Best Affiliate Marketing Tools in 2021

Affiliate marketing is considered one of the most profitable areas of digital marketing and a clever way to make money online by promoting products/services that you like and use. It involves advertising your business online with the help of affiliate partners (webmasters), who attract new customers using a variety of marketing tools and strategies. 

When your users shop via your link, you get a commission (which is a win-win for everyone). That is, affiliate marketing as a whole makes it possible to significantly increase return on investment (ROI) and obtain higher profits, which is beneficial both for partners and business owners. Not surprisingly, almost every notable online store or brand has an affiliate program – about 10% of profits in the eCommerce sector worldwide come from affiliate marketing. In the U.S., the percentage is even higher – 15%.

This direction is actively developing, which is reflected in the number of affiliate programs and webmasters working in this sector. 

Although 2020 has been a major test for many lines of business, whether you are an affiliate beginner or expert, the affiliate channel is still a reliable source of traffic and sales for brands.  

The approximate value of the affiliate marketing sector is $12 billion, and by the end of 2021, experts estimate that this figure will increase to $13-16 billion. This dynamic is justified: Hosting Tribunal suggests that next year, affiliate marketing spending will increase by 10%.

2020 has strongly affected the balance of power in the niches of affiliate marketing – some of them have become less profitable, while the popularity of others has increased sharply. At the same time, more forms, tools, and programs are emerging. Thus, in 2021, we will see a lot of new changes and trends in this sector.

So let’s take a look at what tools will come in handy in 2021. Paid and free solutions will help you save time and monetize your traffic faster, getting better results. They will also be indispensable in the optimization and tracking process. 

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Affiliate Marketing Tools

“Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.”  – Peter Drucker, the Father of Modern Management.

This is exactly what affiliate marketing is all about. Fortunately, there are many tools and tricks to reach unprecedented heights of perfectionism and save your time.

What is Affiliate Marketing Tools?

So, what are we talking about here? What other tools do you need if you have an offer and a chosen advertising network? Or maybe you don’t need other people’s traffic at all? Whatever the case, you should know that an affiliate marketer’s job consists of different processes, which can vary depending on the specifics of your business. However, all of them can be facilitated. 

The basic process typically looks as follows:

Spy – Create – Improve Landing – Collect Data Properly – Optimize – Get Profit

There are tools for each of the above-mentioned stages that allow you to do things more efficiently than, well, without them. This results in a quite long list of affiliate marketing tools and plugins:

  • Spy tools (database of landers and creatives, used at various traffic sources, in different GEOs, verticals, and ad formats);
  • Free stock photo websites;
  • Image/photo editing services;
  • Landing page builders;
  • Hostings;
  • Trackers;
  • Automated optimization tools, etc.

Of course, this is not a complete list of tools that can be useful to an affiliate marketer. There will always be something else. But these are the most important ones, which can greatly simplify the life of both a novice and an experienced marketing specialist. 

Why Do You Need Tools for Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing tools serve several key functions. The main focus is always on tracking. though. You have to keep track of how each of your affiliates is performing. If you don’t know who is driving the most traffic/sales, you’re basically “shooting in the dark.”

Sure, you can do some things without the above-mentioned tools if you’re great at coming up with catchy approaches for creatives or have impressive coding skills to build a landing page on your own.

On the other hand, there’s a special software for affiliate marketing that cannot be replaced. You can’t calculate conversion in an Excel table, and viewing all data in different places is simply time-consuming.

Often, when buying access to certain services-assistants, you get more profits in the end than you would without them. Plus, as you might know, there’s a lot of competition in affiliate marketing. And the tools allow you to be much more productive and faster, which gives you an advantage over those who do not use such services.

How Do You Choose Affiliate Marketing Tools?

When choosing software for affiliate marketing, pay attention to the following points:

  • Don’t be greedy. Pay for what really matters. Say, a good tracker is the heart of the whole process – you definitely don’t want to save on it; 
  • If your chosen tool is paid, check if there is a free trial period. This will help you evaluate the service and understand if it’s worth paying for;
  • Pay attention to basic (free) functionality. Sometimes, you simply won’t need any features of the paid version. This may apply to some hostings.

