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  • Writer's pictureRobert Brandl

11 Ways to Make Affiliates Happy

Updated: Jan 22

great affiliate program

Most of the Tooltester revenues come from doing affiliate marketing. We create in-depth reviews and compare many different kinds of online tools against each other.

Since I have the experience of being an active affiliate with more than 100 companies, I would like to share my experience to help you make your affiliate program as attractive as possible to partners like us.

These are my top tips for a great affiliate program

Allow sub ID tracking

We work in many different languages and it can be a pain to open 7 affiliate accounts just so we can separate all of our languages. Allowing us to add our own tracking IDs makes it far easier to manage for us.

Bonus tip: allow multiple levels of sub IDs. This will help us track even more granularly and distinguish traffic sources better. Example: url(.)com/?affid=123&subid1=ID1&subid2=ID2


Let us link to all your content, including your help pages. There should be an easy way to create deeplinks, ideally just by adding a general string to the link. I am not a big fan of all those cryptic links with several redirects that affiliate platforms like CJ produce.

And please don't change your link structure all the time. I've had it several times that my partners changed platforms. It's always quite a hassle to change every single link.

Implement a First Cookie Wins policy

Especially if you are allowing couponing websites as affiliates (which you really shouldn't do), make sure it's not possible to get a sale snatched away in the last second. Most couponing websites don't even provide a valid coupon code. Usually they are just cookie droppers that don't provide any additional value to you or your customers.

Also, please don't work with unrealistically short cookie durations. 45 days should be the absolute minimum. Remember: the more complex your product is, the longer it will take us to make a sale.

Make sure your program converts

Sounds pretty obvious, right? But you wouldn’t believe the huge differences there are. Some programs convert like crazy, others receive tons of clicks but never have any sales. While this can have to do with your brand strength, there are probably also technical reasons at play. Make sure everything runs perfectly.

Provide a free premium test account

This one puzzles me again and again. Very often companies are interested in a review but then they make it super complicated for us to get a premium demo account. And even if there is a free 30-day trial, it’s not super fun for us to open an account again and again as we often receive readers’ questions that we would like to answer. If we first have to sign up for a new account, we’ll think twice about answering that question.

Payments via wire transfer

The best solution for us is a wire transfer by far. Paypal charges crazy currency conversion fees when we convert USD to EUR. And if you don’t do a mass payment they will also charge us a fee upon receipt of the funds. Not cool. Just wire it to us! It’s super easy to get a Transferwise USD account these days so we have no problem receiving USD (as long as it’s not via Paypal). Oh and please don’t ever send us a paper cheque! It’s the 21st century.

Pay out regularly

Our partners pay out in the most different ways imaginable. Some pay bi-weekly, some monthly and with others, you first have to send an invoice before they will cash out. The best, most efficient way is to make one monthly payment if there is at least $100 accumulated. Also, please don’t send us every $5.99 commission as a separate transaction. Let us set the threshold ourselves ideally. And when you pay us, please provide a credit note that includes your company details.

Export of sales and conversion data

If we want to run an analysis of our sales, the easiest way is to have it as a spreadsheet in xls format. Make it easy to filter and export.

Please send us product updates

When you are launching cool new features, please let us know about them. But no need to send us every little bugfix note. Also, if you spot things that are not up to date in our review, feel free to let us know about it - we’re very grateful for it. But don’t provide your own copy that we are supposed to add in our review. We prefer to test, rate, and write everything ourselves.

Closing your affiliate program: just don't do it

There is hardly anything more frustrating than an affiliate program that suddenly gets shut down. We typically invest a lot of time and energy in our reviews. We create videos and 1000s of words of content.

Pulling the switch on your affiliate program is not fun for us and will lead to us not sending you any traffic anymore. If, for whatever reason, you absolutely must stop it, consider continuing with your largest affiliates exclusively.

Provide (exclusive) discount codes

Another way to make affiliate publishers happy is offering discount codes. Discounts can increase conversion significantly, especially if they are exclusive and ideally branded (e.g. TOOLTESTER15). Furthermore, they provide an alternative method of tracking in case the cookie fails to function correctly.

I hope this list was useful to you. This should help you set up an attractive affiliate program and understand your affiliate’s needs a little better.

If you have any further questions please let me know by leaving a comment!

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