Boost Your Affiliate Marketing Strategy With These 5 Tactics

For an e-commerce business, the real challenge isn’t about having a great product or a well-designed website. It’s about getting noticed in the market. And with the rising costs of customer acquisition from traditional marketing efforts like paid social and paid search, it’s time to consider creating an affiliate marketing program, if you haven’t already.

This blog will take you through the importance of affiliate marketing for your e-commerce store, and 5 strategies you can implement to get the most out of your affiliate marketing strategy.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a marketing strategy where brands and creators, bloggers, or influencers, work together. The affiliate is in charge of spreading brand awareness and advocating for the brand’s products. In turn, they’ll earn a commission for every customer that they refer.

This performance-based marketing strategy is known to be a more affordable alternative to other digital marketing strategies since brands usually only pay commissions to their affiliates at the rates that they set

Modern affiliate vs. legacy affiliate

Traditional affiliate marketing is a performance-based marketing strategy where you partner with bloggers to promote your products. Your affiliate partners are responsible for content marketing, and writing search engine-optimized content to attract new customers. In return for pushing your affiliate product, your publisher affiliates earn a commission for every product that they push. Affiliate sales are tracked through links, and have been a popular way of generating passive income.

While these blog posts can have high conversion rates and can generate organic traffic, the “modern affiliate” is taking over, especially with the rampant rise of TikTok and Instagram. Modern affiliates include influencers and content creators, who advocate for your brand on social media platforms. It also includes your existing customers who tell their friends and family about their experience. This latter is also known as word-of-mouth marketing.

So, when we talk about affiliate marketing at Social Snowball, we’re simply talking about incentivizing your customers and other influencers to advocate for your brand. Similarly to traditional affiliate marketing, your affiliates will earn a commission for every sale they generate using their coupon codes or their unique tracking links.

Affiliate programs vs. Loyalty programs

Another thing that we want to distinguish between is an affiliate program and a loyalty program. Fundamentally, these two programs incentivize different behaviors:

  • An affiliate program incentivizes new customer acquisition
  • A loyalty program incentivizes customer retention

That being said, when we look at examples of affiliate programs that offer store credit as the reward, that is a weird cross between affiliate and loyalty programs. There is clearly a mismatch between the incentives. And you won’t maximize either goal (retention or new customer acquisition).

Here, the brand is rewarding its affiliates for referring a friend by giving them store credit. The benefit of your store credit decreases with the more store credit you give. At a certain point, your existing customers aren’t going to want more “points” or vouchers redeemable only on your website. Then, the incentive diminishes, and you’re losing out on potential new referrals from the same customer.

When you offer cash commissions, this signals to your affiliates that they can refer as many friends as they’d like, without losing out on the quality of their rewards.

Here is an example from Solawave’s affiliate program. Every time a customer makes a referral they earn 20% of the order in cash.

5 Affiliate Marketing Strategy for E-commerce Stores

These strategies will help you tap into new customer segments, and drive more sales while building long-term customer relationships for sustainable growth.

Offer generous CASH commissions

Give your affiliates a generous cash incentive to refer their friends and followers to your brand. The more generous you are with your incentives, the more likely your affiliates will refer new customers to you.

Not sure what incentives you should be giving? Use the cost-per-acquisition of your paid social efforts as a benchmark. That’s how much you should be able to award your affiliates.

Some brands don’t have the cash on hand, and that’s okay. A cheat code is offering gift cards or store credit to their affiliates.

But to run a program, you need a reliable tool with a variety of reward options, plus a seamless payout process. The Social Snowball affiliate network makes the whole experience so easy and smooth, both for you and your affiliates.

Here’s everything that you can set up with Social Snowball:

  • Over 700 reward options, including bank transfer, cash rewards and gift cards to choose from
  • Affiliate cohorts and segmentation
  • Email and SMS notification flows through your favorite ESPs
  • Gamify your affiliate programs with tiering and bonus gifts
  • Influencer and affiliate research

Automatically enroll your customers into your affiliate program

The more frictionless your affiliate registration is, the more sign-ups you’ll get maximizing.

There are two super easy ways you can enroll affiliates on Social Snowball:

Through the thank-you page

Your customers are most excited about their purchase right when they make it. Take advantage of the post-purchase dopamine rush by automatically sharing their affiliate coupon code or link with them.

