Affiliate Programs for Ecommerce Sites

Use affiliate programs for ecommerce sites to help advertise and draw more traffic to your site. Affiliate programs are an important enhancement or addition to many ecommerce sites, helping to boost traffic and monetize the site. This article provides you with information to help you consider affiliate programs for your ecommerce site.

What Is an Affiliate Program?

An affiliate is a promoter of a brand, product, or service that he or she does not provide. Merchants with affiliate programs create a special relationship with certain people who promote the brand in various ways – such as online advertising, blogging about the brand, or selling – and are rewarded for income that is generated through their efforts. Advertising that an affiliate posts could involve banner or pop-up ads, or pay-per-click text ads. Alternatively, the affiliate could write articles or blogs about the merchant’s products or have a store with links to a selection of the merchant’s products or services. Two of the best-known affiliate programs are those run by eBay and

An affiliate program takes dedication from the affiliate. There may be a need to do a bit of programming to set up the links and to patiently test different ad placements or blog approaches to find the most effective strategies. A well-run affiliate program will be able to offer support for new affiliates and will generally provide specific banners and ads as well as special offers to help the affiliate succeed.

Finding an Affiliate Program to Fit Your Site

In general, there are two ways to begin the search for an affiliate program. One situation is when you already have a website, and you want to become an affiliate of a brand that will tie-in nicely with material you’ve already developed. The other situation is the one in which you search for an affiliate program to build a site around. In this case, you may be open to a broader range of categories because you’re beginning fresh.

In the first case, if you sell your own product or service, you might search for a product or service that works along with a product or service that you yourself offer, one that people will connect with your product or service, that makes your product useful, desirable, or downright necessary, or that extends your product’s use or capabilities. Of course, it makes sense to avoid competing products. If you have a website, but aren’t selling your own product—say a hobby site, or a site that focuses on a topic of interest to you—then you’ll want to focus on an affiliate program that’s likely to be of interest to the people who visit your site for the existing content.

In either case, an affiliate program directory may be a helpful place to start, as it will group affiliate programs by category so that you can readily locate programs that may be of interest for your ecommerce site. You are likely to find categories like accessories, art, automobiles and boats, books and magazines, business, clothing and apparel, computers and electronics, ecommerce, education, entertainment, family and lifestyle, financial services, flowers and gifts, food and drink, gambling, health and beauty, home and garden, insurance, recreation and fitness, shops and malls, software, sports and fitness, telecommunications, travel, and web services.

As you consider various programs, be sure to ask the important questions. Make sure the program is reliable and treats affiliates well. Understand the terms and conditions of the agreement, how you will get paid, and how much. Many affiliate programs have payment thresholds that you have to meet before they will pay you. Some pay every 30 days but some are 60 or 90 days. Most affiliates offer Paypal as the preferred method for payment but may have other alternatives. Be sure to talk with the support team to see what kind of help they can provide and find out what kind of tracking and statistics they offer to you as the affiliate.

Using an Affiliate Program to Promote Your Ecommerce Site

For those that have an ecommerce site and they want to enlist the help of others to get the word out about their product and services, an affiliate program is a great option. There are many different affiliate program software options out there, a couple of big ones that you may have heard of are Share-A-Sale and Commission Junction, but there are many others as well. Or you may want to create your own affiliate program in-house. If you have a team of programmers and designers that can create the system, this will give you the most control over how it works, what you can offer, tracking and stats, and you don’t have to worry about paying a third party for their software, management, and support. If you do choose to go with a third-party program here are some things to look for and consider:

  • Management tools
  • Advertising tools
  • Tracking and statistics tools
  • Options for custom commission (for “super” affiliates)
  • Customer relationship management tools

Most affiliate software with have a bare minimum for each of these items but check around to find the ones that really go beyond the bare minimum to offer more value to you and to make your affiliate program more valuable to your affiliates. The more customizable your program is the better, it isn’t always about having hundreds of affiliates. Most successful affiliate programs have a handful of really successful affiliates, for these affiliate you want to be able to offer higher commissions and better deals than what you offer the lower end affiliates. You will also want to find out how easy your banners are to make changes to. Maybe you promote different products for different seasons, how easy will it be to get new banners and to get them out to your affiliates. Find out what kind of support is available for the affiliates and if you are responsible for providing the support or if they do.

As you can see, there are numerous things that go into starting and maintaining a successful affiliate program for your ecommerce website. But just understanding what to look for and doing a little research ahead of time can save you a lot of time and headache in the long run.