Affiliate tracking software for lead generation

Affiliate Marketing

lead gen affiliate

Lead generation is a lot like dating. A flashy new car and expensive dinners might cast a wide net — kind of like PPC ads — but you might not always attract a quality audience. At the end of the night (campaign), you’ll be stuck with a big bill and zero chemistry.

Your brand has a lot to offer, and you deserve to find an audience who appreciates your products. How do you find them without spending your entire marketing budget? Affiliate marketing brings quality leads at a low price.

Brands partner with affiliates — publishers, influencers, and other partners — to market your business to their audience. But affiliates have already spent time wining and dining a customer base ripe for conversion. Years of quality content and genuine conversations created a sense of trust and chemistry.

As a brand, your sales team gets to swoop in after all the legwork is done.

The best part? A sales commission structure ensures your budget is well spent, with payouts only after you receive leads and conversions.

But affiliate marketing only goes so far as your affiliate marketing tracking software.

Wouldn’t you like to see all your affiliate marketing activities on a clean, accessible, intuitive interface? That’s where reliable affiliate performance tracking comes in.

We’ll explore affiliate lead generation and how to pick from affiliate tracking software and assess key features in a single platform. The end goal? A second date with your audience and many more to come.

Lead generation vs. affiliate marketing

Lead generation is the process of finding and catering to people interested in your niche, offerings, and brand. That’s code for finding potential customers — a vital step in the sales process.

But leads aren’t always buyers, at least not right away. They’re simply people that have an interest or potential use for your brand’s products and services.

A quick Google search presents tons of lead-generation strategies. Today, digital marketers use courses, sales calls, SEO, and PPC ads to find leads throughout the sales cycle. But converting leads (turning window shoppers into paying customers) is expensive. 

In fact, it’s a well-known struggle and even the final straw for many businesses. One Forbes article describes outdated lead generation tactics as common paths to business demise.

For example, cold sales calls and emails were once a sure path to leads, but they’re far from adequate in today’s market, no matter your industry. Same with Excel as a sole conversion tracking method. But even PPC ads and SEO present limits, particularly in the high upfront investment.

But affiliate marketing campaigns crack the code and tackle lead generation costs and limits head on.

Instead of investing marketing budgets into labor for cold-pitching, you don’t pay until you see results. Instead of blindly seeking new audiences, you’ll start with one already primed to receive your product.

Today, lead generation is all about data and automation. And affiliate campaigns with quality tracking help you embrace both.

How? First, affiliate partners use assets, like user reviews, tutorials, educational articles, or contests to prime an audience that’s already invested in them.

With us so far? So is your wallet. You haven’t spent a dime yet.

Moving on, that engagement starts to show once those affiliates convince audiences to visit your website (leads) or purchase your products (conversions).

And the right affiliate network tracking software helps you capture every important piece of data in your affiliate campaigns.

Affiliate marketing explainer

How do affiliate partnerships work for lead generation?

Affiliates promote your brand through their own publishing channels, either their blog, magazine, website, or social media platforms. They won’t do this for free, but there’s still no upfront cost to you.

Commissions make the affiliate marketing business go round.

If your business strategy aims to improve web traffic, you might pay your affiliate network a set amount per lead (signup or download, for example). But if you’re using affiliates to drive sales, you’ll pay a commission on each conversion they bring — ideally a new purchase.

Tapfiliate affiliate program landing page
Image source: Tapfiliate

Of course, different brands might have different partnerships with affiliates. For example, a SaaS business might pay affiliate marketers when one of the leads they send converts from a free trial customer to a paid subscriber. Likewise, an eCommerce business would pay affiliates for new transactions.

Princess Polly affiliate page
Image source: Princess Polly

But regardless of your business goals, you’ll still need to track the results of your lead generation affiliate program.

Affiliate marketing software makes it easy to link leads to affiliate activity — even without rewarding commissions right away. The value here is in verifying the lead itself before awarding a commission payment. However, some business owners won’t award any payment solely for leads, instead positioning their partnerships to award commissions only on transactions.

Bottom line? Affiliate marketing helps you find more quality leads with a lower investment. But that’s not the only positive feature of affiliate marketing.

You’ll manifest a wide range of benefits once you introduce a reliable affiliate tracking software to your lead generation efforts.

The benefits of using affiliate marketing tools for lead generation

Think of every restaurant, barber, hotel, or product you’ve paid for. Chances are, you trusted a friend’s referrals on one or two businesses before making a purchase.

Boom — word-of-mouth marketing (WOM) earned your new favorite business a sale.

Multiply that by millions, and you’re left with over $6 trillion in sales driven by word-of-mouth marketing worldwide.

