How to Automate Your Affiliate Program in WordPress (Step-by-Step)
Do you need to automate your affiliate program?
To maximize the benefits of affiliate marketing there are certain tasks we need to be able to automate. Your time is precious, and these tips are going to make sure you’re using it more efficiently.
Here’s how you can automate your affiliate program.
Automating Your Affiliate Program: A Balance to Strike
We’d all love our affiliate programs to run on autopilot and earn us massive passive incomes.
Automation can help you work towards that dream, but there’s a catch. Successful affiliate program managers are very active with their programs, and there’s certainly a balance to be found.
That being said, you want to spend your time maximizing your affiliate marketing strategies, not taking care of day-to-day housekeeping. You need affiliate software that automates the basics and makes your life easy.
One of the reasons small business owners start affiliate marketing is because it frees up time. It allows you to recruit skilled affiliates to take care of large parts of your digital marketing so you can focus on other important tasks.
If that time is just spent managing your affiliate program, then it’s all for nothing.
So, it’s important that you automate your affiliate program, and we’re going to show you the areas where it pays to let technology take the strain.
How to Automate Your Affiliate Program
A successful affiliate program is still going to require some oversight on your part, but automation can make your life a lot easier.
We’re going to walk you through 7 areas where you can take steps towards automating your affiliate program.
- Affiliate tracking and fraud protection
- Link generation
- Affiliate onboarding
- Maintaining affiliate relations
- Affiliate lead generation
- Social media posts
- Affiliate payouts
You’ll find that when you automate these processes, you’ve got a lot more time to focus on the big picture issue – namely, bringing in more sales!
If you already use AffiliateWP then you can skip down to step 2 now. Likewise, if you use another affiliate marketing platform, it’s still worth reading on to discover different ways to automate your program.
Step 1: Install AffiliateWP
Automating your affiliate program all starts with having the right software.
If your website runs on WordPress, then the best affiliate management plugin is AffiliateWP.
Because it offers one-click integrations with the e-commerce, membership, and form WordPress plugins you use (WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, MemberPress, and many more), and has innovative affiliate management tools.
As soon as you complete the setup wizard, AffiliateWP will automatically start tracking affiliate links and protecting you from affiliate fraud. You don’t have to do anything at all as the 4-step setup wizard is going to do everything for you.
Just choose the pricing plan that best suits your needs, and follow this detailed guide on how to set up a successful affiliate marketing program. Whether you’re a pro or a WordPress beginner, it will only take you a couple of minutes.
Step 2: Automate Affiliate Link Generation
You want to make it as easy as possible for affiliates to generate affiliate links to your products.
When you complete AffiliateWP’s setup wizard, an Affiliate Area page will automatically be created on your website. This page will replicate your theme and allow affiliates to sign up for your program.
Once you’ve approved the affiliate, they can then log in to their affiliate dashboard through the same Affiliate Area page.
When they log in, an affiliate link generator will automatically appear along with their analytics (real-time metrics), affiliate coupon codes, and affiliate creatives.
All they have to do is paste a URL for one of the pages on your website into the generator, and it will automatically turn it into their own unique affiliate link.
Let’s take things a step further and get rid of affiliate links altogether for completely automated affiliate marketing.
If you have a Professional AffiliateWP license, you can track referrals through Direct Link Tracking. Affiliates simply have to enter their website URL when they sign up, and AffiliateWP takes care of the attribution.
This way, affiliates don’t need to constantly log in to their account and create affiliate links, they simply link directly to your site and AffiliateWP takes care of the rest.
To activate Direct Link Tracking, go to your AffiliateWP account, click on the Downloads tab, and download the Direct Link Tracking add-on.
Once the add-on is activated, a Direct Link Tracking tab will appear in your AffiliateWP settings. Simply check the box next to Allow Direct Affiliate Link Tracking and affiliates will be able to enter their URL from the affiliate area.
Step 3: Automate Affiliate Onboarding
Affiliate onboarding is a part of affiliate marketing campaigns that’s sometimes underestimated.
You might be signing up successful affiliates, but they’ve still got to learn about your products. Nobody knows more about this subject than you, so you need to share this knowledge with an effective affiliate onboarding.
With AffiliateWP, you can build your own affiliate onboarding process and use it to improve the performance of your affiliates.
To automate this part of your referral program, all you need to do is download the Affiliate Area Tabs add-on (here’s a quick tutorial).
This allows you to customize your affiliate dashboard and add your own personalized tabs which are perfect for onboarding. Once you’ve downloaded the plug-in, you’ll see a new tab in your AffiliateWP settings titled Affiliate Area Tabs – click the button to start editing your affiliate dashboard.
You’ll see you can easily reorder and add new tabs to maximize the effectiveness of your affiliate dashboard. Click the Add New Tab button at the bottom of the page and you’ll be able to select any WordPress page to display in your affiliate dashboard.
With Affiliate Tabs, you can completely automate your affiliate onboarding.
It allows you to share knowledge and creatives, and collect information through your chosen form provider.
