Marketing Strategies

Time to Fix Your Buying Funnel #2: The Clogged Sink Funnel

This is the second post in our “Time to Fix Your Funnel” blog series on strategies for partnership leaders to drive more growth through full-funnel affiliate programs. Affiliate marketing success relies on a smooth customer journey from awareness to purchase. Brands increasingly find value in affiliates that can impact every stage of this journey, not just the final sale.

So, what happens when your funnel isn’t flowing? You must identify and fix the obstructions. This means understanding different types of ‘broken funnels’ and how to strategise with partners to repair them.

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

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Long before the rest of the industry began discussing the versatility of affiliate, Rakuten Advertising recognised its enormous potential to impact outcomes at every customer touchpoint. We’ve been counselling our clients on new ways to drive brand growth through a more diversified approach to channel planning. This blog series addresses four common broken funnel scenarios, offering solutions to maximise customer flow from awareness to purchase. Today, we examine the “Clogged Sink Funnel,” focusing on fixing barriers impeding customers from advancing from consideration and choice to taking action by making purchases.

The Clogged Sink Funnel

With the “clogged sink” funnel, the brand has solid investment and communications at the top and middle of the funnel. Strong awareness-building media and messages reach the right people when they are open to ideas and exploration. Differentiating messages are shaping the buyer decision-making process effectively in mid-funnel. But there’s still something missing.

Brands with this problem usually lack tailored audience access in the final journey stages and competitive merchandising and offers to motivate purchases. They under-invest in channels primarily impacting the moments just before conversion.  Many brands mistakenly limit their partnership programs by excluding essential affiliate categories like reviews, CPC, coupons, conversion tools, and cash-back partners. This oversight prevents them from fully maximising the potential for customer awareness and sales.

Brands understandably want to avoid over-reliance on promotions. However, those with clogged sink funnels often underestimate the value of later-stage affiliate marketing. Deals and discounts are now essential parts of B2C marketing. Contrary to popular belief, affiliate offers often aren’t the most aggressive. A strong cashback offer (10-15%) often outperforms a larger in-store discount, driving more sales and revenue overall.

How to Fix a “Clogged Sink” Funnel

You have many options to address a clogged customer bottleneck. Rakuten Advertising’s industry-leading affiliate marketing network is vast and diverse, enabling our clients to hand-select the ideal combination of partners to optimise their entire sales funnels. Here are some example partner classes and publishers that can help mitigate the challenges inherent in the clogged sink funnel:

  • TRADITIONAL AFFILIATES: Search partners, coupons, email, and cashback are highly adept at motivating immediate transactions. Many price-oriented shoppers leverage these channels to determine where to purchase: If your offer is attractive and competitive, you can close many sales with them. Several partners to consider include, and Payback.
  • DEAL AREAS OF CONTENT PUBLISHERS: A growing number of mainstream content sites are adding coupon and deal pages to their content as an additional way to monetise their audiences. Some publications are developing their own deal pages and tools, while others are working with large coupon section syndicators. Consider and Future Savings.
  • ON-SITE TECH PARTNERS: On-site conversion rate optimisation technology companies help drive conversions and AOV by delivering offers and content as customers shop, add to cart, and follow the transaction path. Options here include SaleCycle and UK.
  • REFERRAL PARTNERS: Referral partners empower existing buyers to recommend products in exchange for an additional discount or other compensation. Referral partners enable you to increase the number of people considering an item by leveraging the credibility of friends. Have a conversation with Soreto Technology.
  • EXTENSIONS: Extensions can also be valuable for getting existing brand buyers to cross-purchase new items. You can grow interest with existing site visitors by reminding users of products and delivering appealing promotions and merchandising. Partners to consider here include Honey, Klarna Browser Extension and Pouch UK.
  • MOBILE: Many mobile partners can help deliver your message at brick-and-mortar retail to stimulate sales through that distribution channel.

Fix Your Funnel

Don’t let a Clogged Sink Funnel hold back your growth. It’s time to repair your funnel and maximise its performance. In times of tight budgets and constant performance scrutiny, brands need to identify every advantage they can muster to grow sales and profit.

If you want expert help pinpointing those customer journey issues and implementing solutions, Rakuten Advertising would love to connect with you. Contact us today for a personalised consultation.

Stay tuned – our next post in this series will appear in two weeks.

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Rakuten Advertising

Rakuten Advertising leads the industry in delivering performance-driven ad solutions that help the world’s top brands connect with unique, highly engaged audiences – from first impression to final sale.