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What Does A Typical Affiliate Marketing Sales Funnel Look Like?

When it really comes down to it, sales is all about storytelling.

It’s about inviting a prospect to take a journey with you: a journey of discovery which reveals, ever so gradually, exactly why they need to purchase a certain product or service from you.

The very best salespeople in the world are able to paint a picture for the prospect — then place them in it.

But what happens when it comes to digital sales and affiliate marketing? It’s here that the process becomes more hands-off, and you instead need to rely on a trusted framework that tells the story on your behalf.

The name of that framework? The affiliate marketing sales funnel. (Catchy, right?)

Names aside, let’s see exactly how powerful this tool can be.

What is an affiliate marketing sales funnel?

Affiliate marketing is simple, really.

Rather than selling your products all by yourself, you instead invite other people (your affiliates) to do the selling for you, then reward them when they do. This reward usually takes the form of a percentage-of-sale commission, making affiliate marketing an attractive and lucrative proposition for many.

So where do funnels come into play in all of this?

Well, just like telling a story, closing a sale is a process. It makes no odds whether the product is your own or someone else’s — it’s the process that matters.

Prospects usually don’t visit a website and buy instantly, especially for higher ticket items, and it’s here that sales funnels become very useful tools indeed. They’re a long-term play made up of a series of milestones which converge at a single goal: making the sale.

Let’s look at those milestones in a little more detail…

The anatomy of an affiliate marketing sales funnel

The goal of any affiliate is quite simple: secure the sale, earn the commission, rinse and repeat.

An affiliate marketing sales funnel is the tool with which to achieve this goal, and it’s broken down into several stages based on a prospect’s interest level.

If you’ve ever made a big purchasing decision before — a car, a house, even a fancy new refrigerator! — you’ll know that you want to absorb as much information as possible, the closer you get to pulling the trigger. The same can be said for most other categories, too — retail, cosmetics, DIY, etc. — although slightly less information is typically required.

A funnel mirrors this interest: broad and benefit-focused at the top, and narrow and feature-focused at the bottom. Here’s a summary of the typical funnel stages:

  1. Awareness: A prospect has just discovered the affiliate and their product.
  2. Familiarity: The prospect may read a landing page, leave, then see an ad later via retargeting — all the while becoming more familiar with the brand and proposition.
  3. Consideration: The deeper into the funnel they go, the more seriously they consider the purchase and how it could benefit their life.
  4. Purchase: Mission complete. They’re sold and they’re ready to hit that big red ‘BUY’ button.
  5. Loyalty: They had a great experience with the affiliate, and they’ll follow them going forward — opening the door to more affiliate sales.  

The mechanics of funnel momentum

So that’s what an affiliate marketing sales funnel might look like, but how do you actually move prospects from one stage to the next?

Well, there are plenty of tools, techniques, and strategies you could employ, but some are more common than others.

Here are the mechanics you’re most likely to encounter with affiliate funnels:

  1. Paid search is where it usually begins. While it is possible to use organic results and SEO to bring prospects to the top of the funnel, paid search is the fastest way to make this happen. Funnels are often short-term ventures with specific offers, making platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads ideal for the first step.
  2. The landing page will be heavily benefits-focused, showcasing the product in the best possible light, usually via persuasive direct-response copy.
  3. The offer will usually be positioned using techniques such as scarcity (“limited time offer!”) and social proof (reviews and testimonials).
  4. The follow-up and drip campaign will often leverage both an email series (which itself forms a mini-funnel) combined with a retargeting campaign via tools like the Facebook pixel.

Get total oversight of your affiliate funnels with LinkTrust

Now that you’re familiar with a typical affiliate marketing sales funnel, it’s time to start building your own — or managing a team of affiliates who do.

But when it comes to cross-channel attribution, performance tracking, and content management, things can soon get complicated. We built the LinkTrust platform to solve all these problems (and a few more besides).

So, if you’re serious about affiliate marketing sales funnels, claim your free 14-day trial today.