How to Set Up an Affiliate Program For Your Shopify Store

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Driving visitors to your ecommerce store – and then converting them into customers – is always a hard task. And, with more ecommerce competition than ever before, it’s only getting harder.

Marketing and advertising budgets are often stretched to get the best possible results – but one thing that can often yield a good ROI is affiliate marketing. 

If you’ve got a Shopify store already set up – or you’re thinking about building one soon – then affiliate marketing can be a great way of driving the right kind of traffic to your website. 

So read on – we’re unpacking everything you need to know about setting up an affiliate program for your Shopify store!

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a rewards-based system that encourages chosen partners to promote your store and products to their audience. In exchange for this promotion, your partners will earn a commission. 

Partners – which can be anyone from publications and influencers to fellow industry marketers – will be able to set up their own referral link to your website. 

This allows you to track the success of their referrals, and – for each purchase made off the back of clicking on their referral link – a partner will earn a small commission on the sale.

Affiliate marketing is usually a win-win option for all parties. Partners get to promote products they use and earn commission, whilst you drive traffic and sales to your website with no upfront cost (and only a tiny commission to pay!). 

How to Set Up a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program

Setting up an affiliate marketing program is simple. Simply follow the steps we’ve laid out below, and you’ll have one up and running in no time. 

1. Select Your Products

The first thing you need to do is decide which of your products you want to include in your affiliate program. You may want to include all of them, or instead opt to include specific categories or products only.

The best thing to do is to include your products that have the best AOV (Average Order Value). After all, a 5% commission on a £100 product is much more appealing to a partner than a 5% commission on a £10 product. 

You can tweak which products you feature in your program as you progress based on sales and success rates – so don’t worry too much if you’re not 100% sure which ones you want to include right now.

2. Decide Your Commission Rates 

Once you’ve selected which products to include in your affiliate program, you’ll need to decide on your commission rates.

Usually, brands will offer a cash reward for referrals and sales, and – let’s be honest, – this is always the best incentive. If you’re not keen to offer cash, there’s still the option to use vouchers or money-off future purchases, depending on how many referrals a partner generates.

If you decide to offer a cash-based commission, there are two ways for you to determine the rate:

  • Percentage – You offer a set percentage of the price of the item (e.g. 5%)
  • Flat-rate – You set a flat rate for each sale (e.g. $1 per sale made)

3. Choose an Affiliate Management App

There are multiple affiliate marketing apps that make setting up your affiliate program quick and easy. Below, we’ve listed some of the affiliate apps available in the Shopify app store for you to choose from. 

  • UpPromote – UpPromote is the top-rated affiliate marketing app in the Shopify app store. From within the app, you can create custom commission rates, as well as find more affiliate partners for your store.
  • LeadDyno – LeadDyno expertly integrates with your Shopify store, and offers a personalized dashboard for each affiliate partner. From here, you can track the success of their referral links, and – in just a few clicks – engage, track and pay your affiliate partners.
  • Refersion – Not only does Refersion let you track and pay your affiliate partners, but it also gives you access to over 5000 potential partners. This makes it super easy to find new affiliates and influencers for your Shopify store.
The Shopify App Store
The Shopify App Store has various apps that can help you to set up and manage your affiliate marketing program.

How and Where to Find Affiliates

Once you’ve set up your affiliate marketing program, you need to start recruiting affiliate partners. 

Here, you’ll want to ensure that you’re selecting the right kind of partners for your store. They need to be relevant to your brand and products, as well as have an engaged and substantial audience. After all, it’s no use selecting a partner who doesn’t even have an audience to refer to you!

So where can you find affiliates?

1. Affiliate Websites

Affiliate network websites have a host of affiliate partners ready and waiting to sign up to your program. The entry requirements are usually pretty simple for affiliate networking sites, and – once you’ve signed up – you’ll be able to invite affiliates and influencers from various different niches to join your program.

2. Social Media

Announcing your affiliate program on your social media channels is a great way to drum up interest in your program. Invite your followers to learn more about your program (we recommend creating a dedicated page on your website full of information about it) and encourage them to apply. 

3. Email Marketing 

If you already have an email list set up, make sure you use it when trying to source affiliate partners. Send out an email explaining the program, how it works, what the commission rate is, and the type of people you’re looking to recruit. 

How to Measure the Success of your Affiliate Marketing Program

Like with any element of your marketing strategy, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your affiliate marketing program’s performance and measure its success. 

The key to the success of your affiliate program is communication with your partners. Make sure that you’re regularly keeping in touch with them – usually via email – and you should make it your priority to ensure they understand all the requirements of your program.

These requirements can be anything from specific messaging, the use (or lack) of referral links to other websites, the frequency of posts, and social media hashtags. 

When measuring the success of your affiliate marketing program, some of the key metrics to keep a close eye on include: 

  • Total sales
  • Sales per referral link
  • Average order size per referral
  • Total number of affiliate partners
  • Amount of affiliate partners who have left the program
  • Payout-to-sales ratio

Pros and Cons of Setting up an Affiliate Marketing Program

Pros of an Affiliate Marketing Program Cons of an Affiliate Marketing Program
Zero start-up fees. Results don’t happen overnight, and it can take time to see referrals and sales.
Referrals act as word-of-mouth marketing for your brand. Affiliates can leave your program at any time if they aren’t seeing the kind of rewards they expected.
Introduces new audiences to your brand who may not have otherwise found you. You need to have enough budget set aside to afford the commission rates.
Affiliate partners are often well-respected and offer your brand credibility.

Find out more:

See how Shopify’s ecommerce abilities fare against another platform in our Shopify vs WooCommerce article.

How to Set Up an Affiliate Program: Summary

Setting up an affiliate program for your Shopify store can be a great way of driving traffic to your website, and converting engaged users into paying customers. 

One of the key benefits of an affiliate program is that – once set up – it requires little upkeep for you to keep making a solid return on your investment. 

So let’s recap. If you want to set up an affiliate program for your Shopify store, you’ll need to:

  1. Select your products.
  2. Decide your commission rates.
  3. Choose an affiliate marketing app.
  4. Find your affiliates.
  5. Track your success. 

If, after reading this article, you decide to set up an affiliate program for your Shopify store, be sure to let us know in the comments how it goes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Absolutely! There are various apps available in the Shopify app store that can help you integrate your affiliate marketing program with your Shopify store.
In order to start an affiliate program you need to follow these steps:
  1. Select your products.
  2. Decide your commission rates.
  3. Choose an affiliate marketing app.
  4. Find your affiliates.
  5. Track your success.

A successful affiliate marketing program selects the right affiliates and partners. They need to be relevant to your brand, and have a substantially-sized and engaged audience. The more referrals – and, in turn, sales – your affiliate marketing program makes for your Shopify store, the more successful it’ll be!
Nope! The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you don’t require a big budget to get started. In fact, the start-up costs are pretty much nil. All you’ll need to do is make sure you can afford to pay the commission % on any referrals and sales. That’s it!
Written by:
Black and white headshot of Lucy Nixon smiling at the camera
I’ve been a content writer for Website Builder Expert since 2021. Through almost a decade in the digital marketing industry, I’ve built up knowledge on everything from growing ecommerce businesses to building websites. I love breaking down tricky topics into digestible and engaging content for readers. Breaking down the jargon and uncovering the best platforms, tools, and strategies, I’m a meticulous researcher who’s committed to providing our readers with tips and advice that’s tried and tested.


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