How To Create a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program for Your Business

Brad Dorsey

4 min read ·


It’s simple: your business needs customers to thrive. As straightforward as that statement is, getting the customers is not as easy. That’s why many businesses partner with affiliates to expand their reach. This article explains the power of an affiliate program and shares how to create a successful affiliate marketing program.

So, what is affiliate marketing? It is a low-cost and effective marketing program where you partner with others to drive traffic to your e-commerce store. Your business will offer a commission to the sites that link to yours. The affiliate is typically rewarded based on the number of people who come to your site and complete an action or buy your product. 

Amazon popularized this approach to marketing in the late 1990s. The company started out attracting affiliates to post links to books for sale on The partner saw a percentage of the book sale if someone clicked on the link and made the purchase. Today, its program is one of the world’s largest.


Affiliate marketing can have many business benefits, including:

  • Lower-cost marketing
  • Access to a targeted audience
  • Boosting brand awareness
  • Helping to launch products
  • Generating sales
  • Higher return on investment


Now, to get to the meat of the matter, you can learn how to create a successful affiliate program for your business by:

  • Picking products to promote
  • Setting affiliate pricing 
  • Recruiting affiliates
  • Communicating consistently
  • Measuring program success


Pick Products To Promote

You have many products available to promote, but with affiliate marketing, it makes sense to focus on those with high average order value (AOV). As Shopify notes, it can increase your revenue and give affiliates more earnings if you focus on high-AOV products. The math is simple. Earning a 10% commission on $100 is more appealing than that same commission on an $8 item.

Understanding your target audience will help you identify the best affiliate partners and narrow the list of products you want to promote.


Set Affiliate Pricing 

There are many arrangements you can make to help incentivize affiliates. The three main types of payment programs are:

  • Pay-per-sale: Your business pays a percentage to the affiliate or a fixed amount for each sale that comes from their clicks.
  • Pay-per-click: You pay the affiliate based on the number of visitors who click the link and come to your site, regardless of whether they buy anything
  • Pay-per-lead: Your business pays affiliates according to the number of visitors who come to the site and complete a particular action that benefits you.

You can learn more about choosing affiliate commissions and setting them up in Referral Rock’s round-up.


Recruit Affiliates

Recruit Affiliates

You might recruit affiliates via your social media, using your email list, or promoting the program on your website. You’ll want to recruit ones that speak to your target audience, but you may want to work with partners from all of the different marketing channels to get the most value:

  • Influencers — an individual with a large following on social media, particularly Instagram or YouTube
  • Bloggers — individuals who appeal to your audience and write articles that rank in search engine queries that you are targeting
  • Paid search microsite — you create focused, relevant content that lives on a microsite within a partner site or comes up with sponsored search engine listings
  • Email lists — a more traditional method of reaching an audience that sees your products listed in email newsletters put out by industry organizations or thought leaders
  • Large media websites — posting banners and contextual advertising on websites that see a huge amount of traffic. 

It’s also a good idea to consider working with an affiliate network. Also known as affiliate brokers, they help recruit partners, track activity, and handle payments.

Want to get an affiliate’s perspective? Read “What I Learned From Kobe Bryant About Affiliate Marketing Success.”


Communicate Consistently

Now that you’ve recruited the affiliates for your program, you’ll want to communicate with them regularly about your goals and their performance. Convey your brand guidelines too. Let them know approved hashtags and give them access to graphics and pre-written social media text.

You can also help the affiliate promote your products by sharing tips such as:

  • Promoting free shipping
  • Offering an extra discount for the customer’s first purchase
  • Encouraging customers to buy more by providing a scaled discount (e.g., save 20% when you spend $50, or 25% when you spend $100)


Measure Program Success

Measure Program Success

You may think you have a good affiliate marketing program, but you’ll want to establish performance metrics to affirm the project is successful. Some top metrics that can help you gauge the success of your program include:

  • Total affiliate sales
  • Sales per affiliate
  • Average order size
  • Total payout
  • Payout-to-sales ratio
  • Total number of affiliates


Make the Most of Affiliate Marketing

As stated in this article from Enterperneur magazine “Affiliate marketing is … one of the most interesting and lucrative industries on the Internet.” It benefits both your business and the partners looking for passive income sources. So, it’s worth a try now that you’ve learned from this guide to affiliate marketing for beginners. You’ll also want to make sure your online store and business website are in top shape before launching your program. 

Brad Dorsey