Spy Tools

Spy tools are super important for any affiliate marketer. They allow you to be aware of what’s popular in the market, what offers are converting, and what creatives your competitors are using. In addition, such tools are a source of inspiration for creating your own creos. 

You don’t want to take out-of-the-box creatives and landings from spy tools. Chances are, many users have already seen them and will ignore them. Instead, you want to find a cool option and use its idea in your own way.

Spy tools are also good for gathering additional technical data you need to launch: which is better to launch: mobile or desktop, which geo converts in certain verticals, popular OS and time of user activity, etc.

Top 10 Services for Spying on Affiliate Marketing

  • AdBeat. The service shows which ads are running on more than 120 ad networks. You can use it at no charge;
  • AdClarity for Display. This one has data on the top 40 countries in the world for PC, Mac, iOS, and Android;
  • AdMobiSpy – 52 countries and 5 advertising formats (banners, native ads, text ads, etc.) are available. 15 different filters and the ability to download ad materials with a single click;
  • AdPlexity – 7 most popular advertising formats (mobile, desktop, native, push, eCommerce, carriers, enterprise) and 75 countries available. The service provides useful technical data (OS, audiences, and more). Unfortunately, there is no trial period;
  • AdVault – ads from 19 countries and 13 ad grids with native traffic;
  • BuzzSumo is a service that will be useful if you work with social and search. It has keys, search strategies, and more. There’s also a trial period for 30 days to see if it works for you;
  • SEMrush is a tool that needs no introduction. It helps with keyword research, ranking tracking, and creating SEO templates. A 7-day trial is available for novices;
  • SpyFu is a tool for SEO and PPC. It can find any possible keys, at least, that’s what was promised. Indexes over 7 million results for 106 million domains;
  • The Search Monitor helps with keys and other useful technical information;
  • iSpionage promises the best strategies for SEM and SEO, and everything related to them.

Among these 17 options, you are sure to find something for yourself. 

Free Stock Photo Sites

Where do you get high-quality visuals to get your creatives noticed? Certainly not on the first Google page!

Check free stock photo sites. They have images and photos with high-quality content and they are free! Typically, on such websites, there are different image categories and search features. You can also expect a number of sizes, shapes, to make them usable for any project type. 

Top 5 Free Photo Sharing Sites

  • Pixabay – 1.9 million pictures + it has stock music and video files
  • FreeStockImages – you can find more than 100,000 free photos here;
  • Picjumbo – this service is split into Free and Premium. The free option has quite a lot of high-quality stock images. In addition, under your choice, the service shows similar image options;
  • All The Free Stock – this website is different in that you can also find icons, sounds, and videos here;
  • Stock Up has over 25,000+ free photos.

Paid stock photo sites will also offer downloadable large files, upfront licensing, legal guarantees, etc. 

Image Editing Services

Even the simplest advertising formats need attractive banners. Using extra help to increase clickability has never done any harm.

And in this block, we’ve gathered tools for affiliate marketers to help create, enhance, and compress images. If you need to make a cool infographic or add a quote from a messenger or social media to the image – you will not have any problems either. 

What you don’t need for a catchy visual, and it’s all already collected here!

Top 5 Picture Editing Tools

  • Canva is a versatile picture editing service. There are thousands of templates collected there to create beautiful images with captions. Using the service, you can make visual content for Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Plus, you can work with videos as well. Canva has a free version with a wide range of features, so you probably won’t need the paid version;
  • Pixlr is a cool photo editor with lots of features and effects. You can simply edit images, add fun filters (like drawing objects on top of a photo). There’s also a mobile version;
  • Infogram is an indispensable service for internet marketers. People trust infographics, so this service will come in handy. The free version gives you access to 37 types of infographics and 13 types of maps. In addition, you will be able to animate objects;
  • Quozio is a cool online tool for generating quotes, like in a messenger or a social network. Latin and Cyrillic fonts are available. You can play with colors and font sizes;
  • TinyPNG is a service that helps reduce the weight of your image files. This will be useful when you want to reduce the loading speed of a landing page. Some ad grids impose restrictions on the weight of creatives, so this service will also be useful. 

