Businesses that generate any significant portion of their revenue through eCommerce sales know all about the benefits of starting and maintaining an affiliate marketing program.

Site owners effectively borrow their affiliate’s audiences to draw new visitors to their sites, thus forming an infinite sales funnel.

SellwithWP recently published the results of a case study they conducted on Nashly, an animal-friendly cosmetics company, that revealed a 30% increase in sales when its owners implemented a new affiliate program.

Odds are, you’re familiar with performance marketing strategies like affiliate marketing. And while any entrepreneur can appreciate the serious potential for growth associated with a rewards-based marketing structure, website owners are challenged with:

  1. Not knowing where to start – Starting (and tracking) such a complicated project with many different moving parts working independently from each other is overwhelming. Ultimately this leads to website owners to put it off for a later date.
  1. Limited time – Entrepreneurs have full plates already and adding several items to a jam-packed to-do list doesn’t seem like a prudent idea when that time could be better spent on other revenue-boosting projects. Setting up an affiliate program can seem like a lot of work.

WordPress users have an advantage when it comes to plugins. Like those memorable Apple iPhone commercials of a few years back made it clear that “There’s an app for that,” so, too, are there WordPress plugins on the market to tackle almost anything, including running your affiliate marketing program.

In the paragraphs that follow we’re going to run through the five best affiliate manager plugins in hopes you’ll have an idea of what your next steps should be by the time you finish reading.

By the end of this post and maybe with a little research thrown in, I think you’ll discover that managing an affiliate program is not that difficult after all.

1. AffiliateWP

AffiliateWP

Created by Pippin’s Plugins, AffiliateWP proudly proclaims it’s, “The best affiliate marketing plugin for WordPress.” Users can opt to approve affiliates’ requests individually by choosing the “Allow affiliate registration” option or automatically approve all affiliate applicants — after which they’ll continue on directly to the website’s affiliate area for the ultimate in turn-key convenience.

You can choose to extend Affiliate WP’s convenience by selecting from one or more of the many add-ons offered. They give the affiliate plugin more functionality and have the ability to fully automate your affiliate marketing program. These add-ons offer tiered and lifetime commissions to affiliates, recurring referrals, one-click commission payments, and even the option to pay affiliates with store credit. If these don’t suit your needs, the plugin also features other add-ons created by third-party developers.

WooCommerce users will enjoy AffiliateWP’s easy integration and international functionality. If you’re already running an affiliate program, you’ll benefit from the time saves thanks to assisted migration. Shortcodes allow you to choose where and when your visitors find new affiliate invitations. Reward high-performing affiliates with personalized coupon codes with affiliate coupon tracking.

AffiliateWP’s pricing structure accommodates almost any budget. Site owners can choose from several offerings:

  • For $99 per year, an entrepreneur receives access 15 free add-ons, plugin updates, email support, and one download of the plug-in for one site.
  • For $249 per year (the most popular option), AffiliateWP boasts 14 pro-level add-ons, 15 free add-ons, and downloads across an unlimited number of sites.
  • If you’re willing to invest a little more, Affiliate WP boasts an “Ultimate” package of offerings with downloads across an unlimited number of sites, lifetime plugin updates, lifetime email support, 15 free add-ons, and 11 pro add-ons.

If you’ve been in the WordPress space for a while, you’re probably already familiar with Pippin’s Plugins but it’s still nice to know that they stand behind their products with a 30-day, money back guarantee.

Price: From $99/year

Get AffiliateWP

2. Affiliate Royale

Affiliate Royale

Affiliate Royale is a simple, user-friendly choice for an affiliate management plugin that gives entrepreneurs, marketing departments, or product creators total control. It’s a complete solution for WordPress and provides plenty of specific details about your marketing efforts including total clicks referred per affiliate, total sales and marketing activity. Offline sales tracking capabilities set this plugin apart from the others on the list.

This plugin is designed to be straightforward and easy to use for the site owner and affiliates. New affiliates spend only minutes setting up their accounts and adding PayPal commissions payment information. They aren’t required to spend a significant amount of time learning a new platform and can begin to promote your content and products in just a few minutes.

On the sales side, Affiliate Royale can track initial and recurring payments coming from every major payment processor, including PayPal, WP eCommerce, and Authorize.net to name a few. Transactions are automatically linked to affiliates. Commission payments can be automated and sent out immediately or with a mass payment via CSV file upload.

Site owners can create and upload any size images to act as marketing banners, even animated GIF banners. In addition, updates are performed automatically just like any other plugin found in WordPress.

Both a Merchant Edition, available for a one-time fee of $85, and a $165 Developer Edition made for eCommerce site builders are available.

