A Supercharged Solution for the Modern Brand: Affiliate Marketing (what Noah Tucker calls the "secret sauce")
What’s a crucial part of any marketing strategy?
Social Snowball takes the traditional components of affiliate marketing and transforms them into supercharged solutions designed for any modern ecommerce brand.
To learn more about how Social Snowball is redefining affiliate marketing, the Tydo team sat down with Noah Tucker to chat about best practices, community-building tactics, and the future of affiliate.
The Secret Sauce: Affiliate Programs
So, where did the idea for Social Snowball come from?
Noah’s experience building Shopify sites, running ads, and working with influencers led him to Social Snowball. As a freelancer, Tucker’s secret sauce was creating affiliate programs for brands—something he always kept in his back pocket that attracted impressive results.
“Customers want to join a community,” he explains. “They want to have a discount code with their name in it, and they want to share it with friends.”
Tucker also recognized the emotional aspect of affiliate programs too.
There’s a sense of exclusivity to a personal affiliate or discount code. In addition to the personalized layer, the sheer act of launching an affiliate program boosts revenue for brands.
He saw a need for a customer-focused affiliate program, especially because of two frustrations with existing tools:
- The discrepancy in quality between brand websites and affiliate sign-up forms
- The lack of automation for the affiliate program process
With the help of a small team, Tucker created the first iteration of Social Snowball to address these issues.
After 15 months of fine-tuning their product, Social Snowball was added to the Shopify App Store.
“Affiliate tools were lacking in multiple ways. Every Shopify merchant was struggling, and there was a need for something better. That’s why I started Social Snowball.”
Affiliate Marketing Meets Community
Tucker shares the benefits of affiliate as it relates to the larger brand picture.
He says, “It's a way to get more customers involved and engaged in a brand’s community. You’re rewarding them with cash, and people love referring their friends to brands they love.”
Plus, affiliate programs are a new customer acquisition tool. Since paid media costs are rising, brands are branching out and looking for new, reliable ways to scale.
“Social Snowball enables marketing to come from your fans and the people who are already part of your brand. In many ways, your customers become a scalable, new customer acquisition source,” notes Tucker.
Affiliate programs also help brands create community too.
Inherently, affiliates generate content, which drives attention and sales. Brands are sourcing that content from social platforms as well as community-building apps.
“Merchants are getting creative. They’re creating Discord, Slack, or Facebook groups for their affiliate programs. Other merchants are running competitions and giveaways,” he says, “How far they take the community building part is really up to the merchant, but there are tons of opportunities.”
“By simply having an affiliate program, you're helping your brand build community and encouraging customers to contribute to it.”
Soaring or Falling Flat? How Ecommerce Brands Maximize or Miss Out On Affiliate Value
Social Snowball doesn’t encourage brands to build exclusive affiliate programs and then add customers. Rather, they empower brands to include all customers in their affiliate program from the very start.
“We encourage merchants to treat their affiliate program similar to how they treat other retention marketing channels,” says Tucker.
Social Snowball is integrated with platforms such as Postscript and Klaviyo, so brands can use the tools already at their disposal and where their customers already exist. Leveraging these tools, brands can send personalized messages to customers.
What’s one of the biggest mistakes Tucker sees as brands launch affiliate programs?
Brands don’t offer a significant enough discount to make a referral code worthwhile.
For example, “A customer might grab a referral code for 10% off, only to realize that they get the same discount—or even more—if they sign up for the brand’s emails,” says Tucker.
Without a strong discount, customers have no incentive to use affiliate codes, and then, the results are less than stellar.
“There’s a real opportunity to acquire new customers through an affiliate program.”
Affiliate Program Best Practices
To run a successful affiliate marketing program, Tucker recommends focusing on the following:
- Reminders: Push customers to share their referral codes for cashback
- Educational content: Send messages to customers helping them understand the benefits of affiliate
- Inspirational content: Highlight wins and share tips from current affiliates to motivate customers to share referral codes
What else should brands consider? Data.
For Tucker and the Social Snowball team, user experience is key—for all parties involved. Instead of focusing on a single payout system (typically troublesome for both brands and customers), Social Snowball offers a seamless system that includes bank transfers, various payment platforms, and even gift cards.
Social Snowball offers around 700 different options for payouts, says Tucker. Once a merchant is ready, they can send payouts in bulk with only a couple of clicks.
Tucker also notes that Social Snowball doesn’t measure success by ROI. Instead, he prefers to look at metrics such as gross merchandise value (GMV). His goal: increase the percentage of a brand’s GMV comprised of affiliate marketing.
“Of course, we want an ROI,” Tucker explains, “but we also want to maximize the percentage of their GMV that is affiliate.”
Currently, the average percentage of GMV through customer-focused referral programs is less than one percent. But, Social Snowball sees numbers between three and eight percent amongst brands using the service.
So, what does the future of affiliate programs look like to Tucker? The future is recognizing that everyone is an affiliate.
“Affiliate is an attribution model you can rely on. I see a world where everyone is an affiliate, and it’s a frictionless experience all around, especially if you’re using Social Snowball.”
- What to pledge
- How to improve
- Which tools will set you up for success
I think the most important thing brands can do in 2023 is to better manage their customer data—both ethically and effectively. There’s an opportunity for brands to know their customers better than ever before—a clear benefit for both the customer and the brand. When you manage your data correctly, you’ll create stronger and more personalized ads, creative, site experiences, and so much more.
