How to Create a Profitable Sales Funnel in 6 Simple Steps

How to Create a Profitable Sales Funnel in 6 Simple Steps

Time and time again I speak with business owners, entrepreneurs, consultants, and coaches, all of whom share the same problem with marketing and growing their business: they do not have even a simple sales funnel in place. Some of them might be building their email list and have already created a free lead magnet. However, a lot of them, although they have a lead magnet, do not have sales funnel that will help them convert people who sign up for it into paying clients.

In today’s blog, we are going to talk about how to create a profitable sales funnel so that you can avoid this common mistake.

What is a sales funnel?

A lot of the time, when you look at sales funnel representation, you have lots of leads coming in at the top of the funnel, and then they filter through the process until you have clients and sales at the other end. This is quite an accurate representation of many marketing systems; visitors come to your website, but not all of them will sign up for the freebie that you are promoting. If you have a good leading opt-in page, you could see a 50%-80% conversion rate, but the rest of your visitors, 20%-50%, will choose not to sign up.

There are different reasons why this happens. Some visitors, when they land on your website and read more information about your promotion, just decide it is not for them. Others do not want to give you their name and email address to receive your freebie; they just want something for free without having to opt-in. However, generally speaking, you can expect about half of the traffic that visits your landing page to then convert and subscribe to your email list.

The Problem

However, not everyone who subscribes to your email list will open the emails that you send them. If you have an engaged list, about 50%-70% will open them, but the rest, 30%-50%, will not bother. Some of them are very busy, others have too many emails coming in, some signed up for your freebie with an email account they do not regularly check; they might open your emails at a later date, but maybe never. Moreover, for some, your emails will end up in their spam or promotions folder, so they may not even see them; especially if you include several pictures in your emails.

You may be tempted to send emails that are branded and look visually enticing with lots of pictures, but several email systems will treat such emails as promotional. If someone is using Gmail for example, your email will most likely end up on his or her promotions tab, or worse still, in his or her spam or junk folder. If you can, send a straightforward email; just text, maybe one picture and not too many links. Sending a simple email will result in the best possible delivery rate for your campaigns. Getting your email delivered so that people can read it is far more important than sending a visually stunning email that no one can read, click on and take action!

You now know that, as people receive your emails, only about half of them will open them; of those that open them though, not all of them will click and take action. Whether you are sending them a link to a blog post and recommending that they go and read it, or a link to download a freebie that they have signed up for, or a call to action email, such as “Hey, go and book a call with me,” or “purchase this product,” or “sign up for my webinar”; not everyone will take action.

You need to be mindful that this will always happen. If you have one hundred visitors to your website, you will not end up with one hundred paying clients at the other end of your funnel. You will always lose people at every step.

How can you create a profitable sales funnel?

Step 1 – You need to have a free lead magnet that you can promote across social media

Whether you use ads does not matter at this point. You need to have something of value that you can offer for free to your clients, which is closely related to what you want to sell in the end. If you want to sell fitness coaching, your free lead magnet (or freebie) cannot be about building a website. If you want to sell website building services, your freebie cannot be about “The 10 Super Foods That People Need to Get to Be Healthy.” Your freebie MUST align with what you are selling and should focus on resolving your ideal client’s pain point, challenge or problem.

Ideally, you will pick a problem that your ideal client is actively looking to solve, rather than just one that they are mildly aware of but are not focused on fixing. If you pick a problem that they are not focused on, your conversion time from the point that they become a lead, to the point they become a client, will be exponentially increased. When you first start your business or are looking to monetise your business quickly, you need to appeal to clients who are ready to invest, who are eager to find a solution to their problem or challenge. Understanding your ideal client before you start is key to your success.

In Google, you can find lots of templates to help you create a profile of your ideal client. If you are a member of my Virtual Marketing Academy, there is a handy tutorial to help you work out exactly who your ideal client is and what challenges they face. You can then focus on a challenge that you can help them with, and build your funnel around solving it for them. Once you have decided on a problem or challenge to solve, you can then create your freebie.

Your freebie can be a meditation, a PDF guide, a podcast, a checklist, a video, a worksheet, an eBook, even a webinar that they can download. You offer your freebie to your ideal clients in return for their name and email address.


Landing Page Example

Step 2 – You need to have a landing page where people sign up for your freebie

On my website, there is a guide on how to create landing pages for your business, including the software that you can use to build them. If you haven’t created a landing page before, make sure you check it out so that you can select the best landing page software for your business.

