If you are just starting your affiliate marketing business, you have probably heard the word “Affiliate Marketing Funnel” and are wondering what it is all about and how to go about creating one.
While many newbies get overwhelmed at the mention of the words “sales funnel”, the truth is that using an Affiliate Marketing funnel is essential to qualify your potential customers, increase your conversions and build a successful long term business.
After reading this article, you will know exactly how to create your own high converting affiliate funnel, why all successful affiliate use one and how to optimize it and apply it to your business.
Let’s get started!
What is an affiliate marketing funnel and why you need one?
When I was first learning about affiliate marketing, the most common explanation I’d hear was that affiliate marketers promoted products online and made commissions when people clicked their links and bought the products.
And while that is correct, it doesn’t quite explain why you need a sales funnels and where exactly does it fit inside this model.
So let’s take a closer look at the affiliate marketing process to understand why a funnel is necessary.
Direct Linking vs. Using a Sales Funnel
When you join an affiliate program in order to promote their products, you receive your own affiliate link. This link contains your affiliate ID so when you use it to direct people to the affiliate offer, they know which commission should be attributed to you.
Technically, you could place this link anywhere (as long as it is allowed by the affiliate program) so when people click on it, they go to the merchant’s site and if they buy something, you get a commission.
Simple right? Why would you want to complicate things…
Well, the reality is that the majority of people won’t buy the product after clicking your link. Actually, it takes an average of 8 touches to get a conversion with a new customer.
This is why using a sales funnel for affiliate marketing is essential.
When you use a simple sales funnel, you collect your potential client’s email before directing them to the affiliate offer. Some of them might buy the first time and some of them won’t. But now you have a way to follow up with them via email and get another percentage of them to buy.
Not to mention that you are building your email list at the same time and can now email them about other related offers in your niche for free and forever.
Benefits of Using A Sales Funnel For Affiliate Marketing
1. More conversions = More money
The main benefit of using a an affiliate marketing funnel to promote your offers is to increase conversions.
As I mentioned before, most people won’t buy the products you are promoting the first time they click on your link so if you are not following up with them you are missing conversions that are low-hanging fruit and basically leaving money on the table.
Now, most affiliate programs have a cookie duration time of around 30 days, which means that you would still get attributed a commission for a sale that was made in that time frame.
However, if the client decides to come back to the product after a few days, they will probably do a quick search on Google and end up clicking on someone else’s affiliate link so you lose the commission.
On the other side, if you use a sales funnel, they will receive your follow-up emails so they are a. more likely to make a purchase, and b. when they do, they will probably go through the link on your email campaign so you will still get that commission.
2. Build a lifetime money-making asset
The phrase “the money is on the list” might be a bit of a marketing cliché but not gratuitously. Any business owner or marketer knows that an email list is one of the most important assets to long-term success.
As an affiliate, you might choose to promote your offers via social media, a blog, or using paid ads but most of those platforms can distemper or shut down your account overnight making you lose your audience and income source which is why you don’t want to rely solely on them.
On the other hand, your email list is 100% yours and no one can take it away from you. Even in the weird case that an email company closes your account, you can always move your subscriber to another one and continue with your business.
And is that is not incentive enough, a popular study by DMA found that for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42 which is more than you will get on any other platform.
3. You can promote other offers for free
While the short-term goal of using an affiliate marketing funnel is being able to follow up with potential clients and increase your conversions, it also allows you to promote other related to the people who opted into your email list.
This means that you can create a months-long or even years-long email sequence and promote other affiliate offers to your list on autopilot.
Of course, you want to make sure to also provide value to your subscribers and build a relationship with them so they don’t end up leaving your list. But, as long as you keep your email list happy, they will continue to buy the products you recommend.
Plus, the success rate of selling to a previous customer is 60-70%, versus that of selling to a new customer which is 5-20%. Basically, it’ll be easier and more profitable to promote other affiliate offers to your email list than it’ll be to promote them to a new audience.
4. You Build Your Personal Brand
Using a sales funnel to promote your affiliate marketing offers, is a great opportunity to build your personal brand and grow your authority in your niche.
Nowadays. people prefer following the recommendations of someone they know and trust so it is key to grow a relationship with your audience.
When you use a sales funnel, you use what is known as a “bridge page” (more on this later) which is where you have the opportunity to quickly present yourself and endorse the affiliate offer you are promoting. This way, when you email those who opted into your list, they will know who you are.
“But what if I don’t want to build a personal brand?”