Landing Page Builders

Of course, you can use pre-built landings from affiliate networks. It’s quick and easy: just take a link and add it. However, experts still prefer to use their own pages.

And if you’re looking for free icons, we’ve compiled an archive of over 300 icons for 8 major verticals for you. 

Pre-built landing pages take away a lot of maneuvering for testing. The page may have an unfavorable header, and you will have to work hard to change something. Your own landing page is better simply because it will definitely be unique. Plus, you will be able to change it easily, as well as test different funnel options.   

If you think you have the skills, you can code a site yourself. For others, a simple and affordable option would be a website builder – a tool for creating web pages from templates.

Top 5 Services for Creating Stunning Web Pages for Affiliate Marketing Needs

  • Wix is a free tool for creating web pages. You only have to pay for hosting! The builder has built-in AI, which in a couple of seconds will suggest several pre-made design and content options. You can answer a few simple questions about the purpose of your landing page, and Wix will build a site for you using a drag-and-drop approach, with suitable text and images. Next, you will only have to make a few edits. Wix has an open platform for developers with serverless data processing and simple programming. Prices range from $8.50 to $24.50 per month. 
  • Instapage is another handy service for creating custom-made web links. The service is more focused on the needs of arbitrage marketers. In addition to a landing page builder, there are ample opportunities for testing and analysis: unlimited split testing, heat maps, dynamic text replacement, etc. The service provides a 14-day trial. After that, it’s $149 per month;
  • WordPress.com is a service for creating custom-made weblogs. Don’t confuse it with WordPress.org, they are different sites. If you work with advertising, you need the WordPress.com option. Essentially, this builder is not much different from Wix, but in addition to its features, it has the ability to connect a bunch of plugins that will make your work easier. Plus, you won’t have to deal with the back-end. The price per month varies from $4 to $45, depending on the chosen plan;
  • PureLander is a service, which, from the very beginning, has positioned itself as a builder of landing pages for CPA offers. There you have it- a tool designed for affiliate marketing. It allows you to upload someone else’s landing page and edit it using the most popular blocks to increase conversions: say, you can insert a countdown on the page. It costs $25 for half a year to use – worth a try;
  • Leadpages is another simple webpage builder. Similar to Wix (in functionality) but not AI-based. Price from $27 per month to $239. 

Hostings for Affiliate Marketing

Okay, let’s say you now have a landing page. Some affiliate link builders provide free hostings, depending on the plan you bought. However, if you are working extensively, that number of slots may not be enough.

In addition, not all hostings are the same, and for advertising, it’s important that the page load time is as fast as possible. For some advertising formats, such as popunder ads, experts even recommend choosing a hosting in a country closer to the one for which advertising is set – all to ensure fast page load times.

We have a list of web hostings recommended by our experts:

  • Surge.sh is a free hosting service with an unlimited number of domains. It’s as simple as possible to use. If you have a folder with site files on your PC, just enter a single command to upload the entire site to Surge.sh; 
  • DigitalOcean is the choice of Luke Kling, founder of Kling Media (affLIFT + FPTraffic), a popular affiliate marketing forum. DigitalOcean is more suitable for developers who need an affordable cloud infrastructure than for novices. There are no free domain names, backups, and SSL certificates that marketers need. However, if you’re a pro at coding, you can do everything yourself. Prices range from $5 to $80;
  • Vultr is a hosting service that provides cloud servers. In the reviews, they write that the service differs from competitors with a higher level of quality and performance. Vultr offers four plans: Bare Metal (fully automated dedicated servers with zero virtualization layer), Dedicated Cloud (dedicated cloud compute instances without the noisy neighbors), Cloud Compute (powerful compute instances with Intel CPUs and 100% SSD storage), Block Storage (fast SSD-backed scalable and redundant storage with up to 10TB volumes). They are very similar in that they both allocate you a server via the cloud. The difference is that with Dedicated Cloud, you can rent a fixed percentage of a dedicated server – say, 25%, 50%, or even the entire server. Pricing starts at $2.50 to $120 per month;
  • Amazon S3 & Cloudfront CDN are the services that Nick Lenihan (a successful affiliate marketing expert with 8+ years of experience) prefers. This pair consists of a secure, fast content delivery network (CDN) + extensive programming capabilities, and a service to store and secure any amount of data.

