At the time I’m publishing this blog post, I’m approximately 1 week into my year-long travel adventure (woop woo!)
How am I able to travel, play, and explore while still managing to pay all of my bills?
On that note, it’s my pleasure to introduce today’s guest expert and topic: My friend Gillian Perkins is here to chat with us about sales funnels for bloggers!
In this post you’ll learn:
+ What a funnel is
+ Why bloggers need funnels
+ How to set up a funnel for your blog
+ 5 types of sales funnels you can create
Take it away, Gillian!
What Is a Funnel?
Every business, whether they realize it or not, has a marketing sales funnel. That’s because a “funnel” is just what we call the path a customer follows from the time they first become aware of a company to eventually making a purchase.
For example: you see a commercial on TV which prompts you to visit a company’s website, learn more about their product, and eventually make a purchase. You might not realize it, but you just got “funneled.”
It’s called a “funnel” for two reasons:
1. You are “funneling” people into your pool of clients.
2. If you graph the customers’ path (as you see in the image at right), you’ll find that you start with a large group of potential customers and gradually are dealing with smaller and smaller numbers as those who won’t buy remove themselves.
So, long story short, if you’re selling something then you somehow need to guide people towards the purchase. However you do this is your “funnel.”
(Side note: What we’re talking about here is the big picture “marketing sales funnel” that addresses the entire journey a customer must take. A “sales funnel,” on the other hand, only refers to the latter part of the process, where you are closing a lead. Marketing leads into sales.)
Why would a blogger want a funnel?
If you sell anything via your blog (services, physical products, digital products, affiliate products, etc.) then you already have some sort of funnel. However, if your current funnel is the product of organic chance then you could probably achieve much greater results if you designed one intentionally.
With a strategic funnel, you’ll have a lot more influence over people who are considering making a purchase from your blog.
It’s the difference between a guy who’s randomly hitting on girls at a bar, hoping he meets someone and it turns into “something” and the man who meets a girl he finds interesting, asks her out, dates her exclusively, proposes, and eventually marries her.
If you want your customers to seriously commit (i.e. hire you) then you need to woo them with focus. 😉
The Automatic Funnel
If you’ve ever heard anyone refer to “making money while they sleep” or “making money on autopilot” they were probably using an automated funnel to make this happen.
An automated funnel is a system that guides potential customers towards sales (or sales calls) without your direct interaction.
An example of a funnel that is NOT automated is you, personally, going to networking events, handing out business cards, calling leads, telling them about your product and its benefits, and hoping you eventually call enough people that you find someone who is actually a qualified buyer.
An auto funnel, on the other hand, might be an advertising campaign that generates leads and then sends them emails to educate and persuade them.
For most bloggers, an automatic funnel is much more efficient and powerful than the alternative. Even if you offer an expensive service that sells best via personal sales calls, you can still automate lead generation and the initial education about your product.
How to Set Up a Funnel for Your Blog
What path do people currently take to become your customers? In order to intentionally design a strategic funnel, you’ll want to answer the following questions. (First, answer them about your existing “funnel,” and then answer them again, deciding how you would ideally like your funnel to work.)
+ How do they first hear about you?
+ How do you entice them to desire to learn more?
+ How do you initiate a relationship with them?
+ How do you develop your relationship with them?
+ How do you introduce them to your product?
+ How do you educate them about your product?
+ How do you persuade them to purchase?
There are many different ways to set up a funnel for your blog (here’s a look at five of the most successful), but the simplest is:
Traffic Generation >> Landing Page >> Email Opt-In >> Email Sequence >> Sale
The first phase of your funnel is traffic generation — all those potential customers have to come from somewhere!
If you already have a popular blog, then you’ve got this covered. However, if your blog is still small, don’t worry — funnels are actually an amazing tool you can use to help grow your blog!
Why is this? Because when you have a system that generates automatic sales, you can then actually afford to spend money on advertising — advertising that will boost your traffic and grow your email list!
There are plenty of free ways to generate traffic: guest blogging, Pinterest marketing, social media marketing, etc. However, one of my favorite strategies for driving traffic into funnels is Facebook advertising.
There’s a beautiful relationship between a strategic funnel that consistently produces sales and the power of FB ads. Facebook has amazing audience targeting tools, but you can only use them to reach potential customers if you’re willing to pay for advertising. However, if you have an automatic funnel set up then it can effectively fund your ads.
(To learn more about how to effectively use FB ads to generate traffic for FREE check out this article.)
All that traffic you generate has to be sent somewhere! For optimal results, direct it to a dedicated landing page that is designed to entice your ideal customer to connect with you.
A landing page is simply a single page of your website with a single offer. Most commonly, this offer is a free “lead magnet,” such as a mini e-course, downloadable workbook, or checklist.
The goal here is to offer something (for free) that will entice them to opt in to your list. Done right, it will interest and impress them enough that they will be delighted to stay on your list and learn more about what you offer/teach.
Email Marketing Service
In order to have a successful automatic funnel, you’ll definitely need an email marketing service (such as Convertkit, Aweber, or Mailchimp) to collect, organize, and make communicating with your leads as easy as possible.
With a simple funnel, the rest of the work will be done by an engaging, automatic email sequence.
Once your customer opts in, they will receive a series of emails that introduce you and your message, educate them about your product, and eventually pitch an offer.
Done right, these emails are engaging, personable, and persuasive. The best email marketing campaigns aren’t “super persuasive” but rather interesting and even entertaining. It’s more important to make a positive, lasting impression on your lead than it is to try to “force” them to buy.
If your customers like and trust you, they WILL buy when you offer them something that aligns with their desires.
Five Types of Sales Funnels
For best results, use a funnel structure that is well suited to the type of product you are selling. For example, low-priced, simple products tend to do best with short, simple funnels. Complex, expensive products, on the other hand, require much longer, more involved funnels.
Most professional bloggers sell one of these five types of products:
1. Low-price physical product
2. High-price physical product
3. Low-price digital product (ebook or intro course)
4. High price digital product (premium course)
5. High-price service / coaching
This article is already pretty long, so I’ve separately compiled a guide that explains five different funnels that work best for these five types of products. You can download this free “Visual Funnel Playbook” by clicking here.
Inside the playbook, you’ll find visual diagrams of each of the five types of funnels that I’ve found produce the best results for each type of product. You can use the diagram that fits your product as a roadmap to build your own funnel!
About the Author
Gillian Perkins is a business marketing strategist, entrepreneur, and the #1 internationally bestselling author of “Sorted.” She works with online entrepreneurs to help them develop marketing strategies to grow their businesses more effectively.
She is the CEO of Aptus Creative Marketing (www.aptuscreativemarketing.com) and also owns several other businesses including Northwest School of Music (www.nwschoolofmusic.com) and Quintessential Investments. Learn more about Gillian online at www.gillianperkins.com.