Shopify Affiliate Marketing: The Definitive Guide for 2020
Is Shopify affiliate marketing really as easy as they say?
In short: Yes!
You could literally be making money while doing *almost* nothing.
This is precisely why we’re going to explain why and how you should be leveraging the power of affiliate marketing to drive online revenue.
And the best part?
If you’re using Shopify, you’re in luck because this ecommerce platform already has a directory full of Shopify affiliate marketing apps to choose from and we have rated and reviewed the best of the best.
In this article, we’re going to
- Introduce you to the benefits of affiliate marketing.
- Showcase our top 5 Shopify affiliate marketing apps.
- Go through the steps you need to take when setting up your own affiliate marketing program.
What is affiliate marketing?
Essentially, affiliate marketing uses individuals to promote certain brands and products in order to receive a commission on each sale that they refer.
Affiliates can be literally anyone from existing customers to influencers or other small marketing businesses, and they can promote a product through blogging, social media, or email among other methods.
The brilliant thing about affiliate marketing is that it’s a win-win situation for both parties. Affiliates earn a decent commission for their referred sales, clicks, or leads, while merchants enjoy a fairly low risk sales and marketing effort that can scale easily.
Incentives don’t even have to be cash payments because affiliates can also receive freebies or discounts in exchange – it really is that flexible.
For ecommerce businesses, this makes even better sense because you can also track the performance of your affiliates easily with an affiliate management solution.
The benefits of affiliate marketing
In the U.S. alone, affiliate marketing spend is due to reach 8.2 billion U.S. dollars by 2022, up from 5.4 billion recorded in 2017 according to Statista.com
Affiliate marketing has also taken on a new life after as the trend of influencer marketing has somewhat burst its own bubble, and marketers are going back to ‘old-school’ measurable methods. Influencer marketing has now fallen under the umbrella of affiliate marketing.
So, what are the most important benefits of affiliate marketing for ecommerce?
1. Scale quickly with a ‘remote’ sales team
As a small business, it’s highly likely that you are your own sales team! Or you might have a small core team, but expanding is a costly affair.
Affiliate marketing allows you to connect with and reach many more people who will be selling or promoting your product in a short amount of time. Plus, with affiliate marketing, you only pay per conversion so you’ll steadily increase your ROI.
2. Affiliates are focussed on the job
There are no lengthy processes involved in making a sale because affiliates are focussed on the job – it’s their source of revenue so they are determined to generate revenue for you. This frees up a lot of time you would’ve otherwise used in managing an in-house sales team, so you can focus on growing your business.
3. Multi-channel marketing
Affiliates will use any channel that works for them and for you. Therefore, you don’t have to get caught up in highly produced digital ads or campaigns.
Your affiliates could generate both brand awareness and conversions from multiple channels such as social media, email, online reviews, or blogging.
4. Leverage word-of-mouth marketing
74% of consumers identify word of mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions.
Your affiliates are people, and you can leverage their reach and influence easily through an affiliate program.
5. Easy to measure and manage
Using Shopify affiliate marketing apps makes tracking and measuring your campaign a breeze – because it’s all updated in real time and purposely built to integrate with your store.
With unique tracking codes for each affiliate, you’ll be able to easily track sales and pay out commissions – this can even be automated if you use the right tool.
Now that we’ve got you thinking about all the marvelous benefits of affiliate marketing, let’s get right onto our list of the best Shopify affiliate marketing apps you should be using.
5 Best Shopify Affiliate Marketing Apps
Refersion is one of the major players in affiliate marketing, and their end-to-end Shopify affiliate marketing app brings together all those world-class features in one robust tool.
The app allows you to recruit, manage, and pay your affiliates with a personalised dashboard. Their Shopify integrations allow you to automatically create unique coupon codes so you can track sales from any channel.
- End-to-end Shopify affiliate marketing
- No coding required
- Easy to launch
- Customisable affiliate commissions at product-level
- Lowest tier is out of reach for many small businesses
- Only tracks up to 130 affiliate orders p/month
- US-based support only
Price: Professional $89 p/month, Enterprise-level costs are available on request
Trial: 14-day free trial
Shopify app store rating: 4.7 Stars / 761 reviews
As one of the most popular Shopify affiliate marketing apps around, LeadDyno is a favourite among small businesses. A really great benefit of using LeadDyno is that you’ll not only get to use a great marketing tool, but also gain access to their large affiliate network for free.
- Unique affiliate dashboards
- Mobile app for affiliates
- Free access to their affiliate network
- US-based support only, and this can lead to delays in responses
- It requires some level of technical-savviness to set up
- The first tier might be a little pricey for small companies
Price: Starter Plan $29.00 p/month, Biz Builder $49.00 p/month, Accelerator $79 p/month, Rainmaker $149 p/month
Trial: 30-day free trial
Shopify app store rating: 4.5 Stars / 569 reviews
GoaffPro is a great choice if you’re just starting up because their Shopify affiliate marketing app offers quite a generous free plan. You can convert existing customers into affiliates through a customised portal, set up product-level commissions, track sales through multiple methods, generate coupons, and manage payments through PayPal.
- Generous free tier allows you to run a full affiliate program
- Unlimited affiliates, and uncapped revenue
- Create and send welcome emails
- No coding required
- Some customers noted a slow response time to queries
- The jump from free plan to the paid option could become a costly upgrade for some
Price: Free Plan $0, Premium Plan $24 p/month
Shopify app store rating: 4.8 Stars / 376 Reviews
Secomapp offers another great free option if you’re looking to get started on your Shopify affiliate marketing strategy.
