New and seasoned Shopify store owners are always looking for ways to make their search for new customers cheaper and more efficient. But with consumers seeking deeper connections and authentic interactions with brands, Shopify store owners are instead forced to dedicate more time and resources to their marketing efforts. One way to optimize your marketing is through affiliate and influencer partnerships.
Check out our new ebook How affiliate and influencer partnerships help brands scale and succeed on Shopify which covers the ways in which partnerships can help your online business become more efficient while bringing more revenue.
In this blog post, we’ll walkthrough
- How affiliate and influencer marketing works in eCommerce
- How to know when it’s time to launch an affiliate or influence program for your brand
- How to seamlessly integrate a partnership app into your Shopify store
- How Shopify brands used impact.com x Shopify integration to grow their revenue
Why partnerships can boost your business on Shopify
Ecommerce has surged over the past few years, with Shopify, an eCommerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale, powering a significant portion of the brands flourishing during this time.
Why is Shopify so vital? Shopify makes it easy for customers to shop for the brands they love.
What’s not so easy? Getting customers to find your brand in the first place.
That’s where partnerships can help.
Wait, what exactly are partnerships?
Partnerships are a collaborative, referral-based relationship between a brand with another brand or individual that is mutually beneficial — and helps both partners in the relationship reach their business objectives.
What’s more, partnerships are a low-risk, high-value, flexible, cost-effective way to get the word out about your business to customers and drive more customers to your store.
This ebook will get you started on building partnerships that work for your brand. Whether your goal is to increase awareness, conversions, or grow your customer base, partnerships are a powerful tool for companies of all sizes, including small- and medium-sized businesses on Shopify.
Myths and misconceptions about partnerships
Businesses that have yet to build affiliate, influencer, or partnerships programs may assume they’re time-intensive, laborious processes reserved for companies with a lot of money and experience.
Partnerships happen when an individual or a business works to promote a second business’s products or services. Partnerships come in all types, including affiliate, influencer, brand-to-brand, and more.
Research shows that 80 percent of brands have affiliate programs. The majority of brands (in one study, 59 percent) have content marketing budgets, and of those brands’ programs, 75 percent want to use some of that money for influencer marketing.
Still, small and medium businesses — and even some large ones — are uncertain about partnering with affiliates, influencers, and other partnership types because they think:
- “We’re too small.”
- “We don’t have the right people.”
- “We don’t even know what partnerships are.”
Ultimately, none of these concerns are barriers to creating a partnerships program. If you have the tech know-how to use Shopify, you’re ready to launch a partnerships program using Shopify x impact.com.
1.You’re not too small
If you’re big enough to do marketing, you’re big enough to have affiliate or influencer partnerships. Why? Because a brand’s marketing may build brand awareness, which is very important, but it does not necessarily build trust. A survey conducted by Matter Communications in 2020 showed that only 38 percent of consumers polled were likely to trust recommendations from a brand, while 61 percent were likely to trust recommendations from a “friend, family member, or influencer on social platforms.” If you’re not yet performing marketing activities, you may be at the stage of building brand awareness. This important step can help your potential partners succeed later.
If you’re already marketing and want to move into partnerships, the Shopify app can help you seamlessly integrate with the impact.com platform and gain access to added benefits. At about 16:1, return on ad spend (ROAS) is even better for Shopify merchants that use impact.com.
Not bad when you’re small or want to use your dollars wisely.
2. You already have the right people to make partnerships work
When you have the right partnerships management platform, you don’t need to worry about growing your headcount to make partnerships work for you. With the Shopify x impact.com integration, you can confidently take on the challenge and start launching partnerships with publishers, content creators, affiliates, influencers, and others. You’ll be creating relationships with experts who know their audiences and have a trusted place in their lives. The brilliance of partnerships is that the partners you choose have already done the work of authentically building relationships with their followers — and your business will benefit.
Because impact.com automates so much of the process, you won’t need an entire village to manage and scale your program to hundreds of partners. The process and platform are flexible, and with impact.com’s support and the vast amounts of information available, you can tailor your program to suit your business and its needs.
3.What partnerships are — easy to understand
Partnerships are created when individuals or businesses agree to work with another business to promote the second business’s products or services.
When you set out to develop partnerships, you’re in the process of discovering and recruiting individuals and businesses to sell to your target customer. Your goals may range from bringing in new customers and growing your revenue stream to increasing the frequency of repeat customers, growing your mailing list, or making sales.
Many types of partnerships exist, depending on the kind of business you run, and your goals, budget, and ideal customer.
You want to grow your business — where do you start?
Now that you know what partnerships are, it’s time to think about how to build your partnerships program.
Historically, marketing pros have leveraged traditional tactics such as paid advertising, search engine ads, pop-up ads, or even newspaper or radio ads to grow their business and find new customers. However, consumers are not as responsive to traditional marketing as they once were. In fact, 84 percent of Millennials don’t even trust advertising.
Luckily there is a much better solution to growing your business, no matter the size — with partnerships.
Get started: Click on the impact.com app in the Shopify app store
The first step to building a powerful partnerships program is to integrate impact.com into your Shopify store through our app.
