6 Steps to Create a Successful Affiliate Program for Your Shopify Store

how to create an affiliate program for Shopify

Dreaming of explosive sales growth and a thriving community of brand advocates? Look no further than affiliate marketing - the powerful engine that propels countless Shopify stores to new heights.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll unlock the secrets of building a rock-solid affiliate program for your Shopify store in 6 steps, from understanding its core principles to implementing winning strategies for attracting, engaging, and nurturing high-performing partners.

Whether you're a seasoned Shopify veteran or a curious newcomer, get ready to embark on a journey full of valuable insights and actionable steps.

What is an Affiliate Marketing Program?

An affiliate marketing program stands as a results-driven marketing approach, involving collaboration with other businesses or individuals (affiliates) to endorse your products or services.

These affiliates receive commissions for each sale or lead produced through their exclusive tracking links or codes. Envision it as a mutually beneficial arrangement:

  • For your brand: Expand your audience reach, boost brand recognition, and increase sales, all without incurring additional marketing costs.
  • For your affiliates: Earn income by endorsing products they genuinely love and trust.

Benefits of an Affiliate Marketing Program

set up an affiliate program

There are numerous advantages to incorporating an affiliate program for your Shopify store:

  • Enhanced Sales and Revenue Generation: Affiliates leverage their existing audience and networks, introducing your products to new customers that might have remained undiscovered. A substantial 31% of web publishers acknowledge affiliate marketing as a primary source of revenue.
  • Heightened Brand Recognition: Through the promotion of your brand by diverse affiliates, you can achieve broader recognition and foster brand trust. A notable 81% of brands utilize affiliate programs to amplify brand awareness and stimulate sales.
  • Minimal risk: The low cost associated with the affiliate marketing program translates into minimal risk. Given that the program's expenses align with generated sales, there's little concern about potential financial losses, making it an ideal choice for businesses operating within tight budget constraints.
  • Precise Targeting of Traffic: Affiliates can draw in highly qualified leads who already possess an interest in your products or niche, ensuring a more targeted and efficient approach.

6 Steps to Start an Affiliate Program on Shopify

Step 1: Define Your Program's Goals

Formulating precise and measurable goals forms the bedrock of any thriving affiliate program. In this initial step, it's not just about saying "I want to increase sales." We need to dive deeper to create a roadmap for success. Here's how:

Identification of Comprehensive Business Objectives:

Before delving into specifics, consider your overarching business goals. Are you aiming to:

  • Achieve a specified percentage increase in revenue?
  • Expand your customer base into a new demographic segment?
  • Launch a new product and garner initial traction in the market?
  • Generate additional leads for email marketing or retargeting campaigns?

Linking your affiliate program goals with broader business objectives ensures coherence and concentration in your strategic approach.

Translate Objectives into SMART Goals:

After establishing your overall vision, the next step involves delineating SMART goals:

  • Specific: Clearly define outcomes. For instance, shift from the vague "Get more customers" to the specific "Acquire 1000 new customers from affiliates in Q1."
  • Measurable: Define metrics to gauge progress. Determine how you will recognize goal attainment - whether it's tracking sales generated by affiliates, acquiring new customers, lead generation, or metrics indicative of brand awareness, such as social media mentions.
  • Attainable: Set challenging yet feasible goals; a 20% sales increase through affiliates may be more achievable than a 1000% boost.
  • Relevant: Ensure alignment with broader business objectives and target audience.
  • Time-Bound: Introduce deadlines for goal attainment, fostering urgency and enabling progress monitoring.

Step 2: Choose the Right Products

how to create an affiliate program

Choosing the right products isn't just about throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. It's about strategic selection, turning your Shopify affiliate program into a powerhouse of products. Here's how:

  • Niche Alignment: Avoid incongruence, such as advertising yoga mats in a tech gadget store. Select products resonating with your audience's interests and align with your brand identity, fostering trust and enhancing conversion likelihood.
  • Profit Maximization: Not all products yield equal profits. Prioritize products with higher profit margins to ensure worthwhile affiliate sales. Enhance the offer by providing additional promotions like limited-time discounts or exclusive bundle deals for affiliate-driven purchases.
  • Variety for Appeal: Offer a diverse selection to accommodate various customer preferences and budgets, widening the scope for potential affiliates with different audiences.
  • Beyond Products: Think about providing services in your program, like yoga classes, subscription boxes, or consulting. It depends on what your business is about. Remember, flexibility is key!

