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.
Leave your comments and suggestions below, Coach Deb
Confused about how exactly sales funnels work? You’re not alone. In fact, that’s the number one reason small business owners say they can’t get their funnels set up—they simply don’t know what to include where.
Here’s the easy answer: At the very least, your sales funnel needs three pages.
This one obviously comes first. You might call it a landing page, or in the case of a free opt-in, a squeeze page. It serves one purpose—to get the reader to take action. Whether that’s to buy a product or offer up their email address in exchange for a free gift, this is the gateway into your funnel. Everything that follows depends on this page, so you want to be sure you:
Include a clear call to action—“Buy Now” or “Click here to download this report for free”
Eliminate distractions—that means no links to other websites or even a navigation bar
Address the readers’ pain points and how your offer provides the solution
Here’s where we ask the reader to confirm their intent. For a sales funnel, this confirmation page might actually be your checkout page. It’s where they enter their payment details. For a free offer, it’s simply the page your email management system directs them to next. It’s a holding page, if you will, while you wait for them to confirm their email address.
If you’re setting up a free funnel, this page has great power—and you don’t want to waste it!
Here is where you can offer an upset, remind people to follow you on social media, and give them a peak at your other products and services.
Remember, though, that they will only see this page once, so don’t put anything here that they will need to refer back to. That’s what the thank you page is for.
Thank You Page
This is where they actually collect their downloadable item, or get information about how your product will be delivered.
Like the confirmation page, this is valuable real estate, so you want to be sure you use it wisely. In addition to the downloadable item your customer just purchased (or opted in for) you also want to showcase your other offers—especially those at a slightly higher price point. Here’s why: the person looking at this page is a hot prospect. He or she is in a buying mood. You want to be sure to take advantage of that by putting your most relevant offers on this page. To encourage buying, consider including:
A limited time offer—scarcity sells, so if you can legitimately limit sales to a few hours/days or number of units, then this is the place to do so.
A “no brainer” coupon offer—an insider’s only deal can be a powerful motivator, especially if it’s a fantastic price.
Extra bonuses--give them access to additional products/services if they buy through your link on that page. These should be bonuses that aren’t advertised on the public sales page for that product. Again—insider’s deals are motivating!
Putting together a sales funnel isn’t complicated—or at least it doesn’t have to be. As your business grows and you have more products to offer, you can expand your funnel to include more up-sells and down-sells, but for now, this simple setup is really all you need.
What's your favorite sales funnel tip? Coach Deb
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 they 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.
Tell us, what do you think? Coach Deb
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 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, ConvertKit 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.
What is your favorite tool for building your sales funnel? Coach Deb
Been on a webinar lately? I bet you have.
The fact is, webinars are one of today’s hottest marketing trends. Each and every week, you’ll find small business owners hosting webinars about book publishing, blogging, and even how to sell T-shirts online. No matter what your niche or industry, webinars are a great option for growing your market.
Perhaps the number one reason to host a webinar—especially if you partner with another business owner in a complementary niche—is to grow your list. Here’s why it works so well.
As a business owner with resources and information to share, you’re in demand, and there are plenty of others out there looking to partner with you. Find a colleague in a related niche to host your event. Ask her to mail her list with an offer to join you both on the call. Collect emails in your mailing list system. Any sales you make from the event will pay your partner an affiliate commission. That way you both win: You build your mailing list, and she earns cash for her time.
Show Off Your Expertise
You’ve no doubt heard plenty of people talking about the “know, like and trust factor.” It’s a simple reminder that very few people will buy from you the first time they encounter your website or get an email from you. They need more info.
A webinar is a fantastic way to build up their trust. Because they can hear your voice, and maybe even see your face, there’s an instant connection. Not only that, but you get to impress them with your knowledge of the topic. Your audience will walk away not only knowing you better, but also with the impression that you are the go-to person in your niche.
Sell to a Captive Audience
Here’s a fact you may not have considered: Webinar attendees are primed to buy. Make them an irresistible offer, and you’ll be amazed at how effective “selling from the stage” can be.
What’s irresistible? Try these proven tactics:
Both plans have worked for thousands of webinar presenters, and will work for you, too.
Whether you’ve never hosted a webinar before, or you’re already an old hand, there’s little doubt that this is a tool that really performs. The amount of time you spend preparing and promoting is minor compared to the potential returns, so get out there and start planning your next webinar event!
I'd like to hear what you think, comment below. Coach Deb
If the very thought of PowerPoint makes your eyes glaze over, you’re not alone. The world is filled with incredibly boring presentations, and you’ve no doubt sat through your share of them.
Now that you’re preparing your own presentations, how can you ensure your audience doesn’t feel the same way? By creating engaging, fun slides that grab and hold their attention.
Bullet Point Poison
While you may want to outline—and yes—use bullet points in your notes, the last thing that should appear on your slides are bullets. They’re the hallmark of an amateur presenter, and should only be used as a last resort.
