I am looking into buying some affiliate software and was wondering what people regard as essential for affiliate software. My reason for asking is so that I don't buy one now, and then 6 months later realise it is missing functionality that is important, but I did not know about.
I'd say some of the most important info is tracking info. The software should be able to let the affiliate track from entrance to a site, up to the sale. Whether this is a string at the end of an individual PPC campaign, or a functionality of the program that allows the affiliate to create unlimited tracking links, this seems to be an important factor.
You need features that motivate the affiliates to sell as much of your product as possible. 2nd tier and beyond is sometimes over-rated as it can take away the focus. It depends on the business you have.
One suggestion - set up an affiliate programme after you have been selling online for a while. That way you can "Sell" your programme to the affiliates better since you have a track record and also have optimized your site and sales process.
Also consider if you want a hosted package, standalone, or part of a network. If you are just starting then maybe go with the network option as startup is lower. Then as you grow you might move to hosted or running your own system.
Good luck, Peter
[edited by: eljefe3 at 2:39 am (utc) on July 30, 2005]