Marketing Strategies

Time to Fix Your Affiliate Buying Funnel #1: The “Blown Out Umbrella”

In the competitive affiliate advertising landscape, it’s critical for a brand to have a program that carries the customer from awareness to the finish line of conversion—from the top of their customer journey or buying funnel to the magic moment they click “buy now.”

While affiliate used to focus primarily on closing as many sales as possible at the bottom of the customer journey, companies now realize the enormous power of this channel to drive outcomes at every funnel stage. Further, a “full-funnel” affiliate can drive far more sales than concentrating on the final step.

Get Rakuten Advertising’s complete guide to optimizing performance through full-funnel affiliate marketing. Learn the most common broken funnel types and how you can leverage new partnerships to address the bottlenecks in your customer journey.

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But what if there’s an obstruction in your buying funnel? How can we address problems that are impeding customer flow? What partners, commissioning strategies, and other considerations can “fix your funnel?”

The Broken Funnel Series

Funnels can be broken if you don’t have enough partners adept at motivating action from customers at a particular stage or aren’t maximizing the potential of existing partnerships that could be doing that work. When you can identify what’s broken about your funnel, you also learn what you can do to fix it! These posts will highlight the four most common broken funnel types and their causes. In addition to this blog series, we have also created a downloadable guide to broken funnels that brands and publishers can access instantly. This comprehensive guide over the four most common buyer journey challenges and provides actionable solutions to mitigate them.

Rakuten Advertising is dedicated to helping affiliate leaders maximize performance at every stage of the buyer journey. In this blog series, we’ll discuss four types of broken buying funnels. Each will address a common challenge many affiliate marketers face as they work to drive as many customers as possible from the awareness stage through consideration and choice to purchase. In today’s post, we’ll discuss the “blown out umbrella” buying funnel and how to restore the flow hung up at the top of the customer journey.

The Blown Out Umbrella Funnel

We’ve all had that moment when a windy rainstorm turns an umbrella inside out. It’s so frustrating, not to mention wet. When discussing a “blown-out umbrella” buying funnel, we mean a business with at-scale programs to build awareness but insufficient “follow-through” to drive favourable consideration and purchases. Such brands often overspend on expensive top-of-funnel activities, which limits resources available for later-stage investment.

“Blown-out umbrella” buying funnels used to be very rare in affiliate marketing. However, this is changing as more brands enter the industry without understanding its dynamics. Some brands try to operate partnership programs while avoiding affiliate categories such as reviews, CPC, coupons, conversion optimization tech partners, and cashback. The problem is these affiliate types are invaluable in driving consideration and purchase.

No brand wants to become promotion-dependent. However, brands with “blown-out umbrella” funnels are often mistaken in how they think about later-stage affiliate marketing. Deals and discounts have become a table-stakes element of modern B2C marketing. It is a misconception that affiliate media offer larger deals than other channels. Often, the opposite is the case. For example, a generous cashback offer, like 10-15%, can often pull through more transactions and revenue than an in-store discount offering twice that level of discount.

How to Fix a Blown-Out Umbrella Funnel

A “blown-out umbrella” funnel is missing partners that can help drive increased consideration and purchase. As a leader in full-funnel affiliate marketing, Rakuten Advertising has the broadest network of available partners in the industry. With client access to our network, you can find exactly the right mix to fix your funnel.

Here are some partner classes and example partners you can recruit to fix a broken umbrella funnel:

  • MAINSTREAM PUBLISHERS: Product reviews through mainstream publishers can help showcase your points of differentiation in high-credibility environments. For some categories, like home goods, there are popular sites explicitly focused on your audience or niche. Some great examples include Vetted by Forbes, TheKnot, and Wirecutter.
  • INFLUENCERS: Reviews and testimonials from influencers with passionate followers can also boost consideration. In many categories, there are both top influencers with large followings and micro-influencers with more compact but high-intent audiences. A few top examples in this area are ShopMy, Split, and Motom/Anchor.
  • EMAIL AND SEARCH: Email ad search partners can target your messages to audiences with a high propensity to care about what you offer or who are specifically searching for similar items. Great examples here include IgniteMedia, LYST, TheSkimm, Modesens, and Yahoo.
  • AUDIENCE-BASED TARGETING WITH CASHBACK AND COUPON AFFILIATES: Many large traditional affiliates in the cashback, coupon, and review site categories offer large potential audiences and advanced targeting capabilities to pinpoint ideal prospects. In some cases, you can even target past buyers of competitive products. Popular partners include Checkmate, Capital One Shopping, Rokt, and Rakuten Rewards.
  • BRAND-TO-BRAND PARTNERSHIPS AND CARD-LINKED OFFERS: These partner classes enable you to leverage the brand equity of an existing brand to help sell your item. That brand association increases trust, making people more likely to buy. Top publisher partners here include Wildfire, Figg/Chase, Microsoft, and TVScientific.

Take Action

Broken Umbrellas impede your ability to drive growth and achieve your business targets. It’s time to fix your funnel! If you would like expert assistance in diagnosing your buyer journey bottlenecks and taking action to drive extraordinary growth, Rakuten Advertising would be very pleased to help. Get in touch now, and we’ll arrange an expert consultation.

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Rakuten Advertising

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