If you were thinking that, do not worry, not everyone wants to build a personal brand and you don’t need to show yourself or do in order to use a sales or be successful but depending on your niche it can very beneficial to your business.
You can use paid ads with no issues
One of the methods affiliates use to bring traffic to their offers is paid advertisiment on platforms like Google, Facebook. Tiktok, etc. But most of these platforms are not very fond of affiliate marketers so they will often ban accounts that use affiliate links as the destination URL for their ads.
But when you use an affiliate marketing funnel, you don’t need to worry about this happening to your ad account since you will be sending all your traffic to your opt-in page instead of your affiliate link.
As an affiliate, your traffic source is the core of your busines and this allows you to diversify and scale your earnings with a lot more ease.
How does an affiliate marketing funnel look like?
Know that you are aware of some of the main benefits of using a sales funnel for affiliate marketing, let’s take a look at what does it actually means.
In the image above you can see an example of how an affiliate marketing funnel works and what parts it is composed of. (I will explain how to create one with more detail in the next section)
At the beginning, we have the traffic source that can be anything and as many, as you choose (eg. social media, a blog, Youtube, ads, etc.) and next we have the first step of the sales funnel which is an opti-n page that has the goal of capturing people’s email addresses and add them to your email automation.
Following, we have what’s known as a bridge page which has the goal of both pre-selling the offer to the visitor, introducing yourself and start building a relationship with your subscribers. Some affiliates skip this bridge page and simply go from the opt-in page to the merchant’s website but it helps conversions and improves your business long term.
From there, we direct visitors to the merchant’s website through the affiliate link where they might or not buy the product.
And finally, we have a 5-day email campaign that is sent automatically to those who opted-in and has the goal to convert more of them into buyers and, of course, make you more commissions.
How To Create An Affiliate Marketing Funnel
Now that you understand how an affiliate marketing funnel works, it’s time to learn how to create your first high-converting sales funnels for your affiliate offers.
Let’s get started!
1. Choose your affiliate offers
Before you start building your sales funnel, you want to make sure that you have chosen the right affiliate offer to promote. No matter how amazing your funnels are, if you have a bad product, it won’t perform well and it won’t be worthy of your time and effort.
If you have already decided on your affiliate offer, feel free to skip to the next point. Otherwise, here are some key factors to consider:
Affiliate commissions vary a lot from program to program and can be anything from 3% to 50%+. There are also programs that pay recurring commissions every month or those that pay you based on leads instead of sales —known as CPA (cost peraction) programs.
Naturally, you are doing this to make money so you want to choose an affiliate program that offers a good commission rate. Recurring commission are also a great alternative to high ticket programs since your lifetime average value of your customers can be similar or higher.
I would suggest staying away from programs like Amazon, Target, and other retailers which pay around 3%-8% so you need a lot of sales to make a significant income.
Instead, go for high-ticket or recurring affiliate products that pay at least a 20% commission rate or have an EPC of $50 minimum. Typically digital products like software, apps, memberships, courses, etc. tend to pay higher commissions since they only invest in their product once and they can then sell it forever.
When you promote or recommend an affiliate offer, you are putting your name and reputation behind it so you want to make sure it is a product you can trust and that you are happy to associate yourself with.
If the brand is super popular (e.g. Apple, Nike, Chase), this is obviously not an issue and you can promote it with no concerns. Otherwise, make sure to do some research about it, and read the reviews and if possible, buy the product and try it out yourself.
Ultimately, you don’t want to promote anything you would not buy and use so keep that as the bar for the affiliate products you promote.
The sales page or website of your affiliate offer is as important as the product itself. While you are going to take people through your sales funnel, the merchant’s page is the last step so you want to make sure that it is well designed and optimized for conversions.
Most companies have entire teams taking care of this but it is always worth it to check that the page looks professional, loads fast, has clear buttons to shop above the fold, and takes both credit card and Paypal.
1. Create your Opt-in Page
Your Opt-In Page is the first step of your affiliate marketing funnel and where you will direct all your traffic towards.
The main goal of an opt-in page is to capture visitors’ emails by offering something free in return (also known as a lead magnet).
Naturally, the lead magnet or freebie must be related to the offer so it makes sense to present the affiliate product to those who opted-in to receive it.
Here is what you need to consider when creating your opt-in page:
a. Choose your lead magnet
As I mentioned before, your lead magnet is a free item that you will offer to your visitors in order to capture their emails. And it will also help you to reach the right audience.
For example, if you are promoting a weight loss supplement, you could offer a 7-day weight loss plan as a lead magnet since those who are interested in that freebie are also very likely to be interested in the weight loss supplement.
