Candy Rack is one of the most popular upsell apps on Shopify, with over 5,000 active merchants. The team behind the app has been using the PartnerJam platform to manage their affiliate program since 2022. Since then, the affiliate partners have helped to gain over $100,000 in additional app subscriptions. Here's how.
Step 1: Setting up an attractive program
To make the program work, you must offer attractive conditions for your partners. In the case of Candy Rack, the rules are as follows:
- A lifetime commission of 25% out of the gross subscription paid by the merchant (i.e., if the merchant pays $50 for an app subscription, the affiliate partner will get $12.5 each month)
- Minimum payout $50
- 30-day grace period to cover refunds
- Supporting annual upgrades and plan changes (i.e., if the merchant switches to a different plan)
Our recommendation: The 25% commission is considered as a solid offer and sort of a standard. Offering less may not be attractive enough, and potential partners can choose competition over you.
You can also make it more interesting by offering tiered commissions for larger partners. For example, if a partner delivers over $X revenue, you can increase the commission to 30%. This is something we are currently working on at PartnerJam.
Step 2: Attracting and onboarding partners
There are three channels how Candy Rack is attracting new publishers to join their program.
This is probably the most obvious one, but many affiliate partners are attracted through a dedicated partner page on the website. There are also several banners on relevant pages (i.e., app product page) promoting the partner program.
Our recommendation: Offer a free call to explain to potential partners the details of your affiliate program and how to make the most of it.
Your app can be a strong channel to deliver new affiliate publishers. The apps on Shopify are often installed by agencies or freelancers who manage multiple clients.
Our recommendation: Come up with a tailored message for development stores. They are often managed by professionals who can become valuable partners.
The most popular e-mails (i.e., app welcome e-mail) contain a small pitch promoting the partner program.
Our recommendation: Sending e-mails promoting your partner program to your existing clients may be counterproductive. Rather, include a small mention in transactional e-mails.
Word of mouth
Some of the best partners came by recommendation from existing partners. Running a transparent and trustworthy program will attract high-performing affiliate publishers sooner or later.
Step 3: Regular and fast payouts
When the program is running and affiliate partners deliver the first installs, displaying the correct metrics is important.
Thanks to PartnerJam, the referrals are tracked online (i.e., the installation/click is visible within a few minutes in the partner dashboard), so partners immediately know the platform is working well.
Once the minimum payout threshold is reached, the payment to the partner is processed. Currently, this is still done manually by the Candy Rack team, but we are already working on the automatic payouts feature.
Step 4: Optimizing the funnel
Constantly optimize all the touch points in step 2, especially with the real data from the program, to make it trustworthy.
Offer help and education to your partner groups:
- Top-performing affiliates – Offer direct access to support and product teams; educate them about the app and its settings
- Non-performing affiliates – Reach out and offer help, marketing materials, or demo call
- All affiliates in between – Send regular product updates and affiliate tips
Think of the affiliate program as one of your acquisition channels. It surely won't replace the app store or paid search, but it may become a very vital part of the mix.
For Candy Rack, the affiliate program currently brings about 5% of all app installations. The potential is somewhere between 10 to 20%. But the quality of the install (i.e., survival rates) is by far the best, with a relatively low acquisition cost (CAC) of $15 to $20. For example, the CAC on Shopify app store paid ads is over $100.
Last but not least, your app needs to constantly deliver value for the merchant. Otherwise, they will churn, and affiliate partners will be demotivated by the low survival rate of their referrals.
The affiliate program will only work if your Shopify app has succeeded in other channels. It's an accelerator for your business.