Does the mention of sales funnels make your head spin? Not to worry! Here you get my step-by-step guide to create a sales funnel in a few easy steps, including what faults you should look out for and the necessary element for sale that many sales funnel ignore. Don’t make that costly mistake yourself, read on to learn how to set up a funnel that converts! We will cover:
- Step-by-Step Sales Funnel Planning
- 3 Elements of a Squeeze Page
- The Missing Element You Need to Include When You Create a Sales Funnel
- Storytelling: Your Secret Weapon
- The Art of Upsell
Step-by-Step Sales Funnel Planning
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of setting up your sales funnel? You’re not alone. Many online business owners fail to properly plan out their funnel, and it shows.
They have an opt-in incentive that doesn’t appeal to their audience.
Their follow-up emails don’t flow naturally from the opt-in.
Messages are unbalanced—either too many sales pitches or not enough. Even worse, the offers don’t match the market.
Making these mistakes is common when you create a sales funnel, so if you recognize yourself here, don’t feel bad. The good news? There’s an easy fix.
Step 1: Survey your market before you create a sales funnel
All too often we think we know what our readers and potential buyers want, but in reality, we’re simply guessing. We make the mistake of believing that we are our market, but that usually is not the case.
The only way to know for sure what your market truly wants and needs is to ask them. Set up a simple survey (even a Google form will work) and ask your blog readers, social media followers, and email list to give their opinion.
Do this right, and you’ll know exactly what you should be offering your audience, plus, you’ll know that language to use on your opt-in page.
Step 2: Create your opt-in
Now that you know what your market needs, it’s time to create your opt-in incentive. Keep in mind that readers today seem to prefer simple, easy-to-digest offers rather than 200-page eBooks or 7-part video series. This makes your job a bit easier, too.
Some popular choices for opt-in incentives include:
- Resource guides
- Video training
- Audio downloads
Step 3: Map out your autoresponder
Every good opt-in incentive should be followed up with a series of emails that build on the material. If you’ve offered a resource guide, for example, then your follow-up emails might include usage tips for each of the resources, or case studies that show how others have benefited from using the tools.
Step 4: Make an offer
Arguably the most important part of your funnel, your offer must be the logical next step for readers to take. They’ve worked through your opt-in incentive, read and acted on your emails, and they’re hungry for more. Time to make your offer.
Just like the other pieces of your funnel, your coaching offer needs to be the answer to your readers’ most burning questions. If you consider your opt-in and follow-up series to be the “lite” version, then your coaching offer is the premium package. Bigger, beefier, and the perfect next step.
Before you post your first opt-in code, take some time to map out your funnel according to these steps, and you’ll not only fill your funnel faster, but you’ll close more sales along the way.
3 Elements of a Squeeze Page That Converts
It’s the lead in to your funnel. The one thing that must entice prospective clients to hand over their email address, giving you permission to not only contact them in the future, but to actually sell them things. Coaching, DIY courses, affiliate offers and others.
Is yours doing its job?
Often times it’s not, and you may not even know it. Take a look at your current opt-in offers with a critical eye and watch for:
A Compelling Offer
This is what will ultimately entice someone to join your mailing list. It might be a free eBook or a resource guide or a short video training series. It could even be the promise of a weekly email, but it has to be something valuable to your ideal client.
Not only that, but the copy on your page must clearly state the benefits of your offer. What will your reader gain from it? What’s in it for her?
It’s important here to know the difference between a feature and a benefit. No one cares if your eBook is 147 pages long. That’s a feature. The benefit is what sells it. In this case, the benefit might be that the reader will discover an easy way to save $100 per month on her house payment. That’s certainly worth giving up your email address for!
A Call to Action
This is where you ask your reader to do something. You want her to fill in her name and email address and click that button, so you have to make it very clear that’s her job.
Great calls to action don’t look like work (subscribe, join, learn all sound like too much trouble), and compel the reader to take the next step.
- Download Now
- Listen Now
- Instant Approval
Using an enticing call to action can mean the difference between a 1% conversion rate and a 60% conversion, so it’s important to look at your call to action with a critical eye, and to test it to make sure it’s performing.
Which brings us to analytics – so important when you create a sales funnel! You can’t improve what you don’t track, so be sure you’re using some kind of analytics on your squeeze page. Google Analytics (and others) will tell you how many visitors you receive. Divide the number of opt-ins by the number of page unique visitors, and that will tell you your conversion rate.
Take this one step further by installing some split-testing software (Google Webmaster Tools or LeadPages will do the trick) to serve half your visitors one page, and half a slightly different page. Compare the results, keep the one with the higher conversions, and then test again with a third version.
It’s no longer enough just to have an opt-in form in your sidebar. You have to consciously create a landing page that makes a great offer, has a strong call to action, and continually test and tweak it to improve performance. Do this one thing, and your funnel will fill itself—and so will your coaching programs.
The Missing Element in Your Funnel
The first thing new online business owners learn is the power of the offer funnel.
You’ll find WordPress plugins to help you design your funnel and landing-page creators to assist in building it. And yet still your funnel doesn’t perform as it should.
So what’s missing? Cohesiveness.
I know, I know. You mail regularly. You’re making offers. You even make sales. If you weren’t, you certainly wouldn’t be in business this long. But if your funnel isn’t bringing in a steady cash flow that grows month after month, then something is clearly wrong, and I’m betting it’s because you lack consistency and cohesion.