A freebie doesn’t need to be anything too complicated or that takes you weeks to create but it does need to have a high perceived value and solve a problem for your target audience.
In the example for the weight loss supplement, you can imagine that people who are trying to lose weight are also wondering what they should eat to get results. That’s why something like a meal plan, recipes, or weight loss hacks are freebies that they would be interested in.
Some other popular lead magnets you can consider are templates, worksheets, discounts, free consultations, pdf guides, ebooks, video series, etc.
While your lead magnet is important, you won’t know how well it works until you test it so try to not overthink it. You can always optimize it later once you get some data so it is best to put your funnel into action and see how it performs, especially if this is your first time promoting a certain product and still don’t know if it will convert well.
b. Use an attractive headline and Call To Action (CTA)
Once you have chosen your lead magnet, the next important step is to communicate it in an attractive way so your visitors understand the benefit they can get from it.
When visitors come to your opt-in page, you only have a few seconds before they decide if they stay or if they simply close the page so it is key to use a clear and concise headline that captures their attention and motivates them to give you their email.
Below are some proven formulas to create high converting headlines are:
- How to Achieve [Result] in [Timeframe] Without [Thing You Hate Doing]
- [Number] Quick Tips to Getting Easy [Result]
- Discover How You To [Desired Outcome] in [Timeframe]
- [Number] Beginner Strategies to [Desired Outcome]
You can also check out this article for 100+ headline templates you can use on your opt-in page.
c. Be consistent with the merchant’s website
Something key to consider when creating your opt-in page (and the rest of your affiliate marketing funnel) is to be consistent with the design and message of the affiliate company you are promoting.
Your visitors should feel like all the pages are related and be able to navigate seamlessly throughout all the sales funnel without any noticeable differences.
Using a message or design that is not consistent with the merchant’s website might make them think there is something sketchy about the offer or that they have landed on the wrong page.
In the image below you can see an example I created for an affiliate offer. The last one is the merchant’s landing page so I used the same colors and types of images to create the opt-in and bridge page and achieve consistency across the whole funnel.
d. Use a sales funnel builder
If you are wondering how would you even go about building all of this without any coding or design experience, do not worry.
Nowadays there are dozens of drag-and-drop funnel builders that make the whole process completely easy and intuitive.
It has premade funnel templates that you can simply import and customize to match the colors and branding of your affiliate offer.
It also offers an email autoresponder so you don’t need to go through the trouble of integrating a separate software. Click here to get a free trial.
2. Create your bridge page
The next step in your affiliate marketing funnel is the bridge page, which has the purpose of connecting your opt-in page with the merchant’s website.
The main goals of your bridge page are to introduce the affiliate product to your visitors and “pre-sell” it with the hopes of increasing the conversions.
But it is also an opportunity to briefly introduce build yourself to your audience and start building your own personal brand and authority. This way, you can start creating trust with your subscribers and they are more likely to remember you and read your emails.
So, what should you include on your affiliate bridge page?
- Thank you message: Thank people for opting-in and let them know that the free item that you promised is on the way to their inbox. You can also ask them to check their spam folder and whitelist your email address so they have more chances of noticing your next emails.
- Headline: Use an attention-grabbing title that highlights the benefits you are about to present and increase the chances of them not closinf the tab.
- Introduce yourself and the offer: This is the main element of the bridge page where you will introduce yourself and your credentials to start building your authority and give more weight to your recommendations.
Then introduce the affiliate product and recommend it from your own personal experience to increase its social proof. This is best done through a short video but some affiliates use just text and pictures, below you can find some examples.
- Call to Action Button: Finally, include a clear and direct CTA button and direct it to your affiliate link. This way when people click on it, they will go to the merchant’s website and you will be credited for their purchases.
Tip: Make sure to keep the message and branding consistent throughout all your funnel so visitors never feel confused or wonder if they have landed on the wrong page.
3. Merchant’s website (Affiliate Offer)
The next step in your affiliate marketing funnel is the merchant’s website, which is where your audience will go if they click the link on the previous bridge page.
It is estimated that around 1%-2% of visitors make a purchase when visiting a website for the first time so you can expect to get 1-2 sales for every 100 clicks.
But don’t worry, for the majority of them who didn’t buy the affiliate product, you have a chance to follow up via email which is where the next step comes…
4. Create your email campaign
Since only a small percentage of visitors will buy the product when first visiting the page, the goal of your email campaign is to convert more of them into buyers.