More Slides, Not Fewer
It’s a common mistake many new (and even experienced) presenters make: too few slides. As a general rule of thumb, plan at least one slide per minute, on average. So a 45 minute presentation should have 45 slides, give or take a few.
Fewer Words, More Images
You’ll often see presentations—particularly in the corporate world—that contain nothing but words. Some presenters even read right from their slides. Talk about boring!
Instead, mix up your slides to include words, images, screenshots, graphs and other visually appealing elements. Use images that match your personality and style. For example, one of the highlights of watching any presentation by Nicole Dean is her liberal use of dog images. Not only do they help to solidify her message, but they keep the viewer entertained as well.
Don’t Forget Branding
Like all of your web properties, you want to be sure your slides are clearly branded. Your site colors, logo, tagline, URL and other elements help to remind viewers of who you are and what your business is. Consider creating a PowerPoint theme that you can use for all your presentations.
Clearly State Your Offer
The last few minutes of any presentation are typically reserved for your offer, so don’t skimp out here. Be sure your offer is clearly presented on your final slides, including the URL, any discount or bonuses, and the deadline for claiming them.
Finally, take the time to study the slides of the presenters you truly enjoy. Chances are if you are attentive to their presentation, others are as well. Follow their lead when it comes to number of slides, types of images, and how the offer is presented, and you’ll soon be wowing your audience, too.
Who are some of your favorite presenters? Comment below, Coach Deb
Just because your live event is over, doesn’t mean your webinar stops working for you. In fact, with a bit of planning, your replay can get as much—maybe even more—traction as the live webinar did.
Add the Replay to Your Autoresponders
Webinar topics are always welcome additions to your autoresponders. They give your loyal readers another way to learn from you, and their high value (video is always well received) means they’re more likely to be watched than your blog or ebooks are to be read.
But don’t stop with just the video. Offer readers a chance to download just the audio so they can listen on the go, and have the entire webinar transcribed for those who prefer to scan the content.
Use Handouts as Opt-In Incentives
Checklists and worksheets are extremely popular when it comes to enticing people to opt-in to your mailing list. It might seem counter intuitive, but sometimes less really is more. In fact, your readers will appreciate short, to-the-point checklists more than they will a 50 page ebook.
Rather than creating new offers, simply re-purpose the worksheets you’ve created for your webinars.
Transcriptions and Slides Find New Homes
As surprising as it might seem, not everyone wants to watch a video. For those folks who are pressed for time, a transcript they can scan is the perfect answer. Not only that, but since Google can’t (yet) crawl video, the text version of your presentation is far better for SEO purposes.
There’s no end to the places you can share your transcript, either. Your blog, slide sharing sites, article directories, and LinkedIn are all top choices. You might even choose to do a little light editing and turn it into a Kindle book you can sell for a small fee.
Slice and Dice
In any good webinar, there are plenty of sound bites just waiting to be shared. A good virtual assistant can take your transcript and pull out the meaningful quotes for sharing on social media, and perhaps even make a selection of “pinnable” graphics to post to Pinterest.
Your presentation might even contain some of these nuggets, making her job even easier. A screenshot of a slide with a great quote or image makes the perfect update on your Facebook page or Twitter account. (Hint: keep this in mind when you create your presentation!)
And of course, don’t forget you can still offer your replay as an opt-in incentive, long after the event is over. You may want to record an alternate ending if you presented a time-sensitive offer, but otherwise it should serve you well for months or years to come.
I look forward to hearing how you re-purpose your webinars and webinar material in the comments below, Coach Deb
Does the thought of putting together a training webinar stop you cold? If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the possibilities, you’re not alone. Many small business owners freeze up at the prospect of creating an hour-long presentation.
The good news is, it’s not that difficult, if you have a plan to follow.
First 5 Minutes
Here’s where you’re going to introduce the subject matter. Tell your audience what they can expect to learn. Much like sales copy, it’s a good idea here to tease them a bit to get them excited about the subject matter.
Next up, it’s all about you. Your listeners want to know who you are, how you gained your knowledge, and why you’re the one teaching the webinar. Don’t be afraid to get a bit personal here. Share pictures of your family vacation, you “working” on the beach, or anything else that will help create a connection.
Remember, we buy from people we know, like, and trust, and this is your audience’s chance to get to know you better. Plan to spend five to ten minutes on your introduction.
The Main Event
The next 30 minutes or so will be devoted to training. While 30 minutes might seem like a lot of time, when you’re teaching a complex subject it will go much faster than you can imagine.
Break up your training into three or five main points. Any more than that and you’ll run out of time. Remember that you should have approximately one slide per minute, and your slides should be short and punchy. A single word or image will speak volumes, and will help keep your audience attentive.
