Creating an affiliate program on a WordPress eCommerce website is a great way to increase your online presence and boost sales. In fact, according to Influencer Marketing Hub, 59% of companies currently have some sort of affiliate marketing program.
And for good reason.
Affiliate marketing is a rapidly growing industry, with a current global market size of over $17 billion. This constitutes an increase from $13 billion in 2016.
This growth is not limited to just the global market, as the American affiliate marketing industry alone is valued at over $6 billion according to Mhojhos Research.
Keeping this in mind (and with the right tools) you can set up your own affiliate program to promote your store, products or services.
In this article, we’ll provide step-by-step instructions for how to create an affiliate program on a WordPress eCommerce website.
We’ll cover everything from setting up the program to recruiting affiliates and tracking results.
By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to start your own successful affiliate program.
- Why creating your own affiliate program is a good idea
- Potential drawbacks of starting an affiliate program
- How to create affiliate program on an eCommerce website
- Step 1. Installation
- Step 2. Setting up your affiliate program
- Step 3. Tracking referrals and commissions
- Step 4. Add custom links and banners for affiliates to use
- Step 5. Creating banners — even if you lack design skills
Why creating your own affiliate program is a good idea
Creating your own affiliate program is a great way to boost your online presence and draw in new customers.
Here are some advantages of creating an affiliate program you may not be aware of:
Reach a wider audience with minimal effort on your part
One of the main advantages to setting up an affiliate program is that it allows you to reach a wider audience with minimal effort on your part.
Affiliates will do the work for you, helping to promote your products or services to their network of followers.
Creating an affiliate program can cause increased exposure for your brand and more opportunities for sales.
Increased exposure as more people become aware of your brand
By engaging with affiliates and third-party networks, you increase the chances of reaching potential customers who may not have come across your website or products before.
Increased visibility often leads to more interest in what you are offering and improved brand recognition over time.
Allows you to tap into word-of-mouth marketing
Affiliate marketing is also highly effective because it allows businesses to tap into the power of customer reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations.
In fact, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, 77% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on reviews.
Affiliates that present products or services in review format will drive greater sales to your business, for certain.
With an affiliate program, all associated costs are compensated by commissions from each sale made from referrals—you don’t need to pay out anything else upfront.
This makes it cost-effective compared with other forms of marketing where there are fees associated even if no sales result from the campaigns.
So yes, the benefits of starting an affiliate program are numerous. But there are a few challenges to be aware of.
Potential drawbacks of starting an affiliate program
Setting up an affiliate program for your business can be a great way to increase visibility, reach new customers, and drive sales.
However, there are potential drawbacks to consider.
Let’s explore those now.
Time and resources required to set up and maintain the program
Creating an effective affiliate program can take significant time and resources. From setting up a platform, onboarding affiliates, and increasing visibility with third-party networks, there are many steps to be taken in order to create a profitable partnership.
Once established, regular maintenance is also required such as tracking commission payments, resolving disputes and troubleshooting technical issues.
Risk of fraud and abuse
Unfortunately bribery, false leads, fraudulent accounts, stealing of intellectual property, or other unethical practices may occur with some affiliates.
As all commission fees are ultimately paid by you, the business owner, it’s important to monitor activity closely in order to detect any suspicious behavior.
Potential for decreased profitability if not managed properly
If an affiliate program isn’t managed correctly it can lead to decreased profitability or even losses for the business.
This can include ineffective processes for onboarding new affiliates or tracking sales commissions that don’t accurately reflect the true revenue generated from each sale.
To minimize this risk it’s important to set clear expectations for affiliates upfront including commission rates and terms of agreement.
Now that you’ve done your due diligence and know some of the issues that having an affiliate program can cause, we can now get down to the good stuff.
How to create an affiliate program in WordPress.
How to create affiliate program on an eCommerce website
Creating an affiliate program on your eCommerce website is a great way to increase sales and attract new customers.
