Successful American businessman, Bo Bennett, is quoted as saying that “affiliate marketing has made businesses millions and ordinary people millionaires”.
And it’s not difficult to see why. For those who are quite new to affiliate marketing, this is a type of performance-based marketing. It all starts with the affiliate, anyone who owns a website or a blog, referring traffic to a business, usually through a review or advertising through banners or images. The affiliate is rewarded, usually through a commission, once an actual purchase is made.
If you own a WordPress website, and particularly, a WordPress store, then affiliate marketing could significantly help in promoting your business. Affiliates act as a 24/7 advertising channel for your business and the beauty of it all, is that you only pay for performance – commissions are only paid out once a purchase is complete.
What is AffiliateWP?
AffiliateWP is an affiliate marketing solution designed specifically for WordPress sites. It includes all the necessary features required to get your affiliate program up and running.
AffiliateWP allows you to:
- Have an endless number of affiliates actively promoting your products and services
- Moderate or automate affiliate registrations
- Track all affiliate referrals reliably through a unique tracking code
- Provide affiliates with front-end reporting to easily see how much they have earned
- Customise commission rates per affiliate
- Pay affiliates in bulk through PayPal, Skrill or any other system that allows you to upload a CSV file
- Enable affiliate coupon tracking
- Integrate with a wide variety of systems, including WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads
Most importantly, it is a plugin that looks and feels like it’s part of WordPress and is super easy to use.
Creating Your Own WP Affiliate Program Through AffiliateWP
Installing AffiliateWP is very straightforward. Download AffiliateWP and within your WordPress, go to Plugins > Add New. Upload the file you downloaded, install and activate.
One of the best places to start is to create the affiliate area, whereby affiliates can log in and obtain their unique tracking codes, view all their account stats and obtain creatives.
Upon plugin installation a Page called Affiliate Area will be automatically created and will be populated with the shortcode [affiliate_area].
Once successfully logged in, this is where affiliates will be able to obtain their unique affiliate tracking links. Within the Affiliate Area, affiliates can also access statistics, graphs and referral information.
Affiliate accounts in AffiliateWP are directly linked to WordPress user accounts and can be registered either on a manual or an automatic basis.
To add an affiliate manually go to Users > Add New and create a new user account. Then register the user as an affiliate through Affiliates > Affiliates. Click on Add New and once you start typing the username, email or login name of the user account you would like to register, a list of matches will appear.
Through this screen you can also set the affiliate payment email (if different from user email) and choose whether to reward this affiliate with the standard commission rate (Site Default), a fixed fee or other percentage commission.
A more straight-forward process would be to let affiliates register automatically. You just need to enable this through the Settings > Misc tab.
Once this is enabled, a registration form (or login form for existing affiliates) will appear in the Affiliate Area. If you would like to manually approve affiliates once they register, you also need to remember to tick the Require Approval option.
Defining Affiliate Referral Rates
Affiliate commissions can be set within the Affiliate > Settings section. Commissions can be of two types:
- A percentage commission, for example 20% ($20 for a sale of $100)
- A fixed fee, for example $15 ($15 for every sale made, irrespective of the sale amount)
When affiliate commissions are created in the above format they apply in general to all affiliates. However, separate percentage or flat rate commissions can be set for each individual affiliate.
Just go to Affiliates > Affiliates, select a specific affiliate, click Edit and create a custom rate that will override the Site Default specified above.
Uploading Affiliate Creatives
An affiliate programme is not complete without a good set of readily-available creatives and imagery that affiliates can use to promote your products or services on their website.
Creatives are managed within the Affiliates > Creatives section. To add a new creative, just click on Add New and fill in the required information.
Once saved, the creative will appear within the Creatives list and will be immediately available for affiliates to pick up, together with their unique affiliate tracking code.
Affiliate Coupon Tracking
A nifty feature of AffiliateWP is coupon tracking, which allows you to link coupon codes to specific affiliate accounts. In this way, once a particular coupon is redeemed the linked affiliate is awarded a commission.
Coupon tracking is supported through the following e-commerce and membership platforms:
- Easy Digital Downloads
- iThemes Exchange
- Restrict Content Pro
- Paid Memberships Pro
Paying affiliates is a fairly simple process. Within the Affiliates > Referrals section, there is a Generate Payout File option, which will generate a CSV file of affiliates and their totals.
The file consists of the email addresses, collective amounts and the currency for all affiliates with unpaid earnings for the date range specified. To simplify the payment process, the file is specifically formatted for the Mass Payment option provided by PayPal and Skrill, as well as many other similar payment systems.
In order to improve your affiliate marketing efforts you will need access to reports in order to be able to see what is working well and what can be improved. Within AffiliateWP, you will find a comprehensive reporting section that offers a varied range of reports, split into three sections:
- Referrals, including paid and unpaid earnings
- Visits, including conversion rate information
- Affiliate registrations
Each graph that is shown below can be filtered further to see a specific time range (e.g. this month, last month, last year or a custom date range).
The core AffiliateWP plugin includes all the required features to get your affiliate program up and running. Having said that, if you would like to extend AffiliateWP’s functionality even further, this can be easily achieved through a good number of add-ons (both free and premium).
Some of the add-ons that could come in handy, include:
- Leaderboard (free)
- Sign-up bonus (free)
- Allowed products (free)
- Lifetime Commissions (Pro)
- Tiered Affiliate Rates (Pro)
- PayPal Payouts (Pro)
To purchase AffiliateWP you can opt for one of four pricing plans:
Plugin updates and email support are available for free for the duration of the subscription. Free add-ons are available with all plans, while the pro add-ons are only available with the Professional and Ultimate plans.
Keeping in mind the likely benefits that can be reaped out of affiliate marketing, the cost of the plugin is relatively low and would encourage anyone who is quite serious about setting up an affiliate marketing program to add the plugin and explore how it can benefit their business.
Documentation and Support
AffiliateWP is very intuitive and easy to use. The documentation section will make getting started even easier as it provides a very helpful and easy to understand step-by-step guide that includes all the steps you need to go through to get your affiliate program up and running. There are also very helpful sections that address more complex areas such as integrations and migrating to AffiliateWP.
Any further issues requiring support can be raised through a ticket within the AffiliateWP support portal. When I contacted AffiliateWP with a support query for the purpose of this review, a reply was received within a few hours.
Setting up your own affiliate marketing programme, without going through an affiliate network and the expenses associated with that, sounds predominantly daunting. However, AffiliateWP makes setting up your affiliate programme a surprisingly easy and straightforward task.
All you need to do is ensure that you have allocated enough time to creating a good affiliate marketing strategy, in terms of what offers to promote, how to go about affiliate management and what commission levels to offer. AffiliateWP will be of great help with the rest of the process.
Additionally, the plugin is created by Pippin Williamson, Andrew Munro and Rami Abraham, whose names certainly need no introduction and who have an excellent track record in the WordPress world.
If you have a WordPress site, have always heard of the benefits that can be gained through affiliate marketing and would like to give this channel a try, look no further – AffiliateWP is a feature-rich, easy to use plugin that will certainly help you to get started and reap the benefits.