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Babe Ruth was the greatest baseball player of all time.
After all, over one in three times he went to bat, he got a hit.
Although your batting average in business may be better than that, you don’t always see great results in the short term. This is especially true with sales funnels.
You may get some leads or conversions when you’re just starting out as a busy business owner, but you still need to keep testing and optimizing to make your funnel convert better and better.
The “secret” that most successful entrepreneurs know that is that even when you have a system that works, you need to always keep improving on it.
One way you can improve your funnel is to try expanding the width of it by generating more traffic.
Or, you may want to focus on the middle portion to get it to convert prospects into sales at a higher percentage.
You could also try paying more attention to the bottom of the funnel so more people get through and ultimately convert into qualified leads. (See image below for reference).
I’ll give you a quick example of the importance of consistently improving your funnel.
One of the first funnels I ever built was for a SaaS business I was helping with on the side in 2010. It was called Saber Blast.
The free email course that leads into an offer to sign up for the product converted at under 1%, which isn’t great. The main issue was that people who were signing up on the email list weren’t buying the product.
They would click on our email CTAs and hop on a phone call with us, and even though they always seemed positive about our free “how-to” email course, no one was biting.
I realized this was a bottom-of-the-funnel issue — the leads coming in weren’t qualified enough.
This article is inspired partly by this and similar experiences, and how I went about solving these conversion issues.
Because let’s be real here: sometimes funnels don’t convert, or at least not at the level we expect in the beginning. Take time to keep tweaking and testing to find what works.
In this blog post, we’re going to talk about the five “golden keys” that contribute to a successful sales funnel. Implemented some of these will make a big difference in a funnel that hasn’t been giving you the results you want.
Golden Key #1: Choosing a Niche
What it is: Choosing your niche is exactly that. You’re unearthing the market where your products and services most closely align, and you’re focusing your marketing efforts on reaching that market.
Choosing the right niche is the Law of Alignment in action. If you’re not familiar with the Law of Alignment, it means your funnel will convert to the level that the offer aligns with the person evaluating the offer.
So once you find an audience that’s closely aligned with your niche, they’re more likely to convert when they land on your offer.
Why you need it: Offers convert at a much higher rate when they’re specific to the problems and pain points of the audience in your niche.
Case study: A good example of a company following the Law of Alignment is Winning International. Winning International is a coaching company.
Ryan Magdziarz, the founder, works with people who want to supercharge their romantic lives, make more money, get fit, or improve their business/personal lives.
The company was looking to boost sales for their two core coaching programs: 6-Figure Coach and 7-Figure Coach.
Instead of trying to reach all types of coaches, Winning International narrowed down their niche specifically to personal trainers and fitness coaches.
Niching down allowed them to create their funnel based on the pain points of that specific audience. In this case, the biggest pain point for fitness coaches and personal trainers was that they wanted more clients.
This information informed the content of their funnel.
They started by offering a free email template to personal trainers looking for more clients using Facebook Ads.
Then, when the personal trainer or fitness coach opted in, Winning International sold them on a $7 tripwire offer, a case study on how to use Facebook Ads to drive more leads for fitness coaching businesses.
After the fitness coach or trainer purchased the $7 tripwire offer, they were then shown a page where they could book a strategy session with Winning International.
This is where Winning International would then try and sell the fitness coaches on their 6- and 7-Figure Coach program.
Here’s what the funnel looked like in all:
Overall, ROI jumped 4,000% for Winning International after implementing this funnel with niche-specific content.
It pays to choose a niche!
Golden Key #2: A/B Testing
What it is: A/B testing is sometimes called split testing, but the premise is the same. This is where you compare two versions of something—be it a homepage, a product page, or a landing page—in your funnel.
Based on the behavior of your site visitors or subscribers (engagement, conversions, etc.), you can pick which version of homepage or landing page copy works best.
Why you need it: As a small business owner, you need insight into the numbers that matter. You won’t know how to get better leads from your sales funnel unless you’ve A/B tested your pages to see what’s converting and what’s not.
Maybe that means a new color scheme, a fresh font, or updated code. Or maybe you refresh some links on the page or add some social buttons.
For best results, you should run an A/B test for a few weeks (up to a month) to get more data on what’s converting the best.
Unbounce recommends creating an A/B testing calendar to plan for what tests you’re going to experiment with on any given week or month, so you’re always improving.
Case study: Optimizely, which calls itself an experimentation platform, did just that when it delved into A/B testing.
The company had recently reworked its homepage and wanted to quantify the impact it had. The best way to find out was through 50-50 split testing.
For this experiment, Optimizely divided its audience in half.
One portion of the audience (image B below) saw the new homepage. For the others (image A below), they saw nothing different when they visited Optimizely.
Optimizely measured several factors to determine which version of the homepage converted better: new leads, CTA conversions, conversions for their Solutions page, engagement, and average time-on-site.
Based on that information, Optimizely discovered that the new homepage B was the preferred homepage.
After one month, the version B generated the same amount of leads, but 117% more CTA conversions (where users would sign up for an account), 113% more Solutions page conversions, and 1.5% more engagement.
They likely never would have known the impact of their new page if they hadn’t A/B tested different versions to begin with.
Golden Key #3: Specific Landing Pages
What it is: First and foremost, landing pages on your website should be specific to a single product or service.
Second, they should also be specific to their traffic source (i.e. is the traffic coming from a Facebook ad or a blog post?), and what point in the purchasing process the prospect is in.
