Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links, I earn a commission from referrals.
Shopify has made it so easy for the average person to setup and start selling their products/services within hours of creating a Shopify store account. You may even have spent a long time trying to come up with the "perfect" design, branding, or look n feel of your website in general, but whats the point of putting all that effort into making the website look pretty if no one is going to find it?
Its likely that if you're reading this, you're either a complete beginner to the whole "online thing" or you've researched ways to advertise your online store, and from experience I can tell you that almost every blog post and YouTube video out there talks about advertising with Facebook ads or pay influencers to post your products on their page.
If you're reading this, consider yourself very lucky, because we're about to introduce you an old age method of advertising that works so well, requires little to no capital, and in fact its being used by Amazon and a whole bunch of well-known companies, and its called affiliate marketing. Additionally, at least from my experience, I rarely see any channel covering it, so stick around.
In a nutshell, you promote a product or service through a unique link in return for a commission which is paid by the company you've promoted. The most popular affiliate program is Amazon Associates., and you may have noticed that majority of tech reviewers on YouTube put their special Amazon link in the description. There are two types of commission rates: one-time commision and recurring commision.
One-time commision: As it name states, you'll only get paid once for every referral you've made.
Recurring commision: Commision that is paid every certain amount of time, usually every month.
Commision rates can vary a lot from company to company. For each referral, some will pay a fixed amount or a percentage of the product/service.
Affiliate marketing has a very low entry to barrier, because it requires no capital to start with and you'll only pay your affiliates IF they brought you customers. In paid advertising, you'll need to spend money upfront and you may risk generating no sales at all. Also, some companies prefer others with marketing skills to promote their business instead of doing it themselves by hiring a large marketing team.
We're going to create an affiliate program for our own Shopify store. Thanks to the app developers on the Shopify App Store, there are couple of apps that can create and integrate an affiliate program right into your store. The app that I recommend is called Secomapp: Affiliate Marketing, it has hundreds of positive reviews, and the user interface is very simple to navigate around.
The app is completely free, however you can only generate up to 200 referral orders each month on the free plan, but upgrading to a paid plan won't be a problem if you're already generating a good amount of sales.
Time to create an affiliate signup page. From the left side of the screen, go to "Programs", you'll see a program called "Standard Affiliate Commission" that is created for you by default, then click on the yellow button that has the link icon. That is the link to the page you'll share to other people to sign up as affiliates.
Before we do that, lets edit the page first. On the Programs page, click the blue edit button. This will take you to the settings that you need to review and set it up the way you prefer your products to be promoted based on the commision structure you set it to. Make sure to write a clear description that outlines everything someone needs to know before signing up. You can set different commissions for specific products or collections. I won't cover every detail of this app because the post will get long and boring, but its very easy to understand as you navigate through it, so please make sure you go over every important detail before moving to the next step.
So how do you get people to sign up as affiliates and start to promote your products? There are A LOT of ways to bring in new affiliates, here are some of the ways you can implement, I recommend doing all of the above to maximize your chances.
The affiliate app that I've previously showed you has the feature to display a pop up on the thank you page offering your customers to sign up for affiliates and recommend your products to their friends and family. However you'll need to purchase the Growth Plan to have access to this feature. Simply go to the "Grow affiliate tools" shown on the left side, and then "Convert customer to affiliate".
An affiliate marketplace is pretty much where companies list their affiliate programs, and people can pick an affiliate program they like and sign up as an affiliate. Inside the app, In dropdown menu of "Grow affiliate tools", go to Marketplace Listing and fill up the details. This marketplace is created by the app developers themselves, but you can also try other affiliate marketplaces that have popularity.
Another great way to bring in affiliates is to reach out to pages on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and even Pinterest. Its likely you'll get some rejections, because some pages don't like to risk their audience so they prefer someone paying them upfront, In that case you can negotiate a lower upfront fee then what they usually charge on top signing up as an affiliate. Additionally, some pages may not respond at all, they're either receiving tons of messages or they're not interested or even both, so its important to reach out to as many pages as you can and stay patient. Make sure you don't spam your messages, instead add in a bit of personalization into the message for each page.
Overall, I think affiliate marketing is one of the best or even the best marketing strategy you can implement as a complete beginner to generate sales on your Shopify store or any online business. Even though this strategy has been existed for decades (in different forms ofcourse), its rarely talked about when it comes specifically to Shopify or selling your own products online. If you implement this, you'll have a competitive advantage because not many people are creating affiliate programs for their stores.