You’re always looking for a good recommendation, right?
Chinese food, car mechanic, or the latest tech gadget – we
want confirmation from someone we trust that it’s a good buy.
Essentially, affiliate marketing is the eCommerce version of
product promotion through an online influencer.
Affiliate marketing can be the strategic move you need to
increase sales and connect with clients you otherwise would never
- By 2020, U.S. affiliate marketing spend is expected to rise to
81% of brands use affiliate marketing programs.
16% of all online orders are generated through affiliate
What is affiliate marketing?
Affiliate marketing is one of the only marketing channels that
offers a 100 percent return on investment every time. It’s one of
the only tactics that allow you to pay for marketing spend after
The affiliate marketing process involves the merchant –
that’s you – and the affiliate. The affiliate, or publisher, is
the company or individual that promotes your products and brand on
their website. Your affiliate receives a commission when someone
clicks through to your website and makes a purchase.
The best affiliates will have:
- A trusted website that generates traffic.
- Updated content.
- Influence on their audience.
- Valuable content (blog, product reviews, how-to guides).
Since the affiliate is counting on commissions, you’ll need a
game plan for converting your site visitors to product buyers.
It’s all about providing affiliates with the highest earnings per
click (EPC). Even if you work with the best affiliates, they’ll
promote your products less and switch their concentration to other
eCommerce sites that have higher conversion rates and EPCs, so you
need to be strategic in your approach.
Here are 10 ways affiliate marketing will transform your
1. Indirectly grow your sales team
Your entrepreneurial juices are flowing and you’re ready to
grow your eCommerce business without limits. If you’re just one
person or a small group, affiliate marketing can instantly expand
your indirect sales team to include experts in your niche and
Affiliates are skilled in driving quality traffic to your
Quality traffic = More conversions.
More conversions = Higher revenue.
Higher revenue = More opportunity to grow your eCommerce
A highly qualified indirect sales team that doesn’t waste time
designing traditional ads, getting them approved, and tracking
their progress? We’ll call that a marketing win.
2. Improve customer loyalty
Customers that continue to support your brand over time will
67 percent more than new customers. Affiliate marketing
allows you to benefit from the trust and expertise of your chosen
When a social influencer, affiliate
marketing blogger, or celebrity signs off on your product,
they bring their audience with them. G-Shock has its own set of
fans and customers, but now they’re benefitting from @elorabee
and her nearly 183,000 Instagram followers.
3. Multiple paths to conversion
What does success look like for your eCommerce business? Unlike
digital advertising, affiliate marketing allows you to choose what
your successful conversion will be through manually setting
incentives. Choose from conversions like:
- Sale of a particular product.
- Email capture.
- Filling out a survey form.
- Downloading a how-to guide.
You can manually set incentives through affiliate marketing by
offering commissions on the success of your choice. Your eCommerce
business is unique, so how you rate success should be just as
Plus, affiliate marketing quickly gets your eCommerce website in
front of more eyeballs by featuring your products across the web.
Instead of working on getting 1,000 new visitors to a product page,
you can leverage a high-traffic affiliate site and get visitors to
your site that way.
Make sure to work with your affiliate partners to optimize the
path to conversion. You should have them focus on your highest
average order products and send traffic to your highest converting
pages to maximize impact.
4. Better budgeting and ROI
You don’t have to spend loads of cash hoping your ads hit the
right audience or that Facebook and Google’s algorithms won’t
It doesn’t matter if your marketing budget has a couple of
commas or you’re shaking your piggy bank, affiliate marketing
allows you to more precisely budget for marketing campaigns.
It’s simple: Choose your conversion target.
Offer commissions. Make money.
Because you only pay out when products sell, you can use your
marketing budget for other revenue streams – sponsoring social
media influencer posts, social media, or unique content creation
optimized with your keywords.
Plus, eCommerce affiliate marketing has an incredible ROI. Since
you’re paying a small percentage for each sale generated
(typically 3-10%, based on your vertical), you can see a return on
ad spend of 10:1 or more. After factoring in your products COGS
(cost of goods sold), profit margin, and affiliate commission, you
should still have room for some solid profits.
Most eCommerce affiliate marketing commissions are paid out
based on a percentage of the product’s sale cost. And you can set
different commissions for different affiliate partners. For
example, you may want to send a coupon or loyalty site an IO
(insertion order) with a commission of 3%, while sending an
influential blogger an IO with a commission of 10%. Get creative!
Inside your affiliate platform, you can create multiple offers for
your affiliates. You just want to make sure you are as competitive
as possible – check your competitor’s affiliate programs and
match or beat their commission rates.