You might wonder if WOM applies to SaaS services. The answer is yes. Most businesses catch onto artificial intelligence and other software through:

  • Colleague recommendations
  • Networking chatter
  • Demos and case studies demonstrating use for other businesses

Now, affiliate marketing maximizes the benefits of WOM and referral tracking, but differs from the above examples because affiliate advertisers aren’t your customers (yet). They’re marketing experts, publishers, and other partners with enough of a following to promote your product. Similar to customers sharing positive experiences about products with friends, affiliates use various content forms to share your offerings with their following.

Brevo affiliate landing page
Image source: Brevo

But WOM affiliate sales funnels aren’t the only benefit. Here are a few more reasons why the affiliate industry is a blooming place for lead generation:

Higher-quality leads: Say you sell luxury men’s hygiene products like lotion, wipes, and body wash. What’s the point of paying for overarching PPC ads that reach men and women to the same degree?

Sure, mothers, sisters, and girlfriends might purchase your products as gifts, but your target audience is men — specifically men in a higher income bracket. Affiliate marketing gives you qualified leads in two ways. First, you can check each affiliate’s following and reputation before you sign them on. If you notice their following largely comprises high net-worth men, or men interested in fitness and grooming, you’re already working with better leads.

Second, you can qualify your leads before paying affiliate commissions. You can use affiliate platforms or CRM to automate verification based on custom criteria before you make a payment. This also incentivizes affiliate marketers to drive quality traffic (and avoid bad traffic sources) to your site.

Low risk: Most lead generation tactics eat up your marketing budget. Even searching for leads before conversion costs money with PPC ads, labor costs, and more. The risk here is spending thousands of dollars for minimal leads or poor-quality ones that don’t convert.

A lead generation affiliate program presents much lower risk since you don’t have to pay until you receive qualified leads or purchases. Your affiliate marketing network handled the legwork in the years they spent building their following.

More performance data: An affiliate performance tracking solution helps you assess performance for different promotional methods. Each affiliate marketing platform uses cookies to find out where each visitor or customer comes from.

For example, you can see how many customers come from one affiliate’s product review. How about affiliate channel transactions, from magazine publications to TikTok? You can use affiliate tracking software to compare performance across different affiliate channels and partners. Then, use those actionable insights to tailor your affiliate marketing strategy accordingly.

You can also keep tabs on which leads remain browsers and which ones convert. Tapfiliate’s new customer tracking feature uses cookies to record user behavior and interaction with your affiliate program. You can record the following customer flows:

Explainer on how Tapfiliate's new cutomer tracking feature works.
Text reads: Trial → Paying → (Capped) → Canceled (recommended for subscription/SaaS)
Lead → Won → (Capped) → Lost (For lead generation)
New → Active → (Capped) → Stopped (For eCommerce or generic use)

If you need help activating these customer flows, check out this guide on customers vs. conversions. You can either complete these automated tracking tasks directly on Tapfiliate or through an external plug-in with Zapier. We have other marketing automations available.

Better ROI: We can think of tons of lead generation tactics, but none compete in ROI with affiliate marketing (if you do it properly).

You can have a stellar content calendar, but you need constant contractor or employee hours to research, write, edit, and post regularly.

A robust Facebook campaign might extend reach and offer flexible pricing, but you’re still paying upfront before receiving any leads.

Affiliate campaigns soar past ROI targets because you only pay for performance, not efforts.

Scale quickly: Expanding your business takes valuable time and capital — two things you won’t have with traditional lead generation models. Scaling means increasing revenue with minimal changes to your existing resources.

Why wait months for leads as you dwindle your budget? Affiliate marketing lets you start on the cheap and scale quickly as your affiliate program grows, only increasing your affiliate network or commissions.

How to choose your lead generation model

Your ideal lead generation model depends on your unique business. We’ll cover two popular models you can track with Tapfiliate:

  • Trial to paying: Do you offer prospective customers a free trial for your service to drive business growth? Most SaaS businesses do, as do magazine distributors and other subscription-based businesses. But how do you track the magic that happens when customers switch from trial to subscriptions? These are two vital destinations in the SaaS customer journey, and identifying the switch helps you assess conversions. Which affiliates increase your conversion rates? Which affiliates help you convert those trial customers into loyal customers?
  • Lead to won: Here, a qualified lead is a person who visits your website. Say they fill out a web form and offer you juicy customer data like their email address. That’s one extra ingredient to your email marketing list, and one step closer to an explosive affiliate marketing email campaign! Some businesses see that as a desirable conversion, in other words, a win! However, many businesses see won leads as paying customers, aka traveling to the end of the funnel.
SEMRUSH explaining why people should join their affiliate program with high commissions highlighted.
Image source: SEMRUSH

Picked your affiliate model? Great. Let’s figure out how to pick affiliate tracking tools for campaign management.

