If you’ve been in the online business world for more than a few months – well if you’re reading this blog post! – chances are that you’ll come across the term “sales funnel”. They can sound intimidating and difficult and just something ELSE you’ll have to learn about your business.
But they can be the most profitable tool you can ever create for your business!
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a roadmap for the buyer’s journey through Know, Like and Trust. It brings people through the awareness, engagement, and then purchase steps of their journey.
It can be a series of web pages, emails, FB Messenger messages, or even Facebook Ads that lead your target market to get to know you, receive value from you, and eventually buy.
The job of the sales funnel is also to lead your prospects up your “value ladder” – from your free offer to your intro offer to the highest and deepest way they can work with you or buy from you.
Spammy Funnels vs. Service Funnels
Let’s get one thing out of the way first.
I’ve heard people complain right and left about “spammy” and “sleazy” and “gross” marketing.
And when they hear about sales funnels, their mind automatically jumps to the image of a greasy car salesman and they cringe and shudder at the idea of looking too salesy in their business.
Here’s the deal.
If you don’t want to be spammy…
It’s that simple.
If you TRULY believe that your offer or product or service is one that is going to genuinely HELP your target audience…
And you believe that their lives would be IMPROVED with the addition of your offer or product or service…
If you also believe that you can change someone’s life – whether it’s their health, their wealth, or their relationships…
And you’re not doing EVERYTHING in your power to reach as many people as possible…
You’re doing them a disservice.
It’s as simple as that.
Selling – ETHICAL selling – is SERVICE.
And YES. HAVE a profitable business, which makes it possible for you to support your family and continue to invest in reaching MORE of the people you can help.
There is nothing wrong with people giving you money in exchange for equal or greater value.
Why would you use a funnel for your business?
Mapping out and creating a sales funnel for your business allows you to measure success at each stage, and see where potential leads and customers are dropping off. This, in turn, allows you to optimize your sales process so that it’s performing at the top function and getting you your maximum amount of leads.
In addition, a sales funnel allows you to essentially “sell” yourself 24/7. A good funnel can work as well as a good salesman in educating and convincing your prospect to buy. So you can basically make money while you sleep.
Funnels That You May Have Come Across
Lead Generation Funnels –
Yup, just a landing page with a place to enter your email address and download a freebie
SLO Funnels (also known as Tripwire Funnels) –
Ever downloaded something and were brought to a page where you were offered something else for a reduced price for a limited time? (Self-liquidating offer = the goal is to liquidate, or earn back, your ad spend!)
Evergreen Webinar Funnels –
Sign up for a webinar, you get a timer counting down to when the webinar starts
High-Ticket Application Funnels –
These are usually for high-ticket coaches – you’re directed to an application for a call, either directly or after a webinar.
Free Plus Shipping Funnels –
Buy a book and only pay the cost of shipping – like Russell Brunson’s Expert Secrets.
You’ve probably come across any or all of these!
Who can use a sales funnel?
YOU. It’s pretty simple. If you have a business – whether it’s coaching or consulting, e-commerce, local, agency, non-profit, selling info products, network marketing – you can use a funnel.
When and where do you use a sales funnel?
When people come into contact with you. So, if you’re working on driving traffic to your website then you should work on driving traffic to your funnel. This is the best way to get your prospects from point A to point B and then C – which works MUCH better than a website!
Why? Because a website has OPTIONS.
A funnel only allows someone to take ONE action – which will take them to the next page. This minimizes distractions and increases the likelihood of conversions.
I’m not telling you to get rid of your website! But you’ll want to lead to your funnel from your website as well as drive traffic directly to it. Some options are:
- Having a tab on your website menu leading to your funnel
- Adding a little form or popup to collect names and emails
- Creating a button or graphic prominently placed that’s linked to your funnel
Here’s the important thing to remember – if you’re driving traffic to your funnel, and the funnel doesn’t convert, that traffic is WASTED.
And yes – I said drive traffic to a SALES FUNNEL, not a website. If your goal is to convert cold traffic into leads, or a lead into a customer, you’ll want to send people straight to a funnel. (There ARE other objectives that you can use for paid traffic, but for this chapter’s purposes, we’re talking about conversion.)
You can have the best Facebook Ads in the WORLD, but the people who click won’t convert to leads because your funnel isn’t working.
This is the foundation you need to lay before you start driving paid traffic to your funnel.
How do you create a funnel?
Here are the foundations you need for a basic successful/lead generation sales funnel.
- A clear target audience.
- Bait (or an opt-in incentive).
- A nurture sequence to keep your prospects engaged and deliver more value.
- An offer to lead them to at the end.