Bonus Tip: Try and keep your onboarding as interactive as possible and open the conversation. We love to use WPForm’s conversational forms to guide affiliates through the journey and build the relationship.
Step 4: Automate Affiliate Relationships
OK, this one is a bit of an oxymoron – you can’t automate a good relationship because it needs back and forth between both parties.
However, you can use affiliate marketing automation to get the conversation started and maintain communication from time to time.
We’ve automated the most basic parts of this for you by setting up a variety of notifications (you can edit these by going to AffiliateWP > Settings > Emails), but you can take this a step further by integrating AffiliateWP with your email platform.
AffiliateWP integrates with a variety of email service providers through add-ons, hooks and APIs, but perhaps the easiest way to add affiliates to your email list is through your onboarding forms.
The information you learn about your affiliates will help you segment your audience and send relevant, useful content.
It’s amazing what a good affiliate newsletter can achieve:
- Attract new affiliates
- Keep successful affiliates engaged with your program
- Grow affiliate sales
- And more…
Don’t think that you’re bugging your affiliates.
Remember that ultimately, affiliates want sales as much as you do, so any way you help them achieve this is beneficial. Share your best affiliate sales tips, product knowledge, and affiliate offers to make sure your program is a win-win for both you and your affiliates.
Step 5: Automate Affiliate Lead Generation
Affiliate marketing can benefit online businesses in lots of different ways.
It brings in new customers, expands social media reach, improves SEO, and has many other positives. One that is often overlooked though is lead generation.
Affiliate lead generation is incredibly effective, and AffiliateWP makes it supremely easy.
All you have to do is integrate your form builder with AffiliateWP by opening the setup wizard. Choose the forms you want to pay a commission on, and let your affiliates know about the new incentive.
This is a great option for businesses with good sales teams as it ensures a constant stream of new leads.
Many affiliates love this model because they don’t have to wait for the sale to be made. They might get lower affiliate commissions, but the payout is more immediate, helping them to build their revenues.
Automating your lead generation through affiliate marketing can be a great way to streamline your marketing efforts.
Step 6: Automate Social Media Posts
Make it as easy as possible for your affiliates to share your products on social media platforms.
You can easily optimize this process by adding the Affiliate Dashboard Sharing add-on to your program. This adds social sharing buttons to your affiliate link generator to encourage your affiliates to grow your social exposure.
When an affiliate clicks the share button, they’ll be redirected to their social media profile where they can post an editable template with their affiliate link.
It might seem like a small detail, but it’s amazing the difference automation tools like Affiliate Dashboard Sharing can make.
Step 7: Automate Affiliate Payouts
When it comes to automating your affiliate program, this is one area where you want things to be as straightforward as possible.
While your program remains small, it might be possible to export CSV files and pay your affiliates through PayPal or Stripe, but as it grows, this can become a nightmare. What you want is an integrated payouts service that lets you pay affiliates in just a few clicks.
Here’s the good news.
You can quickly set this up by opening the Payouts Service tab in your AffiliateWP settings. Once you’ve imputed your business details, you’ll then be able to pay affiliates directly to their bank accounts in just a few clicks.
You won’t even have to leave your WordPress site as you would if you used an affiliate network or SaaS software.
Again, this is something where you want to have some level of manual control as part of affiliate fraud. It’s good practice to check over your payments and make sure they’re legitimate, but you need it to be a simple process.
With AffiliateWP’s payout service you can set smart payout rules and ensure all your affiliates get paid accurately and on time with minimal hassle.
Your Imagination Is the Only Limit with Zapier
We’ve talked about some very specific, practical ways you can automate your affiliate program with AffiliateWP. Ultimately, there is no limit to what you can do though because of our Zapier integration.
If you’re not familiar with Zapier, it’s a product that enables users to integrate a whole host of apps, setting off complex sequences.
For example, you might set up a sequence that looks something like this:
- A new affiliate signs up in AffiliateWP
- A reminder is created in your Google Calendar to follow up in 1 week
- A meeting request is sent to the affiliate via your email provider
- After the meeting, a shipping order is created to send out a free product for your affiliate to try
Your sequences, or “zaps” as Zapier calls them can be as simple or complicated as you like.
This gives you incredible functionality to automate your affiliate program and make it into the passive income earner you dream of.
You Need Affiliate Automation
If your affiliate program is going to scale then it needs some level of automation.
You can’t be manually checking transactions, and messing around with spreadsheets because your time is valuable. This is where the right affiliate marketing software is going to more than cover its investment (as well as through affiliate marketing tools that grow sales).
Looking for even more ways to build an amazing affiliate program?
We’ve got you covered:
- How to Get More Affiliates: 13+ Ways to Grow Your Program
- The Essential Affiliate Marketing Business Plan for Program Managers
- Is AffiliateWP Worth It? (Full Review)
- How to Create a Personalized Affiliate Landing Page in WordPress
We’ve shown you how to automate an affiliate program, now it’s time to get the software that allows you to do it.