When you have created your landing page, it should typically have information about your freebie; an appropriate picture or other visual representation of what it is, a short description of what challenges it solves, and a simple form for people to enter their name and email address. Once they enter their email address, usually your system, whether it is a landing page system or email marketing system, will redirect them to a ‘thank you’ page.

Step 3 – You need to use the ‘thank you’ page to maximise the opportunity

The ‘thank you’ page is where you must start thinking about your sales funnel. It is of paramount importance because everyone who signs up for your freebie will see it! They may not open your welcome email or confirm their email address via the double opt-in email. Even if they do opt-in and read your welcome email, they may not do so for days or even weeks. However, everyone will see your ‘thank you’ page straight away.

Make sure you use this opportunity extremely well! It is the only occasion where 100% of the people in your sales funnel will go through to the next step. Many people make the mistake of using the default ‘thank you’ page which is a costly mistake. It is a missed sales opportunity which is not helpful for your business.

So, what can you do with the ‘thank you’ page that will help you get more clients and more leads long term?

It depends on how you start your funnel.

If you run a free business Facebook Group, for example, the call to action on the ‘thank you’ page could be to go and join your free group. If you want to get clients for consulting or coaching services, the call to action could be for people to go and book a free consultation with you. If you have a low-value, low-entry product for sale, at say £10-£20, you could put information about that product on the ‘thank you’ page and the call to action could be for people to buy your product.

Of course, not everyone will react to your call to action, but for those who are committed, who are ready to act, the opportunity is right there. You’re making it easy for them! If it ties in nicely with your freebie (or lead magnet), solving the same challenge or problem but from a different angle, it is likely that it will work well.

An example you can go and check out is on the website. They have lots of different freebies for various types of content that they offer. When people sign up for a freebie, they immediately give them the chance to purchase a related low-entry product. For example, if someone signs up for a guide on converting Facebook Ads, they are immediately offered a product on how to create Facebook Ads. If someone signs up for a video on how to build or optimise YouTube videos, they are offered a product on how to do video advertising. The product offered is similar to the freebie, but it is not the same; it complements the problem or challenge that people have. Whether the issue you choose to solve is Facebook Ads, health, fitness, life coaching, or anything else you can solve for your clients, you can use this sales method.

If you want to get one-to-one clients, offer a free consultation on the ‘thank you’ page, and get them to book a time in your diary. If you want to sell products,  because maybe you do not want to work one-to-one with clients, or are fully booked at the moment, offer a low-value product to buy. If you run a free Facebook Group that is quite active, promote the group on the ‘thank you’ page; once people join your group, they are more likely to stay engaged, see your messages, your offers and promotions, giving you a perfect way to re-engage with them and keep in touch.

Once they enter their name and email address, their details are added to your email marketing system.

Step 4 – You need to have the right email marketing system for your business

There are lots of email marketing systems available, such as Mailchimp. If you require help with Mailchimp, I have a course on how to use Mailchimp called ‘Mailchimp Success Formula’. 

There is also Web Bar, Active Campaign, Drift (which is an excellent new product recently created by Leadpages), Convert Kit, and many other email marketing systems out there. Some of them are free, or cheap; others are more expensive. The right system for you depends on your business and marketing goals, how you get your email list and the kind of email marketing campaigns that you will be running to get leads and clients.

Regardless of which email marketing system you use, when someone signs up for your freebie, they will be added to your email list, and they should then start to receive a series of autoresponder emails.

If you want to set up a more sophisticated automation, like Evergreen webinars, launches, different types of funnels, video series, sell multiple digital products, have a membership site, etc. Then you want to stack all the different things on top of each other; so, once a client enters from one direction, they can then go through all your different sales funnels. You would then need a system that can handle this level of complexity, such as Infusionsoft or Ontraport, or possibly Active Campaign, depending on what kind of funnel structure you choose.

Do not look at the price of your email marketing system only in terms of cost. Yes, it is a cost to your business, but it is a vital investment; your email marketing system is the soul and lifeblood of your marketing. If you do not have the right email marketing system in place, it is going to be hard to grow your business, and tough to nurture your leads and sell your products online. Do not invest any more than you need to, but make sure that you have the right system in place to support your needs.

So, your leads are entered into your email marketing system automatically. What happens next?

Step 5 – You need to use your email marketing system wisely to nurture your leads

It is the role of your email marketing system to nurture the leads that you have collected via your freebie to the point that they convert into paying clients. Whether they book a discovery call with you to work one-to-one, whether they want to purchase a product on your website, whether they submit an enquiry form; all these opportunities are possible through constant nurturing.

