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Affiliate Marketer’s Guide To E-commerce

Affiliate Marketer’s Guide To E-commerce

As we get further into the holiday season, we see more and more advertisers promoting e-commerce. As some might know, this time of the year is referred to as the golden quarter for e-commerce.  With all the holidays, it is the time when people spend the most on online goods making it one of the most profitable times for affiliates promoting e-commerce offers. Just to give you a look at just how big this quarter is, Amazon made 10 billion dollars just from their Prime Day sale alone. To help you pull in the profits this holiday season we have put together this guide to help you with every part of your e-commerce campaigns.

About the industry

Affiliate marketing, put simply, is the connection of seller and buyer made possible by the efforts of an affiliate. The affiliate uses publishing tools and their marketing skills to bring an advertiser’s offer to the right consumer to make a sale, signup, or any kind of desired action. You can think of an affiliate as a rogue marketer that runs advertisers’ campaigns for a commission. If everything goes well, the advertiser gets their product to a wider audience increasing sales (or whatever desired action), the affiliate makes money from the commissions they earn and the consumer buys a new product. Take this example of affiliate marketing from Forbes.

So, affiliate marketing circles around three key players:

  • Consumer/User
  • Affiliate Marketer
  • Advertiser

Now, what is the number one biggest mistake a new affiliate can make?

Not starting with a good strategy!

Some aspiring affiliate marketers scratch their heads in the beginning and wonder how to start an affiliate marketing campaign. We wanted to break it down into a few simple steps.

The ins and outs of e-commerce

E-commerce is one of the oldest and biggest verticals in the affiliate space. E-commerce abbreviated from electronic commerce refers to the buying and selling of products via online stores. This industry continues to grow in size year after year which has brought with it its fair share of competition. E-commerce is considered a white hat vertical which means you will never have to worry about compliance as long as you are not infringing on any trademarks. Social media marketing continues to dominate the e-commerce industry but because of the fierce competition, may advertisers seek alternative ad formats to expand into like push ads.

Key advantages of e-commerce:

  • Size and scalability
  • Diversity of offers
  • Universal compliance

Industry size and growth.

This industry has had explosive growth for the past 20 years and is expected to continue on this trajectory in the coming years. For affiliates, this means that it has continued to become one of the most competitive industries, saturated with products and other affiliates.

ecommerce industry growth

Image source

At Pushground e-commerce may not be our biggest category, but we still receive around 100 million bids a day for e-commerce campaigns. Our top geos include India and some tier-one geos like US, GB, FR, DE, and AU. There is starting to be a big rise in tier 2 and 3 countries with India as a primary example along with Indonesia and the Philippines.

ecommerce top geos


While e-commerce can be profitable all year round, it is especially popular during the holiday season. This is because people are more prone to buying products online during this time. Also depending on the product, there can be a right time and a wrong time to be promoting it.

Easy for newcomers

Because of its high competition, e-commerce is probably not the best vertical to start with. Everything from the ad to the landing page has to compete with huge online retailers for the attention of consumers. Furthermore, e-commerce campaigns generally require a higher starting budget which is a deterrent for beginners.

How was it affected by Covid-19?

E-commerce was heavily influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although there may have been a huge increase in buying groceries online, the majority of e-commerce niches saw a decline with some big named retailers cutting their affiliate programs as a result of Covid-19. Like most industries e-commerce affiliates adapted to the changing environment by selling things more suited for life at home.

About the offers

In e-commerce the offer or product is everything. You never want to invest your time and money into products that won’t generate conversions. Before anything, you should always put yourself into the shoes of your audience to see if this product is something actually worth promoting. There are tones of different niches and sub-niches in e-commerce and every marketer is trying to narrow their target to deal with fewer competitors and more profitability.  

Payout types:

E-commerce offers generally have 4 different payout types.

CPA/CPS: The most common payout type is CPA or CPS. CPA is the more common metric that refers to cost-per-action whereas CPS refers to cost-per-sale. We put them together because most of the time for e-commerce offers the action from CPA is referring to the sale. Both models payout once a click from your ad leads to a sale.

Revshare:  Often a more desirable payout type, revshare basically means that instead of getting a standard payment from each sale, you get a portion (or share) of the revenue. This means that you would make more when someone coming from your ad bought multiple items or more expensive items.

CPL: The CPL model stands for cost-per-lead. These are normally for larger more expensive e-commerce products with longer buying processes and funnels.

CPI*: You also might find CPI payment models which stands for cost-per-install. This model is generally used for driving new sign-ups for e-commerce mobile applications and not for the selling of individual products.

Average payout

The average payout for an e-commerce offer depends a lot on the specific product being offered. It’s not hard to see that more expensive items often have higher payouts while cheaper items have less. That being said the typical range is between $10 – $100.

Popular CPA Networks

Apart from the big-name affiliate programs like Amazon associates, Walmart affiliates and eBay partner network, there are a plethora of quality e-commerce focused affiliate networks. Here is a list of our favorite CPA networks for e-commerce offers.

How to advertise it

E-commerce creatives

For e-commerce ads, the most common angles all revolve around some kind of sale. There will always be some reason for a sale, holidays, events, or even seasonal sales, but the biggest sales are always in the last part of the year with events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Diwali, Unboxing Day, Christmas, and New Years. The popular theme for creatives during these times is to mention the holiday promo along with outrageous savings that no one should miss.

That leads us to our next point. FOMO or fear of missing out is another very popular angle and for good reason.  FOMO is a psychological phenomenon that arises when people think they will lose an opportunity and is a very compelling angle to help drive more conversions. To successfully implant this concept into your audiences’ heads, you must create a sense of urgency in your offer. For example Flash sale, Get these savings before it’s too late, 50% for 24h only.

For the images, It’s always best to display the product or the result of having this product. An example ad for a new sports watch might be an icon image of the watch with the big image being a photo of someone doing some kind of sport with the watch.

ecommerce push ad examples

Landing pages and pre-landers

Similar to the ad creatives, you want to continue with a sense of urgency on your landing pages to drive the sense of FOMO. You can use countdown timers to quickly show that the offer won’t last forever.

You also want to present your product providing details about it. You should write your product description with your audience in mind.  It should be scripted to grab their attention and show the long term benefits of your product.

A section showing reviews and opinions of the product can also be a powerful tool.  People crave social reassurance and to see reviews of the product can help encourage them to buy.  That being said, the key is to have real believable reviews because people nowadays can sniff out fake reviews from a mile away.

Offering free and fast shipping with money-back guarantee is also worth adding to your landing pages.  It gives the consumer the confidence they need to successfully convert. Displaying secure transaction processing also helps to give you credibility to the user.

Both the images and text should be of high quality.  It is worth it to hire a copywriter or designer on Fiverr if you can not do it yourself.

Last but not least, the Page should be optimized for speed and accessibility across your targeted devices. As we have said previously landing page speed makes a huge difference. In a study by Mobify, they found that for every 100ms improvement of page loading times conversion rates increased by 1.1%.

Ecommerce landings pages examples

Bids and budget

To run an e-commerce campaign, a higher test budget is needed.  Normally, you want to start with at least $1000 or more in order to properly test an offer.  More expensive products with higher payouts generally demand higher starting budgets while less expensive products with higher conversion rates require less.

Bids for e-commerce can be higher than the norm.  With premium products, you want to make sure that you are not missing anyone to higher bids.  With most campaigns, you want to quickly find the best converting sources and then target them with higher bids to beat out the competition.

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