Managing any kind of WordPress plugin affiliate program is difficult. This post is both an update to our affiliates and a lesson in finding (and correcting) some hidden “gotchas” we didn’t anticipate. We were losing money.
My hope is that this will help others to become more diligent in the finer details of managing an affiliate program.
We pay a higher commission than most to our affiliates, at 33%. The ugly comes into play because of the fact that we not only have our own plugins, but also plugins from 3rd party vendors. Our vendor program (in most cases) comes with a revenue share of 70% to our vendors.
Have you done the math? 33 + 70 = 103. That’s 103%.
Losing 3% on Vendor Product Sales
Yep. Because of the way our marketplace works, if a customer arrived at our site through an affiliate link and purchased a vendor product, they made the standard 33% affiliate commission. The vendor makes their 70% commission. After paying out commissions to both affiliates and vendors, we realized we were in a bit of trouble with that extra 3% coming directly out of our gross sales numbers.
We even had it stated clearly on our affiliate signup page that commissions only applied to “Foo-branded” products. Unfortunately, our backend system didn’t match our wording.
Free Products Notifying Affiliates
Another hiccup we discovered concerned our affiliates + free product downloads. If a customer arrived via an affiliate link and downloaded a free plugin, the affiliate was still getting an email stating that they’ve “made a referral pending successful payment” which was likely to cause confusion for our affiliates down the road.
Fixing this was a preemptive strike on our part, as no one had complained, but it just doesn’t make sense to send someone an email for a free plugin download transaction. The Affiliates Pro plugin wasn’t accounting for “zero cost” transactions when triggering referral emails to affiliates.
We could have easily solved the 103% percentage issue by simply lowering our affiliate payouts from 33% to 20%, but backtracking on this, in our opinion, would have been bad business and simply not fair to our existing affiliates.
After all, we did create the problem in the first place. Whoops.
So here’s how we fixed it, and the referral emails.
Filtering Vendor Commissions
We contacted kento, the maker of Affiliates Pro and he was very helpful in supplying some example code. Our Lead Developer Brad, then took that code and created a plugin that now allows us to attach a specific affiliate commission percentage to individual EDD products.
The updated affiliate model pays 33% for “Foo-branded” plugins like FooBox and SocialWiggle Pro and 10% on 3rd party vendor plugins like Coming Soon Pro, Better WP Security Support and Installation, and PDF Comments.
We feel that this new structure is still fair to our affiliates, leaves our vendors unaffected, and still allows us to make 20% on vendor plugin transactions triggered through an affiliate referral.
Affiliates Referral Emails for Free Products
Again, kento helped us by supplying example code which Brad rolled into a plugin. In short it checks for “zero cost” products during checkout, and bypasses the triggering of the affiliate referral email.
Note: Affiliates will still see these calculated as “hits” in their stats page.
Did You Know?
You Already Have Affiliates Links
If you’ve ever purchased a product on FooPlugins.com or checked out and downloaded a free plugin, that you currently have affiliate links available to you? To learn more, please visit our Affiliate Program detail page and follow the link to “manage your account“.