By Mike Vestil
If you’re in the marketing world, you’ve heard of a sales funnel before: the process of moving a customer through the buyer’s journey to a sale.
But the whole concept of sales funnels is a little different when you’re an affiliate marketer, because only part of the sales process depends on you!
In this article, I’ll go over the most important tips to consider when it comes to creating a successful sales funnel for your affiliate marketing business.
Whether you’re just starting out or are looking to improve your current results as an affiliate, be sure to read on as we reveal how to create a sales funnel for affiliate marketing!
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Why Do You Need A Sales Funnel?
First of all, why would you even need a sales funnel? Isn’t it possible to just do your thing – write content, run ads, publish social posts – and just watch the money roll in?
Well, designing a sales funnel is a big help if you want to better understand how each stage in a campaign affects the next one. This will help you as the affiliate, but it can also help communicate what you need for any team members or contractors working on other parts of your campaign.
Additionally, if you want to ensure that you’re making the most of your marketing efforts, a sales funnel will help you track your results. This includes understanding your website traffic, conversion rates, and other key metrics. Without this data, it’s almost impossible to know what’s working and what needs to be optimized to achieve better results.
When it comes to attracting the right target audience, a sales funnel can also be extremely helpful. By clearly defining each step of the process, you can ensure that you are only targeting those who are likely to be interested in the affiliate product you’re promoting. This saves time and money while also helping improve your overall conversion rate!
Lastly, thinking through your sales funnel can also build trust and credibility with potential customers, because you’re able to provide a smooth and seamless customer journey, no matter where they first come across you online.
The Customer Journey In Relation To An Affiliate Sales Funnel
Here are the steps for mapping out the customer’s journey (aka buyer’s journey) to your affiliate sales funnel.
Image credit: https://www.smartinsights.com/
The first step is awareness, which is when the potential customer becomes aware of the problem your product or service will solve. You can raise awareness through a range of marketing efforts, such as content marketing, social media marketing, and even paid advertising!
EXAMPLE: Say you want to promote one of these top survival offers like the Water Freedom System, which teaches people how to provide their own clean drinking water without relying on utilities. You could run an ad or put a banner on your website that hooks potential customers interested in DIY skills for “water-on-demand.”
Once someone is aware of your offering, the next step is interest. At this stage, the customer should start to learn more about what you offer and why it might be beneficial for them. This is where you should lightly sell your potential solution, with a focus on benefits and an alleviation of their pain points.
If you’re not getting affiliate sales even with a good offer, this is the stage where you will likely lose them. Ensuring you have the right type of interest before moving potential buyers onto the next stage is critical!
EXAMPLE: With the Water Freedom example, this might map to a pre-sale page with a brief video telling viewers why it’s so important to be prepared for a water crisis, because we’re over-consuming water and our freshwater sources are drying up all over the world (which is sadly true!).
The third step is desire, which is when the potential customer starts to want your product or service. This is usually driven by emotion and can be created by showing them how your offering will solve a problem they have or make their life better in some way.
If you are able to create a strong enough desire, affiliate sales will become easier and the potential customer will more likely purchase your recommended product or service.
EXAMPLE: By now, your prospect is on the sales page and a text sales letter or video sales letter is priming their desire for the product. The good news is, most affiliates don’t have to do anything for this step!
The final stage is action, which is when the sale is actually made. This can happen through various means such as online checkout, phone order, or even in-person purchase.
But when people think affiliate marketing on a site through a platform like ClickBank, the “action” of a purchase takes place when the customer clicks to buy and then checks out. From there, Clickbank will process the payment and route a commission to the affiliate (you) and to the product owner.
EXAMPLE: If the sales page is strong, any prospects you’ve referred to the Water Freedom System will hopefully click the “buy” button, fill out the checkout form, and purchase the product. Voila… it’s action!
Ultimately, the steps in an affiliate sales funnel can vary depending on the products or services being sold, but the general process is the same. By understanding each stage, you can ensure that you’re doing what works to attract and convert potential customers.
Want additional details on this process? Learn more about how Clickbank works.
The Sales Funnel Stages (Affiliates vs. Sellers)
I’ve mentioned earlier about the sales funnel having a few different stages. In an affiliate funnel specifically, some of these stages are handled by the affiliate (you), while others will be created by the seller/product owner.
For example, the pre-sale page is typically created by an affiliate in order to warm up potential customers before sending them over to a sales page.
As part of the sales funnel, affiliates might also collect email addresses in building an email list. With an email list, you can mailed new subscribers a welcome email series, intended to build a relationship with the potential customer and move them toward purchasing an affiliate product or service you’re promoting – all because it will hopefully help them solve a problem or fulfill a need they have.
On the flip side, the product itself is created by a third party seller. This is what the customer will be purchasing. The sales page is also created by the vendor and is where the customer will go to purchase the product. This page should include all of the necessary information about the product, along with answering commonly asked questions, going over obstacles and eliminating them, etc.