One of the most effective email campaigns is the SOAP Opera sequence, create by Russel Brunson. This series of five emails that you can send five days in a row that focus on building a relationship with your new prospect, creating trust as well as an interest in your brand and/or product
As the name suggests, the “soap opera sequence” involves creating a story that relies on open-ended, high drama “episodes” that catch your readers’ attention and make them want to find out more (aka, open your next emails).
Here is a breakdown of the five emails in the sequence:
Email 0: Lead Magnet
Before starting with your SOAP Opera sequence, your first email should be to send the lead magnet or freebie that you offered on your opt-in page. You can also let your subscribers know that you will be sending them some important information in the coming days so they know what to expect.
Email 1: Set the Stage
The first email in the sequence is the welcome email. This is your first opportunity to introduce yourself and create a connection with your subscribers. You want to create some mystery so they feel compelled to learn more. Here is an example of how to do it:
“I’ve been in the fitness industry for nearly a decade but only two years ago I discovered a little-known scientific fact that change it all for me. I’m getting results I never thought possible and doing it almost effortlessly. Do you want to know what this fact is? Watch out for my next email and I’ll share my secret with you.”
Email 2: High Drama
At this point, your subscribers are wondering what is the fact that has given you so great results. They are already interested so you can share more information to keep them hooked and start the selling process.
You can increase the drama by sharing a low point in the story. In the case of the fitness example, it could be an injury that leads to getting out of shape and needing a highly efficient training method.
As you promised, share the “secret” and present the affiliate offer:
“Before I go, it’s time to share the fact I discovered with you. Take a look at this website and see the results people are getting with it”
Email 3: The Epiphany
By now, your readers are invested in the story, have been introduced to the offer. But most importantly, they feel a connection with you and want to find out how you overcame the difficulties.
So now is where you use the Epiphany email to tell them:
“What I discovered was that I need a training method that I could do anywhere…”
Naturally, this epiphany needs to be related to a benefit of the product you are promoting so they can begin seeing the value they can get from it.
Email 4: The Hidden Benefits
At this point, your subscribers already know the product you are promoting and its potential value but this is where you help them understand and imagine how it can actually work from them and improve their lives.
Imagine yourself using the product and share all the ways it can benefit them. Make them realize how much they actually need it.
Make sure to add your affiliate link and a call to action inviting them to purchase.
Email 5: The Call to Action
This is the last email of your SOAP opera sequence. Your subcirbers are already familiar with you and the affiliate offer.
Here you can add some sense of urgency to invite them to make a purchase soo. See this example:
“I don’t know how long this offer will be available but if you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity click here now”
Note: After this email sequence, you can (and should) continue to email your list to continue to build trust with them and promote other related offers.
4.1 Sell 24/7 on autopilot with email automation
The best part of using a sales funnels for your affiliate offers is that you can create email sequence that does the selling for you on autopilot while you focus on other tasks, sleep or go on vacation.
You can do this with an email autoresponder like to use ActiveCampaign which connects to your opt-in page so your subscribers are automatically added to your list. This way, every time a person that opts-in to receive your freebie, they will receive all the emails in that automation.
5. Send traffic to your affiliate marketing funnel
Once your affiliate marketing funnel is set up, it is time to “feed” it with some traffic so it can start converting visitors into buyers.
The main benefit of using a sales funnel for your affiliate marketing offers is that the sales process is automated and you can focus 100% on getting visitors and let the funnel do its job.
There are many platforms and methods that you can use to attract visitors but overall, they can be split in two main categories: organic and paid traffic. Let’s explore them a
a. Organic traffic
Also known as free traffic, the term “organic traffic” refers to the visitors that land on your website (in this case, your opt-in page) as a result of unpaid (“organic”) strategies. In other words, organic traffic is the opposite of paid traffic, which happens when you use paid ads.
Here are some of the platforms you can use to drive organic traffic to your affiliate marketing funnel:
- Social Media: you can use platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, Snapchat, etc. to create content that attracts your potential audience and direct them to visit your opt-in page.
This is also known as content marketing and nowadays it is one of the fastest ways to get some significant free traffic.
On the other hand, content on social media platforms has a short lifespan so you need to post continuosly to keep sending traffic to your funnel.
- Search Engine Optimization: Also known as SEO, this method involves creating quality and relevant content on blogs, websites and Youtbe and optimize it with relevant keywords so it can appear on search results.
Search engines like Google, Youtbe and Pinterest have a high buying intent since people are actively looking for an answer or solution so if you manage to rank your content on top results, it can give you passive commissions for years.
