Whether you’re a marketer or a merchant, affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to boost your revenue. In a single financial year, one global affiliate network generated $12.4 billion for its advertisers and $915 million for its affiliates.
However, if you’re going to succeed in this channel, you’ll need a good affiliate plugin. Some tools help you track, manage, and optimize your affiliate links. Others are designed to help merchants set up their own affiliate programs.
In this post, we’ve rounded up some of the best plugins to help you get started. We’ll start by exploring why so many businesses and website owners are embracing affiliate marketing. Then we’ll introduce you to four of our favorite plugins. Let’s get started!
An Introduction to Affiliate Marketing (For Merchants and Website Owners)
Affiliate marketing is a popular performance-based technique that can generate income for merchants and website owners. As part of an affiliate partnership, a third party promotes a brand’s products or services using special affiliate URLs. The third party then earns a commission for every sale that originates from these unique links.
For business owners, affiliate marketing can be a way to reach an entirely new audience. It can help introduce your products and services to potential new customers and drive sales.
To maximize traffic and conversions, merchants often partner with multiple affiliates. Each partner promotes these products or services to their audience, which can be great news for the seller’s bottom line.
As a performance-based strategy, the merchant only pays for successful sales. This makes affiliate marketing a popular choice among businesses that are working to tighter budgets, such as startups, entrepreneurs, and smaller organizations. If a partnership doesn’t generate any sales, the merchant isn’t obligated to pay commissions.
This tactic can also be lucrative for the marketer. In fact, the Wirecutter affiliate marketing site made an estimated $10 million in revenue, and was eventually sold to the New York Times for $30 million. Not every advertiser is destined to become a millionaire, but these numbers do make affiliate partnerships an attractive prospect.
If you already run a website, affiliate links can also be an effective way to monetize your content. Depending on your audience, this might bring in enough sales to cover your site’s running costs – or even become a full-time income!
In theory, anyone can build a website, add affiliate links, and start generating revenue. These minimal startup costs also make affiliate marketing popular among entrepreneurs looking for ways to make money online.
4 Essential Affiliate Marketing Plugins for WordPress
Affiliate marketing is big business. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of plugins out there that promise to help merchants and marketers make money from affiliate URLs.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the different tools that are available, don’t worry. Here are four of our current favorites to help you narrow your decision.
1. Pretty Links
The typical affiliate link is long, complex, and features an obvious tracking code. This can make the URL off-putting, especially to security-savvy internet users who are concerned about privacy.
If you want to start a successful affiliate marketing business, your revenue is completely dependent on people interacting with your affiliate links. To maximize your earnings, you’ll want to do everything in your power to improve your Click-Through Rates (CTRs). That’s where the Pretty Links URL shortener and link cloaker can help:
Pretty Links promises to replace those ugly affiliate URLs with neater alternatives. This can help boost those all-important CTRs, which should positively impact your conversions and revenue.
You can also configure Pretty Links to insert relevant affiliate URLs automatically. When you generate a Pretty Link, you can specify keywords where the URL should appear. The plugin will then scan your site and replace the keywords with the corresponding affiliate URL. If you already have a website, this can be an easy way to monetize your existing content.
- Manage all of your affiliate links from a central location
- URL redirection, including permanent 301 redirects and temporary 302/307 redirects
- Conversion tracking
- Split testing
- Support for nofollow/noindex links
- Send Pretty Links via email directly from the WordPress dashboard
As you grow your affiliate marketing business, you may amass a large collection of URLs. Managing all of these links can become a time-consuming and frustrating process, especially if you ever need to edit them.
ThirstyAffiliates provides a central location where you can register and manage all of your affiliate URLs. This means you can edit a link once, and that change will replicate across your entire website.
When you register a link in ThirstyAffiliates, the plugin creates a redirect for that URL. This enables you to replace long, complex URLs with shorter alternatives that feature your own branding.
Similar to Pretty Links, the adjustment can encourage click-throughs. The redirects can also prevent third parties from scraping your links and replacing them with malware in the visitor’s browser:
ThirstyAffiliates also makes it easier to insert relevant affiliate URLs into your content by adding a button to the WordPress editor. You can access all of your ThirstyAffiliates redirects by clicking on this button, which makes it possible to insert relevant URLs into your posts as you’re writing them.
- Support for 301, 302, and 307 redirects
- A smart unlocking feature that conditionally uncloaks your links on the front end
- Add images and banners to your affiliate links
- Built-in reports
- Automatically detects and fixes outdated affiliate links
If you own an e-commerce store, you may want to consider setting up your own affiliate program. This can help you connect with a new audience and potentially generate additional sales.
If you do set up an affiliate program, Affiliates Manager can help you monitor it. The plugin lets you track the traffic that each partner sends to your site and the resulting conversions. Armed with this information, you can identify your top-performing affiliates – and anyone who’s under-performing.
Then you can use this insight to adjust your activities to generate more revenue. For example, you might decide to invest more time and effort into your top-performing affiliates, or offer your underachievers an incentive for meeting their sales targets.
When it’s time to pay your partners, WP Affiliate Manager supports the popular PayPal gateway out-of-the-box. It also gives you a choice of flat-rate or percentage-based commissions.
- Manage, track, and pay your affiliates directly from your WordPress website
- Customizable affiliate registration and portal
- Integrate with a range of popular e-commerce solutions, including WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads
- Create banners and text adverts
- Automatically sign up your affiliates to your Mailchimp or MailPoet list
If you’re running an affiliate program, Post Affiliate Pro provides a dashboard where you can easily manage it. From the dashboard, you can recruit your affiliates and provide them with all the tools they need to start driving sales.
You can also use this plugin to set up a multi-level marketing program. This is where you compensate affiliates for the sales they personally generate, plus any sales made by sub-affiliates who they introduce to your program.
Post Affiliate Pro also places an emphasis on accuracy and supports a range of tracking methods. This includes browser cookie, HTML5 cookie, and IP address tracking.
- Automate your in-house affiliate program
- Create private campaigns for a limited number of affiliates
- Track sales in multiple currencies and recompute them into one default currency
- Protection against fraudulent orders
- Support for a range of commission types, including lifetime, action, and recurring commissions
Pricing: $95-$477 per month.
Affiliate marketing is a popular way for website owners and merchants to generate revenue. However, with so much content online, it can be difficult to make your voice heard. By choosing the right plugin, you’ll have access to the tools you need to succeed in the competitive world of affiliate marketing.
If you’re not sure where to start looking for essential WordPress plugins, you can check out any of the four choices we recommended:
- Pretty Links: A URL shortener and link cloaker you can use to create neater, more shareable affiliate links.
- ThirstyAffiliates: A link management plugin that enables you to insert affiliate URLs with the click of a button.
- Affiliates Manager: Track and pay your affiliates directly from your WordPress website.
- Post Affiliate Pro: A platform for businesses that are looking to launch their own affiliate programs.
Are there any affiliate marketing plugins we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments section below!