How to Build an Effective Sales Funnel for Affiliate Marketing

How to Build an Effective Sales Funnel for Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing can be a great way to start making money online. Why?

Because instead of creating your own product line from scratch you can simply sell other people’s products.

Here’s what we are going to discuss today:

  • The #1 mistake people make with affiliate marketing
  • What you need to do to be successful at affiliate marketing
  • How to build your first affiliate marketing sales funnel

Want to have the best shot at success with affiliate marketing?

Continue reading…

The #1 Mistake People Make With Affiliate Marketing

The most common mistake that people make when it comes to affiliate marketing is this:

They don’t take it seriously.

What often happens is someone becomes interested in making money online, hears that you can do that with affiliate marketing, and then gets into it with the “get rich quick” mindset.


Instead of trying to build a sustainable business, they are trying to make a quick buck, which is a recipe for failure.

This manifests in various ways:

  • Not establishing themselves as an expert
  • Not doing the due diligence to make sure that the product they are promoting is legit
  • Treating their customers like cash cows instead of providing genuine value


The problem is that this is not only counter-productive to the goal of creating financial security for yourself and your loved ones but it can also lead to ethically questionable decisions that you might later regret.

That’s why we want to encourage you to ask yourself whether you are willing to commit to this long-term before you get into affiliate marketing.

Because if what you want is quick cash then it would probably be better to pick up a part-time job or some freelance work.

But if you want to build a sustainable business, then affiliate marketing can be a way to do it, provided that you take it seriously.

Here’s What You Need to Do in Order to be Successful at Affiliate Marketing

The problem with affiliate marketing is that you have tons of people selling the exact same product as you do.

So how can you differentiate yourself from the competition?

#1 Become an Expert

Who would you rather take fitness advice from?

  • A couch potato
  • A fitness expert

The answer is obvious.

And it applies not only when it comes to the fitness products that person sells but also to the fitness products that person recommends.

And that’s what affiliate marketing is: you are recommending someone else’s product to your audience.

But if you want people to listen to those recommendations, you have to establish yourself as an expert in your niche. 

So how can you do that?

It boils down to:

  1. Getting results
  2. Sharing your knowledge
  3. Acquiring social proof

Whatever niche you are in, you need to accomplish something worthwhile, share your knowledge for free, and obtain endorsements from others in the form of relevant credentials, testimonials, case studies, etc.

Once you have established yourself as an expert, it will be much easier to make money with affiliate marketing because people will want to buy from you, not some random guy that’s selling the same product.

#2 Build an Audience

Of course, to sell someone else’s product to your audience, you need to have an audience, to begin with!

You can build one by sharing your knowledge on:

  • Your blog
  • YouTube
  • Social media

What’s important is that your content provides genuine value to potential customers by offering solutions to the problems that they are struggling with.

Also, while in theory, your social media followers, your YouTube subscribers, and your blog visitors count as an audience, in practice what matters is building your email list. Why?


  1. You own your email list
  2. It’s easier to get the potential customer’s attention via email than on social media
  3. Email marketing is the most effective form of online marketing there is (marketers estimate that the average ROI for every £1 spent on it is £35.41 or 3541%!)

So what you want to do is build a following on various platforms, then encourage potential customers to download your lead magnet so that you would get their email addresses.

Just note that building an audience isn’t about collecting as many email addresses as possible.

It’s about collecting the email addresses of your potential customers and then building trust with them over time by continuously providing value (both free and paid).

That is another way of ensuring that people will want to buy from you and not from any of the other affiliate marketers out there selling the same product.

#3 Provide Extra Value

Finally, you can make your offer stand out from the competition by providing extra value in the form of exclusive bonuses that people can only get by purchasing the product through your affiliate link.

The key to making this approach work is coming up with a bonus that makes sense in the context of that affiliate product. What would make the customer’s life easier?

For example:

Selling a weight-loss product that revolves around cutting out carbs?

Here are some bonus ideas:

  • A low-carb recipe ebook
  • A video series that demonstrates each recipe
  • A sample meal plan for 30-days

Obviously, you need to make sure that the information that you cover in the bonuses isn’t already covered in the product itself, otherwise, it’s going to look weird.

