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Industry conversion rates for affiliate marketing are relatively low, at around 0.5 to 1%.
This number tells us that you can become a leading affiliate for whatever you promote if you have some practical strategies and a high-performing sales funnel.
Are you ready to revamp your affiliate marketing sales funnel and see a boost in revenue? Read on for our complete guide on optimizing your marketing for better conversion rates.
Let’s start with a bit of information about sales funnels. Only a tiny percentage of visitors are ready to buy whenever you get a visitor to your website.
Most people usually get information and evaluate options; some are even at the stage where they don’t want to buy anything.
So a sales funnel is there to move people from one stage to another, ultimately getting to the point where they either buy or drop out of the sales funnel (you filter them out, which is why marketers use the term “funnel” to describe the process).
If you do affiliate marketing, this sales funnel works the same as it would if you sell directly to customers. You get leads into your funnel and turn them from cold prospects (not ready to buy) into warm prospects (ready to buy).
The only difference as an affiliate is that you don’t own the brand you are selling. That last sales step – where the transaction takes place, and you get your commission – typically happens on the brand’s website instead.
We mentioned that leads move through your funnel, but what does this look like in reality?
Though leads might enter your process at different stages depending on how close they are to buying, all leads progress through your funnel similarly. Here’s what it looks like:
Right at the start of your funnel are those leads you’d refer to as “cold” – they haven’t heard of the brand and might not realize they need to buy anything.
The awareness stage is about helping the potential customer understand their problem or need and guiding them toward a solution or an answer to their issue.
The consideration phase is sometimes known as the interest phase.
It’s the point where the customer lead understands they have a need, and now they begin to look for solutions. They start to take an interest in the brand you are promoting.
Next, a customer lead reaches the point where they want to take action. You might refer to them as a “warm” lead. They want to make a purchase but are now evaluating options. That might be different types of products or other companies.
The purchase phase is when your customer lead is ready to hit that buy button.
You’d refer to that lead as either “warm” or “hot.” However, the sale isn’t guaranteed at this stage as the customer might still have a few reservations, particularly if it’s for an expensive purchase.
The sales funnel continues after you’ve had that purchase. They might buy more items from the company, pay for a lengthy subscription, write a testimonial, or refer the company to their friends and family.
You can do plenty as an affiliate marketer to move someone from the early stages of consideration to the purchase phase and beyond.
Here’s a broad overview of what your affiliate sales funnel should look like before we examine how you can optimize this process.
Consistently acquiring high-quality traffic is your most important job as an affiliate marketer. It’s why brands use affiliates to promote their business, as they know a good affiliate can help that brand reach a vast audience.
You could do that via SEO, guest posts, and content marketing, or you might go down the social media route. Some affiliates try paid ads, while others might choose native or mobile advertising.
You may specialize in one of these methods or use several as an affiliate.
You’ll need to turn that traffic into warm affiliate marketing leads, and your first step is to get them onto your email list. You do that through an opt-in and an ethical bribe in the form of a lead magnet.
The lead magnet is a relevant offer to help move your lead further along that funnel. That could be a PDF guide to help them move from awareness of a problem to a solution.
For example, perhaps you are an affiliate of a mattress company. You might offer a sleep guide as your lead magnet and target it at people who get poor-quality sleep.
In that lead magnet, you could talk about the importance of a good-quality mattress. In your lead magnet, you are relating to that person’s problem (and building trust) and subtly pointing that person to the best solution (a mattress).
Once someone is on your email list, you can help that lead move from awareness to consideration and onto the evaluation stage by providing regular informative content and promotional material.
The best way to do this is through an email sequence. For example, you might send an email once a day for five days and carefully construct content that helps bring your lead closer to a sale.
For example, if you promote a diet app, perhaps you’ll use those emails to talk about the importance of a structured plan and group support for people trying to lose weight.
You’re helping bridge that gap between their problem and your solution before you pitch the product to them.
Your final job as an affiliate marketer is to pitch the product or service to your lead.
That is where you make your commission (unless the brand pays you for leads rather than customers). You could pitch that sale via an ad, email, social media, or webinar.
When you set up a sales funnel, chances are it won’t be perfect from day one. That’s true for big brands and experienced marketers as much as for new affiliates.
