Designing Complex Affiliate Marketing Funnels

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Marichka Baluk (Head of Online Marketing at Blinkist) talks about Blinkist’s journey into building their affiliate marketing channel affiliate marketing at Blinkist, how they measure it, and how dealing with web funnels is different.
Marichka handles Google Ads, Display, Search and some growth topics like data, CRO (especially for web).

Source:
Designing Complex Affiliate Marketing Funnels
(no direct link to watch/listen)
(direct link to watch/listen)
Type:
Webinar
Publication date:
June 24, 2021
Added to the Vault on:
July 8, 2021
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💎 #
1

Setting up Server2Server tracking/events with their affiliate platform Impact Radius now saves a lot of time. This means that all the purchases they receive on the affiliate platform are 100% verified, and it includes cancellation numbers.

06:40
💎 #
2

For Blinkist there are more issues with fraud on mobile so when they have partners that are heavy on mobile, with S2S they only see spikes in the upper funnel actions. If they were just using a pixel or Adjust events they would have to dive deep into what’s happening to verify purchases then discuss with partners.

08:13
💎 #
3

Look at the conversion rates (e.g. sign ups to free trial, trial conversions, etc.) across different partners to make sure that the traffic they’re sending is looking healthy compared to what they normally see. Reach out if anything seems off.

09:58
💎 #
4

Blinkist typically works with partners on revenue share. But if they have room in terms of their target CAC and over all platforms, they also try to squeeze in “flat deals” with specific partners.

10:41
💎 #
5

Make sure you set up specific rules and conditions of approval to ensure that partners that register are qualified and also have the right guidance to transform being a partner into sending good traffic. Blinkist didn’t do that initially when working with an agency, and this is why a lot of partners are registered but not active.

15:26
💎 #
6

ROI-positive channels like Affiliates relieve the target goals of other channels, giving them more margin to operate.

17:30
💎 #
7

When you push users to the web funnel, you need to inform them as soon as possible that there is an app to make sure they download it. Having the app installed is crucial to get a user to come back and can build a habit (and not just pay).

25:00
💎 #
8

To make their web funnel work for other channels than affiliates (channels with less intent), Blinkist realized they needed to put a sample of content on the landing pages. They added “recommended book styles” and also created dedicated landing pages for titles, with a couple of insights and indicating. Doing this required much more dev work but led to a +40% improvement in conversion.

29:57
💎 #
9

If you’re a mobile growth expert venturing into the web, you need to forget everything you know and start with a clean slate because behaviors are very different (even for mobile web).

34:36
The gems from this resource are only available to premium members.
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  • Define your preferred categories and receive new relevant gems directly in your inbox
  • Receive the hottest gems 🔥 (most valuable insights) each month
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💎 #
1

Setting up Server2Server tracking/events with their affiliate platform Impact Radius now saves a lot of time. This means that all the purchases they receive on the affiliate platform are 100% verified, and it includes cancellation numbers.

06:40
💎 #
2

For Blinkist there are more issues with fraud on mobile so when they have partners that are heavy on mobile, with S2S they only see spikes in the upper funnel actions. If they were just using a pixel or Adjust events they would have to dive deep into what’s happening to verify purchases then discuss with partners.

08:13
💎 #
3

Look at the conversion rates (e.g. sign ups to free trial, trial conversions, etc.) across different partners to make sure that the traffic they’re sending is looking healthy compared to what they normally see. Reach out if anything seems off.

09:58
💎 #
4

Blinkist typically works with partners on revenue share. But if they have room in terms of their target CAC and over all platforms, they also try to squeeze in “flat deals” with specific partners.

10:41
💎 #
5

Make sure you set up specific rules and conditions of approval to ensure that partners that register are qualified and also have the right guidance to transform being a partner into sending good traffic. Blinkist didn’t do that initially when working with an agency, and this is why a lot of partners are registered but not active.

15:26
💎 #
6

ROI-positive channels like Affiliates relieve the target goals of other channels, giving them more margin to operate.

17:30
💎 #
7

When you push users to the web funnel, you need to inform them as soon as possible that there is an app to make sure they download it. Having the app installed is crucial to get a user to come back and can build a habit (and not just pay).