Most times, this is the reason for the webinar, so don’t skimp here. Plan to spend ten minutes or so selling. Share the benefits of your course or coaching or service (whatever you’re promoting), clearly explain any bonuses you’re offering, and emphasize any discounts the audience will receive for acting fast.
For most new—and even experienced—presenters, this is the most difficult portion of the webinar. You’ll want to be sure you practice it until you’re comfortable, preferably in front of a mirror or even a camera.
Q & A Time
Finally, you’ll want to offer your audience a chance to ask questions. It’s a good idea to hold this section until the end of the call (after the pitch), so your viewers don’t drop off before you have a chance to present your offer.
By breaking down your presentation into very specific chunks of time, it’s much less overwhelming to outline your webinar. Start by determining the approximate number of slides you’ll need, then block off the five webinar sections. Once you see that you really only need about 30 teaching slides, it’s suddenly much easier to fill that time.
What do you think? Coach Deb
It’s true. No one wants to hear you drone on and on. But unless you take steps to keep your viewers engaged during your webinar, that’s exactly what you risk happening.
Top presenters have learned several tricks for keeping their viewers interested (and listening) even if the webinar seems to go on longer than they anticipated.
Hold Your Questions
If it seems like your viewers drop off the call just as you’re about to make an offer, you’re not imagining things. Many viewers attend for the training, with no thought to buy, and will leave the minute it’s clear the training is over.
You can curb that with one simple trick: hold the questions until after your offer. By breaking up the training with an offer in the middle, you’re more likely to hold your audience’s attention for the duration of the event.
Host a Contest
Much like holding questions until after the offer, the same effect can be had by hosting a contest in which the winner is not announced until the end of the webinar. Alternately, you could offer a prize to the first viewer to answer a question correctly—the question, of course, is based on the content of the webinar. This virtually ensures your viewers are paying attention.
Turn the Tables
Don’t let your viewers just sit and passively watch. Instead, get them talking.
Most webinar platforms have some kind of chat or question feature, so make use of it by chatting them up. At the beginning of the event, be sure to ask them to let you know if they can hear you and see your slides. Throughout the call, as you make a point or reveal a great tip, ask for their acknowledgment. Not only will this keep them interested and listening, but it will also help them learn how the chat function works, so when it’s time for Q & A they don’t have any trouble.
Tell a Story
Everyone loves a great story, and if you’ve got one, now is the time to tell it. Whether it’s the time you nearly got arrested in college, or how you had to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a month after your car died, if you can link your story to your webinar message, it’s a good candidate.
Just remember to practice telling it first, because if you’re not a natural-born story teller (many of us are not) then it can quickly backfire.
The last thing you want is for your webinar to be a boring, hour-long event that drives viewers away. It’s pretty depressing to watch the attendee number drop before you’re even halfway through your slides, but if you put these tips in play, you’ll have much happier—and attentive—webinar viewers.
Share your tips for keeping your webinars engaging and exciting, Coach Deb
Selling anything online today requires plenty of “social proof.” Testimonials, “likes” and “shares,” re-tweets and re-grams are all ways of saying “I like this. It’s worthy of my time and money.”
For training programs, ebooks and other downloadable items, testimonials are the biggest and best tool in your toolbox. But when you’re running a live event such as a VIP day, you have other, more powerful options.
Take Lots of Photos
If your VIP day is live, remember to bring your camera along—or better yet, hire a professional photographer to document. There’s no better way to get future VIP clients excited about your offers than to show them photos of what to expect.
If you hold your event in a hotel or resort, photos of the surroundings can give it the feel of a relaxing retreat. If your event is virtual, grab some screenshots of your face-to-face video chat. This will help show that even if you don’t meet your clients in person, there is still a very real connection.
Use the photos later on your:
Just be sure you get the appropriate model release from all your attendees before publishing their photos publicly. Nothing puts a damper on your next event quite like a cease and desist order!
During your event—while everyone is feeling enthusiastic about their business and excited for what’s on the horizon—is the perfect time to grab some meaningful testimonials. Written testimonials are fine, but if you can capture them on video, you’ll be well ahead of the competition.
Simply set up a video camera on a tripod in a quiet corner of your venue, and ask attendees to take a few minutes out of their day to share their thoughts. You could even do this on the fly with a simple cell-phone video if you like.
Hashtags are Hot
Here’s another tip for getting the word out about your VIP days: create a hashtag. Every time you post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram about your event, use the hashtag. Encourage attendees to use it as well. You can create searches using your hashtag and post the results to your sales page, your blog, or anywhere else you talk about an upcoming VIP day.
If this sounds like a lot of work for one person to manage, well, it can be. But make no mistake, social proof is critical to your success, so unless your event is super confidential, the work will pay off. If necessary, consider hiring an assistant to take the stress out of photos, testimonials and social posting. That way all your attention can be right where it needs to be, on your clients.
I look forward to reading your comments below, Coach Deb
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