Why is this important?

Because when someone visits your website and signs up for your freebie, it does not mean that he or she will remember your business and what you do in weeks or months to come. People visit lots of websites, especially when they are browsing specifically to find a solution to a problem that they have. For example, if someone wants to get healthy, or is looking for ways to get more organised, they are likely to visit several websites and read numerous blogs which address their problem or challenge; they are not going to remember your specific website. This is why your freebie (or lead magnet) and ongoing nurture campaign are necessary; to keep in touch and to build what is known as the ‘know-like-trust’ factor. When people join your campaign, they can follow it step-by-step to get to know you, to like you, to trust you and then they will want to work with you one-to-one.

The first email that you send out is an important email in your funnel (or campaign); it is not just a case of ‘here is the freebie that you signed up for’, it is where you start building a relationship with people. You can talk about you, what you do, who you work with and what kind of results you achieve for your clients. It is your opportunity to introduce how you can help them. Whether it is ‘buy this product’, or, ‘book a free consultation’, the call to action in your first email is important. Additionally, of course, you deliver the freebie that they signed up for.

However, few people will take action after just after one email; you will need to follow up, which is where autoresponders come in handy. The vast majority of email marketing tools today can send autoresponders. Good news! You will now be able to send autoresponders to your email list for free with Mailchimp, but you can always upgrade to only $10 per month for other great features. The value of being able to automate your emails far exceeds the $10 that you will spend on it!

The autoresponder campaign will start after your initial email; in the most basic funnel, you will send around five emails. You will talk more about what you do in your business, why you do it, why you are great at it, why you are the expert and why people can trust you. Use testimonials and case studies to support your claims and make sure the content also adds value. For example, if they signed up for your free lead magnet, what else can you send to perhaps help them use the lead magnet, or to build on it further? Maybe you have relevant blogs you can share or a video that will guide them step-by-step through how to use and apply the lead magnet? Remind them of your credibility by sharing results you have achieved for other clients; where were they when you started working with them and where are they now? Why are you good at what you do? Throughout your campaign, continue to share your call to action, whether it is “buy here”, “book a call” or “sign up for a webinar”, always include your call to action in every email. Towards the end of your campaign the emails will become more about the offer and less about the “know-like-trust” factor because, by that point, they will already feel that they know you through the emails and videos that you have already sent them.

However, even if they trust you, they may not trust themselves to achieve results by working with you. This is an important point to consider throughout your funnel. Yes, maybe when you work with clients you can help them lose three stone in a month, or save £20,000 on their tax bill, or create a seven-figure launch. However, the client must believe that it will work for THEM, that it is possible for their particular life, in their situation, in their business. One of the goals for your sales funnel is, therefore, to show them that the common objections or concerns that they may have are not going to be barriers to working with you. Alternatively, if there are obstacles that you cannot overcome, then you need to say that you are unable to help, or perhaps look for a different solution. For example, maybe your services cost more than they can currently afford to invest. Could you point them to a digital product to help them instead of working with them one-to-one? Put qualifying factors in place to make sure that people who purchase your services or product, individuals who book to speak with you on a one-to-one call, are likely to be the ideal clients that you want to work with.

Step 6 – You need to review your results and optimise your sales funnel

Once someone has signed up for your freebie, received your whole series of emails, but has not taken your call to action and booked or purchased; what happens then?

Firstly, they will stay on your email list. You can continue sending out offers, promotions, newsletters, blog posts, valuable content, videos, webinars; email anything that is relevant and helpful to the people on your list. Secondly, after some time, you can start evaluating your funnel. Are there steps in your funnel that are not working well? Are any of the emails that you send not being opened by many people? Perhaps you need to review the subject line. Are high levels of people unsubscribing after a particular email? Maybe you need to review the content. Are there links that people click a lot? Are there links that are not clicked at all?

All this data will start coming in as people go through your funnel; you can then start tweaking your funnel and testing different approaches. For example, try putting product information on the ‘thank you’ page, then change it to information about booking a consultation. Which one works better and generates more income for your business in the long run?  Keep tweaking, testing and measuring your results, and eventually, you will be left with a sales funnel that delivers optimal results for your business.

Where to begin?

If you don’t have a sales funnel in place yet, don’t waste precious time trying to create the perfect funnel. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to do too many things and end up feeling overwhelmed and confused. The most important thing is to just create a funnel and start using it. You can then look at ways to maximise and optimise it; build your online presence and your marketing efforts one step at a time.

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