25:00
💎 #
8

To make their web funnel work for other channels than affiliates (channels with less intent), Blinkist realized they needed to put a sample of content on the landing pages. They added “recommended book styles” and also created dedicated landing pages for titles, with a couple of insights and indicating. Doing this required much more dev work but led to a +40% improvement in conversion.

29:57
💎 #
9

If you’re a mobile growth expert venturing into the web, you need to forget everything you know and start with a clean slate because behaviors are very different (even for mobile web).

34:36
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💎 #
1

Setting up Server2Server tracking/events with their affiliate platform Impact Radius now saves a lot of time. This means that all the purchases they receive on the affiliate platform are 100% verified, and it includes cancellation numbers.

06:40
💎 #
2

For Blinkist there are more issues with fraud on mobile so when they have partners that are heavy on mobile, with S2S they only see spikes in the upper funnel actions. If they were just using a pixel or Adjust events they would have to dive deep into what’s happening to verify purchases then discuss with partners.

08:13
💎 #
3

Look at the conversion rates (e.g. sign ups to free trial, trial conversions, etc.) across different partners to make sure that the traffic they’re sending is looking healthy compared to what they normally see. Reach out if anything seems off.

09:58
💎 #
4

Blinkist typically works with partners on revenue share. But if they have room in terms of their target CAC and over all platforms, they also try to squeeze in “flat deals” with specific partners.

10:41
💎 #
5

Make sure you set up specific rules and conditions of approval to ensure that partners that register are qualified and also have the right guidance to transform being a partner into sending good traffic. Blinkist didn’t do that initially when working with an agency, and this is why a lot of partners are registered but not active.

15:26
💎 #
6

ROI-positive channels like Affiliates relieve the target goals of other channels, giving them more margin to operate.

17:30
💎 #
7

When you push users to the web funnel, you need to inform them as soon as possible that there is an app to make sure they download it. Having the app installed is crucial to get a user to come back and can build a habit (and not just pay).

25:00
💎 #
8

To make their web funnel work for other channels than affiliates (channels with less intent), Blinkist realized they needed to put a sample of content on the landing pages. They added “recommended book styles” and also created dedicated landing pages for titles, with a couple of insights and indicating. Doing this required much more dev work but led to a +40% improvement in conversion.

29:57
💎 #
9

If you’re a mobile growth expert venturing into the web, you need to forget everything you know and start with a clean slate because behaviors are very different (even for mobile web).

34:36
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Become a member to:
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  • Discuss key insights (and any other mobile growth topic) in the member-only community.
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Why affiliates?

Even before the news, Blinkist realized that their funnel was very reliant on the app stores.
Very intrigued in making a web funnel work, especially to avoid the 30% fees, and one of the easiest way to implement this was through Affiliates.

Actually started with Affiliates a long time ago, with HasOffers, but a lot of the things they set up for tracking did not have proofing: they had to reject events manually, it was very time-consuming on the contract end, etc.

They realized after talking with peers that the Affiliates channel was a small share of their overall mix. That’s when Marichka stepped in to manage it.

They improved the set up by migrating to a different platform, set up processes from scratch and ensured they had the capacity to do more outreach to partners and grow the network. They’ve automated a lot of things.

[💎@06:40] Setting up Server2Server tracking/events with their affiliate platform Impact Radius now saves a lot of time. This means that all the purchases they receive on the affiliate platform are 100% verified, and it includes cancellation numbers.

[💎@08:13] For Blinkist there are more issues with fraud on mobile so when they have partners that are heavy on mobile, with S2S they only see spikes in the upper funnel actions. If they were just using a pixel or Adjust events they would have to dive deep into what’s happening to verify purchases then discuss with partners.

How are you measuring ROI? What are the main KPIs?

They have ROI goals attached to each channel that it runs, and the Affiliates channel has their targets too.

[💎@09:58] Look at the conversion rates (e.g. sign ups to free trial, trial conversions, etc.) across different partners to make sure that the traffic they’re sending is looking healthy compared to what they normally see. Reach out if anything seems off.

The revenue coming from the partners is the main KPI, especially because they work in revenue share. 

[💎@10:41] Blinkist typically works with partners on revenue share. But if they have room in terms of their target CAC and overall platforms, they also try to squeeze in “flat deals” with specific partners.

How granular with partners?

The team is still pretty hands on and has visibility on the different partners because they are not really big yet (still figuring out how to scale further). 

