Affiliate marketing is one way for online marketers and webmasters to generate revenue by connecting their site visitors with products or services from affiliate partners. For WordPress users, the easiest way to get into affiliate marketing is by installing an affiliate marketing plugin for WordPress.
With the right plugin, you can quickly, easily, and even automatically insert affiliate links in your website content, then track how your links are doing and how much revenue they’re generating.
In this post, we’ve collected some of the best WordPress plugins for affiliate marketing to help streamline this passive revenue process. But first, let’s review what affiliate marketing is and the types of affiliate marketing tools that are available on WordPress.
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is an advertising model where companies pay partner businesses to publish content that generates traffic or leads for their own business. These third-party partners are called “affiliates” and they are compensated based on how much traffic or leads they can drum up for the businesses they’re partnered with.
In practice, this typically takes the form of advertisements and product placements on your website. You enter into an affiliate marketing agreement with a well-known brand or company, place their ads on your site, and every time a visitor completes a specific action — such as clicking through on a link or making a purchase — you earn a small amount of money.
Over time, these small amounts can add up to big earnings: Recent data suggests that affiliate marketing spending will top $8.2 billion in 2022.
But how do you make affiliate marketing work for you? The right WordPress plugin can help.
What are affiliate marketing WordPress plugins?
The most powerful tool in any affiliate marketing arsenal is consumer connections. If you can collect and create reliable lists of customer emails and encourage them via targeted marketing efforts or regular newsletters to visit your site or purchase an affiliate product, you’re well on your way to creating a passive revenue stream to help sustain site operations while you work on more mission-critical projects.
The challenge? Collecting visitor information and managing email lists at scale is a daunting task, as is leveraging collected data to understand where your site is performing well in the affiliate marketing space and where it needs improvement.
The right WordPress plugins can help streamline these efforts by providing key content, connection, and competition monitoring features to increase your affiliate marketing impact.
Let’s look at some of the best affiliate marketing WordPress plugins — and how they can help drive reliable revenue generation. Using any of the plugins below in conjunction with an affiliate marketing WordPress theme can help boost revenue on your site.
Best Affiliate Marketing Plugins for WordPress
- Pretty Links
- Bloom Email Opt-In Plugin
- Thrive Leads
- WP Notification Bar
- Adning Advertising
- WP Rich Snippets
1. Pretty Links
Best for: Cloaking your affiliate links.
Cloaking your affiliate link is key for maintaining a high-quality appearance on your site, as well as keeping your website in good standing with search engines.
Cloaking a link means making a link look neat and beautiful, and hiding those long strings of characters that affiliate links have by default. It's all about making it complement your domain name, so search engine bots don't identify these links as affiliate links.
The Pretty Links plugin is one of the best and most popular premium options to make your affiliate links look great while maintaining top-notch SEO for your site, offering responsive design for desktop, tablet and mobile devices.
Best of all, Pretty Links cloaks your affiliate links automatically, so you barely have to lift a finger once you install the plugin on your site. Then, view all of your cloaked affiliate links in your dashboard, track their progress, and make manual changes when necessary.
Looking for other options? Check out our list of the best affiliate link cloaking plugins for WordPress.
Price: $79/year for Beginner Plan; $99/year for Marketer Plan; $149/year for Super Affiliate Plan
Best for: Adding, managing, and cloaking affiliate links on a WordPress site.
ThirstyAffiliates is one of the best affiliate plugins for WordPress, especially if you’re new to the process. For example, new bloggers can install this tool and leverage its features to generate passive affiliate income.
This codeless tool makes it easy to add links to your site from a variety of sources, cloak links, and track performance. In your dashboard, you can create, remove, and change links with minimal work, which is key if your site contains many affiliate links to look after.
ThirstyAffiliates can also scan your pages and automatically insert affiliate links based on keywords that you provide, and check that affiliate links are all working and don’t lead to 404 errors. If you don’t have the time to place affiliate links manually, automatic link placement can be a game-changer.
Price: $49/year for Basic Plan; $99/year for Plus Plan; $149/year for Advanced Plan
Best for: Hosting ads on your websites with minimal knowledge of advertising necessary.
AdSanity is an ad management plugin for WordPress – this plugin makes it easy to insert ads of any type into your site and helps you earn more revenue.
With AdSanity, you can create and manage ads as well as get detailed statistics about their performance, helping you better target ads to the right visitors and boost your affiliate marketing rates.
The plugin comes with two widgets: one widget for single ads and the other for ad groups, making it easy to create quick affiliate campaigns or larger-scale marketing efforts. Plus, the developers have created a library of video documentation to get you started.