Here’s a quick walk-through of how to integrate impact.com into your Shopify experience:
- Find the impact.com app in the Shopify app store by typing “impact” into the search bar. Or click here to go directly to the app store: https://apps.shopify.com/impact-1
2. Click the “Add app” button.
3. Log in to your Shopify store.
4. Click the “Install app” button in the bottom right corner.
5. After the impact.com app has been installed, existing customers will be directed to enter their impact.com credentials. New customers will be directed to a demo request form.
Understanding affiliate and influencer partnerships
You may want to explore affiliate and influencer partnerships first.
Affiliate programs are arrangements where a brand pays an affiliate (also called partners or publishers) a fee for generating clicks or sales from affiliate links. These programs are also known as partner programs and referral programs.
When an affiliate joins a brand’s affiliate program, the brand assigns unique tracking links, which the affiliate can fetch from its partner portal. The affiliate then uses these links on its website, social media posts, emails, and other places it promotes the brand. The affiliate receives a commission from the brand for any purchases made through the affiliate links. It’s a lot to manage, but the impact.com platform automates this activity.
Affiliate partnerships come with a range of partners
Affiliate marketing is a strategy used both in business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) campaigns, with more than 80 percent of brands using affiliate programs to promote their products.
For brands, affiliate marketing can deliver 30 percent or more of total revenue, with an impressive average return on investment (ROI) of $15 for every dollar spent.
Affiliate’s top categories show the diversity of businesses that can benefit from this type of partnership.
Influencer partnerships occur when brands collaborate with influencers. Influencers help drive brand awareness and purchasing decisions through product placement and endorsements on social media.
An influencer becomes a true partner when a brand forges a long-term, always-on relationship with them. Using an influencer for a one-off influencer marketing campaign is not a partnership. It becomes more of a true influencer partnership when the relationship deepens into something more evergreen.
How to create an affiliate/influencer program
The Shopify x impact.com integration makes partnership programs simple. The integration allows Shopify merchants to integrate with impact.com in just minutes, so you can quickly launch and automate your affiliate and influencer partnerships programs without developer involvement.
By integrating with impact.com as a brand on Shopify, you can discover and recruit new affiliate and influencer partners, automate contracts and payments based on the terms you set, and track performance — all in one place.
Ultimately, automating partnerships with the Shopify x impact.com integration allows Shopify merchants to unlock more revenue potential and acquire new customers as their partners promote their products and services.
Setting goals and measures of success for your partnerships program
The first step to success in partnerships is ensuring your partnerships program supports your overall business goals, which will make the program valuable no matter the size of your business.
Partnerships are the most cost-effective method of reaching audiences, with the fewest limits on what goals you can set and achieve. You have room to be flexible with what you create and what you pay.
Common goals include:
- Increasing revenue
- Increasing new customers
- Expanding customer email lists
- Improving profit margin
- Increasing website traffic
Once you decide which of these goals you’d like to focus on first, you can move on to how you’ll measure success.
Measures of success for partnerships
Measures of success (often called key performance indicators or KPIs) are tied to the goals you want to achieve. Common KPIs include:
- New customer numbers
- Conversion rate or how many browsers become customers
- Average order size (AOS) or average order value (AOV)
- Percent of returning customers
- Number of sale-producing publishers and creators, or number of affiliates producing sales for you
- Margin percent on your average order
With impact.com, it’s possible to track metrics that allow you to follow each partner and measure whether they’re meeting their goals.
Once you know what success looks like and how you’ll measure it, it’s time to start your partnerships program.
Setting your partnerships budget
Because you’re only paying for actions that generate revenue, the concept of setting a budget doesn’t necessarily apply to partnerships. However, the reality is that finance teams need budgets. Ideally, you and finance would work together to approach the task.
Aim for a budget that’s as flexible as possible so you can increase your investment in partners that deliver value. You may not be accustomed to the flexibility that a partnership budget allows — but you might quickly get used to it when your returns increase.
Budget planning for partnerships is flexible and individualized
Consider the following as you plan your partnership budget:
- The affiliate channel operates on a fixed cost-per-action (CPA) model, so your budget “asks” will naturally grow as demand and affiliate promotion grows for your product.
- Assuming your growth is incremental, there may be little formal budget planning ahead of time.
- If a significant publication frequently covers your brand and you’re generating substantial sales from its website, consider directly reaching out to develop a connection. Seek other ways to collaborate on commerce content opportunities.
- The best course of action is to test your spend on partners that experience significant growth.
- If a partner is not delivering value as expected, weigh your options. Do you need to increase the commission rate to encourage the partner to produce more traffic? Do you accept the situation and simply spend less time focusing on more valuable partners? Talk to your partner to promote an open and transparent relationship. If you‘re expecting more value, ask why you’re not seeing it.
- Consider establishing a test budget to try out different incentives and commissions when working with influencers.
- To optimize future spending, examine the previous month’s influencer channel performance. Take into account seasonality and content needs for the upcoming month.