How to Build Your First Funnel
So, now that we’ve discussed the Five W’s of a sales funnel, let’s get to creating it!
Let’s go through each of the foundations above:
Before you get started, you have to be crystal clear on 2 things:
- Who do you serve?
- What problem of theirs do you solve?
These two things will drive EVERYTHING in your sales funnel – the offer, the headline, the copy and even the design!
For example, if you’re targeting new moms, you’ll want to use the language they use, address the problems they have, and most likely use soft or more feminine colors and fonts. You won’t be using hardcore selling language or more dark and masculine colors and fonts!
Opt-In – The Bait! (The KNOW Stage)
Your opt-in, or lead magnet, has to address a specific problem that your target audience is having. The important thing you need to remember is that it needs to solve ONE problem or one PORTION of a problem – not the whole thing! (Otherwise you won’t be able to offer more in the rest of your sales funnel.)
Don’t forget that it has to relate to your paid offer! So if your offer is a meal planning course and your opt-in teaches 10 ways to keep your laundry under control, you’re not going to get very far.
However, if your opt-in teaches 10 ways to generate leads from social media, for example, and your paid offer is a course about how to convert leads to sales on a call, this will work perfectly because you’re solving one portion of their problem – generating leads – but you’re going to offer the next solution they need, which will be how to actually convert those leads to sales.
Some ideas for a lead magnet are:
- A Guide or Roadmap
- Webinar (pre-recorded or live)
- Email course
- Free video series
- Swipe file
- CASE STUDY (for service providers)
Just to keep it simple, I’d stick with a PDF cheatsheet, e-book, or a case study if you’re a service provider.
The reason case studies work so well for service providers is that people always want to see how you solved someone else’s problem, especially if they’re similar to themselves! So, if you’re a social media manager, and you like working with coaches, creating a case study about how you grew a coach’s Instagram account by 2K in one month would DEFINITELY attract coaches to your services – or, at the very least, they’d want to see how it was done! (But remember, don’t give away the farm – use broad strokes!)
You’re also going to need a strong headline that addresses your target audience’s pain points.
A couple of the best options for headlines are:
- List-Based Headlines (5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Social Media Manager, or 10 Best Free Tools to Use When Starting a Business)
- How-To Headlines – How to XXXX Without XXXX (I like adding the without because it makes the potential result even easier to envision) (E.g. How to Lose 10 Pounds in a Month Without Cutting Out Your Favorite Foods)
A nurture sequence (The LIKE stage)
This part is is super important – now that they know that they’ve gotten value from you, you want them to get to know you and see how much more value you have to offer. This will be a series of about 5-7 emails that will be sent to them once they opt-in to your lead magnet.
Make sure that each email has a call-to-action. It can be a question they might reply to, an invitation to join your Facebook group, a blog post they should check out. Don’t write emails just for the sake of it – at least not in this sequence!
Here’s a sample opt-in sequence:
- Delivery email – delivers the opt-in and asks “what’s the one thing you’re struggling with?”
- Tell your story – but explaining why they should care. Why does your story matter in the context of how you can help them?
- Give value – Share a story addressing how your opt-in freebie helped so many people and how many responses you got to it. Make sure they understand it in the context of how it can help them
- Give more value and then share a story giving authority and credibility – why should they trust you? What qualifications do you have?
- Social proof – show that your product or service gets great results with testimonials and case studies and tease the offer you’ll introduce in the next email
- Introduce your offer – here you can use urgency and scarcity with a limited time bonus or limited amount of spaces. This is also a great place to use case studies. This email will send them to your sales page.
There are so many resources out there to help you write a great nurture sequence! The important thing is that you find a way that feels natural to YOU. If it doesn’t feel right to you, the people reading it will feel it! (And this goes for all copy!)
Your Offer (the TRUST stage)
Your paid offer is where you want to be leading people at the end of your funnel, whether it be a product or a service!
Now that people trust you, because they’ve gotten to know you and you’ve provided them with so much value, they’re much more likely to buy. You don’t want this to be a high-ticket offer. If this is the first time they’re buying from you, you need to convert them from a lead to a customer and that’s a big psychological leap.
It’s important not to be discouraged if most people don’t buy just from the first email sequence. If you continue providing value, they have a very high chance of buying from you later on.
Let’s talk about FEATURES vs. BENEFITS!
When writing the copy for your sales page, sales emails, and even your opt-in page, make sure you’ve brainstormed a list of the features AND benefits!
- Features – the actual service, modules, calls etc. that you’re offering
- Benefits – what will they GET from this service? What will they feel as a result?
- Feature: Done for you Facebook Ads and Sales Funnels
- Benefit: You have leads and sales coming in on autopilot so that you can spend more time in your Zone of Genius, doing the things that you enjoy and spending time with the people you love.
