5 Bullet-Proof Funnel Marketing Strategies to “Recession-Proof” Your Business

Economic uncertainty is a b*tch. 

The other day I spoke with an old entrepreneur friend of mine.

He owns a “hybrid” SaaS business. It’s actually a sales tool for eCommerce companies combined with a done-for-you service.

And even though the economy has been slowed way down with COVID-19, his company just had its best month ever.

And his business isn’t a small one. They’re doing a not too shabby 7-figures in annual revenue.

But here’s the thing…

Even though his business is “doing great!” today, he’s actually on the defensive.

He thinks the economy may cause his business to “hit a wall.” That economic uncertainty is driving decisions he’s making around hiring, saving money, and (most importantly) how he ensures he has enough sales, cash, and cashflow for… a while.

You see, the economy is a psychology engine. And right now, people’s engine-indicator light is flashing a big, bold, and fear-filled RED.

That’s why today, I’m giving you…

  • 5 funnel marketing strategies designed to help you make smarter marketing decisions.
  • Where and how to invest your time to “recession-proof” your business—both now and for the long term.
  • And how you can apply these simple and inexpensive funnel marketing strategies this week.

Time to funnel-down baby…

 

Strategy #1: A/B Testing is Free Money—Test Your Top Trafficked Pages & Focus on Copy Over Design 

A/B testing is always a safe bet. It’s a free way to test your assumptions and ensure you get the best outcome. 

A/B testing is similar to conducting a science experiment. You create a hypothesis based on existing data. 

It’s a way to learn what the market wants, as well as what’s unnecessary in your funnel.

Say, for instance, you want to see if one element on your landing page (like a call-to-action button, testimonial, etc.) converts better with a few tweaks. A/B testing lets you compare one or several elements on your landing page design and gather data to see which has the best outcome (or the highest conversion rate).

Best of all, you can run A/B tests without spending a dime.

You see, when it comes to funnel marketing strategies, A/B testing your top trafficked pages is key to making your business bulletproof—especially for recession crises that can hit it hard.

Just take a look around you today. 

Many businesses have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus. But for most of them, this happened because business owners didn’t foresee the economic downfall coming. 

They simply weren’t prepared. They didn’t bulletproof their businesses. And A/B testing is one of the easiest and most effective strategies for doing just that.

As part of our strategy to recession-proof AutoGrow, we recently ran an A/B test on our homepage. 

With one small change to the copy in our headline, we saw a whopping 80%+ increase in conversions at a 99% confidence interval. That’s 80% more people going (at least) one step deeper into our funnel.

And when you multiply those results by every single day of the month, that’s a huge boost in money coming in.

Take a look at the two headlines we A/B tested and see the tiny tweaks we made…

“Watch Your Digital Marketing Tasks Get Done” 

 

Vs “Delegate All Your Digital Marketing Tasks—Without the High Costs of Hiring” 

See how the only thing that changed was the wording on the headline and subtitle?

Well, the second variation ended up winning. We were making an assumption that our “all-in-one team” would sell more. But the word “Delegate” was conveying more value to the audience and the messaging was clearer.

We invested zero money into doing this A/B test and it’s already massively optimizing our conversion rate.

But why did we A/B test only copy and why is it more important to A/B test copy over design?

Because tweaking design takes longer. 

If it’s just changing a CTA button color, sure, you can do it yourself. But if it’s a huge redesign of the whole website, it’ll take time and expertise. 

On the other hand, tweaking copy is often a lot easier and faster. It takes less time and effort.

So, after you run an A/B test on your copy, compare your two (or more) variables, examine the data, and conclude whether your hypothesis was correct or incorrect. And then, plan future tests around this conclusion.

For bulletproofing your business against recession, focus on the highest points of leverage in your funnel. 

These are your highest trafficked landing pages like your homepage, pricing page (protip: A/B testing price is huge for conversion rate optimization), lead magnet landing pages, and opt-in widgets.

According to Invesp, 63% of companies believe that it’s not difficult to implement A/B testing. It literally takes minutes to implement one tweak. And the results can be massive.

Big-name companies like Amazon, Booking.com, Google, and Facebook conduct more than 10,000 A/B tests per year according to Harvard Business Review

According to Marketing Mag, Microsoft Bing performs more than 1,000 tests per month. And according to Wired, the Obama campaign in 2012 raised an estimated $75 million because of all the A/B tests they performed.

Our Proven Sales Conversion Pack features over 300 different credible, easy-to-copy conversion optimization A/B case studies like the ones mentioned above.

This is like a sortable and searchable library of proven sales-boosting tactics, tweaks, and “tricks” for your website that you should definitely check out if you’re looking to recession-proof your business.

Strategy #2: Set Up Weekly Funnel Marketing Systems, NOT Goals 

Set up systems for you to achieve specific goals. Not the opposite.

For example, if you’re looking to trim down after Easter, your goal would be to lose weight. But if you don’t set up a system to get that end result, you’ll fail to achieve it.

With a regular system like working out at the gym and/or eating healthier, you’re already setting up a system that’ll help you achieve your goal.

