The digital era we know and the democratization of the internet that we have seen emerging over the past twenty years have profoundly changed our ways of consuming and have given birth to new types of customer journey …

Among these is the ROPO course for research online, purchase offline (online research, store purchase), the click and collect which consists of ordering online and picking up in store (example: Leclerc drive) and finally the completely digital route where the customer no longer goes through the local trade box. But customer journeys were not the only ones to be impacted and we saw the birth of new ways of selling and retaining customers via social networks and search engines mainly.

Webmarketing training

However, since the arrival of all these new sales channels, we sometimes tend to forget the good old sales methods which proved to be formidably effective. So this is one of them that we are going to talk about today, namely customer sponsorship, and more specifically the customer sponsorship in e-commerce.

What is customer sponsorship?

Customer sponsorship is a commercial technique which consists in rewarding a customer by giving him, for example, a voucher if the latter is at the origin of a sale made by a member of his entourage following one of his recommendations. The new customer acquired is then called godson vis-à-vis the Godfather which made him buy one or more of our products.

Why use customer sponsorship?

Customer sponsorship is used by many leading players in their market. We can for example take the case of Uber eats in the delivery of meals at home which offers a 10 € reduction to the sponsor and the sponsored child during the first sponsored sale.

uber-eats sponsorship

But unfortunately customer sponsorship is still very little used in e-commerce today compared to the mainstream traffic sources that are:

  • The natural reference (SEO) which consists of positioning itself on queries in a natural way within search engines such as Google or Bing by regularly writing quality content and by obtaining links from external sites. “Content is the king and netlinking is the queen” ;
  • Thebuying keywords (SEA) where we will pay this time in order to be highlighted on the search engines on transactional requests related to our products;
  • The publicity whether in the form of a display with search engines or via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…;
  • The influencers with which partnerships are carried out in the form of product placement or opening pack in front of their Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube or even TikTok community which is currently experiencing very strong growth;
  • Theemail marketing in which we will especially come to retain our customers and prospects through quality content and promotional offers.

We will therefore see without further ado why client sponsorship is a huge asset for an e-commerce site which it would be unfortunate to deprive yourself of.

Acquisition of free traffic

You are aware that you are an e-merchant that acquisition costs are constantly increasing and that this is a real problem when you want to get more customers. But to tell the truth, there is not much we can do except comply with the CPC price (cost per click) imposed by the various advertising agencies (Google, Facebook, etc.).

However, always wanting to run after new customers we end up forgetting the ones we already have. Remember that it is on average three times cheaper to buy from someone who is already a customer than to a complete stranger. Therefore, it would not be unwise to start by focusing on retaining our own customers before trying to get new ones. This is precisely where the client sponsorship.

Unlike the sources of acquisition mentioned above, you will not need to invest in own funds to acquire customers which is a major advantage especially when your shop is new and you do not have a lot of means. The only cost that you will actually have to pay will be the loss of profit offered to the sponsor and the logistical implementation of the sponsorship system. But as we will see a little later in this article, contrary to popular belief it is not really complicated to set up a customer referral system on your e-commerce site.

The beginning of real independence

As we mentioned in the previous point, when an advertising agency decides to increase its prices we can only force ourselves to do so if we want to continue making sales and it will be our margin that will pay the price.

In addition, we no longer count the number of e-commerce stores that were very profitable one day and saw their profitability divided by five, ten or even a hundred the next day following a Google Panda or Penguin penalty or deletion a Facebook advertising account. This is what happens when you do not take care to diversify your traffic sources upstream and you are at the mercy of a single agency.

ecommerce growth

It is therefore very important to anticipate these types of events, taking care to work in advance with at least three different sources of traffic in order to ensure a safety cushion in the event of an accident. Customer sponsorship is therefore one of these other sources of traffic which provides financial security for our shop and repeat customers. But just like email marketing, customer sponsorship has its own benefit, independent.

While a competitor can at any time bid more on your keywords in the case of SEA or buy links to get ahead in SEO, he can never rob you of the relationship of trust that you have duly built with your customers. In addition, where you will constantly need to invest time and money to get traffic from the various agencies, once you have correctly automated your referral system it will work for you in a completely passive way.

