WooCommerce: How to Run an Affiliate / Referral Program?

There is no doubt – one of the fastest, most affordable and easiest ways to increase your WooCommerce sales is to “hire your own customers”.

You’ve probably heard of affiliate commissions, referral programs, influencer marketing, brand ambassadors and so on. Online brands are doing all they can to promote this strategy and tap into their fans’ communities.

As a WooCommerce store owner, no matter whether you sell digital or physical products, you should definitely give an affiliate program a go. Besides, what if I told you enabling such a complex system was actually super easy?

With a simple plugin you can immediately add an affiliate marketing program to your WooCommerce website, give registered affiliates their own dashboard with statistics and revenue, pay them via PayPal or Stripe either manually, immediately or monthly and basically do absolutely no coding or complex set up.

Decide your referral commission (e.g. $10 per product, or 15% per order), install the affiliate plugin, contact all your existing customers, subscribers, fans, followers and see your sales grow.

For such a little investment, your returns might be reasonable enough and there is really nothing stopping you from implementing this today.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most reliable WooCommerce Affiliate plugins. They all do the trick, so it’s up to you to make that final choice.

1) YITH WooCommerce Affiliates

If you already use some of YITH products, such as their WooCommerce subscriptions plugin, selecting an additional YITH plugin will give you smooth compatibility. If not, not to worry – this plugin can work on its own.

YITH WooCommerce Affiliates plugin allows you to add a referral program to your website with a few clicks, as well as enabling tracking, reporting and affiliate dashboards.

The benefit in this case (as opposed to the next reviewed product, AffiliateWP) is the fact that YITH runs on a freemium model: if you don’t want to commit immediately to a premium plugin, you can try the free plugin first (available on the WordPress repository).

All the differences between YITH WooCommerce Affiliates FREE vs PREMIUM are on this page, so that you can compare and see if the free version is just enough for you to get started.

The biggest features of YITH WooCommerce Affiliates premium, in my opinion, are the following:

  • Let affiliates use a referral link OR their own coupon code
  • Set a global commission and/or a different commission per product
  • Set the referral cookie duration (X days since the user clicked)
  • Create affiliates from existing WP users or have them register from a custom registration form
  • Calculate commissions minus refunds automatically, and give affiliates access to reports, stats, graphs, link generation tools
  • Automatically pay affiliates once a threshold is reached or on a monthly basis
  • Decide who takes the commission i.e. the first or last referrer
  • Require admin approval for new affiliates
  • Pay by PayPal, offline methods and also Stripe (might require the purchase of YITH Stripe Connect so please contact the devs or check the Q&A tab)

As usual make sure to ask all your questions to the pre-sales team in case you require specific functionalities or are not sure about something. YITH has great support and usually replies really fast.

Here are a few screenshots (click on any image to open lightbox):

2) AffiliateWP

By far the most popular, shared and… expensive affiliate program plugin for WooCommerce, AffiliateWP is developed by one of the smartest WordPress developers out there, Pippin Williamson.

If you run a successful WooCommerce business, maybe this powerful tool might work better than YITH. Pricing starts at $99/year (I’m on the $149/year package), so you see how costs can go up quite easily.

AffiliateWP is packed with features and integrations, plus a series of free, paid and third-party add-ons that can help you implement that feature you really needed but didn’t know how to code 🙂

With AffiliateWP having the exact same features we listed for YITH Affiliates in the previous section, there is no point in repeating them again. So, let’s review some of the biggest features that make this product stand out from the crowd:

  • Customizable emails (for admin notifications, pending affiliate applications, affiliate application approval and rejection, and new referral notifications)
  • Creatives management (banners for affiliates)
  • CSV Export/Import
  • Compatible with WP-CLI (great for developers)
  • Comes with a REST API (great for developers)
  • Fully translatable
  • Affiliate Leaderboard
  • Pay Affiliates with Store Credit
  • Custom Landing Pages (PRO only)
  • Direct Link Tracking (PRO only: allow affiliates to link directly to your site without the need for an affiliate link)
  • Lifetime Commissions (PRO only: allow affiliates to receive a commission on all future purchases)
  • PayPal Payouts (PRO only: instantly pay affiliates with one click payments through PayPal)

Here are a few screenshots (click on any image to open lightbox):

3) Tapfiliate

The previous two plugins I mentioned run affiliate/referral programs within the dashboard of your WordPress/WooCommerce website. However, there may be times when you need a standalone affiliate platform to run other websites you have (that are not using WooCommerce) – in conjunction with your WooCommerce website. 

Enter Tapfiliate. The big draw with Tapfiliate is that you can run multiple affiliate/referral programs under one account at no extra cost. And for your WooCommerce needs – they have a WooCommerce Plugin, making conversion tracking on your website a breeze. 

Pricing is on a monthly basis, with two plans and an enterprise option you can check out here.  All plans come with a 14 day trial. 

Tapfiliate also has all the features listed in the YITH WooCommerce Affiliate Plugin (above) with a few features that sets them apart: 

  • Multi-level marketing – allow your affiliates to recruit other affiliates and offer a percentage of their commissions through downline earnings. 
  • Lifetime commissions/recurring commissions –  give commissions to affiliates for all future purchase – out of the box at no extra cost.
  • Setup extra commission types (for all different products and services) as well as affiliate groups (to commission different types of affiliates) – all within one program  
  • Create performance bonuses for your affiliates as well as automate common workflows (performance bonuses//incentives are available on the pro plan)

Here are a few screenshots:

A simple plugin to integrate WooCommerce& Tapfiliate
Report dashboard inside the Tapfiliate account
Tapfiliate dashboard

Rodolfo Melogli

Author, WooCommerce expert and WordCamp speaker, Rodolfo has worked as a WooCommerce freelancer since 2011. His goal is to help entrepreneurs and developers overcome their WooCommerce nightmares. Rodolfo loves travelling, chasing tennis & soccer balls and, of course, wood fired oven pizza.

4 thoughts on “WooCommerce: How to Run an Affiliate / Referral Program?

  1. Thanks for writing this article! I’ve been trying to choose between these two, and have been on the fence, but from what you’ve written it looks like YITH is the way to go. There’s such a difference in price between them!

    1. Great!

  2. Well written Rodolfo, Can you share some resources on how to recruit affiliates for in house Woo-Commerce affiliate program other than your own customer or existing fans?

    1. Hey Khalid, thanks for your comment 🙂 This article is about choosing the right plugin, so maybe I will do this in a different article whenever I find some time! Thanks!

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