You might be wondering: “Why start an affiliate program for my store?”
Affiliate programs are a great way to increase your sales. They can also extend your store’s marketing reach without having to employ sales people or invest in expensive marketing programs (like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or other paid acquisition channels); after all, you only pay your affiliates when they do their job and help you sell something.
But you probably already know all that and are looking for tips on how to grow your store’s affiliate program.
Well, we’re glad you’re here, because today we’ll be talking about using coupons to grow your affiliate program and how they can fit into your marketing strategy. Keep in mind: having a successful affiliate program can help grow your entire store’s revenue and marketing reach, so you have good reason to explore this online sales tactic.
Before we jump into the main topic, however, it’s important to discuss a special tool that can greatly help you with your affiliate program needs…
Best Affiliate Program Tool To Use For WooCommerce Stores
This article will offer general information for store owners running any kind of store software. But since we’re WooCommerce extension developers, there’s one thing we’d like to say specifically to WooCommerce store owners before we start today’s topic.
Prior to growing your affiliate program, you have to set up an affiliate program for your WooCommerce store. And to do that, you need an excellent affiliate program tool.
Among the best on-site tools for running your own affiliate program on your store is AffiliateWP.
AffiliateWP is a plugin that works alongside WooCommerce and adds the features and tracking necessary to run an affiliate program.
The reason we recommend this particular plugin is because we use it ourselves in our affiliate program and are impressed with how it operates. We found the setup to be straightforward and mostly automated. In fact, it can let you have an affiliate program ready to accept sign-ups within minutes.
For the rest of this article, we’re going to assume you already have your affiliate program set up and running (regardless of whether you’re using WooCommerce or not).
Creating A Coupon Strategy For Your Store’s Affiliate Program
Having a coupon marketing strategy is a great way to grow your store as well as your affiliate program.
When it comes to creating a basic coupon strategy for growing your store’s affiliate program, there are three steps we want to cover. These are:
These three steps will illuminate some of the
Step 1: Identify Your Top Producers In Your Affiliate Program
If you aren’t aware of the 80/20 rule (or Pareto’s principle), which states that 80% of outputs come from 20% of inputs, you should probably brush up on it. This is because this rule affects affiliate programs, too.
In short: 80% of the affiliate sales volume will come from 20% of your affiliates in your affiliate program. Often, the ratio is skewed even further. It’s more likely to be 95% of the sales volume from 5% of the affiliates.
Simply being aware of this ratio gives you some business leverage. You probably don’t want to waste your time giving hands-on attention to affiliates who aren’t going to sell products, right? By being aware of the 80/20 ratio, you’ll know that certain affiliates in your affiliate program are best described as the “top producers.” These are the affiliates who give you the most value.
It’s your job as the affiliate program manager to identify your top producers and work more closely with them to optimize their sales even further. This is what we refer to as chasing after the “low-hanging fruit.”
These top producers will likely be willing participants because they’re already making money from you and will be eager to make more, especially if you’re going out of your way to help them.
Additionally, by focusing on these top producers, you aren’t going to be wasting your time talking to the wrong people.
- If you already have some affiliates, work on building a better relationship with the ones who are already delivering the most sales (the 80/20 rule in action).
- The “top producers” are the best candidates for doing special deals, joint ventures, first access deals, etc. It’s your shortlist of people who need special treatment.
What should you do for your top producers?
Top producers in your affiliate program are the ones you should give the 5-star royal treatment.
They should be the primary targets for your first access deals, exclusive discounts, standing offers, joint ventures, and any other special initiatives you want to run with your affiliate partners (more on choosing which approach to take in Step 3).
These people are the low hanging fruit for improving your affiliate program results.
Find and contact the top 20% (or whatever the top percentage ends up being). Then, simply ask them if they’re open to working on some special initiatives together.
To start with, you can probably approach them in bulk with a templated email. Take note, however, that these folks will most likely appreciate special treatment. Therefore, don’t make them the same offer you offer everyone else.
In step 3, we’ll go over what kind of special treatment you can give in more detail. But first, let’s pour some fuel on the fire.
Step 2: Recruit More Top Producers
Now that you know who your top producers are, you need to profile them and get more just like them.
Once you’ve had your affiliate program for a while, you’ll start getting weekly or daily emails from people looking for special treatment.
It’s a nice feeling knowing that you have people coming into your program. But how do you sort the wheat from the chaff?
And while you’re at it, can you be proactive and actually seek out the right kinds of affiliates? After all, you want to ensure you’re only working closely with the ones that have the potential to be top producers, right?
The key is being selective by employing a “fitness criteria”.
Applying A Fitness Criteria
Before you approach (or respond to) any potential affiliate, make sure they pass your “fitness criteria” checklist. This is a way for you to ensure they:
- Are legitimate business people
- Are a good fit for your extra attention
- Have potential for big sales numbers
Check their social profiles. A blogger, for example, should have a following of more than 1,000-5,000 people on most of the platforms they’re promoting themselves on. If they’re actually a big name, you should expect social profile numbers exceeding 10k on each platform.
These numbers are a vanity metric, true. However, they give you a rough idea of a possible affiliate’s potential reach. For example, if an influencer has 50k Facebook followers, their email list likely has around 20-30k contacts. That’s a good amount of people that they could reach to tell about your products.
