In tech years, Post Affiliate Pro is ancient. First launched in 2004, it began its life as a custom order from an almost-client of Quality Unit, LLC—a software development company founded by the trio of Maros Fric, Andrej Harsani and Viktor Zeman. They created a script to track affiliate marketing links for a potential customer, though the deal fell apart somewhere around the point where they should have been paid. In fact, that’s why the deal fell apart: they never got paid.
Rather than archive or delete their work, they realized they had something pretty useful and got work finding new buyers. They started selling licenses to it, and their timing couldn’t have been better. Affiliate marketing isn’t an invention of the tech world—companies have been incentivizing their customers to refer friends and family for as long as commerce has been a thing—but it did find new life on the internet when blogging took off. With the increased popularity of bloggers, some who commanded audiences of millions, the marketers of the world identified a new channel to drive referrals. Quality Unit more or less stumbled into this when the marketers who contracted with—and then stiffed—them reached out for their custom affiliate tracking script.
Not getting paid turned out to be a great thing for them. Had the transaction ended the way Fric, Harsani, and Zerman expected, their client would have owned the script and that would have been the end of the story. Instead, as it happened, the founders had software gold on their hands. Licensing it, rather than selling it outright, became a far more lucrative option—a gift that kept on giving. Now, 20+ years after Quality Unit was founded and 17+ years after Post Affiliate Pro was created, the software has moved to the cloud and is currently accessed by nearly 30,000 customers worldwide.
And if nearly 20 years of success and growth wasn’t enough of a hint at the software’s reception, it’s also received many hundreds of positive reviews on sites like G2 and Capterra and won several awards (from experts and customers alike), cementing its reputation as one of the best—and most popular—affiliate marketing solutions available today.
Post Affiliate Pro is not lacking for features, offering a ton of practicality even at the low-cost end of their subscription tier. We’ve looked at other platforms that offer far less for their premium plans, giving PA Pro’s entry level plan an enviable Bang to Buck ratio.
Most other affiliate marketing platforms set limits on how many referrals your affiliates can send your way, and those limits increase as you go up through the levels of subscription. PA Pro works similarly, but the limits are imposed on what they call Tracking Requests, which is each data point that the software tracks. So, for example, if a link you’ve given an affiliate results in a click and then a conversion, that’s two requests. While this may seem like a way to exhaust limits quickly and get customers to move to the next level of service, these ceilings are set high enough that it’s more likely you’ll upgrade to access more features, not more clicks.
- Pro, $97/mo — Track an unlimited number of affiliates and up to 1,000,000 tracking requests per month. If you go over the limit, additional requests are priced at $1 per 10,000. All tracking tools are available, as well as a host of other features: auto-registering affiliates, multiple currencies and languages, customizable interface, mass payments, more than a half dozen commission types, marketing tools for creating banners, coupons, and campaigns, advanced reporting, and hundreds of integrations.
- Ultimate, $197/mo — Unlimited affiliates, 5,000,000 tracking requests, 40 cents per additional 10k requests, all of the above, plus custom affiliate tracking codes, campaign scheduler, multiple admins, automatic affiliate removal, lifetime referrals manager, recurring commissions, split commissions, performance rewards, time- and rules-based commissions
- Network, $477/mo — Unlimited affiliates, 20,000,000 tracking requests, 20 cents per additional 10k requests, all of the above, plus features for building and managing your own affiliate network (that you and other merchants can access)
All plans receive 24/7/365 technical support via live chat, as well as email-based support and access to the knowledge base. And everyone gets a full setup and integration service tailored to their needs. Also, at the Pro or Ultimate level, users can buy into some features that are included with the Network plan:
- Lifetime Referrals Manager, $9/mo — This feature is included with Ultimate and Network, but Pro users can get in on the fun for an extra charge per month.
- Membership Subscription Manager, $9/mo — If you want to charge your affiliates to join your program, this is the way to do it. Affiliates who don’t pay their membership fees aren’t rewarded for referrals and can’t log in to the affiliate portal.
- Audit Log, $17/mo — Every action on the system taken by affiliates and admins is logged in chronological order
- Smartlinks, $19/mo — Dynamic tracking links and banners that can be tailored to the location and device where they’re served
- Remove Post Affiliate Branding, $27/mo — Not available at all for Pro. Users signed on with the Ultimate Plan get this Network-level feature to white label their portal/program.
