Succeeding in the world of ecommerce is hard. In fact, even though there are over 12 million ecommerce stores operating online, only around 650 thousand generate more than $1,000 in revenue per year. So, in order to have a chance to succeed, ecommerce store owners must use every resource available for increasing their reach and gaining access to a broader audience.

That’s where affiliate marketing can be so beneficial. It allows you to gain access to other people’s audiences and generate sales quickly. But how exactly can you use affiliate marketing to grow your ecommerce business?

grow your ecommerce sales using affiliate marketing

Woman making presentation by Anton Fritsler

Well, before we dig into the specific affiliate marketing tips for ecommerce, let’s figure out what affiliate marketing is.

What Is Affiliate Marketing for Ecommerce?

Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing methods online – it allows businesses to connect with marketers who have access to relevant audiences, and quickly generate sales by sharing profits.

Basically, every time someone buys from your store based on a recommendation from your affiliate, the affiliate earns a percentage of the sale, and you gain a client that you wouldn’t have reached anyway, so it’s a situation that benefits everyone involved.

Most industries have professional affiliate marketers that specialize in generating sales for others, and who have a loyal following that trusts their recommendations and can often account for thousands of sales when they run a promotion.

However, to make affiliate marketing work for you, it’s important to know how to find the affiliate marketers that are a good fit for your business, and to be able to persuade them that it’s worthwhile partnering up with your ecommerce store.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to quickly separate yourself from your competition and become a sought-after store that affiliates will be lining up to work with.

Read on below, and we’ll explore a few of the most important steps you should take to make affiliate marketing your most powerful strategy that can generate sales on autopilot.

Find the Right Affiliate Marketing Platform

Many ecommerce stores and online businesses have their own affiliate program, but until you’ve gained more experience with being an affiliate marketing vendor, you might be better off sticking to the proven ecommerce affiliate programs that have a solid track record and a selection of affiliates ready to promote your products.

What’s more, starting your own affiliate program requires you to have at least some experience in order to set it up correctly, so going with a platform that can guide you through the entire process is a much better choice.

It will provide you with an easy-to-use framework where you can just assign unique IDs to your affiliates and have the system track the orders and assign the percentages of their earnings accordingly.

And since you’re using an intermediary for processing affiliate sales, it eliminates any potential trust issues since the sales are tracked and handled automatically.

By browsing some of the more popular platforms and figuring out what others are doing, you can gain a better understanding of what tends to work best and generates the most interest from affiliate marketers, adjusting your strategy accordingly.

But how to choose the right affiliate platform for your business?

Well, the process is pretty similar for all involved parties. Whether you’re an affiliate or a vendor, you want a program with a long track record of success and reliability, because you need a trustworthy and experienced mediator in case there was an issue or a dispute with one of your affiliates.

What’s more, you need the site to be relevant to what you’re selling, because otherwise, you might have a hard time finding affiliates who would be interested in promoting your products, or even capable of it.

Finally, it’s always good if the platform has extensive reporting options because that can help you optimize your offers, improve your sales numbers, and in turn become more lucrative to potential affiliates in the future.

Seek Out the Best Affiliates on Social Media

Although you should be able to find a fair number of affiliates through the platforms that you choose to operate on, you won’t be able to control who becomes interested in promoting your products, and that means that not all of the affiliates will turn out to be ideal candidates for your store.

That’s why you should also be actively seeking out the best affiliates for your ecommerce store that have a vast audience reach and fit.

One top-tier affiliate could be worth more than ten or even more average ones, so the extra effort you might have to put in to attract them is usually well worth it, as it can result in a partnership that lasts for many years.

But where to find your best potential affiliates?

Well, the short answer: anywhere your target audience hangs out.

Online, that usually means the most popular social media platforms – you’d be hard pressed to find a niche that doesn’t have at least a few prominent influencers who have a loyal following that trusts what they have to say.

These are the people who have become authorities in the field by being more than just sellers of products – they are usually educators, trend-setters, and experts in the area, which makes them ideal candidates to strike up a mutually-beneficial agreement with.

By getting an influential figure in your niche to promote your store, you can gain an instant influx of prospective buyers, most of whom you wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise.

So, even if you have to pay a percentage of your sales to the affiliate, that still makes the deal well worth it for you, if you take the time to calculate your profit margins and ensure that the sales are profitable even when you deduce the affiliate commission.

Now, at this point, you may be saying – how can you convince an A-list influencer to work with you if you run a smaller ecommerce store and aren’t yet a big player in your market?

Well, the good news is, even if the top-tier influencers are out of your reach, you can still use influencer marketing to give a huge boost to your store.

