In an interview with Bryan Eisenberg, leading conversion specialist, he noted businesses spend up to $92 to get someone to their site… and less than one dollar to convert them.
Another shocking statistic:
76% of companies do *not* have any form of conversion optimization… and 48% believe they have zero control over conversion.
I think that is ridiculous.
Conversions are one of the few things you do control. Unlike most marketing efforts – which require third-party sites like Google or Twitter – conversion exists on your site, which puts you in 100% control of your destiny.
But can you improve conversions? Absolutely.
Introducing Conversion Funnels
Conversions rarely – if ever – occur in a vacuum. In order for your prospect to sign up, contact you or buy your product/service, they probably go through a number of contacts.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to get more customers. A traditional conversion funnel may look something like this:
Landing page with opt-in >> follow up emails >> pitch >> convert
Each step can help build trust between you and your prospect. Done incorrectly, it can also lose your prospect forever.
A Simple 9-Step Process to Create Highly Successful Conversion Funnels
Step #1. Set up an autoresponder.
I personally use Aweber, but Get Response works well, too. Mail Chimp offers a free service for the first 2,000 subscribers, which might be a good idea if you’re just starting out.
All autoresponder services let you create forms without coding. If you use WordPress there are a number of premium plugins which let you customize the forms further.
Step #2. Create a valuable “bribe” for opt-ins.
Give your prospects a reason to opt-in. Here are a few ideas for offline markets:
- Sales: “10 Steps to Doubling Your Referrals”
- Investments: “20 Steps to a Recession-Proof Portfolio”
- Weight Loss: “A 14 Day Plan to Lose Weight, Look Sexier and Live Longer”
OK, so what do these all have in common?
For one, they mention a specific number. This helps set expectations with your prospect. When you say “14 Days” they’ll expect 14 emails over 14 days… and are more likely to open your emails.
Secondly, they all mention specific benefits. What sales pro doesn’t want to double their referrals? Including a specific benefit lets your prospects know you’re here to help… not just sell them something.
Step #3. Write down your products and services.
Write down everything you currently offer, and add a few new ideas as well. I’d recommend offering at least three different products/services, which will be offered over the first few months of your autoresponder series (more on this in a second).
For example, service professionals like realtors and financial planners could offer paid consultations, video training, or premium content in addition to their regular services.
If creating something new is too intense, pitch your services/products in different ways. Financial planners could offer retirement planning, college planning, or investment analysis without having to actually create anything new.
But what if you’ve got just one product?
Well, you could create a basic/premium version, create a complimentary product, or offer a service in conjunction with your product.
Different offers let you target different sub-markets, which increases your customer’s lifetime value.
Step #4. Map out your emails on an excel spreadsheet.
Don’t write any emails yet. Just write the headlines for now.
I usually write three times more headlines than I plan on using. Just brainstorm, get the ideas out there and delete the weakest-sounding ones.
Step #5. Organize headlines into a logical order.
For example, if you’ve got three emails about selecting mutual funds, then put them together in the series (say, emails 3, 4 and 5).
Pro tip: create a series of emails about a specific problem, then create a product that solves it.
In the above example, your product could be your exact process for selecting mutual funds. Since you’ve already sent them several emails about this problem, your readers will be ready to act on your solution.
Step #6. Write 80/20 emails.
Write 80% of your emails without pitches (or more). And when you do write a pitch, don’t use a hard sell.
Instead, discuss a common problem your prospects have, and offer advice in the email. Then, explain how your product/service can help them.
This “soft-sell” approach can work wonders with your audience, because even if they don’t buy now, they’ll still continue to read your emails and may buy later.
Step #7. Schedule the emails in your autoresponder.
I’d recommend sending an email every 3-4 days. Ideally, you should have enough emails to last for two or three months, and include one promotional email a month.
Here’s an example of a conversion funnel – with the days in between emails – in Excel:
You can download the spreadsheet here.
As you can see, there are only three product pitches (in yellow) and three follow up pitches (green). The follow up pitches can include testimonials or announce you’re closing the offer within the next 24 hours.
With 30 emails sent every three days, that’s almost three months of drip-fed content.
Step #8. Create a landing page
No matter how you drive traffic – PPC, SEO, guest posting – use landing pages to offer your bribe in exchange for opt-ins.
You can hire a designer to help with this, or – if you use WordPress – consider using Premise to design landing pages without knowing code.
The folks at Copyblogger also have a fantastic series on landing pages to help get you up to speed.
Step #9. Split test
Assumptions are for suckers. Rather than guess what your prospects want, show them different landing pages and keep the winner.
You can test:
- Guarantees (e.g., 30 vs 60 day money back guarantees)
- Video vs. Copy
- Site Design
- Call to Action (“Sign up Now!” vs. “Join Today!”)
Once you’ve set up your conversion funnel, use split testing to improve it. Google Website Optimizer is the most popular free tool, while Visual Website Optimizer and Unbounce are popular paid options.
If you are new to split testing, read this article on split testing for more background on how/what to test.
Does This Seem Like A Lot of Work?
It is. You’ve got to develop products, write emails, set up landing pages and a whole lot more.
But here’s the thing: you’ve only got to do this once. After that, your prospect will opt-in for your bribe, receive valuable information for the next three months and (hopefully) buy your products and services.
It doesn’t matter if five or five thousand people go through this process…their experience will all be same.
Got questions? I’m down there in the comments, ready to help!
About the Author: Adam Costa created two conversion funnels just like the ones outlined above. The first is a travel site and the other helps travel bloggers make money. If you like travel, you should really follow on him Twitter.
Martin Zimdars says
Great article. For me the here mentioned step #3 is the most important one. As a teacher for bsuniess-starters in germany i often tell my “students” (start-ups) that the most important thing before a business can start is:
Be sure which products and/or services you will offer. The idea to be successful in business has to be based on your products/services so you must be sure which offers you have and which customers will pay for it!