Affiliate Marketing

How to Create an Ecommerce Affiliate Marketing Strategy From Scratch

How to Create an Ecommerce Affiliate Marketing Strategy From Scratch

Learn how to create a successful eCommerce affiliate marketing strategy for your online business. 

In our previous posts, we discussed what affiliate marketing is and its different types. Being aware of the textbook definitions isn’t enough to run a successful affiliate marketing campaign. 

You need a properly planned strategy in place. Most brands cannot optimize affiliate marketing because their lack of strategizing leads them to drown in competition. Getting started without knowing which way to go is likely to end in disaster. 

On the other hand, if your eCommerce affiliate marketing strategy has finesse, it would not only streamline the process but also paint a good image of your company to your affiliates. 

In this blog, we will discuss every intricacy of an affiliate strategy and help you create one for maximum returns. 

What is an eCommerce affiliate marketing strategy? 

An eCommerce affiliate marketing strategy acts like a laid-out plan or documentation of the process a brand will follow to work with brand advocates and the relationship between them. Affiliate marketing is the process of earning money by promoting a brand’s product and services. The strategy gives it a more quantifiable image. Ecommerce affiliate marketing simply adds the ‘online’ element to affiliate marketing.

For example, let’s look at affiliates’ earnings. Each time a consumer purchases a product based on an affiliate’s recommendation, they get a commission. Now, if you have a well-researched strategy in place, you will gauge which platform or affiliate fits your budget and will deliver the best possible results. 

Why should you have a strategy?

The merit of affiliate marketing is beyond doubt. However, there are multiple roadblocks you may face when you start affiliate marketing. To minimize any unforeseen hindrance and streamline the entire process, your business needs a well-planned strategy. 

Here are some ways a proper eCommerce affiliate marketing strategy can help you:

1. Helps manage different affiliates better

Affiliate marketing involves many aspects. You need to identify fitting affiliates, negotiate with them, choose the right platform, manage payouts, and much more. Be it influencers or blog sites, each type of affiliate is different and needs tailored arrangements.

Having an effective strategy entails that you have done your research and have a necessary course of action prepared for every different approach. It helps you keep each arrangement well documented, which eliminates the chances of miscommunication. 

2. Helps manage affiliate collaterals better 

Through marketing collateral, you can set a clear narrative, one that does not get diluted or lost when interpreted by different people. You can also have your brand story be more understandable and digestible to people who would otherwise not understand what you’re trying to achieve.

Having a proper strategy lays out a clear image of the collaterals. That way, your affiliates know what they get from you and vice versa. With a coherent understanding, your partnership will go smoothly and give you the best possible results. 

3. Helps manage payouts better

A proper eCommerce affiliate marketing strategy helps you plan your budget early on. This way, you know how much money you can spare for each affiliate program. It also helps you narrow down prospective affiliates by prioritizing those who give you better returns.

With an affiliate marketing strategy, you don’t overspend and direct your resources appropriately. It also sets up a proper payout channel and avoids confusion. 

4. Helps keep everyone on the same page

With a logical strategy in place, each involved party knows what the next step would be. From team members to different departments, everyone remains in the know-how of the program’s functions and where it is heading. This eliminates the chances of interdepartmental miscommunication and makes the process quicker and smoother. 

5. Acts as a legal document

Your eCommerce affiliate marketing strategy lays out all the intricacies that both parties should know. You can define your company policies for the affiliates to refer to and they partner with you only after they are well-acquainted with all the prerequisites. This avoids any last-minute hassle and makes the collaboration smoother. 

6. Helps keep things streamlined

Although affiliate marketing works, not every program is bound to work for every brand. Without a strategy, we try to optimize every option, and our efforts become scattered. Making a strategy demands thorough groundwork, which, in turn, gives you the reality check to choose affiliates that align with your brand’s goals and objectives. A well-mapped-out plan helps you focus your efforts on affiliates that would work. 

How to create an ecommerce affiliate marketing strategy? 

Here is a detailed step-by-step process of how you can create an eCommerce affiliate strategy:

1. Define your target audience

There is a very rare chance of your product appealing to most of the market. Trying to promote your services to someone who doesn’t need them is just a waste of time and resources. There’s always a specific end-user for whom your affiliate offer is best suited. That’s the audience you need to keep in mind when you start affiliate marketing. 

While defining your target market, the ideal place to start is to create a customer profile. Looking at your customer base and finding patterns will help you understand how they and your potential leads think, behave, and choose products. You also need to pay attention to critical customer demographics like age, gender, geographical location, income level, etc. You can also use social media analytics to gain insight into your current followers’ psychographics.

Every customer base faces different issues.

To make your affiliate promotions successful, you need to have a solution-based approach toward your target customers’ specific issues or pain points. Once you know the problems they face, you can tailor an effective strategy for eCommerce affiliate marketing with optimum results.

