Promoting an affiliate product is hard work. In order to be successful, you need to focus that hard work on strategies and processes that maximize your potential profit. In today’s article, I’ll be talking about what a sales funnel is, how it can help you. I’ll also describe a simple affiliate marketing sales funnel to give you an idea of what it looks like.
Ever heard of “spray and pray” affiliate marketing?
It’s exactly what it sounds like: “spraying” your affiliate links on your blog and “praying” that someone will click them.
There’s a better way than this, and that is to lead your potential customers down a sales funnel.
In today’s article, I’ll discuss what a sales funnel is and how a simple affiliate marketing sales funnel looks like.
Quite simply, a sales funnel is a series of steps designed to guide your readers along towards a purchase decision.
The number of steps and the steps themselves may vary depending on the niche, the product, and the sales goal, but a sales funnel generally has four steps.
Here are the four steps as they apply to affiliate marketing.
Awareness: This stage involves your readers who are searching for a solution to a problem. They eventually become aware of your affiliate product through your blog and your content.
Interest: Some of your readers who are already aware of your affiliate product are now interested in knowing more. They may contact you to request for information and ask questions about the product.
This stage is where they learn more about the benefits of the product, how it can help them solve their problem, and how it fits into their lifestyle.
Desire/Decision: At this point, it’s up to you to increase the desire of your readers for your affiliate product so there can only be one decision: get that product from you.
You’ll need to show how your affiliate product is better than any other product in the market and why they should prefer your product over anyone else’s.
Out of those who expressed their interest in a product, a few of them will be deciding that they want the product based on the information they obtained from you.
Action: You’ve made them want the product, now you have to make them buy it.
Your call-to-action (CTA) here needs to be strong enough to convince readers to become customers. Your affiliate program would normally allow you to offer their products with a certain percentage of discounts just to sweeten the deal.
Having a sales funnel is mandatory if you’re selling your own products and services. However, having a sales funnel will also help you as an affiliate marketer. Here are the reasons why you should have an affiliate marketing sales funnel.
It helps you build a customer base for future sales by adding them to your mailing list. You can always just drop your affiliate links in your content and then call it a day. Readers who happen upon your link click it, buy your affiliate product, and then they’re gone.
But if you can set up a system that can convince your readers to sign up for your mailing list, you’re on your way to creating a customer base whom you can sell other affiliate products or even your own products in the future.
It allows you to track how successful your efforts are. Setting up a funnel involves tracking how many clicks every page gets. Since every page represents a specific process in your funnel, you then get an idea which processes are working and which ones need to be improved.
It gives you more experience for when you sell your own products someday. The more you learn about sales funnels and how to set them up, the more you’re able to set up successful funnels if it’s something you want to do in the future.
In case you don’t want to sell your own products in the future, the knowledge you gain will still be helpful for when you decide to sell more affiliate products to your readers in the future.
When your blog becomes big enough, you can even teach other bloggers in your niche how to set up their own funnels, creating another income stream for your blog.
Now that you know what a sales funnel is, let’s see what a simple affiliate marketing sales funnel looks like.
Note: The middle two steps involve processes that are mostly similar to those involved in building your email list, which you should already be doing anyway. If you need a refresher, you can read this article.
For this article, I’m using guitar lessons as an example blog topic and a guitar lesson e-course as an example of an affiliate product.
After driving traffic to your blog and optimizing your content for search engines, you should already have a decent amount of traffic to your blog at this point.
When users are looking for solutions to their problems, you want them to find their way to your blog and your specific content mentioning your affiliate product. When they’re consuming your content, they get to know about your product, and that creates the awareness in them that such a product exists.
Using the guitar blog as an example, you’re likely to write around keywords such as “guitar strumming techniques,” “how to play guitar,” and other related long-tail keywords. You want these people to find your blog and your content.
You may have written a product review of a guitar course that helped you immensely (hint: your affiliate product), or a comparison of guitar courses that you’ve taken. As a best practice, you should have two or three of your affiliate links in your content.
When your readers have read your content, they either click on one of the affiliate links you included in the text, or they file away the information in their mind and never return to your blog. If it’s the former, and they end up actually buying the product, then congratulations!
But if it’s the latter, don’t despair just yet. There’s still a way you can try to retain these readers in your database to be able to sell to them later, and that’s getting them to join your mailing list.
Chances are you’re already doing this in your blog. But inviting your readers to sign up for your mailing list when you have a product to offer them is a slightly different process from when you’re just trying to get them to subscribe.