Trackers for Affiliate Marketers

So now we’ve finally reached the most important point. A tracker is an affiliate marketer’s main assistant. Without it, launching any advertising campaign is more like wandering in the dark. 

A tracker is a tool that collects data from the advertising network as well as information on approved conversions from the partner network in one place. All data necessary for the analysis is collected here. It’s in the tracker that you will see, which campaigns are successful, which are failures. You can “dig deeper” into the tracker to see which creatives bring more feedback and what technical parameters show the best results (desktop, mobile, certain OS, or devices). Trackers can monitor multiple ad campaigns at once, and you get a tool that collects all statistics you need for testing and optimization.

The first purpose of a tracker is to monitor all campaign parameters and analyze traffic, including which device/source the user came from, which browser and OS is used, and which creative people like most. 

The second purpose is to consolidate all media-buying processes in one place, so you don’t have to switch between different sources. This allows you not to miss anything during analysis.

Of course, you can find anti-fraud tools and other useful features in trackers, but that’s more of a nice extra. The main thing is the data.

If you work with an advertising network, choose a tracker that is integrated with it. Then it will be easier to set up the transfer of conversions so that all data gets to the tracker, without any distortion.

There’s just a huge number of quality trackers on the market today. We won’t talk about their features since we don’t want to make this article too long. However, you can always read about their features and advantages on their official websites. 

On the one hand, it may seem that a tracker is an expensive “toy,” which you don’t really need. Wrong. It’s especially important to have all the data at hand when you’re starting out in affiliate marketing. A tracker is a kind of tool totally worth paying for + there are free options, as well.

Here, we’ll just tell you about a few basic features, trial period availability, and price per month. This information can be important for those who want to try and compare different trackers.