So you’ll want to tweak and change that sales funnel to get better results. Here are some of the best ways to optimize that funnel.
Monitoring your data is the most important way you can optimize your funnel. You must see what percentage of your audience you convert if you want to improve this figure, and that starts with using the right analytics tools.
Set up weekly reporting for every aspect of your funnel so you can see where you have “leaks” (i.e., too many people dropping out and not converting).
Often, a brand will provide you with pre-written and pre-designed promotional material for your affiliate campaigns. That can include ad graphics, social media graphics, pre-written pitches to send by email, and even call-to-actions.
It’s tempting to use these because doing so will save you time. But you will use the same promotional content as a hundred other affiliates competing for the same audience!
So if you have branded promotional material, look at ways you can customize it while still adhering to branding rules. That way, you can make your promotional campaigns stand out.
Also, if your brand provides pre-written blog posts or emails, rewrite these in your voice. It will help you with your conversion rate, and having original blog content will also help with your SEO.
Not all traffic is equal. For example, let’s say you’re using SEO to generate vast traffic. If that traffic isn’t converting into leads (or buyers), you might be targeting the wrong keywords.
Always use an SEO tool like our free SEOJet backlink software to track your SEO so you can see how you currently get traffic and whether you have the right audience heading to your website.
Even if SEO isn’t your primary traffic source, blogging is still vital to your sales funnel. Rich content will help you build trust with your audience, which ultimately enables you to make more sales.
If you’re relatively new to blogging, ensure you get set up with the right SEO tools to optimize your traffic opportunities. You can find free starter plans available for SEOJet here.
Another way to optimize the later part of your funnel – when you want to move people from evaluation to purchase, is via testimonials.
Testimonials help convert those who are nearly ready to buy but still sitting on that fence because they have a few doubts.
A good testimonial will often address and answer those same reservations, so they are an excellent way of picking up a few more sales. Use platforms like your social media channels or website to share customer testimonials.
Split testing is critical to a high-performing sales funnel.
Split testing is where you run one campaign, putting one set of promotional materials in front of half your audience and another different set of promotional designs in front of the other half.
Once you’ve done that, you watch and compare the conversion rates to see which promotion performs best with that audience. When you have a winner, you use that campaign to scale to a broader audience.
That is an essential step if you intend to run ad campaigns to generate traffic. You might think you know which will perform best when faced with multiple ad designs, but you’ll often be surprised.
That’s why it’s essential to test this continuously, as data is a far superior method to guesswork, even for the most experienced affiliate marketer.
Most leading ad platforms will have simple setups for split testing where you can start splitting your audience through the click of a button rather than trying to run this test manually.
Another part of your campaign you should split test is your email marketing.
If you send emails to your customer leads to either build a relationship or pitch a product, you’ll get data in your autoresponder that tells you the percentages for your open and click-through rates.
Most modern autoresponders will allow you to run split tests on these emails to help improve those numbers. The first variable to test is your email subject heading. After that, test your call to action, link titles, and email body text in that order.
Suppose you find that, despite all efforts to improve your conversion rates, you still aren’t seeing results when email marketing. In that case, you might need to experiment with a webinar.
With the right audience and product, a webinar can be a fantastic way to optimize your sales funnel and get more people to buy.
In a webinar, you have lots of time to build an argument and handle common objections before you make your pitch. You could see a significant sales boost from a single webinar if you have strong presentation skills.
Retargeting is a method of putting ads in front of a warm audience. That could be people who have already visited your opt-in page, or it might be people who are currently on your email list.
A retargeted ad is a highly effective way to get more sales because most people need to see a promotion and brand several times before they are ready to buy.
You’ve probably noticed on social media that if you click on an ad but don’t snap up that promotion, you’ll start seeing more ads from that company.
That’s retargeting in action. It will help you pick up more sales from people who were close to buying but, for whatever reason, didn’t complete the purchase the first time around.
As you can see, there are many different ways to boost your affiliate marketing sales funnel. One strategy could help improve your conversion rate, and many methods together could significantly impact your business.
One easy step you can take today is to improve your SEO strategy by using a professional tool to support your traffic efforts. Try us for free to see how SEOJet could boost your affiliate performance over the next twelve months.