The Future of the Funnel in Affiliate Marketing, According to Brands

It’s always good to know how brands view the affiliate channel.After all, the space has significantly evolved in the past few years alone – particularly in its approach to the ‘customer journey.’The idea of the ‘funnel’ in affiliate marketing is a contentious one. For many, it has become something of a prison that traps affiliates in the ‘bottom of the funnel’, overlooking a lot of the heavy lifting affiliates naturally do for brand awareness. This then means that affiliates aren’t correctly compensated for their work.Evidently, creators have grown tired of the association, as a recent survey showed that 94% of them would reject affiliate commissions for flat fees. Coupon partners have also expressed dissatisfaction with their general relegation to bottom-funnel sales, arguing that, nowadays, they can and do drive a lot of value around the start of the customer journey.So, we set out to learn more about the reality of this situation and put some numbers, some structure, to these feelings of discontent.We surveyed e-commerce led brands on how they view affiliate marketing in relation to the customer journey. We learned about their most prominent compensation plans, whether they care about the funnel or not, which partners would go where, and so on.Let’s dig into these findings.Brands care about the funnelWhile affiliate marketers might be burying the ‘funnel’ concept, it’s alive and well for brands.The vast majority (88%) of respondents said that considering the funnel with affiliate partners is either important or very important. Just 3% saw it as insignificant and 9% were neutral.Brands think about where affiliates go in the journeyEven though many partners can adapt to a full-funnel approach these days, brands still like to consider a more targeted strategy.When asked if they consider whether partners are top-funnel or bottom-funnel, 84% answered ‘yes’.Content commerce and creators come out on topThere are few surprises when looking at brands’ preferred placement of partners in the customer journey.For upper-funnel activations, content commerce sits at the highest point with 77% of respondents selecting it. Creators follow up with 67%. Then, we see micro- and macro-influencers arriving at 50% and 40% respectively. Interesting to see that micro- has indeed topped macro- here. It’s a trend we’ve all heard about for the past couple of years and it presents itself here in blazoned tangibility.

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