The pandemic spurred interest for affiliate marketers in 2020, and the effects are still with us today. The rise in ecommerce brought people online and buying from a range of brands. It also create affiliate links Shopify via Shopify affiliate plugin, a new legion of e-commerce shoppers. 

Research from Awin’s 2021 affiliate marketing report revealed an interesting fact: these new shoppers are relying on affiliates to guide them toward purchases. At the start of 2020, one in four shoppers who were new to brands bought through affiliate links. 

By April 2020, that number surged to 37% and has remained above 30% since. The decline of traditional advertising to promote your business, coupled with the rise of social media, is giving new life to affiliate marketers. But how can you tap into this opportunity? 

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What Is an Affiliate Marketing Program?

Affiliate marketing is a reward-based system that encourages partners to promote your products in exchange for a commission.

A customer, advocate, or industry marketer signs up for your affiliate program and sends visitors to your Shopify store through their special referral link, and any sales that you make as a result of their promotion earns the marketer a reward.

An affiliate program will pay via a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the total sale, but incentives could also be free or discounted products. It’s a win-win for both parties. Target, for example, gives affiliates 8% commission on every qualifying purchase made through an affiliate link.

The affiliate marketing strategy is used both in business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) campaigns, with over 80% of brands using affiliate programs to promote their products. Recent data from IAB UK also shows that the two biggest sectors for affiliate operations are retail and travel. 

Affiliate programs remain a cost-effective and diverse way to find new customers and help a broad range of marketers including bloggers, publishers, retailers, and rewards sites make money online. 

Read also: 7 Affiliate Marketing Philippines You Can Try Now!

What’s the Purpose of an Affiliate Program?

Recent data from Statista anticipates affiliate marketing spending will reach $8.2 billion by 2022, up from $5.4 billion recorded in 2017. Marketers surveyed by IAB UK agreed that affiliate marketing performs very highly for customer acquisition and ROI compared to other activities, ranking 7.83 and 7.6 out of 10, respectively.

And there’s real-world evidence that affiliate marketing is effective: Wirecutter, a consumer site owned by The New York Times, runs exclusively off affiliate commissions and subscriptions. Wirecutter’s affiliate income is part of the Times’ “other” revenue category, which generated $42.8 million revenue in the second quarter of 2021, up 8.7% from a year earlier. 

At the end of 2020, the Times stated in a press release that other revenues decreased 12.1% in the fourth quarter, primarily as a result of lower revenues from live events and commercial printing. However, the declines were partially offset by higher Wirecutter affiliate referral revenues. 

But affiliate marketing isn’t just for third-party publishers. E-commerce brands like Healthish use affiliate marketing to build brand awareness, launch products, and generate sales. When launching its keystone product, the WB-1 bottle, Healthish worked with Instagram influencers to create content and sell the bottle at scale.

Affiliate marketing isn’t right for every business. If you have small profit margins, for example, it may not make sense: it would be difficult for a business owner to pay affiliates and also turn a profit. Even if you wish to create your own affiliate programs free, you still have to check your businss first.

Affiliate programs need to pay a portion of each sale in order for it to be worth the promoter’s effort and money, depending on their approach to promoting your products. One of the best ways to find out if an affiliate program is a good fit for your business is checking to see if other companies in your industry have created them.

For instance, BarkBox has been running a successful affiliate program and has become one of the best affiliate programs for nearly 10 years now.

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A program with that kind of longevity implies it’s working and is producing solid returns on time invested for BarkBox. If you dig through popular dog accounts on Instagram, many will have a BarkBox affiliate link or code in their bio.

That’s meaningful reach and entirely built on the existing work BarkBox does to keep its affiliate program running. It’s a nice win for both BarkBox and the Instagram account owners.

How can you see if other businesses in your niche have successfully learned how to create an affiliate program? A simple Google search targeting competitors can dig up sites that have affiliate referral programs of their own. Your searches could be:

  • “(your competitor) affiliates”.
  • “(your competitor) affiliate program”.
  • “(your competitor) affiliate marketing”.

You can also look at relevant hashtags on social media. A search for hashtags related to your industry will reveal influential users. You can check out their profiles to see if they’re promoting your competitors via affiliate marketing.

Read also: 10 Hacks on How to Grow Your Online Business on Instagram

Now that you’ve determined that it’s a route you’d like to explore, let’s take a look at how to create a Shopify affiliate app program for your Shopify store.

How to Create an Affiliate Program, Step by Step

How to create affiliate links for influencers and how to create an affiliate link for my business? Here some steps for you on how to create an affiliate program:

Choose High Average Order Value (AOV) Products to Promote

How does Shopify affiliate program work? Your first step is to choose which products you want to include in your affiliate program. You can include all your products, but it’s smart to focus on high AOV products to increase revenue and affiliate earnings per click. 

Think a 10% commission on a $80 product is more attractive than a 10% commission on a $5 one. Tell affiliates exactly which products to advertise and offer them a few promotional tips like:

  • Promoting free shipping on orders over $50. Nine out of 10 shoppers say free shipping is the number one incentive to shop more online.
  • Offering a first-time buyer discount. Give new customers an extra discount for their first purchase. You can then remarket to them through email and Facebook ads.
  • Buy more, save more discounts. Offer a scaled discount sale to increase average order value. For example, save 20% when you spend $50, or 25% when you spend $100.

Offering affiliates valuable products and promotional tips can help them sell more, which, in turn, leads to more sales for your business. You can always add or remove products from your affiliate program and tweak your messaging if your strategy isn’t working. 

Decide Your Affiliate Pricing and Commission 

Once you’ve chosen your products, you’ll want to decide on a commission package or Shopify affiliate program commission. Ideally, cash is the most appealing reward. Some ecommerce brands can get away with giving free products or offering store credit. But aim for cash if possible. 


Now that you have taken a look at how to create an affiliate program for your Shopify store, it’s your turn to get started! Head over to the Shopify App Store and find a solid app to build a creative, professional program today. It’s quick and easy, and many apps offer a free trial. 

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