Regardless of what type of business you are in online, you have some sort of sales funnel that you need to develop in order to take people from being in the periphery of your audience to bringing them into the fold through to the completion of a purchase and then repeat sales.
All business models, including affiliate marketing, info product development, and coaching need to have a sales funnel in place that converts prospects into buyers. Ideally, you want to plan each stage of your sales funnel so that at every point, the individual becomes more loyal to your business and committed to their own journey.
Initially, you have to work on getting discovered by your target audience, but once that happens, it’s up to you to nurture them and provide value to them until they are comfortable investing in products or services from you.
After you have proven yourself to these buyers, you can work on the lifetime value of each individual so that you are continually catering to their needs and presenting product after product that helps them achieve their goals.
Making Sure Your Brand Is Discovered
We need to start with the discovery process. There is a lot of competition online, and you have to do everything you can to make sure your brand stands out among the rest. This is usually done through content marketing as well as other strategies like search engine optimization.
The most important factor to your prospects is whether or not your content is going to meet their needs. So you have to start the process by identifying what they need most in their own minds and be able to discuss the pain points and goals that they have so that they feel you are speaking directly to them.
You have to know who your demographic is and develop your content to target them and get them to engage with your work, whether it’s by commenting, sharing, or liking your content.
This will create social proof that attracts others to your brand, instilling confidence in them that you are a valuable resource. Sometimes, your content will be addressing issues that are eye opening for your audience, and not necessarily something they realize they need.
In order to have the best chance at improving brand discovery, you want to make sure you are utilizing a mix of media formats. Not everyone enjoys reading a lengthy blog post.
Some people are going to find your content on video marketing platforms like YouTube or TikTok. Some will see an image like an infographic on Pinterest or a social quote poster that you place strategically on Instagram.
With every piece of content that you create, you need to have value embedded in it, along with a strong call to action that moves them through your funnel to the next step on to becoming a customer.
Consistency is another critical factor in whether or not your brand enjoys a wide reach. If you are too sporadic with your content marketing efforts, your audience won’t feel inclined to follow you because there are competitors who are routinely showing up to serve them and building that rapport with them on a deeper level.
In addition to content and consistency, you can use other avenues to help you get discovered. Search engine optimization, which elevates your content to something that appeals greatly to search engines and their users can send a flood of targeted, free traffic to your domain.
If you have the money for it, you can also use paid advertising on search engines and social media platforms that will help you get an instant rush of visitors to your site that you specify in terms of demographics, behaviors and interests.
Bringing Leads Into the Fold
Once you have developed your discoverability plan with your brand through the use of content, search engine optimization, and possibly paid advertising, you want to have an idea of where you will be sending them in order to place them into the next phase of your sales funnel.
This is when you turn your target audience into actual leads. Your ultimate goal is to get them on your list so that they become subscribers you can cater to on a regular basis rather than hoping they see your content online through your blog or on social media.
You can do this by developing a lead magnet and landing page that is set up for you to cultivate a list of targeted individuals. You can sign up for an autoresponder system that allows you to use their platform free up to approximately 500 subscribers before you begin paying for the service.
Many of these systems also have a built-in landing page option for you, so if you don’t have a website of your own, you can use that in the interim. Or you can get a domain and hosting and design your landing page there.
You need to have an enticing lead magnet, which is a free gift that you promise to deliver to their inbox in exchange for them handing over their name and email address. Many people are hesitant to hand over their contact details unless they trust someone, so you have to go above and beyond in making your lead magnet irresistible and based on their worst pain points and strongest goals.
As long as the value is there, and you present it to them in a media format that they are eager to consume, whether that’s an eBook in text or a video course, they should be willing to hand over their first name and email address in order to get the download.
If you can slant your lead magnet to offer a solution that provides a quick fix or relief for them in some way, that will be something they will be eager to get their hands on. You want to make sure your copy on the landing page conveys that message.
Your goal with the landing page is to get them to opt in to your list or leave. It should have very strong copy in the form of a headline, bullet point benefits, and a call to action. If you have room, you can include a testimonial and a short bit of storyline as well, but you don’t want to make them scroll on the page, so keep everything above the fold.
After you get them on your list, that doesn’t mean they’re going to stay. You have to nurture their needs in order to retain them as a valuable subscriber. That means you need to continuously and consistently provide increased value that is delivered directly to their inbox, making them want to see each message.
What you are doing is ultimately priming them for a future purchase. By giving them the free gift, and possibly over delivering with an unexpected freebie as well, and then emailing them regularly with tons of valuable information, they are going to be at ease with pulling out their credit card and making a purchase from you in the near future.
You need to find a schedule that works best for your target audience. You will never please everyone. There will be some who say you email too often and others who say you don’t email nearly enough.
But you do need to be consistent with your communications, emailing out at least several times per week. This is to keep your brand visible in the mind of your audience so that they don’t forget who you are amid the other distractions and chatter online.
Make sure your emails are not just educating your audience but working on making them feel a bond with you. You can do this through personalization and storytelling in your communications.
You need to treat your subscribers well and make them feel valued as well. You can do this by giving them perks like access to gated (private) content on your blog, giving them discounts and advanced notice or sneak peeks, etc.
