Customers are often researching online and then buying in stores and also browsing in stores and then searching for other options online. Online customer research into products is particularly popular for higher-priced items as well as consumable goods like groceries and makeup. Consumers are increasingly using the Internet to look up product information, compare prices, and search for deals and promotions.[23]


Now, most affiliate programs have strict terms and conditions on how to generate leads. There are also certain banned methods, such as installing adware or spyware that redirect all search queries for a product to an affiliate's page. Some affiliate marketing programs go as far as to lay out how a product or service is to be discussed in the content before an affiliate link can be validated.
For example, if you are a florist, a repeat customer might stop at your shop every few months to purchase the same thing–a flower bouquet for his wife. Or if you’re make socks, a repeat customer might purchase more socks from you when the old socks are worn out. On the other hand, if you’re an author selling a book, you probably aren’t going to get someone purchasing the exact same book from you a second time (unless it’s a gift or they lose their first copy). However, they may very well purchase your second novel as soon as you publish it.
Sales funnels are important so that you stay focused on carrying out the right sales activities at the right time in the prospect relationship. If you’re in the Awareness phase, you are engaging in prospecting or lead generation activities. If you’re in the Evaluation phase, you are sending your customers quotes or proposals so they can evaluate their options and ultimately make a purchase. They serve as reminders of what needs to be done and when.
The new digital era has enabled brands to selectively target their customers that may potentially be interested in their brand or based on previous browsing interests. Businesses can now use social media to select the age range, location, gender and interests of whom they would like their targeted post to be seen by. Furthermore, based on a customer's recent search history they can be ‘followed’ on the internet so they see advertisements from similar brands, products and services,[40] This allows businesses to target the specific customers that they know and feel will most benefit from their product or service, something that had limited capabilities up until the digital era.

Affiliate marketing is commonly confused with referral marketing, as both forms of marketing use third parties to drive sales to the retailer. The two forms of marketing are differentiated, however, in how they drive sales, where affiliate marketing relies purely on financial motivations, while referral marketing relies more on trust and personal relationships.[citation needed]
For example, at the beginning of your funnel, prospect interaction is low and the number of prospects is high. This is the Awareness stage, where you do advertising or another form of low-cost, low-touch, broad outreach. The next stages have fewer people in them and require activities that take more time and attention. This is where you’d send emails, make phone calls, or invite qualified interested prospects to a webinar to learn more about your offerings.
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