How to Optimize your Affiliate Site Content According to the Sales Cycle

So you have a great website with great articles about your niche and products. You’ve included your affiliate links with the right CTAs but your clicks are still not converting. Why? Low conversions are not always a result of poor content. Timing is also crucial. If you are an affiliate marketer, it is crucial you fully understand your customer’s buying journey and create content according to their expectations to ensure conversions.


Understanding the Buying Cycle

The buying cycle, also known as the sales funnel, is the process which most consumers go through when deciding whether or not they need a product or service and which one to buy.

This process can have multiple steps depending on the product type, but for the purposes of this article, we are going to use 4 stages:

Sales Cycle

Customers may come across a business at different stages of the cycle. For example, a person at a shopping centre, that has become aware that he would like to buy a present for his girlfriend. He explores different shops. Whilst doing this, he comes across a bookstore and he remembers that his girlfriend likes to read.  He will go into the shop and browse again throughout the different sections and genres. He knows his girlfriend likes the Harry Potter series but she has them all already, so he will probably ask an employee for help to recommend a related or similar book.  

In another scenario, a woman has already made up her mind that she wants to get the latest volume of the Harry Potter series she’s been reading and that has been released that day. She will go into the shopping centre specifically to find it and buy it as soon as possible. She’s not interested in browsing through the rest of the bookshelves and genre sections. Ideally, the book would be on display by the entrance to save her some time to do the rest of her shopping.

As you can see, these two book customers are qualified leads for a book store. What would happen if in the first case, an employee approaches him and offers him a random book about cooking that’s on sale? He will probably ignore him and continue searching for the perfect book for his girlfriend. In other cases, the customer may even leave the shop to avoid that annoying clerk trying to push that cooking book sale.

In the second scenario, what would happen if the book she’s looking for is located at the last bookshelf hidden behind some engineering books? She would probably have a hard time finding it, leave the store and go to the bookstore on the second floor of the shopping centre where she will continue to do the rest of her shopping.

Why am I getting clicks but not conversions?

I constantly get contacted by affiliates asking why their clicks are not converting. Of course there are many reasons, but one of the most common is related to the sales cycle. Some affiliate marketers focus so much on getting their visitors to click on their affiliate links, that they forget about the customer’s journey, hence, the customer will abandon their site without making a sale.

In order for traffic to turn into conversions, not only does it need to be the right type of traffic, it also has to be in the right sales cycle stage.

In brief, not all consumers interested in your product are desperately wanting to buy it right now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t lead them through this journey so they end up choosing to buy from you. Fortunately, digital marketing allows you to adapt to your customer’s expectations through your content.


Know your customer’s buying journey

Learn as much as you can about your own customers and their buying journey. The best way of doing this is by putting yourself in your visitor’s shoes and finding the different personas or customer profiles that could come across your website. Then, follow your customer’s journey from each stage of the buying cycle.

You can also look at your website analytics to find where your visitors are coming from, what pages they are landing first, and other navigation patterns. Google Analytics behaviour and engagement reports are great for this. You can also go to the overview page and review your site content by page. In this section you can also check your landing and exit pages.

Exit pages stats can give you a better understanding of where in the sales funnel your visitors are leaving your site, which can be an area of opportunity for your content strategy. It’s the same with landing pages stats, which you can use to optimise to lead your visitor towards your other pages along the sales cycle.

You can also build a map to analyse this path for each customer profile or persona. This will be very useful when you get to develop your content strategy.

Below is an example of a customer’s journey map for an affiliate website targeting weight loss:

Customer journey mapContent mapping

Once you have learned as much as you can about your customer’s journey, you can go ahead and map your content for each stage and even for each persona. To do this, ask yourself what particular content can I create along those journeys to help move my potential customer to the following stage in the sales cycle?

Here is an example of content mapping for an affiliate website promoting health and weight loss products:

Affiliate Web Content


Creating content assets for each stage

You have learned how to map your customer’s journey and your website content. The next step is to create content for each stage of the buying process and persona. Don’t be tempted to push a sale too early or add CTAs towards the merchant site before your visitor is at the decision stage.

It’s also important to adapt your content to ensure you can lead your visitors towards the following stages and exit pages. Make it easy for your visitor to find more relevant content that will help them make a decision.


It’s a cycle!

Just like the purchasing buying process is a cycle, you have to continue evaluating any changes in your customer’s journey and create more lead nurturing content.  Pay close attention to new channels and customers so you can map new relevant content. As you probably already know, content creation it’s a never-ending process!

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