Ecommerce Growth

Ecommerce Growth Hacks: How to Set Up an Affiliate Program

Ecommerce Growth

Ecommerce Growth Hacks: How to Set Up an Affiliate Program


How to setup affiliate program for ecommerce is a critical question every e-commerce store owner should address to supercharge their online business growth.

To get started quickly, here's a brief roadmap:

  1. Build a landing page for affiliate signups.
  2. Create a resource hub for affiliates.
  3. Choose an affiliate management app.
  4. Recruit your affiliates.

Running an e-commerce store presents a unique set of challenges. From managing inventory to ensuring a seamless user experience, the road to success is paved with obstacles. That’s where growth hacks come in, offering innovative strategies to boost your sales and expand your reach.

One of the most effective growth hacks is affiliate marketing. By leveraging the power of affiliates, you can increase your site’s exposure, drive more traffic, and boost sales without having to invest heavily in traditional marketing. An affiliate program lets you reward external partners for referring customers to your site, creating a win-win situation.

I'm Steve Pogson, an E-commerce Growth Specialist with over 20 years of experience in driving online business growth. I've helped numerous e-commerce stores set up and optimize their affiliate programs for maximum success.

Steps to Set Up an Affiliate Program - how to setup affiliate program for ecommerce infographic pillar-3-steps

Understanding Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing where a business rewards affiliates for every customer brought by the affiliate's marketing efforts. Essentially, it's a partnership between a company and external marketers to promote products or services, driving traffic and generating leads.


In simple terms, affiliate marketing is an arrangement where an online retailer pays a commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals. Affiliates use unique tracking links to promote the retailer’s products, and they earn a commission for every sale made through their links.


One of the most well-known examples of affiliate marketing is Amazon Associates. Websites and bloggers can sign up to promote Amazon products and earn commissions on sales. Amazon provides strict criteria for the sites and apps hosting its ads to ensure quality and relevance.

affiliate marketing example - how to setup affiliate program for ecommerce

Traffic Generation

Affiliate marketing leverages the audience of affiliates to generate traffic. Affiliates, such as bloggers or social media influencers, promote products to their followers. This strategy is highly effective because affiliates often have a loyal audience that trusts their recommendations.

For instance, a travel blogger might write a review of the best waterproof trekking shoes and include affiliate links to an e-commerce site selling those shoes. Readers who trust the blogger's opinion are more likely to click the link and make a purchase.


Affiliates help generate leads by promoting products to their audience. A lead is a potential customer who has shown interest in a product. In affiliate marketing, leads are often generated through:

  • Blog Posts: Affiliates write detailed reviews or guides that include affiliate links.
  • Social Media Posts: Influencers share product recommendations with their followers, often with a unique link or discount code.
  • Email Marketing: Affiliates send promotional emails to their subscriber list with affiliate links.

Using affiliate marketing, businesses can reach a wider audience and generate high-quality leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers.

This method is cost-effective because you only pay for actual sales or leads, reducing the risk associated with traditional advertising.

Next, we'll dive into How to Setup Affiliate Program for Ecommerce, covering the essential steps and strategies to get started.

How to Setup Affiliate Program for Ecommerce

Choosing the Right Affiliate Platform

Selecting the right platform is crucial for the success of your affiliate program. Here are some popular options:

  • Shopify: If you already use Shopify for your ecommerce store, integrating an affiliate program is straightforward. Shopify offers various apps that help you manage affiliates, track sales, and pay commissions seamlessly.

Setting Commission Rates and Structure

The commission structure can make or break your affiliate program. Here are the common types:

  • Percentage of Sales: This is the most common structure. Affiliates earn a percentage of the sales they generate. For instance, beauty products often offer around 15%, while health products can go up to 30%.

  • Flat Fee: Instead of a percentage, you can offer a fixed amount per sale. This method is simple and predictable. For example, you might pay $5 for every sale, regardless of the purchase amount.

  • Tiered Commission: This structure rewards affiliates based on their performance. The more they sell, the higher the commission rate. For instance, you could start at 5% for the first 10 sales and increase to 10% for 11-20 sales.