The partners that work for Blinkist are not in the most popular verticals/segments of affiliates across the web: what works for them are the ones that are around entrepreneurship, blog owners, etc. These bring a high intent audience that is very relevant to what Blinkist is looking for.

If a partner is delivering good results, they always try to make more deals and give that partner extra incentives relevant for their audience, etc.

They currently have about 1,500 partners on the platform at the moment, with less than half of them active. The ones on revenue share is an even smaller part of that.

[💎@15:26] Make sure you set up specific rules and conditions of approval to ensure that partners that register are qualified and also have the right guidance to transform being a partner into sending good traffic. Blinkist didn’t do that initially when working with an agency, and this is why a lot of partners are registered but not active.

Now trying to define the requirements they should have, so that even smaller partners can work with them if they are relevant instead of having big partners that do not send good enough traffic.

How much revenue?

Below 10% of their sales are coming from affiliates at the moment but this is an area of attention. 

[💎@17:30] ROI-positive channels like Affiliates relieve the target goals of other channels, giving them more margin to operate.

Do not migrate affiliate platforms around Christmas holidays. Also keep in mind that migrating platforms means you need contract renewals, etc. and this is a lot of stress for your partners as well.

Blinkist had an agency supporting them in migrating to the new platform and also with the communication with the affiliates, but it still was hectic.

They also initially had trouble with the Server2Server integration, which required putting in a lot of checks.

Affiliates profitable if the product is app-only?

Blinkist doesn’t have a full product on the web, only the basic functionalities: audio player, reader. But it’s enough to try it out and read insights from some titles. However, that's further down the funnel, and they know they need to have the app installed: users will renew only if they build a habit.

[💎@25:00] When you push users to the web funnel, you need to inform them as soon as possible that there is an app to make sure they download it. Having the app installed is crucial to get a user to come back and can build a habit (and not just pay). 

Initially they were trying to acquire users on the web, even for lower intent channels than affiliate like search for which users were looking for specific titles. It was harder to convert these users and get them to pay. Even harder on Display.

Blinkist initially underestimated the convenience of the mobile app flow: it’s clear that it’s an app, there are ratings, screenshots, etc.

[💎@29:57] To make their web funnel work for other channels than affiliates (channels with less intent), Blinkist realized they needed to put a sample of content on the landing pages. They added “recommended book styles” and also created dedicated landing pages for titles, with a couple of insights and indicating. Doing this required much more dev work but led to a +40% improvement in conversion.

It did require more development. Initially they tried to put a demo of the app, more screenshots, explain how the content was created, etc. But that had not moved the needle.

Whatever companies start doing first (app or web) is usually what they’re the best at in terms of funnel. At Blinkist they really focused on the app first.

[💎@34:36] If you’re a mobile growth expert venturing into the web, you need to forget everything you know and start with a clean slate because behaviors are very different (even for mobile web).

Quick questions

“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”

Best resource is the exchanges with other people. Berlin is great for that.


The notes from this resource are only available to premium members.
↘ At this point, you know what to do ↙
Upgrade Your Plan

Why affiliates?

Even before the news, Blinkist realized that their funnel was very reliant on the app stores.
Very intrigued in making a web funnel work, especially to avoid the 30% fees, and one of the easiest way to implement this was through Affiliates.

Actually started with Affiliates a long time ago, with HasOffers, but a lot of the things they set up for tracking did not have proofing: they had to reject events manually, it was very time-consuming on the contract end, etc.

They realized after talking with peers that the Affiliates channel was a small share of their overall mix. That’s when Marichka stepped in to manage it.

They improved the set up by migrating to a different platform, set up processes from scratch and ensured they had the capacity to do more outreach to partners and grow the network. They’ve automated a lot of things.

[💎@06:40] Setting up Server2Server tracking/events with their affiliate platform Impact Radius now saves a lot of time. This means that all the purchases they receive on the affiliate platform are 100% verified, and it includes cancellation numbers.

[💎@08:13] For Blinkist there are more issues with fraud on mobile so when they have partners that are heavy on mobile, with S2S they only see spikes in the upper funnel actions. If they were just using a pixel or Adjust events they would have to dive deep into what’s happening to verify purchases then discuss with partners.

How are you measuring ROI? What are the main KPIs?

They have ROI goals attached to each channel that it runs, and the Affiliates channel has their targets too.