  • Voluum ($69-$426, no trial period). One of the main advantages of Voluum is its speed, which is faster than most of its competitors. In arbitrage, speed is known to be an important competitive advantage. With Voluum Ad Tracker, you can track over 30 metrics on every visit, as well as clicks and conversions for all of your campaigns in real time. With or without redirects. Work with large volumes of traffic, generate detailed reports, and sort traffic by country, network, device type, OS, and browser;
  • Kochava ($100, 30 days trial) is not just a regular tracker – it’s a two-in-one hybrid. Thus, you can also use a mobile analytics system, which has also been added. Kochava helps you segment your users and optimize your marketing campaigns across all connected devices. You can find standard reports by gender, age, devices, events, DAU/MAU/WAU, retention, revenue and create your own reports by the required parameters. This solution can be used to monitor and report on app performance and target user behavior, creating cohorts and administering app fraud detection/prevention; 
  • Keitaro ($25-70, 7-day trial) is a flexible and functional server-type tracker that divides traffic by geo, device, provider, and many other factors. All reports and revenue sources are generated in a convenient format. Additionally, Keitaro allows you to set up cloaking (a practice that involves developing two different versions of the same page) and freely pass moderation in advertising networks;
  • Binom ($99, 14-day trial) is a self-hosted tracker, a high-speed tracker for dealing with large amounts of traffic. And it’s not just empty words – It really is the leader in click-processing speed – 1 click per 7 ms! The tracker copes with many tasks including traffic management, cloaking, data analysis, and reporting. There are a lot of noteworthy functions here. Moreover, a user-friendly interface and incredible report-generating speed make this tracker one of the best solutions for any marketer; 
  • PeerClick ($70-$455, unlimited for basic functionality) is called “the little brother of Binom.” The interface here is also minimalistic and user-friendly. The tracker is cloud-based and quite fast. This is a tracker and traffic distribution system for the evaluation and analytics of advertising campaigns in one place. PeerClick is equipped with cloud technology, SmartFlow, which allows you to instantly process and analyze any amount of data. You can easily track expenses, revenue, and conversions in real time. With a wide range of versatile tools, PeerClick is perfect wherever you need to collect data, analysis, and qualitative evaluation;
  • FunnelFlux ($1 (first month) – $99, no trial) is one of the best marketing tools for campaign optimization and tracking. This unique tracker visualizes conversion funnels. That is, it visually shows at what stage of the sales funnel the user comes and goes. Traffic is routed based on performance. FunnelFlux helps choose the shortest and most convenient way of transferring info because the dev team is constantly working on new features and improving old ones. FunnelFlux allows you to see how much money you spent on each of your existing traffic sources, as well as how much revenue was generated by leads from the sources independently;
  • Kintura ($199-449, 14-day trial) is a tracker tuned to work with native, push, pop, and banner advertising campaigns. The AI of the tracker rapidly handles campaign data and evaluates every user’s action in the funnel in real time to predict the most likely conversion scenario and act accordingly. This makes life a lot easier! The tracker has instant reporting: no need to wait for data details, everything is available almost immediately. The flexible preset configuration fits any vertical;
  • BeMob ($49-$499, unlimited for basic functionality) is able to quickly test your customization, track and distribute traffic streams with maximum ROI. You can create your own customization templates for campaigns and tracking. All campaign data is stored in the cloud. BeMob tracks conversion statuses, considers the percentage of lost traffic from each source, and redirects traffic if there are restrictions on conversions on the offer. It’s a tracker with a free trial period that ends when you exceed 100,000 events per month; 
  • AdsBridge ($29-$379, 14-day trial) is a cloud-based tracker and TDS (Traffic Distribution System – allows monitoring your campaign in real time automatically as well as re-distribute traffic on your landing pages and your offers in the campaign) for traffic arbitrage. AdsBridge is suitable for easy scaling of campaigns. Redirection of clicks is super-fast (just as reporting) so losses are minimal; 
  • Appsflyer (custom pricing, unlimited for basic functionality) is the attribution platform that has its own protection against fraud. Accurate statistics analysis. with in-depth analytics. is presented in a single report. Appsflyer makes working with paid traffic sources much easier and provides truly “transparent” analytics. The platform increases campaign ROI through intelligent retargeting;
  • RedTrack ($49-$149, 14-day trial) offers a high click-through rate and detailed statistics. As you have understood, this tracker belongs to the cloud ones.  In terms of functionality, RedTrack is not inferior to more expensive analogs: speed, practicality, and functionality are all on a high level. In terms of capabilities, many put RedTrack next to Voluum;
  • Thrivetracker ($35-$79, 14-day trial) is a cloud-based tracker that provides a complete solution for managing campaigns on mobile and desktop traffic. Thrivetracker is designed to handle a large amount of data. At the same time, the reports are very user-friendly. One of the main advantages of Thrivetracker is high-speed data processing. The tracker servers are located all around the world.

When choosing a tracker, focus not only on the price but also on whether it’s integrated with your advertising network. 

Automated Optimization Tools

You’ll also want to be able to automate your payments. There are a couple of things to consider here: 

  • One of them is reliability. Your partners will want to get paid quickly and correctly. 
  • Then there’s flexibility. That means you can customize your payment structure to suit your needs.

Auto-optimization is a trend in 2021. It’s great for helping affiliates simplify their work. In fact, after a quick setup, auto-optimization does all the work for you! 

In affiliate marketing, automation helps you optimize conversion rates and ad costs, limit campaigns by time, and check links (to make sure they lead to relevant offers). 

Any affiliate marketing campaign, that’s focused on growth, involves working with multiple publishers. By automating affiliate work, an advertiser can simplify the management of traffic, campaigns, and data transmission.

