Simplified, most online sales is done via a simple sales funnel that is based on driving traffic to content, capturing leads and then nurturing the leads with emails and finally selling them your product. One of the most important things to learn for a successful sales funnel is to learn how to lead your prospects to the funnel for optimal results.
But however perfect your funnel is – it will not yield you a ton of sales, if you cannot fill it with enough targeted leads.
Image Source: Single Grain
And that means, that driving traffic to your website or content on this website is the first step you need to conquer if you want to succeed online with a blog or business. This traffic does not necessarily have to be huge. The better targeted your traffic is the higher will usually be your conversion rate.
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And that is where a lot of people try to take a shortcut and go for paid traffic from sites like Google or Facebook.
And that CAN work. I am not denying that.
But – and that is a big BUT – if you are starting out and don’t know how to drive traffic without paying for it, the chances are high that you also are not an expert on advertising, and your sales funnel is not yet perfectly optimized.
That means if you pay for the traffic and you need to tweak and optimize your sales process, this is money that you will burn for good. Most likely you will not be able to have a great return on your investment for your fist experiments with your sales funnel. Because every test, every trial-and-error is going to cost you money.
Your unfair advantage
And here comes your unfair advantage: If you master the question of driving targeted traffic to your website for free before you set up your sales funnel, you not only are one step ahead of the crowd: You also can run a lot more tests and do tests on a much bigger audience – without throwing money out the window (= paying for ads that don’t give you sales).
That means the first step on your online success journey should really be to get traffic to your website: Highly targeted traffic – not necessarily huge amounts of traffic. And you can start doing that long before you even have a product that you want to sell.
Personally, I find it rather short sighted to go for advertising at this early stage of a business. Why? Because, it is not that much more complicated to grow a social audience and traffic from social media than figuring out how to set up, target and optimize a Facebook ad…
What people often don’t tell you when they promise you the ultimate quick fix for your traffic problems via (cheap) Facebook advertising is how hard it is to set up the perfect Facebook ad that will actually convert for you.
Of course, the equation for your ROI is simple: Invest x Dollars in advertising and sell products in the value of x+y Dollars and you made a profit of y Dollars. That is what you get promised – and what will work for many people AFTER they optimized everything including the ad and the targeting. IF you are already a Facebook advertising pro – just go ahead.
Social media traffic does not come for free either. But instead of investing money, it is your time, your willingness to learn and persistence to keep going even if results are slow in the beginning that you invest.
Who has a ton of money to spend (=waste), when they are just starting out?
A second advantage
Many people in online sales use remarketing Facebook ads to get people into their sales funnel. You may have noticed that if you visited a website, you will often see ads from this website in your Facebook feed for the next couple of days –either directly for a product, or more often for a freebie that you can signup for.
Remarketing does exactly that: You set a pixel on your website that can keep track of who visited your website. And then you target your Facebook ads at the people who have recently been on your website. This type of ad is relatively cheap – and it solves your targeting problem. In addition, people who already know you are usually much more likely to purchase from you than total strangers. That is why remarketing is so effective.
But you don’t have to pay for keeping in touch with people who visited your website. You can have that for free, too!
You should start collecting email subscribers the minute you set up your blog or website!
If you start getting some visitors to your website, you should offer a lead magnet on your website and get people to sign up for your email list. A highly targeted and valuable lead magnet can multiply your email signups.
And your email list gives you your second unfair advantage: You can send an email to your subscribers to get people back to your website (instead of paying for remarketing with ads).
Staying in touch with people is crucial to your online marketing success. Most buying decisions are not made at first contact. And with your email list, you can get that for free. You can send regular emails containing your latest blog posts or valuable information – or a complete sales sequence.
That will turn your email list into your highest converting traffic channel!
Work for it – or pay for it!
To sum it all up: You can get the complete sales funnel for free if you start building your audience, traffic, and your email list. The earlier you start with this the larger will be the number of people that you can reach for free when you actually have something to sell.
If you failed to build your audience, traffic, and email list but still want to start selling today your best chance is probably to start paying for ads. Because social media traffic for free does not come for free.
But don’t let yourself be fooled by the success stories about sales funnels. Getting your sales funnel right the instant you set it up is not a given. Most of the time you have to go by trial and error, measure and optimize until you can start making money. And this optimization process will often cost you a ton of your precious money that you have to pay for ads before the sales process starts being profitable.
Online marketing success is not easy to achieve. It is not as if you would simply place an add and people will instantly start buying your products. If people told you that, they are lying. Competition online is fierce and just telling people about your product is not enough to make sales. Setting up the perfect sales funnel is a science you have to master first.
You need to grab every (unfair) advantage that you can get!
You can earn a huge (unfair) competitive advantage if you build your social audience, learn to drive traffic to your website – and capture email addresses right from the start. These assets are of tremendous value if you already have them when you want to start selling your products. And this advantage can be measured in money which you will not have to waste on advertising!
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