Prosociate 4 Review - Ultimate Amazon Affiliate Plugin?
Prosociate’s tagline is “ultimate Amazon Affiliate Plugin” – let’s take a look. Version 4 is a major update of this WordPress plugin that lets affiliate marketers add Amazon products to WooCommerce based stores, review, and comparison sites. We did an in-depth evaluation to see what this new version ads and how it can help Associates manage their websites.
Prosociate has a long history in the Amazon affiliate plugin marketplace. They have long championed the integration of WooCommerce for product management in Amazon Associate sites. If you have just a few products and a small blog WooCommerce and Prosociate may be overkill – but if you have many products, need to have an Amazon affiliate store, want to organize products by category, have wish lists and other user tools for your Amazon products – the WooCommerce integration is a great asset. We looked at the functional areas of Prosociate: installation, finding products, posting products, presenting products, managing products, and pricing. Lets go through these components.
Prosociate offers free 60 day hosting for all new purchases. I didn’t test their hosting but as I already have a hosting account. The free hosting is a nice benefit for new Amazon affiliates. If you are just starting out, you get the piece of mind doing the initial development in a known compliant hosting environment. After the free 60 days the pricing is $8.95 a month with no time commitments. I installed Prosociate on my existing vps server, installation was straight forward. Prosociate is a standard plugin that worked fine with 4.8 version of WordPress. A nice thing to find was that it worked with PHP 7. If you haven’t upgraded to PHP 7 – do it now! The performance improvements of 5.6 are huge and we all know that with Google search – speed matters. With PHP 7, WooCommerce, Prosociate installed, my landing page loaded in .6 seconds. And that’s with a fairly large image and a YouTube video, which downloads a large amount of data for the embedded player. I did have an initial problem with my Amazon keys after I copied and pasted with an extra space. Prosociate immediately reported the error with the key. One issue is that Prosociate does not work with Multi-site. Multi-site is typically used for sites hosting multiple bloggers like WordPress.com so this seems a minor issue. Amazon requires SOAP to be used as the api interface protocol. Prosociate gave me the option of using the standard php SOAP client or Curl/Rest – nice. Most users will just use the default settings, but nice to know they are there. So far so good, let’s see how it is at finding products.
Prosociate certainly can not be criticized for the robustness of it’s searching. Search parameters include: keyword, price range, discount %, manufacturer, Amazon only products, brand and more. There is also a dedicated book searching capability that has book specific parameters such as ISBN, author, keyword, publication data, title keywords etc. I really like the book searching, every niche has relevant books. Having a “niche library” can be a tool to improve your sites authority. You also can find products browsing at Amazon and quickly add them to your site. Just use one of the many Chrome extensions like PickAsin while browsing at Amazon. Wile browsing at Amazon you point at a product and click …it;s added to a list. Copy and paste the list into the search box in Prosociate and they are quickly imported. So there are two ways to find your niche products; from Prosociate’s rich searching engine or directly from Amazon browsing. As an Amazon affiliate, finding great products is one of your key objectives, Prosociate gets high marks in this area. Once you find products Prosociate posts them as WooCommerce products.
There are two types of “campaigns” in Prosociate – Standard and Subscription. Both use the same searching options. With Subscription campaigns you create a search profile and post the matching products to your website. Prosociate will then automatically find new products that match your search criteria and add these to your website. This would be great for new book releases, a deep discount area etc. I am not sure I would use it for more general searches that bring in 100 products at a time as I prefer to rewrite most descriptions and not use the Amazon ones (for SEO reasons). The standard posts allow you to pick your products from the search result list. You can assign a specific author, can post them as drafts (again I might do this to allow me to edit the descriptions before publishing), and assign them to categories.
This category assignment is critical as it allows you to then organize your product presentation by category. You can have either simple/variable products which will have an add to cart button on your website, or external/affiliate products which will have a buy now button going straight to Amazon. The simple products have the advantage of a 90 day cookie, the external products have the option of Geo-targeting and redirecting users to their countries Amazon marketplace. It will post up to 100 products at a time. Posting does take some time. I guess it is understandable as each product is importing Amazon product descriptions, images, and reviews. Many products have variations so 100 products can have a few hundred entries with individual images etc. In version 4 they added remote images which did speed up my posting. With remote images your product images are all being stored at Amazon and you are including them by reference. This saves time in posting, saves space on your server, keeps your media library manageable and posts faster. Now that you have posted your products, you can add them to pages and posts.
Once your products are posted as WooCommerce products, Prosociate takes a back seat. Now you have access to the world of WooCommerce and third party extensions. This is a key part of Prosociate’s value proposition and lets you present products in widgets, sidebars, by short code, by category, in sliders, wishlists etc. It also means you can use Prosociate with any theme that supports WooCommerce including drag and drop themes like Divi and Thrive. Not being tied to a single theme means you can have multiple affiliate sites with different styles and formats. So if you want an Amazon affiliate WooCommerce store, Top 10, or an in-depth review sites, no problem.
Staying in compliance with Amazon’s terms of service is another area of concern for Associates. For instance if you show product reviews from Amazon they must be in Iframes and imported by the api. as Prosociate does. If you show prices, Amazon requires affiliates to keep them updated and have a notice or remove out of stock items. This is a tricky thing in larger sites and past versions of Prosociate have struggled with this in some hosting environments. Now you can use a standard C-panel cron or you can use wp-cron to manage this.
Once you have more than a few products you need to think about managing them properly and keeping pricing and stock status up to date. Previously this was done with C-panel cron jobs. This had two issues: 1) many users either do not have access to their C-panel or it is not something they are comfortable with and 2) cron jobs may be limited in frequency and runtime but hosts. In version 4 Prosociate added a wp-cron capability. This means users do not need to use C-panel crons and the products get updated in WordPress. They also added a really handy “update all” capability. One-click and the entire site gets checked for pricing and stock availability. Out of stock items can be deleted, moved to draft status or left and labeled as out of stock.
Unlike marketplace plugin pricing, Prosociate is a lifetime support and update license. Marketplace costs are typically “single site annual purchases” or need expensive support contracts every 6 months. If you have even 3 sites your costs will be the purchase price time 3, plus renewals every 6-12 months. This adds up very quickly.
Prosociate pricing is three tiered: Single Site, Unlimited Personal Sites and Developer/Agency. The single site is $49 . The unlimited personal sites is $79 and represents a great value. Most plugins of this magnitude require you to purchase individual licenses for each site you operate. Since most Amazon affiliates will want to eventually have multiple sites, this can get expensive. Developer licenses are $149 and allow Agencies to package the license with their development efforts. This is a lot of functionality for as little as $49. The lifetime support and updates makes the total cost of ownership much less than products that require annual renewals or 6 month support contracts. If you have multiple sites, Prosociate is a real winner from a pricing standpoint.
Prosociate claims to be the ‘ultimate Amazon affiliate plugin”, I am not sure about that but they are certainly leaders in the field and a solid contender in the Amazon WordPress plugin market. Version 4 continues to improve this already strong product. It represents a particularly good combination of features and pricing for serious Associates who have multiple sites. The support was quick with an average 3 hour turnaround for tickets. Add in the free 60 day hosting and Prosociate should be on every marketers short-list to power their Amazon affiliate site.