What these tools can do:

  • Create blacklists/whitelists based on set parameters;
  • Disable non-converting creatives, browsers, devices;
  • Exclude anomalies;
  • Disable sources that do not convert.

One of the popular tools used by many marketers for auto-optimization is TheOptimizer. It’s a third-party service that costs about $100-$300 per month (depending on what you want to optimize). 

If you’re not ready to give that kind of money ever, on the RichAds platform, the auto-optimizer features are absolutely free to customers with the Automated Rules feature. Basically, it’s a great way to save your time! You will need only five minutes on creating some basic rules for the blacklists/whitelists, and they will keep on working automatically, without your constant interference. 

Simply choose what you will work with, whether it’s publisher IDs, browsers, devices, campaigns, OS, creatives, site IDs, etc. Add sources to blacklist or whitelist, increase/decrease bids, etc. You can read more on the official website.

Marketers face many challenges when launching their campaigns. Affiliate marketing tools and plugins can make them much faster and easier. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re spying on your competitors or auto-optimizing your campaign. What matters is using the right tools with the right network to get maximum profits.

Useful Service for Launching an Affiliate Program

Now let’s look at a specific online service that will come in handy for you as an advertiser in partnering with affiliates.

Post Affiliate Pro is one of a number of tools for attracting and managing your affiliates. It knows how to track your affiliate referrals, clicks, commissions, payout records, and more. Post Affiliate is a 100% affiliate service with a huge number of features for both parties.

The first thing to note is the ease of use – it’s really easy to make bulk payouts, create reports, and map overlays here. Post Affiliate Pro is mostly focused on affiliates themselves. 

One special feature here that deserves special attention is split commissions. It allows you to reward all affiliates who participate in the sale, not just the one who got the final click-through rate. There’s also the ability to create performance rewards. This allows you to support your best affiliates by showing that you appreciate their hard work. Lifetime commissions work in a similar way – they allow you to give affiliates repeat commissions if their client keeps coming back.

The service works with all of your affiliate programs, from top to bottom, except for financial transaction processing. However, most payment and trading systems are fully integrated with the online service.

How will this help your business? At the very least – you can run your own affiliate program, reward affiliates on sales and clicks performance. 

Post Affiliate Pro will automate your whole baggage of affiliate programs. Each affiliate will be given a choice of marketing and advertising tools to promote your business. In addition, it will track the direction of your affiliate network, commissions, payouts, etc.

Post Affiliate Pro Key Features

  • Advanced affiliate tracking;
  • Channel and Sub-ID tracking;
  • Flexibility, extensibility;
  • Rich variety of banners;
  • Website replication;
  • DirectLink connectivity;
  • Friendly search links;
  • Commission life span;
  • Private campaigns and commission groups;
  • Real-time reporting;
  • Recurring commissions;
  • High compatibility;
  • User-friendly control panel;
  • Built-in affiliate link Cloaker;
  • Affiliate splitting commissions, etc.

There are also alternative partner management platforms like Impact, Everflow, CAKE, TUNE, PartnerStack, etc. Each of these services has its own advantages. To make a well-thought-out decision on what to use, we’d recommend going through all popular services and studying their interfaces and features.

Conclusion

The world of marketing is diverse and dynamic as never before – 2020 has made it clear that trends can change rapidly – what was relevant yesterday, may lose popularity today. Some trends may take you by surprise, so in 2021, you need to be more careful in planning your advertising campaigns and choosing affiliate marketing tools carefully.

Lastly, here are a few tips to help you succeed in affiliate marketing in 2021:

  • Keep an eye on seasonal trends and consider current demand;
  • Automating your affiliate marketing will greatly increase your chances of profits;
  • Regular monitoring and analysis of market trends will safeguard against unforeseen market fluctuations;
  • Investing in a variety of niches will provide you with a reserve that you can rely on, in case some affiliate programs prove to be less profitable or lose their relevance;
  • Short-term viral trends will help you to get a good profit in a short time.
Adam Hansen