Scott Adams in “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life” puts it this way:

“…one should have a system instead of a goal. The system-versus-goals model can be applied to most human endeavors. In the world of dieting, losing twenty pounds is a goal, but eating right is a system. In the exercise realm, running a marathon in under four hours is a goal, but exercising daily is a system. In business, making a million dollars is a goal, but being a serial entrepreneur is a system.”

For instance, set up achievable systems like running weekly A/B tests. This system will help you achieve your end goal of growing your sales.

Don’t run just one A/B test and think the work’s over, though. 

Rinse and repeat.

After A/B testing your copy, continue with pricing or design until you find out what helps you sell better and more.

According to Invesp, 71% of companies are doing 2 or more A/B tests per month, and these are the elements they regularly test:

  • Full website: 77% of companies
  • Landing pages: 60% of companies
  • Emails: 59% of companies
  • Paid search: 58% of companies

And regular A/B testing isn’t the only system you can set up. 

You should also commit to gather testimonials from customers and/or clients on a regular basis. 

As I’ve defined it in the past, a testimonial (or customer review) is a positive statement about the delivery of or experience surrounding a company’s product or service. 

But you may be wondering: “why do you need to include testimonials as part of my digital marketing?”

Obviously, having testimonials on your landing pages isn’t a set-in-stone requirement. But social proof does wonders to “lubricate” a customer’s decision making.

See, online customer reviews are playing a critical role for local businesses. And both online and offline reputation makes up over 25% of a brand’s market value according to Deloitte.

Earning testimonials from customers is important, not only because it influences their buying decision, but it can actually result in higher overall sales.

Years ago, right after I founded AutoGrow, I ran a test campaign. It had custom, direct mail pieces sent out to small service businesses in the area. 

I targeted these businesses specifically because I had identified them as companies who were actively spending money on marketing—between 4 and 5 figures every month.

The types of businesses I was targeting spanned a wide range of industries: roofers, lawyers, veterinarians, plumbers, accountants, and more.

Of the 27 pieces that were sent as part of the A/B test, I reviewed each of their websites. 

Only 15% had testimonials on their websites.

So, no matter if you add a video testimonial or a quote (or both like in the example below), amplifying your social proof is the best way to turn your customers’ “love” into more sales. And best of all, it’s free.

 Even big-name companies like Disney invest in testimonials. This is because they know that honest reviews and social proof from real people will grab the attention of potential customers.

And not only that. Successful entrepreneurs like Neil Patel highlight the importance of customer reviews in buying decisions.

Source

If you set up regular systems, you’ll see the results of your hard and consistent work.

And that’s exactly what has happened to AutoGrow. 

We follow daily and weekly systems like filling out checklists, documenting our processes, and publishing content. And all that has translated into a huge traffic growth from 2010 to 2019.

Strategy #3: Get on Video—“Traditional” Content Marketing Is Not Enough

Getting on video builds trust with your audience.

Videos are a lot easier for people to consume. They provide faster gratification and stimulate the senses more. 

Compared to text-based messaging, videos appeal to more learning styles.

People love videos because it’s easy for them to watch and absorb the content. And your audience is much more captivated when you broadcast your message through video. 

This is why savvy marketers can leverage videos to put out any kind of high-quality content that’ll speak on behalf of their brand.

Just take a look at these stats from Optinmonster to see the huge conversion rates that videos can have on your content marketing…

  • 89% of video marketers say video gives them a good ROI.
  • 83% of video marketers say video helps them with lead generation.
  • 87% of video marketers say video has increased traffic to their website.
  • 80% of video marketers say video has directly helped increase sales.

And it’s no wonder why according to Wordstream, 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos per week. Marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users. And 46% of users act after viewing an ad (46%!).

Adding videos to your landing pages simply builds trust and rapport much faster because the more “human” brands win.

For instance, as part of our content marketing promotion, we’re adding a video to each article we post in AutoGrow’s blog.

Conversions have already gone up and I’ll share results soon when we have more data.

Strategy #4: Adapt & Align Messaging Throughout Your Funnel—Here’s What that Actually Means…

Running an A/B test teaches you something. 

You learn how to grow your leads and sales. You learn which variable is performing better. You learn why what you were doing before wasn’t bringing in any results.

Once you find out which “hypothesis” from your experiment is winning, you must bring your whole messaging in alignment with it. 

You see, one of the Laws of Sales Funnel Physics—the Law of Alignment, says that that which clearly lines up with other landing pages and with your prospects’ expectations is more likely to sell. 

Alignment refers to meeting expectations. It refers to offering to your site’s visitors whatever they’re expecting to see and read about when they visit your landing pages. Alignment deals with your customers’ intentions, questions, or context—and guides them through your funnel.

If you’re meeting people’s expectations, then you’re in alignment with your offer and your potential buyers’ preferences. 

And if you aren’t, it can mislead your customers, cause confusion, and hurt conversions. And as a result, they won’t buy from you.

If, for example, you A/B test your headline like we did on our homepage and saw the delegate-focused headline winning, you’d now need to bring the copy from all landing pages in alignment with this new focus.

You can’t just tweak your headline, introduce a new idea, and then have your copy focused on something different. The messaging must be consistent and aligned with your core offer.

