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When it comes to choosing an affiliate program plugin for your WordPress website, it’s very important to make the right choice from the beginning.
Unlike so many other plugin choices, this one doesn’t only affect you. Once you have affiliates registered on your blog or website and they’re actively earning commissions, it will be far more difficult to switch systems later. Even if you’re able to migrate accounts and data, it can be difficult to get everything transitioned seamlessly if you decide you want to change plugins later.
I don’t say this to scare you, but to illustrate an important point – this is a topic you’ll really want to research before you commit to any final decisions.
In this article, I will be covering the top affiliate management plugs for WordPress – comparing and contrasting them against each other, to help you decide which plugin is best for your affiliate program. Note that this is solely based around plugins that are designed to help you run your own affiliate program for your products and services. This list does not include any plugins to help you with affiliate marketing itself.
Let’s get into it!
How I Will Be Judging Each WordPress Affiliate Management Plugin
Full disclosure – I have not used every single plugin that I’m about to mention on a live website.
In fact, the only one I still use today is Affiliate Royale – which I will discuss in more detail later. This is the plugin that powers my own affiliate program for the products I sell on this website.
However, I’ve done extensive research into each plugin I will share here, and will be basing my judgement on the following:
- Features – are the features that most affiliate managers would need available in the plugin?
- User reviews – reviews from actual users, and the specific things they liked and disliked about the plugin.
- Integrations – what other software does the plugin work with?
- Value for the price.
I have been running affiliate programs for several years now, and consider my affiliate program on my website a vital component of my business success, so I hope to share some of my lessons with you as well!
Out of all of the affiliate program plugins available, I have narrowed it down to the following:
I first discovered this plugin after realizing that several affiliate programs I’m personally a part of, run on AffiliateWP.
From an affiliate’s standpoint, I already know that it has just about anything that an affiliate would need to find success with the program. When I began researching it from a website owner’s perspective, I began to understand why so many people choose it. In fact, if I were starting my affiliate program today, this may have been the one I would have ended up going for.
Some standout features include…
- Easy setup / integration into WordPress. Although you will probably want to customize the messaging to fit your website, you can get everything setup in under 30 minutes. New affiliates will be able to easily grab their links and begin promoting without much hassle.
- Plenty of different ways to offer commissions. Set commissions on a per-affiliate basis, enable tiered commissions (different rates upon reaching X amount in sales, for example), recurring commissions, lifetime commissions, flat-rate commissions or percentage commissions, etc.
- Adding affiliate resources such as banners or email swipe files is simple.
- The ability to give affiliates specific coupons.
- Integrations with a large number of other systems, such as MemberPress, WooCommerce, and MemberMouse. A full list of integrations can be found here. Note that AffiliateWP claims to be able to track and credit affiliates on any page where you can place a custom shortcode – so even if an integration isn’t directly supported, you can still track via order confirmation pages, ‘thank you’ pages, etc.
- Automatic payouts via PayPal.
AffiliateWP also seems to still be in active development, with frequent updates as well, which is nice. It covers everything most people would need, and new features are still coming out.
AffiliateWP starts at $99 per year, and goes up to $250 / year for their highest-tier offer. Note that some of the features mentioned above are only available on the highest-tier.
2. Affiliates Manager
If you aren’t ready to invest in a paid solution, Affiliates Manager is probably the best free affiliate program plugin for WordPress.
Affiliates manager may not have any fancy extra features that the paid plugins can provide, but it will cover all of your basics, including:
- Real-time reporting dashboard for affiliates
- Flat-rate or percentage based commissions
- Affiliate resources
- Integration with WooCommerce and many popular membership plugins (MemberPress was not listed, however)
- Affiliate payments via PayPal
Again, it is certainly not the greatest affiliate plugin out there. However, considering its completely free, you can’t really complain!
3. Affiliate Royale
As mentioned previously, Affiliate Royale is the plugin I use for my own personal affiliate program. It came bundled with MemberPress when I purchased it, which is how I first became introduced to the plugin in the first place.
