If you think you could sell more with a motivated network of promoters of your products and services, affiliate marketing is for you. If you think you can’t spend your marketing dollars in experimental advertising and promotional schemes anymore, again, affiliate marketing is for you. Almost everything that can be sold online, can be sold using affiliate marketing. You can enhance traffic flow to your e-store, mobilize sales of specific products (high margin products, slow moving products, etc) – all this with affiliate marketing. Here’s a beginners’ guide wherein we will discuss everything you need to know to launch your affiliate program for your e-store.
How Does An Affiliate Program Work?
Almost every affiliate marketing program can be broken down to three steps
- Getting partners (affiliates) onboard; these are the people who will promote your products on their web networks (their blogs, social media, etc).
- Giving them a unique tracking link; to identify how much traffic they bring to your websites, and how much sales they deliver.
- Paying them their commissions, based on the preset rules, calculation methods you’ve agreed on.
Note: Brands also have to think about the kind of promotional methods their affiliates can use to achieve their business goals, so that their brand equity is not diluted.
Key Benefits of Starting An Affiliate Program for Your Ecommerce Store
As long as you have a product, service, or subscription to sell, affiliate marketing can work for you. Here are some of the key benefits of this methodology:
- Influx of targeted traffic, with purchase intent, works wonders for your ecommerce store.
- You pay for results, not attempts, because your affiliate partner earns only when he/she actually generates leads, and his/her referred customers make a purchase.
- Your loyal customers would make for great affiliates; they believe in your products already, and would work harder to spread the positive word for affiliate benefits.
- As a side product, you get enhanced brand awareness, because of all the promotional efforts of your affiliate network.
- Affiliate marketing proves to be inexpensive as compared to pay per click advertising, influencer marketing, podcast sponsorships, Facebook ads, and blogger giveaways.
Launching Your Affiliate Program
The big question, now – how do you get started on affiliate marketing for your e-store? Well, the technical aspect of the entire model is easy enough to manage. That’s because most ecommerce platforms can be easily integrated with affiliate marketing platforms. Then, renowned ecommerce platforms also offer in-house affiliate marketing capabilities (though this might need you to upgrade your subscription plan to an advanced version).
The key technical aspects of managing affiliate programs are:
- Managing affiliate accounts (though you start slow, your business could have hundreds of affiliates very soon)
- Tracking the lead generation and sales generation efforts of affiliates
- Performance dashboards to analyze what’s working and what’s not
- Monitoring and approving affiliate-led sales
- Calculating affiliate commissions and paying them
Thankfully, you have affiliate marketing platforms, services, and plugins that take care of all of this for you, leaving you enough time to promote your business.
Next, we’ll cover some of the most popular and dependable affiliate marketing platforms.
No need to look beyond Refersion really; this platform helps you build and manage your network of promoters, affiliates, and influencers. Just integrate your ecommerce store with Refersion, and you’re good to begin. Some of the successful businesses already using Refersion are Natural Stacks, Ofra Cosmetics, and Best Self. It’s particularly good for your e-stores built on Shopify, WooCommerce, Bigcommerce, or Magento.
- Set up unlimited commissions structures; the software does all the tracking for you
- Set up automatic approvals for affiliates, personalize your affiliate portal, and track sales from anywhere
- Analytics powered performance dashboards help you improve your affiliate marketing models
- With a 14-day free trial, you can use Reversion before paying for it
- It offers a ‘getting started’ webinar twice a week to help beginners quick learn the basics and get going
- The UI is not exactly the best
- Once your Refersion account’s limit is reached, you need to upgrade to be able to see new orders via affiliates
- There’s no option to automate affiliate payments
Wordpress.org users have every reason to start using AffiliateWP for all their affiliate marketing management. This WordPress plugin adds all kinds of affiliate management functionalities to your WordPress website. The interface has been designed to look and feel exactly like using WordPress. Nomadic Matt, Startup Camp, and Paul Jarvis use this plugin already.
- Setting up Affiliate WP takes minutes, and is as easy as installing and activating a WP plugin
- With free and premium add-ons, you can expand the capabilities of the plugin to include coupon codes, affiliate landing pages, and tiered affiliate commissions.
- The pricing is not on a per sale basis, instead you can pay an annual fee, which is viable for e-stores with large affiliate network
- The customer support team at AffiliateWP is amazing; expect quick responses to your emails
- AffiliateWP works and integrates with all popular WP plugins such as Easy Digital Downloads, Zippy Courses, WooCommerce, and Gravity Form.
- All affiliate orders need to be manually approved, which can consume your time
- Non US users can’t use PayPal Mass Payment, which, again, takes your time
- You’ll need to ensure all your related WP plugins are upgraded as soon as new releases are available, to ensure bug free working
Post Affiliate Pro
Post Affiliate Pro enjoys stellar reputation as a widely-trusted and highly-regarded affiliate marketing software. You can integrate this software with any kind of website or shopping cart, using its pre-made connectors, or asking your developer to do it. You can get started using this software in just a few minutes. Customers include ESET, Konga.com, GuitarTricks, and Agradi.nl.
- All plans come with free assisted setup, periodic upgrades, and backups
- Multiple sales tracking methods, and add unlimited affiliates
- Integrated with all popular platforms and plugins such as Stripe, PayPal, Joomla, Shopify, Prestashop, Magento, and Bigcommerce
- Set up any kind of commission model
- Get banners, reports, banner rotator, page peel banner, etc
- Get started with a 14-day free trial
- The interface could be intimidating for some users
- Some features, such as lifetime commissions, recurring payments for subscriptions etc are not very intuitive
- The startup costs of the software can be steep for beginner ecommerce stores, though the functionalities you get are highly advanced
One of the veterans of the affiliate marketing enablement space, Shareasale is a quick, dependable, intuitive, and efficient affiliate marketing network. Freshbooks and Reebok are among its renowned customers. You need to, however, pay a $550 one time setup fee with a $100 minimum deposit for affiliates commissions.
- Shareasale is a more of a platform than a tool; merchants and affiliates come together on Shareasale
- You get organic applications from affiliates for your products, instead of having to find them on their own
- Shareasale collects tax forms and pays them automatically for affiliates
- The support team is incredible
- The initial fees can be steep for entry level businesses
- The reporting interface is clunky
Key Success Factors to Help You Succeed With Affiliate Marketing
Here are some dependable tips you can follow to succeed with affiliate marketing model for your ecommerce store.
Empower and Support Your Affiliates
Remember that your affiliates are associated with you by choice, and will work at their own pace. It’s your job, and in your best interests, to treat them as partners and help them with all the resources you can provide them to succeed. Affiliate marketing platforms offer you options such as affiliate landing pages, affiliate performance analysis, which you can use to help your affiliates succeed.
Give It Time
Unlike paid promotions, affiliate marketing needs time to start getting in results. You must be prepared to give at least a few months to building a strong network of affiliates to see results trickling in. So, it’s almost always recommended that you opt for an affordable monthly subscription (if you can’t land a per transaction fee based model) with an affiliate platform, to keep costs in control.
Keep on Learning
Reach out to the affiliate platform’s account manager or customer support team and request them to connect you with helpful resources that assist you in learning the trends in affiliate marketing. Also, subscribe to affiliate marketing blogs and newsletters to stay in the thick of things.
Affiliate marketing model works wonderfully well for ecommerce, because it minimizes risk and uncertainty. As a merchant, you get results first, and bring out your wallet later. With the tips and tricks, and the affiliate marketing platforms discussed in this guide, you can get started today, and start getting more targeted leads and customers for your ecommerce store.