Affiliate marketing is a powerful digital marketing strategy, as your target audience trusts content creators’ endorsements more than they trust messages that come straight from your brand. 

Automation is key to success with affiliate marketing campaigns, as distributing unique, trackable links is integral to the process. Plus, affiliates earn commissions on sales made through their links – you’ll need to pay out affiliate commissions in a timely manner to keep affiliates happy. Without automation, you won’t know what sales are attributable to a given affiliate, and it will be a lot more difficult to pay out commissions reliably. 

Today, we’ll cover everything businesses need to know about affiliate marketing automation, including the best tools to automate affiliate marketing.

What is affiliate marketing automation?

Affiliate marketing automation involves using software and tools to automate processes within your affiliate program, to save time and energy. 

Automation can streamline tasks associated with running an affiliate program, especially the repetitive ones. This way, your team will have a lot more time to optimize your affiliate marketing strategy, as well as build relationships with affiliates. 

The best way to automate affiliate marketing is by using the right affiliate software. We’ll go over what you need to know about selecting affiliate software later in the article. 

What can affiliate marketing automation accomplish?

Some of the main tasks affiliate marketing automation can assist you with include:

  • Streamlining repetitive tasks, such as emailing affiliates and tracking sales, to save time
  • Sending out emails and other promotions, to keep affiliates engaged with your program
  • Instantly paying out commission incentives whenever a conversion is registered (or other commission requirements are met)
  • Quickly analyzing and aggregating data on how your affiliate program is performing, so you have a clear picture of your ROI and can better inform your strategy
  • Flagging signs of affiliate fraud, to help protect your business’ bottom line

Why use affiliate marketing automation?

You might be wondering why you should automate your affiliate program with software. Here are the main reasons why you should use automation.

First off, automating your program with affiliate software gives you full control over your affiliate program, its data, and your affiliate relationships. This is not the case if you decide to outsource your program management to an existing affiliate network. (Networks own the affiliate data and relationships within the programs they manage and can withhold crucial data, meaning your business can’t make the most informed decisions about how to run your affiliate program.)

When you have lots of affiliates to manage, it’s almost impossible to track their sales and analyze their data manually – you need automation to be efficient. Collecting and analyzing data in real time, with the help of your affiliate software tool, equips you to make informed decisions regarding your program in the moment, for the best growth strategy. You’ll be able to see what affiliates and campaign types are performing best at a glance, and what needs improving. Thus, automation improves your program’s performance overall, compared to manual management.

Plus, with automation, you can integrate your affiliate marketing program with tools you already use. This means you’ll be able to seamlessly pass information across different software tools, and further streamline processes, with little to no technical knowledge needed. 

rr affiliate marketing automation

Automation lets you focus on building relationships with your affiliates, and making strategy decisions, instead of wasting time on repetitive tasks. It also frees up time to spend on other marketing and growth strategies – especially helpful if you want to grow word of mouth in other ways.

As an added bonus, some affiliate marketing automation options let you run multiple word-of-mouth programs seamlessly, along with affiliate programs. For instance, Referral Rock software lets you run referral programs and ambassador programs in addition to an affiliate program, for maximum flexibility. 

Ways to use affiliate marketing automation

How to apply affiliate marketing automation? Although the right software program is the backbone of automating affiliate marketing, there are also a few other options that work hand-in-hand with affiliate software to further automate affiliate marketing. Let’s dive into all of these components below. 

Affiliate marketing software

Affiliate software (also called an affiliate marketing platform) is the main affiliate marketing automation tool, which lets you run an affiliate program on autopilot. You’ll need it as the foundation for other affiliate marketing automation tools to work properly.

This software creates and distributes affiliate links to your affiliates, which they can place on their blogs, websites, and social media posts. Then, it tracks the sales that result from those links, and automatically triggers commission payouts when affiliates help create conversions. In addition, it aggregates data about affiliates’ campaign performance, so both you and your affiliates can check your ROI whenever you please. 

Affiliate management software also helps protect your business from unethical affiliates, as it flags suspicious affiliate activity. Thus, it’s much easier to prevent affiliate fraud with software.

The best affiliate marketing software automates affiliate engagement, by sending emails and other messages to promote your program and motivate affiliates. You’ll also want an affiliate marketing software that integrates with your existing tools and processes – integrations open up even more affiliate marketing automation opportunities, such as the ones we’re about to list below.

referral rock integrations

Link shorteners

Link shortening tools shorten affiliate links so they look more professional when moused over or clicked on. This helps make affiliate links more social media-friendly.