Also, while you can offer physical products as bonuses, it’s much more difficult to make the math work because physical product profit margins are much lower than digital product profit margins.

That’s why things like ebooks, cheat sheets, reports, case studies, masterclasses, interviews, live streams, etc. work best when it comes to bonuses.

How to Build Your First Affiliate Marketing Sales Funnel

So how can you build your first affiliate marketing sales funnel?

Affiliate marketing expert Miles Beckler recommends using this funnel:

How To Build Your First Affiliate Marketing Sales Funnel. Simple affiliate funnel diagram.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You drive traffic to your lead magnet landing page
  2. Once the potential customer provides their email address, they are taken to the Thank You page in which there’s a video introducing the affiliate product
  3. They then click-through to the affiliate product sales page where they can buy it

If you are offering exclusive bonuses, you should mention them in the Thank You page video and ask customers to email you the receipt for the affiliate product to get the bonuses.

Now let’s take a closer look at the core elements of this sales funnel…

Lead Magnet

A lead magnet is a freebie that you offer to potential customers in exchange for their email address.

It can be anything that they can either download to their device or access online:

  • A report
  • An ebook
  • A blueprint
  • A cheat sheet
  • An email course
  • A video course
  • A video masterclass
  • A webinar
  • An app


What matters is that:

  1. Your lead magnet offers a solution to a problem that your potential customers are struggling with.
  2. That problem is either the same or related to the problem that the affiliate product addresses.

Ideally, you want there to be a logical progression from the lead magnet to the affiliate product, so that the lead magnet would serve as a sample of the value the potential customer can expect from the product.

Lead Magnet Landing Page 

Your lead magnet landing page is the “sales” page of your lead magnet in which you try to persuade the potential customer to download it.

We recommend you start with a squeeze page which is the most basic type of landing page and has three elements:

  1. A headline
  2. An opt-in form
  3. A call-to-action button

The key element here is the headline because that’s your opportunity to “sell” your lead magnet to the potential customer. How will it make their life better? Emphasize that.

Later, you can experiment with medium-length landing pages that include all the elements of a squeeze page + extra stuff like copy, social proof, etc.

Lead Magnet Landing Page. 3 key elements of a squeeze page graphic.

Thank You Page 

A Thank You page is the page that is shown to the potential customer after they have subscribed to your email list to get access to your lead magnet.

As the name suggests, the purpose of a Thank You page is to express gratitude, but in this case, we are going to use it to introduce the affiliate product.

We recommend you to use a sales video because video is a more persuasive medium than text provided that you do it right.

Don’t forget to mention the bonuses that people will get if they buy that product. You can even add a scarcity element to it by making them available for a limited time only.

Sales Page

Typically, companies that have affiliate programs provide sales pages for their affiliate products, so you probably won’t have to worry about that.

Note that an affiliate product’s sales page is a treasure trove of copy that you can swipe and repurpose for your ads, sales emails, etc.

It is extremely unlikely that you would get in trouble with the company in question for using their copy in your marketing materials as long as you are doing it to promote their product.

Follow-Up Sequence

And what if the potential customer rejects your offer?

Then you should send them a sequence of follow-up emails where you provide more information about the product, expand on its benefits, provide case studies, etc.

In other words, just because you couldn’t persuade them to buy the first time, doesn’t mean that you should stop trying!

Of course, don’t be obnoxious about it, otherwise, they will unsubscribe.

Continue Providing Free Value!

You also want to make sure that you keep nurturing the relationship with that potential customer by continuing to provide free value via email.

This can mean sending a weekly newsletter where you share interesting links, letting them know about new YouTube videos, etc.

This is where the long-term mindset that we have discussed at the beginning of this article comes in:

The goal isn’t to make a quick buck on that one affiliate product, it’s to build lasting relationships with people so that they would become repeat customers.

What’s Next?

Here at ClickFunnels, we believe that the most effective way to sell online is a sales funnel called the Value Ladder.

It was created by our co-founder Russell Brunson who then used it to take ClickFunnels from zero to $10M+ in annual revenue in just one year (it’s at $100M+ now).