With AffiliateWP, you can easily set up an affiliate program in just a few minutes. So that’s what we’ll be using today for the tutorial portion of this article.
Step 1. Installation
To start, you’ll need to install the AffiliateWP plugin.
To do this, complete the following steps:
- Go to the AffiliateWP website and purchase the plugin.
- Once purchased, you’ll be prompted to login.
- Next, go to the Downloads tab in your account view and click the Download AffiliateWP button.
- Once the plugin is downloaded to your computer as a .zip file, log into your WordPress dashboard and navigate to the Plugins section.
- Click Upload Plugin then Choose file and select AffiliateWP from your hard drive. Click Install Now.
- Once installed, click Activate to activate the plugin.
- Go back to the AffiliateWP website and access your account once more. Click the Licenses tab and copy your license for the plugin.
- Now back in WordPress, go to Affiliates > Settings in the WordPress dashboard and input your license key.
- Click Activate License to verify the validity of the license key and to complete the installation process.
With installation complete, you can move on to setup.
Step 2. Setting up your affiliate program
Creating an affiliate program is straightforward and just requires a few steps.
- Navigate to your WordPress dashboard and go to Affiliates > Settings. From here, you can select the options that best suit your needs for setting up your program such as commission and referral rates.
- Under General you can customize how affiliates are registered on your site. Choose between manual approval or automatic approval of applications or set up an affiliate registration form.
- Under Payouts you can configure how often payouts will occur as well as choose which payment gateway you would like to use for processing payments (PayPal, Stripe and others).
- On the Opt-In Form tab, you can set up the form people will fill out to apply to become an affiliate.
- Under Emails, you can connect your preferred email marketing platform to WordPress.
- The Affiliate Area tab allows you to set up how the affiliate area will look for those who sign up. By default, the URL on the user-end is set to https://www.yoursite.com/affiliate-area, but you can customize this under Affiliates > Settings > Misc.
- You can also create a custom affiliate registration form anywhere you’d like on your site by simply inserting the Affiliate Registration block into a page or post.
Step 3. Tracking referrals and commissions
With your affiliates added, you’ll of course want to be able to conveniently and easily track referrals and commissions.
You can add, delete, and edit referrals by going to Affiliates > Referrals in the WordPress dashboard.
You can click Add New to manually add a new referral.
On this form, you can add their name, the amount earned per referral, when it occurred, payment status, and more.
To get a bird’s eye view of referrals made by affiliates on your site, navigate to Affiliates > Reports > Referrals Report in your WordPress dashboard.
You will find detailed information about each referral including date created, amount earned per referral, status of referral (pending/paid/unpaid) and other stats.
You can also add a referral summary report to your dashboard as a widget.
Just go to Screen Options at the top of the dashboard and make sure the box next to AffiliateWP Referral Summary is checked.
Step 4. Add custom links and banners for affiliates to use
Custom links and banners are an important part of any affiliate program. Not only do they help affiliates to promote your products or services on their blogs or social channels, they also allow affiliates to track the performance of their campaigns.
With AffiliateWP, creating custom links and banners for affiliates is easy:
- Log into your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Affiliates > Creatives in the sidebar menu.
- Click Add New at the top of the page to create a new creative asset for affiliates to use in their marketing efforts.
- Enter a title for your creative asset, as well as a description that will be visible on your website when affiliate link/banner is clicked/viewed by visitors.
- You can then either upload an image file (if creating a banner) or enter a URL (if creating a text link).
- Once you have uploaded or entered the appropriate details, click Add Creative at the bottom of the page to save changes made and add it to your list of creatives for affiliates.
Step 5. Creating banners — even if you lack design skills
As a store owner, you want to make sure that your business stands out from the competition.
One way to do this is by creating custom banners that will draw attention and help promote your products or services.
Creating custom banners can be a daunting task. Fortunately there are plenty of tools and resources available to help you get started.
Free online banner makers like Canva, Adobe Express, and Visme offer templates and designs that you can customize with your own images and text.