Normally, your lead magnet is related to the article or content they were reading. But when you have a product to offer, your lead magnet or freebie for that particular blog post should be related to the product you’re offering them.
Following our example, since you’re offering an e-course, you can offer one of the video lessons of the e-course. This can be like a sneak peek of the e-course.
Aside from the opt-in forms that you need to place on your blog post, you’ll need to create a landing page that enumerates the benefits of your lead magnet and contains a form to collect their email address and their name, at the very least.
The landing page of your lead magnet should be informative enough to pique and sustain your readers’ curiosity. If they do decide to opt in to your emails, that signifies their interest in the lead magnet and, more importantly, in the product you have to offer.
Here’s an example of what your opt-in page could look like.
Your Thank You page is more than where your prospects (let’s call them prospects now that you have their email address) download their lead magnet. More than that, though, this page is an opportunity for you to tempt your readers with an offer that they can’t refuse.
Okay, maybe they can refuse, but it needs to be something substantial for them to want to get the product, and get it NOW.
Create the desire by emphasizing how valuable the product is. Give the three main benefits of your affiliate product. Then, offer a special discount on your affiliate product that they can only get if they click the button now to learn more about the product.
It can be helpful to have an introductory video of yourself here so that prospects who have no idea who you were before they were on your blog can actually see that you’re a real person who has this amazing offer for them. People like to see whose word they’re trusting.
If you’re not comfortable on video, though, or if you think your copy does a better job of showing your personality, you can include a photo of yourself instead. Just make sure that people have a face to associate the affiliate product with. Remember that they’re buying from you, even if it’s not really your product.
Given that your prospects just signed up for your mailing list, don’t force the product down their throats. Don’t make them feel like you’re driving them into a corner. Give them a choice to back out of a sale. Provide another button that takes them back to your homepage.
But if they do click on the button to take them to the next page, that’s a clear sign that your prospect has made the decision to know more about your affiliate product.
Here’s an example of what your Thank You page might look like.
It’s crunch time.
A pre-sell landing page is an informative, more detailed landing page, with all the features and benefits of the product you’re offering. This is where you get your readers to complete your desired action, which is to click your link leading to the merchant’s checkout page to buy the product.
It’s important to remember here that you’ll be selling the product as if it were your own. Include all the important benefits of the product. Add your own thoughts and opinions on it, serving both as expert opinion and as social proof.
Include trust factors as well if available, such as testimonials from your readers that have bought and used the product and endorsements from other bloggers and influencers in your niche.
Your call-to-actions (CTAs) on the previous landing page are important, yes, but this is the most important CTA of the three because this is where the actual money is. Work harder on your CTA on this page than anywhere else on your funnel.
Here’s an example of what your pre-sell landing page might look like.
Converting your readers into customers can be more effective when you create a sales funnel. With this strategy, you can guide them from one stage of the buying process to the next in a smooth and measurable manner.
Let’s recap what an affiliate marketing sales funnel looks like:
Meanwhile, here are some more reminders when setting up your affiliate marketing sales funnel.
Just because you offered your reader something valuable for free and they accepted it doesn’t mean that you’re now their best friend. Remember, when they’re in your opt-in page, they’re all about the freebie and not thinking about what you’re going to sell them.
In fact, if they’ve been around the internet long enough, they’d know that no freebie is truly free; you want the chance to offer them something in exchange for the freebie. So if you push them when all they want is your free ebook, they’re more than likely to say no.
Be all about the soft sell at this stage. Focus on building long-term relationships with your readers, not on your short-term gains from your commissions.
You need to be able to see how your readers are responding to every step of your sales funnel. From reading your custom content to all the pages that they click on afterward, you’ll want to know what your prospect does, as well as how many of them drop off and at which points.
The data you gather from all this will help you tweak your strategy so you can more efficiently convert your readers into customers.
The sales funnel I just described is not the only way to set up a sales funnel. You can set up a different sales funnel if you want to, and even set up a different sales funnel for each of your affiliate offers if you’re offering more than one at this point.
This sales funnel is as simple as it gets, and there’s nothing wrong with tweaking things and changing it up if it isn’t working for you. You can add or delete steps on your sales funnel if you feel you need to.
Remember: the best strategy is the one that works.
Thinking of building an affiliate marketing sales funnel? Or have you already tried building one? Was this guide helpful? Let me know what you think in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.