Create Affiliate Program for Your eCommerce Store
11-minute read
Published 30, Dec 2020

If you have an eCommerce website, creating an affiliate marketing program on this online store is an amazing idea if:

  1. You have limited marketing budgets
  2. You sell items with a $50+ price tag
  3. You don’t have the time to see results from methods like SEO

All of the boxes ticked off?

In this case NOT setting up a program for affiliates is nothing short of an eCommerce crime, punishable by low sales.

No worries, it will only take you a day or two to set up.

The best thing about this type of marketing?

You can pay as you go. There’s no need for hefty upfront payments to your dispersed sales team. But there’s an option if you feel like taking some risk and experimenting today.

Ready to embark on this exciting adventure full of talented people promoting your product out there?

Read on to find out:

What is affiliate marketing

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a method of promotion of products and services that works by offering performance-based incentives to individual partners, who bring traffic and/or sales to your website through their own marketing efforts. Rewards can be paid as % commission or a fixed fee.

In plain English, when launching an affiliate marketing promotion campaign, online store owners share a percentage of their revenues with people who agree to promote their products via their YouTube channels and blogs. Such traffic is tracked, calculated, and paid for using a special code inserted into the website from a user data tracking software system.

Models of traffic buying

One of the reasons we are considering cases in which your online store offers items with high average billing is that it's easier to attract high-quality affiliate marketers in these scenarios with low risk for yourself as an advertiser.

To understand how partner marketers get rewarded, let's run through the most popular acronyms and models of remuneration.


CPC – Cost per Click

The advertiser pays per click. If somebody followed the referral link of your partner and clicked on your website, you will pay for it whether they purchased it or not.

This model is great for brand awareness and is a high risk for advertisers due to unknown budgets among other aspects.

CPM – cost per Mille (1000 Impressions)

Affiliate eCommerce store owners will pay for 1000 impressions of a banner on the publisher's website. This is the best model for publishers and the riskiest for an advertiser.

Conversion will depend heavily on the quality of the website traffic. It is also a method widely used for brand awareness.

CPT – Cost per time

Cost per time is a rare beast among its peers, as it's only good for gigantic websites with lots of traffic, whereby a publisher is happy to pay for a certain period to display their campaign banner. It’s a bit of a gamble really and can be used for status reasons and for launch purposes.

CPA – Cost per action

CPA is the best low-risk method for an advertiser, as they only pay for an action, like:

Form filled out, sale made, or subscription bought.

Naturally, this is the most high-risk for publishers, as they may have wasted impressions and clicks but gotten no reward after all, as the user didn't convert.

The affiliate marketing remuneration models below are a variation of CPA:

CPL – Cost per lead

Cost per lead is any action, upon completion of which an advertiser is left with personal data of a potential customer, for example, a form filled out.

CPI – Cost Per Installation

Widely used in mobile application marketing, this method suggests payment for installation of the software on a user’s mobile.

CPS – Cost per sale

Cost per sale is the safest, as the affiliate marketer is paid only if the customer bought from you and didn't ask for a refund.

Ideal for high-priced item promotion. The advertisers don't mind sharing commission, while they can attract professional marketers due to the high average billing.

Refersion Intro
ultimate affiliate marketing control center

Benefits of running an AM program on an online store

Low entry threshold

There are SaaS solutions for under $100 in a one-time payment (LeadDyno, Refersion, PostAffiliatePro, Tapfiliate) that allow a business to set up an affiliate marketing campaign in a matter of a few hours.

If you are looking to start your own affiliate program free, this is almost the case. You can enjoy up to a 30-day free trial with most such services and only pay a one-time fee if you are happy.

If you have a WordPress eCommerce site, the plugins for managing your affiliate marketing program are also available from $50. There’s Affiliate WP, Ultimate Affiliate Pro, Affiliate Royale among other offerings.

If an advertiser chooses to use the CPS model, they only pay for a confirmed sale, so there are no more upfront payments to be made in such a scenario.

Quick setup

Setting up a program in one of those tools is easy and intuitive. With the fierce competition between SaaS solutions and plugins, you are guaranteed to find lots of tutorials and webinars on how to get started with your campaign.

That said, while the setup is pretty easy, supplying lots of content with your campaigns will make it easier for influencers to incorporate your products into their blogs and YouTube videos.