With Social Snowball, you can automatically do this by toggling the “Turn customers into affiliates” settings.

Then, whenever your customers make a purchase on your website, this is what they’ll see on their thank you page:

Through a sign-up form

Another way to enroll your customers into your affiliate program is by having a sign-up form embedded directly into your website.

Here’s what the sign-up form will look like:

The most important part of this sign-up process is that it automatically enrolls each sign-up as an affiliate, and automatically displays the tracking code or link.

You don’t want to make your affiliates wait to get approved. It should happen automatically so that they can start sharing their link right away when they’re most excited about it.

Send reminders to your affiliates

Email marketing is the first step to creating an impactful affiliate strategy. Once someone purchases from you or signs up through the form, don’t let that be the last communication between them and your brand. You want to regularly remind them of your program and the perks associated with it.

Send gentle reminders to your customers consistently and reignite their interest.

Social Snowball’s built-in email feature automatically sends four emails to your affiliates after purchase—one right after, 24 hours after purchase, 48 hours after purchase, and 120 hours after purchase.

You can integrate Social Snowball into Klaviyo as well, to create customized, on-brand emails that’ll be sent to your affiliate email list.

Here is an example promotional email from Javy Coffee:

Other emails you could send your affiliates include:

  • Success stories from other affiliates. How much money has your top affiliate earned?
  • Teach them how the affiliate program works. When should they expect their payouts?
  • Educate them about your products. What aspects should they highlight when promoting your brand?

Check out more examples of emails you can implement to your flow today by clicking here.

Create marketing materials for your affiliates

This is particularly important if you’re dealing with influencer marketing aimed at promoting your brand to your target audience since they’re most likely to push your brand through their social media posts, like YouTube videos or shorter Reel videos. And although you should probably allow your content creators to use their own judgment on what type of content works with their followers, it can be a good idea to give them some marketing material they can create quality content around. Essentially, you’re teaching them what it means to be an affiliate marketer for your store.

Here are some ways you can create marketing materials:

  • Send them past social media campaigns from other influencers.
  • Share with them your brand values.
  • Highlight your unique selling points.
  • Share editable templates for banner ads.

You can even send them some post ideas they could create to generate brand awareness:

  • Product reviews.
  • Unboxing videos.
  • Before-and-after videos.

A huge bonus if you include these marketing materials in your email flows.

Pay your affiliates out regularly

Remember when we said that automatically enrolling your customers into your affiliate was the most important factor in the success of your affiliate program?

Well, we lied.

Having regular and predictable payouts is the most important factor. If your affiliates don’t know when they’re supposed to be paid out, or you’re not sticking to the schedule that you promised on your website, they aren’t going to be motivated to promote your brand.

Set a payout schedule for your affiliates, and let them know how often that is.

That’s great, but what about coupon code leaks?

That’s a valid question. After all, code leaks are a major threat to your business. It can drain your bottom line and become an obstacle instead of a revenue stream.

To combat coupon code leaks, we’ve created Safelinks.

Safelinks generate unique single-use codes for every shopper who clicks on an affiliate link. So. even if an affiliate code does get leaked to websites like Honey, it won’t work.

Should I use influencers or my past customers as affiliates?

Both of these options are great for your affiliate marketing business. And while you’ll get more affiliate content from your influencer campaigns, you’ll still generate sales from your customers, who’ll likely refer you to their friends.

Creating two separate affiliate marketing campaigns, and different programs via Social Snowball is a great way to get the most out of your program and to attract potential customers. Just be sure to offer a higher commission rate to your influencers, and consider seeding your product to them directly from your online store.


Although we’ve outlined 5 important tactics you can use in your overall affiliate strategy, it’s important to note that your customer advocates will only be as strong as your customer support is. You don’t want to downgrade your product’s value with a poor customer experience.

Remember, successful affiliate marketing is about building genuine relationships with your partners, whether they’re established influencers or your own loyal customers. We empower you to nurture these relationships and unlock the true potential of affiliate marketing.

Ready to take your e-commerce store to the next level?  

Affiliate Marketing
Published on
May 29, 2024
Written by
Pia Mikhael
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