The important part to remember is to LEAD WITH THE BENEFITS.
People buy with emotion (the benefits) and justify with logic (the features) , so you want to focus on the benefits first, which will convince them to buy, and then fill in the details with all of the features that are included (modules, deliverables etc.)
Let’s Talk Entry Offers!
You’ve seen these before – you download a freebie and on the thank you page you get an offer for a limited time at a reduced price! This is known as a tripwire or entry offer.
This is the offer that will transform your lead into a customer – and that’s a BIG psychological hurdle!
The entry offer should be congruent with the opt-in freebie – for example, (as mentioned above) if you’ve given them a 1-week meal plan as a freebie, your entry offer can be a full meal planning toolkit, complete with printables and a meal planning e-book.
Make this entry offer as SEXY as possible. Give a LOT of value in here, and make a mini-sales page for it. Like I said, this is the biggest psychological hurdle your leads will have – going from a consumer of your free content to a buyer of your paid content. So you want to make this offer SUPER attractive.
If you’re using your entry offer as a tripwire, make sure to create urgency by offering a lower price for a limited time!
Your tripwire offer is a good way to help liquidate your ad costs, if you’re running paid traffic to your funnel. This is why a funnel with a tripwire is called a self-liquidating offer funnel (or SLO funnel).
Tips for Funnel and Marketing Success
Tip #1: Swipe files
Keep swipe files to help you when you need inspiration! Some ideas of potential swipe files can be:
- Compelling headlines that got you to convert
- Emails that converted you to a buyer or that helped you resonate with the writer
- Sales pages you love
- Freebie inspiration
- FB Ads that caught your eye
Screenshots are your best friends here. When it comes to sales pages, I like to use Awesome Screenshot to capture the entire page. This especially helps when the sales page will only be up for a limited amount of time (like during a launch).
Tip #2: Research your target audience EXTENSIVELY
Find the groups they’re in on Facebook, the people or Pages that they follow, the products they like to buy. Go into the groups, read the conversations, ask questions, engage. The more you know about them, the more you can speak directly to them!
Tip #3: Pinterest is underrated.
Pinterest is probably one of the absolute best ways to get organic traffic to your funnels. It has been proven to be incredibly powerful in growing your email list and generating sales.
Tip #4: You don’t NEED to start with paid ads, but it can get you information faster
Facebook Ads can sound fantastic. Reach hundreds of thousands of people in your target audience! But it’s important to remember that Facebook Ads only amplify what’s already there. If your funnel isn’t converting, you’ll essentially be pouring “water” into a “leaky funnel” – i.e. wasting your money. If you’re on a budget, make sure your funnel is converting well with organic traffic – using tools like Pinterest, YouTube, SEO and social media – before you start using Facebook Ads.
However, I’d highly recommend investing $1,000 in ads behind your funnel over a 72 hour period once it’s completed. That will give you all the data you need to find out where you might have “leaks” in your funnel, and at that point you’ll be able to figure out where you can optimize it (i.e. make it better). (This is something else I learned from Julie Stoian – and it’s probably the scariest thing you’ll ever do! But the information you’ll get will be invaluable to your future success.)
The Six-Figure Funnel
You’ve probably been waiting for this.
Okay, so HOW can I make 6 figures with a funnel?
Once your list is consistently growing monthly (for free, because you’re at least breaking even on your ad spend, remember?), then you can start selling offers on the backend.
Sell 100 courses for $1,000.
Or 200 courses for $500.
If you provide any services like writing, social media, graphics, web design, branding – really, the possibilities are endless – you can sell these to your audience. Remember, to make $100,000 a year, you need to make $8,333 per month. If you’re good at what you do, you can increase your prices and easily hit this target or even five-figures a month as a service provider.
Coaching and Consulting
You can sell 1:1 coaching packages, group programs, or one-off coaching sessions or intensives.
Once you have an audience, as long as you’re nurturing them, you can continue to sell to them. The more you nurture them and get feedback, the clearer you’ll be on what they need and how you can help them – and you’ll create offers accordingly.
Remember, your business starts and ends with the people you’re helping.
So, let’s review what you’re going to do now!
- Create your opt-in.
- Craft your entry offer – remember, it needs to work in conjunction with your free offer.
- Write an email nurture sequence packed with authority and credibility-building stories and social proof.
- Build your funnel – I’ll link to some free and low-cost funnel templates in my resource!
- Hook up all the tech – email automations, product delivery, etc.
- Start sending organic or paid traffic to your funnel!
I’ve created a fantastic resource for you that details every step you need to create your first lead generation/SLO funnel.