29Mar
By: Raghav Haran March 29, 2017 Topic: Affiliate Marketing

Getting sales when you’re first starting your ecommerce business is tough.

You need to make a profit so that you can reinvest it in generating traffic and grow even more. The catch, however, is that you need traffic so you can earn revenue and turn a profit in the first place. If you’re trying to implement Facebook ads or other forms of paid traffic, you might not always get enough sales to make up for that investment. 

As you’ve perused the world of ecommerce trying to find solutions to this dilemma, you’ve probably seen the term affiliate marketing thrown around quite a bit. At this stage in your business you might be asking yourself, ‘What is affiliate marketing?’ This article will explain all the ins and outs of this important component to driving sales, and it will give you all the necessary information with regard to how to start affiliate marketing.  Finally, we’ll run through some of the best affiliate programs of 2017.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing can be a great channel for first time ecommerce entrepreneurs. It’s one of the only marketing channels where you can get a 100% return on investment, every time. Affiliate marketing involves partnering up with a more established ecommerce entrepreneur in your niche, and asking them to promote your products to their audience. In return, you’d give them a percentage of revenue from each sale they generate.

Many of us have gotten burned at some point through paid traffic – we invest money in Facebook ads, and drive people back to our site, but we don’t always get the sales we need to foot the bill. With affiliate marketing, you can rest assured that all your revenue can be pure profit because there’s no required up front investment.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing

In this post, I’ll show you how to implement and create your own ecommerce affiliate program. In addition, you’ll learn how to partner with the right affiliates, and how much to pay them in commission.


How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Get an Affiliate Tracking System

There are two ways to implement an affiliate marketing strategy – either join an affiliate “network”, or build your own tracking system.

Affiliate networks, often considered the best affiliate programs, are marketplaces where ecommerce entrepreneurs can find affiliates to promote their products. While these networks make it a bit easier to find affiliates, some also charge monthly fees – which might not make them as suitable for early stage entrepreneurs. Others take a cut of your sales, which still gives you guaranteed positive ROI as a store owner. Some affiliate networks include Share-a-Sale, TapgerineCommission Junction, AffiliatePrograms.com, and LinkShare.

best ecommerce affiliate program

 

affiliate marketing products

How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Find an Affiliate in Your Niche

Now that you understand the main forms of affiliate marketing, the next step is to find affiliates for your ecommerce affiliate program who will promote affiliate marketing products to potential customers.

When it comes to the best affiliate program affiliate networks are a great start. Affiliate networks provide you with their own tracking systems. This helps both affiliates and entrepreneurs track how much in sales they’re generating. That way, you and your affiliate know exactly how much money he brought in for your business, and how much commission he should be paid.

Tracking systems provide a special sales link for the affiliate to track revenues that they brought in.

Another option is to build your own tracking system and ecommerce affiliate program.

Building tracking systems isn’t as complicated as it sounds. There are a range of free apps for affiliate marketing on Shopify. in addition to paid ones you can use to set the foundation for your affiliate program, along with other helpful plugins. Even paid apps come with a lengthy free trial period so you can test out your affiliate program, make sure that you get a good return on investment and then decide that it’s worth your money.

To summarize, the benefit of using an affiliate network is that they’ve already built up an audience of quality affiliates. The perk of creating your own ecommerce affiliate program, on the other hand, is that you have more control over it and will likely pay fewer fees. Keep in mind that the downside of creating an ecommerce affiliate program is that you’ll need to find your own affiliates. Fortunately, if you already have a substantial customer base, you can also allow your customers to be affiliates as influencers, a common trend on blogs or platforms like Instagram. This can even help turn them into evangelists.

If you’re using an affiliate network, the right affiliates will be able to easily find you through the built-in search feature. For example, a simple search for the word “apparel” on AffiliatePrograms.com produces a variety of search results about the best affiliate programs for 2017  in that space, along with reviews. You may want your affiliate marketing products that they understand well. So feel free to niche down into ‘running’ or ‘crossfit’ for a few affiliates who understand your audience well. They may have a blog that caters to your specific audience.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Contacting an Affiliate in Your Niche

Another way to bring on affiliates is by emailing other entrepreneurs in your niche. If you’re not using an affiliate network, finding other stores on your own that target an audience similar to yours and reaching out to them could be a great way to start a really profitable relationship.

