Different types of affiliate marketing software include stand alone, hosted, shopping cart and network. Determining which type of software to use depends upon the business's long-term goals, preferred functionalities and budget. Each type of affiliate marketing software comes with its own level of features, abilities and customization possibilities. In general, businesses that want to have full control over software customization and functionality would be best served with a stand-alone type, while small businesses without an IT department might be more satisfied with hosted or shopping cart-based software.
Stand-alone affiliate marketing software is installed on the business's server and is self-hosted by the company. Advantages of using this type of software include increased options for customization, control over downtime and flexibility in adding new features. Depending on whether the software is open- or closed-sourced, the business may also be able to create its own features, add advanced functions and create reports that are more elaborate. Disadvantages include sometimes having to pay a high upfront cost and being charged a fee for future upgrades or customer support.
Hosted affiliate marketing software is a type of software that is hosted on a third-party server. New business start-ups and small businesses are the greatest benefactors of this type of affiliate marketing software since it is quick to set up, has low monthly payments and does not require future upgrades. Since this type of software usually requires a monthly fee, over time it can become more expensive than purchasing stand-alone marketing software, however. Disadvantages of this software include not being able to do advanced customization, not being able to control downtime and having to wait on the third-party IT department to fix issues.
Shopping cart affiliate marketing software is usually bundled with an e-commerce shopping cart program. This allows for streamlined functionality and less chances for affiliate payout calculation errors. While it is convenient and usually cost-efficient, it may not be packed with the rich features and functionalities of stand-alone software. Businesses also must wait until the shopping cart software issues updates in order to receive more features or correct bugs.
Network affiliate marketing software has been gaining in popularity because businesses do not have to spend time adding features, upgrading or communicating directly with affiliates. This type of hosted affiliate software provides its members with a database of affiliate programs to select from so they can manage all their earnings in one place. The business must provide the affiliate network with its marketing banners, reward details and terms and conditions. Even though this type of affiliate marketing software is convenient for businesses, they usually have the least control over campaign management and communications with affiliates through this type of software.