Finally, there’s the thank you page, which is the page the new buyer lands on when they have completed a purchase. This page should include information on how to use the product, as well as contact information in case they need customer service. For this, you should consider various communication channels such as a custom phone number, email, or even chatbots.
Since there are these two major players in an affiliate funnel, an affiliate bridge page can be used to link the two together. This page will typically include information about both the affiliate and the vendor, as well as a link to the sales page.
Steps to Consider When Creating a Sales Funnel for Affiliate Marketing
Another decision that affiliates require making is what to focus on when getting started. Some prefer to start with a product in mind, while others have an audience they match with the right products.
There’s no right or wrong answer here – it all depends on your personal preferences and what you think will work best for you.
That said, here are some questions that you need to be able to answer before you can start creating your affiliate sales funnel:
- Who is your target audience?
- What products or services are you going to promote?
- How are you going to attract potential customers to your lead capture page?
- What kind of follow-up sequence are you going to use?
- How often are you going to send promotional emails?
- What other marketing channels will you use to promote your products or services? (for example, if you want to sell more on Instagram, you may consider cross-promotion on Facebook or Pinterest)
- What kind of bonuses or freebies are you going to offer potential customers?
- Are you going to create your own sales page and send leads to a checkout page or use the vendor’s one (more on this in the next section)?
Let’s look at what it entails if you’re starting with the product in mind.
Starting With The Product In Mind
Here, the first step is to find a profitable niche. This can be done by researching various industries and looking for ones that have affiliate programs available. At Clickbank, there are numerous choices in this regard. Once you’ve found a niche, the next step is to choose affiliate products that have favorable terms when it comes to commission and conversion rates.
Then, you’ll need to create content around the product. This can be done through blog posts, videos, or even infographics. The goal here is to promote your content and drive traffic to your lead capture page.
Once you’ve captured leads, you’ll send them to the vendor’s website. From there, it’s up to the vendor to nurture the leads and make the sale, earning you a commission in the process.
Starting With an Audience in Mind
You could also have an audience you want to match with the right products. In this case, the first step is still finding your target audience and start building a relationship with them.
The aim is to have a list of people that have similar problems, needs, and aspirations. This will make your future product recommendations easier to match with such an audience. While you might not know the exact products you’ll be promoting when you start building your list, the focus here is much more audience-based.
Getting feedback on how you can best help them is also highly recommended. This can be done through surveys, social media, or even by talking to people in your target audience.
Drilling down into the pain points of your audience, and really understanding what they want from you (i.e. big problems they need solving) is key to finding the right affiliate products to put in front of them.
Once you’ve done all this, you’ll also need to create content around the product. Remember the four customer journey steps?
They are still important to follow.
Once you’ve built up your relationship with your list, have matched them with the right product and given them the required information about it, then you simply send them to the vendor’s sales page as in the previous step.
Sending Leads to Sales Page vs. Checkout Page
In the last section, I promised that I’d give you a bit more detail about what it means to send leads to a vendor’s sales page versus the checkout page.
First off all, the main difference between the two is that a sales page is designed to get people to know more about a product/service, eliminate any last minute resistance they might have and then get them to the checkout page.
The checkout page is simply designed to get people to sign up or buy a product/service – meaning that they have all the information required to make a purchasing decision beforehand.
Image credit: https://support.clickbank.com
Also, note that not all vendors will allow affiliates to send traffic directly to a checkout page, but, if they do, it is something you might want to consider as part of your affiliate promotions. Testing to see whether sending people to the sales page or check out is more effective is always a good idea. Through this type of testing, you can increase your conversion rate and, ultimately, your affiliate earnings.
That said, here are the pros and cons for sending leads to a sales page or checkout page.
Pros and Cons for Sending Leads to the Sales Page
- The vendor’s sales page is usually designed to convert: Any high-quality vendor will be split testing their sales page to ensure that it’s as effective as possible. This means that, more often than not, the vendor’s sales page will be able to convert better than anything you could put together.
- The vendor’s sales page has all the information about the product: If you’re sending leads to a checkout page, they might not have all of the information that they need to make a purchase decision.
- The vendor’s sales page often includes testimonials and social proof: One of the most important elements of any sales page is social proof. This helps increase conversion rates by showing potential customers that other people have tried the product and liked it.
- You get a 60-day cookie on anyone who clicks your hoplink: On ClickBank, you’ll get a 60-day cookie when someone clicks your affiliate tracking link. That means, even if they don’t buy right away, you’ll get credit if they go back and buy the product within 60 days (unless they click on another affiliate’s hoplink later on and then make a purchase).
- The vendor’s sales page may be too long/detailed for some leads: While this might seem like a good thing, it can actually be bad. Some leads might not have the patience to watch or read through an entire sales page and, as a result, they’ll leave without buying anything.
- The vendor’s sales page may include upsells that could dissuade some leads: Upsells are additional products or services that a vendor offers after a customer has made a purchase. While upsells are helpful in many situations, they can also worsen the customer experience if there are way too many of them or there are ones that aren’t relevant to the main offer. Again, you might not always have freedom to offer people specific products (and not others) as an affiliate. That said, it’s good to know what’s possible, so do the proper research.
