ecommerce businesses need affiliate marketing

Marketing your ecommerce business involves testing, optimizing, and ensuring your brand message attracts customers to act, all while being ROI-positive.

If only there was a marketing tactic that allowed you to pay for marketing dollars, after the sale occurred. Enter affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is the process of partnering with other websites to promote your products for you. You simply enter an affiliate relationship with a site, track links from their site to yours, and pay a commission after someone purchases a product from their link.

  • By 2020, U.S. affiliate marketing spend is expected to rise to $6.8 billion.
  • 81% of brands include affiliate marketing as part of their brand growth strategy.
  • 16% of all online orders are generated through affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is growing into one of the most effective ways for ecommerce businesses to reach new customers, with 90% of companies stating affiliate marketing programs have become an integral part of their commercial success. Affiliate marketing has the power to increase your ecommerce revenue, so here are 7 reasons why it’s vital to success.


1. Enjoy a Strong ROI

16% of ecommerce orders are generated through affiliate marketing, and customers spend more money when making a purchase off an affiliate’s recommendation compared to discovering the product on their own. CJ Affiliate’s Affiliate Customer Insights detail the value of this marketing method.

  • Orders from affiliate referrals are 31% higher per customer order average.
  • Affiliate referral customers offer a 21% higher average order value (AOV).
  • Customers acquired through an affiliate referral have a 58% higher average customer revenue.

Since you’re only paying after the sale and you set your commission rates, you control your affiliate marketing ROI. Your commission rates will be highly dependent on the vertical you’re selling in and your competition. For example, if you’re selling headphones, a standard commission rate may be 3%, while if you’re selling camping gear, you could be at 8%. The market and competition dictate these rates. You can use an affiliate marketing program to search for competitors and view their commission rates. Even at a 10% commission rate, your affiliate marketing ROI is still 10:1. Affiliate marketing offers a strong ROI which you can control.


2. Track Every Metric

Most affiliate marketing programs offer real-time tracking, which lets you know exactly when a link is clicked and a visitor goes to your site and makes a purchase. You can view data like impressions, clicks, sales, revenue, cost, and more to understand exactly how well your affiliate campaigns are working. By using an affiliate program online not only can you view reporting, but you can connect with affiliate websites, upload creative and promotions they can use, and understand which partners are generating sales. Not only is there a strong ROI, but it’s an extremely trackable marketing tactic for your ecommerce business.


3. Scale and Distribute

With affiliate marketing, you scale your business by increasing your reach faster and more consistently to the widest possible audience on the Internet. Instead of focusing on time-intensive marketing strategies to get more traffic, you leverage the influence of others to build your audience and increase sales.

Here are more tips to increase your reach with affiliate marketing:

  • Don’t rely on any one affiliate for more than 25 percent of your affiliate revenue.
  • Incorporate customer loyalty sites, coupon sites, review sites, CPA networks, and other media sites to diversify your reach.
  • Research which influencers and businesses your competitors are using.
  • Offer a competitive commission (after factoring in product margin and cost of goods sold) so influencers and personal brands are more willing to form a partnership.


4. Match your Paid Promotions

Affiliate marketing for ecommerce sites can be launched in tandem with other paid promotions such as Facebook and Google advertising campaigns. Ahead of a promotional period like Black Friday, you can match any affiliate links and banner ads so that they’re consistent with your other marketing channels.

A banner on an affiliate’s site should match the look and feel of your Google Display Network banner ads and Facebook ads so that you have a consistent brand message across the web. All of your ecommerce marketing tactics should work together harmoniously, and affiliate marketing is a puzzle piece that fits nicely.


5. Provide Social Proof

Social proof is how brands convince customers they’re making the right buying decision. By providing proof that others have made the same investment and are happy with the outcome, brands ease the worry of consumers.

  • A social media post or blog has influenced 60% of consumers.
  • Before making a purchase, roughly 95% of shoppers read online reviews.
  • The buying decision of 70% of millennial consumers is influenced by a peer’s recommendation.


6. Pay After the Sale

Did I mention this yet? You only pay marketing dollars after the sale takes place. This form of performance marketing is much safer than pumping thousands into PPC campaigns or other digital tactics. If an affiliate partner is not sending you strong leads that convert to paying customers, you simply don’t pay for their services. This incentivizes your affiliate partners to work with you to promote your best products and landing pages to create a mutually beneficial relationship.


7. Enjoy SEO Benefits

Affiliate marketing opens the door to connect with a ton of successful bloggers, high-traffic media sites, and other valuable influencers. Contacting these affiliates and providing value – whether that’s free products to try, high commissions, etc. – you can increase your reach and enjoy additional SEO benefits with a few easy tactics.

After developing a rapport with affiliate partners, you can participate in link building strategies, contribute guest posts to their blogs, and perform other SEO tactics to increase your backlink profile and organic rankings. High search rankings and free organic traffic to your ecommerce site comes from building authority in your niche, which in turn comes from real relationships. By leveraging your affiliate relationships, you can enjoy SEO benefits and increase site traffic.



Online shoppers spent $453 billion online in 2017, and if you want your ecommerce business to be a part of that growing number, affiliate marketing could be a piece of the puzzle. Affiliate marketing allows you to enjoy a strong ROI, track revenue sources, build credibility, and get your brand in front of new customers you wouldn’t have otherwise reached. With affiliates continuing to pull in more revenue for ecommerce businesses, affiliate marketing will help you meet the demands of the savvy online consumer.


About the Author: Adam Enfroy is a writer, content marketing consultant, and manages strategic partnerships for BigCommerce. With 10+ years of digital marketing experience, he’s passionate about leveraging the right strategic partnerships, content, and software to scale digital growth. Adam lives in Austin, TX and writes about scaling your content and affiliate marketing on his blog. You can connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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