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, so if you recognize yourself here, don’t feel bad. The good news? There’s an easy fix.
Step 1: Survey your market
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.
Ready to start building out your sales funnels? There are just a few things you need before you can get started. Here are some of the most popular options when it comes to putting together both free and paid funnels:
Lead Pages—when it comes to building opt-in pages, LeadPages.net is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal. They’ve tracked and tested a variety of page styles to determine which ones convert best, and they make it easy for you to build similar pages for your funnel.
It does come with a monthly fee, though, so before investing, you’ll want to be sure you can recoup your investment.
Instabuilder—similar to LeadPages, but without the monthly investment. Instabuilder is a plugin for WordPress that allows you to create your own funnels. It includes several funnel templates and a drag-and-drop page builder that makes it easy to get just the look you want.
AWeber—Probably the easiest email manager on the market today, AWeber is the choice for many small business owners, not only because it’s simple to use, but because it’s also economical. Starting at less than $20 per month for up to 500 subscribers, AWeber offers both autoresponders and broadcast emails, list automation, and segmenting, so you can send emails exactly when—and to whom—you want.
AW Pro Tools—an add-on to AWeber, AW Pro Tools gives you added control over your list management by automatically removing unsubscribes, moving subscribers from one list to another based on the link they click, and other useful automations.
PayPal—The simplest of all payment processors, PayPal allows you to take payments online for a very reasonable fee. It will also act as a simple shopping cart.
Ontraport—Another email manager, Ontraport offers shopping cart functionality as well, so you can create powerful funnels that are fully integrated with your sales process. The benefit here is that you don’t have to try to synch your cart with your email system, since it’s completely self-contained.
Infusionsoft—Probably the top tool for any business model, Infusionsoft is an all-in-one solution for customer management, funnel setup, mailing list, and even membership sites. It’s priced at the high end, but if you can (and will) use all its power, then Infusionsoft is well worth the investment.
You can see that you have a lot of options when it comes to building out your sales funnels, but what are the must-have items? At the most basic level, you must have:
A way to create web pages. A simple WordPress website will fill this need, with a little bit of work. LeadPages or Instabuilder are nice to have, but not essential, especially if you’re just getting started.
A way to capture email addresses. AWeber is definitely the top choice here, but others include MailChimp, Constant Contact, and iContact.
A shopping cart. PayPal is as easy as it gets when it comes to shopping carts, but other options include 1 Shopping Cart, Woo Commerce, Infusionsoft, and aMember.
I recommend you start small. Build the funnel framework as simply as you can, using tools that don’t cost a fortune. Once you have a few funnels up and running, you will be able to see where they can use improvement, and how the tools available to you can help make your funnels convert better and work more efficiently.
For an online business owner, a sales funnel is probably the most important marketing tool you have. And yet many entrepreneurs – both new and established – have no clear understanding of what a funnel is or how it works.
As you can imagine, failing to fully understand this critical part of your business means fewer sales, lower profits, and ultimately, an unstable business.
A Simple Sales Funnel
At its most basic, a sales funnel consists of free content, which typically requires nothing of your readers. Many sales funnels begin with blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook content, and other information readers can access at no cost. This is the “top” of your funnel.
Next, you’ll have an attractive offer that requires a very small “payment” of sorts – typically an email address. You’ve seen this type of offer on websites all over the internet, and probably even signed up for some. This is the free ebook or guide, video series, checklist, workbook, or other valuable content that is available in exchange for “opting in” to an email list.
Once on your mailing list, you’ll then present your readers with a series of low-cost offers. Perhaps you have a low-priced ebook or a trial membership.
Customers who purchase your low-priced product move further down the funnel, and are presented with more, higher priced products. As they continue to buy, they move closer and closer to your top-end offers, which make up the bottom of your funnel.
How Your Funnel Works
If you imagine your funnel as looking like, well, a funnel, it’s easy to see that your free content—at the top—is consumed by the largest number of readers. Below that, your extreme low-cost item (available only for the cost of an email address) attracts a smaller subset of the true freebie seekers. Next, your low-priced products bring in yet a smaller group.