Important note: Affiliate Royale now comes bundled with MemberPress, which offers a tremendous saving – click here to learn more. Both plugins are designed to work together, so you’ll get an affiliate manager plugin and membership plugin for around $15 extra.

Price: From $85

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3. WP Affiliate Manager

WP Affiliate Manager

WP Affiliate Manager is the only affiliate manager plugin in this roundup to offer a no-cost option. Their freemium option delivers the plugin’s latest download, access to detailed tutorials and a support forum.

I’ve included this plugin because it’s a free way to get started with affiliate marketing. That said, I always feel like a recurring subscription model results in a more sustainable and higher quality product. With WP Affiliate Manager users can easily:

  • Add unlimited affiliates,
  • Offer flat rate or percentage based payouts,
  • Set individual affiliate rates to reward top performers,
  • Integrate with MailChimp Autoresponder,
  • Track ad impressions to weed out lower-performing banner ads

WP Affiliate Manager doesn’t run on a third-party platform and allows users to manage, track, and pay affiliates right from their WordPress website. Seamless integrations with WooCommerce and all other sales plugins. International affiliates benefit from translation-ready framework into almost any other language.

While free is sometimes good, it’s worth noting that the plugins featured in this post are all affordable. In this plugins case, for $39, single site users can add premium technical support. Developers should opt for the $97 package to install the plugin across an unlimited number of sites. I’m not sure if this business model is the most sustainable or likely to result in a plugin that continually introduces new features.

Price: Free (premium options available)

Get WP Affiliate Manager

4. Magic Affiliate

Magic Affiliate

Unlike AffiliateWP, Magic Affiliate doesn’t allow for tiered commissions or per-product rates. But what it lacks there it makes up by offering a full-featured demo.

Magic Affiliate is also the only member of this roundup to provide the ability to offer immediate commissions as sign-up bonuses to new sales affiliates. You can follow-up with new members by setting up customized welcome messages visible in the affiliate control panel.

There are a variety of pricing options available depending on your requirements:

Single ($89), Three-user ($179), and Unlimited ($189) licenses are available for a one-time fee.

Single license users get access to Magic Affiliate’s customer service support, training videos, support guides, and one year of updates. Three license access adds a 10% coupon off the purchase of the Magic Members Membership Plugin and a set of premium banners. Unlimited users get everything mentioned above and installation across unlimited sites. Each of these if offered risk-free with a 30-day, money back guarantee.

Price: From $89

Get Magic Affiliate

5. Post Affiliate Pro

Post Affiliate Pro

If you’re looking for a commitment-free, pay as you go solution with plenty of features, Post Affiliate Pro is another option to consider.

Post Affiliate Pro allows affiliates to earn commission on a tiered or per product structure. Their offline sales tracking feature extends your affiliate program’s reach by offering a wide variety of promotional materials. Monthly monitoring and support are available for an additional fee.

You can test the plugin by visiting Post Affiliate Pro’s online demos. Options include site owner, the affiliate signup and the merchant signup — far more extensive than Magic Affiliate’s demo. Post Affiliate Pro increases tracking reliability by combining first and third party cookies and offering a safeguard (IP address tracking) in the case of cookie failure.

Along with a fully customizable interface, Post Affiliate Pro delivers real-time data delivered via its Android and iOS applications for smartphones. Affiliates can download the app and keep track of their commissions. No other affiliate manager plugin featured in our roundup offers this feature.

Post Affiliate Pro lets you choose from several pricing tiers (Monthly and One-Time). It’s fair to say their pricing structure is the most complicated in our roundup. Monthly plans can be restrictive in their offerings and limit tracking requests and integrations with other plugins so make sure you pick the right plan for your business. A basic package starts at $29/month and the ultimate package runs $99/month.

Price: From $29

Get Post Affiliate Pro

How to choose the best affiliate manager plugin

Starting an affiliate program can be an overwhelming and complicated process. And choosing a plugin to manage your affiliate program can be equally challenging. The most important step you can take is to consider both your short term requirements and your potential longer term needs.

While it’s possible to select a different plugin down the road, doing so comes with its own unique set of challenges. The last thing you want to do is upset valuable affiliates who have committed time and effort to promote your product or service.

Two other important considerations are support and longevity — you know that a development team like Pippin’s Plugins who has a strong presence in the WordPress community is likely to be around for the long-haul. The point being: Consider the big picture and don’t just focus on a single feature or low price point.

Posted by Daryn Collier

Daryn Collier is a digital marketer and writer for hire. He is passionate about working with other entrepreneurs who are committed to growing their businesses through inbound marketing. A husband, father and avid CrossFitter, when he’s not working or spending time with his family, he has a love for the barbell and lifting things that are heavy.