2. Define your goals and objectives

To create an effective eCommerce affiliate marketing strategy, the first question you should ask yourself is: “what do you aspire to achieve through this campaign?” Essentially, this is the ultimate goal your marketing team is working to accomplish by the end of an upcoming period.

A goal is an achievable outcome. On the other hand, an objective defines the specific and measurable actions each team employee must take to achieve the overall goal. Simply put, goals provide direction, whereas objectives measure how you should follow that direction. 

If you’re setting a short-term goal, you might consider the next quarter. A mid-range goal might account for the next year and a stretch goal for five years from now. Clearly defining the KPIs will help you align your goals with your marketing strategy and have a comprehensive image of your affiliate marketing strategy’s expected progress. 

3. Choose the ideal program for affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing gives you a bunch of options to choose from. But not every program will suit well with your business model. You need to define your affiliate strategy and choose a platform that aligns the best with your business objectives. Having a well-thought-out list of prerequisites is a necessity to choose the best path for yourself. These can help you decide whether a blog site, publication site or influencer marketing will be the best path to go. 

Affiliate agencies offer guidance on making your offer and commission structure attractive to prospective partners. They can also help you negotiate better deals with affiliates through their existing relationships. 

Niche blog sites make your affiliate marketing seem solution-oriented and subtly push your audience to buy your products and services. Using already established blog sites is a good way to start your affiliate marketing. However, you need to choose one that aligns with your brand image. For example, if you sell beauty products and cosmetics, a beauty and wellness blog site would be a good way to go. 

Influencers are the talk of the town right now, and with their significant follower base, they can prove to be an excellent affiliate marketing resource for your brand. 

4. Identify products you want to promote via affiliates

Reports state that 76% of new affiliate marketers cannot earn money from affiliate marketing simply because they do not choose the right product to promote. To make your affiliate marketing strategy successful, you need to choose and promote the right products. 

A site-wide affiliate marketing may not bring the best results. Your popular products may not need the push of affiliate marketing and would be a waste of your marketing resources. Instead, you can identify hard-to-sell products and promote those through affiliates. This will shine a light on your unpopular collection and bring your business increased ROI.

5. Define your payouts 

Payment methods and commission structures vary with different businesses. Some payouts are pay-per-click and others are pay-per-action, requiring lead information from the affiliate marketing referrer or sales. 

Only affiliate marketers who have high-traffic websites use pay-per-click. It requires the reader to click on links to bring him to your page. The upside to this is you are simply paying for the traffic that hopefully leads to new customers. As a company, you can refuse to pay the writer if you believe they are clicking the link themselves or through automated techniques that don’t offer new customers.

Another way to deliver payouts is pay-per-action. There are a few methods you can use to do this. The two most popular are via leads and sales. Another pay-per-action type is pay-per-call for resulting appointments for businesses like real estate sales and home improvement contractors. 

6. Define the collaterals

Affiliate collateral means any trademarks, branding, banners and text links a business shares with their audience from time to time as part of their membership in the affiliate program. When prospects decide to buy, their only consideration is not just the “what’s for sale” section of your catalog — they are considering your entire company.

They want to know you are a competent brand that they can rely on to address any issues and concerns they might have from time to time. Creating thoughtful marketing collateral is one way to help that cause.

7. The solution you will use 

From finding suitable affiliates to managing payouts, leading a successful affiliate marketing campaign involves a plethora of aspects. To make the process seamless, you need a Shopify affiliate marketing app that is fast, simple and reliable.

Such affiliate management solutions help in collaborations, provide real-time order tracking, as well as manage payouts with no mishaps. This way, you have more time to take care of the strategic parts of your marketing without worrying about finding suitable partners or any missed payouts. 

8. Your promotion plan 

After getting all the above elements sorted, it’s time to decide exactly how you want to promote each product and how aggressively. Every product and service may require different channels and various promotional intensities. This is the step where you must create a plan for your targeted audience.

By now, you have a fair idea of needs and priorities. This information will help you choose a promotion plan that would be safe and well-suited for your business.


Jumping on the bandwagon just because affiliate marketing is in the spotlight is not wise. You need to consider your industry and your competitors before deciding on a plan. 

A strategy must include tracking each step and should be flexible enough to align itself according to changing business needs. That’s where Enlistly can help you. 

It is a fast and reliable platform that will set up an affiliate program for your business in less than two minutes. It is super easy to use — you don’t have to add tracking scripts manually and thus don’t need to know how to write code or edit template files. After installing, both you and your affiliates, will have access to the dashboard tracking and showing referral orders automatically. 

For hassle-free, streamlined and effective management of your eCommerce affiliate marketing strategy, choose Enlistly today.