5 Steps to Creating an Affiliate Marketing Funnel to Drive Conversions

Blog cover:  Checklist Affiliate Marketing

Creating a successful affiliate marketing funnel is the dream for both businesses and their affiliates. For businesses, it brings in customers that they haven’t had to spend their budget to gain. For affiliates, it can be a passive income stream through their content creation and promotions.

But just this is a dream, it’s also a challenge.

So the question is, how do both business and affiliates make it happen?

In this article, we’ll cover how to create an affiliate marketing funnel to drive conversions. This includes set strategies and tactics for affiliates to use; as well as actionable steps that businesses can provide to their affiliates.

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1. Find your niche

Rather than focusing on what has the best commission rates or the biggest name brand, focus on finding your niche.

What expertise do you have that you can share? Perhaps you have a background in managing remote teams. In which case, products like team management solutions or cloud storage might be worth looking into as options to promote.

You can also focus on your interests. Are you an avid reader? Consider picking up affiliate links for ebooks. Perhaps you have a love of beauty products, and could use that passion to talk about certain brands or products.

Of course, make sure that your niche isn’t so specific that it won’t draw in sales. You want to walk on that fine line between using your expertise or passion and bringing in money. Your niche should be specific enough to be coherent, but not so specific it reduces audience size.

Think of it this way - if you blog about books, then being dedicated to young adult fiction is narrow enough to keep your content themed, but not so narrow that people lose interest. If you focus on one particular author, though, you’re going to run out of content - and potential customers - very early on.

Niche bloggers google search

2. Perfect your platform

Once you’ve figured out what your niche is, it’s time to perfect your platform. With so many ecommerce websites out there, you’ll need to stand out. The first part of this is deciding which platforms to use - and how best to use them.

Blogs

Every affiliate marketer should have a blog. They’re an easy, central point to host your most interesting content, and have a lot of functionality that you can use to create a successful funnel.

The core aspect of any blog is the posts. Ensure these are carefully crafted, with well-researched SEO content. They should be worth reading - whether that’s because you’re sharing your expertise, some interesting news, or simply because you have an audience base that cares about your opinions. Think about what customer experience you want to encourage - they should be both interested and invested.

Make sure the landing page is well designed. No matter how good those posts are, if they’re hidden away behind an outdated and hard to read page, no-one will see them. Keep it up-to-date (seasonal additions can work well here) and easy to follow.

Every blog post should be routinely monitored to analyze content performance, as well as to identify issues and quickly recover from any dramatic Google rankings drop.

Social Media

Understand where your potential audience is.

If you’re talking about why sales teams should use VoIP, then you should be focusing your efforts on platforms like LinkedIn. You can share blog posts, contribute to discussions, and pull your target market (businesses) over to your blog. Whereas, if you’re focusing on beauty products, you might want to focus on Instagram and curate a page of eye-catching make-up looks.

Knowing where your potential customers are is the key to finding them, and drawing them into your funnel.

Email lists

Email lists are a key part of any marketing funnel, as they consist of people who have already shown interest in your brand. Content you send to your email list should be exclusive, and it should be targeted. Remember, this is where you talk to engaged customers, rather than trying to bring in new leads.

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3. Encourage Opt-ins

As mentioned above, email lists are a key part of affiliate marketing funnels. But how do you build this list? You need to encourage people to opt-in. When it comes to your social media platforms, that opting in is lower effort - you want people to follow you. This simply requires them to click ‘follow’ and then they’ll see your updates when they log onto that platform.

For email lists, it’s a little harder to persuade people in, as it involves your content being sent directly to their inbox. There are a few ways to do this.

Offer exclusive content

Once you have someone engaged on your blog, you can use that engagement to encourage them to sign-up. If your blog is focused on innovations in AI and how it can be applied in the workplace, why not offer a free ebook on machine learning in business? This will appeal to your target market, and if you haven’t talked about it elsewhere, will encourage them to sign up in order to read it. You know they already like your content - that’s why they’re on your blog - so offering special, more in-depth content is a great hook.

Offer discounts

Of course, you can always go down the discount route! It’s tried and tested, and people love a bargain. If you’ve been talking about how to run video meetings, why not offer a discount on VoIP for ecommerce businesses? You get to use your affiliate link, they get a discount on something they need. It’s a win-win.

Communication

This is the most important point in your funnel - promoting your affiliate links. It’s where you get your audience to convert to customers.

They could be buying a brand new lipstick for themselves, applicant tracking software for the HR department, or a place on an educational course as a gift. Whatever they’re buying, it’s your job to convince them it’s worth it.

At this point, you’ve funnelled them down from that first point of contact with you, to regularly engaging with your content, and to opting in. Now it’s time to seal the deal.

You don’t need to have a dedicated product page - though you could - but your affiliate links should stand out. You could have a sticky bar or side ad (though if you do this, make sure it’s aesthetically pleasing and not a distraction from your content). Some people pepper links throughout their text in a different color. This is particularly common for ebook affiliates, where they may sprinkle the link throughout a book review, after disclosing that it’s an affiliate link at the start.

Use retargeting campaigns

If you’ve noticed someone has registered interest - like signing up to your email list, and clicking through to the affiliate pages - but hasn’t converted into a sale, you could try a retargeting campaign. That means recapturing their interest through another platform, like Facebook Ads or Twitter, to redirect their attention back to your content, increasing the chances of a conversion.

Show off testimonials

Why not ask for testimonials from people who have already used your affiliate links? This works particularly well if you’ve built a strong community around your content. Now potential customers aren’t just relying on trusting your opinion, but those of other people with a shared interest.

Let’s say you’ve been writing about leading remote teams, and your affiliate link is about contact centre solutions. People who have been engaged with your content will already trust you, but they might need a little nudge. Seeing positive testimonials from three other people who run small businesses and have followed your advice is likely to be that nudge. It will confirm to prospects that making the purchase will benefit them.

Brainstorm

5. Evaluate and improve

The final step of creating an affiliate marketing funnel is to evaluate and improve. While the ideal goal of a funnel is to become a passive income stream, it’s much more likely you’ll need to pay at least a little bit of attention! In the long-run, this attention will take the form of minor tweaks and updates, but early on you need to dedicate more time to perfecting it.

A/B testing

A/B testing is a great way to make sure you’re using the best strategy. By creating two or more - but the more you add, the harder it is to track - versions of your landing page, offer pages, and marketing emails, you can see what leads to more conversions.

This will help you narrow down what keywords to use, what content is the most engaging, and how to plan future marketing campaigns.

Data, Data and More Data

Make use of any data you can get your hands on - whether that’s via Google Analytics, Tapfiliate’s Reporting, or customer surveys. The more information you have available, the better decisions you can make.

If you notice a lot of people leave your website on certain pages, consider why. Do you find you don’t get as many conversions from people using a certain browser? If so, check there’s no technical issues. By streamlining the funnel as much as possible, you’ll have less people dropping out along the way, and a higher conversion rate.

Build that funnel

By using these five basics, you can easily create an efficient affiliate marketing funnel. Remember, it’s important to find a niche that works for you, something that you have either passion for or expertise in (or both). This will make the following steps much easier.

Once you’ve got that niche, build an interesting brand with engaging content, encourage people to opt-in, and then promote those links. By doing this, and evaluating how it’s going, you’ll soon be on your way to having an effective, high-conversion affiliate funnel.

Affiliate funnel

Sam O’Brien

Sam O’Brien is the Senior Website Optimisation & User Experience Manager for EMEA at RingCentral, a Global VoIP, video conferencing and video conferencing solutions provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as G2 and Hubspot. Here is his LinkedIn.

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