This is a classic: Let the data guide you. Go where the buyers for your products are and communicate with them on a personal level (i.e. by persona and funnel position) and nurture those relationships (past, present, and future customers). It’s possible—all through data.
We recommend that Shopify brands analyze and update their websites using data-driven decisions. Using analytics tools such as heatmaps and scrollmaps can help brands better understand how customers are interacting with their store.
Store owners tend to make assumptions about the way customers interact with their website. Most never go back and analyze their design choices to find pain points or areas of opportunity. By using heatmaps and scrollmaps, they can see where real customers are clicking and concentrating their attention. Leveraging this data, brands can start to iterate on design and make their online store experience streamlined and intuitive.
Hotjar provides a simple way to implement heatmaps, scrollmaps, and recorded user sessions on your site, helping you acquire incredibly informative user data. Additionally, it gives you the ability to create on-site surveys, which allows you to obtain direct and often critical feedback from users about their experience.
Test various attribution models and analyze the impact on your business. At Fifty Six, we are always here to help our clients identify and optimize their approach—a critical step in any successful marketing strategy.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times–Customer Lifetime Value. And even more importantly, Future Lifetime Value (FLTV). With the ever-growing importance of first-party data, it is crucial that brands take a good look at their CRM and FLTV metrics.
Stop allocating budgets to low-hanging fruit that doesn’t move the needle on conversion. Think about what’s really going to improve your CX and the return of undertaking different initiatives—not just on what’s top on your list of bugbears on the site!
One of the best ways to understand your customer behavior is by using HotJar. Their heat-mapping and screen recording tools shine a light on where customers are navigating to and from on your site, where they're rage clicking and experiencing frustration, and where conversion is dropping off within real life customer journeys and flows!
Understanding your customers’ pain points via data and analytics , will allow you to work with your CRO/CX Agency to solve customer frustrations and improve conversion.
Rewind backs up all product, customer, and order data for Shopify sites—essential since Shopify itself doesn’t provide this solution. It's saved so many of our clients time and money from administrative accidents.
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33% of customer service inquiries are pre-sale questions. What does this mean? If you’re not investing in customer service, you’re missing out on revenue-generating opportunities.
The benefits of elevating your customer experience:
- 10% to 25% increase in AOV for customers who engage with live chat pre-purchase
- 21x higher conversion rate for customers who reach out via Live Chat or SMS compared to other site visitors
- 87% of customers who have a great customer experience will make another purchase
- 72% of customers share positive experiences with 6 or more individuals
Gorgias is our favorite Helpdesk platform. They can reduce costs by 35%, primarily by decreasing the average ticket handle time. Their machine learning algorithms are trained on millions of ecommerce-related interactions across Gorgias’ customer base and provide accurate, automated replies for the most common ecommerce inquiries. This helps our agents resolve tickets faster, which provides the customer a seamless experience.
Trust your agency! Agencies do the same things across multiple brands and niches, so we see the trends and have the practice and experience!
Don't be afraid of data and insights. If customers aren't clicking on your emails, try a new CTA. If your ads are driving good metrics at a small spend, start scaling. If your customers are complaining about a product, look into QA! If the data tells you something isn't working, let it go and try something else!
I'm supposed to say Tydo, right? 😉
Double down on differentiation. There will be a lot of headwinds this year and standing out from the crowd will set you apart.
A picture is worth 1,000 words. A video? Probably millions. In ecommerce that value translates into engagement, acquisition, and retention—everything you need to impact your bottom line.
At soona, we've seen the we've seen the impact of creative and the continuous split testing of it yield results. Our resolution is to challenge ourselves and double down on innovation and creative optionality so that each brand we work with can distinguish themselves in a crowded sea of D2C ecomm. We'd love to see our brands share this resolution and keep pushing the creative limits.
Klaviyo. We're using it to power our email and newsletter at soona too!
Optimize your returns strategy! This can lead to valuable customer insights, enhanced user experiences, and increased revenue and customer loyalty.
Brands need to dive deeper into understanding their customers to set themselves up for success. Conduct research to gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors. By doing so, you can develop targeted strategies that will enhance customer experience and boost overall retention.
Right now I would say Gorgias. Having a good customer service tool is crucial to building strong customer relationships.
Start paying heavy attention to data, specifically around retention. We see a lot of effort put towards acquisition with the assumption that once someone buys, they are your customer forever. Instead, get to know your customer, understand their needs, and analyze their behaviors once they are on-site and judge their sentiment after they have visited. Work with a retention focused and data-driven agency to implement tools that contribute to repeat business and customer delight. It will pay dividends.
When surveyed, about 80% of ecommerce merchants think that they are delivering a great experience to their customers. However, when the same customers are surveyed, only 8% of those customers think that they are getting a great experience from the merchant. Now, more than ever, retaining loyal customers is an essential part of any online business and you should spend time with your customers to judge their experience with your website and products and offer improvements based on that feedback.
Tydo's report cards are an essential tool, along with Klaviyo for email and SMS, Recharge for subscriptions and memberships, Okendo for reviews and surveys, Rebuy for AI driven collections and upsells, Loop for self service returns... each tool is great on their own, but their strength as the ultimate tool comes from when they are used together!
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