How an Affiliate Program Can Increase DTC Sales

By Published On: April 29, 2019

What is Affiliate Marketing?

af·fil·i·ate mar·ket·ing


a marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals.

“most of my earnings are from affiliate marketing, direct ad sales, and sponsored posts”

So what does that even mean? It means that you can create a referral program through your existing customers that allows them to either earn money or a store credit for helping to sell your wine. Affiliate programs have become very common, even affiliate programs for wine, people sign up for the program through your website, go through an approval process, then are given a specific link to share with their friends that will track their referrals. When someone makes a purchase after clicking their link, they automatically receive either a percentage of the sale or some other pre-determined benefit.

The program works through a plugin on your website (generally requires a WordPress site) which assigns the links and tracks the sales. The link includes what is called a “cookie” that can be set for a specific period of time, for example Amazon offers their affiliates a 48 hour cookie, which means that anything purchased on Amazon for 48 hours after the link is clicked generates a commission for the affiliate, anything even if it isn’t the product the link was for.

You can set your cookie for any time frame you would like and the controls for that will be in whatever affiliate plugin you choose. You can also determine what you will be offering your affiliates, the easiest and most common offer is a cash percentage or store credit and that is what will work with most of the plugins. You determine the percentage you think is appropriate and designate it in the plugin settings, when your affiliates register for the program they create an account and provide payment info (usually through Paypal) then when a purchase is made through the link the percentage automatically goes to the affiliates payment account. If you’d rather not offer cash or credit you can get creative with your offering, have an offline program and track sales manually.

Marketing your affiliate program should be relatively easy as you already have people who love your wine and would love a chance to help promote you-especially when there is something in it for them. Write up the details of your affiliate program and send them to your customers via email, post on your website and social media or reach out to local influencers and offer them a link and possibly a bottle to try. Legal compliance is always an issue when selling wine and though there are no restrictions on affiliate marketing in the wine industry, your affiliates have to comply with FTC guidelines disclosing their links.

All sales through an affiliate program should be DTC since they are happening through your site, and give you the benefit of leveraging your dedicated customer base to be your sales team. You will need to provide your team with marketing resources like logo, photos and copy so that they can stay consistent with your brand while helping to market your products. You will also need to create terms and conditions for the program and check with your legal professional for any compliance or licensing issues. As always, this is just a quick start guide to creating an affiliate program. For more information please get in touch.

About the Author: Jennifer Prevost

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A veteran wine industry professional, Jennifer is a marketing expert who writes about craft wine and small production wineries. She can be reached at jennifer at