You can also use these tools to create banners for social media posts or digital ads.
No matter what you’re looking to create, these free online banner makers provide all the tools you need to create professional-looking banners quickly and easily.
If you need some more guidance, here are some tips for creating custom banners:
- Choose an appropriate size based on the platform and device you’re using. The most common sizes for web banners are 728×90, 300×250, 468×60 and 160×600.
- Include relevant keywords in the alt text of your banner to help it appear in search engine results and make sure that any text is clear and legible.
- Incorporate colors, shapes and images that reflect the brand identity of your business.
- Add a call to action that encourages people to take the next step with your business (e.g., “Learn More” or “Sign Up Now”).
- Make sure your banner is optimized for mobile devices; if it doesn’t look good on smaller screens then it won’t be effective.
By following these tips, you can create attractive banners that will help affiliates to promote your business through their own affiliate marketing sites and attract more customers.
With the right tools and a bit of creativity, you can make a lasting impression and encourage more conversions.
Deciding on commission rates
When it comes to running a successful store, one of the most important decisions you will make is deciding on commission rates.
This decision is critical because it will determine how much you are able to pay your affiliates.
It also will determine how well they are incentivized to sell your products or services.
Setting up reasonable commission rates can help ensure that everyone in the sales process feels adequately compensated.
It can also ensure that your business’s bottom line is taken into account.
In this section, we will discuss some important considerations when deciding on commission rates.
Factors to consider when setting commission rates
There are several factors to consider when deciding commission rates for your affiliate marketing program.
Let’s review them now:
- Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): It’s all about finding a balance between pricing that is attractive to customers while covering costs and generating a profit. Understanding your COGS is step one.
- Labor costs: Think about what you currently spend on labor costs and ensure it’s in line with your target commission rate.
- Overhead expenses: Be sure you’re accounting for all overhead expenses before considering a commission or referral rate. Think rental costs, employee salaries, supplies and so forth.
- Competition: Check out what other companies in the industry are offering in terms of commission rates for their affiliate programs. You’ll want to stick within this range as well.
Keeping these considerations in mind when determining commission rates will help ensure that you’re setting a rate that is both competitive and advantageous for your business.
Best practices for determining commission rates
In addition to the factors mentioned above, here are a few best practices you should take into account when determining commission rates:
- Create individual targets: If you only plan on using a few affiliates, you can set sales targets for individual affiliates and offer an increased percentage when they meet those targets.
- Create different commission tiers: Another option is to set up different tiers based on performance and create incentives for reaching higher levels. This will help ensure that your sales team is motivated to continue working hard. You can actually accommodate this in AffiliateWP by using the Tiered Affiliate Rates addon.
- Update regularly: Make sure you’re regularly checking in with your top affiliates to ensure that the commission rate you’ve set is fair and reasonable.
- Set clear expectations: Let affiliates know what their commissions will be upfront and make sure they understand what it takes to reach their goals.
- Communicate the benefits: Explain the advantages of working with you in clear and concise language. There should be no confusion about what affiliates can expect from you.
By following these best practices, you will be able to set commission rates that are both fair and advantageous for your business.
How to adjust commission rates over time
As your business grows, it is important to adjust commission rates as the need arises. This allows you to reward and incentivize good performance while also driving sales.
When adjusting commission rates, there are a few tips that can help:
- Analyze performance: Regularly analyze the performance of your affiliates and determine if they need an increase or decrease in their commission rate.
- Monitor competition: It’s important to keep an eye on what other companies in your industry are offering in terms of commission rates. This will help ensure that you remain competitive.
- Think long term: Make sure that when adjusting the commission rate, you consider how it will affect the performance and motivation of your affiliates as a collective.
- Stay up-to-date on industry trends: Adjust when necessary so you can remain competitive while also making sure affiliates feel rewarded for their hard work.
Providing support for affiliates
Once you have determined commission rates, it is important to provide support for affiliates throughout the entirety of their work with you.
You can accomplish this in several ways.