For instance, are your customers just doing research or are they ready to make a purchase?
The Law of Alignment also applies here, because you’ll want to make sure the content on your landing page reflects the mindset of your customer. The more specific your landing pages are to the people visiting, the more traffic and conversions you’ll have.
Why you need it: People don’t like to waste their time. If they’re looking for your product pricing page, for instance, they don’t want to have to click three or four times to get there.
By making specific landing pages, like one for your pricing page for example, you’re making it easier for potential customers to get the info they need (and that you want them to find).
You also want to provide for the right intent of the customer. This relates to a concept I’ve covered in another blog post called search intent.
Search intent is “a self-descriptive term that means judging or understanding what a person is looking for and why they are looking for it.”
Your customers can have three different types of search intent: transactional, commercial, or informational search intent.
A person is ready to buy if they have transactional search intent.
If they’re looking for information about a specific product or service on your site with the intention to buy, this is referred to as commercial search intent.
And if they’re just starting their research with no intention to buy, this is informational search intent.
You want to make sure your specific landing pages align with the search intent of your customer.
Case study: Nuffield Health, a non-profit corporate fitness and private hospitalization company, is a great example of a company that drove more ROI with specific landing pages.
To increase membership and find new leads, Nuffield gave all new members a free day pass to the Nuffield Health Clubs for a limited time.
Nuffield wanted this promotion to be as successful as possible, so they hired House of Kaizen to help them increase click-thru and conversion rates.
House of Kaizen helped them by creating dedicated landing pages based on different traffic sources for Nuffield. For instance, there was a specific landing page for users who arrived via affiliate banner ads, and another one for those who arrived via targeted email marketing.
The result? Nuffield had 60% more online ROI from these landing pages.
Golden Key #4: Casual, Conversion-Focused Copywriting
What it is: There’s that old saying that “content is king.”
No matter how great your product or service is, if your copywriting is poor, you’re not going to sell as well as you could.
Copywriting in your sales funnel is the content that appears on your landing pages. This content is informative in that it describes the product/service you’re selling.
It can also be “salesy” without being down-your-throat about it.
A good copywriter should have a firm grasp on the audience the product/service is appealing to. By adding images or videos and including personal anecdotes when appropriate, you can spice up your copy so it’s not dull and boring.
Why you need it: Copywriting is an essential part of any sales funnel. Without solid copy, even the best products won’t sell as well as they could.
The longer your funnel, the more in-depth your copy will become. As the funnel becomes more complex, the copy may also be longer. By following the copywriting basics above, you can ensure your content is engaging to drive more conversions.
They were looking to increase donations around Christmastime, but they were having trouble since some people feel stretched a little thin towards the end of the year.
They hired optimization resource WiderFunnel to help increase conversions. WiderFunnel zeroed in on the IRC’s donation landing pages. These could have been stronger with more focus on copywriting and transactional intent.
After A/B testing two versions of the copy, it turned out more people were likely to donate when the content was longer and contained more positive messaging. IRC updated its copy and saw donations increase in time for the holidays.
Golden Key #5: Segmented Ads
What it is: For this one let’s assume you’ve established your niche. You probably have a segmented audience you want to appeal to.
Now, you need segmented ads to reach your audience. Segmented ads should be optimized with real-world data from your audience, like their demographic, location, or interests to ensure they’re relevant to your audience.
Why you need it: You may be getting tired of it by now, but the Law of Alignment once more comes into play here.
If you try to make a general ad appeal to a larger group of people, the ad will resonate with some of your audience. However, its blanket nature means it won’t perform as well as a segmented ad would.
With segmented ads, you’re using demographics and analytics to divide your audience, and you’re likely going to design several ads to appeal to multiple segments. This increases your likelihood of getting more conversions based on those ads.
Case study: Belambra proves the importance of audience segmentation with this next case study.
Belambra is a French resorts and hotels chain.
Although it’s a popular spot, the company wanted even more guest occupancy. To get it, Belambra reached out to Sociomantic Labs, an advertising company.
Sociomantic reviewed the company’s first-party booking data. With that information, Sociomantic decided Belambra should divide their audience into segments, depending on how far in advance customers booked their hotel before their actual travel date.
This allowed them to hit Belambra’s guests with the right booking ad at the right time they were looking to book their travel.
From there, Sociomantic set performance metrics to determine how often a user would see a targeted ad via a capping algorithm.
All said, this campaign netted Belambra 98% more sales and a 3% jump in conversions.
Your sales funnel should always be changing and evolving. Even if you discover the winning formula for your funnel, that formula may not work forever.
You need to keep tweaking your sales funnel so it’s always performing at its best.
These five Golden Keys are great areas to focus on and tweak first.
- You need a specific niche for your products and services. This lets you make more specific offers to your audience that will likely convert better.
- A/B testing allows you to determine which version of your homepage or landing page is most appealing to your audience. Create an A/B test calendar to schedule in time to experiment with different pages to maximize conversions.
- Your landing pages must also be specific to what your buyer is looking for. This ties in with my Law of Alignment, which says your funnel will convert to the level that the offer is aligned with who is evaluating the offer.
- Copywriting is likely to become more complex if your sales funnel is more in-depth. Your sales funnel copy should be informative and interesting, too.
- Your ads will do better when they’re researched, segmented, and based on real-world data.
Which of the five Golden Keys is the most relevant to your marketing funnel? Why? Do you plan on implementing any? Let me know in the comments.
Keep Hustlin’, Stay Focused,