Check their website for professionalism. It should be professionally designed, have clear funnels and active contributions from visitors like in the comment sections.
One other thing we like to do is check their LinkedIn profile. This will give you a signal of their legitimacy. Fly-by-nighters who aren’t serious won’t have anything business-related on their LinkedIn.
Serious online marketers have a LinkedIn page, Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram account, etc. Even if they aren’t using these for promotions, they usually still have a basic profile with info on it. What you’re really looking for is a level of seriousness that comes from someone who knows what they’re doing.
Lastly, we also like to make sure that the people we’re going to work with closely are also working closely with other affiliate programs.
If you can find evidence of these people doing specific deals with other affiliate programs, it’s a good bet that they’re open to working closely with you. Another excellent sign is that they have special pages honoring other companies’ products as well as links to said products via their affiliate program. Such people are extremely likely to be willing to collaborate with you.
Finding New Affiliates That Fit The Criteria
If you’ve only just set up your affiliate program and don’t have many top producers yet, then you need to find people that fit the criteria.
Newsflash: It’s unlikely that big affiliates are going to come to you and land on your lap, so you need to be proactive about approaching people.
Like with any marketing, it’s all about getting out there and making connections.
Firstly, we suggest you create a dream list of bloggers, online celebrities, or social media influencers whom you’d love promoting your products.
Then, create another list of “second level people” or the “associates” of the big leaguers. These people might not be as huge or have the same reach as the major names, but they should be in the same space.
Why is going for the lesser-known people first best? Because the big ones will eventually pay attention to you if you have some people on board that they already know.
For example, Jill might be the biggest influencer in your niche, but getting her attention is hard.
Jane has a smaller audience, maybe only 1/10th of the size of Jill’s, but it’s more than enough to promote a unique deal to. Not to mention she’s actively looking for opportunities to grow bigger and will be easier to get on board with.
Find enough Janes and you might not need a Jill. Or find enough Janes and do enough joint promotions, and if Jill really is as good as she is, she’ll become aware of you, which will make the final approach to landing this big whale of an affiliate much easier.
Next, filter all of these people by applying your fitness criteria. You can take the same criteria we mentioned above for your existing top producers, then just apply it to this list of people as a screening tool. Ask yourself the following:
- How many social followers do they have?
- Do they look professional?
- How big do you estimate their email list to be?
- Is there evidence of other affiliate marketing programs on their site? (This is a good indicator they are familiar with affiliate programs and are open to them)
Sort these people by fittest and easiest to target, then start contacting them. Directly emailing them, explaining what you do, and inviting them to try some of your products is a great way to break the ice.
Remember: developing a relationship takes time, but you can start today.
Step 3: Choose Your Approach
Plenty of coupon/deal types are great for use with your affiliates in your affiliate program. Here are the top 4 we recommend:
Joint ventures are a great way to build trust with your affiliates. They involve affiliates also having something to sell.
You can do them in one or a combination of three main ways:
- Jointly promote each other’s products
- Create a product together
- Create a product bundle together
The point is to do something together that leverages both parties’ audiences.
A standing discount is a non-expiring offer that your affiliate can make to their audience.
For example, a 10% discount on all products using the code UNIQUECODE10
This works well when the affiliate
The standing discount could appear on their website’s “recommended,” or it could be something they often mention in their content.
We like this strategy because it’s long term. It gives you long-term access to that person’s audience and lets you give a great standing offer to their audience so they know that you’re legit. More often than not, it also leads to multiple links back to your site over time which is great for SEO.
We recommend providing unique coupons or deals to each affiliate. This ensures they always have something different to promote to their audience, which in turn helps you stand out amongst the competition.
Exclusive Audience Deals
In some ways, this is like a more temporary standing discount. An exclusive audience deal could be something you want to promote to that affiliate’s audience only as a temporary arrangement.
It might be a special hidden discount on one of your top “entry” products, which could gets tons of people in the door whom you can sell to again later. Alternatively, it might be some special product bundle that you can only get via that person’s coupon code.
You can even do things like free shipping deals or anything that makes a promotion unique and stand out from the rest.
With exclusive audience deals, you’re more likely to get the affiliate to email their list and shout it out on social media, giving you additional coverage.
First Access Deals
This is similar to exclusive deals, but specifically for new products.
Do you have a big affiliate that can move tons of volume for you? Consider doing a unique launch special just with that person’s audience. You could be looking at huge numbers of sales to kickstart your launch.
First access deals are great for giving affiliates a reason to promote the heck out of you, too. There’s no better time to get a big boost in affiliate commissions than a launch window.
Conclusion: Growing Your Affiliate Program
Growing an affiliate program can be an incredibly rewarding experience from a marketing perspective and the amount of amazing connections you’ll make in your industry.
The more you get known, the better off your affiliate program (and your store) will be.
So, to sum up, to grow an effective affiliate program for your store you need to:
- Start your affiliate program
- Identify your top producers (and double down on helping them)
- Find new top producers
- Choose your approach (note, this could/should vary per affiliate)
- Rinse and repeat
Do you have any questions about how to grow your affiliate program? Let us know in the comments section below!