Starting an ecommerce business and gaining a significant profit out of it has become quite an uphill task these days, especially when you consider the cutthroat competition in the landscape. You can always think of ecommerce SEO but that would require some expertise and a considerable amount of time to deliver effective results.
So, what would you do to drive more traffic quickly and affordably and boost your online sales?
The simplest and best answer is creating affiliate programs that leverage the power of affiliate marketing and let your advocates and customers do the marketing for you. Click To Tweet It can be one of your best strategic moves that would help you increase sales in the most cost-effective manner.
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Since affiliate programs are a relatively untapped channel, there’s hardly any comprehensive guide that would help you learn the intricacies of this field. With that in mind, we created this guide to help you leverage the full potential of this field and in turn, maximize your ecommerce revenue.
What is an Affiliate Program?
Also known as associate programs, affiliate programs are arrangements in which online merchant sites pay an affiliate site to send them traffic. For example, if you’ve got an ecommerce website and have your products’ links on an affiliate website, you’ll pay the affiliate website according to a specific agreement. Similarly, if your ecommerce site also acts as an affiliate site, you’d not only be able to earn but to drive more traffic and increase your own sales as well.
Generally, the agreement is based on the number of visitors you (the merchant site) receive from an affiliate site. Put simply, if a link on the affiliate website brings your ecommerce site money or traffic, you’ll pay that affiliate site according to an agreement. As an affiliate, a site gets a unique link, called an “affiliate link”, which can track clicks using cookies. An affiliate program transaction revolves around at least three parties – the customer, the affiliate site, and the merchant site.
Types of Affiliate Programs
While affiliate programs can help your ecommerce website, get more traffic without paying anything upfront, this avenue is becoming more competitive day by day. Click To Tweet So, you need to have a robust strategy in place to attain your objectives and that starts with choosing the right kind of affiliate program. Here’s a quick roundup of six most popular types of affiliate programs to help you make an informed decision.
These affiliates are highly effective when it comes to posting reviews about your newly launched products or information about your company. All you need to do is send them samples of your products and ask them to write a review to help spread the word about your products. Here, it’s important to partner with people who regularly engage with your brand’s ideal buyer persona.
2. Review sites
This is particularly useful if you sell niche or expensive products. This is because the buyers of these kinds of products usually tend to research before purchasing. Therefore, research some of the popular review sites in your niche, reach out to the writer or business that published a review related to your product/service, and ask whether they’d like to incorporate an affiliate link to your product/service in the text.
3. Search affiliates
There are people who spend their own money on trying avenues like Facebook advertising, search engines, and other paid advertising models to promote your offer while maximizing ROI for them. While this is one of the most effective affiliate programs to drive traffic, you’ll need to ensure that your partner uses the recommended procedure and follows the rules.
4. Coupon sites
Partnering with a coupon site could help you receive a good amount of traffic in the forms of first-time buyers and people looking to buy your products at discounted prices. Usually, these sites have a robust pool of members and thus could be effective in improving your traffic and in turn, conversion rate.
5. Loyalty portals
Basically, these are companies with a large membership base and can place your offer as an advertiser in front of its members. Partnering with a reputable loyalty portal can bring a multitude of benefits your way including increased traffic, customer retention, increased referral sources, etc.
6. Email marketing
This could be an effective option as long as you’re doing it right. For example, your website links should reach your targeted customers who could be interested in your products, not a large group of random people who might not be interested at all.
You can reach out to marketing agencies in your niche and ask if they can incorporate a URL from your ecommerce site within the emails through which they communicate with their clients.
Top Benefits of Affiliate Programs
Before delving deeper into the top benefits of using affiliate programs, we want you to take a look at the following statistics that reveal the true potential of this method.
- The affiliate market is predicted to reach a whopping $6.8 billion by 2020
- 38% of marketers consider affiliate marketing among the top customer acquisition methods
- Affiliate marketing programs are used by 81% brands
Let’s see the top ways affiliate programs could transform your ecommerce business other than driving traffic to your site.
- Adds credibility to your brand, especially when an influencer promotes your product/service
- Helps your site get lots of user-generated content
- Lets you target specific prospects based on their characteristics
- Brings faster results your way than traditional digital marketing campaigns do
- Lets you strategically develop your niche based on interested, engaged prospects
How Can Ecommerce Sites Leverage Affiliate Programs?
Perhaps the biggest reason affiliate programs have become highly popular is that they offer a win-win situation for both the affiliate and the merchant.
As an ecommerce business owner, there’re two ways that you can use to leverage the full potential of the affiliate marketing domain – either you can join professional affiliate networks that handle affiliate programs on behalf of different brands or you can have your own affiliate program. With the former, you need to pay either a certain percentage of your sales or a monthly fee while in the latter, you’d have complete control over the affiliate program and be able to assess it to see if you’re getting good ROI.
