From Top To Bottom: Affiliate Marketing And Its Full Funnel Potential

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“Affiliate marketing is no longer simply a ‘last click’ channel.”

So says Gen3 Marketing in its latest research, “High Performance and High Demand,” which it deems the industry’s “first multi-perspective channel research study [examining] affiliate marketing from the views of both consumers and brand advertisers.”

56% of the marketers surveyed used affiliate marketing for awareness (upper funnel), 58% used it for consideration (mid-funnel), 50% used it for acquisition and conversion (lower funnel), and 32% used it for retention and loyalty (post-sale).

(Source: Gen3 Marketing)

“Historically, the perception of affiliate marketing has been that it’s all about the last click and the lower funnel,” the study says. “But that has changed. …In fact, businesses are now slightly more likely to include affiliate marketing in the awareness and consideration stages of their media planning than they are for acquisition and conversion.”

The study points to a few reasons for the change. The first, in regards to traditionally bottom-of-the-funnel affiliate marketing vehicles such as coupons and loyalty sites, is how their high-traffic volumes and large reach also drive awareness.

Another reason is in how widely other approaches, which Gen3 refers to as “different flavors of affiliate marketing,” have been adopted. Those include sponsored content (used by 77% of those surveyed), partner marketing (73%), premium content (72%), performance PR (70%), and commerce content (66%).

“[Affiliate marketing’s] use spans the entire purchase funnel and it has become an umbrella term covering a number of sub-channels, including commerce content and performance PR,” the study says, recommending to marketers that they bring in the affiliate teams to manage such sub-channels.

In terms of the publisher models that were seen as most important to their affiliate marketing, 49% said social media and influencer/creator, 47% said ecommerce and retail, 44% said review sites, 41% said paid search affiliates, and 36% said cashback and loyalty sites. Only 35% said editorial and content was the most important.

“The affiliate channel has proven to deliver across the full funnel, but to unlock its full potential, it needs to be part of the strategic marketing plan,” the study concludes. “Only then can you deliver the consistent, coherent customer journey that shoppers expect. Think about the best way of ensuring your agencies work together too.”


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