For many WordPress sites selling products, it’s a challenge to start your own affiliate program at the cost most platforms offer. That is why using AffiliateWP makes it easy and seamless.
We have used it ourselves in the past, and I know a lot of vendors who I am an affiliate with that use the plugin and feel it’s been the best decision they made.
Starting Your Own Affiliate Program
On the other side of the coin, if you have been thinking about creating your own affiliate program by building up a trusted community that will help you sell your products, while rewarding your referrers at the same time, there are some options for you.
Companies with high-volume sales may decide to go with someone like ShareASale or Commission Junction as they manage everything. Although there are other advantages to using a service like this, setup expenses and recurring fees can make it cost-prohibitive.
Or you can turn to a WordPress affiliate marketing plugin.
If you decide to go the plugin route, for me, the choice is a no brainer. I’ve used it before, and when needed in the future, I’ll return to AffiliateWP. It’s a rock-solid plugin that’s also very easy to set up and manage.
If you are going to use this plugin, you are probably also using some kind of eCommerce, membership or forms plugin. When it comes to ease, seamless integration is critical. As can see from this screenshot, AffiliateWP integrates with a large number of popular and well-built plugins.
Out-of-the-box, this plugin can do a lot. But as I share later in this review, there are also add-ons that can help you with specific functionality.
General > Pages
The first three settings allow you to control how the referral link will look.
Credit Last Referrer will give the referral to the last link someone has used. For example, John Brown clicks on an affiliate link for the Super Duper Theme on his friend’s website. He is still thinking about it and, in the meantime, he visits his mom’s site, which also has a link to the Super Duper Theme. John is now ready to buy it and using the new link, his mom will get the referral. So, obviously, this is something you need to decide which option you will want to use.
The Referral Rate Type is straightforward and likely if you have a lot of products that are varied prices, you will choose the percentage over the Flat rate that you set in the next box.
Chances are that if you have shipping and taxes, you are likely to exclude them both.
Cookie Expiration allows you to set the duration that the links work for them, even if they leave the site and come back later to purchase it.
Nothing difficult here as these are typical formatting settings.
The nice thing here is that you can control which of these three you want sent out automatically. They are not auto-generated, so you can customize the message you, your referrals and new applications receive.
There are some settings here that you will want to be aware of, particularly the first two: whether you want to allow people to self-register as an affiliate themselves, or you want to approve them individually and only by invite. Running an affiliate can be hard work and some people prefer to be more selective about who becomes one.
Also, I would highly recommend that if you do allow them to sign up, that you enable reCAPTCHA.
Lastly, look at the remaining settings to make sure you haven’t missed something else important.
Affiliates, Referrals, Visits & Reports
As you can see here, you will be able to keep an eye on everything and see how it’s going. (Note that this plugin has not been running on any site of mine recently so I don’t have any data filled in these areas.)
A great way to monitor the activity of your affiliates and maybe send out a quick note to those who have been sending some good conversions your way.
You also can add an affiliate manually or edit an existing affiliate. The option to change the referral rate for a specific affiliate by overriding the global affiliate rate in your settings could be handy if you wanted to reward certain individuals for high-volume sales.
An overview of affiliates that have come in, have been paid and are needing to be paid.
The visits show you the landing page they ended up purchasing on. This gives you a chance to see and compare conversions if you have more than one landing page for the same product.
And some handy reports to give you a birds-eye view of activity.
You will probably want to provide creatives, or what you might recognize as banners and ads that your affiliates can use on their website if they choose to promote you that way.
All your creatives are listed here.
And of course, you can easily add or edit any creatives as well. One of the nice features here is the Status. For example, you may run a promotion every once in awhile and this allows you to turn it off and on as needed on the page your affiliates will access to use them.
A few available tools that you will find useful.
Front End Pages
As I said before, the plugin generates the affiliate account page.
This account page will generate affiliates links, reports and other information about their account after they log in.
