Glossary: Common affiliate marketing and AffiliateWP terms

Below is a useful list of common affiliate marketing and AffiliateWP terms, as well as other relevant terms.

3rd-party add-on - A 3rd-party add-on is an add-on which has been built to be compatible with AffiliateWP by a 3rd-party or external developer. Like all of our add-ons, these extensions allow you to add extra functionality and features to the core AffiliateWP plugin so you can create a more effective affiliate marketing program. You can find the developer contact details for all 3rd-party add-ons on each add-on’s page.

Affiliate - A person, business or website who promote the products and/or services of another business to potential customers, in exchange for a commission on a sale or a successful conversion.

Affiliate Area - The area on the front end of your website where affiliates can log in to view statistics, visits, referrals, earnings, and creatives.
Affiliate coupon - A discount coupon code that is allocated to a specific affiliate's account. When the affiliate coupon is redeemed by a customer at checkout, the connected affiliate is awarded a referral as though the customer had used a referral URL - however no visit data is recorded as an affiliate referral URL may not have been used.
Affiliate ID - A unique ID which is automatically assigned to each affiliate when they register themselves, or when they are manually added by a site admin. It is a means of identifying an affiliate. The affiliate ID appears in the affiliate’s referral URL when they are promoting your products or websites so they can be tracked when visitors come to your website.
Affiliate login form - A form that is visible on the front end of your website where affiliates can log in to the Affiliate Area. This is displayed on the Affiliate Area page by default.
Affiliate marketing - A performance-based marketing system whereby a business or site owner rewards affiliates when visitors or customers are brought in by the affiliate's marketing efforts.
Affiliate program - A marketing program which is run by a site owner or business to recruit affiliates to promote their products or services for a commission or reward.
Affiliate referral URL/Affiliate referral link - The URL/link affiliates use to promote a site owner’s website or products. It has the affiliate ID or username appended to it so the affiliate can be tracked when a visitor or customer visits your website. If the customer successfully completes a conversion (sale or form submission), a referral will be generated and the affiliate will be awarded a commission.
Affiliate registration form - A form that is visible on the front end of your website where affiliates can register themselves to become an affiliate for your website. Affiliates can either be automatically accepted or subject to site admin approval. Affiliate registration needs to be enabled from AffiliateWP’s Misc settings in order for the affiliate registration form to be visible. When enabled, the affiliate registration form will be visible on the Affiliate Area page.
  • Account email - this refers to the affiliate's email address that the affiliate will use to log in to your website/their Affiliate Area so they can see their statistics and data. This email address may be linked to their business or website.
  • Payment email - this refers to the email address linked to the payment gateway the affiliate uses for payments. People often use a different email address for payment gateways (a personal email address, rather than a business email address or an address linked to their website).
  • Website URL - this refers to the affiliate's website, where they will promote your product or business to their readers or followers. This could be the affiliate's own website, or it could be the affiliate's Twitter account, their Facebook account, etc.
Affiliate status - An existing or potential affiliate’s account status on your website. The possible status options for an affiliate’s account are as follows: 
  • Active - this means the affiliate is active and able to generate referrals and commission.
  • Inactive - this means the affiliate is not active and is unable to generate referrals and commission.
  • Pending - this means an affiliate application has been received, but the application is yet to be Accepted by a site admin.
  • Rejected - this means the affiliate was rejected and is unable to generate referrals and commission.
Affiliate username - The affiliate username is the same as the affiliate’s WordPress username, and is a means of identifying an affiliate. The affiliate can use their username in their affiliate referral URLs instead of their affiliate ID.
Campaign - Promotional activity (and tracking) of a product or brand through marketing channels/mediums. AffiliateWP allows affiliates to use campaigns to track where referrals are coming from. Affiliates can name each campaign in the Affiliate Area when generating an affiliate referral URL, and the campaign name will be automatically appended to their affiliate referral link. They can then choose to place a campaign-specific URL in a specific marketing channel. This helps them see where they should focus their marketing efforts for maximum sales and referrals. The campaigns set up by the affiliate are visible when they are logged in to the Affiliate Area. Some examples of campaign names an affiliate may use are: "Winter email", "Twitter January", "Facebook sale", "Summer special", and so on.
Child theme - Inherits the styling and functionality of the original theme. The original theme is called the “parent” theme. Child themes are used to modify existing themes without altering any of the code or styling in the parent theme.
Code snippet - A piece of PHP code which can be used to extend the functionality of a WordPress website. Code snippets are usually added to the child theme’s functions.php file, or installed as a plugin so the original plugin’s code is not altered (the core plugin should never be modified). AffiliateWP is incredibly extensible and we occasionally provide code snippets that allow you to change certain functionality within AffiliateWP.
Commission - A percentage of a purchase total or flat rate monetary amount that is awarded to the affiliate each time a customer successfully purchases a product or membership (or completes a conversion, i.e. a form submission) via an affiliate’s referral link or coupon code.
Commission rate - The value which affiliates will receive when a purchase or conversion is successfully made. The commission rate can either be a percentage (i.e. 20%) of the total purchase, or a flat rate (i.e. $5). The commission rate can be set globally (for all affiliates), or on a per-affiliate basis from AffiliateWP’s settings.
Consultants - Third-party developers who can be hired to customize a project to your specific needs if the plugin does not meet your particular requirements.
Conversion - A conversion occurs when a person visits your site and takes an action such as 1) purchasing a product, or 2) signing up to a mailing list, or 3) successfully submitting a specific form.
Cookie - A small piece of data which is stored in a user’s web browser when they visit a website. AffiliateWP stores three cookies:
  • affwp_ref_visit_id - This cookie stores the visit ID (the visit ID increments by 1 each time any referral link is used until the cookie expires or is deleted).
  • affwp_ref - This cookie stores the affiliate ID.
  • affwp_campaign - This cookie stores the campaign name when affiliates create a campaign to track referrals from specific sources of traffic (i.e. email, social media, their website, etc.).
Cookie expiration - How long the cookies stay in a customer's browser. You can set the cookie expiration to be as long or as short as you want, so if a customer returns to your site using that same browser at a later date, and purchases a product, a referral can still be generated for the referring affiliate. The cookie expiration can be set from AffiliateWP’s General settings tab.
Coupon - A code with a discount that a customer uses to receive a discount when purchasing a product from your website.
Creatives - Text links or banner images with embedded affiliate referral links which affiliates can use to promote your website or products. With AffiliateWP, the site admin can upload creatives from the WordPress admin dashboard, and the affiliates will be able to see them in the Affiliate Area.

