What makes a great affiliate marketing platform? Good reports, tracking tools, integrations, and easy affiliate management are the more obvious answers, but what else?

We’ve talked about what to look for in an affiliate platform, switching affiliate platforms, and the steps required to getting your affiliate program up and running – all of which provide insights on the components that make for a successful affiliate program. But there are some less-talked-about features that are worth exploring.

In this post, we shed some light on 8 under-appreciated features to give you more to think about when researching affiliate marketing platforms, or making the most of your current platform.

1. Easy setup

If you’re just starting out with affiliate marketing, it can be a headache to deal with an affiliate marketing platform that is complicated to set up. Platforms that allow you to get up and running quickly can make a big difference to your workflow, momentum, and confidence – and can ultimately help you grow faster.

For example, things like quality documentation and default affiliate registration forms make it easier to get up and running right “out of the box”. At the very least, an emphasis on easy setup is a good sign that the platform you’re dealing with has put some thought into the user experience.

2. Direct link tracking

Allowing affiliates to link directly to your site without necessarily using actual affiliate links enables them to promote your products to a wider audience. Let’s face it, with the amount of fraud and sketchy business that exists on the internet, it’s natural for people to be wary or skeptical of affiliate links – and some may shy away from them altogether.

Using direct link tracking bypasses this stumbling block and helps your affiliates reach potential customers who might not otherwise engage with your promotions. It can also facilitate trust and a sense of transparency between your affiliates, their audiences, and your brand.

3. Automatic payouts

It should come as no surprise that automation makes it easier to run just about any operation – affiliate programs included! So, when it comes to sending commissions every month (or whatever timeline you use), automatic payments can be extremely helpful.

Less work for you, and consistently reliable payouts for your affiliates – everybody wins.

4. 1-to-1 communication channels

The ease of direct communication between your affiliates and your affiliate manager (if you have one) is one of the best ways to empower your affiliates and make sure they feel enabled and fully supported. Great affiliate marketing platforms usually have a ticketing system or some other kind of communication channel for affiliates to directly contact someone, whether it’s an affiliate manager or otherwise.

5. Tiered commission rates

Incentives are everything when it comes to affiliate marketing! And features like tiered commission rates give you effective ways to reward your affiliates for meeting sales goals, making improvements in performance, or achieving loyalty milestones (for example).

People are simply more motivated when they have goals (and rewards) to work toward!

6. Customization

Having the ability to customize and personalize the affiliate experience is a valuable feature that might not always get the spotlight. Maybe you want to create a sleek and inviting affiliate area that keeps your affiliates engaged, or customize emails to specific affiliate segments based on seasonal or niche-specific promotions, for example.

Whatever the case, customization gives you options and flexibility to adapt your affiliate platform to your preferred methods, your affiliates’ needs, as well as your brand. Some platforms will be more friendly to customization than others; for instance, plugins that have add-ons and allow for custom development are often designed with customization in mind.

7. Manual affiliate approval

The quality of your team can make or break your affiliate program – and ensuring that affiliates are the right match for your program is everything. There may be times when you want to manually approve affiliate accounts to avoid spam and fraud, or weed out affiliates that aren’t relevant to your brand or goals.

Needless to say, the ability to manually approve affiliates is a more important feature than it might seem on the surface!

8. Unlimited affiliates and creatives

Some affiliate marketing platforms put limitations on the number of affiliates you can have, as well as the amount of affiliate creatives you can have. These kinds of limitations can restrict your growth, and your ability to fully equip your affiliates with all of the materials they need to succeed.

Some of the best affiliate marketing platforms are those that allow unlimited affiliates, and unlimited creatives, leaving you plenty of room to try out new strategies, diversify your creatives, and expand your affiliate program without worrying about hitting a limit or stagnating.

It’s a matter of priorities

Of course, priorities will vary from one publisher to the next, but these are some of the features that we think should get a bit more consideration! It’s easy to see how tools that help you track and measure your affiliate program and other essential features are important, but you might be surprised how these under-appreciated features can actually affect the happiness of your affiliates, your productivity, and ultimately – your revenue.

What affiliate marketing platform features do you think are under-appreciated? Did we miss something in this post? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Mandy Jones

About the author: Mandy is a content writer at Sandhills Development, singer/songwriter/musician, and founder of Looplicious. Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, she's a frequent traveler and animal lover with a passion for creativity and maker culture.

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