Exponential leverage

As soon as your customer referral system is set up and automated, your customers will then take care of finding new ones for you by sharing their referral codes or links by various means, first by mouth by word of mouth, but also and above all by the web via discussion forums, social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twiter, etc.), or platform dedicated to sponsorship like

Your new clients thus sponsored will then in turn have the possibility of becoming a sponsor to benefit from the advantages that you have to offer and a real snowball effect will gradually fall into place.

In addition, your customers will be much better able to recommend your products, because on the one hand, they will have tried them, but also because their word will have much more weight and impact on their loved ones than a brand might have. through yet another advertisement. It’s common to say that we’re the average of the five people we hang out with the most, so you’ll have a good chance of finding prospects in your customer’s entourage, don’t be shy.

How to set up a 3-step sponsorship system?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not particularly difficult to set up a sponsorship system on your e-commerce site. This is often scary because it is for many something misunderstood and new, but if you decide to leave your comfort zone for a few minutes you will quickly find that all these misconceptions are completely unfounded.

Especially if you use a CMS (content management system) for your site such as WordPress + Woocommerce, Shopify, Magento, Prestatshop or Drupal Commerce to name only the most popular, there are for each of them applications that will allow you to easily and quickly set up all the logistics.

Define your target

Before even thinking about the applications you will choose, it is important to clearly define who will be targeting your referral system. Although the heart of this article is about client sponsorship, there’s nothing stopping you from expanding your program to affiliate affiliate or influencer sites. Especially if you are a new site that has very few or even no customers, it will be difficult for you to make profitable the implementation of your referral program.

customer targeting

To remedy this problem, you can decide to use more authoritative sites which already generate regular traffic, whether they are blogs or shops offering complementary products. Offer to introduce a tracked link in one of their popular articles that redirects to one of your products and give them a commission for each sale made on your site from that same link.

This operation is equally applicable with influencers in the form of a promo code for which they will receive a commission on each sale made with their code. This will allow you to acquire your first customers without even having to spend a single penny.

Define your sponsorship system

Once you have determined who will be eligible to use your referral program, you will need to agree on the rewards you will award based on performance as a sponsor of your clients / affiliates. Your program will depend on several factors including the average price of your products and what you sell, but among the most common we find for example a reduction coupon of X € offered as a reward for a sponsored sale.

Do not hesitate to set up a sponsorship system with different levels so as to always encourage your customers to invest more to find new customers. Make sure that they are really rewarded and that what you have to offer them is worth the efforts they will provide on their side, even if it means reducing your margins at first, do not try to exploit your customers if not you will have no chance of building something successful.

Publish your sponsorship system

At this point, you have in hand the target to whom you want to offer the possibility of being part of your sponsorship system and what you have to offer it, you just have to put it all in place.

As we saw in the introduction, there are applications for each CMS that will allow you to easily and quickly install a referral system on your e-commerce store. Goaffpro for example does a very good job on Shopify where each of your partners can generate tracked links in order to share them with those around them and on their social networks. Each sale which will then be made from their link will earn them remuneration in the form of a percentage commission that you will have set up in advance.

client partner

To automate your referral system, schedule an email that will be sent a few days after receiving the product from your new customer and then present your customer referral system in the most educational and clear way possible. Choose the video format which will be more appreciated than a long block of text in which you will highlight the benefits of your offer namely to earn money, discounts or privileges related to your products and your shop.

Do not hesitate to invest yourself to the maximum by preparing them visuals that they can reuse through their social networks or giving them concrete examples of some of your sponsors who have won let’s say € 682 in 1 month thanks to your program.


It can be a bit tedious at the start to delve into customer sponsorship when you’ve never touched it. But today there are many applications that will take care of all the most technical logistics for you. This will allow you to fully focus on the quality and originality of your sponsorship program and on acquiring new sponsors.

Once in place you will then have a source of traffic shipping, independent of all governance and exponential which will bring you customers in a continuous and prosperous way. Finally, the only important metrics that you will have to follow will be the relationship of trust that you will maintain with your customers / ambassadors and the quality of your products.