These tools can also hide the affiliate tracking parameters (while still keeping those parameters intact). As a result, they make it more likely that someone will click on an affiliate’s link. People often don’t trust links if they see they contain a long thread of tracking data. A shorter link feels more trustworthy, and helps affiliates drive more sales. This leads to a better bottom line for you – and happier affiliates, since these creators are more likely to earn a commission.

Zapier’s link shortener integrates with Referral Rock for instant shortening of affiliate links. 

rr and zapier

Chat tools 

Chat tools, otherwise known as chatbots, help you answer questions from potential and current affiliates when your staff isn’t available They can also help answer questions from leads that affiliates send to your website, priming them further to make a purchase.

Referral Rock integrates with the chat tools Intercom and Drift – check out more on our Intercom integration and Drift integration. 

referral rock and intercom


When integrated with an affiliate software, CRMs can help you sync an affiliate program with your sales process and automate your program from start to finish. You’ll be able to collect lead data from affiliate links and seamlessly pass it to your CRM.

You’ll also be able to trigger commission payments based on lead status changes in your CRM, when a lead is registered through an affiliate link. Plus, CRMs are one way to automate engagement emails through integrations with your affiliate software.

You can’t run an affiliate program with just a CRM – you need the affiliate software component to create and track affiliate links, and trigger commission payments. But you do need somewhere to pass new lead and customer information from your affiliate program, so you can properly track their place in the customer lifecycle. And that’s where the CRM comes in.

Referral Rock integrates with the HubSpot and Salesforce CRMs, plus other leading client management and ecommerce platforms.

hubspot and rr 2

hubspot and rr 1

Email marketing tools

Integrating affiliate marketing software with email tools is a valuable way to automate affiliate engagement. You can set the email tools to send affiliate program promotion emails at set times, to remind affiliates of the program and motivate them to participate. And when you have program updates like commission changes, integrations with email automation tools make it easy to share the updates with all affiliates at once

Referral Rock integrates with email marketing platforms like ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, GetResponse, and many more.

The best affiliate marketing automation software: Referral Rock

Referral Rock affiliate marketing software empowers you to oversee, monitor, and reward affiliates effectively, enabling quick sales generation and business growth.

Our versatile software is designed to manage all kinds of affiliate and partner programs. Plus, Referral Rock has the functionality to run referral marketing programs, ambassador programs, and various other word-of-mouth marketing strategies, all tailored to align with your brand’s requirements.

Referral Rock’s advanced, easy-to-use platform automates every phase of the affiliate or referral process. This allows both online and brick-and-mortar businesses to effectively grow and track the performance of their partnership programs.

What makes Referral Rock affiliate software different

Some of Referral Rock’s top features include the following: 

Affiliate journey personalization: Once you’ve identified the affiliates or other partners you want to recruit, our platform allows you to tailor and build the program easily, including through customizable affiliate landing pages.

Relationship cultivation: Our software prioritizes relationship-building, facilitating stronger connections through continuous communication with affiliate partners. We go far beyond a transactional relationship.

Lead and affiliate monitoring: Keep track of and record every purchase made via each affiliate link and promptly reward each affiliate. You and your affiliates can both observe campaign metrics and key performance indicators directly from the platform’s affiliate dashboard.

Abundance of integrations: Referral Rock’s affiliate software can smoothly integrate with HubSpot, Salesforce, and a multitude of other sales and marketing tools that you’re already utilizing. Referral Rock also provides a mobile app and API integration, along with the ability to automate affiliate marketing workflows using Zapier.

Unparalleled support: Our team provides expert services to assist with onboarding and customizing the program to meet your business’s unique requirements.

Don’t just take our word for it – our affiliate software has received stellar ratings on review sites for customer service, product, and fair pricing.

Want to learn more? Request a demo here or start for free today.


Thanks to affiliate marketing automation, you’ll cut out manual work on repetitive tasks and gain more time for building affiliate relationships. The right affiliate software is vital for quickly collecting and monitoring affiliate data, automating engagement with your affiliates, and compensating affiliates in a timely manner. Once you’ve chosen your software core, integrating it with your CRM, email tools, and link shorteners will streamline your process even further, for the most successful affiliate program.