Why and How to Turn Your Affiliate Program Into a Sales Channel for Your Shopify Store

Learn why you need to set up an affiliate program for your Shopify store this year, from our partner Enlistly. 

One major benefit of running an online business is the ocean of opportunities waiting to be explored for boosting sales. Affiliate marketing is one such possibility!

Affiliate programs are a type of word-of-mouth marketing that invites natural conversations around your products and piques the interests of the right audience. And before you know it, successful programs lead to more site visits and conversions.

Although such programs have shown promising results, affiliate marketing remains one of the least focused strategies to drive more sales.

Today, let’s dig into why your eCommerce brand needs a Shopify affiliate program and how to build a powerful sales channel through it.

Why should your eCommerce business invest in an affiliate program?

Here are a few key benefits of getting your business an affiliate program:

  • Affiliate marketing is an ever-green model for a revenue boost: Forrester research shows that 20% of marketers agreed that affiliate marketing is the number one revenue driver and helps improve customer acquisition and sales.
  • Higher growth rate: Affiliate programs are estimated to grow by 25% annually, making them reliable marketing channels for eCommerce businesses to invest in.
  • Best ROIs: 84% of participants in an industry review rated affiliate programs’ ROIs a score of 7 out of 10 and higher compared to other marketing channels.

How to turn your affiliate programs into a sales channel?

Although eCommerce businesses have begun to acknowledge the benefits of affiliate programs and set them up, not every brand could see its envisioned results. Such challenges could be primarily due to a lack of clear understanding and inertia.

Because the trick is first to get the right set of affiliates, as they form the very foundation of your affiliate program. Thus, just installing and setting up a program does not suffice. The below points will get to the bottom of this:

1. Set a clear value proposition

How can you double down on your program’s effectiveness right from the beginning? By being crystal clear on your affiliate program’s offerings. Mention your commission rates and reward methods clearly on your affiliate program’s landing page.

But before you set your rewards, ensure it is valuable to your affiliates. For example, ‘Pay-per-sale’ is the most popular affiliate marketing model, where your affiliate receives a fixed commission percentage (ideally 5-20%) of the sold item’s price.

Shopify’s very own affiliate program, for instance, offers its affiliate marketers a flat rate of around $58 for each sign up on its paid plan and mentions the requirements clearly on its page.

You could also offer valuable rewards, such as discounts based on the number of leads or clicks your affiliates help generate.

2. Make sign up easy

If your affiliate program’s signing up process beats around the bush, chances are that your prospective affiliates may lose interest in your brand altogether.

So make onboarding simpler and straightforward using an optimized sign up process. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Create an optimized sign up landing page that includes all the key information and showcases your brand’s voice.
  • Let users log in through their social media accounts like Facebook or Google.
  • Use user-friendly sign up forms with simple language.
  • Include a short FAQ section for a smoother sign up completion.

Following these steps benefits your brand and prospective partners while saving both parties time and effort.

3. Gamify the process

Gamification is an innovative affiliate marketing process that motivates partners to complete more tasks and engages them for longer durations.

You can set up a gamified process where your affiliates or partners are rewarded after achieving a milestone. Tiered affiliate reward processes assure your affiliates that their efforts are not wasted and push them to earn more. Create fun contests with cash prizes, offer badges, and publish leaderboards to keep the momentum going.

Gamification can also increase the number of visits to your website and helps maintain a high conversion rate.


4. Invite loyal customers

There are no better brand advocates than your existing regular customers. Since they already respect your brand and stand by your products, it’s easier to entice and convert them into your brand’s affiliates.

Send personalized email invites to your loyal customers and offer thorough guidance, as for most of your customers, affiliate marketing could be a brand new concept. Include incentives, a sign up CTA, and make the transition process smooth and accessible.

5. Manual outreach to influencers

Affiliate and influencer marketing work hand in hand. The growing popularity of micro influencers (with a follower count under 150,000) and macro influencers has made eCommerce businesses chase them to increase their product sales.