Most of us do, so don’t beat yourself up, but do take a look at your funnel and offers with a critical eye, and ask yourself:
Does my opt-in offer satisfy a real need of my ideal client?
Too often we throw together a simple eBook or webinar without ever stopping to consider if our ideal client—the one we really want to work with—really needs or wants it. Unless your opt-in offer answers a driving question or solves a problem for your client, she’s going to pass.
Does my follow-up series continue to help resolve her issues?
This is where a lot of funnels go off the rails—in the follow up. In order to maintain cohesion and keep your readers’ interest, your follow-up emails should continue to address the issue that originally brought her to you. Unrelated products and random affiliate offers do little to build trust and can even lead to unsubscribes.
Does my big offer follow naturally from the opt-in?
If your opt-in incentive is designed to help homeschooling moms manage their time better, then your group-coaching program must include an element of time management as well. Anything less and your loyal readers will feel as if you don’t know them at all.
Just like a great sales page, all the pieces of your funnel need to flow naturally from one to the next, leading your readers toward bigger and better offers. It’s this cohesiveness that will help plug the leaks and keep your funnel filled with prospective clients who can’t wait to buy from you.
The Art of Upsell
Once you create a sales funnel and you’re starting to see a steady stream of coaching clients on your calendar: Congrats! That’s a great start to building a rock-solid business you love.
But the work doesn’t end with that first sale. In fact, it’s just beginning when you create a sales funnel.
Your next job is to continue to make offers (and sales) to your loyal customers. Remember, it’s much easier to sell to a current customer than to earn a new one, so don’t ignore those who have already expressed trust in you.
For each of your products or services, there must be a “next logical step” for those who buy. If the point of entry into your customer’s list was an eBook, then perhaps the next step is a video guide. If she’s already purchased your video guide, a multi-week workshop might be next on the agenda. And if that multi-week workshop was a hit, private coaching is going to be her next need.
By thoughtfully including “next step” recommendations in your follow-up emails and even in your products themselves, you can easily move your clients further into your funnel with timely upsells.
Automate Your Follow-Ups
Of course, it can be tricky to manage all your products and services, so savvy coaches are careful to create an autoresponder series to follow every product purchase. You’ll want to include emails that encourage your buyer to consume the products she’s already purchased, plus tips to help her progress even further.
As she buys your next offer, make sure you make use of the automation tools available in your email software to remove her from the “sales” list and add her to the “buyers” list for that next product. When you manage this well, your clients will progress easily from one offer to the next.
Segment Your Lists
One thing to be cautious of is trying to force buyers to make too big of a leap. The woman who bought your $47 eBook is not likely to sign on for a $1997 coaching program—at least not yet.
By segmenting your mailing lists you can avoid making overly aggressive offers, and instead send your buyers exactly what they need, when they need it.
Upselling your buyers is the key to higher income with less work. Don’t be afraid to make offers when you create a sales funnel, and remember, a happy buyer is primed to make another purchase. She’s counting on you to show her what’s next, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re bothering or annoying her by making offers. Do it thoughtfully, and she’ll actually thank you for it.
Storytelling: Your Autoresponder Secret Weapon
What makes you read a blog post or article or email?
Interesting stats? A clever turn of phrase? An attention-grabbing headline?
All of those things can pique your interest, but they won’t keep your eyes on the page. For that, you need a story.
As a coach, service provider, or blogger, your job is to craft a narrative that draws your reader in and keeps her interested. Do it right, and she’ll share your content with her friends and colleagues, greatly expanding your reach. Do it poorly, and she might read your post or your email, she might even buy from you. But she won’t remember you, because you won’t have made a connection.
Share Your Personal Stories
One of the best ways to build a relationship and grow your audience is to share your personal stories. Tell your readers how you got started, what lessons you learned along the way, and how your life and business were improved because of them.
Personal anecdotes don’t even have to be business related to have an impact. Did you notice a fantastic marketing strategy while standing in line at the supermarket reading the magazine headlines? Share the story. Did you learn how to treat customers better by dealing with your cell phone company? Tell your story.
By making the connection between a memorable event and your coaching business, your readers will remember you long after they click away from your site or close your email.
Write Case Studies
Another powerful story telling technique is case studies. Tell your readers exactly what your coaching client did to double her income last year, or how another client took your advice and grew her mailing list by 150% in six months.
These beefed up testimonials (because that’s all a case study is) will keep your readers interested in learning more from you.
Connect Unrelated Stories in New, Interesting Ways
Want to really make an impression? Make unusual connections in your story. Share the struggles Frodo faced as he made his way to Mordor to destroy the ring, and how that relates to business today. Or talk about the squirrel in your yard that bravely defends his territory every time you take the dog out, and how it reminds you of your early days in business when you were convinced that competition was bad.
By making a connection between completely unrelated topics, you can quickly craft a blog post or email that will get readers thinking, and that they’ll remember for a long time to come.
Avoid the Awkward Segue
One word of caution though. Don’t toss in a story just because you think you need a “hook.” You’ll know you’re doing this if you can’t easily transition from the story to the purpose of your post or email. If you find yourself saying something like “Ok, that’s enough personal stuff, now let’s get back to business,” you’re trying too hard.
Your stories should naturally flow into business, if you want to make a big impression. And trust me, when you get this right, you’ll suddenly find your posts going viral and your profits soaring.