Usually, we use this section to go into detail (hence, the name) about the user experience, any standout features, and any noticeably absent features. To cover all of this would require a Russian novel-sized review, but we’re pretty keen on keeping you interested and reading til the end so this approach just isn’t an option. And maybe not entirely necessary: 30,000 customers and 17 years in the game are really all you need to know about the user experience. Software just doesn’t achieve this level of success by frustrating and confusing its customers (Microsoft Windows and Office notwithstanding).
As for features, all the basics are here. Again, there’s no longevity for a product that doesn’t handle the basics properly. To accomplish what PA Pro has, the feature list needs to go above and beyond. And, true to its name, Quality Unit has made its software accordingly. The goal with all this is to provide maximum flexibility and control over their programs.
This “go the extra mile” approach is seen in even the most elemental of features: tracking links. If you picked any affiliate marketing platform at random and gave it a whirl, you’d likely come away believing that tracking links must adhere to a single style and format, never deviating from it. With PA Pro, however, you’ve got options. If you’re feeling retro you can go with old style links that work off of redirects. The more modern among you can use the newer method, with parameters built right into the URL. It’s more likely, though, you’ll want to use the SEO friendly anchor links, or the even friendlier direct links. You can even allow affiliates to customize their own links for their purposes (though you still get to review then approve or decline what they come up with).
Many platforms offer multi level marketing options, but PA Pro adds to that with a Forced Matrix feature. With this, affiliate program managers have precise control over the size and “shape” of the affiliate tiers. By forcing tiers, everybody gets a shot to earn off someone below them, while admins can also prevent commissions from getting out of hand.
Like the Forced Matrix, Fraud Protection is another thing we’ve seen in other platforms, but not to the degree that PA Pro implements it. Again, the drive here is for flexibility and control, and so it’s not surprising that the software lets its users come at fraud from a few different angles. You can guard against fraudulent clicks, sales, and affiliate signups, and so based on a variety of factors.
The same can be said for the commissions themselves: there are just so many ways to reward your affiliates. They can be based on actions beyond sales—for newsletter signups, for user registrations, that sort of thing. Recurring commissions are there, and you can split commissions among affiliates, too. With commission groups you can make sure everyone is getting what they deserve, and with performance rewards PA Pro can automatically move affiliates to higher paying groups when they reach certain performance milestones.
Providing your affiliates with marketing materials is a crucial part of campaigns, and PA Pro once again takes it further than its competitors. Every conceivable kind of banner ad is available: interactive banners, static image banners, lightbox banners. In what is one PA Pro’s few misfires, there’s also support for Flash-based banners, which—why? We’re a year past its end-of-life date. There’s a banner rotator function that does exactly what it sounds like. And all of this can be managed with the Banner Manager.
As advertised, the reporting features are advanced. There’s a wealth of information that can be had from PA Pro, which isn’t surprising given how much you can do with it. In addition to the standard tracking data you’d expect, you see it presented in a variety of ways to get true insight into what’s working and what isn’t. Reporting tied to banner ads shows you which is getting the most response. The Map Overlay report shows you the geography of any metric you want to see (sales, commissions, etc.). This map is one of the other of PA Pro’s missteps: drills down as deep as a country, which is a nice feature in Europe but largely useless in the U.S. Still the reporting is very in-depth, to the point that one feature is to have everything distilled down to a Quick Report.
There are a total of 229 integrations supported by PA Pro. Over 100 of them are e-commerce/shopping cart platforms, so if you’re wondering if the one you use is supported: yes, it is. The same can be said for your payment platform of choice. There are nearly 70 of those supported.
The remaining 54 integrations are all mostly for niche apps, with a few bigger, more commonly known names thrown in. Mailchimp and Infusionsoft are the most useful of the lot. This is the big surprise about Post Affiliate Pro: for all the flexibility they aimed for, there are no integrations for some of the most popular e-commerce tools out there—Salesforce and HubSpot being the most notably absent. Nor does the software play very well with social media. There’s no function for affiliates to share content to their followers beyond copying and pasting their links into a post.
Post Affiliate Pro is in many ways light years ahead of its competition. That’s not surprising, given just how long they’ve been doing this. It offers unrivaled flexibility for deploying affiliate campaigns, an exhaustive list of features, and—for each of these features—a number of ways to configure their use, tailored to user needs.
It’s also a little behind, by way of its missing a few integrations—which is something that’s difficult to say about software that can work with over 225 other pieces of software. That, and the missing connection with social media platforms, are where Post Affiliate Pro’s developers show their age a little. Still, the platform offers so much, and at such a competitive price, that it’s hard not to recommend to businesses of just about any size. A small business could afford it, but might not ever use half the features. But for anyone who wants a great degree of control over how they implement affiliate marketing, Post Affiliate Pro is an obvious choice.