The Value Ladder sales funnel has four stages:

  1. Bait – You offer the potential customer a lead magnet in exchange for their email address.
  2. Frontend – You offer the potential customer your least expensive and least valuable product.
  3. Middle – You offer the customer a more expensive and more valuable product.
  4. Backend – You offer the customer your most expensive and most valuable product.

Ideally, there’s also a continuity program of some sort, meaning a subscription product that generates recurring revenue.

Continue Providing Free Value!. The value ladder graphic.

The affiliate marketing sales funnel that we have discussed in this article covers the first two stages of the Value Ladder:

  1. Bait
  2. Frontend

Once you have tested it and are sure that it works, you can then build out the rest of the Value Ladder sales funnel by adding a middle offer, a backend offer, and a continuity program.

3 Affiliate Marketing Mistakes That You Must Avoid

Here are the three common affiliate marketing mistakes that you need to avoid if you want to enjoy lasting success with this business model:

Selling Low-Quality Products

This goes back to the “get rich quick” mentality we have discussed at the beginning of the article.

Sure, you can make a quick buck by persuading someone to buy a garbage product, but what then?

They will feel disappointed, cheated, and will never buy anything from you ever again. And if they are smart, they will get a refund!

Ethical issues aside, this isn’t a sustainable way to do business, since it relies on you constantly tricking new people into buying whatever junk it is that you are selling.

But the real money isn’t in getting one-off sales, it’s in providing so much value to your customers that they end up buying from you again, and again, and again.

So make sure that you do your due diligence and only sell top-quality products that you genuinely believe in.

Bombarding Email Subscribers With Endless Sales Pitches

We get it.

You are not running a charity. You are running a business. You want to make money.

But sending your email subscribers sales pitches seven days a week, 365 days a year is counter-productive in the long run. Why?

Because when your emails never provide free value, people start ignoring them, until they get to the point where they never open them at all.

So be respectful of your subscribers’ attention and make sure that you earn your place in their inbox by sharing valuable content, interesting links, answering questions, etc.

And sure, it’s okay to send regular sales emails, but don’t overdo it.

Selling Different Products That Address the Exact Same Problem

Affiliate marketers often pitch their email subscribers product after product after product that solves the exact same problem.

For example:

  • Week 1: A weight-loss product A
  • Week 2: A weight-loss product B
  • Week 3: A weight-loss product C
  • Week 4: A weight-loss product D

This comes across as disingenuous.

Last week you were saying that product C was the best way to lose weight, now this week you are saying it’s actually product D? So why did I buy product C then? I want a refund!

It also doesn’t make sense. If I just bought a weight loss product from you, I won’t buy another weight loss product a week later. I haven’t had the time to check out the first one!

And if it works as you said it would, I won’t need any more weight-loss products. I will have lost weight!

What you want to do instead is create a proper Value Ladder where there’s a logical progression between the frontend offer, the middle offer, and the backend offer.

Say, if you sold someone a weight loss product, you can then offer them a product that helps build muscle and avoid the “skinny fat” look. 

That way, you aren’t selling them a solution to a problem that they have already bought a solution to (from you!), you are selling them a solution to the next problem. See how that makes much more sense?

Want Russell to Show You How to Build a Sales Funnel That Converts?

Let’s keep it real:

Building a sales funnel from scratch can seem like a daunting task.

That’s why we created our 5 Day Challenge where Russell walks you through it step-by-step.

You will learn how to:

  • Generate unlimited leads
  • Create your first lead magnet
  • Build your first sales funnel
  • Create a simple 6-email follow-up sequence
  • And launch your funnel!

…in just five days.

So don’t hesitate.

Join our 5 Day Challenge today. It’s completely free!

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4 thoughts on “How to Build an Effective Sales Funnel for Affiliate Marketing

  1. Hi John,
    Thank you for this amazing article regarding the effective ways to build sales funnel for affiliate marketing.

    3 Mistakes you should avoid as an affiliate marketer are the most valuable information for all beginners in affiliate marketing.

    Once again thank you for this eye-opening article.

    1. If you're interested in affiliate marketing, Clickfunnels has a great program and you can find it at . We also have a very active community who promote the Clickfunnels products at