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Thanks to our Shopify Plus certified app partnership, the impact.com platform is available to Shopify merchants everywhere, so we’ve been reaching out to Shopify merchants and agencies to get insights and tips for ecommerce brands looking for growth. 

Director of Channel Partnerships Henry Prevette had a great Q&A session about Why affiliate marketing is core to an ecommerce strategy with two industry pros. Elizabeth Ripps is marketing manager at beauty brand and Shopify merchant Wildling, and Mike Griffith is the founder of Spark ROAS, a top agency and leader in affiliate marketing services. 

So, what are the keys to successful partnerships for ecommerce brands on Shopify? Here are a few recommendations from our two pros.

Tip: Keep a mix of influencers and affiliates 

Direct-to-consumer brand Wildling has been an influencer-forward brand since its inception, but Ripps calls the startup’s strategy “influencers with an affiliate tilt” because they work with an array of partners to both educate consumers and drive conversions.  

With its niche in natural beauty products, Wildling needs to provide education to its consumers about why and how to use its products and tools. Influencers and content affiliates are both part of that educational equation, and both serve as a growth channel for the business. The relationships do have differences, however, so the teams at Wildling are separate. Both use the impact.com platform for program management, providing centralized and consistent tools and data for the entire partnership program.

Griffith thinks it’s important for Spark’s Shopify clients to have a mix of influencers and more traditional affiliates such as publisher sites, review sites, loyalty partners, and shopping portals because they can then cover the entire ecommerce funnel, creating a full system for driving conversions and acquiring new customers. 

“All types of publications are now working with merchants on an affiliate model basis. Business Insider, BuzzFeed,  Meredith — they all have teams for optimizing affiliate relationships,” says Griffith. “It’s not guaranteed that you’re going to be able to work with them right off the bat, but I think if you have a compelling brand and a compelling brand story, they’re going to give you a chance.”

Tip: Align for authenticity

“There’s a trust level and authenticity that we find people really respond to when we’re working in this type of affiliate space versus going for just traditional ads,” says Ripps. “We work with influencers that feel naturally aligned with our brand, and because of the people that we’re aligning ourselves with and who we’ve chosen to represent us, there’s also the opportunity for it to convert really well.”

Both Ripps and Griffith agree that when done right, affiliate marketing as a whole has the capacity to be much more authentic than in the past and that negative connotations of the term “affiliate” are out of date. 

“It’s a channel that can be super effective and create strong brand validation when done right,” says Griffith. “It’s also a channel that you can spin up relatively quickly — get a few partners in and see an immediate impact.” 

Tip: “Track and tailor” for efficiency

Both Ripps and Griffith emphasize the importance of customizing contracts and payouts and of having tracking technology in place to show where in the funnel the conversions are coming in. 

Attribution is vital to being efficient with spend, and Ripps says that with impact.com she is able to get very specific about payouts in a way that has opened doors to more opportunities, ranging from traditional cashback media sites down to very specialized influencers campaigns. “They’re equally important to how we communicate our brand and how we grow, but they need to be tailored in different ways,” she says.

Tip: Think inbound and outbound

Ripps uses the impact.com platform to help screen and manage inbound organic inquiries from potential influencer partners. For her, inbound leads can be a great source of authentic new partnerships because the content creators have already discovered the brand on their own.

The key to outreach, according to Ripps, is to keep it real and keep it short. Do some research into a partner’s content and audience, then send one-on-one inquiries via DM or email that briefly but specifically get across why your brand and their voice could be a good fit. Seeding products is also key to building authentic relationships.

Both experts use the Impact Marketplace to find new partners. Spark ROAS helps Shopify merchants discover new partners in other ways as well, including looking at who is promoting or reviewing competitors on social channels and scanning Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Tik Tok for new voices and faces. Agencies that handle micro-influencers can also be a good resource for new relationships.

“It’s important to test out lots of different partners, their content, and their view of the brand, knowing that a number are going to fail,” adds Griffith.

What’s next?

Ripps is excited about how affiliate partnerships are infiltrating new areas of ecommerce marketing, from email retargeting to cart-abandonment campaigns. Griffith sees measurement as an area of innovation, as brands put aside the notion of paying for followers and embrace new ways to measure value.

It’s never too early (or too late) to build ecommerce partnerships

Whether you’re a new brand in the Shopify universe or an established player in ecommerce. partnerships can be an efficient and effective way to bring in new customers and reach new audiences. To get started with impact.com platform on Shopify, visit https://apps.shopify.com/impact-1, or reach out to shopify@impact.com.

You can also connect directly with our Shopify pros:

Mike Griffith: mike@sparkroas.com

Elizabeth Ripps: elizabeth@wildling.com

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