Guide: finding the right affiliate plugin for WooCommerce

You have a store powered by WooCommerce… check! You want to start an affiliate program to grow your store… check! You’re not sure which is the right affiliate plugin for WooCommerce… unfortunately, also check.

Well, don’t worry, because by the end of this article you’ll know what the essentials of a great affiliate plugin are and explore a few of the best options you can install right away.

Let’s dig into it.

What makes an affiliate plugin great for your WooCommerce store?

Before anything else though, I want you to know one thing. You may already be aware of this, but if you aren’t, I believe it’s important to bring it up sooner rather than later.

Running a successful affiliate program is hard work.

If anyone is telling you otherwise, they either run a program for such a long time they have most things figured out, or they haven’t started one at all.

And I wanted to be upfront about this, because no tool out there will guarantee the success of your affiliate program. None!

The success of your affiliate program depends on the success of your affiliates, and, with time and effort, you can help your affiliates succeed.

We cover the things you need to consider before starting your affiliate program and also what the downsides of such a program are. I recommend reading these two articles if you’re still on the fence with starting an affiliate program for your store.

But, if you plan to grow your business through affiliate marketing, don’t underestimate the importance of a good solution. In the long term, it will save you time, money and a lot of headaches.

Here’s what you should look for when searching for the right affiliate plugin for WooCommerce:

1. It integrates deeply into WooCommerce

If there’s one thing that comes to my mind when I’m thinking about WooCommerce, it is flexibility. You can set up your store almost any way you want to. The same should go for your affiliate program.

By nature, affiliate programs should be dynamic. A “set it and forget it” approach isn’t really an option these days if you want your program to be successful. And to be able to grow yours, you’ll most likely need to follow a handful of different strategies.

This is why you have to make sure the affiliate plugin you use has enough features to offer you the flexibility you need. For example:

  • setting a custom commission rate per individual product
  • setting a custom commission rate per product category
  • disabling commissions per individual product or category
  • rewarding commissions when coupon codes are used
  • automatically rejecting a commission when refunding an order
  • calculating commissions with or without taxes included

2. It offers a great user experience, both for you and for your affiliates

This is an aspect we neglected with one of our businesses a few years ago. And, in the end, it hurt us and our affiliates.

We were inexperienced and we believed we needed to get the affiliate program up and running as quickly as possible. We rushed it and chose a solution that was quick to set up, neglecting all other aspects.

In essence, we failed.

And we realized this only when our affiliates started complaining about the user experience. They couldn’t find the creatives we prepared for them, the stats on how their marketing strategies are performing and some couldn’t even find their promotional link. A good handful of affiliates abandoned the program as soon as they got in.

As you can already imagine, this is not an image you want for your company.

So, make sure your affiliates have everything they need to promote your products and measure their success without any headaches. Here are some of the things that make your affiliates’ life easier:

  • a simple and easy way to register to your program
  • a dashboard with an overview of their performance
  • easy access to their commissions and payouts data
  • a way to quickly copy their unique affiliate link and generate custom ones
  • a simple way to update their profile

And don’t forget about yourself. After all, you’ll be the one interacting the most with the affiliate program.

The plugin you choose should enable you to run your program without hassle and to not get in your way. Make sure you can:

  • add, edit, approve and reject affiliates with just a few clicks
  • set custom commission rates per affiliate, per product
  • customize email notifications, so you can use your persona when emailing affiliates
  • have access to real-time reports so you can analyze how your program is working, who your top affiliates are and who is lacking
  • manage creatives easily

On the long run all of these add up. The more flexible the plugin you choose is and the more pleasant it is for you to work with it, the easier it will be for you to run your program.

My recommendation: test a few plugins before deciding on one. Most plugins have a free version, so you’re able to play with their features and have a feel for how it’s like to manage the affiliate program with them.

Also, plugins that don’t offer a free version most probably offer a money back guarantee, so why not take advantage of it to make sure the plugin is the right fit?!

But, besides features, here’s another thing to consider…

3. It comes with helpful resources and great customer support

Even with a product that’s easy to use, you may still have questions or end up having technical difficulties. The later is especially true in the WordPress space, where there are thousands of plugins and themes, which may conflict with one another.

