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Affiliate Marketing Strategies for Shopify Plus Merchants

Today on the Swanky blog, we welcome Nick Veneris, Marketing Manager at Refersion, to discuss three must-have affiliate marketing strategies for Shopify Plus merchants. Over to Nick!

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So, you’re a large company with a notable marketing footprint and a sales volume that justifies using Shopify Plus. You’re well established and making good sales numbers each month. So why do you need an affiliate marketing program? And if you already have one, how can you make sure it lives up to its full potential?

Convert dedicated customers into affiliates

How do you go about recruiting affiliates to extend your marketing reach? One huge benefit of affiliate marketing is that it capitalizes on pre-existing networks that you haven’t even made yet. Someone with a large social media following instantly brings that network into your fold when they affiliate with you. This allows you to reach new corners of the market without initial output. You don’t pay anything until a sale has been made!

Take a look through your customer lists and find the ones with the most enthusiastic reviews, the most re-orders, or the best refer-a-friend records. In fact, you can easily sift out your top candidates by launching a VIP program to find the best prospects.

Next, dig deeper into the marketing potential of those VIPs. Do they have a substantial social media following and/or the ability to cultivate a larger one? Reach out to these loyal customers and float the idea of an affiliate marketing program. Your best representatives will be the ones who already know and love your products.

Alternatively, you can sign up for a third-party affiliate marketing platform, which will attract potential affiliates through their affiliate marketplace. Be aware, however, that this approach will give you less knowledge of, and control over, who signs up to market your products and services.

Check your KPIs – often

Keeping an eye on your Key Performance Indicators is important to measuring the success of your program. Once you identify the strongest affiliates on your program, you can offer them bonuses or rewards to keep their motivation strong. Likewise, you can offer extra help and resources to those affiliates who are falling just a little behind the game. It’s far more efficient to improve the performance of an existing affiliate than recruit a new one.

The three best KPIs to watch are:

Effective Earnings Per Click (eEPC)

This number is the total revenue per 100 clicks that an affiliate generates. This gives you an at-a-glance idea of how efficiently each affiliate is performing, and takes away the distraction of total sales to get at the heart of the matter: what percentage of clicks is effectively converting, and/or whether each click is generating higher revenue on average.

Take the total net commissions earned and divide it by total clicks to get the average revenue per click. Then multiply by 100 to achieve the total eEPC.

Which of your affiliates is outperforming the rest, and which of them could use a few pointers?

Total affiliate revenue

Giving you the broad picture of overall performance, the total revenues earned per affiliate can help you identify trends of increased or decreased affiliate efficiency. Being able to spot these trends and keep current on them allows you to offer solutions before the valleys dip too low.

Make it part of your weekly routine to update, maintain, and analyze these records, preferably done up in a visual chart or spreadsheet that makes trends easy to see and understand.

Average Order Value (AOV)

Maybe that one affiliate has a great click-through rate and a decent total revenue, but the average order value, or AOV, is lagging behind the rest of your affiliate partners. One simple way to increase total revenues for that affiliate is to offer them resources to upsell the items they are already successful at marketing.

Offering free shipping for a minimum order value, offering upgraded (and higher-priced) items on the sales page, and tantalizing suggestions to finish a set or buy complementary items is a quick way to boost revenue for sales that are already being made.

Run reports and audit your data

It’s not enough just to keep track of the data; you have to double-check it, too. Avoid fraud and inflated numbers by watching for tell-tale signs of a padded success report. Have a clear set of Terms and Conditions to which you require affiliates adhere, and cut loose any affiliates who violate it.

One top fraud activity to watch for is trademark bidding to steal your customers when they’re actually looking for you. By bidding for similar or slightly misspelled search terms, and even copying your logo, businesses that employ this type of scam can damage your company’s reputation. Check for this by Googling yourself and making sure no rogue sites come up instead of yours.

Another activity to ban in your T&C is spam email. This can not only generate a poor opinion of your brand, it can violate federal regulations (such as CAN-SPAM) regarding spam emails, especially if the marketer claims to be representing your company.

Don’t put yourself in the position of having to prove that this rogue affiliate isn’t authorized to do such things. If you suspect that one of your affiliates is doing this, try signing up to their newsletter with a dummy account and seeing what happens to your email address.

This is the worst of the fraud options, but some affiliates may take the dark road and use fake credit cards to generate sales. This means that your company loses the money to the affiliate, with nothing to show for it. Guard against this one by keeping an eye on conversion turnover times. Leads have an average period of time to generate sales, and when you spot an affiliate generating too quick of a turnover, you’ll know to take a closer look.

Compatible with Shopify Plus? Yes!

Refersion offers affiliate marketing software that is fully compatible with Shopify’s ecommerce platform, including Shopify Plus. For a partner who will help you navigate the realm of affiliate marketing with the tools, data, and analytics you need to succeed, look no further than Refersion’s platform.

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