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January 30, 2024

5 steps to unlocking successful partnerships for your Shopify app (plus one that didn't work)

While working on PartnerJam, I often get asked how to dive into the partnerships topic. How do you secure the first 5 partners who will become publishers for your app? How can you get initial referrals that will help reduce your dependency on crowded Shopify app store traffic?

1. Generosity in affiliate program

Our PartnerJam customers, gearing up for the affiliate program launch, often have a vague idea of setting up a referral program. I’m telling them - be generous. Offer a higher commission rate (between 25-40%), ideally for the entire lifespan of the merchant. Make it appealing with straightforward affiliate terms (just register to PartnerJam and let us know via chat).

2. Focus on your website

Showcase your partnerships prominently on your website. Demonstrate that you're not just about business but genuinely care about fostering connections and growth through the partnership program. Here’s an example of our Digismoothie company.

3. Shopify app touchpoints

Leverage your app's power by identifying smart touchpoints. For instance, if a user installs your app on their devstore, seize the opportunity with personalized onboarding messages like, "Hey fellow dev, ready to earn a few dollars?" instead of the typical onboarding for merchants. It's a direct and engaging approach.

4. Tap into your existing audience

Your customer base is a goldmine for potential partnerships. Delve into your customer emails, find those resembling agency emails, reach out, and extend partnership offers. Your existing users already grasp the value of your app; now, invite them to be part of something bigger—proactively offer them additional value.

5. The power of care

Care is the cornerstone of successful partnerships. Regularly update your partners on product enhancements, and, more importantly, listen to their feedback. Agencies and independent e-commerce experts offer unique perspectives. Remember, they aren't just an acquisition source; they are a valuable asset to your business. Treat them as such, involving them in your journey by sharing the roadmap, product updates, etc.

And you’re probably curious about what didn’t work, right? Maybe we just didn’t crack the code yet, but…

"Other apps" section in your Shopify app

Having a section in our app labeled something like "Other Apps," showcasing other applications, more or less related, with referral links. It just didn't generate a significant volume of installs. My hypothesis behind that is that merchants use your app to finish their job-to-be-done.

They might not care much about your product vision, surveys, or additional apps that you’re trying to offer. Unlike love brands, Shopify apps are tools. For example, when was the last time you took a survey in Google Analytics to help them improve the product?

Usually, you go there for data, and once done, you close the app. So instead, try to create a superior product and get feedback from different sources as I mentioned before - your publishers, agencies, or you can use the AppstoreResearch.