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How To Create Affiliate Links And Why They Are Important 2024

 More and more brands are working with affiliates for their marketing campaigns. This is because affiliate marketing is a budget-friendly and effective strategy for business growth. At the heart of an affiliate program is always the ...

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How To Create Affiliate Links

 More and more brands are working with affiliates for their marketing campaigns. This is because affiliate marketing is a budget-friendly and effective strategy for business growth.

At the heart of an affiliate program is always the unique tracking link.

Merchants provide affiliates with these URLs to track clicks and sales made by their marketing efforts. That way, they can identify which affiliate generates that specific sale and pay them a commission.

If you want to know how to create affiliate links to kick-start your program, this is the right place. Check out this article for more information.

How to Create Affiliate Links: The Detailed Instructions

Pick affiliate management software

The fastest and easiest way to create affiliate links is by using an affiliate management platform.

Such software enables you to have full affiliate management. This includes generating affiliate URLs, tracking their sales, and all of your program’s features.

So, how to choose the right affiliate software to run affiliate marketing?

Flexible in creating links: Offers diverse options to create links, such as attaching discounts or customization. A software allows users to generate unique URLs for each affiliate.

Track commission and process payments: You have the ability to track sales and calculate commissions for each affiliate. As well as processing regular payouts via the platform.

Track performance and reports: Tracking important metrics lets you know how the program performs. The software also comes with in-depth reports that analyze data for improvement.

Full customization: Unlike joining an affiliate network with many restrictions. A software enables users to customize your program from branding and commission to affiliate communication.

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UpPromote is the top-recommended Shopify affiliate app for new and experienced merchants.

The tool helps you manage and adjust almost every aspect of an affiliate program. This includes customizing the registration form and affiliate links, performance tracking, and offering compelling incentives.

Overall, it all starts with effective and robust software to support your affiliate program.

Decide the destination page

The next step is to decide which destination URL you want the affiliate link to lead to. The landing page should be relevant to what your affiliates promote within their content.

For instance, a top 5 vegan restaurant list cannot have a steak-focused address. This makes it difficult for the affiliate promotion, causing confusion for customers visiting the page.

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Take a look at this example from Instagram fitness influencer Analis Cruz. When visitors click on her bio, links redirecting them to Gymshark and Pescience’s homepages pop out.

From there, she will receive a commission after someone purchases these affiliate products using her unique code. And in some cases, the code is an alternative to an affiliate link.

However, as a merchant, linking to specific product pages is more effective. It helps increase your conversion rate by directly advertising an item to potential buyers.

Just imagine a new, interested customer visiting an affiliate URL and arriving at your online store. They intend to buy waterproof gardening gloves and are now being led to that product page.

Obviously, they will feel more urged to purchase after researching that item instead of wandering around the shop among various options.

Set up the commission and cookie duration

Now, this is one of the most essential parts of running an affiliate program. After finding software and how to create affiliate links, you need to set up the affiliate commission and cookie length.

First of all, do you know that there are different commission structures to choose from? Here are 2 common types of commission.

  • Fixed-rate: You pay affiliate partners a specific rate for each successful sale. It can be a fixed amount of money (e.g., $20) or a percentage of the value (e.g., 15%).
  • Tiered: This type is more intriguing as it motivates affiliates to strive harder. For example, the affiliate can receive 10% per sale until they make 50 monthly sales. Then the rate increases to 12% when they reach 100 sales.

With UpPromote, you can set up the auto-tier commission feature to incentivize high-performing partners.

And regarding the cookie window, it determines the valid time length for an affiliate link click. After this duration, the purchase will not be attributable to your affiliates.

Take note of these when setting the cookie length:

  • First-click or last-click: This is to identify which affiliate gets the credit if the customer clicks more than one affiliate link at once.
  • The cookie duration and related terms should be the same for all your program’s affiliates.

Add tracking agents

UTM stands for “Urchin tracking module,” measuring the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns. It can track both the affiliate’s traffic sources and media platforms.

You will mostly find them at the end of regular URLs. For example, the link section behind the ? represents a UTM code:

So, how do you know which variable to add to the UTM tracking parameters? It is crucial to know their roles and the best way to use them.

  • utm_medium: Indicates which marketing or advertising medium drives the lead to your website. It could be email, organic, newsletter, banner, etc.

For example, utm_medium=email, utm_medium=organic.

  • utm_source: Indicates where the lead comes from, such as a social media page, a publication, or an advertiser.

For example, utm_source=facebook, utm_source=q42023newsletter.

  • utm_campaign: Identifies your promotion or strategic campaign name. It names the campaign and provides extra information about the clicked URL.

For example, utm_source=black_friday_sale, utm_source=free_trial.