Custom development - Development outside of the current development scope of the original plugin and its add-ons or extensions; or specific development0 for a customer's requests or requirements.

Customer - A visitor to your website who completes a purchase of a product or service.

Documentation - An archived resource of documents that detail the various features and capabilities of AffiliateWP.
Earnings - The total amount of commission an affiliate has earned and/or received:
  • Unpaid earnings - The total amount of commission an affiliate has earned that is yet to be paid.
  • Paid earnings - The total amount of commission an affiliate has been paid.
eCommerce platform - A software solution that allows you to build an online store or shop whereby you become a customer-facing business or brand that sells products or services.
Emails - AffiliateWP provides several automated emails which are sent to either the site admin, potential new affiliates, or currently active affiliates. These emails can be customized in AffiliateWP’s settings in the WordPress admin and formatted to your liking. You can use email tags to insert dynamic information into emails such as the affiliate’s name, the affiliate’s referral URL, your website’s name, and more. Below are the emails AffiliateWP provides out of the box:
  • New Affiliate Registration - This email is sent to the site admins when a new user registers to become an affiliate. 
  • Application Accepted - This email is sent to the new affiliate when their application to become an affiliate has been accepted by the site admin, or if admin approval is not required and they automatically become an affiliate.
  • Application Rejected - This email is sent to the user when their application to become an affiliate has been rejected by the site admin.
  • New Referral - This email is sent to an active affiliate when a new referral sale has been made. The affiliate will only receive this email if they enable email notifications from their Affiliate Area. The commission amount will show in the email and will be visible in the Affiliate Area under their Unpaid Earnings.
  • Pending Application - This email is sent to a potential affiliate when they apply to become an affiliate if the “Require approval” setting is enabled in AffiliateWP’s Misc settings. This means a site admin must review and approve an affiliate application before they can start generating referrals. If the “Require approval” setting is not enabled, this email will not be visible in AffiliateWP’s Emails settings.
Email tags - Dynamic tags which pull information stored in your database that can be inserted into AffiliateWP's emails to make the email more personalized and/or useful for the email recipient. AffiliateWP’s email tags can be used in any AffiliateWP email and are wrapped in curly brackets, i.e. {referral_url}. Note, these email tags can only be used in AffliateWP emails - these are not the same as WordPress shortcodes, and cannot be used on posts and pages.
Form - An area on your website that contains numerous labeled fields in which a visitor enters the relevant data as per the label. For example, on a basic contact form the field labels may be: "First Name", "Last Name", "Email Address", and "Phone Number".
Form plugin - A WordPress plugin that allows you to build custom forms on your website. With some WordPress form plugins you can collect data and submissions, as well as include pricing fields that allow you to sell products through the form (in conjunction with a payment gateway).
Flat rate referral rate type - An exact dollar value that affiliates will receive as commission for each conversion or sale, no matter the cost of the product (for example, a flat rate commission could be $0.50, or $5.00, or $10.00, etc.). When set, this referral rate type applies to all products or forms on your website. Flat rate commission can be useful for websites which use opt-ins, sign-ups or lead generation methods of conversion, so the affiliate can receive an instant commission on a successful conversion.
Integrations - Other popular WordPress plugins and certain non-WordPress applications that AffiliateWP can be used in conjunction with to act as a whole - providing you with an affiliate marketing solution that integrates with your existing eCommerce, membership or lead-generation platform.
Lead generation - Qualifying and identifying potential customers or prospects through their interest or inquiry in your products or services. Leads are often generated for potential customer sales (online and offline), mailing list acquisition, or other list-building purposes. Potential leads can be found when they progress through a marketing purchase funnel which further influences them to buy a product or service.
Opt-in - Similar to lead generation, though slightly different, opt-in marketing is a permission-based form of marketing which allows potential customers (or leads) to join your user database, mailing list, or even affiliate program.
Payout/payment - The payment made to affiliates after a certain period of time (usually 30 days) whereby they receive all unpaid earnings owed to them through a payment gateway or other payment method.
Payout file - A CSV file generated by AffiliateWP which contains the email addresses, the unpaid earnings total, and the currency for all affiliates with unpaid earnings in a specified date range. This file has been specifically formatted for the Mass Payment option provided by PayPal and Skrill, as well as other similar systems.