Choosing Products and Promotions

Selecting the right products to promote is essential. Focus on items with a high average order value. For example, a 10% commission on an $80 product is more attractive than on a $5 product.

Consider offering additional promotions to boost affiliate sales:

  • Free Shipping: Incentivize buyers with free shipping on orders over a certain amount. This can increase the average order value and make your affiliate program more appealing.

  • First-Time Buyer Discount: Offer a discount for first-time buyers. Affiliates can use this to attract new customers, who you can then remarket to through email and social media.

Integrating Affiliate Program with Your Ecommerce Platform

Using Shopify for Affiliate Marketing

Shopify integration is straightforward, making it an excellent choice for setting up your affiliate program. With Shopify, you can seamlessly connect your affiliate program to your ecommerce store using plugins and third-party apps. Here’s how:

Plugin Installation: Shopify's app store offers a variety of affiliate management apps that can be installed with just a few clicks. Popular options include apps that help you manage every aspect of your affiliate program, from signups to payouts.

Third-party Apps: If you need more specialized features, third-party apps provide robust solutions. These apps integrate with Shopify and offer advanced tracking, reporting, and management tools.

Shopify Apps: Shopify’s app ecosystem is designed to make affiliate marketing easy. Apps simplify the process of recruiting affiliates, tracking sales, and paying out commissions.

  • Easy Integration: Most apps are designed to integrate seamlessly with Shopify. This means you can set up and start running your affiliate program in minutes.

  • Dashboard Setup: Once installed, these apps come with user-friendly dashboards. You can monitor affiliate performance, track sales, and manage payouts all from one place. This makes it easier to stay organized and ensure your affiliates are performing well.

By using Shopify for your affiliate marketing, you can leverage powerful tools and a user-friendly interface to grow your ecommerce business efficiently.

Promoting and Managing Your Affiliate Program

Finding and Recruiting the Right Affiliates

Recruiting the right affiliates is crucial for the success of your affiliate program. Here are some effective strategies:

  • Previous Customers: Your loyal customers are already familiar with your products and are more likely to promote them genuinely. Send an email to your existing customer base inviting them to join your affiliate program.

  • Influencers: Partner with influencers who have a strong following in your niche. They can provide authentic reviews and reach a broader audience. For example, if you sell fitness products, collaborate with fitness influencers on Instagram or YouTube.

  • Content Creators: Bloggers, YouTubers, and social media content creators can drive significant traffic to your site. Look for creators who produce content related to your industry.

Tools for Managing Affiliates

Managing an affiliate program can be complex, but using the right tools can simplify the process. Here are some of the top tools:

  • AffiliateWP: This WordPress plugin makes it easy to manage your affiliates. It offers features like real-time reporting, customizable commission structures, and automatic affiliate approval.

  • Easy Affiliate: Integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce, PayPal, and other platforms. It provides an all-in-one solution for tracking sales, managing payouts, and creating marketing materials.

  • Tracking and Payouts: Both AffiliateWP and Easy Affiliate offer robust tracking features. You can monitor clicks, conversions, and sales in real-time. They also simplify the payout process, allowing you to pay affiliates through PayPal or other methods.

By using these tools, you can ensure your affiliate program runs smoothly and efficiently, making it easier to manage and scale as your business grows.

Next, we’ll discuss Measuring the Success of Your Affiliate Program, focusing on key performance indicators (KPIs), tracking clicks, conversion rates, and ROI analysis.

Measuring the Success of Your Affiliate Program

Once your affiliate program is up and running, it's crucial to measure its effectiveness. Here’s how you can do that:

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)

KPIs are metrics that help you track the success of your affiliate program. Here are some essential KPIs to monitor:

  • Total Affiliate Sales: The total revenue generated from affiliate referrals.
  • Sales Per Affiliate: The average sales each affiliate generates.
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of clicks that result in a sale.
  • Average Order Value (AOV): The average amount spent per order through affiliate links.
  • Number of Affiliates: How many affiliates are actively promoting your products.
  • Churn Rate: The percentage of affiliates who leave the program over a set period.

Tracking Clicks

Tracking clicks is vital to understand how much traffic your affiliates are driving to your site. Most affiliate software, like Easy Affiliate, provides real-time click tracking. You can see how many clicks each affiliate generates and which links are most effective.