Start running manual outreach campaigns to micro and macro influencers on popular social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Write a catchy, hyper-personalized outreach message for each influencer to boost sign-ups.

Don’t forget to be authentic, highlight your brand values, and offer up-front payments or exceptional rewards for an influencer’s high performance. Doing this saves you multiple follow ups.

6. Use social media for promotions of your affiliate program

Announcing your affiliate program on social media lets influencers and audiences come to you instead of you manually reaching out to them.

And since your brand’s current social media followers are well aware of your products and have formed a liking to them, it’s easier to attract and encourage them to apply.

For instance, you could publish an engaging post and offer a referral bonus for the first 100 affiliate sign ups.

7. Use emails to promote your affiliate programs

The age-old emails are still the most effective communication channels and have the highest open rates. Use them to promote your program and fetch affiliates.

Start by setting an email list or use your existing one. Inform your subscribers of the just launched affiliate program, highlight benefits, include commission rates, and more. Add a ‘Learn more’ CTA that takes them to a landing page that provides additional program details.

8. Add a link to your website footer

Including a link to your program’s landing page in your main website’s footer is an easy way to get keen brand ambassadors who are on the lookout for partnership opportunities.

A footer is easy to spot and makes website navigation simpler. Internal linking using an optimized website footer can also help in your SEO efforts and could put your website slightly higher on the search engine results page.

9. Run ads to get more sign ups

If you hate waiting around for results using organic methods and manual efforts, then running paid ads is your saving grace.

Running pay-per-click ads are clearly more expensive than the other discussed organic methods, but they do help reach the right set of targeted audience and source more sign ups swiftly. You can run Google paid ads, social media ads, or banner ads on websites to promote your affiliate programs.

10. Share success stories of affiliates

Sharing past affiliate success stories displays your brand’s transparency, and there’s nothing more appealing than a brand that stands by its promises. Such inspiring stories stir the interest of your loyal customers and influencers to participate in your affiliate program.

Inspiring stories like these can help boost your current affiliate relations and form a long-term bond. Therefore, empower your top performers by talking about their achievements on your social media or website, showing real-time results, and getting more high-quality conversions.

11. Equip affiliates with everything they need

Recently signed up affiliates need a thorough and handy rundown of every affiliate resource that lets them run promotions efficiently. Providing clear-cut instructions and resources lets new affiliates quickly acquaint themselves with your products, participate actively, and get more innovative while running promotional campaigns.

Here are a few must-have materials your affiliates should receive for the best results:

  • Detailed product information.
  • Optimal keywords and key phrases to be used in promotions.
  • Custom discount codes and purchase URLs, approved product images, coupons, and other promotional material.
  • A marketing calendar with plans and promos to be used within set timelines.
  • A list of do’s and don’ts.

12. Provide commissions visibility

Offering your affiliates a transparent real-time visibility of their upcoming commissions and in-progress referral orders increases their trust in your process. A seamless way to do this is using a custom dashboard which you and your affiliates have quick access to.

This way, you reduce the back-and-forth follow ups as your affiliates are always in the loop for any reward-related updates and expected commission rates for the ongoing period.

13. Automate payments

Payout-related issues, such as non-payment of commissions or delayed payments, cause affiliates to drop out of your network. Timely payments reduce this risk and other liabilities.

Automating payments with your preferred payment method is a hassle-free way to make sure your affiliates are compensated on time and are not disappointed.

Wrapping up

Affiliate marketing as a concept is pretty simple, but scaling your efforts can get more demanding as time passes due to changing market dynamics and increasing competition.

But for starters, you can enable your affiliates with the right resources, build a strong reliable network, and keep your brand ambassadors engaged. And because the higher the engagement, the greater the active participation and genuine efforts, and thus, better sales.

That’s when an all-in-one affiliate program app like Enlistly comes to your Shopify store’s rescue.

With Enlistly, you can share marketing material with your partners, create a tiered commission structure, boost your affiliates’ engagement, fasten payments, and so much more.

Explore the app today!



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Vanhishikha Bhargava
Vanhishikha Bhargava
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