You see, for every prominent thought leader in your niche, there are likely at least a dozen smaller ones, who may not have as big of a following, but are just as influential in their own smaller circle of very dedicated fans.

Some of them may not be as prominent because they are just starting, while others may cover a very specific niche within a niche that just doesn’t generate as much attention.

However, even if they have just a few thousand followers, that can still provide you with a massive boost in sales if those followers are engaged and a good match for your store.

In fact, since the following is smaller, it’s likely that it will be much more focused as well, and consist mainly of the people who are highly interested in the subject.

So, if you can get the influencer to showcase your store or your products on his social media feed, a large percentage of the followers are likely to respond, which more than makes up for the lower overall numbers of followers.

But how can you find the right influencers for your store?

Well, there’s no going around the fact that you may need to spend some time digging through social media to find the ones that are a good fit.

how to rapidly grow your ecommerce sales using affiliate marketing

Hospitality illustration by Andrew McKay

Even if the most prominent figures in your field are pretty known, chances are that you won’t know all of the smaller influencers already, and will need to go deep through social media feeds trying to find them.

What’s more, since micro-influencers can have anywhere from just a few thousand to tens of thousands of fans, and could be just starting out, many of them won’t have experience in dealing with businesses, so you may have to educate them on the benefits of becoming your affiliate and figure out the best strategy to proceed.

To maximize the chances of the campaign being a success, you will need to develop a strategy for the promotion that ensures the highest engagement of the influencer’s audience.

You should trust the judgment of the person you’re working with because he does, after all, know his audience best, but make sure that your brand is showcased in the best way possible and that you pick the products that are likely to generate the most interest.

You should also have plenty of promotional materials such as banners other marketing resources, as well as plenty of quality photos so that your products can be adequately presented and look appealing to the people who could be interested.

Create a Backend Funnel

With all the benefits that affiliate marketing can have for your business, there is one drawback that cannot be ignored – for every lead brought to you by someone else, you are forced to give away a part of your earnings, which can significantly cut into your profits.

That’s why, if you’re going to make the most out of your affiliate marketing efforts, you need to have a strong backend funnel to ensure that once an affiliate brings you a new customer, that customer goes on to become a loyal customer that buys from you on multiple occasions.

However, you can’t expect customers to come back to your store just because they bought from you once.

If you don’t have a way to capture leads and engage them after they’ve made the initial purchase, there will be no way of getting them back on your ecommerce store and looking at what else you have to offer.

That’s where email marketing can be such a game-changer.

There are many reasons why you need to build an email list, but it’s especially effective for ecommerce stores because people tend to shop for things that they need or are interested in more than once, and sometimes all it takes is a timely message or a promotion to get them interested again.

With email marketing, you can educate your prospects about your products and their uses, showcase similar products that they are likely to be interested in, or build trust and your authority status by providing helpful information and helping them overcome obstacles related to what you offer.

But what should you focus on when building your backend funnel?

Well, the first task is getting people to subscribe in the first place. You need to entice the person that’s browsing your site with an offer appealing enough so that they’d be willing to subscribe to your newsletter.

A good approach to take is to make the newsletter itself the primary offer. That way your emails won’t be viewed as something they need to agree to but will be the reward itself.

It could be something as simple as offering exclusive deals to email subscribers, or an educational email series if there are challenges that you can help your audience overcome.

Today’s leading email marketing service providers have numerous ways to optimize your emails and connect each subscriber to their purchases, so you can send personalized offers, suggestions on what else they might be interested, and even timely reminders based on their purchase habits.

You should take the time to study your audience behaviors and keep track of the actionable email marketing statistics that can help you send emails that are more relevant and useful to the people that you’re trying to reach.

Optimize Your Site for Best Results

If you want affiliates to promote your store, you need to make sure that once they send targeted leads to your site, it’s optimized in a way that maximizes the chances of converting them into customers.

You need to monitor the performance of your site closely and follow the best practices of Amazon listing optimization to ensure that your product pages portray your brand and your products in the best light possible.

One aspect that can have a big impact on the way that your store is perceived by prospects is the quality of your images. You need to invest in professional photo retouching for ecommerce because if your products don’t look their best or if the image quality is lacking, you will instantly lose credibility and will have a hard time making any sales at all.

Finally, an often overlooked part of making sales is proving a comfortable experience for all of your site’s visitors. 52% of all web traffic came from mobile devices in 2018, so you need to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile and that navigating your site, browsing products, and the checkout process go without a hitch.

Few customers will stick around on a site that requires a lot of effort to buy from, and you can be sure that if your prospects aren’t sticking around, the affiliates won’t waste time promoting your offers either.


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