How to create a coupon based affiliate program for your WooCommerce store

In this guide we’re going to create a coupon based affiliate program for your WooCommerce store. But, before we jump into the nitty-gritty aspects of the setup, let’s firstly understand what is a coupon based affiliate program.

Traditionally, when you run an affiliate program, the tracking of referred customers is done through referral links.

If you’re not really sure what referral links are, they’re unique links your affiliates use to send visitors to your website. They look something like this:

As you can notice, the link has this short ?aff=21 string at the end. WordPress affiliate plugins and other affiliate software use this string to track the incoming visit and, ultimately, to reward the appropriate affiliate when a referred sale comes in.

However, this is not the only way you can track conversions and reward your affiliates.

This is where affiliate coupons come into play.

What are affiliate coupons and how do they work?

Simply put, they are regular coupons that are attached to a particular affiliate. Because these coupons are tied to an affiliate, you can easily track conversions and reward the appropriate affiliate for the referred sale.

To paint a larger picture, let’s consider the following example.

Let’s say you’ve just prepared a new collection of items for your store and you’re ready to promote it.

To spread the word, you’re collaborating with an affiliate, named Dwayne Johnson, that has a large following on social media. As part of your partnership, you’re offering Dwayne a 15% commission for all referred sales and also a 15% coupon code he can share with his audience for this special occasion.

You create the coupon, offer it to Dwayne, which then shares it with his social media audience. Soon enough people start purchasing using the code. Woohoo!

But, you quickly realize that Dwayne isn’t making commissions for some of these sales.

“Why is that?” you’re asking.

The issue in this case comes from social media platforms. They try their best to keep users on their platforms, so they don’t offer a quick and intuitive way of sending users to another site. If you’re using Instagram or YouTube you know this too well. So, as hard as Dwayne tries to funnel users through his referral link, some will inevitably reach your website through other means.

This is where affiliate coupons come in handy. Instead of relying on the referral link, you’re using the coupon not only as an incentive for potential customers to buy, but also as a tracking mechanism. Whenever a coupon is used on checkout, Dwayne will automatically be rewarded a commission.

In the end, everybody is happy. Customers, affiliates and you, the business owner.

How can I start using affiliate coupons on my WooCommerce store?

Now that you know what affiliate coupons are and how they work, let’s set them up for your WooCommerce store.

For this, we’ll be using SliceWP, a WordPress plugin that can power your entire affiliate program. Because SliceWP integrates deeply with WooCommerce, you’ll have all the tools you need to manage your affiliate program from the comfort of your WordPress dashboard.

On top of that, SliceWP will also power the affiliate facing area, where your affiliates can quickly grab their coupon code and view the performance of their marketing efforts.

Let’s jump right into it.

1. Installing SliceWP on your WordPress website

If you’re already using SliceWP to run your affiliate program, you can click here to jump ahead to setting up affiliate coupons.

  1. Firstly, let’s download the plugin to your computer from your SliceWP account.
  2. In the File Downloads tab you’ll find the core SliceWP plugin. Click the Download button. This will download a .zip file, named Quick note. Please make sure the downloaded file is a .zip file. If you’re seeing a folder, instead of an archive file, your browser automatically unzipped the file on download. Here’s an article explaining how you can modify the browser’s download behavior. SliceWP core plugin download button in SliceWP account page.
  3. Once the file is saved on your computer, navigate to your WordPress website’s admin dashboard > Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin.
  4. Here, select the downloaded file, click the Install Now button and wait for the process to finish.Upload SliceWP affiliates plugin into WordPress.
  5. Once the plugin is installed, click the Activate Plugin button.

That’s it! You now have SliceWP installed, active, ready to power your affiliate program.

2. Setting up the basics of your affiliate program

As with any software tool you use, you’ll need to set up a few things. The good part is that SliceWP does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. Most settings will be set for you upon activation. And don’t worry, you can change these at any time.

Also, to help you get started as quickly as possible, SliceWP comes with a step-by-step setup wizard that guides you through the basic settings for your affiliate program.