Per product strategy

Once the program is up and running, you can always focus on driving the sale to specific products by providing a more lucrative incentive to your marketers. You can increase a commission bid for a limited time, offer double points, or even provide individual offers to your VIP performers.


These influencer-based programs are easy to scale. Most of the SaaS solutions offer plans based on the number of people who promote you, so if you feel you are getting more traction, you can always upgrade your pricing plan.

There are multiple affiliate marketing programs that you can also join as an advertiser to get better exposure and get more influencers joining your program.

Scalability affiliate marketing programs
LeadDyno pricing plans

How to create an affiliate program for an eCommerce store

Conduct a competitive research

Most of the marketers with significant followings or appropriate skills to bring traffic to your website must have been in the business for a while. They are a tough crowd to please and they are looking for the highest commission potential in exchange for their traffic.

Check out what other online store owners in your niche offer across major affiliate marketing platforms. Do they pay per click? Per mille? Per action? Is it percentage based or an absolute dollar value? Are there any promos currently available across the range of products similar to yours?

Choose your Affiliate Marketing software, tracking program and network

When it comes to setting up the affiliate marketing program on your website, there are a few choices, depending on what CMS you have used for your store:

  1. You can integrate it with 3rd party software, like Refersion and LeadDyno.
  2. You can use referral marketing plugins for WordPress or Shopify, like Affiliate WP and Affiliate Royale.
  3. You could custom make this ecommerce software with your software development company, or
  4. You could join an affiliate marketing network like CJ or Shareasale as an advertiser.

All of these approaches have different reach, terms, and conditions, pricing, and sets of services.

If you are one of those SMB startups, you might want to consider low-cost solutions like a plugin or a SaaS solution.

If you want to keep all of the personal data and have the ambition to grow your online store aggressively, you might consider custom developing an affiliate marketing program software as part of your proprietary technology.

Affiliate Marketing software, tracking program and network

Connect your eCommerce store to your marketing platform of choice

If you run your store on Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce, many of the SaaS systems will have integration processes that take up to 10 minutes overall.

If you are looking to connect a solution via API, you might need to ask for help from an eCommerce software development company, to make sure data is synching in two directions seamlessly in live mode.

While you are at it, it's best to check all of the integrations and ensure that your systems are talking to each other for the best and most accurate reporting: CRM, store, email marketing, inventory management solutions, etc.

Choose goals, objective, offer terms

Being generous at the launch of your campaign is a good idea.

Many marketers will already have their favorites in the niche, so give them an offer they cannot refuse. Once they have had some revenues coming in from your website, they may feel reluctant to withdraw even if you later lower your bid (for sunk cost fallacy or other reasons).

At this stage, you should be prepared to answer these questions:
What products are you going to promote via affiliate partners and influencers?

What compensation model are you going for?

What period are you running your launch offer for?

What limitations do you want to impose in terms of channels and such?

What's your commission strategy going to be?

Are you going to offer tiered or flat promotions?

What’s going to be your cookie duration? 30 days or more?

Give a shout out to affiliate marketers

There are a few ways you can let affiliate marketers know about your offers:

  • Provide a link in your website
  • Email a link to your affiliate program page to your database of influencers
  • Join one of the big marketing networks, like CJ or Shareasale as an advertiser.

Best eCommerce affiliate platforms & SaaS solutions for affiliates (with Alexa ranking, Nov 2020)

  • (1 567)
  • Shareasale (1 957)
  • Refersion (3 985)
  • Flexoffers (4 452)
  • Viglink (5 518)
  • Tapfiliate (7 370)
  • Awin (7 957)
  • PostAffiliatePro (10 000)
  • Affiliatly (12 788)
  • LeadDyno (14 344)
Best eCommerce affiliate platforms & SaaS solutions for affiliates


Amidst all the diversity of marketing techniques and methods, affiliate marketing has rightfully occupied a notable spot among industry winners in terms of ROI.

As the entrance threshold for this marketing is fairly low and not much time is needed to start seeing the results (unlike with SEO, for example), many etailers opt to give it a try and get totally addicted to all the hot traffic.
Are you looking to beef up your marketing channel mix by developing a custom affiliate marketing solution or integrating one of the existing SaaS solutions into your site? Zoolatech is delighted to assist! Drop a line to contact our knowledgeable team for a free consultation!

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