Managing the partnership life cycle
Successful partnership creation and management occur through a framework covering all the activities used to create, measure, deepen, and optimize a business’s relationship with its partners. This optimized framework is known as the partnership life cycle. Since it applies across all partnerships, there’s no need to treat every partnership as a unique entity to be individually handled.
Below we’ll briefly review each step of the partnership life cycle to clarify the framework you set out to create your partnerships program. (Need in-depth guidance on each stage of partnership life cycle management? Check out impact.com’s resources with an ebook dedicated to each stage, including how-to’s and case studies: https://impact.com/ebooks.)
Three Shopify businesses that created successful partnerships programs
Understanding how everything fits together for actual businesses will help you find your path forward. Take a look at Vincero, Ivory Ella, and Corkcicle, three businesses that use impact.com to create partnerships programs tailored to their specific needs and goals and get inspired for your own company’s partnership possibilities.
Vincero is a luxury watchmaker. The brand recently expanded its line to other accessories, including belts, sunglasses, and wallets. As its product line expanded, the company knew the keys to expanded business growth lay in:
- Broadening its overall partnerships program
- Bolstering its partner base with new content partners
Vincero realized that recruiting new content partners would be difficult to execute manually. The company needed a way to automate the partner onboarding and management process to focus on growing its partnerships revenue, and thus its business.
Vincero realized its target audience would be more easily reachable through specific types of bloggers and influencers. Using the impact.com platform and a direct sign-up link for its existing partner relationships, Vincero identified the content partners that best represented its target audience and quickly onboarded them onto the impact.com platform. Customizing its contracts is what made the process a seamless experience for Vincero. In addition to discovering and onboarding new content partners, Vincero created unique, one-to-one contracts with each new partner.
The ability to diversify its partnerships allowed Vincero to achieve and go well beyond its goal of establishing partnerships with creative partners to increase its revenue.
In particular, Vincero:
- Drove a 290 percent improvement in monthly conversions
- Grew content partner ROAS 332 percent by recruiting new content partners using the impact.com platform
- Increased content partner revenue by 1,058 percent over nine months
“We’re beyond thrilled with the growth of our partner program. . . . We’ve exceeded our revenue goals and done it more efficiently than we could have hoped for.” —Ryan Duranso, Cofounder, Ivory Ella
About Ivory Ella
Ivory Ella offers high-quality apparel and gear and makes people feel good. In other words, good clothes for a good cause. All in the name of elephants.
Ivory Ella wanted to launch and grow a brand new partnerships program. The company was excited about the channel’s ability to reach untapped markets and encouraged by the low barriers to entry for starting a partnerships program.
The brand’s program goals were to tap into new audiences, leverage its existing social influencers more efficiently, and create relationships with other strong partners in time for the fourth quarter of its first year on the impact.com platform.
Using the impact.com platform’s robust promo code tracking, the company could rapidly scale, easily tracking and attributing sales to each partner even if a partner didn’t use tracking links.
Ivory Ella also began grouping its partners into segments to take advantage of the unique way each segment added value to the partnerships program as a whole.
By the end of its first full year on the impact.com platform, Ivory Ella saw:
- 11 percent of its total revenue coming through the partnerships channel
- 19 times ROAS
- After setting a solid baseline in the first year, the company focused on its Q4 revenue, increasing year over year (YoY) Q4 revenue by 55 percent and generating 17 percent of all revenue through the partnerships program
“The affiliate channel has become a fundamental part of Corkcicle’s marketing portfolio. It’s the perfect complement to our other digital marketing efforts as it has expanded the prospecting reach while also driving people down the funnel.” —Amanda Nelson, Vice President of eCommerce, Corkcicle
Corkcicle is a lifestyle and consumer brand focused on hydration that leverages ecommerce platform Shopify to manage its online store. Although initially hesitant about starting an affiliate program for fear of attracting low-quality customers, Corkcicle decided to pursue the affiliate channel to help drive traffic and fuel revenue growth.
After launching its partnerships program, Corkcicle realized its customer acquisition and affiliate performance was hindered by a modest partner network with scant content partnerships opportunities.
Corkcicle’s partnerships team knew there was much more affiliate revenue potential out there, so it sought to optimize its affiliate program by diversifying channel revenue share and expanding its customer base.
Using impact.com’s partner discovery tool, Corkcicle forged partnerships with premium publishing houses. It also generated placement opportunities in gift guides for seasonal and holiday occasions.
Corkcicle leveraged impact.com’s reporting in a variety of ways, including:
- Identifying its highest-performing partners
- Demonstrating how these partners contributed to conversions across channels
- Using partner insights to further hone its strategy
Key outcomes included:
- Revenue earned by the affiliate channel grew 178 percent quarter over quarter (QoQ) by the close of Q1 2021
- From the beginning of Corkcicle’s agency WITHIN’s management in January through Q1 2021, the affiliate channel doubled its share of total business revenue — up to 10 percent of total business revenue
Find out how you can power your affiliate and influencer partnerships with the impact.com x Shopify integration.
With the integration, you can find new partners, track their efforts, and reward them for driving sales to your Shopify store. Request a demo today.