However, we’d suggest you go with the first option not only because some great ones are available out there but also that creating your own program and succeeding with it would need you to overcome some significant challenges. Once you choose a program, sign up for it, find the target audience, and enjoy the commission from referrals.
10 Best Ecommerce Affiliate Programs
It’s important to understand that not all affiliate programs offer similar business performance and thus you’ve to be picky when selecting a program that would cater to your needs the best possible way. Here, we’ve handpicked ten best affiliate programs(in random order) for your ecommerce business to help you make an informed decision.
Also known as Amazon affiliate program, this is widely considered as the best affiliate program for ecommerce business simply because people already know them and love to shop there. It’s not only one of the most sought-after online shopping platforms but enjoys very high conversion rates as well. Therefore, it’s relatively easy to earn and boost your online traffic.
Shopify is another industry leader that offers a simple yet highly effective affiliate program for ecommerce businesses with different needs and budgets. It has made the process quite simple by using its own affiliate management software and providing the affiliates with simple tools.
If you’ve got a large business audience, this affiliate program could be highly effective for you. It offers a tiered payout system and provides everything – from demo videos and copy examples to eye-catching banners and more – to boost your profit.
Though eBay isn’t as reputable as Amazon, it’s one of the most attractive affiliate programs for merchants. This is simply because the commission it pays, far exceeds that of the other programs. It also comes with some top advantages like a wide selection of diverse products, high conversion rates, etc which make the earning process a bit easier for affiliates.
If your target audience is interested in vintage and handmade items, Etsy’s affiliate program is what you should consider joining. This global marketplace offers competitive commission rates and provides affiliates with advanced tools, marketing materials, etc.
If your own core offerings are aligned with the beauty and cosmetic niche, you can join this affiliate program that would let you access more than 450 top designer fragrances. You’d also get access to fresh blog content, links and banners, coupon codes, etc.to maximize your earnings.
If you’re interested in promoting website builder solutions for small ecommerce businesses, you can become an affiliate of Volusion. Apart from getting very high commission rates, you’d have access to exclusive marketing materials to increase your conversion rates.
8. WP Engine
This could be one of the highly profitable affiliate programs for those whose own offerings are aligned with WordPress hosting. One notable thing about this affiliate program is that it not only pays the affiliates for referring customers but for referring affiliates as well, which means you can maximize your earnings by finding the right audience.
If you’re looking for an affiliate program that pays extremely high commissions, 3dcart’s affiliate program would be worth checking out. The program runs on these two affiliate networks – ShareASale and Commission Junction. Both offer the same commission rate and lets you access tracking tools, reports, etc.
As an award-winning online solution provider for photographers, Zenfolio’s affiliate program would be ideal for those whose own target audience is photography enthusiasts. They not only have a very high conversion rate but also provide their affiliates with links, images, editorial content, custom promo codes, etc to help them earn more commission.
How to Create an Affiliate Program for your Ecommerce Store?
We’ve already discussed that creating an affiliate program for your ecommerce store involves some challenges but if you’ve decided to take this route, here’re the key things that you need to handle.
- First, your website needs to have an affiliate sign up page where your affiliates will join your program. It would not only generate awareness about the program but would make the outreach process much simple because you can send your potential affiliates directly to this page. Remember not to make the sign-up process too complicated or long as that might discourage them.
- Now, see if your competitors are leveraging affiliates to generate revenue and if they do, try to find out who’re their affiliates. Chances are those affiliates could also be interested in promoting your products, especially if you offer a higher commission. You can reach out to social media and take help from Google to find out influencers in your niche.
- At this stage, you need to decide on the payment terms that you’re planning to offer your affiliates. It’s important to figure out things like whether it would be recurring or one-off payments, same or different based on the type of the customers in terms of new vs. re-engaged, or varying compensation based on parameters like an “influencer”, an “introducer”, or a “closer” of a transaction/conversion.
- Now, focus on creating some outstanding marketing materials for your affiliate program – from text links and banners to sales support tools and more – try to leave no stone unturned.
- Finally, it’s time to search affiliate program software having features like a dashboard for affiliates to see their earnings, automatic payouts, and an area where your affiliates can get access to marketing materials. Here’re two options for affiliate program software that you can try out.
This software is built for ecommerce stores that are developed on WordPress. It lets you manage the affiliates and their earnings straight from within the WordPress admin.
Though somewhat expensive to implement, it offers a very easy platform for affiliates to use. It’d be ideal for ecommerce websites with a significant number of affiliates.
While getting success through affiliate programs requires patience and complete focus initially, an effective affiliate marketing strategy should help you become well entrenched in your specific niche. And soon you’ll be a part of a mutually beneficial marketing method and increase your ecommerce revenue in a scalable and predictable way.