If you’ve ever looked at another entrepreneur and wondered how she manages to get it all done, the answer might surprise you.
She’s got good systems.
It’s true. The most productive people all have one thing in common: they don’t reinvent the wheel every day. Instead, they’ve figured out the best, most efficient way to do every task, and they create a system to do just that.
No matter what business you’re in and what projects you find yourself tackling, a systemized approach will help you:
- Work faster and produce more
- Produce higher quality results with fewer mistakes
- Easily outsource the tasks you don’t like to do
The Magic of Templates
How many times do you answer email from potential clients? What about responding to customer complaints? Or mailing your JV partners about an upcoming launch?
All of these tasks and more become effortless when you create fill-in-the-blank templates that can be repurposed for specific cases/people. Templates can be as simple as a “canned response” in your email client or help desk, or you can use software such as Text Expander (for Mac) or Phrase Express (for Windows). You might even create a template document in Dropbox or Google Drive to house all your templates for easier access.
While templates will undoubtedly save you time, the real beauty is that once they’re created, you can easily outsource things like email and even sales. Simply instruct your assistant on the proper use of your templates, and you’ll be free to do other, more important things.
Checklists Prevent Mistakes
It might seem counterintuitive, but when you perform the same tasks over and over again, it’s easy to miss a critical step. You might think you paid your affiliates this month—you might even remember doing it—only to look back and see it was never completed.
But when you implement checklists, it’s suddenly much more difficult to miss an important task.
You can easily create checklists for all your common tasks and projects using nothing more than a text document. If you’re managing a team, checklists in your project management system allow you to see exactly what tasks are complete, and which are still outstanding.
Templates and checklists turn smart business owners into productivity superstars, and it’s easy to get started. The next time you answer an email you’ve answered before, save your response. The next time you set up a new product in your shopping cart or create a new opt-in page, take the time to record the steps. These documents will make future projects easier and faster to complete, and best of all, you can hand them off to your assistant to do instead.
As any smart business owner knows, the key to passive income is a well-established (and full) funnel.
So, of course, you’ve optimized your opt-in pages and monetized your download pages and encourage more buyers through well-placed upsells and down-sells.
But what about the follow-up? Do you contact customers about the products or services they didn’t buy? Do you encourage them to use the products they have purchased? Are you making sure they know about all your other wonderful programs?
If not, you’re missing the boat. But the good news is, this can be easily managed with just a bit of simple automation, and when done right, it will smoothly lead your customers from one purchase to the next, at the exact right time for them to take advantage of your best offers.
Segment Your Audience
Many autoresponder services allow you to target emails based on reader action. Want to sent a follow up email to those who clicked a specific link? Create a segment and mail away. Want to re-engage with those who haven’t opened your emails in a while? Easy to do, and you can potentially recover subscribers who have gone missing.
In more sophisticated systems, such as Infusionsoft or Ontraport, you can dig even deeper, and move people from one series to another based on their buying habits. That way you’ll never promote a product a reader already owns. Not only that, but you’ll always be able to offer the very best next thing, no matter where a subscriber is in your funnel.
Still another way to segment your list is according to what they do not buy. If a subscriber has been on a list where you’re promoting your top-level coaching program, and she has not yet purchased, it may simply be too expensive for her at this time. Consider moving these readers to an autoresponder series promoting a lower cost option instead.
All of these tactics require that you know your audience and your products exceptionally well. Study your stats. Know your open and click rates. Pay attention to the promotions that work, as well as those that fall flat. With information in hand, you’ll be better able to effectively segment your lists and make the most of all the parts of your funnel.
The web pages that make up your sales or opt-in funnel are only the beginning. To truly encourage sales, you need to stay in contact with your readers. The easiest way to do that is through your email manager, by sending periodic emails with various related offers.
Let’s take a look at a typical follow-up sequence for a free opt-in series. In this case, your reader has attended a free webinar that promoted a high-ticket training program. In the days that follow, you’ll want to stay in contact with an autoresponder sequence that automatically sends email at specific intervals.
Email 1: This is going to be the first email that goes out after they confirm. It should give the reader access to your free webinar, so that can be a link to the replay, or that instructions to join you for the live event. You will likely also want to include a couple of reminder emails if the event is live.