Step 3: Choose the Affiliate Payment Rate

Deciding on the right commission rate is a bit like steering a ship – too high, and you might impact your profits; too low, and your crew (the affiliates) might not be motivated to set sail. Here's how to go about it:

1. Industry Standards: Look into average commission rates in your field. Referral Rock suggests that the typical affiliate commission rate falls between 5-30%, and many affiliates usually earn between 10-20%. Consider these benchmarks as you set your rates.

Here's a breakdown of affiliate rates for various popular product categories that you can consider when building an affiliate program for Shopify:

Product categories  Affiliate rates
Clothing 10-15%
Jewelry 15-30%
Beauty 15-20%
Health 20-30%
Food & Drink 10-20%
Pets 10-20%
Home 10-20%
Computers & Tech 15-20%
SaaS 20-30%
Arts & Crafts 12%
Fitness 10-20%
Family 20-25%

Source: HeyCarson

2. Profit Check: Keep Track of Your Numbers!

Make sure you know your profit margin for each product, and ensure that your commission rate doesn't leave you with nothing. Remember, each sale should be a win-win for both you and your affiliates.

3. Quality Over Quantity: Think about the Value!

Think about having different commission levels. Start with a lower rate and increase it when there are more sales. This encourages top-performing affiliates and gives them a reason to aim for higher numbers.

Step 4: Pick the Right Affiliate App

Choosing the best affiliate management app goes beyond getting the fanciest one - it's about finding a reliable partner to handle the hard work and boost your program's growth. Here's how to make a wise choice to start your affiliate program ọn Shopify.

  • Feature Variety: Think about your needs! Do you want basic tracking, or do you need advanced automation and marketing tools? Look for apps that match your program's size and goals, offering features like automated payouts, customizable commission structures, and user-friendly performance dashboards.
  • Budget-Friendly Options: Don't overspend! Pick an app that suits your budget and grows with your program. Compare pricing plans and explore options catering to both startup and seasoned affiliates. Some apps even offer free trials for you to test before committing.
  • Seamless Shopify Integration: Integration with your Shopify store is crucial. Choose an app that simplifies program setup, product selection, and data tracking, avoiding the hassle of messy spreadsheets for effortless management.
  • Stellar Support: Excellent customer support is a must. Choose an app with a dedicated team ready to answer your questions and guide you through the affiliate realm - think of them as your personal cheerleaders and problem solvers.
  • Affiliate Attraction: Consider what appeals to affiliates. Choose an app with a lively marketplace or affiliate network where they can discover your program among many others. This opens doors to a broader reach and potential partnerships.

If finding the perfect affiliate app feels overwhelming, spend a few minutes trying UpPromote: Affiliate Marketing - a Shopify app designed to assist online businesses in setting up and running successful affiliate campaigns. With UpPromote, you can create a professional affiliate campaign and easily connect with potential affiliates.

build affiliate program with UpPromote

UpPromote's Standout Features for Shopify Merchants:

  • Auto-Generate Coupon: Easily set up automated coupons for specific programs, utilizing the affiliate's first name for a more streamlined management of affiliate campaigns. Save time and reduce manual effort when dealing with a growing number of affiliates. With this feature, coupons are automatically generated for each affiliate upon joining, following the preset discount rule you've defined. Simplify your process and enhance efficiency with this automated solution.
  • UpPromote Marketplace: Easily grow your affiliate team with multi-level marketing and Marketplace listings. Find affiliates or list your offers on the UpPromote Marketplace.

join affiliate networks with UpPromote Marketplace

  • Creatives Space: Upload images, files, or videos to a Creative Space for your affiliates to promote your products better. Affiliates can view, copy, download, or get HTML codes (images only) to share the creative assets with their audiences easily.

Creating a Successful Shopify Affiliate Program with UpPromote

To kickstart your affiliate campaign using UpPromote, you first need a program. UpPromote sets up a default program, ‘Standard Affiliate Commission,’ with a 10% sale commission. You can tweak this or add a new program and set it as the default.

Here's how to create a new affiliate program on Shopify:

  • Go to Management > Programs > click Add new and fill in the required details.
  • Activate the program by toggling the Active switch.
  • In the Commission structure, choose from three types: flat rate per order, flat rate per item, or percent of sale.
  • After choosing, enter the amount in the box and click Save changes.

how to create a new affiliate program on Shopify
For a step-by-step guide, explore UpPromote's guide on creating affiliate programs.