You can easily set up, manage, track, and process payments through this app. We really liked that it offers the ability to group certain affiliates into the same commission-level group and that you can set up automated emails to communicate effectively.
- Free plan available
- Easy to set up
- No coding required
- Access to their affiliate marketplace to reach even more potential affiliates
- Multiple programs and affiliate tiers
- Multiple pricing options to suite your needs
- Their first paid tier only allows up to 50 referral orders p/month
Price: Free Plan $0, Grow Affiliate Plan $19.99 p/month, Professional Plan $49.99 p/month, Enterprise Plan $99.99 p/month
Trial: 14-day free trial
Shopify app store rating: 4.8 Stars / 338 reviews
Referral marketing is part of affiliate marketing. Others might argue that it is a separate strategy, but we’d like to think of it as part of the affiliate marketing landscape.
What differs between referral and affiliate marketing is the relationship between the referrer and the end customer, these two are usually connected by family, friendship or other shared interests. Other than that, referral marketing works the same as affiliate marketing.
ReferralCandy is one of the most popular choices among Shopify affiliate marketing apps and they are a pioneer in the affiliate marketing space. To date, they’ve generated millions of dollars in referral sales, so if you’re looking for a “Rolls Royce” of apps, this is one of them.
ReferralCandy also offers an affiliate marketing mode so you can also reach out to affiliate partners.
- Powerful end-to-end affiliate marketing features
- Fully customisable emails with pre-designed themes
- Automated payouts
- Customisable incentives (discounts, cash payouts, gifts etc.)
- Detailed, deep analytics
- No coding required
- Built-in Affiliates Mode to reach out to influencers
- The steep starting fee might be out of reach of smaller companies
- Customising certain templates does require a certain level of tech-savviness and might not be very intuitive to use
Price: $49 p/month
Trial: 30-day free trial
Shopify app store rating: 4.9 Stars / 813 reviews
Steps to Build your Affiliate Program in Shopify
With so many apps offering “one-click” options, it’s becoming even easier to get started with affiliate marketing on Shopify. However, there is some ground work that needs to be done in order to really make the most of your marketing tools.
Here are a few important steps to keep in mind when you’re building your affiliate program:
1. Outline how your affiliate marketing program will work
Define what your sales and marketing objectives are and what kind of affiliate commission you are willing to offer. This can be discounts, free products, coupons, or other incentives.
Then look at what kind of budget range you can afford and what features are a high-priority for you.
For some businesses, all they need is a straightforward affiliate marketing tool, while others might require additional communication features such as bulk emailing, automatic payouts, custom dashboards and so on.
Once you get your wish list of features and have defined your commission structure, you’ll be able to pinpoint the right app for you.
2. Pick the right tool
Now that you’ve outlined your basic affiliate strategy, it’s time to find the right marketing tool. Here are a few quick ways you can start researching:
- Look at what tools your competitors are using
- Read online reviews and ratings
- Sign up for trials and demos to get a better sense of how the tools work and judge your comfort levels
Once you’re ready to trial or purchase an app, you simply have to login to your Shopify account, navigate to your chosen app’s listing page and click on “Add app” – then follow in the instructions to set up.
3. Set up your communication plan
Decide on how and why you’ll be communicating with your affiliates.
Email communication is usually the best way to onboard new affiliates and keep in touch throughout the campaign.
Certain emails can be automated through your Shopify affiliate marketing app, and some require more of a personal touch (such as onboarding emails, customer support, payment queries and so on).
You can also promote your affiliate program on social media, on your website or by other marketing channels.
4. Recruit your affiliates
With the right tool in place, you can start to recruit your ideal affiliates.
It’s important that you clearly define what criteria you’re looking for and what you are willing to pay out, and what you are paying out for: sales, clicks, leads, and so on.
You can use your affiliate marketing app to find affiliates on their owned networks, or you can start with your own customer base (as with referral marketing).
5. Ongoing tracking and management
Track performance and manage your affiliate program with ease using the dashboard provided by your affiliate marketing tool.
Using the analytics and insights you receive through the app, you can optimise your affiliate program even further.
While having a diverse marketing mix is always a good strategy, we really believe that affiliate marketing should be a big part of that effort.
While there are quite a few apps that perform similar tasks out there, it’s important to get the most out of your monthly fees. Therefore, we recommend doing your research on each app.
Use articles like these to help you narrow down the search, and sign up for as many free trials and software demos as possible to give you the best opportunity to “try before you buy”.
Our top picks from our list above:
For small businesses just starting out: GoaffPro for their generous free plan.
For enterprise-level businesses, looking for a robust end-to-end solution: Refersion for their established, fully end-to-end Shopify affiliate marketing offering.
Can you do affiliate marketing on Shopify? https://blog.refersion.com/can-you-do-affiliate-marketing-on-shopify-spoilers-yes-12c4cca15228
23 Affiliate marketing statistics to help you up your game in 2020: https://99firms.com/blog/affiliate-marketing-statistics/#gref
Word of mouth marketing in 2020: https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/word-of-mouth-marketing/#word-of-mouth-marketing-statistics
Affiliate marketing: how to turn product recommendations into passive income: https://www.shopify.co.za/blog/affiliate-marketing
Ecommerce affiliate marketing: the ultimate guide: https://www.ecommerceceo.com/ecommerce-affiliate-marketing/