Email 2: This is the replay email for a live event, or the first follow-up if the original was a replay. In this email, it’s a good idea to offer few bullet points of what they learned, encouragement to watch the replay (if you can legitimately say it’s only available for the next XX days, even better), plus an offer to purchase the training program.
Email 3: A few days later, you’ll want to follow-up again. This time, consider including a case study of someone who used your training program. When combined with a great offer, reading about the results someone else achieved can be a powerful motivator.
Email 4: Use this follow-up message to remind readers that the replay is going away (if it is), and also to answer any objections. For example, you might list some FAQs or even questions you’ve received about your refund policy, who the program is for, or payment options. Remind them about the offer.
Email 5: This is your final reminder that the offer is going away soon. At this point, you may want to encourage the reader to email you with questions (if you have the systems in place to manage a lot of email, that is).
Email 6 and beyond: If your reader reaches this point without buying, then it may be that your product is just not right for her. From this point forward, you should continue to stay in contact by offering great information, case studies, tips and other interesting content, but also to offer other products that might be of interest.
One important thing to remember about this email sequence: if your reader buys your program at any point, you must remove her from this sequence. It will make no sense for her to get email #5 with that final offer reminder if she purchased your program after email #3. Most autoresponder services, such as AWeber, have automation built in that allows you to move subscribers from one list to another based on their actions, so be sure to set that up as you’re building your funnel emails.
This kind of hand’s off approach to email marketing is what will help you build a true passive sales funnel, so look for opportunities to use this system as you build your business.
For a business owner with a solid funnel in place, it’s easy to take a look at the number of subscribers at each level of the funnel and predict pretty accurately what the sales are going to be from day to day or week to week.
If you’ve got a funnel in place, though, and your numbers aren’t looking great, chances are you have a leak somewhere. Your funnel has a hole (or two or three) where subscribers are falling through. There are four common causes for funnel leaks, and once you spot them, they’re pretty easy to fix.
Not enough traffic. The very heart of your sales funnel is the traffic you bring in. Without visitors to your blog or opt-in pages, you’ll have no subscribers. Without subscribers, you’ll have no (or very few) sales. Without sales, you’ll have no business. Yet this is where a lot of people struggle. How can you get more eyes on your content and more subscribers into your funnel?
How to fix it: Traffic generation is an entire industry of its own, but here are some tips: Use good SEO to encourage search engines to rank your content well. Be present and active in the places where your ideal reader hangs out, whether that’s on social media, in niche forums, or at live events. Use paid ads to drive targeted traffic to highly relevant pages. Recruit JV partners and affiliates to promote your offers. Buy solo ads in related email newsletters.
No follow-up. This is a leaky funnel mistake that a lot of new entrepreneurs make. They spend a lot of time and energy setting up a great squeeze page and driving traffic to it, then they deliver the goods to their subscribers, and then…nothing. No follow-up emails. No offers to buy more. No related services or products. Nothing.
How to fix it: Before you spend time building that opt-in page or offer, be sure you have a back-end to promote, or those subscribers you so carefully collected will end up costing you money instead of earning it back.
No call-to-action. This happens most typically at the top of the funnel. Your blog posts, social media content, podcasts, YouTube videos—everything you offer for free—must have some kind of call-to-action, or it’s all just wasted energy. Your call-to-action can be as simple as “Subscribe to my YouTube channel” or “Follow me on Facebook for more tips,” but it must be there.
How to fix it: Every time you write a blog post or an email, as yourself, “What do I want my readers to do when they’re done reading/listening/watching this?” That becomes your call to action.
No product offers. When you’re just starting out, this can be a problem. You know you need to be building a mailing list, but with nothing to offer them, what’s the point? The truth is, there are lots of ways to make money in your funnel even if you don’t have a product to sell.
How to fix it: Promote affiliate offers. No matter what industry you’re in, there are a variety of tools and products your readers need. Find those tools, sign up for the affiliate programs, and recommend them to your readers. Not only will your readers thank you for pointing them in the right direction, but you’ll earn a little cash, too.
Got a leaky funnel? With a few tweaks and some attention paid to your follow-up sequences, chances are you can fix those holes and increase your profits in no time.
It’s the lead into 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. 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.