Step 5: Attract and Onboard High-Quality Affiliates

Recruiting affiliates can be a challenge, but we're here to guide you through the process. Let's explore effective strategies to strengthen your affiliate program's foundation:

1. Showcase in Your Content

Make your affiliate program visible:

  • Blog Widget: Embed a widget on your blog, inviting visitors to explore your affiliate program.
  • Dedicated Landing Page: Create a central hub for potential partners. Here, they can easily learn, apply, and swiftly begin promoting your products.
  • Email Signatures: Add a brief line about your affiliate program with a link in your email signature.

Learn from the Amazon Associates program, where a dedicated page welcomes applications. Approved affiliates can then share Amazon products through affiliate links, earning referral commissions ranging from 1% to 10%, with high-value items like clothing and luxury beauty products fetching a 10% cut.

2. Tap into Affiliate Networks

Affiliate networks are like superheroes for running, managing, paying, and recruiting top-notch affiliates.

Imagine this: Instead of juggling all over the place, these networks keep everything neat and tidy under one roof. They effortlessly handle hundreds of affiliate offers from various brands. Plus, no more chasing after late payments – it's all automated through their nifty network portal.

Pro tip: You can explore potential collaborations through affiliate platforms that unite various media partners, like UpPromote Marketplace, boasting 724,000 affiliates. Utilizing such platforms can accelerate your affiliate recruitment efforts by offering a curated list of reliable media partners.

3. Attract Affiliates of Competitors

A savvy strategy for recruiting affiliates is targeting those who are already active and ambitious. Typically, these affiliates collaborate with more than one partner. Your goal is to spot affiliates successfully promoting your competitors.

Here's the simple version:

  • List your main competitors.
  • Check which one has an active affiliate program.
  • Google search for ‘X reviews.’ (X is the name of your competitor's brand)
  • Find affiliates who have created content about their products.
  • Reach out to these affiliates, emphasizing the unique benefits of your program compared to your rivals.

By doing this, you're tapping into a pool of affiliates with proven success and a knack for promoting similar products.

Step 6: Keep an Eye on Your Program's Success

It's crucial to monitor and understand how well your affiliate program on Shopify is doing. You can achieve this by using your affiliate tracking software or the network you're part of.

Here's what you should focus on:

  • Identify the top performers bringing in the most sales.
  • Evaluate how your program aligns with the goals you set.
  • Dive into details like revenues, conversion rates, and unique sales, including the Average Order Value (AOV).

If your campaign isn't hitting the mark, consider tweaking your commission structures, adjusting prices, or collaborating with different affiliates. Keeping tabs on these details ensures your affiliate program stays on the path to success.

Boost Your Affiliate Team with UpPromote

UpPromote isn't just a tool; it's your performance booster! With this app, you can easily track every click and order from your affiliates using reliable methods.

Here's the extra perk: With the Professional plan and above, dive into Product Analytics. It lets you see which products are shining, thanks to your affiliates. You get insights into the top-referred and highest revenue products for all affiliates or each affiliate individually.

Armed with these insights, you can kick things up a notch by rewarding your top affiliates proactively. It's a great way to show appreciation and motivate them to keep rocking the affiliate game.

manage affiliate program with UpPromote

Unleash Your Affiliate Marketing Powerhouse: Ready to Launch?

Congratulations! You've navigated the six steps to building a successful affiliate program for your Shopify store. Now, it's time to ignite your sales and build a thriving community of brand advocates.
Ready to take the plunge? Here's your action plan:

  • Set Ambitious yet Achievable Goals: Track progress and celebrate milestones as you reach them.
  • Choose the Right Products: Align with your niche and offer enticing incentives for both you and your affiliates.
  • Attract and Onboard High-quality Partners: Make your program visible, leverage networks, and highlight your unique value proposition.
  • Nurture your Affiliate Team: Provide resources, offer support, and recognize top performers.
  • Measure, Analyze, and Adapt: Data is your fuel. Use it to optimize your program and maximize results.

Don't wait another minute! Launch your affiliate program today and unlock the true potential of your Shopify store. Partner with passion, track with precision, and witness your brand soar to new heights.

Lucy Nguyen

Content Marketing Specialist @FoxEcom

Lucy is a dedicated writer specializing in technology and B2B eCommerce. When she's not weaving words into captivating content, she enjoys wandering the streets with a camera in hand, capturing enchanting moments through her lens. This pursuit is a tremendous source of inspiration, fostering and nurturing her creativity.