The Right Way to Set Up an Affiliate Program for Your Shopify Store

The Right Way to set up an affiliate program for Your Shopify Store


Even with good SEO and tons of paid ads, moving products can be a tough mission. With affiliate marketing, a website can basically earn from promoting products from another website.

The website promoting your products is the affiliate. There’s a lot to benefit from getting affiliates. It’s easy to track all the action, and you can gain more validation from being associated with these other successful sites.

Also, in most cases, you pay only when there are results. But in turn, there’s a lot of work involved. Especially as you enlarge the scale. Here are some tips to follow as you start an affiliate program for your Shopify store:

Study Your Competition

B3_B2_Study Your Competition

Come up with a list of all the major stores you’re competing with. One by one, find out which ones have an affiliate program. List down all their affiliates. A key benefit of this is that you’ll know what pools might already be maxed out.

Join one of your competitor’s programs if possible. This will give you better access and insight into how they are running it. See what they demand, whether it’s sales or mere clicks. Find out what they give in return.

Draw a picture of what you need to look for and give in return, to attract affiliates.

Set Clear Targets

Targets vary from one Shopify affiliate program to another. Figure out the main things you are trying to achieve with your store. They must be measurable.

These could be, doubling revenue before a certain time, or increasing traffic by a fraction. Whatever it is, put down an actual figure. Don’t just say “I want to increase my average order value”.

Once you have those goals set, list all the metrics you’re going to have to follow. These usually include gross orders, sales share per affiliate, click traffic, number of affiliates, etc.

Choose Management Tools And Personnel

Shopify offers a variety of apps that can help you manage your affiliate program. Each of these apps offers a different package of functions. In some cases, you’ll need to combine various tools to get the full functionality you desire.

Think of how you want to run your program. Whether you’ll be giving different offers. Your tracking links, etc. Make sure you pick tools that allow you to transfer duties to another person easily.

Select an affiliate manager. This could be someone within your team, or you can outsource. Note all the tasks they’ll have to carry out, from contract negotiating to recruiting and more.

Where you can do some of the work, divide the tasks for more efficiency, and also to favor your budget.

Work Out The Math

A key part of your affiliate program is the commission. It is what keeps affiliates motivated to produce results consistently. A good starting point is to try and make sure you can make at least 3-times what you’re spending on each customer.

This is what you call your return on ad spend (ROAS). This process will most likely be continuous and may have a few exceptions. Get the amount you spend on marketing and divide it by the number of customers you eventually get.

That is your cost per acquisition. You want your commission to be low enough for an affiliate to get you many customers and multiply it, hence more sales for you. However, you don’t want it to be so low that potential affiliates refuse the offer.

There are a few other variables you’ll need to get familiar with. These include the customer retention rate (CRR) and customer lifetime value (CLV).

CRR is basically how many of the new customers you get, that you manage to keep around. Get the number of customers you gained during a certain period, say a month. Subtract it from the number you had at the end of the month.

Divide that by the number you had at the start of that month. That’s your CRR (multiply by 100 for a percentage form).

Your CLV is how much you make from a customer throughout the entire time that they are a customer of your store.

If it’s a subscription for example, get their average order value. Multiply it by the number of times they make that order throughout their time as a customer.

As you run your affiliate program, these numbers may change from time to time. Always compare them to your targets. If what you spend is getting you enough results to hit the goal on time, keep it up.

If it isn’t, find out where you’re losing and make the necessary changes.

Create A Resource Hub

Your affiliates will need materials from you to use from time to time. You will also need to communicate with them occasionally. Put some good pictures and videos together. Get all your links to different product pages organized.

Package all this in a zip folder or some other shared folder on a cloud service. Set up a dedicated page for your affiliate program on your Shopify e-commerce store. Make these resources available there through a link.

Write copy and other documents relating to your program. Come up with standardized contracts, terms and conditions sheets, and promotional text. Also get signature graphics, emails and phone numbers where necessary.

Potential affiliates need to have a place they can go to and learn all they need to know about your program.

You also need to have ready communication pieces, and regularly update them when new listings, offers and adjustments to terms are made.

Recruit Affiliates


Determine how many you want to start with. Pick a mode of recruitment. This could be reaching out directly to some via email. You can also promote the program on social media. Another good option is affiliate networks.

These are basically already organized groups of affiliates. They may have a site through which you can reach them, and charge a standard fee for a set package. Here are a few other things to keep in mind when recruiting affiliates:

Website traffic – more is usually better.

Focus on verticals – This means for example, if you sell fashion products, you can select some sneaker curators to tap into shoe buyers. Basically, make sure their crowd is into the kind of products you offer.

Brand similarity – The affiliate’s image should be not too far from yours. The quality of their graphics. Their phrasing and overall voice, etc.

Number of active campaigns – This is easier to gauge in networks. The more campaigns, the better.

Search ranking – Affiliates who appear higher in search engine results for words relating to what you sell are usually a better pick. The same goes for Domain Authority, a score out of 100 for how high the site may rank.

Go through review sites, and also comparison shopping.

Harmonize Your Marketing

An affiliate program most probably won’t be the only way you’re marketing your store. Examine the relationship between that program and other actions.

If your affiliate program pushes products that already have extra discounts, this may ultimately destroy your markup. With a program whose main goal is driving more traffic, make sure it’s bringing in people who actually like the product.

Refurbish those landing pages. Have your email sign up CTAs well-positioned. This is where good Shopify themes make a difference.

With a highly customizable Shopify theme, you can realign other store features with your affiliate management tools to get more conversions from the program.

In Conclusion

There are three major areas to focus on for your affiliate program. Your offer, management tools and affiliates.

The commission you offer can make or break your campaign. It may also have to vary from one affiliate to another. Always keep tabs on those who bring you way more conversions/sales and reward them more.

The software you use to keep track of everything is key. You want to make sure it’s easy to use. It should integrate smoothly with other tools. Make sure it is within your budget and supports as much of the work as possible.

Your affiliates deserve special attention. It’s not enough to know who’s doing well. You must estimate who will build into something bigger. Understand what exactly the affiliates are doing to get results.

The affiliate list may keep changing from time to time. A tiresome but good option is to start from scratch and slowly create your own dream-team. Foster a unique culture of success.

With this method, your program can slowly gain status as one with massive results. This helps you build leverage and go from begging to being begged.

When everyone wants to join your program, you have a better chance at setting terms that are favorable for you. Always remember that your store’s website is vital in this whole process.

Not only should it be able to run the program properly, but it should also be fine-tuned to get the most out of traffic. Without conversions, it’s all a waste.


Author Bio

author - rickyRicky Hayes is the Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Debutify – free Shopify theme, helping dropshippers build high-converting stores in minutes. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies and mentoring programs.


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This blog post is about:

  • Set Up an Affiliate Program for Your Shopify Store
  • Affiliate Program
  • Shopify
  • Shopify Store