What is a Sales Funnel and How to Create an Effective Affiliate Marketing Funnel?

Have you ever wondered how someone goes from reading your content to becoming a customer? A sales funnel can help you visualize, understand, and optimize that customer journey.

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is a step-by-step process that allows you to bring your potential customer one step closer to your offer and a buying decision through a series of marketing actions like automated emails, videos, articles and landing pages that will do the selling for you.

Think of sales funnels as a virtual salesperson that works 24/7, 365 days a year without complaining or asking for more money. A sales funnel is the marketing term for the journey potential customers go through on the way to purchase. There are several steps to a sales funnel, usually known as the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel, although these steps may vary depending on a company’s sales model.

What Are the Stages of a Sales Funnel?

From the moment prospects hear about your product or service until the moment they make a purchase (or don’t), they pass through different stages of your sales funnel. That journey through your funnel may change from one prospect to another, but in the end, they’ll evaluate it based on their interest level. They’ll think about the problem they’re trying to solve and conduct competitive research to make sure your offering is the best solution.

In general, there are four main stages:

Awareness: A prospect learns about your company for the first time. Perhaps she clicked on one of your ads, read your blog, found your website via a Google search, or heard a colleague talking about your product or service.

Interest: Once prospects have learned about your brand, they’ll evaluate it based on their interest level. They’ll think about the problem they’re trying to solve and conduct competitive research to make sure your offering is the best solution.

Decision: Armed with information about your company, prospects will dig deeper into your pricing and packaging options. Sales pages, webinars, and calls are helpful in this stage to help sway prospects to make a purchase.

Action: All your work comes down to this stage: whether the prospect makes a purchase or not. If she didn’t, the deal isn’t lost forever. You can create nurture campaigns to make sure you stay top of mind.

How to Create an Effective Affiliate Marketing Funnel

Affiliate marketing itself is a pretty straightforward concept.

You pick a product that you want to promote as an affiliate, start putting out your affiliate link and when someone clicks on it and purchases that product you get money. Easy, right?

Well sort of but the process of actually getting people to buy the product isn’t easy. We are going to show you what an affiliate marketing sales funnel is, how to create one and why they are vital to your affiliate marketing success.

What is an affiliate marketing sales funnel?

A sales funnel is easy enough to define.

Essentially it is the journey that a person takes leading up to making a purchase or fulfilling the goal that the campaign is based on. As we will see later on in this guide, there are usually 3 stages to a standard affiliate marketing funnel although it could be larger.

If you want to make money online then a sales funnel is one of the necessary parts of doing this particularly when it comes to affiliate marketing.

Things to do before your sales funnel

Before we get into the stages of an affiliate funnel and how you can create one, there are a few steps you need to take first.

After all, how can you have a sales funnel without a product or promote? The steps to take before you begin building a successful affiliate funnel are the very beginnings of being an affiliate marketer. So, what are they?

Find your niche

It isn’t just about finding a niche per se, you need to find one that interests you, motivates you and that is actually profitable too.

You might absolutely love a particular topic but if there isn’t money to be made (or barely any money at all) then focusing on it is going to be a waste of time. Find your niche first before you even think about creating a sales funnel and find out what you are interested in. Some niches make more money than others however the key is to strike a balance between a subject that motivates you and one that you can actually make some money with.

Start promoting your product

Finding people to go through your sales funnel means that you need to begin finding places to promote your funnel and affiliate link in the first place.

Social media is now a big player for affiliates as it gives access to hundreds, thousands and potentially millions (if you go viral!) of people for free. That being said, affiliates still need a landing page and SEO is still highly relevant. If you have the budget then paid ads are a great way in which to get targeted traffic to your site as well.

Stages of a successful sales funnel

Now that you have your niche picked out and you know where it is you are going to promote your products, you need to learn the 3 stages of a sales funnel.

The blueprint is pretty standard. The reason for this is because it works! Sales funnels can incorporate more steps and be a bit more complicated however these are the 3 crucial parts of the funnel that you need to make money online.

#1 Opt-in page

Your opt-in page is where you convince the user to sign up to your email list. You send the traffic that you generate to this page.

It needs to be straight to the point, sell the reason why they should sign up in a compelling way and offer something for them. Think about it – are you going to give out your email address for no reason without getting anything in return? Probably not and neither is anyone else. When you promise something such as a free eBook or a short video about the affiliate product, the person is then directed to the Thank You page as soon as they give over their email address.

#2 Thank you page

This page is where you say thanks to the person for giving over their email address and offer them whatever it is they had to sign up for – a short video, free eBook, etc…

It is at this stage that you begin the process of relationship-building which is so important within affiliate marketing. The thank-you page is a way in which you create trust with the user which is vital when it comes to convincing them to buy high-end affiliate products and services.

#3 Affiliate offer

The affiliate offer page (or it can even just be your affiliate link) is how you make money. When they click on this link it will take them to the product page of what they are going to buy and you get a commission when they purchase the product.

Many people are after a quick funnel however sometimes the process of getting people from the first stage (signing up) right through to the last (clicking on the affiliate offer and making a purchase) can take time.

How do you create an affiliate funnel?

Setting up an affiliate funnel can be pretty easy. In fact, there are various methods by which to do this and, depending on the affiliate product you are promoting, some funnels will take a slightly different form than others.

The key to a successful funnel is building that initial relationship with the user. You won’t convert them if you don’t build trust and a rapport right away. The aim of the funnel is to entice the person into signing up, offer them something in return and then begin to move them onto the next phase which is clicking on an affiliate link and purchasing the product.

Sales funnels aren’t complicated and depending on what platform you use or what you aim to achieve there are various tools, plugins, and programs out there that can help. That being said, you do need to put the work in but with time and effort you can move people through the sales funnel successful and begin making money online.

How to Optimize a Sales Funnel

Creating a sales funnel is just the first step. The real goal is to create a successful sales funnel that converts. In other words, having a robust sales funnel doesn’t do any good if those prospects aren’t turning into customers.

Here are three ways to optimize your sales funnel and make sure prospects convert:

Always be testing: Something as simple as an email subject line or the color of a button could dramatically improve your sales funnel, so take every opportunity to test your landing pages and emails. For example, on your landing page, you could test the headline, color, font size, or button color and text. And with your nurture emails, you could test subject line, images, or CTAs.

Look at where your traffic is coming from: Let’s say you’re running a paid ad campaign to drive more traffic to your landing pages. You’re seeing a boost in the number of people who fill out the form, but no one makes it past the Interest phase. You can do all the testing you want, but sometimes the issue is with the top of the funnel: where those leads came from to begin with. Be sure to analyze the quality of leads that come from each channel and only invest in the ones that drive conversions.

Understand where content fits into your sales funnel: Are you using the right types of content at the right stage to move prospects through your sales funnel? For example, blog posts and guest posts work well in the Interest stage, whereas case studies and white papers are more powerful in the Decision stage. Map all your existing content to each stage of the funnel and conduct an audit to find out where prospects seem to fall off. This could be an indicator of where you need to test different types of content.

So many questions? Drop out in comments I will try to answer all of them. Thanks for your time, stay healthy stay wealthy…

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Prashant Rawal

I’m a freelance full-stack web developer having over 8 years of experience in Wordpress development. I am also Blogger and Affiliate Manager to help people starting their money making blogs using larget affiliate networks.

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