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How Storefronts are Changing the Face of Affiliate Marketing

How Storefronts are Changing the Face of Affiliate Marketing

Acceleration Partners is a Corporate Member of the Performance Marketing Association.

Affiliate-storefrontAffiliate marketing is in a state of both growth and transition, with many new types of publishers expanding the scope of the industry. One of the most exciting areas of opportunity is affiliate storefronts, which not only give merchants the ability to connect with non-traditional affiliates, but present schools and other nonprofits with a robust new fundraising channel.

How Affiliate Storefronts Work

Here’s how affiliate storefronts work. Merchants create partnerships with schools and other nonprofits looking to raise money. The merchants then create a co-branded online storefront, usually on a page within their main site, that features their products along with pictures and logos from both organizations. These storefronts work with affiliate tracking, but give the affiliate a natural link to use in their promotion and create a more co-branded experience.

>> View this example of a storefront that Acceleration Partners launched with Tiny Prints.

The school directs parents and other supporters to the storefront. When someone clicks on the co-branded storefront tracking link and makes a purchase through the storefront, the school gets a percentage of the sale as a commission.

Affiliate storefronts effectively replace the old-fashioned fundraisers that had kids trooping door-to-door through their neighborhoods peddling flower bulbs, cookie dough, or wrapping paper and parents staffing book fairs and bake sales. Often these fundraisers asked people to purchase items at an inflated price in order for the school to receive a percentage of the profits. Digital storefronts are much more efficient, allowing supporters all over the world to make purchases of items that they already want and removing an unpleasant burden from the shoulders of students and parents.

The school, PTA, or nonprofit essentially becomes an affiliate and the most exciting part is that most of these people wouldn’t otherwise be involved in affiliate marketing at all. They are able to raise money by marketing well known products and services to supporters who want to help the cause. This marketing can also all be done from home at a convenient time.

Affiliate marketing networks are getting into the game too. ShareASale, for example, recently created a storefront system that allows storefronts to be tracked and managed much like traditional affiliates. One of the first merchants to test out this new system was Tea Collection.

Tea Collection’s School Days Program

As a maker of globally-inspired kids clothes, TeaCollection.com was in an ideal position to partner with schools and in fact already had an existing school fundraising program. However they seized the opportunity to use the affiliate channel to manage and track donation activity.

Tea collaborated with ShareASale to develop a custom storefront for school fundraisers and assigned a dedicated storefront manager to handle all questions. For the week-long program Tea offered the schools free shipping and 15% of sales.

The results for the program were very strong and the schools raised almost $30,000 through their storefronts. The conversion rate on storefront accounts was 44% higher than the Tea affiliate program’s average, which speaks to the power of storefront programs and the personal recommendations of these non-traditional affiliates. The affiliate channel also proved a successful way to manage the logistics of fundraising partnerships with schools.

The Potential of Affiliate Storefronts

The potential of storefronts is huge and expands the base of traditional affiliates considerably.
Schools are a natural fit because they’re already in the market for new fundraising opportunities, but almost any professional could also be turned into an affiliate for some merchant or other.

Take TinyPrints.com, for example, which sells invitations, birth announcements, and other photo cards. In addition to nonprofits, they have also turned many photographers and photo studios into affiliates, creating special storefronts where they can refer their clients. When those clients make a purchase from Tiny Prints (using the photographers’ pictures, most likely) the photographers themselves earn a portion of the sale as a commission.

>> View this example of a photographer storefront.

Alternately a sporting goods company could recruit personal trainers as affiliates and set up storefronts with sports gear and athletic equipment. When the trainers’ clients make a purchase, the trainers themselves would earn a commission. It’s a win-win for both the professionals and the merchant. And special discount codes provided by the merchant make it a win for customers too.

Merchants with successful affiliate programs should investigate the opportunities presented by storefronts and non-traditional affiliates. Not only are these programs good for the bottom line, but with their fundraising capabilities they allow everyone involved do a little good too.

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