All 3 parameters are required to go with your affiliate link. Luckily, some affiliate automation software, such as UpPromote, enables adding these UTM codes to your link automatically.

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Manually/automatically assign affiliate links

There are 2 common ways to provide affiliate links to your program members: manually and automatically.

Manual assignment means the merchant uses the affiliate platform to generate unique URLs for each partner. It allows you to customize specific parameters, such as sharing permissions or expiration dates.

After that, you will send the manually personalized link to your affiliate.

While assigning these links automatically means the platform auto-creates tracking links for a newly activated affiliate in your program. No need to generate them manually one by one.

In this case, the parameters are default. Therefore, the affiliate links come with the same settings for all partners.

(Optional) Customize the affiliate links

We can all agree that default affiliate URLs look complicated and unattractive. So, despite being optional, many merchants want to personalize affiliate links in different ways.

This is when link shortener tools like Bit.ly come in handy. They make these links look better for search engine optimization (SEO) or social media posts.

Especially in the case of Instagram, where you cannot attach a link to the content text. The affiliate’s name as a tracking code would be a wise choice instead.

You can also add discounts to the link as a form of customization. So, the customer automatically gets a price cut upon landing on your page via this URL.

Moreover, you can choose the main purpose of your affiliate link. Feel free to turn it into a lead generation URL for your opt-in forms.

There are various ways to personalize these links before assigning them to your affiliates. That way, they will get better optimization for marketing.

Keep in mind that joining most affiliate networks will result in limited link customization. An affiliate management app like UpPromote is always a better choice.

You can auto-create links tailored to each individual with its integrated feature.

There are some variables to choose from, such as {first_name} or {random_2numbers}. So, with a {first_name}_goat format, an affiliate named Peter automatically gets https://uppromote-test.myshopify.com/PETER_goat.

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What is An Affiliate Link?

An affiliate link is a special URL containing a tracking code. When someone clicks these links and makes a purchase, the link owner (usually affiliate marketers) earns a commission.

This type of link enables an individual to promote another company’s product or service. They will gain money for each successful sale.

The affiliate link directs the visitor to a landing page. Which can be the brand’s home website or a specific product page. On the business’ end, they often run affiliate marketing programs with automatic tools to track these sales.

Each affiliate link has a unique identifier, the affiliate tracking ID. This ID helps merchants know exactly which partner to pay for.

The ID is usually a set of numbers. But it can be custom into their name, for example.

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Types of Affiliate Links

An affiliate link is not plainly the same URL for every site.

What if you want to associate that link with a special discount? Or just capturing leads for a waitlist?

As you learn how to create affiliate links, there are various types of links serving different purposes.

Default affiliate links

After activating an affiliate program, it will automatically generate these links for your partners. They drive visitors to your home page.

Many affiliate platforms, including UpPromote, assign your affiliates with standard URLs in the first place. They also allow you to change the link if you wish to direct customers to other places on your website, such as directing them to your product or collection pages.

Custom affiliate links

Custom links are basically default ones with fewer letters and numbers. Of course, they look better on search engines to compel potential buyers to click on them.

As mentioned above, a custom link could be in various formats, such as the affiliate’s name, or simply shortened.

Note that not every online platform allows the act of link cloaking. For instance, Pinterest bans cloaked URLs to guarantee transparency.

Discount affiliate links

This type of link works for a specific purpose – adding a discount to one’s purchase.

A price cut is automatically added when someone clicks a discount affiliate link and visits your website.

The good news is this URL applies to both the default and custom types. It adds convenience to the customer experience, reducing one extra step of inputting coupon codes.

The lead gets a discount as soon as they land on a product page or your main website.

Lead generation campaign links

This is also a specialized affiliate link to attract leads to your marketing campaign.

They drive potential customers to your marketing campaigns. From there, an opt-in form shows up and invites them to sign up, mostly to get their email addresses.

Affiliates earn a commission for every registration or product purchase. This link type is suitable for email newsletter subscriptions or online course sign-ups.

How Do Affiliate Links Work?

When an individual signs up for your affiliate program, they receive an affiliate link to promote on their own channels. Potential customers interested in their content will click the link and be redirected to your website.

If they make a purchase or subscribe to a service, it counts as an affiliate sale. Your partner will then receive a pre-determined commission.

This tracking URL plays a vital role in affiliate marketing strategy as it expands your brand awareness to a wider audience. Eventually, it helps increase revenue without spending a large budget.

Affiliate links are available in many forms, such as custom, default, or with an auto-discount. Learn this as a crucial part of how to create affiliate links.

Style of affiliate links

Redirect links: The old-style tracking link hides the URL to your destination site. When leads click on it, they are redirected to a different website.