Provide detailed tutorials and guides
Make sure that your affiliates are equipped with the necessary tools and resources to effectively promote your products.
This can include tutorials, videos, PDFs, or any other type of content that can help them better understand the product.
We actually have our own affiliate program so affiliates have the best shot at promoting our products with minimal effort.
Communicate effectively with affiliates
Make sure you are in constant communication with your affiliates. Reaching out and providing updates regularly can help ensure that they stay engaged and motivated.
Provide regular incentives
Incentives can be a great way to reward good performance. Regularly offering bonuses, discounts, or other rewards can help keep affiliates engaged.
Provide transparent affiliate performance tracking
Providing affiliates with accurate and up-to-date performance tracking is essential for running a successful affiliate program.
This ensures that both you and your affiliates have a clear understanding of how the program is performing.
Promptly resolve any issues that may arise
Any issues or disputes that arise should be addressed quickly and professionally. This will help maintain a good relationship between you and your affiliates and ensure that they stay focused on achieving their goals.
You can do this by:
- Being available to answer any questions or concerns
- Resolving disputes quickly and fairly
- Listening to feedback from affiliates and making changes when necessary
With these ideas in mind, you can provide your affiliates with the support they need to effectively promote your products.
This will help ensure that your affiliate program is successful and profitable.
Recognizing your affiliates’ success
In addition to providing support, it is important to recognize the success of your affiliates.
This can be done in several ways:
- Award accomplishments: Providing badges or awards that recognize key accomplishments can be a great way to show your appreciation.
- Send gifts or bonuses: Sending gifts, bonuses, or discounts is an excellent way to reward affiliates for their hard work and dedication.
- Give public recognition: Publicly recognizing affiliates’ success on social media or in newsletters is a great way to show your appreciation.
When you take the time to recognize and reward your affiliates, you can help ensure that they stay motivated and engaged over the long haul.
6 Tips for setting up a successful affiliate program
Once you have implemented all of the above, there are still a few more steps you should take to ensure that your affiliate program is successful.
Here are 6 more tips to keep in mind:
- Set policies on promotion types and quality: It’s important to have clear policies on the types of promotional activities that are acceptable and those that are not. This will help ensure that only high-quality promotions are made on behalf of your company.
- Provide swipe files and resources to help maintain brand: Swipe files and resources can be a great way to help affiliates promote your products in an effective and consistent manner. This includes things like banner images, copywriting tips, logos (with transparent backgrounds), and other valuable resources.
- Prioritize high order value items first: When setting up your affiliate program, prioritize products that have high order values first. This will help ensure that affiliates make the most money possible from their efforts.
- Provide bonuses, discounts or other rewards: Offer these sorts of benefits can help keep affiliates motivated to perform. This could include anything from gift cards to additional commissions for top-tier performance.
- Review performance regularly: Regular reviews of affiliate activity is key to ensuring that your program is running smoothly. This allows you to track progress, identify areas of improvement, and address any issues quickly.
- Providing ongoing training opportunities: Providing ongoing training opportunities is essential for ensuring that affiliates are regularly updated on new products, promotions, or changes. This can include webinars, video tutorials, eBooks, or any other type of content that provides helpful information on how to successfully promote your products.
Yes, there are several factors to attend to, but keeping on top of these items can ensure your affiliate program is successful and profitable.
With the right setup, structure, and support, you can maximize the potential of your program.
Create an affiliate program for your WordPress site and reap the rewards
An affiliate program can be a great way to supplement your WordPress site’s income, and by following the tips outlined above, you can ensure that it is successful.
With the right strategy and support, you can maximize the potential of your program and start generating more revenue for your business.
Best of all, it works well to boost the profitability of your business.
If you’re in need of an eCommerce WordPress theme, we have you covered.
The Astra WordPress theme is fully optimized for WooCommerce and makes it easy to get your store up and running in no time. Pair it with one of our Starter Templates, and your store will have a solid foundation for success!
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