Conversion Rates

Conversion rates tell you how effective your affiliates are at turning clicks into sales. To calculate the conversion rate:

Conversion Rate = (Number of Sales / Number of Clicks) x 100

A higher conversion rate indicates that your affiliates are targeting the right audience and using effective marketing tactics.

ROI Analysis

Return on Investment (ROI) analysis helps you understand the profitability of your affiliate program. To calculate ROI:

ROI = (Revenue from Affiliate Sales - Cost of Affiliate Program) / Cost of Affiliate Program x 100

This metric shows how much profit you’re making for every dollar spent on your affiliate program. A positive ROI means your program is profitable.

Using Data to Improve

Regularly review these metrics to identify areas for improvement. For example:

  • Low Conversion Rates: If your conversion rates are low, consider providing better marketing materials or training for your affiliates.
  • High Churn Rate: If many affiliates are leaving, check if your commission structure is competitive or if there are issues with communication.

Tracking these KPIs and metrics will help you optimize your affiliate program for ecommerce and ensure it contributes positively to your business growth.

Next, we’ll address Frequently Asked Questions about Setting Up an Ecommerce Affiliate Program to provide more insights and practical tips.

Frequently Asked Questions about Setting Up an Ecommerce Affiliate Program

Can I set up an affiliate program for my Shopify store?

Absolutely! Setting up an affiliate program for your Shopify store is straightforward. Shopify offers a variety of apps in its App Store that can help you get started quickly. Some popular options include apps that manage your affiliates, track sales, and handle payouts seamlessly. Many of them offer free trials, so you can test out which one works best for your needs before committing.

Which ecommerce platform is best for affiliate marketing?

Several ecommerce platforms are excellent for affiliate marketing, each with its unique strengths:

  • Shopify: Known for its user-friendly interface and extensive app marketplace. It's great for beginners and established businesses alike.

How do I create my own affiliate program?

Creating your own affiliate program involves several steps:

  1. Choose High AOV Products: Select products with a high Average Order Value (AOV) to make the program attractive to affiliates.
  2. Decide on Commission Structure: Determine whether to offer a percentage of sales, a flat fee, or a tiered commission. Balance incentives for affiliates with your profit margins.
  3. Select Affiliate Software: Use an affiliate management app to manage your program.
  4. Recruit Affiliates: Promote your program on your website, social media, and via email campaigns to attract potential affiliates.
  5. Manage and Support Affiliates: Provide marketing materials and regular updates to keep affiliates engaged and informed.
  6. Track Performance: Use KPIs like total affiliate sales, conversion rates, and payout-to-sales ratios to monitor and optimize your program.


Setting up an affiliate program is a powerful way to boost your ecommerce store's growth. Here's why:

Brand Credibility

Affiliate marketing can significantly enhance your brand credibility. When trusted influencers and content creators promote your products, their endorsement acts as social proof. This builds trust with potential customers who might be hesitant to make a purchase. According to a study, 76% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends. Leveraging affiliates can turn this trust into tangible sales.

Incremental Sales Growth

Affiliate marketing drives incremental sales growth. Unlike traditional advertising, you only pay for actual results—sales or leads. This makes it a cost-effective strategy. Affiliates are motivated to promote your products because their earnings depend on it. This creates a win-win situation: you get more sales, and they earn commissions. In fact, 38% of marketers say affiliate marketing is one of their top customer acquisition methods.

First Pier Expertise in Shopify Optimization

At First Pier, we specialize in optimizing Shopify stores to maximize their potential. Our team of experts can help you set up and manage your affiliate program seamlessly. From choosing the right affiliate platform to integrating it with your Shopify store, we've got you covered. We also offer ongoing support to ensure your program runs smoothly and effectively.

Ready to take your Shopify store to the next level? Contact First Pier today to learn how we can help you grow your ecommerce business through a well-optimized affiliate program.

By leveraging the power of affiliate marketing, you can build brand credibility, achieve incremental sales growth, and create a sustainable revenue stream for your ecommerce store. Let's get started on this exciting journey together!

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