How to choose an affiliate tracking software for lead generation

So, how do you pick a lead generation affiliate software that meets your business needs best?

You might come across one software with a laundry list of impressive advanced features. But you can’t afford Post Affiliate Pro’s $599 enterprise plan.

Don’t worry; you have a wide range of options across different pricing plans, key features, and interface user-friendliness.

Your best bet is to check out different contenders and match them against your criteria, budget, and expectations. Make sure you also check user reviews for unbiased customer experiences.

How does your current lead generation strategy limit your business objectives? Think about those pain points and seek out software that directly addresses them.

That being said, affiliate tracking software should entail a few key functions for your lead generation tasks. Look for a powerful affiliate marketing software with these key features:

  • Automatic referral link generation for affiliates: Most affiliate software offers access to a dedicated login for each affiliate upon sign-up. However, the best software will offer convenience and flexibility.

You might consider customizing things even further with custom affiliate links. Tapfiliate can help with that. Just keep in mind you might need support from a developer to implement. Or your affiliates can change their links themselves without the need for a dev.

Screenshot showing someone changing their referral code
Image source: Tapfiliate dashboard
  • Tracking and reporting: Accurate tracking and detailed reporting capabilities are must-haves for affiliate tracking tools. Pay attention to any user reviews mentioning unstable affiliate tracking — that’s a big red flag. Overall, you want software that can translate detailed tracking results into priceless insights and accessible detailed reports.

For example, Tapfiliate‘s core features include top-of-the-line tracking tech to capture every lead or transaction and link each one to your affiliate partners with a cookie.

Screenshot of reporting
Image source: Tapfiliate reporting overview

Working with discount codes? We’ve covered that front as well, linking every coupon code used at checkout to each affiliate. Our ultimate affiliate marketing dashboard is like Google Analytics for your affiliate marketing programs. It gives you valuable insights about your affiliate program or referral program. On top of that, our real-time detailed reports let you drill down into granular insights with filters and segments.

  • Customization: Customization is at the forefront of innovation in affiliate marketing tools. Let’s start with branding. Brand awareness doesn’t just stop with internal operations. You add logos to SOP documents and invoices. You maintain brand voice across all communications. Similarly, affiliate management software should offer customizable interfaces. Tapfiliate’s custom branding capabilities let you add your own logo and favicon — complete with custom verbiage across the platform and your personal domain in affiliate links.

Brand awareness and consistency? Check. Try to find a reliable affiliate tracking solution that offers customization in reporting features and commission structures, too.

  • Integration: Performance marketing software isn’t very useful if you can’t integrate it with your existing marketing stack. For example, Zapier integrations are useful for automating your affiliate program. At the very least, look for software that integrates with your shopping site or payment processor. Tapfiliate integrates with Shopify, Stripe, Woo Commerce, Teachable, Magento, Wix Stores, WordPress, and plenty of other apps.
Image source: Tapfiliate
  • Flexible, capable commissions: Commission management is another vital area for your affiliate tracking solution. Does your business model work more efficiently with paying per qualified lead? Or only when a transaction goes through?

On top of that, will you offer every affiliate the same commission structure? If you have affiliates with varying audiences and attributes, you might commission the more influential partners at a better rate. Look for affiliate tracking tools with customizable commissions. Tapfiliate offers varied commission rates across different products, social networks, marketing channels, categories, and affiliates.

Start tracking your leads today

Lead generation success isn’t about reaching as many audiences as you can. It’s about targeting highly qualified potential customers with unparalleled credibility, personality, and service to meet their needs.

Remember, lead generation starts with finding your audience.

And if you find them in a potential affiliate’s following or customer base? You’ve won half the battle.

The other half lies in your affiliate tracking capabilities. You can have the most qualified leads in the market and find zero success if you can’t track them properly.

Ready to welcome the affiliate marketing business into your lead generation efforts? It’s time to have confidence in affiliate monitoring in your program.

We’ve got you covered with high-quality affiliate software. Our top-of-the-line tracking tech and detailed reports to crush your affiliate sales goals and marketing efforts.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out our customization capabilities and advanced reporting features through our free 14-day trial. Try Tapfiliate today!

Chrissy Kapralos

Chrissy Kapralos

Chrissy Kapralos runs a Toronto-based writing agency called No Worries Writing Co. She’s passionate about helping businesses communicate and share their stories. When she isn’t writing about the latest tech and marketing content, you’ll find her traveling, cooking, or watching horror movies.

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