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What Does a High-Converting Affiliate Marketing Funnel Look Like And How You Can Create One

Sam O’ Brien

June 27, 2022

If you're a business looking for a new way to generate sales, an affiliate marketing funnel is worth a look. This blog introduces marketing managers to the concept of affiliate marketing. It's also a guide for affiliate marketers to create an affiliate marketing funnel. A good affiliate marketing funnel provides high conversion from initial interest to sales.

What is affiliate marketing?

To the uninitiated, affiliate marketing may sound like an impenetrable subject. In truth, the jargon masks a relatively simple concept. Affiliate marketing is a marketing method built on partnerships. Businesses can partner with webmasters, content publishers, or social media influencers. Those partners are known as affiliates.

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Affiliates are paid a commission for promoting a company. They're paid either a flat fee or a percentage of a sale. You can measure the success of an affiliate by monitoring some key indicators. How many clicks are they generating? How many leads have you acquired? Most importantly, what effect are they having on sales?

The best affiliate partners drive traffic to a business's offering with engaging copywriting. The content they publish will capture the interest of potential customers. They are then called upon to opt-in to further communications. Those communications then steer customers toward a purchase.

Companies must use the right affiliates for their particular needs. For example, a partnership with a gaming YouTuber is no use to a company that sells point-of-sale software.

Businesses must aim to affiliate with people who are already in touch with their customers. Ideally, they should aim for affiliates connected with customers they're targeting. Keeping affiliate marketing partnerships consistent with a brand is essential. So, a company that sells development tools would be a good match with a blogger writing articles with titles like ‘what is stack overflow?’

The job of an affiliate is to actively promote a product or service. They already have an audience, so a business pays for access to that audience. Ideally, affiliates already use and love what their partners sell. Therefore, they can be genuine when they praise a product to their audience. 

Companies can find affiliates by approaching influencers on an ad hoc basis. They’ll want to target people who know their industry or use their products. They can find candidates through social media or blogs devoted to their industry.

However, an easier way of finding the right affiliates is by tapping into affiliate marketing networks. These networks are third-party intermediaries that connect affiliates with companies. They can reduce the time sunk into creating an affiliate marketing strategy. They also help a company to extend its reach.

Imagine a company selling a customer support chatbot. They're doing great business in the US, but they're sure they could make a dent in the Asian market. Affiliate marketing networks help them find affiliates best placed to advance their aims. They will be able to match a product to affiliates who already reached the target audience.

Defining the sales funnel

A sales funnel is an illustrative tool for thinking about a consumer’s relationship with a business. It breaks the customer journey down into key stages that can be monitored to gain insights into a business's performance. 

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Let’s take a look at each stage, and how affiliate marketing can help.

  • Awareness: How well known is the brand? Are their target customers aware of them? This stage is vital, of course, because they have to get them through the door. Affiliate marketing is a great way to introduce a business to potential customers. They can highlight a business in social media posts or during engaging virtual events.

  • Consideration: Of those that know the company, how many would use it? Does the product/service meet the needs of the target customer? Companies should partner with affiliates using their business. They'll be in a position to advocate on the company's behalf.

  • Preference: How many potential customers would choose a brand over the competition? What does the brand offer that others don’t? Affiliates can tell the story of why they choose an offering over the competition.

  • Conversion: How many customers does a business currently have? How much are those customers using the product? Has the product met or surpassed their expectations? Affiliate partners will be able to attest to their experiences, and share that with their audience.

  • Advocacy: How often are customers recommending a business to others? Do they feel suitably confident in evangelizing a company? Affiliates can build a community around what they promote; leveraging that is very powerful indeed.

How an affiliate marketing funnel is different

Although the affiliate marketing funnel is based on the sales funnel, it flows differently. Businesses need to know this when thinking about affiliate marketing management.

Affiliates ought to know this inside out. It is a map to success in affiliate marketing.

  • Stage 1: Affiliates drive traffic to their platform using SEO-optimized blog posts or through social media engagement. They could set up a Facebook giveaway to incentivize engagement. 
  • Stage 2: The opt-in is vital. The affiliate will have a super landing page with a call to action. The customer will want to hear more via email or other means.
  • Stage 3: The affiliate engages directly with their audience to evangelize your product or service.
  • Stage 4: The affiliate makes their pitch. This is where they earn their money, and you make a sale.

Why create an affiliate marketing funnel?

We picture the sales journey as a funnel because it’s expected that the numbers at each stage will reduce. An affiliate marketing strategy will help businesses convert more people to the conversion stage of the funnel. If you’re an affiliate marketer yourself, pay special attention here. 

