’ve been using AnyTrack for a while now to track my affiliate sites and it’s hands down the easiest platform I’ve used to track my sites conversions and user engagements.
AnyTrack makes tracking your affiliate campaigns simple and syncs all your conversion data across your entire marketing stack.
A common issue that plagues affiliates is having access to accurate conversion data. And unfortunately it’s an issue that few conversion data platforms have been able to solve properly.
AnyTrack solves this with ease.
Their platform gives you the keys to take your affiliate business to the next level.
You can start for free and upgrade as your business grows.
Tools like Hotjar are a perfect compliment to a conversion data platform.
The conversion data platform will give you all the numbers you need & Hotjar will show you exactly what users are doing on your site and where.
Humans are visual creatures and the way Hotjar shows you heat maps of how users are behaving on your landing pages is absolutely invaluable.
I recommend checking out Hotjar or similar tools once the traffic to your site picks up and you’re getting thousands of visitors / month.
They have personal, business, & agency plans. Their personal plan is free for up to 2,000 pageviews per day.
I included this section because it’s not really talked about on other sites and seems to be an overlooked topic.
I’m not sure why. It’s very important.
As a business owner, you only have so much time and energy to spend in a day. You need to make sure the tasks you choose to work on give you the biggest bang for your buck.
There are many affiliates for example who aren’t very good writers but are excellent managers, so they’ll outsource content creation and focus on managing the business.
There’s also affiliates who are amazing copywriters, but for example, aren’t very good at outreaching for backlinks. In that case it would make sense to enlist the help of a content marketing agency to help with link building.
You get the idea. Know yourself.
Double down on your strengths and outsource your weaknesses.
When you think of outsourcing, you might think of sites like UpWork.
While UpWork is generally good for outsourcing, here are a few agencies that specialize in content creation & content marketing.
Let’s face it. As an affiliate, our content is our product, and good quality content is not easy to come by. Especially with how many content mills there are out there that churn out terrible content for cheap.
It’s important for SEO and your site’s DA (domain authority) to be publishing content consistently.
That’s where Linkplate comes in. They’re a high quality writing service offering solid content that’s optimized for SEO and is affordable.
Wingman is my growth marketing agency.
We help our clients win high intent customers with SEO & content marketing. Unlike other agencies, we develop content strategies that match buyer intent. Showing your website visitors the right content at the right time helps guide them further down the funnel and increases your…