Referral links

There are lots of different ways to track referrals, but which ones work best for you? We look at how referral links work and compare them to some alternative ways to track referrals. 

Different businesses will have different needs based on the kind of affiliate marketing or referral program they run. It’s important to know the options available to you so that you can maximize your efficiency. 

What is a Referral Link?

A referral link is a unique URL that allows businesses to track where a website visitor has come from. This is important because it means they can reward third-party businesses (affiliates) that send them customers.

These referral links form the basis of many affiliate marketing and referral programs. Although there are lots of different ways to track referrals (as we’re going to see further on in the article), this is still the most common way for affiliate sales to occur. 

Referral links work well because they’re easy to use and they offer accurate tracking, allowing your affiliate program to run like clockwork

These links fit into content just like a regular URL and can be shared in blogs, social media posts, emails, and virtually anywhere online. 

How do Referral Links Work?

One of the reasons referral links are so popular is because they’re extremely easy to use. 

  1. Your referral software (also known as affiliate marketing software) gives your affiliates access to a referral link generator.
  2. Affiliates enter the URL of the page they want to send traffic to.
  3. The referral link generator creates a unique referral link for your affiliates to use.
  4. When people click the unique identifier, they’ll be sent to the intended landing page on your website as normal.
  5. The affiliate software will automatically identify which affiliate sent you the visitor, and if they make a purchase, assign them a commission. 

If you’re setting up a referral program, then this couldn’t be easier. In just a few minutes, you can sync your products to the software and allow affiliates to start creating referral links.

Once your affiliates start sharing referral links, you’ll then have access to a treasure trove of data that shows you:

Reports - Referrals
Reports – Referrals
  • How much traffic your affiliates are sending you
  • What pages your referral traffic is looking at
  • Conversion rates on your referral marketing
  • How much each affiliate has earned

Your affiliates will also be able to track their performance in their affiliate area, helping them to improve their performance and make more sales for you. 

Affiliate Area - Statistics
The “Statistics” section

Bonus Tip: You don’t have to use automatically generated referral links. With AffiliateWP’s add-ons like Custom Affiliate Slugs and Direct Link Tracking, you can allow your affiliates to personalize their referral links (or eliminate them altogether), streamlining the process and improving the customer experience. 

What is an Affiliate Coupon Code?

An affiliate coupon code does exactly the same job as a referral link, just in a slightly different way. With a referral link, people are following a URL to your landing page, but with an affiliate coupon code, they’re independently navigating to your website. 

So, how do you know which affiliate sent you the traffic?

Your affiliates receive a unique affiliate discount code that your customers will use at checkout. On completion of the sale, your affiliate marketing software will recognize the coupon code and assign the sale to the correct affiliate. Once you’ve approved the transaction, your affiliate will be paid a commission on the sale. 

People love a discount, which is why affiliate coupon codes are so popular. In fact, 90% of consumers use coupons, and 63% believe coupons should be more available. 

They’re also eye-catching. 

When you’re scrolling through social media platforms, what catches your eye, a long referral link, or money off your favorite products? This makes affiliate coupon codes particularly useful in crowded spheres such as email marketing and on social media platforms like LinkedIn, WhatsApp, and Instagram. 

Referral links vs Affiliate coupon code

Affiliate coupon codes might not offer quite the same level of automation as a referral link, but they’re very effective nonetheless.

How do Affiliate Coupon Codes Work?

Affiliate coupon codes work by creating a unique referral code. These coupon codes can be used in word-of-mouth marketing, referral campaigns, and even among family members. 

Just as with referral links, they’re effortlessly easy to set up:

Referral link vs affiliate coupon code
  1. Create a discount code in your e-commerce platform.
  2. Assign the coupon code to individual affiliates using your affiliate marketing software (with AffiliateWP you’ll find a box in your WooCommerce coupons tab).
  3. Your affiliates use their unique code in their content, social media posts, email marketing, and more.
  4. Customers see the discount codes and navigate to your product pages.
  5. When the discount code is entered at the checkout page, a referral is created.
  6. Once the transaction is approved, the referrer is eligible to receive a commission or other types of referral rewards.

Once again, the metrics will automatically sync to your affiliate analytics, and your affiliates will be able to see relevant data in their affiliate area. 

What are Vanity Coupon Codes?

We mentioned that one of the important things about affiliate coupon codes is that they can stand out. When someone offers you a 50% discount, you tend to take notice!

The problem is, coupon codes are so common that we see them practically everywhere. The more we see something, the more we become immune to it, and this is certainly true with coupon codes. 

What’s more, they tend not to be very enticing. 

Seeing a coupon code like this one: ZHGG4F30 is hardly exciting. 

So, what other options are out there?

This is where Vanity Coupon Codes come in. They allow your affiliates to choose their own coupon codes, so rather than ZHGG4F30, I might choose FROMWILLIAMWITHLOVE. 

Vanity affiliate coupon codes for social

It will still track referrals in exactly the same way as a regular affiliate coupon code, but it allows for so much more. 

You’re not the only one trying to attract new customers and turn them into loyal brand ambassadors. Your affiliates are trying to grow their brand as well, but it’s hard to do this when they’re sending people away from their website as they do with referral marketing. 

Vanity Coupon Codes help overcome this issue by creating a sense of exclusivity, reminding customers of who gave them the discount in the first place. This creates a win-win relationship where your affiliates grow their business as they’re growing yours. 

Along with other perks like Recurring Referrals (affiliates get paid a commission every time their referral places an order), this incentivizes your affiliates to create loyal customers who keep coming back to you. 

How do Vanity Coupon Codes Work?

With the right affiliate software, Vanity Coupon Codes are easy to set up. It follows the same simple process as regular affiliate coupon codes, just with one added step. 

Vanity Coupon Codes Example

Once you’ve installed our Vanity Coupon Codes pro-add-on, then your affiliates can create their own personalized discount codes in a few easy steps. 

  1. Create a discount code in your e-commerce platform.
  2. Assign the coupon code to individual affiliates using your affiliate marketing software.
  3. Affiliates can personalize their coupon code in their affiliate area.
  4. You approve or deny the request (some oversight is necessary)
  5. Your affiliates use their vanity coupon code in their content, social media posts, email marketing, and more.
  6. Customers see the discount codes and navigate to your product pages.
  7. When the discount code is entered at the checkout page, a referral is created.
  8. Once the transaction is approved, the referrer is eligible to receive a commission or other types of referral rewards.

It’s something you can easily set up and it can have a significant impact on the performance of your referral program. 

How to Optimize Your Referral Program 

As you can see, there are different ways to track referrals and reward affiliates. 

Whatever marketing strategy you choose, one of the most important things is that you have the right software. Making sales isn’t easy, and to do it through referral marketing, you’ll need to equip your affiliate marketers with the right tools. 

You might choose to work with bloggers whose primary strategy is SEO, social media influencers, or even your existing customers through a rewards program, but they will all need something slightly different.

The more tools you have at your disposal, the more you will be able to mobilize an army of “salespeople” and turn your referral program into a genuine revenue earner. 

That’s why we’re constantly working on new features like Vanity Coupon Codes, and we’ll continue to do so to help you do more with referral links. 

Get started with AffiliateWP today!

William Palmer

About the author: William is a technical writer for Awesome Motive. He's passionate about helping small businesses unlock the power of affiliate marketing, and summit the rankings with great SEO. In his spare time, you'll find him exploring the wonderful scenery of Cantabria, Spain.

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