Let's look at the benefits of an affiliate marketing funnel.

  • 59% of shoppers surveyed in a Google/Ipsos poll said they researched their purchase online. An SEO-optimized blog or web page captures traffic by offering high-quality information for free.
  • By inviting potential customers to opt-in to communications, affiliates deal with people who have already invested trust. This allows them to build up that relationship, and convert more customers.
  • Affiliates can leverage established customer relationships to encourage repeat purchases. This can be done through special customer appreciation promotions, for example.
  • A process broken into stages enables a systematic approach to sales. Affiliates see where their customer is in their journey and can adapt if they think they’re losing them.
  • Affiliates able to convert more leads can attract higher commissions. Businesses will always respond positively to affiliates providing them value.
  • A higher conversion rate will provide affiliates with further opportunities. Success attracts more companies looking for the best affiliates.

9 tips for creating an affiliate marketing funnel

We’ve laid out the advantages of affiliate marketing, and the affiliate marketing funnel; now it’s time to discover how to create one. Affiliates can use these tips to convert more customers.

Optimization

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Success in affiliate marketing is dependent upon discoverability. You’ll want your website or blog to appear as high in the search rankings as possible, with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Content from you will require appropriate keywords to drive traffic from search engines. More content will give you more opportunities to get those keywords in. There is help available, such as surfer seo software, to get the best SEO possible.

Drive traffic

Optimization will help your content gain more traffic. It’s one of the free traffic sources for affiliate marketing. Social media engagement is also a fantastic source of free traffic. There’s also the paid ads option to explore. Ads on social media will boost your traffic further. You can pay to appear higher in search results through Google Ads.

Engaging content

You will attract more potential customers with a well-optimized website. You will need great content to drive those visitors through the affiliate marketing funnel. A blog written with SEO in mind has to be attractive to potential customers. It also has to be pertinent to the product or service you’re trying to sell.

For example, if your product is a chef's knife, a recipe blog would be a good match. It has to be visually appealing too. Pictures and infographics are always welcome. Foremost, the written copy has to be increasing interest in the product. Ultimately, you want copywriting to increase sales.

Create a landing page

You’ll want a bold, and attractive landing page to encourage visitors to move through the funnel. Let this be the place people can find more of your content. This is also where you’ll want to make a clear call to action for your opt-in.

Make a call to action

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The visitor found the page, and loves the content. This is good news. Now you need to make a call to action. Ask the potential customer to opt-in to an email list. This isn’t a time for subtlety; incentivize the opt-in by offering exclusive content. This process moves them through the funnel, and gets closer to making a sale.

Set up an email series

Once a customer has opted-in to your email list, you can communicate directly. This is an opportunity to build trust, and get closer to the pitch. A sales email series is an automated series of emails to your subscribers. Let’s imagine your marketing for a gaming keyboard.

  • Your first email could be about what games you’re recommending right now.
  • Secondly, talk about the importance of excellent gaming hardware.
  • Now you tell your subscribers why this gaming keyboard is your favorite. This is your pitch.
  • Great news, you’ve got an exclusive, and limited discount available. Buy quick!

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The emails you send need to be relevant to your audience, and the product. For instance, the above example would be no good for selling digital asset management services. With the proper email series, you will generate sales, and discover if there are more potential buyers among your subscribers. You can adapt your email series to convert more of those subscribers that have yet to buy.

Create a bridge page 

A bridge page is where you send warm leads to give them another push to buy. This is to solidify the trust you’ve built with the potential customer. Include positive reviews of the product, testimonials, and feature analysis. Ensure this feels like the content your audience has already enjoyed. Try not to make it too salesy. Then, you send them to the product page to buy.

Join an affiliate program

Affiliate marketers save so much time through affiliate marketing programs. These are third-party specialists that connect affiliates with businesses. There are many high paying affiliate programs available. Do your research, and find one that best serves your purposes.  

Monitor the funnel

You will need to set up some metrics that you can monitor. Seeing what’s working, and what isn’t will enable you to adapt your approach, thereby increasing sales. You’ll want to monitor performance metrics for each stage of the affiliate marketing funnel. This will help you pinpoint where you can make improvements. 

To sum up

Affiliate marketing is more personal than anything else of its kind. It harnesses the power of real connections made between influencers, and audiences. The affiliate is making their recommendations based on what they truly believe. That’s what makes it so effective. The affiliate knows their audience.

Affiliates can convert more by using the tips provided here. Higher conversion equals higher compensation for your efforts.

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