Affiliate Marketing for e-Commerce Websites
You’ve launched your e-commerce website and now you need to generate sales. Sound familiar?
Building awareness of your website and driving sales doesn’t have to mean paid advertising. This is where Affiliate Marketing is going to change your marketing mix. In this blog I guide you through what affiliate marketing is and how it works for e-Commerce websites. We look at costs and the best platforms to get you started.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate Marketing is performance based marketing where you, an e-commerce website owner, receive free marketing from bloggers, influencers, product reviewers etc who promote your product. In return, you pay a commission back on any sale received from their referral.
Affiliate Marketing is a powerful way to drive more traffic to your website and increase your online sales without paying a cent for advertising or influencer marketing.
Affiliate Marketing allows you to reward influencers, bloggers, magazines and any business who refers sales to your website. As an ecommerce business owner an affiliate marketing program will allow you to benefit from others promoting your product and in return you pay commission only when your product sells.
How does it work?
Your Affiliate Marketing partners promote your product via their channels (social media, blog, website, online review, email newsletter etc) via a unique link. When a reader clicks through from their post and purchases your product you pay a percentage of the sale, or flat fee, back to your partner. The structure of the commission rates you pay to your partners is completely up to you. If you are using good affiliate marketing software you will also have the flexibility to set be different rates for different partners.
There are two methods to consider when setting up an Affiliate Marketing program:
- A stand alone affiliate marketing program via your website
- An affiliate marketing network where you have access to an existing pool of potential partners.
If you are willing to put in the work to create your own network of bloggers and influencers to partner with you, then running a stand alone, self managed affiliate program will work for you. Via a stand alone affiliate marketing program you will safe money on monthly fees, however you will not have access to an existing pool of affiliate marketers. If access to affiliate marketers is your goal you will need to use an affiliate marketing network.
What does it cost to set up Affiliate Marketing for my website?
If you set up a stand alone affiliate marketing program you will have an initial one off set up cost for software licensing, and potentially configuration costs from your web developer. Once set up this software generates unique URL’s for each of your affiliate partners when they register via your website and access their affiliate marketing dashboard. Your partner uses this unique URL in their blog or post and each sale generated from a click on this URL will automatically track the sale back to your individual partner.
For my WordPress website clients AffiliateWP is my top pick is $99 USD. See below were I cover this product in greater detail. If you decide to use an Affiliate Marketing Network my top pick for Australian businesses is The Commissions Factory which is around $200 AUD per month, regardless of the number of sales generated.
How long after the URL is clicked is the sale tracked?
This depends on the Affiliate Marketing software you use and the configuration you select. Good Affiliate Marketing software allows you to select the cookie duration. What this means is that once the URL is clicked on a cookie is placed on the users browser for a designated period of time. Even if they do not purchase immediately the sale will still be assigned to your affiliate partner depending on the cookie validity duration. Most cookies will be valid for a 30-60 day period after the first click.
How do I set commission rates?
It is up to you the rate you choose for your commissions. Your affiliate marketing software will allow you to select a flat rate per product/sale or a % based commission. Keep in mind you are asking others to market your product for you so your commission rates need to be attractive.
Your choice: Affiliate Marketing Software or an Affiliate Marketing Network
You’ll be rewarded for doing your research into affiliate marketing programs and software. There is no shortage of choice so you’ll need to consider what your criteria is for your affiliate marketing activity and select software which best suits.
If you are going to use a stand alone affiliate marketing program a good place to start is to consider the following:
- What CMS is your website using and is there a good Affiliate Marketing component or plugin available for your CMS
- What are the up front costs or are there any ongoing licensing fees
- What functionality do you require
- Do you payment gateway integration for automatic payouts
- What volume of partners and sales are you expecting
If you are going to use an Affiliate Marketing Network, rather than build your own network, ensure you first ascertain that they:
- have a pool of bloggers and influencers that are relevant to your brand
- provide tools to measure engagement
- provide direct contact to partners to enable you to ensure accurate messages and response to product enquiries.
My Top Picks
THE COMMISSIONS FACTORY (Australia)
The Commissions Factory is my #1 choice for Affiliate Marketing for Australian businesses. Here’s why:
- Access to 33,000 affiliates partners
- Easily integrated with all major website shopping carts (shopify, woocommerce, magento to name a few)
- Real-time dashboard to track campaign performance as it happens
- Area to collaborate and work with your affiliate partners
- Ability to run multiple sites or brands off the same platform
- Supports over 165 currencies with real-time currency conversion
- Easy to use dashboard and, from my experience, excellent support turn around times.
Cost: $218.90 AUD per month
LINK TRUST (USA)
US company LinkTrust are one of the main players in the affiliate marketing space and my top pick for US based businesses.
Cost: $299 USD per month
Restriction of 50 affiliates and no access to their market place.
To access their market is $499 USD per month.
Affiliate Marketing Plugins for WordPress
If you are adding self hosted Affiliate Marketing plugin to your WordPress WooCommerce website AffiliateWP is my top pick. I have used this software on many client’s sites and find ticks all the boxes. It ‘s easy to integrate and configure, has no ongoing licensing fees & has excellent functionality which I have outlined below for you:
- Real time reporting
- Unlimited affiliates
- Provide affiliates with artwork for ads
- Connect coupon codes to affiliates for promotions
- Affiliate account management
- Auto affiliate approval on application
- Well laid out affiliate dashboard
- Referral link generator
- Configure referral rates
- Customise affiliate links
- Customise cookie duration
- Customise automated emails
Cost: $99 USD
No on-going costs
As an e-commerce business owner, Affiliate Marketing is your key to low cost, performance based marketing and with consumer spend via Affiliate Marketing predicted to reach $6.8 billion in 2020 now is the time to start building relationships with partners and driving new sales via Affiliate Marketing.
Questions or comments?
Feel free to leave any questions or comments below.