Strategy #5: Develop & Launch Your Tripwire (Upsells & Affiliate Marketing Too But Prioritize Your Tripwires)

A tripwire is a small offer (usually between $5-$50) sold to new email subscribers after they opt in through your website. 

They are a low cost, low-risk way for customers and clients to try your products or services before going for your higher-priced offerings. They’re designed to “open the mouth” at the top of your funnel so more people get through. And they’re meant to accelerate and strengthen the buyer/seller relationship. 

And by accelerating the relationship, that means the tripwire is basically a “launchpad” for more easily upselling people on your core offer (e.g. your more premium product(s) and service(s)). But keep the focus on your tripwire now, and upsells and affiliate marketing later.

Because people might sometimes join your email list but might not want your core offer. So your first step to persuading them should be making them a simple and affordable offer. 

Doing so will help those potential customers overcome the fear of buying from you and gain trust. 

This is because people who spend a “little” bit of money with you are far more likely to spend a lot more later if they get value from what they bought. 

Trust here is a powerful tool, and if someone is a cautious buyer, (as many people are, much more so at the moment), then this is your catalyst for driving those long-term, higher ticket sales.

For example, many of our past clients started our relationship by buying one or more of our products. And then, they later went on to spend many $1,000s of dollars with us.

I refer to tripwires for service businesses as “service slices” because if you think about a relationship with a customer as a slope, the value ladder is a straight line. 

The customer will visit your website, subscribe to your email list, and BOOM! That ladder goes way up at an almost 90-degree incline.

Then your customer may make a bigger purchase. Maybe for $100, $500, and even more.

Free samples are great tripwires. They involve giving away a small portion of your product for free in the hopes that your prospect will enjoy your product enough to buy the full version.

And offering free samples is exactly what Costco does. According to CNBC, Costco uses $5 rotisserie chickens and free samples to turn customers into fanatics.

And it’s no wonder why in 2019 alone, they had 98 million people with a Costco membership card.

Source

Now if your business isn’t the type that has free samples to give away, you could also use something as simple as a lead magnet as your “free sample.”

Because like a free sample, in order for prospects to get it, they’d have to opt-in, and you’d have their contact information to engage them afterward with an email sequence.

Tripwires should be implemented to help you maximize your sales flow (cashflow) first, and then add in upsells, and eventually an affiliate system. That way, you’re not losing customers who would otherwise have bought thanks to your tripwire.

BONUS Strategy #6: Upsells & Affiliate Programs (And How to Not Hurt Your Brand)

Upsells are a fundamental funnel marketing strategy. 

In fact, if you say “funnel,” many business folks might think of upsells before anything else in terms of defining what a sales funnel is.

But don’t start with upsells as your first go-to strategy. Especially when money is tight and uncertainty (like nowadays) is the common rule for everyone. Because it’s going to look like a blatant cash-grab. And that will hurt your business and your brand long term.

Many people are looking for new sources of income now or existing customers may want an easy discount. And that’s where affiliate programs come in.

My recommendation is to add them into your funnel last. 

And if you already have them, consider checking the copy to ensure it’s not aggressive or salesy. 

You also shouldn’t need to do more than 2-3 upsells, maximum. 

SamCart is a great tool to use for upselling. You can create upsells and downsells with SamCart that are dynamic based on how your customers respond and whether they take an offer.

For example, if someone rejects the paid trial for your training, you could have a downsell for a free trial instead. 

Maybe it could be another tripwire. Or you could also cross-sell something at a similar price point, maybe a complementary product to the tripwire, for example.

Then if prospects reject that, you can upsell or downsell them on the trial again. You can do that up to 10 times with SamCart.

If you enjoyed this article, then you might also like to see 27 meaningful ways how AutoGrow can help you delegate all your digital marketing tasks—without the high costs of hiring.

 

Conclusion

There you go. 

5 simple funnel strategies you can start applying to recession-proof your business. And best of all, they’re inexpensive, and in some cases free.

With all the economic uncertainty going on, these strategies are designed to help you make smarter decisions for your digital marketing.

They also show you where and how to invest your time now and for the long term.

So if you want to ensure you have enough sales, money, and cashflow for as long as your business exists, these are the simple strategies you must follow right away…

  • Strategy #1: A/B Testing is Free Money—Test Your Top Trafficked Pages & Focus on Copy Over Design.
  • Strategy #2: Set Up Weekly Funnel Marketing Systems, NOT Goals.
  • Strategy #3: Get on Video—”Traditional” Content Marketing Is Not Enough.
  • Strategy #4: Adapt and Align Messaging Throughout Your Funnel—Here’s What that Actually Means.
  • Strategy #5: Develop & Launch Your Tripwire (Upsells & Affiliate Marketing Too But Prioritize Your Tripwires).
  • BONUS Strategy #6: Upsells & Affiliate Programs (And How to Not Hurt Your Brand).

Now tell me something, is there a specific funnel marketing strategy you’ve been following that hasn’t worked for you? Which one is that?

Let me know in the comments below so I can help you figure it out.

Keep AutoGrowin’, stay focused.

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