Payment gateway - A secure and encrypted eCommerce service provider that authorizes credit card and monetary payments for web-based businesses and individuals. Some examples of popular payment gateways are PayPal, Stripe, and Skrill, to name a few.
Percentage referral rate type - A percentage of the product price or total cart value that affiliates will receive as commission for each conversion or sale (i.e. 10% on all sales, 20% on a specific product, etc.). When set, this referral rate type applies to all products or purchase forms on your website.
Plugin - A piece of software that adds a specific function or additional features and capabilities to an existing piece of software.
Pretty URLs - A website address or link that is easier to read and includes words which describe the content of the webpage. Pretty URLs are free from query strings, and are considered to be more search engine friendly as they “describe” the content of each page to search engine crawlers.
Product - A physical or digital item that is bought from a physical store or an online store.
Purchase - The acquisition of a product or service by paying for it.
Referral - This is the conversion and commission data recorded for an affiliate when a conversion is successful. A referral is generated when a visitor successfully purchases a product or completes a form submission, after visiting your website via the affiliate’s referral link.
Referral ID - A unique ID that is automatically assigned to each referral for internal tracking purposes.
Referral rate type - The type of commission that will be calculated for affiliates on a product or service. The referral rate type can be a percentage of a sale (i.e. 20%), or a flat rate (i.e. $5.00). When set, the referral rate type applies to all products or forms on your website.
Referral status - when a referral is generated, its status is automatically set to Unpaid by default. This means the affiliate can see they have earned a referral and how much the commission will be (however it has not yet been paid to them). Below are the possible referral statuses:
  • Pending - the referral is not yet visible to the affiliate and can be reviewed by the site admin before it is “Accepted” and set to Unpaid status.
  • Unpaid - the affiliate can see the referral in the Affiliate Area, and the total owing to them is shown in their Unpaid Earnings.
  • Paid - when a commission owing to an affiliate has been paid to them via your preferred payment system (i.e. PayPal, Skrill, other mass payment platform, etc.), manually via bank transfer, or as store credit (if using WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads).
  • Rejected - this status can be manually set by the site admin if they wish to reject a referral. Also, a setting can be enabled in AffiliateWP which automatically rejects a referral if a refund or return is requested by a customer.
Referral URL variable/referral variable - The variable used in the affiliate referral URL to indicate that the URL/link is an affiliate referral URL. By default the referral variable is “ref” but can be changed to whatever you like.
Reports - Statistics and data that AffiliateWP stores in your database for tracking purposes or analysis. 
Sale - When a product or service is exchanged for payment, and the transaction between the seller and the buyer is completed.
Service - Work that is undertaken for a fee or payment. Some online examples of these are IT, website management, website security, digital copywriting, social media management, and so on.
Shortcode - A descriptive, WordPress-specific code which calls longer HTML code from within WordPress or a WordPress plugin. A shortcode can be inserted on any page of your website, and is wrapped in square brackets, e.g. [affiliate_login]. In AffiliateWP, shortcodes call regularly used pieces of code quickly, whilst decreasing the chance of potential errors in longer HTML code.
Site admin/administrator - The site administrator has full power over the site and can do absolutely everything. Their WordPress user role is Administrator. They can add and remove users, and change user roles. They have complete control over posts, pages, media, comments, settings, themes, plugins, and other users. A site could have one Administrator, or multiple Administrators depending on the type of website.
Site license - An AffiliateWP site license is a paid license that allows you to use AffiliateWP on your website. It also allows you to receive automatic updates to AffiliateWP from within the WordPress admin, and gives you access to our support team for any queries you might have. Each site license level has slightly different allowances, such as number of sites AffiliateWP can be used on, and whether or not pro add-ons are included. Our Personal, Plus, and Professional site licenses are annual and must be renewed after a year to receive ongoing support and updates. Our Ultimate license is what we call a “lifetime” license, meaning it doesn’t ever need to be renewed. See more on our licenses here:  AffiliateWP pricing and FAQs.
Site owner - The owner of the business or website. The site owner is often also the only site admin or one of the site admins, giving them access and control to every part of the website.