In these situations you want to know you can rely on a support team or on a knowledge base for help.

My recommendation: test the waters. Look for the knowledge base/documentation on the plugin’s website and try to find some of the information you’re interested in. Check how fast you find this information.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for or still have questions, use the contact form to open a support ticket. Seriously, don’t shy away. By doing this you’ll get a feel of how long it takes for the support team to get back to you and also how they communicate.

In the end, you’re running a business and it’s extremely important to know you have the right partners.

Speaking of partners, let’s dive into some of the plugins you can integrate into your shop.

A few of the best affiliate plugins for WooCommerce

Before we jump in, I just want to let you know this will not be your classic list of best affiliate plugins.

Why? Because we run our own affiliate plugin, namely SliceWP, and I don’t believe it would be fair to write such a comparison list.

For once, it wouldn’t be fair for you. It’s close to impossible to write a detailed and objective comparison between several plugins. And a short description of the main features doesn’t really paint the picture of what each plugin is capable of and how it feels to work with them.

Secondly, it wouldn’t be fair to our competition. Even though I’d like to be impartial writing such a list, I don’t know our competitor’s products the way I know SliceWP. So I may end up cheering for our own plugin and misleading you without knowing the whole picture.

In the end, which is the best affiliate plugin for WooCommerce is highly subjective.

Instead, I’ll offer just a short list of the plugins we tested and that I believe are best suited for the job. This way you know about some of the available options and you can explore them at your own pace. Here they are:

Plugin NamePrice
SliceWPStart for free + Paid add-ons ($99+/year)
AffiliateWPPaid Only ($149+/year)
Affiliates ManagerStart for free or Paid version ($39+/year)
YITH WooCommerce AffiliatesStart for free or Paid version (€99+/year)

My recommendation: try them out and see how they fit your needs, your budget and you feel when working with them.

Start your plugin research

Now that you have a checklist of what you should be looking for in an affiliate plugin for WooCommerce, the next step you should take is actually researching each plugin.

The list above has some of the best options available, so I recommend starting with those. There are other plugins available, but for them I cannot really vouch, as we haven’t tested them.

As for SliceWP, our very own affiliate plugin, it’s no surprise I recommend it. We built it out of our very own need and made sure it integrates with WooCommerce the way very few other plugins do.

And also, you can get started with it in… about 6 minutes.

Yep, I timed myself setting it up. And you should too. If you’re way off the 6 minutes it took me, contact me here and let me know what stoped you in your tracks. If you encountered any issues, have questions, I want to know. The more we talk, the better SliceWP can get.

But let’s get you started. Have your timer ready? Good, now follow these steps:

1. Open a new browser tab and log into your store.

2. Navigate to Plugins > Add New. In the Search plugins… field from the top right, type SliceWP.

Searching for SliceWP when adding a new plugin in WordPress.

3. Once the search results show up, look for SliceWP (it should be the first result), and click the Install Now button.

Installing SliceWP from the WordPress plugins page.

4. After the installation process is complete, click the Activate button.

Activating SliceWP affiliate plugin for WooCommerce.

5. Once SliceWP is active, you’ll be welcomed by our setup wizard. On the very first page of the wizard, select WooCommerce and click Continue.

SliceWP setup wizard.

6. Follow the rest of the setup wizard, as it will guide you through the basic settings you need to have your affiliate program ready to go.

7. Once you finish setting up SliceWP, if you need to change anything just navigate to your WordPress dashboard > SliceWP > Settings and set everything up as you need it.

And, that’s it. Don’t forget to stop the timer and let me know here how long it took you to set up SliceWP. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

If you ever get stuck or find something hard to understand, I recommend checking out our documentation or contacting us. We usually get back to each email in a few hours, but it may take a bit more if we’re on different timezones (we do need to sleep).

In conclusion

To sum it up, you now have a checklist of what you should look for when searching for an affiliate plugin for WooCommerce.

In addition, you also have a shortlist of great plugins you can install right away. If there’s still stoping you from researching them and starting your affiliate plugin, I’d really like to know. We all have our doubts when trying new things, that’s for sure, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

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