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My Fully Transparent Sales Funnel

chris-milton-sales-funnel-for-online-courses-and-blogging
Transparency is good, right? Right. In the case for knowledge and sharing, yes.  So, here we go, this is my funnel, the same thing that you can create for your own brand in my content marketing course.  Nothing like a little shameless self-promotion to kick-off this post!  Let’s get into the content:
Here’s a brief overview of the process I hope someone in my target market goes through:
chris-milton-online-course-sales-funnel
I’m going to break down my own example, and hope you can gain value from this.  The outcome of having a funnel system like this?
  • Gain subscribers on your email list that are more likely to buy your product service
  • Build authority in your industry by creating massive value through posts, free resources and product/services
  • Grow your Audience on social media who crave more of your content
  • Increase your SEO by having unified content on your website
  • Boost the sales of your product because it is aligned with the needs of your audience
The starting point of this exercise is understanding the start and the finish of your funnel.
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The start: Who’s your ideal client?

First, the success of your business depends on your knowledge of your target market. It really doesn’t help you to market to everyone, even when your product could be a fit for everyone.  The more personalized and customized your product and message is, the better it will perform.  Businesses that know their target market do much better than those who “just sell.” They also build a stronger audience who has a good expectation for what’s coming next.  If you’re interested in reading more about your ideal customers, here’s two articles I wrote on Target Market:
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The finish: What are you selling?

Second, is the product. You need to know that the people you’re targeting wants what you are creating.  It could be the most amazing thing in the world (like a lot of ideas out there) but the execution and success is dependant on the response of the marketplace.  Figuring out what you are going to sell (or what you have to sell) is a crucial step.  At least having a built-out idea that you can get feedback from your target market about.  Note, this is not your audience, they already believe in you, the feedback needs to come from people who you are intending to sell to. 
 
Taking the time to figure out what the best product or service is, how to package it and how to price it are all huge topics in themselves, but if you’re interested in why I chose to build a course, I wrote about it here:
Everything else in the funnel is trying to get people from the start to the finish.
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Connecting with your target market

We are all creatures of habit. That’s a good thing for marketing. Knowing your target market will allow you to figure out the best way to get their attention. Back in the day (as recent as mid-2000s)  you could reach a lot of people through placing ads in print (newspapers and magazines) or television or radio.  While those platforms still have large audiences, they are very broad.  Think about the 6 o’clock news.  Usually, there’s 2 or 3 local news stations that everyone in town watches.  So you get access to 1/3 to 1/2 of the city’s population.  But think about how diverse most cities are… Multiple generations, numerous careers, different ethnicities. It’s hard to have a single marketing message that all of those people can relate to.
However, creating specific messages for smaller, more focused groups is possible through digital marketing.  My focus for targeting my ideal customers is social media because of the ability to segment campaigns and adjust based on the performance.  When something works, Facebook advertising for example, it can scale to duplicate the converting audience as many times as applicable matches are available.  The way I look at these “look-a-like” audiences is similar to creating clones.  They aren’t exactly the same in every attribute, but they are pretty close – often so close that you can’t tell the difference.
The differences don’t matter as long as the appeal of your product has the same impact and they purchase.  If you know you can add value to a person who is an accountant, servicing small businesses, then you would want to reach as many accountants that serve small businesses…. And today, that is possible.

Creating thumb stopping content

Our feeds are packed with everything including (but certainly not limited to) breaking news, updates from friends, buzzfeedified articles, click bait, AND the stuff you actually want to click on.  As someone hoping for traffic in my funnel, the content needs to be good enough to both convert and make you want to click after seeing it for less than one second.
To accomplish thumb-stopping content that converts, I breakdown my content to-do list based on the different parts of my online marketing course, and write two articles about each.  One post explaining what the section is, and a second explaining why it matters in the context of the course.
Context is very important.  For example, let’s do a quick word association, say the first thing that comes to mind… ORANGE. 
 
I’ve done this before speaking to a group, and the answers were things like; color, fruit, yum… 
 
But what if I was talking about Juice? And then said orange… Someone would probably have said Tropicana.  The biggest name in orange juice. 
 
What if I was talking about basketball? And then said orange… Some answers would probably include the Phoenix Suns or OKC Thunder, or maybe Clemson University. 
Context matters because you can achieve better results by framing the situation you are talking about. By now, you’ve spent a lot of time learning about and targeting your ideal customers. Frame your content in terms that matter to your target market.
I’m not overly concerned about publishing times.  Although I have a schedule, my goal is to produce better content with each post I write and make sure each is evergreen.  Content comes in many types and it’s best to utilize what you’re most comfortable with and feel most confident.  My strategy includes video and podcasts, but is focused on writing because it is the easiest for me to produce at a high quality.  Each type of content has different pros and cons, it’s up to you to maximize the pros and overcome as many of the cons as possible.
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Free resources. Yes, Free!

I like getting stuff for free, I’m sure others do too.  I’m not giving away everything I’ve learned in my career, and certainly not giving the course content away.  What I am doing if giving value at the foundation level.  Here’s why:
By giving a taste of the paid content, it makes conversions more sticky.  In any business, there is bound to be some returns.  Most likely, those returns biggest complaint is that “it wasn’t what I expected.”  By giving a taste of the actual content they will be paying for, you reduce the number of returns and increase the desire to purchase your entire product.
I’ve chosen to do this in two ways Webinars and a .PDF cheat sheet for your funnel. I think they are both relevant, give value on their own and warm people up to the idea of purchasing a course from me.  Both are aimed for the long-term play.  I’m not going anywhere, and I’ll be ready to convert when they are ready to learn.
Why Webinars?
I was previously afraid of doing Webinars, thinking it would be overly technical and I didn’t have the expertise to actually get someone to join.  Plus, a couple of poorly done corporate ones, didn’t leave a very good impression. What I have come to learn is the similarities with speaking gigs and how I can leverage my PowerPoint abilities to get my message across.  By covering the what and why of the course, many people will be able to take action immediately and,  I hope, choose to take the course when they need to refine their strategy.
Why a Cheat Sheet for your Funnel?
This .pdf is a tool that I use when planning my marketing strategy.  It gives me a way to show my process that I’ve found the most success with. And, I know it’ll help some folks.  Hopefully when they have outgrown their own marketing chops, they’ll think of me.
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Action. Adjustments. Achievement.

There’s only one thing that I’ve left out and that’s being flexible.  A lot of experts will tell you to A/B test and always be watching analytical to improve your funnel.  I agree with that, at a certain level of traffic.  But, most people just need to do more of the above and layer with refinements. If you get feedback, write something more. Change your freebie. Include more details in your webinar….  The list can continue forever.
Get your funnel foundation in place and start to layer more tactics on top.  Your funnel should naturally evolve over time as you see some action.  Make those adjustments to increase your metrics (total number of people at each step) and work backwards from each conversion / sale to see how many people you need to reach. It’s super helpful to know those numbers when you start to use paid advertising… Another article on that later…

Comments 5

  1. Ros

    Great explanation of a sales funnel! Love how you break it down into logical steps – easy to understand and apply. This one is being bookmarked for sure!

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