Turning Prospects Into Paying Customers
The next step in your sales funnel is the one that many people jump straight into without ever going through the initial, important steps before it. At this point, now that you have been discovered by your target audience and you have gotten them to trust you, you can finally turn them into paying customers.
In order to do this, you need to make sure that your products and services are tailored to their needs. This is the same thing you did with your lead magnet, but the value has to be even more present if they are going to be spending money with you.
Ideally, you will spend time mapping out a funnel that who will take your customers from beginner to expert or help them in a variety of different ways over a period of time so that you have more than one thing to sell to them.
In fact, for your product launch, you need to have a front-end, low-cost trigger that gets them to initiate the buying process before you then present them with additional, value packed upsells.
In order for your product or service to be in demand, you want to look at what gaps are currently existing in the marketplace and how you can fulfill them for your target audience.
In addition to what you’re going to be covering in your product, or providing as a service, you need to think about how you’re going to present this offer to your audience so that it converts well for you.
This means you have to come up with a unique slant that will entice them to buy. Plus, you have to work on developing high converting sales copy that will remove any barriers to the purchasing process that they may have.
In addition to your initial product funnel, which is where you have a front-end product along with upsells and downsells, you want to be thinking about what you can cross promote to this target audience over a period of time.
Momentarily, we’ll be talking about retaining customers and turning them into repeat buyers with a back end strategy, but for your first foray into turning them into buyers, you want to think of the initial funnel and how it is laid out for your customer.
Whenever you are moving a customer along in the sales funnel, it needs to be something that makes sense logically for them to add on. It also needs to touch on additional pain points or deliver more convenience and ease to them.
You can segment your email marketing list according to who has bought which products or services and then tailor your marketing messages to those particular subscribers based on their buyer behavior, which helps you convert them in the future.
Retaining Customers and Turning Them Into Repeat Buyers
After you have gone through the process of getting someone to spend money with you, and you’ve delivered the value in a way that makes them happy to have had the opportunity, you want to think about how you can keep them onboard and get them to make future purchases.
Many people ignore there are existing buyers because they are in such a frenzy to bring on new customers. But actually, it’s a better strategy for you to focus on retaining your existing, proven buyers and using extra time to acquire new customers.
These are people who already trust you and who you have access to in terms of figuring out what they need and want to see from you in the future. You can survey them or open up discussions with them to find out what you need to be creating for them.
In order to get them to convert with new products, not only can you tailor the product to their needs based on what you discover, but you can also incentivize them with discounts, advanced access, and other perks.
Many times, if a customer loves what you did with the first product, they will reach out and ask if you have any additional products on a related topic. This will give you an immediate idea of what to create that the rest of your list may appreciate and be willing to pay for.
Make sure that you are handling all of your customer service issues quickly and professionally. When people are paying money for a product or service, they expect a high level of customer service, which includes a quick response within 24 hours.
Improving Your Sales Funnel Over Time
After you’ve gone through this entire process, you’ll begin seeing areas where you can tweak your sales funnel to be even more effective for you. You always want to be improving on what you have done in the past.
One way you can do this is by looking at the metrics and data analysis that is provided to you so that you can understand how your products and services are converting with your target audience.
For example, if you have a front end the product that converts high along with a subsequent upsell that converts high, but the second upsell has dismal results, then you know that willing buyers are not enticed enough by that particular offer.
If you were offering yet another course in that second upsell spot, you might consider something different – like a done-for-you product or service that delivers ease and convenience to them.
You might want to split test things like your landing pages, lead magnet offers, social media content, emails, and sales copy to see what converts best with your audience. You might be surprised at what helps you gain more attention and better conversions.
Your ultimate goal is to increase the customer lifetime value (CLV) that shows how much a customer is worth to your brand over the lifecycle of their involvement with you. This can give you a better indication about where you should be putting your efforts into your new customer acquisition.
You also want to pinpoint any areas where your funnel is failing. You might discover that you get plenty of traffic to your landing page, but very little conversions. You’ll have to see if it’s the lead magnet itself, the copy or the call to action that isn’t performing up to its abilities.
It might be something baffling, like a high cart abandonment issue. You’ll need to figure out what that’s happening if the sales letter is converting. It might be a simple fix like making the payment process more simplified.
Sales funnels are a wonderful strategy to map out as an online entrepreneur. You never want to begin randomly working online without a process of what your customer should be experiencing at all times in regards to brand interaction.
You want to pay attention to trends in the marketplace, too. Not only can this have an impact on discoverability, but it can determine what types of products you release onto the marketplace, too.
You might see a trend unfolding where there’s a preference for live streamed content, for example, and you can jump on that bandwagon to ride the wave of success while it’s still active.
By having a sales funnel process mapped from beginning to end, you’ll have an efficiently run business model that performs far better than your competitors. Your audience will enjoy it more, too because it will be paid out in a logical manner for them.
Consider your sales funnel something that should evolve over time. You’ll be learning and testing new strategies, paying attention to the changing needs of your audience, and adapting to that as you tweak your sales funnel for optimal performance.
This is something you need to apply to your business regardless of what niche you’re in or how long you’ve been in the business. Every leading niche expert should be organized with their sales process.