Pros and Cons For Sending Leads to the Checkout Page
Here are the pros and cons for sending leads to a product owner’s checkout page (i.e. the ClickBank order form) :
- You have more control over the sale: If the vendor’s sales page isn’t converting at the level you expect, you can still sell your audience yourself and simply send them to the checkout page. This gives you more control over the sale and, ultimately, whether or not the person buys the product.
- It can help you get more targeted: If you’ve done an effective job of targeting a very specific audience, the vendor’s official sales page may not resonate as well as your own messaging. Plus, by the time someone is ready to buy, you don’t want additional steps between them and the purchase.
- It takes longer to build this level of trust with the lead: It generally takes longer to build trust with a lead if you’re sending them directly to the checkout page. This is because they most likely haven’t been able to fully get the whole picture about the product – unless you’ve done a really great job that goes above and beyond what affiliates generally do.
- You may lose leads if they’re not convinced to buy by the time they get to the checkout page: This is definitely a possibility and something you should be aware of before you make a decision on where to send leads. You don’t get your account cookied with a direct pay link, so if you don’t make the sale right then and there, you won’t have another chance.
All in all, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option before you decide which one is right for you. Again, no right or wrong answer exists, as it all depends on your specific situation. If you’re unsure which option is best, you can always test out both and see which one converts better for your particular offer.
When in doubt, you should just send people to the sales page – but be aware of instances where it might make sense to point your leads to the order form instead!
2 Actual Funnels That ClickBank Clients Use
In Clickbank’s recent course, our business development expert Kyle Kostechka breaks down two specific funnels that have seen high-converting results with ClickBank affiliate clients.
1) Lead Magnet Funnel
If you’re a content creator, this lead magnet funnel will be extremely beneficial to you – not only will it capture email addresses, but it’ll also convert buyers through a series of emails. By offering a free resource, you’re more likely to see positive results with less effort!
If you want your social post or content site to drive potential customers through a lead magnet funnel to complete a sale, then this funnel could be the missing link to your affiliate efforts.
- Ideal for content creators and publisher affiliates
- Easy to implement and can be used with any lead magnet
- Builds up the value of the relationship before selling anything
2) Advertorial Funnel
This particular funnel converts extremely well for health and fitness products – or other high-ticket affiliate offers – by appearing as articles during the pre-sale phase of the buyer journey.
With customers in the health and fitness world sometimes blinded by the latest fad diets or workout routines, this funnel allows you to cut through the noise and get your message in front of them in a way that feels natural and based on curiosity.
- The content is interesting and informative, which builds trust with the reader
- The product is only mentioned after the reader has engaged with the content, so they’re more likely to be interested in it
You can check out the complete course sales page to learn more about how to use these types of funnels in your affiliate marketing business.
Landing Page and Funnel Building Software
From building a landing page to publishing it live on the internet, you need to have the right tools to get the job done! Luckily, there’s plenty of landing page builder software you can use to build landing pages, no matter your budget.
One option is self-hosted landing page software that you install on your own web server and which gives you complete control over the look and feel of your landing pages. However, with control also comes the responsibility of maintaining and updating the software as needed. Having technical knowledge will definitely be helpful here!
On the other hand, you can use third-party landing page software, such as ClickFunnels or Convertri, that’s hosted by them. You don’t have to worry about maintaining or updating the software, as that’s all taken care of by the provider. However, you also don’t have as much control over the look and feel of your landing pages compared to doing it all yourself.
One important consideration in your funnel is your ability to retarget potential leads. Retargeting options allow you to show ads to people who have already visited your site but haven’t taken the right action yet (i.e. they haven’t opted in to your list). Using retargeting to your advantage can be a great way to increase conversions, so it’s something to look into when deciding on the landing page software to go with.
Lastly, I just want to say that all of these sales funnel options can feel overwhelming. But it’s important to realize that you don’t need to handle all of this yourself.
There are countless marketing agencies that specialize in helping clients set up and optimize sales funnels – so when in doubt, make sure you just get started, even if it means delegating your funnel build to a specialist!
Sales Funnel for Affiliate Marketing Wrap-up
Building a sales funnel for affiliate marketing can be a great way to optimize your campaigns and increase your earnings. Being able to capture leads and then guiding them through a sales process can lead to more conversions and, ultimately, more money in your pocket.
As an affiliate, perfecting this process can literally be the difference between random, small affiliate commissions or large, consistent ones. Said differently, if you’re not using a sales funnel in your affiliate marketing, you’re likely leaving money on the table!
Of course, there is no perfect sales funnel. You’ll need to experiment and find what works best for you and your audience. At the same time, being meticulous with tracking can help you optimize your funnel and improve your results over time!
If you want help making your sales funnel a reality, don’t forget to check out the new Funnel Workshop from Kyle Kostechka and Spark by ClickBank!
Author Bio: Mike Vestil
Mike Vestil is an author, investor, and speaker known for building a business from zero to $1.5 million in 12 months while traveling the world.