Shopify is a popular e-commerce platform that offers numerous benefits to users. Your business can achieve great success with Shopify’s tools and your own entrepreneurial hustle alone, but a Shopify store affiliate program can help you vastly expand your brand awareness and boost sales in a way traditional marketing can’t.

An affiliate program allows your biggest advocates — your customers and supporters — to do some of your marketing and advertising work for you. They can refer visitors to your website or products and receive a commission on each sale. The model is low-risk and low-cost since you only pay when the visitor converts. 

Best of all, Shopify affiliate marketing works. Advertisers make between 15% and 30% of all sales from affiliate marketing. If you’re worried the Shopify platform might have prohibitive rules that stop you from starting an affiliate program, think again. Shopify itself uses affiliates to generate traffic to its website and drive sales of Shopify packages. 

If you’re still unsure about Shopify affiliate marketing, keep reading to learn the many benefits of starting an affiliate program for your e-commerce business and how to get started.

Why Set Up an Affiliate Marketing Program for Your Shopify Store?

The mechanics behind an affiliate program are quite simple. Outside parties, such as bloggers or owners of external websites, advertise your Shopify e-commerce store. They may place ads on their website or include hyperlinks in their content. Whenever a visitor uses one of those defined links to go to your site and makes a purchase, you get a sale, and the affiliate earns a commission. 

That’s the basic model, but you can set the terms for your program. You might choose to offer a commission based on traffic alone or only when a visitor buys a particular item. You can also carefully vet your affiliates. Instead of charging third-party website owners or bloggers to become affiliates, companies will typically require them to apply first. This application process allows you to keep control over your brand, even when you’re relying on an extensive network of influencers to drive traffic. 

An affiliate program for your Shopify store has many more benefits. It can also help you:

Scale Your Business

There are only so many ways to scale your business as an e-commerce company. In the traditional brick-and-mortar model, getting your product in front of more customers means getting it into as many stores as possible. E-commerce businesses grow by getting more customers to look at their product pages. There are two main ways to do this: You can use SEO and content marketing to get new visitors from Google or get other parties to refer customers to your website.

The second way is how affiliate marketing works — it gets new visitors to your Shopify store, so you don’t have to rely entirely on your own content marketing. This amounts to a new channel of revenue. Affiliate programs let you create an additional revenue stream, diversifying your income-generating activities. 

Follow a Low-Risk and Low-Cost Model

Affiliate marketing is a pay-for-performance model. There’s no fee payable to affiliates unless they drive traffic that converts. You only pay when the program achieves the results you want from your affiliate program. 

Affiliates also offer another kind of advertising service that’s harder to quantify. When visitors to affiliate websites see the ad or link for your Shopify store in their content, it automatically increases your brand profile and awareness. Building awareness this way is essentially free for you since you only pay when the visitor clicks through the ad or affiliate link and makes a purchase. 

On top of this, affiliate programs cost very little to launch and have limited ongoing costs. This results in a bigger return on investment (ROI) than other forms of marketing that require higher upfront costs and may not translate into as many sales. 

Reward Existing Customers

An affiliate program is a great way to engage with your existing customers. People who know and like your brand are more likely to promote it in a meaningful and authentic way. These are your best advocates. Their knowledge of your Shopify store comes through in their content, whether that’s via their blog or social media accounts. 

From this perspective, an affiliate program is a form of a customer rewards program. It’s similar to other loyalty models that offer customers a discount on services if they refer their friends. Of course, not every customer can become an affiliate, but there’s incredible value hidden in your existing customer base. Those who already have an online presence can help you expand your brand while earning a steady, passive income. 

Gain Traction from Trustworthy Influencers

Influencers make money for a reason. Their recommendations hold sway, at least in the eyes of their audience. Their followers trust what they have to say. This is good for you and your brand.

Compare this to traditional advertising: A company may post a paid ad on a digital space that appears in response to keywords and search history. In that scenario, an algorithm will determine when a user might have an interest in your product. That user may or may not click on that ad, and if they do, they still might not be convinced. 

However, an influencer — who already gets a lot of traffic — is directly endorsing your products. That’s often enough for people to want to click through and buy, even if they’d never heard of your brand before.

Enhance Social Proof

Social proof is another aspect of social influence. It refers to the idea that people will adapt their behavior to fall in line with what other people are doing. Social proof is a combination of testimonials, “also used by” pages, and third-party websites that promote your e-commerce store. An affiliate program is a significant component of this process. 

When an influencer supports your brand, it can help distinguish you as a reputable business versus just a random e-commerce store. Your social proof is greater when your affiliates are loyal customers, trusted influencers, and people who hold sway in your industry. 

Reach a Broader Audience

Your affiliate program helps you increase your presence and brand awareness through influencers who can expose your business to new audiences. Affiliate programs often help brands discover the multi-functionality or hidden benefits of their product.

Let’s say your Shopify store sells environmentally friendly cleaning products. Your content marketing and other outreach may focus on home and garden topics and channels. Your affiliate program, however, may spread the word on your products to eco-friendly and sustainable-living groups and audiences. This kind of growth is tough to achieve when you rely on just your website content. 

Handpick Your Affiliate Program Partners

Affiliate program partners should closely align with the values of your Shopify store to ensure brand consistency. You can handpick your affiliates and choose those who best reflect your brand. You may opt to partner with a small-scale influencer with a high level of audience trust and industry respect over a more well-known influencer who isn’t fully compatible with the values of your brand.

After all, part of social proof is not just that others speak well about you, but that those others are respected among their audience and your industry.

Receive Qualified Traffic

Affiliates send traffic that converts — fast. Visitors who arrive through affiliates have already gone past the top-of-funnel stage. They know about your brand through the affiliate. They trust the brand because they trust the affiliate. 

This gives affiliate program marketing another advantage over digital ads. Instead of relying just on search history, affiliate programs send interested customers who already feel comfortable with your brand. At this stage, they’re more likely to buy. 

Benefit from Automation and Low Maintenance

Despite their massive potential to generate revenue and increase your brand awareness, affiliate programs are relatively low maintenance. Even (or especially) when you handpick your affiliates, there’s relatively low management required. The affiliate program runs mostly on autopilot. You receive a steady flow of traffic and generate sales while your affiliates are compensated appropriately through the best Shopify affiliate app. 

Most of all, affiliate programs free you and your team up to focus on other aspects of your business. Spend more quality time on product development, your Shopify store layout, customer service, content marketing, and other essential business operations. 

Get Started With an Affiliate Program for Your Shopify Site

An affiliate app for Shopify creates a new channel through which you can drive sales to your Shopify store. It’s a low-cost, low-maintenance strategy that lets you partner with those who know your product best — and that potential customers trust. 

If you’re ready to create a Shopify store affiliate program — and see your sales soar — try our 30-day free trial to get started.