And here is what the creative tab looks like if you have uploaded banners, etc.
If someone lands on this page that is not an affiliate and under Settings > Misc you have the Should affiliates be able to register for themselves box checked, then this is what will appear on the page and can be used to send people to sign up as an affiliate and as a login page.
If you choose to create a custom page for your new affiliate signups, the plugin has several shortcodes that will allow you to do this easily.
As I mentioned, there is additional functionality for all license holders with free add-ons that can be employed that give you specific features you may require.
And if you purchase the Professional or Ultimate license, you get an additional 10 pro add-ons.
To make it even easier, they have a list of 3rd-party add-ons, both free and paid, that they recommend on their site.
Integration with WooCommerce
Since I do a lot with WooCommerce, and a majority of my blog readers also come here for Woo stuff, let me show you a couple of nice features.
Product Specific Rates
You may have a mix of products and services that don’t work with a set percentage commission. In that case, it’s good to be able to set commissions on specific products that will override your global commission.
You will also notice below that there is a Disable referrals options. This is available on only support integrations. If you have hundreds of products and only want a few to use commissions, it would be a pain to have to go into each product and click this box. In that case you could use the free add-on, Allowed Products that disables all of your products and adds a field on your integration page were you can add IDs of products that you want commission on.
Affiliate Coupon Tracking
When you are creating a coupon, you will find an Affiliate Discounts field at the bottom.
All you do is type in to connect with an affiliate. Then any time the coupon is redeemed, the connected affiliate will be awarded a referral. This is a great way to thank affiliates and also to track coupon usage.
Landing Pages for the AffiliateWP plugin
If you are using the AffiliateWP plugin and have the Professional or Ultimate license, you are in luck. The add-on, Affiliate Landing Pages makes this easy to do with any page on your WordPress site.
With that said, consider this. It will easily integrate into whatever WordPress theme you are using. But you could even take it a step further. If you were using a page builder, such as Beaver Builder, you can easily customize an eye-catching template to use for your affiliate landing pages. Pretty cool, huh?
And with this page, you can display anything specific about that affiliate.
No More Ugly Affiliate Links
One of the cool features is this. When you look at a typical affiliate link, even when masking it, you see it for what it is. An affiliate link. But with the landing page you are able to create a custom link directly to that page and avoid any of the clunky- and funky-looking links.
How to Set Up the Landing Page
The very first thing you need to do is enable your landing pages.
Once you have done that, whenever you are creating a landing page for an affiliate, you simple assign that page to them.
Then your affiliates will see the page assigned to them on their account page.
Okay, let’s say this was created on the domain greatplugin.com, Kim’s affiliate URL to her landing page would have looked like this: greatplugin.com/kim.
Get creative with those URL’s. It doesn’t have to be a name. It can be anything that is eye-catching or brands it in a special way.
You can even use child pages to create multiple affiliates.
How About a Guest Post From Your Affiliates
Let’s say Kim does a guest post on your blog about her experience with the plugin. Remember that option to assign a page to Kim? Well, you can also assign the blog post to Kim. That way if anyone reads her post, then goes to your product page and purchases it, Kim gets the credit.
Giving affiliates brand recognition as well as letting them have the opportunity to share your product by sending their readers and clients to a special page created just for them, is another way to help increase those affiliate sales, for both you as the product/service owner and your affiliates.
My Final Thoughts.
If you are looking to use a WordPress plugin for your affiliate program versus using a service, I would say look no further than AffiliateWP. Pippins and his team are known for rock-solid plugins and this one certainly falls in that category. With the ease of setup, you can get your affiliates going in no time. And best of all, it seamlessly works with all the popular WordPress eCommerce plugins.
So check out AffiliateWP, I can guarantee you won’t regret it.
And if you would like to hear more about this plugin, or how to run your own affiliate program, listen to the plugins creator, Pippin Williamson on our podcast.