Let’s run through the setup process:

  1. Firstly, navigate to your WordPress dashboard > SliceWP > Dashboard. This will trigger the setup wizard.
  2. On the Integrations step, select WooCommerce. SliceWP integrates with several WordPress eCommerce plugins, but because this guide is WooCommerce related, we’re going to select WooCommerce. Integrations step in SliceWP's setup wizard.
  3. On the Program Basics step, set your affiliate program’s global commission rate. By default, this rate will be used for all of your affiliates, however, you can overwrite it either on a per affiliate basis or per product basis. As mentioned above, let’s go with a 15% commission rate. Affiliate program basics settings step in SliceWP's setup wizard
  4. On the Affiliate Pages step, you can enable which of the affiliate area’s pages you want the plugin to create for you. For this particular guide let’s say you opt for a public affiliate program, which means you need all affiliate specific pages, registration, account and reset password.Affiliate pages step in SliceWP's setup wizard.
  5. On the Emails step, let’s enable all email notifications. This way both you and your affiliates will received emails about account status and new commissions.Email notifications step in SliceWP's setup wizard.
  6. Once you’ve decided which email notifications you wish to automatically send, you are ready to go. The basics are up and running. You can review all of your settings from your WordPress admin dashboard > SliceWP > Settings. You can also view your affiliate pages from your WordPress admin dashboard > Pages > All Pages.

When you just get started with SliceWP, you won’t have any affiliates registered. However, for this particular guide, we’re going to consider that Dwayne Johnson already has an account and is an active affiliate.

With this in mind, let’s jump to the last thing that needs to be installed, namely the Affiliate Coupons add-on.

3. Installing the Affiliate Coupons add-on

The add-on, technically speaking, is a regular WordPress plugin. So to install it, we’re going to follow the same steps from SliceWP core:

  1. Firstly, from your SliceWP account’s File Downloads tab, download the Affiliate Coupons add-on. SliceWP Affiliate Coupons add-on download button in SliceWP account.
  2. Once the file is saved on your computer, navigate to your WordPress website’s admin dashboard > Plugins > Add New > Upload Plugin.
  3. Here, select the downloaded .zip file and click the Install Now button.
  4. Once the plugin is installed, click the Activate Plugin button.

4. Creating a coupon code for your affiliate

Now that you have everything installed and configured, it’s time to create a new coupon code in WooCommerce and assign it to our affiliate, Dwayne. Here’s how:

  1. Navigate to your WordPress dashboard > Marketing > Coupons > Add Coupon.
  2. Set up your coupon as you need it.
  3. Lastly, in the Affiliate Name field start typing Dwayne’s name. A drop-down with affiliates matching the text you’ve just typed will appear. Select Dwayne from the list and save your coupon. Select affiliate to link to this WooCommerce coupon.

That’s it. You’ve now linked this coupon to the affiliate.

What happens when a customer uses an affiliate coupon on your WooCommerce store

Now that your affiliate program is up and running, you have affiliates ready to promote your products and your coupons are linked to affiliates, let’s see how the purchase process looks like, so you have a clearer perspective about everything that’s happening.

For the customer, the purchase process will be no different than any other purchase made using a coupon. They will browse your website, add products to the cart and then, on checkout, apply the coupon code for a discount.

Cart with items in WooCommerce and affiliate coupon code applied.

For you however, when a new order comes in, you should notice two new things compared with regular orders in WooCommerce.

The first thing is a note, letting you know about the commission. The note contains the amount and also the name of the affiliate that was rewarded this commission.

As you can notice, even though both the coupon and the commission rate have been set to 15%, the commission’s amount ($63.76) is lower than the discount ($75). This is because the commission is calculated from the discounted value and not the full price of the products.

Note about affiliate coupon commission in WooCommerce edit order admin page.

The second thing to notice is the actual commission. You can view all commissions in your WordPress admin dashboard > SliceWP > Commissions.

As you can notice, the commission’s status is pending. This is because the selected payment option on checkout was cash on delivery.

However, once the order is marked as complete, either manually or automatically, the commission’s status will automatically be set to unpaid. Unpaid means that the commission has been approved, but is yet to be paid out to the affiliate.

Commission from affiliate coupon as shown in SliceWP's commissions admin page.

Affiliate coupons in a nutshell

We’ve reached the end of today’s guide, so let’s quickly go over what we’ve learned.

Firstly, affiliate coupons are a great way to both incentivize users to purchase from your store and also to flawlessly track referral orders.

And secondly, with an affiliates WordPress plugin, like SliceWP, you can easily create and run your own coupons based affiliate program for your WooCommerce store.

That’s it for today! If you have any questions about this guide or if you want to know more about SliceWP, make sure to contact us here.

Until next time!