For example, the visitor finds the link on your affiliate’s Facebook posts. Then, lands on your product page after clicking it.

Direct links: Affiliates can directly connect prospective leads to your offer page with direct links. No need for an extra landing page, which is beneficial for advertisement.

TikTok or AirBnB are popular platforms for using direct affiliate URLs. It enables a straightforward one-step conversion process.

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Anchor links: Also known as in-page or jump links.

They are common on website content, linking to a specific location on a website. Not only do they link to webpages but also documents, initiating downloads.

Anchor links are less spammy since they optimize the URL characters. An excellent choice for SEO.

Where to place them

So, where are effective places for an affiliate to promote their links?

  • Social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube
  • Website: website navigation (header & footer), blogs, tutorials, banners, reviews
  • Digital products: eBooks, online courses, paid downloadable content
  • Gated content: free giveaways, lead magnets

Why Do You Need Affiliate Links?

Both the merchant and the affiliates gain benefits from affiliate marketing. And, of course, the backbone of every affiliate marketing strategy is the unique tracking URL.

Here are the amazing benefits of how to create affiliate links for your consideration:


The most essential purpose of an affiliate link is to help merchants track successful sales.

As the affiliate uses this URL to market on different platforms, you can seamlessly follow how they perform and generate sales. It becomes a great tool to measure their effectiveness in affiliate marketing.

Affiliate identification

Each partner in your program is assigned a unique tracking link to identify and track their performance.

The link contains both the merchant’s ID and theirs. Thus, it allows affiliates to get credit for sending traffic and driving sales on your website.

Accurate affiliate identification is crucial for you to commission them correctly.

Data & Reporting

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Collaborating with affiliate partners can let you access essential sales data.

During the affiliate link promotion process, you can capture various performance analytics. These tracking mediums include click-through rate, traffic source, conversions, etc.

Eventually, it allows you to refine your marketing strategy based on what works and does not. This is much more cost-effective than A/B testing different marketing methods.

Commission payments

Besides tracking how each affiliate performs, an affiliate URL also contributes to your commission payments.

For example, you may have different commission rates for discount affiliate links and organic traffic. The pre-determined link itself will specify which amount of money to pay your partner.

This enables the merchant to control the payouts and reward affiliates appropriately.


And the best part of using affiliate links?

Everything is automatic as a means of streamlining your workflow. Using an affiliate management app with automatic tracking links saves merchants a lot of time and effort.

All you have to do is sign up for software and invite new partners to join your affiliate program. Its built-in tools will assist you in managing every process automatically.


  • Are affiliate links and referral links the same?

An affiliate link is a unique URL provided by a business to its affiliates. These partners use the link to promote products on behalf of the brand.

While a referral link is used to refer products to a friend. Existing buyers are incentivized to refer new ones to the business.

  • How to promote affiliate links?

There are various ways to promote affiliate links. But the right tactic will lead to better results, such as:

  • Insert links directly into content
  • Promote links on social media
  • Use affiliate banners on website
  • Use email marketing to include links in offers

Whatever strategy you go with, always disclose the affiliate URL.

  • How to get my affiliate links?

Determine your niche in the market. Find brands that offer an affiliate program and sign up.

As you join the program, it will automatically generate unique tracking URLs. This helps track and identify your successful sales.

It works the same with affiliate networks, providing ready affiliate links.

  • How to create custom links?

You can generate custom links in an affiliate program. Sometimes, you would like to direct people to a specific page for which the merchant has not made a link.

The good news is most affiliate software has a custom link generator. Paste the desired destination URL in, and we are done.

  • How to track affiliate links?

Tracking how affiliate links work requires specific parameters. The UTM codes help you identify where leads come from by which campaign.

So, you need to add these parameters to the affiliate link after creating it. There are necessary options like utm_medium, utm_source, and utm_campaign.

A software like UpPromote can offer this automatic feature.


If you want to pursue affiliate marketing in your next campaign, learn all you can about how to create affiliate links.

They are the core of your strategy, allowing merchants to increase sales and brand awareness at an effective budget. Affiliates are responsible for all the promotions, and you only need to pay them a percentage of the sale.

Furthermore, an affiliate link is simple to use with diverse advantages. How else can you build strong partnerships with niche influencers while getting performance insights for further improvement?

Affiliate marketing and its unique tracking URL are certainly worth your shot.

Ellie Tran, a seasoned SEO content writer with three years of experience in the eCommerce world. Being a part of the UpPromote team, Ellie wants to assist Shopify merchants in achieving success through useful content & actionable insights. Ellie's commitment to learning never stops; she's always eager to gain more knowledge about SEO and content marketing to create valuable content for users. When she's not working on content, Ellie enjoys baking and exploring new places.