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Dec 12, 2023 · 9 min read

Affiliate Marketing is More Than Just a Bottom-Of-The-Funnel Activity

Affiliate marketing can be effectively implemented at every stage of the customer funnel to educate, convert, and satisfy customers.  thought-catalog-Nv-vx3kUR2A-unsplash

In today's digital age, online retailers constantly explore various marketing strategies to enhance their customer acquisition and retention efforts. However, one strategy that often gets overlooked or misunderstood is Affiliate and Partnership Marketing.

There is a common misconception that affiliate marketing solely belongs at the bottom of the customer funnel. That is, affiliate marketing activities are only suitable for converting customers and ensuring that they make repeat purchases in the future. But this is far from the truth. 

If done right, affiliate marketing is a powerful tool that delivers results at every stage of the funnel.  

Because of its successful and low-risk nature, many brands make affiliate marketing a crucial part of their marketing plan. Reports show that more than half of advertisers plan to increase their affiliate marketing spend next year, enabling them to reach consumers at every touchpoint of the consumer journey.

We aim to dispel this myth and show how affiliate marketing can help brands throughout all stages of the customer funnel.

The marketing funnel

Awareness Stage

At the top of the customer funnel lies the awareness stage, where potential customers are introduced to a brand for the first time. Businesses would commonly be at this stage if they are a new brand, launching a new product, or venturing into a new market.

Affiliate marketing can be crucial in building brand awareness through strategic partnerships with relevant affiliate publishers. By leveraging their existing audiences and networks, affiliates can expose a brand to a wider range of potential customers, thus expanding reach and visibility.

For example, OZ Hair & Beauty achieved over 17% click-through rate and 625k total impressions while venturing into a new student market. Thanks to its affiliate partnership with UNiDAYS, the advertiser ran a successful outreach campaign that significantly improved awareness.

Brands looking to build awareness online can consider a partner like stylink, which connects online brands to content creators on platforms like YouTube. Since YouTube content creators are said to be significantly more influential than traditional celebrities, brands can likely reach an engaged audience.

Consideration Stage

Prospects who become aware of a brand are moved into the consideration stage. Here, consumers evaluate different options before making a purchase decision, so it's crucial that advertisers stand out from competitors in their minds.  

Affiliate marketing can contribute to this stage by providing valuable content through blog posts, reviews, and comparisons. This will help consumers make informed choices and boost their confidence in a brand.

According to the IAB report, content is the second-highest promotional method used by advertisers in affiliate marketing, and affiliate partners can also create engaging content that educates and informs consumers about products or services.

Running pay-per-click (PPC) advertising with the right publishers can also increase customer consideration, especially during highly competitive sales periods. For example, Lovehoney successfully utilised PPC with three affiliates to ensure customers are always led to their current promotions and offers - instead of their competitors.

Conversion Stage

The conversion stage is often regarded as the primary focus of affiliate marketing, and rightly so. At this stage, advertisers must give consumers a final push to purchase. According to the IAB report, affiliate and partnership marketing is highly successful at this stage - contributing to over 6% of online revenue for over 70% of advertisers.  

Affiliates can employ various tactics to drive conversions, such as offering exclusive discounts, limited-time promotions, or personalised recommendations. By leveraging the trust and credibility they have built with their audiences, affiliates can encourage conversions and facilitate the decision-making process for many potential customers. 

For example, our case study has shown how four prominent advertisers achieved significant revenue increases using Commission Factory's Service Packages. Through strategic placements with the right affiliates, these advertisers saw increased clicks, sales revenue, and customer transactions.

Retention Stage

Retaining existing customers is just as important as acquiring new ones. Since finding new customers can cost brands 25 times more than retaining them, the retention stage should be a priority.

Customer retention can be easily achieved with the right affiliates, as they can help advertisers nurture relationships and encourage repeat customer purchases. Many advertisers state loyalty points and cashback as their most valuable models in affiliate marketing, and it's not hard to see why. Through loyalty programs, personalised recommendations, and targeted offers, affiliates can keep customers engaged and ensure ongoing loyalty to a brand.

Gone were the days when brands used physical loyalty cards and coupons to entice repeat purchases. Instead, affiliate partners like Loyalty Now modernise customer loyalty programs by connecting loyalty and rewards programs with customers' credit and debit cards. This seamless system allows shoppers to earn points or cashbacks automatically, while advertisers can spend minimal effort managing their loyalty programs.

Advocacy Stage

Satisfied customers who have had positive experiences with brands are more likely to become brand advocates. In this stage, affiliate marketing is proven to be a massive contributor to the advocacy stage of the customer funnel.

For example, affiliate partners can amplify positive word-of-mouth by sharing their experiences, writing testimonials, or creating video testimonials. This user-generated content could profoundly impact potential customers, influence their decision-making process and foster a sense of trust and authenticity. 

The award-winning case study with My Muscle Chef is a clear example of how partnering with influencers who are highly trusted among their followers can help advertisers increase sales and brand image. With the right affiliate, My Muscle Chef secured a 33.55 per cent quarter-on-quarter uplift in sales revenue.

Key Takeaway

From generating awareness to encouraging advocacy, affiliate marketing plays a pivotal role across all stages of the customer funnel. Therefore, advertisers should not consider it solely as a bottom-of-the-funnel activity.

 By incorporating affiliate marketing into the marketing mix, online retailers can tap into a powerful channel that leverages the influence of affiliate partners, expands brand reach, and ultimately drives business growth. Embracing affiliate marketing as a holistic strategy helps retailers maximise their marketing efforts and achieve an effective customer acquisition and retention strategy.

For advertisers wanting to establish or grow their affiliate marketing strategy, Commission Factory is here to help.


Commission Factory is not only the Asia-Pacific region's largest affiliate platform, working with more than 900 of the world's biggest brands, but it is also a performance marketing platform that allows content creators and influencers to earn money and online businesses to increase sales. 


Connect with the Commission Factory team to learn more about how we help brands and publishers build and grow their affiliate marketing strategies.

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