I’d consider it about a tie with AffiliateWP in terms of features – you can do just about anything you’d want or need to with Affiliate Royale, and I haven’t really found any reason why I’d want to switch away from it.
Some of the features I appreciate having include…
- Easy customization of commissions. Like AffiliateWP, you have lots of options – one-time vs recurring commissions, flat-fee vs percentage, set separate commission rates for certain affiliates, tiered commission levels, etc.
- Multi-level commissions – pay affiliates not only for their own sales, but also the sales of any affiliates they recruit the program. I recommend being very conservative with this feature.
- Monitor affiliate performance – both as a whole, and on an individual level.
- Easy reporting, link generation, and affiliate resource management for affiliates.
- Payments via PayPal.
- The ability to allow any page on your website to become an affiliate link. This allows affiliates to link to normal blog posts of mine but still earn commissions if those visitors end up purchasing.
- Integration with WooCommerce, MemberPress, MarketPress, and Easy Digital Downloads. Like AffilateWP, Affiliate Royale also has a custom tracking pixel, so it’s possible to work with additional software as well.
It is a little bit clunky from an admin’s perspective, but there really shouldn’t be a whole lot of work you need to do with it once it’s set up, so I personally think it’s pretty easy to look past.
Affiliate Royale is currently $85 for a one-site license, and includes one year of support and updates. If you want to run an affiliate program on multiple websites, they also offer a developer license for $165. This makes it a great choice for agencies, as there is no limitation to the number of websites you can install it on.
4. Ultimate Affiliate Manager
I was a little taken back by this plugin when I first came across it, because their website is riddled with grammar errors. It gave off the sense of being a bit unprofessional, and to be quite honest, I was worried that the plugin would be complete junk.
I was wrong!
In fact, there are thousands of great reviews on this plugin from website owners across a large variety of industries.
Some of the standout features include:
- Multi-level commissions / affiliate referral program
- Tiered commission structure
- QR code generator, tied to the affiliate’s link
- Periodic reports sent to affiliates, so they do not have to login to check their dashboard
- Coupon creation
- Top affiliates list, posted inside your affiliate program
- A modern design that (in my opinion) is probably the best out of every plugin mentioned here.
Ultimate Affiliate Manager is the cheapest paid plugin on this list, coming in at $59 for a lifetime license. The biggest complaint I’ve seen with Ultimate Affiliate Manager is that the support isn’t that great. Some users have complained that support has taken a week to get back to them, while others have mentioned that they have had their problem ignored completely. Of course, people are more likely to speak out when they have a bad experience rather than a good one, but considering this is the cheapest (paid) option on the list, you may get what you pay for.
So, What Plugin Would I Recommend?
If I had to choose what plugin I’d consider to be the best, it would probably be AffiliateWP.
However, the best value for the price has to go to Affiliate Royale. Affiliate Royale is more than enough for just about everyone, and is only 1/3rd the cost of AffiliateWP’s top plan (unless you buy their lifetime license, which becomes cheaper after 6 years.)
There are a few reasons I rank AffiliateWP a bit higher than Affiliate Royale – AffiliateWP has a few more features, better reporting, and (in my opinion) an interface that’s easier to work with.
It’s also updated far more frequently. To be honest, I can’t recall a single new feature added during my first year with Affiliate Royale.
That being said, AffiliateWP only has a significant edge when you sign up for their more expensive plan, that includes all of their pro add-ons.
Depending on the complexity of your requirements, AffiliateWP may or may not be worth the extra $160 / year. And to be honest, you really couldn’t go wrong with either Affiliate Royale or AffiliateWP.
To be quite honest, you really can’t go wrong with any of the plugins mentioned within this article. All of them have the basic features most affiliate programs would need, and any differences between the paid plugins are not all that substantial.
Of course, considering how valuable an affiliate program could be for your company, it makes sense to go with the best possible option from the very start. When your affiliate program succeeds, all of the time and money spent getting it going will have been well worth it.
I’d love to hear which you end up going with!
Wishing you the best,
– James McAllister