Last Updated: 5/24/2021
Maybe you've read our article on the Top 5 Affiliate Networks of 2021. This how to get setup on CJ Affiliate.
Ecommerce Affiliate Marketing
The world’s largest and most competitive DTC ecommerce brands rely on successful affiliate marketing programs as integral components of their marketing strategy and revenue growth. A recent affiliate incrementality study of 21 million+ retail consumers and 5.5 million transactions found that when affiliate marketing is in the mix, brands see higher conversion rates, higher AOVs, and more orders per customer. Improvements attributed to affiliate marketing across these metrics compound to deliver a staggering 88% higher revenue per shopper. Merchants that use Shopify have a broad selection of affiliate platforms to choose from such as ShareASale, Refersion, Rakuten and the largest and longest established affiliate network, CJ Affiliate by Conversant (formerly known as Commission Junction). Since 1998, CJ Affiliate has connected the world’s biggest publishers with the world’s biggest brands, and today hosts more than 3,000 merchants. GoPro, Lacoste, Zappos, Barnes & Noble, Lowe’s, and Overstock.com are just a few of the ecommerce giants currently hosting their affiliate programs through CJ Affiliate.
Launching an affiliate program on CJ Affiliate
As a new merchant, integrating CJ Affiliate to your Shopify store will take some time, up-front platform costs, and technical know-how. As part of the launch, CJ Affiliate’s team will work closely with you to walk you through the process and complete test orders to confirm your integration is working properly. Generally, setting up your CJ Affiliate program involves: Gathering assets. One of the first steps involved in setting up a successful affiliate marketing program on CJ Affiliate is taking inventory of all assets that will best assist your affiliates in selling your products. Gather together high-res visual logos, graphics, product images and lifestyle images you’d like to use and format them to meet CJ Affiliate’s spec requirements for uploading. In addition to creatives, keyword-rich copy is also important to gather and put into easily digestible paragraphs. A company description, product description and value props, brand guidelines and values are all important to include in your CJ Affiliate brand profile. Setting up program terms, rules and automatic communications. A successful and efficiently run affiliate program has crystal clear terms and specifies what’s encouraged and what’s not allowed in your program. Some key things to specify:
What are your payment terms? (i.e. how many days after a transaction can affiliate expect payment?)
What’s your policy on returned sales?
Where are affiliate links allowed and where are they not? Do you allow affiliate links to appear in paid ads? Do you allow advertising on branded keywords?
If an affiliate is found to be violating your program terms, what is your course of action? Do you send a warning and give them an opportunity to stop, or do you immediately terminate them from the program?
After you’ve entered your program terms and rules into your CJ Affiliate account, you’ll want to use the platform’s various message automation features to support your program and further communicate its details to new affiliates. Customize auto-generated messages for application acceptance, application decline, and an introductory message. Some great tips for keeping your program terms, rules and auto-generated communications up-to-date as your business goals evolve here. Setting up and customizing commissions. Most offers on CJ Affiliate are cost per acquisition (CPA) — such as pay-per-sale, pay-per-lead, and pay-per-call. (Occasionally, some advertisers offer pay-per-view or pay-per-click.) You’ll want to start by establishing your standard or default commission, either as a percentage or dollar amount. From there, you can create customized commission structures such as bonuses for reaching a specified sales target or selling a certain SKU. You may want to create different commission amounts based on a category tag you assign an affiliate with. For example, your commission structure for a traditional publisher like Conde Nast or Meredith Corp might be different then the commission assigned to affiliates in a coupon sites or blogger category.
Growing and managing an affiliate program
Outreach. Once you’ve worked with CJ Affiliate’s onboarding support team to push your program live, a number of affiliate outreach options are available to jumpstart the program and get affiliates excited to work with you. Your brand can be featured in an email newsletter that CJ Affiliate periodically sends to all network affiliates, and you can use the platform’s outreach tool to send a message “blast” to relevant affiliate categories. You can also share an invitation to your new affiliate program in your own marketing email blasts, on social media, and on your website. Measuring success. CJ Affiliate’s interface can be a bit overwhelming at first, but once you get familiar with it, you’ll appreciate the robust tracking and customizable reporting that it offers. Some important CJ Affiliate metrics to consider focusing on as your program grows:
Number of affiliates: total, new affiliates, and how many leave your program
Total affiliate sales
Sales per affiliate
Average order size (especially compared to sales not attributed to affiliate marketing?
Returns per affiliate
Total payout and payout-to-sales ratios Gross margin
Handling returns. One of the most time-consuming aspects of managing an affiliate program in CJ Affiliate is handling returns. While the platform gives you the flexibility to customize your return period (ex. 7, 14, 30 days), it unfortunately does not automatically register returns and refunds processed in Shopify. So, while a sale from an affiliate link is automatically communicated from Shopify to CJ Affiliate, a return and refund of that sale will not be automatically communicated. Most merchants prefer not to pay affiliates commission on returned items, which means affiliate program managers have to manually check each affiliate sale against its corresponding Shopify order number and make sure it’s not a return. If it is a return, they have to manually cancel the sale in CJ Affiliate to prevent the commission payout. When your store receives hundreds or thousands of orders per month, this manual review and cancel process is tedious, and will only become more time-consuming and inefficient as your ecommerce business scales.
Long Term Success
Once you’ve signed up for an affiliate platform and set your program live, you should begin getting applications right away. From an affiliate’s profile, you should be able to garner all the basic information you need: Contact email, location, their website(s), and social channels. Visit their links to get an understanding of how they will promote your products/services and if they have a website you’ve never heard of, use a free service like SimilarWeb to check their traffic and domain authority. Read our article How to Grow Your Affiliate Marketing Program here.
Market Labs Commission Finder
Luckily, with Market Labs’ new solution, any Shopify merchants that use CJ Affiliate can now automate this process. Market Labs bridges the gap between return and refund processing in Shopify and your affiliate program so you spend more time growing your program and less time checking for those pesky returns.