For example, let’s say you just started a store that sells shoes – you might decide to reach out to the owner of a slightly more established store like ShoeBuy.com to see if they’d like to be an affiliate. You can also find complimentary websites. If you sell swimwear, for instance, you might partner with a sunscreen or sunglasses company.

Here’s a sample email script you could send to the contact email on their site:

Hi there ShoeBuy representatives, big fan of your store! I love the [XYZ products] that you have listed, [talk about what you specifically like about them]. I run a store called [insert name of your store], where I sell [talk about your niche]. Based on our similar target audiences and products, I think there’s potential for a mutually beneficial affiliate partnership. We’d offer generous commissions, of course – and we can discuss other details in the future. If you’d like to explore this further, I’m happy to send over a few product samples. If you’re still interested, we can take it from there. Let me know! Thanks so much for your time,Your name

This email nails a few key things:

  • It doesn’t ask for huge commitment up front – no one wants to sign up to be an affiliate partner for a site they just heard of.
  • It offers to send the potential affiliate a few product samples. If you’re not using an affiliate network, you’d need to put in a bit more work to build trust with your affiliate so that they know you’re legit. Sending sample products is a good way to do that.
  • It mentions that you’d offer generous commissions. The better commissions you offer, the better affiliates you’ll be able to get. We’ll talk about this more in step 3.

This email nails a few key points:

  • It doesn’t ask for huge commitment up front – no one wants to sign up to be an affiliate partner for a site they just heard of.
  • It offers to send the potential affiliate a few product samples. If you’re not using an affiliate network, you’d need to put in a bit more work to build trust with your affiliate so that they know you’re legit. Sending sample products is a good way to do that.
  • It mentions that you’d offer generous commissions. The better commissions you offer, the better affiliates you’ll be able to get. We’ll talk about this more in step 3.

How to Start Affiliate Marketing: Determine Your Ecommerce Affiliate Program Commission Percentage

To find good affiliates, it’s also important to offer generous commission rates – especially if you’re just starting out. For example, proven top fashion sites offer commissions of around 10%, and some early stage stores offer commissions closer to 50%.

I would recommend offering high commissions. However, you still need to make a profit on your products so make sure to do your math.

Successful entrepreneurs treat their relationships with affiliates like gold. The more generous you are to your affiliates, the more they will want to sign up and sell your products. Thus, this means you’ll reach a much wider audience.

Remember that your affiliates are not just bringing you sales, they’re bringing you customers. You’ll have access to people who you can re-market to time and time again. Repeat customers have a 60-70% higher chance of buying from you compared to a first time customer, and they also give your store more word of mouth marketing.

In other words, you might have to pay higher commissions to get good affiliates up front. This strategy is still used in the best affiliate programs in 2017 because you’ll make up for that cost through the lifetime value of each customer. Just make sure you build relationships with your customers.

Conclusion

One of the best ways to virtually guarantee return on investment from your marketing efforts is by finding affiliates to market your products for you. Since now you have the knowledge to answer the common questions surrounding affiliate marketing, you can use it to create an additional stream of revenue for your business.

Also, you can use affiliate networks or free tools for affiliate marketing with Shopify.  You can even set-up your own ecommerce affiliate program which can get high quality affiliates on board who will sell your products for you. When it comes to the best affiliate programs of 2017, top results always come from the amount of effort you put in to ensure your affiliates have the resources they need to succeed.

Affiliate marketing can be a great way to build stronger relationships with customers and other businesses in your niche that you admire. From these people you can gain valuable insights into customer experiences surrounding your products and learn new strategies for growing your business. This is just the basic template for nuts and bolts affiliate marketing, and we’re sure that once you get the hang of it, you’ll come to realize that the sky is the limit when it comes to making the most out of this marketing channel.

How do you plan on getting your first affiliate? Leave your answer in the comments below.

  • Thanks for sharing this info Raghav! I’m going to test a new affiliate program on https://hammocktown.com/ and look forward to publishing my results on driving sales for outdoor goods through affiliates. I’ll keep y’all in the loop! ?