Finally, as you near the tip of the funnel, only the most loyal of fans and customers will purchase your highest priced offers.
Your job, as the business owner, is to ensure that your funnel leads buyers naturally from the top, free offers all the way to the bottom. The more buyers you can keep in your funnel, the more money you will make.
Most new—and even established—business owners can easily envision the top of the funnel, but if you truly want your business to grow, you must master the entire process, and that starts with understanding what a funnel really is and how it works.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be covering sales funnel in depth. Want to keep up? Sign up for my email list and you’ll get it first!
Do you use a sales funnel? Do you recognize one when you see it?
Welcome to the third in our “Women In Biz All Around WordPress” feature that will run the 1st Sunday of every month. It’s a new series where we spotlight amazing women and the ways in which they have used WordPress to spread their message, sell their products, or provide valuable services.
The hope is to inspire other midlife women to build their online businesses and find what we’re all looking for; financial freedom, a lifestyle they love, and excitement they may have been missing! All of these women are clients of mine who have inspired me over the years and I think they will inspire you as well.
This month I want to introduce you to a woman that I both admire and envy a little! She’s an accomplished writer, with many books under her belt. Books such as Frozen Dinners, Midlife Cabernet & Menopause Sucks. She’s a “verified funny lady” who’s MRI fart was literally heard around the world!
She uses WordPress to sell her books, keep her readers updated, & promotes her speaking gigs on her website ElaineAmbrose.com. She has managed to make midlife fun again! She leads a life that most would envy but is as down to earth as your next door neighbor! I met Elaine personally a few years ago at a conference and enjoyed her self-deprecating sense of humor and friendliness.
A few years later our paths crossed again when she was looking to redesign her site and fix some issues that were driving her batty. I’m happy to say that we took care of her issues and she’s been a loyal client in my luxury maintenance program ever since
And here’s Elaine!
Tell us a bit about yourself, Elaine:
I grew up near the farming village of Wendell, Idaho, population 1,000. I was bored with weeding potatoes and moving sprinkler pipes, so I started writing short stories at age 10 and had my first national publication at age 12. I majored in journalism at the University of Idaho and worked in television, advertising, and corporate communication. In 2008, I met an agent at a writers’ conference and signed a contract to write “Menopause Sucks.” I’ve written ten books and have stories in several anthologies. I live in Meridian, Idaho with a charming, patient guy I call Studley. We have four grown children and five grandchildren.
What made you first decide to build a blog or website? How long have you had your site?
I started my publishing website in 2003 for Mill Park Publishing as a way to promote my books. In 2008, I started the personal website with ElaineAmbrose.com. It’s evolved several times, and I’ve published more than 610 blog posts. I use the site to promote my books, speaking events, and writing workshops.
What is your niche?
I love writing humor. I dabble in current events with mixed results. My audience wants to laugh, and so do I.
Of all of your blog posts or pages on your site which is your favorite?
My favorite blog post is “Don’t Fart During an MRI.” The essay was published on the Huffington Post in 2014 and went viral with more than 800,000 “likes.” It was published in six different languages around the world. Other humorous blog posts have won national writing awards from BlogHer and from the National Society for Newspaper Columnists and Bloggers.
What is your favorite social media platform and why?
I’m most active on Facebook because all my friends are there. I also like Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I like the WordPress feature that enables inclusive distribution.
Do you find WordPress easy to maneuver or do you avoid the back end like the plague?
Technology is complicated for old, creative writers. It took a long time for me to learn how to insert links, photos, or videos into my blogs, but I was giddy as a pig in warm mud after I learned how to do it.
Is your site a business that makes money or a passion that makes your heart sing?
My books make money. My blogs make people laugh, or at least smile.
If you use your site for business what do you sell or what service do you provide?
Books, writing retreats, and speaking gigs
What is one thing you’d like people to know about you?
I intend to live happy so I don’t die crabby.