While SEO takes some time until you start getting traction, once you do, it becomes more passive than social media.
b. Paid Traffic
The other alternative for bringing visitors to your affiliate marketing funnel is using paid traffic. This means traffic that results from visitors clicking on a link in an ad that you paid for.
Almost any online platform offers the possibility of buying paid ads so you have lots of opportunities to reach your target audience. Here are some of the most popular:
- Search Engines: Youtube, Pinterest, Google
- Social Media: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapachat
- Native Ads: Apps, Mobile, News Publishers
Like with organic traffic, each one of these platforms has its own learning curve and it is best to focus on one at the time until you have mastered it before moving to the next one.
Additionally, if you are a beginner, I recommend starting with organic traffic so you can get some visitors into your funnel and get an idea of your conversion rate and how much you can pay per click to stay profitable before spending money on ads.
6. Optimize and scale
Another advantage of using an affiliate marketing funnel is that once you start sending some traffic and getting some data, you can see inside your stats exactly how each one of the steps is performing.
This will allow you to identify where you can make improvements and easily increase your conversions and profits.
Using a software like Clickfunnels, allows you to create A/B tests with one click and test different variations of your pages to see which ones give you a better conversion rate.
Some elements you can split test are:
- Copy (text) starting with your headlines, buttons, calls to action, etc.
- Colors of your text, buttons, background, etc.
- Placement of your images.
- DIfferent images
- Using / not using a video sales letter.
- Adding a social proof plug in.
- Adding a live chat option
- Adding / switching the testiomanials,
By optimizing your sales funnel, you will be able to continuously make more money with the same amount of visitors.
In a similar way, you can analyze the optimize the different elements of your email sequence to improve its conversion. In this case, you can split test out different subject lines, images, calls to action in order to improve open rates and click through rates.
This might seem like a tedious step but these tweaks have the power to duplicate or triplicate your income without much effort so you don’t want to skip it.
Affiliate Marketing Funnel FAQ
How do I create a funnel for affiliate marketing?
Summing up what I have detailed in the article above here are the steps you need to follow to create your own affiliate marketing sales funnel:
- Choose your affiliate offers making sure they are high quality products that pay good commissions.
- Create a “freebie” or lead magnet related to your affiliate so you can attract potential buyers and build trust with them by giving them something valuable that helps their problems.
- Create an opt-in page where you offer your lead madnet and capture people’s emails. This way you can then follow up with them and build a long term profitable email list.
- Create a bridge page where you introduce yourself and present the affiliate offer. Add a button with an attractive Call To Action and direct people to the merchant’s website through your affiliate link.
- Create an 5-day email sequence to follow up with your now subscribers and turn more of them into buyers.
- Analyze your funnel data and do A/B testing to optimize opt-in rates, purchase rates and email rates.
- Boom you now have a high converting affiliate funnel!
If you rather have someone guide you step by step while you build your affiliate funnel and learn other high-income skills, make sure to check out this beginners 15-day challenge
What is the best funnel for affiliate marketing?
My favorite funnel builder and the one I recommend to my students is Clickfunnels. It is really intuitive and beginner-friendly so anyone can create funnels from scratch without any design or coding experience.
Also, Russell Brunson, the founder of ClickFunnels, was one of the first people to create a sales funnel builder for online businesses and you get access to tons of education, tutorials, and templates. Not to mention you can win a 2 comma club award and be a part of a great community.
Can you use ClickFunnels for affiliate marketing?
Yes, ClickFunnels is one of the most popular funnel builders used by affiliates to make money online. The platform offers high-converting templates and features that make it easier to track and optimize your conversions like detailed stats and one-click-split-testing. It also offers email automation so you don’t have to go through the trouble of integrating a separate software.
Additionally, Clickfunnels also has a great affiliate program that you can promote to anyone with a business or wanting to generate an online income. One of the best parts of their affiliate program is that they pay up to 40% monthly recurring commissions for life to their affiliates. You can learn more about making money as an affiliate in my Clickfunnels Affiliate Program Review.
Using a sales funnels for affiliate marketing will not only allow you to build a successful and profitable long term business but you will also help you build your authority and create a connection with your subscribers that will protect your business against any setback.
While the idea of creating a sales funnels can sound intimidating for beginners, there are now tools and software that do most of the work for you and that anyone can use without any design or coding experience.
So, if you are serious about your affiliate marketing business, setting up your sales funnel is one step you can’t skip!