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September 1, 2021 - By Kristin Foster

Digital Marketing Strategies for Dropshipping Businesses

Can I effectively promote my dropshipping business on a budget?

What are the best marketing tactics to get my dropshipping business ahead of competitors?

These are some of the most common questions that owners of dropshipping businesses ask online. Shopify forums, Quora, Reddit — you name it — everybody wants the best advice to make their business successful…and for good reason!

If you and your business have similar goals, these marketing tips may be useful to you! Instead of endlessly scrolling through hundreds of unvetted search results, check out these proven tactics.

1. Start a Referral Program

Referral programs are great for promoting dropshipping business for two reasons…

First, referred customers are more valuable than regular ones because they trust people who recommend businesses to them. 

Second, a referral program allows a business to directly reach the most loyal and engaged customers.

Creating a referral program is easy:

  • Get a referral program app (many of them are free)
  • Add instructions on how to become a member of the program
  • Promote your program on your website, social media, and other channels

A great example of a referral program comes from Equilibria. It takes care of two important aspects: value and accessibility. 

As for the value, the program offers $20 to both the referrer and the referred, which is a motivating incentive. In terms of accessibility, the discount is applied automatically, so getting the discount is extremely easy for the consumer to execute.

equilibria referral program
Author’s screenshot


2. Launch an Affiliate Program

Using an affiliate program means getting integrating partners to help promote your store to their own audiences. This allows you to reach broader, engaged audiences from a source they already know and trust. 

Affiliate programs are cost-effective too, as you only need to pay when your partners bring you sales. A well-executed affiliate program can drive up to 20% of your revenue. It’s a win-win!

Many marketing experts recommend affiliate programs for dropshipping stores because they often have high profit margins. Giving out rewards for orders is feasible only in this case, otherwise commissions can eat into profits by almost canceling out small profit margins.

You can start an affiliate program by:

  • Get an affiliate marketing app (many are free)
  • Create an affiliate program for your business inside the app
  • Promote your affiliate program on social media, website, and other marketing channels

Now, let’s consider an example for further insight.

Zazzle, an online marketplace, has a great program you can learn from as a dropshipping retailer. Some of the most important features of the program include:

  • Referral payment: $15 per sale
  • Quick program sign-up (less than a minute)
  • Huge range of products to choose for promoting
  • Multiple payment methods to reward partners
zazzle affiliate program
Author’s screenshot


3. Use Various Discounting Strategies

Listen to this: 41% of online shoppers decide to buy solely because of discounts – that’s an incredible opportunity!  People enjoy hunting for the best deals possible, so giving out discounts is a no-brainer for a dropshipping store. However, too many discounts can eat revenues, so you need a well-thought-out strategy here.

There are many discounting strategies to choose from, but it’s also worth trying each one to find what works best for your business.

  • Volume discount. This one’s simple: you give a discount to encourage customers to buy more products. The more they buy, the larger the discount is.
  • Bundled discount. This strategy involves giving a discount for buying bundles and kits of several products.
  • Event discount. You can share discounts with customers on birthdays, holidays, and other special events.
  • Buy one, get one free. You can implement this strategy to cross-sell some products while giving a good reason to shop for customers.
  • Free shipping. You can offer customers free shipping for say, orders higher than $70 in total value. This will be another good way to save for them while also driving higher sales numbers.

Here’s an example of the free shipping promotion. Honeybee Gardens advertises free shipping via email and adds a sense of urgency by making it a limited-time offer!

honeybee gardens discounting strategy
Author’s screenshot


To make these discount strategies work for your store, you must learn about your gross margin, markup, and breakeven numbers. They will show you what kind of a discount will not affect your revenues.

Abandoned cart recovery is another way dropshipping stores can utilize discount strategies to drive sales that otherwise wouldn’t have been completed. If customers abandon products in carts, businesses send a series of three abandoned cart emails with the last one containing the discount.

Why offer a discount, you ask?

Because a discount would be the strongest incentive you can provide to push a consumer over the line to finally buy.

4. Send Marketing Offers to Customers Via Text Messages

Text messages are a direct way to reach customers, and they’re making a comeback in modern digital marketing strategy. Ecommerce research shows that shoppers redeem texted coupons 10 times more often than the traditional ones which, combined with the 98% SMS open rate, makes a compelling case for using SMS to promote a dropshipping store.

Using SMS for marketing can be simple:

  • Get an SMS marketing app for your eCommerce platform.
  • Use the app to start collecting subscribers (typically, it’s done via website popups and banners).
  • Write promotional text messages and share them with the subscribers (you can send thousands of messages at once because everything is automated).

To build your SMS list, you need to make a compelling reason for users to sign up for your campaigns. This can be done by offering exclusive offers and discounts only available for text subscribers.

Leveret, a clothing store, offers exclusive offers and a 20% discount for the next purchase. That’s a good one-time deal for the customer, and the long term value of that consumer’s sign-up is an even bigger win for the brand!

leveret sms incentive
Author’s screenshot


Apart from the ridiculously high open rate, the best thing about SMS marketing is automation. You can collect subscribers on autopilot thanks to website banners and popups, and SMS marketing apps already have nice templates to speed up campaign creation.

Summary: Digital Marketing Strategies for Dropshipping Stores

Above are four great tips to effectively promote your dropshipping store. You can try implementing multiple tips in your marketing strategy to get the best results. Or consider consulting with a marketing expert to know what can work great right away in your market!

Consider trying and testing as many marketing methods as possible to find out what works best for your business. The universal formula for getting sales doesn’t exist, but you can achieve your marketing goals much faster if you try these tips. Good luck!

Working with a full-service agency like Hawke Media can help your brand create a road map to success with affiliate, SMS, and other channels. Interested in learning more? Reach out for a free consultation today!