[💎@09:58] Look at the conversion rates (e.g. sign ups to free trial, trial conversions, etc.) across different partners to make sure that the traffic they’re sending is looking healthy compared to what they normally see. Reach out if anything seems off.

The revenue coming from the partners is the main KPI, especially because they work in revenue share. 

[💎@10:41] Blinkist typically works with partners on revenue share. But if they have room in terms of their target CAC and overall platforms, they also try to squeeze in “flat deals” with specific partners.

How granular with partners?

The team is still pretty hands on and has visibility on the different partners because they are not really big yet (still figuring out how to scale further). 

The partners that work for Blinkist are not in the most popular verticals/segments of affiliates across the web: what works for them are the ones that are around entrepreneurship, blog owners, etc. These bring a high intent audience that is very relevant to what Blinkist is looking for.

If a partner is delivering good results, they always try to make more deals and give that partner extra incentives relevant for their audience, etc.

They currently have about 1,500 partners on the platform at the moment, with less than half of them active. The ones on revenue share is an even smaller part of that.

[💎@15:26] Make sure you set up specific rules and conditions of approval to ensure that partners that register are qualified and also have the right guidance to transform being a partner into sending good traffic. Blinkist didn’t do that initially when working with an agency, and this is why a lot of partners are registered but not active.

Now trying to define the requirements they should have, so that even smaller partners can work with them if they are relevant instead of having big partners that do not send good enough traffic.

How much revenue?

Below 10% of their sales are coming from affiliates at the moment but this is an area of attention. 

[💎@17:30] ROI-positive channels like Affiliates relieve the target goals of other channels, giving them more margin to operate.

Do not migrate affiliate platforms around Christmas holidays. Also keep in mind that migrating platforms means you need contract renewals, etc. and this is a lot of stress for your partners as well.

Blinkist had an agency supporting them in migrating to the new platform and also with the communication with the affiliates, but it still was hectic.

They also initially had trouble with the Server2Server integration, which required putting in a lot of checks.

Affiliates profitable if the product is app-only?

Blinkist doesn’t have a full product on the web, only the basic functionalities: audio player, reader. But it’s enough to try it out and read insights from some titles. However, that's further down the funnel, and they know they need to have the app installed: users will renew only if they build a habit.

[💎@25:00] When you push users to the web funnel, you need to inform them as soon as possible that there is an app to make sure they download it. Having the app installed is crucial to get a user to come back and can build a habit (and not just pay). 

Initially they were trying to acquire users on the web, even for lower intent channels than affiliate like search for which users were looking for specific titles. It was harder to convert these users and get them to pay. Even harder on Display.

Blinkist initially underestimated the convenience of the mobile app flow: it’s clear that it’s an app, there are ratings, screenshots, etc.

[💎@29:57] To make their web funnel work for other channels than affiliates (channels with less intent), Blinkist realized they needed to put a sample of content on the landing pages. They added “recommended book styles” and also created dedicated landing pages for titles, with a couple of insights and indicating. Doing this required much more dev work but led to a +40% improvement in conversion.

It did require more development. Initially they tried to put a demo of the app, more screenshots, explain how the content was created, etc. But that had not moved the needle.

Whatever companies start doing first (app or web) is usually what they’re the best at in terms of funnel. At Blinkist they really focused on the app first.

[💎@34:36] If you’re a mobile growth expert venturing into the web, you need to forget everything you know and start with a clean slate because behaviors are very different (even for mobile web).

Quick questions

“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”

Best resource is the exchanges with other people. Berlin is great for that.


The notes from this resource are only available to premium members.

The detailed notes taken for a resource are an easy way to see the gems in context to get a better understanding. They also include any relevant visuals from the source.
↘ At this point, you know what to do ↙
GET Access

Why affiliates?

Even before the news, Blinkist realized that their funnel was very reliant on the app stores.
Very intrigued in making a web funnel work, especially to avoid the 30% fees, and one of the easiest way to implement this was through Affiliates.

Actually started with Affiliates a long time ago, with HasOffers, but a lot of the things they set up for tracking did not have proofing: they had to reject events manually, it was very time-consuming on the contract end, etc.

They realized after talking with peers that the Affiliates channel was a small share of their overall mix. That’s when Marichka stepped in to manage it.