To give you a better idea of how the plugin works, here’s one of their tutorials on how to place ads with the plugin:
Price: $59/year for Just the Basics Plan; $179/year for All-in-One Plan; $499 for lifetime access
Best for: Growing an email list that you can use for sharing affiliate offers.
Building an email list is an important first step for any online marketer. Put simply, if you have a large email list, you’ll drive more regular traffic to your website and are more likely to make money from your affiliate products.
To create an email list, you need a top-quality WordPress email tool that makes it easy for users to subscribe to your site and receive regular email updates about the products or services you promote.
Bloom offers a number of options in terms of placement of subscription forms along with attractive pop-up ads to get the user's attention. It comes with a host of template designs and integrates seamlessly with leading email marketing services.
Bloom is one of the best email opt-in plugins around and was created by popular WordPress developer ElegantThemes. Check out our full review of Bloom plugin for more details about the tool and how it works.
Price: $89/year or $249 for lifetime access
Best for: Finding keywords to target in your affiliate marketing strategy.
Semrush is an SEO platform that will keep you updated about your competitors and help you earn more money by choosing the right keywords for your promotions.
Semrush tracks keywords being used by your competitors and how well those keywords are performing for them, giving you a better idea of how your site is performing in comparison, what keywords you should consider to boost SEO, and how your content needs to change to return better search engine results.
In addition, if you want to run PPC campaigns on your website, Semrush allows users to discover optimal keywords for your campaign with its Keyword Magic too. With this tool, you can find topics that are ideal for PPC campaigns and build a list of paid keywords to use in your campaign.
Price: $119.95/month for Pro Plan; $229.95/month for Guru Plan; $449.95/month for Business Plan
6. Thrive Leads
Best for: Growing an email list that you can use for sharing affiliate offers.
Thrive Leads is one of the best mailing list building plugins — it can help increase affiliate earnings by creating an email list for your business. Using in-depth data analysis, this plugin helps you select the ideal opt-in types and affiliate marketing placements for your site to maximize visitor interest and uptake.
One notable feature of Thrive Leads is SmartLinks, which adds a special link to your emails that you send to subscribers. When a subscriber clicks this link to view an article on your site, they will view the same content as a non-subscriber, but email opt-in CTAs will be hidden. This prevents your website from distracting visitors with CTAs they don’t need to see.
Beyond this cool feature, Thrive leads lets you run analytics to track the success of your email opt-in forms and how to improve them, plus A/B testing tools for running experiments to drive more signups.
Best for: Placing affiliate links in a highly visible location on your website.
WordPress notification bars are popular among affiliate marketers because they offer an easy way to attract visitors' attention and drive more traffic to increase conversion.
Notification bars are especially effective in promoting special offers. For example, if your site includes a discount offer for visitors, notification bars can help immediately draw user attention.
The WP Notification Bar plugin from MyThemeShop is one of the most comprehensive and feature-rich notification bar plugins for WordPress. It comes with a host of options for bar placements and types, and you can even create unlimited notification bars with multiple notification types.
Adding bar styling is also possible — the plugin offers simple customization options and unlimited color choices to help your notifications stand out.
Best for: Creating fully featured advertising campaigns on your WordPress site.
A comprehensive ad management plugin for WordPress, Adning Advertising offers features that can help you create a successful affiliate site and increase revenue.
One option is the ability to show category-based ads. For example, if you have a category for WordPress themes, you can display ads related to WordPress themes to increase the probability of conversion. You can also schedule ads so that the advertisement shows for a particular period, meaning you don't have to manually remove the ad later.
This plugin comes with more than 18 different display options including banners and pop-ups, analytics for tracking ad performance, and, since it's a premium plugin, you’ll get regular updates and premium support.
Best for: Creating Google rich snippets from your WordPress site content.
With a growing number of marketers who promote the same affiliate products, you need to stand out in search results, and this means using a high-quality rich snippets plugin. WP Rich Snippets is one of the most popular and widely used WordPress plugins for adding rich snippets.
The WP Rich Snippets plugin will apply special markup to your WordPress posts and pages in order to show more details about the post in search results. These details include star rating, which can dramatically increase the click-through rates for your content, and a short description so visitors have an idea of your content before they click.
This plugin offers a detailed but user-friendly interface, making it easy to customize settings to meet your needs.
Price: $69/year for Personal Plan; $99/year for Plus Plan; $199/year for Professional Plan; one-time payment of $399 for Ultimate Plan
Capture the affiliate advantage.
Any of the plugins above can help your site generate higher revenues from affiliate products, while simultaneously streamlining the monitoring and management of these marketing efforts.
Ready to capture the affiliate advantage? Find your best-fit affiliate marketing WordPress plugin and get started today.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.