Slug -  A URL slug is the user-friendly name of a specific page or post on your site. AffiliateWP also has a pro add-on that allows your affiliates to create a custom slug which will appear in their affiliate referral URL in place of their username or affiliate ID (your affiliates can also use their username or affiliate ID in their referral URLs if they wish).

Subscriber role - Users with this WordPress user role can log in to your WordPress site and update their user profiles and change their passwords. They cannot write posts, view comments, or alter any settings on your website. When users register themselves to become an affiliate on your website, they are automatically registered as a WordPress user as well. They are assigned the subscriber role by default, giving them only the most basic access to your website.
Membership platform - A plugin that allows you to charge members for access to your website, or content on your website.
Member - A visitor who comes to your site and signs up or pays to receive access to content or products on your website.
MLM (Multi-level Marketing) - A system that allows tiered affiliates or sub-affiliates to be recruited under one primary or “parent” affiliate. The parent affiliate recruits other affiliates to join an affiliate program, and is then compensated - on top of their own marketing efforts - when their sub-affiliates successfully refer a customer who completes a purchase. 
Template file - In generic terms, a WordPress template file is a pre-made layout which control how your website looks on the front end. Template files also allow you to override the default layout so it can be customized to your liking. AffiliateWP provides several template files which allow site admins or developers to modify the default layouts that AffiliateWP outputs on the front end. See our doc on how to modify template files here:  How to modify template files.
Terms & conditions/Terms of use - An agreement or set of rules which users must abide by in order to use a product or service. We recommend setting up a terms of use for your affiliate program so users are fully informed about how your program works, and what guidelines they must follow to be involved as an affiliate. It protects both you and them so they know what they are entitled to, and so you can ensure your affiliates are promoting your products or website correctly.
Theme - A collection of files that change the look and functionality of your website. A WordPress theme provides all of the front end styling of your WordPress website, changing the way your site looks without modifying the underlying code. Most WordPress themes provide the overall design for a site, colors, and sometimes font styling.
WordPress admin/WordPress dashboard - The back end of a WordPress website where users can log in and make changes based on their user role permissions. For example, a site administrator can control everything on a WordPress website from within the WordPress admin/dashboard - from posts, pages, media, and comments, to settings, themes, plugins, plugin settings and other users.
WordPress user account - An account that is created when a user signs up to a WordPress website. WordPress requires all WordPress users to create an account - therefore affiliates must have a WordPress user account on your website before an affiliate account can be created. When users register themselves as an affiliate, a WordPress user account is automatically created for them. New affiliates are automatically given the WordPress Subscriber user role. Affiliates can log in to their WordPress user account on your website to change their password and basic contact information (they cannot make any changes to your website).
WordPress user role - WordPress has a built-in user management system which allows you to determine what each user can and cannot do on your website. Out of the box, there are five default user roles: Administrator, Editor, Author, Contributor and Subscriber. You can read more on the various user roles and their capabilities on WordPress.org:  WordPress Roles & Capabilities.
Visit - A unique hit when someone visits your website. Visits are the number of of times your site is visited (by the same visitor or multiple visitors). In AffiliateWP, a visit is recorded when a visitor lands on your website after clicking on an affiliate referral URL. When a visit occurs, AffiliateWP stores two cookies in the customer’s browser. A new visit will not be recorded unless the stored affwp_ref_visit_ID cookie expires, or the visitor clears their browser cookies. These visits are visible to the site admin in AffiliateWP’s settings, and to the affiliate when they are logged in to the Affiliate Area.
Visitor - An individual who lands on your website for the purpose of viewing content they are interested in, or potentially purchasing a product or service.