Sales funnels are everywhere these days.
They range from simple to complex. A blogger just trying to squeeze out a few bucks to be able to afford server costs might just sell his ebook via a very simple sales funnel that consists of a few emails, a small freebie and finally the offer for his product. A corporation, on the other hand, might try to integrate many products into the sales funnel, segment their email lists, run a half year drip campaign, offer upsells to more products, …
But although sales funnels vary in complexity and lead nurturing techniques, many causes for sales funnel failures are repeated over and over.
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Here is a list of 5 things that you should check your sales funnel for – and correct your mistakes when you are doing them.
1. Bad Customer Interaction/Customer Support
The headline for this should just be “customer support” but then I would get many questions why I was asking for customer support before the product has been sold.
The truth is that customer support these days begins before making a sale. Many people will ask you questions about your product before they buy it. This means you need a couple of things:
- Natural ways to reach you – a contact form on your website, a live chat, easy to find email addresses, and/or website copy that clearly states that everyone is welcome to ask questions.
- When somebody asks something – answer and be polite! Answer as quick as you can. If I ask a question about a product that I might buy, and I don’t get an answer, then you lose me as a customer. I won’t come back; I’ll go straight to the competitor. That’s just the way it is.
- If you are using an email sales funnel, make sure you read all the replies to your sales funnel emails. People actually hit the answer button on emails. Make sure you are not sending from a no-reply address – allow for interaction whenever you can!
If you are keeping these things in mind, your conversion rate for your sales funnel will almost definitely increase.
If you are a small startup or even just a blogger launching your first product – you can still implement this, probably even without investing a single dollar. Let me recommend Freshdesk – an enterprise-level customer service implementation for websites. Sounds scary? It is really simple to implement into any website, and you can sign up for a free version and let your solution grow with your business!
2. Your Sales Funnel Is Not Targeted Right (At Your Audience)
This one can be a huge turnoff because it often means you are selling the wrong product to the wrong audience. But it can also mean that you are highlighting the wrong aspects of your product.
When you are selling via an ordinary sales funnel, aggregating an email list first and then selling to that list, it is hugely important to identify why they sign up for your list – or even better: Give them the right reasons to sign up for your list. A lot of bloggers who are starting out monetizing their blog do the following:
- Create an ebook that they want to sell.
- Generate leads by using a newsletter signup form
- Nurture these leads by sending their latest blog posts via newsletter, and offering the ebook once in a while
Now – how can you improve the quality of the leads that you get while at the same time improving your conversion rate? Simple: You offer something for free in exchange for the email address. If you offer some information products for free, you can significantly improve your conversion rate for the newsletter signup. Why? Because offering something for free is a very powerful marketing tool.
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But offering something for free also allows you to increase the quality of the leads at the same time. There are 2 reasons for that:
- You choose what you offer for free – and this allows you to target this free product exactly at the people that are most likely to buy your product. So when doing this, a higher percentage of the people that sign up will be interested in your final product that you sell – if you select the right freebie!
- When you are offering something for free, you can actually show the quality of the product you are offering – before people hit the buy button. That generates trust! This way you can set your lead nurturing process in motion – before sending out regular newsletters. This creates trust – and trust is what people need to buy your products.
So if you are generating leads without giving something away for free – you should think about whether you want to change that.
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3. Bad Landing Pages, Bad Landing Page Optimization
Landing Pages (including simple Squeeze Pages were you only collect the email address of a lead) are hugely important for online sales funnels.
The point that many people are missing with Landing Pages is that Landing Page creation is a continuous process. You don’t just start creating a landing page once and then it does what it needs to do. Instead, ideally, you follow the following steps:
- Identify the purpose of the landing page: What do you want customers to do on your landing page?
- Create 2 or 3 different versions of the Landing Page – try to take the design in different directions.
- Test the different versions – select the one that provides the best results.
Now you have version #1 of your landing page. You are not done – you will never be done! It’s time to enter a continuous process of optimization:
- Make an assumption about a particular element of your landing page that might influence your conversion rates. This can be an image that is creating the wrong emotions, a part of the copy that may not be right, etc… An essential element of making this assumption is to include a “Why”. You need to have a reason you believe your landing page would convert better with an orange button. Blindly making assumptions doesn’t help you in the long run!
- Implement a new version of your landing page – while keeping your old version. Now test these landing pages against each other – and see which one converts better. If the tests are conclusive you know which version performs better.
- Don’t just treat the results as purely data-based results. These datasets don’t just give you data about your landing page; these are data sets classifying your audience!
If you hit a dead end with optimization – it’s ok to make a pause. But don’t stop altogether, continue thinking about your landing page! Once in a while, try new things – maybe even a completely new page.
The above process can quickly become overwhelming when done manually. There is a variety of sales funnel related tools that allow you to implement this process into your sales funnel.
Let me recommend Wishpond, an online service that lets you quickly create complete sales funnels, including landing pages, signup forms, AB testing, etc… Wishpond comes with beautifully designed templates that you can use as your starting point for your landing pages – and you can get in for free if you are getting less than 200 leads per month.Have a look at WISHPOND now!
4. Your Are Treating Your Leads Wrong
Ok, so you are getting enough leads, they are consuming your content, they seem to enjoy your content – but they don’t buy your products.
Here is something you should think about: Maybe that isn’t enough. Maybe you are sending them great content all the time – but depending on your products that may not be enough. Imagine your sales funnel as a flight of stairs. Once you have a lead enter your sales funnel, the lead takes the first step. Depending on your product, you cannot expect him to climb to the last step (buying your $2000 product for instance) all at once!
So, instead of sending more and more content of the same kind, you have to add more steps to your flight of stairs. Here are a few ideas of what you can do:
- Enter a conversation with your lead – this doesn’t always have to be manual (although that sometimes is a good idea). You can send leads an (automatic or manual) email with a survey (for instance via Google Docs).
- Invite your leads to a webinar once in a while.
- If you are only sending blog posts to your leads – vary the content that you send. Add more freebies, maybe create a video, show that you can do more than just write. Think about creating a podcast. Vary the content you create so that the content you send varies as well!
5. You Are Overthinking The Whole Thing
This one may sound funny – but one reason for the failure of many sales funnels is overthinking it.
Keep things in perspective – if you are generating 10 leads per month – it doesn’t make a lot of sense segmenting your list into 50 segments. If you only have one freebie to offer, it doesn’t make sense to run a lot of different landing pages.
But the most important tip for this is that you shouldn’t optimize too many things at once. If you are starting out creating your sales funnel – identify your biggest bottleneck, and then fix it! Improve this one aspect before you move to the next.
When you try to improve too many things at once, you will break your sales funnel.
These are some of the biggest mistakes I have seen companies and individuals do when implementing their sales funnels. But this list is not exclusive. What would you like to add? What mistakes have you seen? What has taken you weeks or months to figure out?