Since we started blogging on our travel blog or this tech blog, affiliate marketing has always been our favorite way to make money from our content. If you’ve just come across this blog post you probably know what affiliate marketing is. So I’m going to skip the basics (maybe one day we’ll create a complete guide about affiliate marketing) and get to the point and introduce you to Thirsty Affiliates, a great affiliate link manager for WordPress that we just could not live without anymore!
- What is affiliate marketing and what are its benefits?
- Thirsty Affiliate review: Why use a WordPress affiliate link management plugin?
- ThirstyAffiliates free VS pro: the comparison table
What is affiliate marketing and what are its benefits?
Affiliate marketing is the action of promoting a product or service of a partner using so-called “affiliate” links. If a visitor clicks on an affiliate link (on a website, in an email, a pdf or on social media…) and then buys the recommended product, the link owner will get a small commission for the referral.
If we like affiliate marketing so much it’s because:
- we are completely free to choose our partners and the products we promote on our platforms.
- we are free to create our content and talk about the products as we see fit. No one comes and tells us what to write and we are free to give our honest opinion about each product.
- it generates passive incomes for us, as posts we wrote years ago are still generating income for us today.
But to get good results from affiliate marketing, not only do you have to create quality content, answer the questions people ask, and know your way around SEO… but you also have to use the right tool to manage your affiliate links.
And believe me, I wish I had known about this tool from the beginning… it would have saved me a LOT of time
Thirsty Affiliate review: Why use a WordPress affiliate link management plugin?
You’ll understand right away why it’s essential to use an affiliate link management tool if you want to get serious about affiliate marketing. And the reason I’m recommending Thirsty Affiliates is because it’s the only WordPress plugin I’ve found that solves all these problems at an affordable price.
Manage and control all your affiliate links from one single place
To make sure you understand the point, I’ll give you an example from my own painful experience 😉 . Obviously when we started affiliate marketing on our travel blog, we didn’t use Thirsty Affiliates and we simply inserted affiliate links directly into our blog posts. For example we recommended some Hostels we had stayed in Asia via the HostelWorld website (we were using it a lot at that time). So we subscribed to their affiliate program and then we simply inserted affiliate links towards some hostels in our posts.
The problem happened the day HostelWorld decided to change its affiliate platform and thus change the structure of all its affiliate links. At that time, we had to go over all our blog posts containing HostelWorld affiliate links to replace them with new ones. A long, boring and tedious job that already seemed endless at the time although we had only a few affiliate links (maybe a hundred).
It was after this experience that I searched for a solution and discovered the ThirstyAffiliates WordPress plugin. The first thing it allows you to do is to create and categorize your affiliate links in a specific menu. Concretely, it works as follows:
- You give a title and possibly a category to your affiliate link
- You enter the destination url of the affiliate link (this is the url provided by your affiliate partner)
- You get a cloaked url that you can customize. It is this url that you are gonna use in your blog posts.
This way, if one day you need to change your partner’s affiliate link (because they change affiliate platforms) or you want to redirect your readers to a new partner for a product (if you are no longer satisfied with a partner), you can do it easily from one place without having to go and change the links in all your blog posts!
If I take the example of the hostels we recommend on HostelWorld, I could now simply go to the ThirstyAffiliates menu, search for all my links in the HostelWorld category and change the destination url without having to go into our different blog posts. This change of affiliate platform that surely took us 2 days of work could have been done in 10 minutes with ThirstyAffiliates.
This way of doing things has a lot of advantages and is simply essential when you get serious about affiliate marketing. Imagine, today we have over 1000 affiliate links on our 2 blogs with about 100 affiliate partners. It would be hell to manage this without ThirstyAffiliates.
Moreover, we sometimes insert our affiliate links in emails, on social media, in our ebooks… With ThirstyAffiliates, we keep control of our affiliate links destinations wherever they are inserted, and we can easily manage them from a well designed menu.
Tracking affiliate link clicks in Google Analytics
A key point to understand and optimize your affiliate revenues is to be able to analyze where the clicks generating the most sales (and therefore affiliate revenues) come from. It is therefore important to be able to measure clicks on all your affiliate links and to be able to visualize them if possible in Google Analytics (since this is the tool used by all site owners to measure and analyze their traffic).
The advantage of using an affiliate link manager tool like Thirsty Affiliates is that every time I create a new link, its performances are automatically sent to Google Analytics without me having to do anything else. I used to use Google Tag Manager to create a performance tracker and send our affiliate links clicks to Google Analytics… but the problem was that every time I created a new affiliate link, I also had to create a new tracker in Tag Manager. In the end, it was quite inconvenient and I didn’t do it systematically… resulting in an incomplete tracking of our affiliate links.