5. Enhance credibility
When an affiliate promotes your service or product, you can use
that promotion to add credibility to your business. Use images,
icons, or text to publicize where your brand has been used and
Chelsea Krost, a top influencer, showcases where her brand has
been publicized with an “As Seen On” section on her
6. Develop brand ambassadors
People are talking about your brand, and if you’re not leading
the conversation, you may be unaware of what prospective customers
are reading. Affiliate marketing puts your brand in the hands of
influencers who help create brand ambassadors.
When trustworthy influencers blog about your products, post
photos of them or feature them in videos, they’re telling all
their fans and followers that your brand is awesome. It’s
82 percent of consumers say they’re highly likely to
follow a recommendation made by an influencer.
According to a
survey of more than 4,000 social media users from the U.S.
and Europe, an influencer:
- Has 10,000+ followers.
- Is someone who brands contact to help promote products and
- Shares info on brands they love and reviews popular
- Is considered an expert in their niche.
The influencer’s fans become your new brand ambassadors by
trying the products, posting about the products, and sending even
more traffic to your eCommerce site.
7. User-generated content overload
Have you ever sat down at your computer and had nothing? It’s
kind of day. One very evident way in which affiliate marketing
enhances your eCommerce business is with UGC (user-generated
Even for the Instagrammers who don’t have mass followings,
this can make a difference. Here’s why:
- The vast majority of consumers (92
percent) say they turn to people they know for referrals
above any other source.
Twice the amount of sales are generated through
word-of-mouth compared to paid ads.
three-fourths of all consumers depend on social media for
information about a product.
- 84 percent of consumers say they’ll go with
peer recommendations above all other advertising
When your fans and followers snap photos, leave reviews, or post
videos about your product, use that content as marketing power.
It’s always better to have someone else say what a killer brand
you have than to proclaim it yourself.
8. Tailored target audience
With most paid ads, there’s a process to target who sees your
content. You can target prospects from characteristics like income
and geographical location down to hobbies and whether they prefer
whole milk or soy in their cafè mocha (maybe not yet, but we’re
But how do you know if those audience members are actually
seeing your paid ads?
And when you funnel your marketing cash to Google Ads or other
similar platforms, are the referral URLs what you would expect?
With affiliate marketing, you control where – and to whom –
your brand is advertised. You get to hand-select the websites and
partners that will promote your name. Take control of where your
eCommerce brand is being promoted with affiliate marketing.
9. Speedy results
Did you know that it takes
6 to 9 months to see the results of a traditional digital
marketing campaign? You could build a house (or two), have a child,
or improve your credit score in that amount of time.
With affiliate marketing, you’re relying on an organization or
influencer that already has online credibility, so there’s no
educating, retargeting, or email stalking to lure prospects to your
One of the reasons affiliate marketing is so beneficial is that
obtaining customers is easy (when you compare it to a 9-month
timeline expected from other marketing efforts). Quick customer
acquisition means you see immediate results with revenue and online
You simply sign up for an affiliate
marketing platform and begin sending offers to affiliates.
Once they accept, they can begin promoting you the same day. It’s
a much speedier process than SEO, content
marketing, or other digital tactics.
10. Develop your niche
Because understanding your audience is one of the first – and
most important – elements of marketing, affiliate marketing is
crucial to your eCommerce growth. Affiliate results help you
develop a niche and plant your products directly in front of
engaged, interested prospects.
- What brands are they following?
- Which influencers have an impact?
- What type of content do they find engaging?
When you partner with affiliates to market your brand, you learn
more about your audience. Through evaluating your affiliate
successes (and the not-so-effective ones), you gain insight into
where your audience hangs out online.
You need an affiliate
marketing strategy to enhance your relationship with
customers and strengthen partnerships with businesses and social
influencers you admire. This low-risk marketing style provides
insight into customer behavior, helps you develop new strategies
for growth, and ultimately boosts your revenue. While the method
will call for your time and energy in the beginning, you’ll soon
be well entrenched in your specific niche with time to focus on
what matters to you – running your business.
Guest author: Adam Enfroy is the Affiliate
Partnerships Manager at BigCommerce. He is passionate about
leveraging the right strategic partnerships and software to scale
digital growth. Adam lives in Austin, TX and writes about launching
side businesses while working full time at adamenfroy.com.
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Surprising Ways Affiliate Marketing Will Transform Your eCommerce
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10 Surprising Ways Affiliate Marketing Will Transform Your eCommerce Business