They improved the set up by migrating to a different platform, set up processes from scratch and ensured they had the capacity to do more outreach to partners and grow the network. They’ve automated a lot of things.

[💎@06:40] Setting up Server2Server tracking/events with their affiliate platform Impact Radius now saves a lot of time. This means that all the purchases they receive on the affiliate platform are 100% verified, and it includes cancellation numbers.

[💎@08:13] For Blinkist there are more issues with fraud on mobile so when they have partners that are heavy on mobile, with S2S they only see spikes in the upper funnel actions. If they were just using a pixel or Adjust events they would have to dive deep into what’s happening to verify purchases then discuss with partners.

How are you measuring ROI? What are the main KPIs?

They have ROI goals attached to each channel that it runs, and the Affiliates channel has their targets too.

[💎@09:58] Look at the conversion rates (e.g. sign ups to free trial, trial conversions, etc.) across different partners to make sure that the traffic they’re sending is looking healthy compared to what they normally see. Reach out if anything seems off.

The revenue coming from the partners is the main KPI, especially because they work in revenue share. 

[💎@10:41] Blinkist typically works with partners on revenue share. But if they have room in terms of their target CAC and overall platforms, they also try to squeeze in “flat deals” with specific partners.

How granular with partners?

The team is still pretty hands on and has visibility on the different partners because they are not really big yet (still figuring out how to scale further). 

The partners that work for Blinkist are not in the most popular verticals/segments of affiliates across the web: what works for them are the ones that are around entrepreneurship, blog owners, etc. These bring a high intent audience that is very relevant to what Blinkist is looking for.

If a partner is delivering good results, they always try to make more deals and give that partner extra incentives relevant for their audience, etc.

They currently have about 1,500 partners on the platform at the moment, with less than half of them active. The ones on revenue share is an even smaller part of that.

[💎@15:26] Make sure you set up specific rules and conditions of approval to ensure that partners that register are qualified and also have the right guidance to transform being a partner into sending good traffic. Blinkist didn’t do that initially when working with an agency, and this is why a lot of partners are registered but not active.

Now trying to define the requirements they should have, so that even smaller partners can work with them if they are relevant instead of having big partners that do not send good enough traffic.

How much revenue?

Below 10% of their sales are coming from affiliates at the moment but this is an area of attention. 

[💎@17:30] ROI-positive channels like Affiliates relieve the target goals of other channels, giving them more margin to operate.

Do not migrate affiliate platforms around Christmas holidays. Also keep in mind that migrating platforms means you need contract renewals, etc. and this is a lot of stress for your partners as well.

Blinkist had an agency supporting them in migrating to the new platform and also with the communication with the affiliates, but it still was hectic.

They also initially had trouble with the Server2Server integration, which required putting in a lot of checks.

Affiliates profitable if the product is app-only?

Blinkist doesn’t have a full product on the web, only the basic functionalities: audio player, reader. But it’s enough to try it out and read insights from some titles. However, that's further down the funnel, and they know they need to have the app installed: users will renew only if they build a habit.

[💎@25:00] When you push users to the web funnel, you need to inform them as soon as possible that there is an app to make sure they download it. Having the app installed is crucial to get a user to come back and can build a habit (and not just pay). 

Initially they were trying to acquire users on the web, even for lower intent channels than affiliate like search for which users were looking for specific titles. It was harder to convert these users and get them to pay. Even harder on Display.

Blinkist initially underestimated the convenience of the mobile app flow: it’s clear that it’s an app, there are ratings, screenshots, etc.

[💎@29:57] To make their web funnel work for other channels than affiliates (channels with less intent), Blinkist realized they needed to put a sample of content on the landing pages. They added “recommended book styles” and also created dedicated landing pages for titles, with a couple of insights and indicating. Doing this required much more dev work but led to a +40% improvement in conversion.

It did require more development. Initially they tried to put a demo of the app, more screenshots, explain how the content was created, etc. But that had not moved the needle.

Whatever companies start doing first (app or web) is usually what they’re the best at in terms of funnel. At Blinkist they really focused on the app first.

[💎@34:36] If you’re a mobile growth expert venturing into the web, you need to forget everything you know and start with a clean slate because behaviors are very different (even for mobile web).

Quick questions

“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow”

Best resource is the exchanges with other people. Berlin is great for that.