With Thirsty Affiliates, if you have Google Analytics installed on your site, it only takes one click to automatically send all your affiliate link statistics to Google Analytics. Even though Thirsty Affiliate also has its own click measurement tool, from my experience, the statistics with Google Analytics are much more accurate. And it’s obviously also more convenient to have all your statistics in one single place.
Once “Click Tracking” is enabled, you will find in Google Analytics under Behaviour –> Events –> Overview, a new event category that is named “Affiliate Link” by default (but I renamed it to “TA Affiliate Links” in the ThirstyAffiliates settings under “Custom event category name”).
After clicking on this event category, you’ll start seeing some interesting things. So click and change the primary dimension to “Event Label” to get a ranking of your pages where you have the most affiliate link clicks. You can take it a step further by choosing as a secondary dimension “Event Action” which will give you a ranking of the most clicked affiliate links on a single page.
Obviously, once your click data is in Google Analytics, you can go much further in analyzing the results. You could for example create custom reports with the statistics of your affiliate links on certain pages only, create alerts when a certain number of clicks is reached etc… the possibilities are endless.
It is through this kind of integration that you will be able to understand exactly what is happening on your site based on accurate statistics. With the clicks data on your site plus the affiliate sales data that you should find on your partner’s affiliate platforms, you will have in your hands all the necessary information to optimize your affiliate income.
Redirect users towards different partners according to their geographical location
It’s clearly something we didn’t think about when we first got into affiliate marketing. We actually realized this problem when we started translating our site into English even though we actually had this issue from the beginning. I’ll give you an example for a better understanding.
Imagine that you recommend a specific camera to your readers in a blog post. You might send them to Fnac or Boulanger (french shops) for their purchase. But if the person on your site is located in Canada, for example, it makes no sense to redirect them to Fnac because there is no Fnac in Canada. So you need to redirect this person to another partner according to his geographical location and ThirstyAffiliates allows you to do that very easily.
In ThirstyAffiliate, when you set the affiliate link for your camera, by default you may choose the destination url with the Fnac website. But you can also choose to redirect users who are located in other countries like Canada or USA to another partner (like B&H in those countries).
This feature is obviously very important for us as we also translate our blog posts into English. This way, we create a single affiliate link per product (no need to create an affiliate link per language) that redirects users to different partners depending on their geographical location.
It is also quite common for some partners to have different affiliate programs in different countries (for example, Fnac has different affiliate programs in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain). This way, you can register to your partner’s different affiliate programs and redirect your readers to the appropriate page according to their geographical location. Practical, isn’t it?
This way, we can avoid sending our readers to the wrong pages and we maximize our affiliate revenue.
Uncloak some affiliate links
This is a feature available on ThirstyAffiliate that is only useful with some affiliate programs (Amazon to name one…) that force their partners to not uncloak affiliate links. If you promote products from these websites, you will have to use this or you could be excluded from their affiliate program.
This is a feature of ThirstyAffiliate that we don’t use because we prefer to put the links manually in our posts to keep full control over our links locations. But it is possible to define a list of keywords for each affiliate link and ThirstyAffiliate will automatically create affiliate links on those keywords throughout your site.
If you do affiliate marketing, you MUST by law tell your readers that your content contains affiliate links. And even if it wasn’t mandatory, for the sake of transparency towards your readers, it’s just right to indicate this kind of thing.
The Thirsty Affiliates plugin makes it easy for you to add an affiliate disclosure paragraph on all your posts containing at least one affiliate link. This way you won’t have an excuse to be transparent with your readers since it will take you about 2 minutes to set up.
ThirstyAffiliates free VS pro: the comparison table
ThirstyAffiliates is available in free and pro (paid) versions. Here is a comparison of the main features so that you can easily choose which version of the plugin will be the most suitable for your needs.
|ThirstyAffiliates free||ThirstyAffiliates Pro|
|Link management and cloaking||YES||YES|
|affiliate links category||YES||YES|
|Google Analytics tracking||NO||YES|
Finally, Thirsty Affiliate is one of the few WP plugins that is absolutely necessary on our 2 WordPress blogs. Being able to manage and organize all of our affiliate links in one place has been a life-changer for us and is a must-have feature for anyone who takes affiliate marketing seriously.
Personally, I also think that tracking clicks on Google Analytics and being able to redirect your readers to different partners based on their geographical location are important features as well. We clearly stepped up our affiliate game when we started to understand how our users were behaving thanks to Google Analytics events. And we also optimized our revenues by redirecting our readers to the right affiliate program based on their location. So we really recommend the pro version of Thirsty Affiliates and we truly believe you won’t regret this small investment.
Note: This post contains affiliate links for the Pro version of ThirstyAffiliates. If you purchase this plugin through one of our links, we will earn a small commission (and you won’t pay a penny more). We are not sponsored in any way by ThirstyAffiliates and we also purchased this plugin for our sites. By using our affiliate links, you will be supporting us in creating free and independent blog posts like this one. Thank you for your support!