Make Money Blogging: A Simple 4 Step Funnel
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It’s 2017 and the whole world is blogging.
Every day, there’s a new article showing how someone built their list to 1000 subscribers.
In between those articles, we get the ones about how another guy just made six figures on his launch.
With a consistent traffic source and determination, it’s possible — though uncommon.
For most bloggers, it’s a long road with few big wins.
Instead of launching a product twice a year and praying there are no financial challenges on the horizon; build a machine that pays you every day.
You’ll earn a consistent income and you can set up regular launches to bring in even more revenue.
It sounds too good to be true right? A set and forget system that pays you, come rain, sleet, or shine.
No, I’m not trying and sell you my brand new software that’ll create a passive income on autopilot.
What I’m about to share with you will take work, but it’s worth it.
I’m talking about sales funnels. You’ve probably heard of them and may even have an idea about what they are.
In this post, I will break down a simple four-part sales funnel that’ll improve your revenue as soon as you implement it.
First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.
What Is A Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel, according to ringDNA, is the buying process companies lead customers through when purchasing products. A sales funnel is divided into several steps which differ from the particular sales model.
Basically, a sales funnel is the process someone goes through which leads to a sale. They may see a social media post, click-through to your site, and buy something instantly. Or, more likely, they’ll find out about you, stalk you for a while, and then buy something.
The above is an illustration of a simple sales funnel. You can change the labels, but one thing remains the same. Many people go in, but only a few purchase. Your job is to move as many people from the top of the funnel to the bottom. Period.
You can be active in this process or you can be complacent. The more active you are in creating, implementing, and testing your sales funnel, the more successful you’ll be.
Let’s look at the first step in the four-part funnel.
The First Part Of The Sales Funnel Is Awareness Content
It can be called many things, but we’re going to call it awareness content. At this point, you’re not pitching your products; you’re taking care of the needs of your audience. Awareness content serves two purposes.
- Introduces people to your brand and solves a small problem.
- Leads them to a call to action of some sort.
Introducing them to your brand.
47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before reaching out for more information. They’re trying to get a feel for the brand. Even if you’ve niched down, there’ll be competition in some form. Your awareness content answers a burning question or solves a small problem in a way unique to you.
You can differentiate yourself through your writing voice, the way you present the solution or the design of your content. The way you differentiate yourself depends on your brand and your core message.
When you differentiate yourself and make a positive first impression, they’re more likely to take your desired action. A great example of awareness content was created by Moz. It’s The Beginners Guide to SEO.
Moz creates tools for SEO. The guide is a well-designed resource for anyone who needs more information about SEO. After reading or downloading it, the next logical step would be to check out their suite of tools.
What could you use as the top of the funnel awareness content?
If you’re a fitness blogger you can create a guide for exercising without weights.
If you’re a photography blogger you can create a quick resource that explains how to get the right aperture settings in all situations.
If you’re a relationship blogger, you can list out some communication tips.
Honestly, the only limit to this type of content is your imagination. Just make sure it’s comprehensive, reflects your core brand, and leads them to the next step – a call to action.
A Call to action
Your content is useless if it doesn’t promote another action. There are points in every interaction where objects, elements, and calls to action become more noticeable – more prominent. In psychology, this phenomenon is called salience.
Think about all the times you’ve wanted to buy something – say, a red car. Maybe you don’t have the money right then so you keep thinking about it. As you go about your day, you’ll notice more red cars than usual.
In addition to showing off your brand and solving a problem, awareness content primes your readers for a call to action. It produces salience.
The Next Part Of The Sales Funnel Is Getting Their Contact Information
So far, we’ve looked at what awareness content is and what it should do. Now, it’s time to get their contact information. This is your call to action which points to an email optin.
I won’t go too deep into what to use as your email optin because Sue has already done a wonderful job of that here. What I will do is outline a few best practices to keep in mind.
- Keep it to the essentials. It’s easy to go overboard and ask for too much information. Instead, keep it to the basics. You can always get more down the line. If you go overboard, your reader may bounce and you’ve lost an opportunity.
Sujan Patel keeps his form simple by asking only for the most pertinent information, the email address. Through later interactions, he’ll be able to get more information from his subscribers.
- Be Specific. Your audience has been using the internet for a long time. They’ve seen all types of email optin forms. Some are good, most are bad. A simple tweak to make your email optin forms more effective is to get specific.
- Aside from the dummy text on this email optin, it’s vague. Why should your reader subscribe to your website? What are they getting in return?
This is a better optin by Robbie Richards. Instead of giving a vague or nonexistent promise, you show them exactly what they stand to gain.
The example I used offers a video course and ebook. You don’t have to work so hard for yours. In fact, people want short, sweet, and to the point resources. A one-page cheat sheet or checklist will reel in a ton of subscribers.
Remember, your awareness content is leading them to the point where they’ll be ready for your call to action. Optins like this —the natural next step of your content — are also called content upgrades. They make the content you’ve presented even better – they upgrade it.
- Social Proof. If you’ve got it, use it. A study published in The Journal of Consumer Research found that people were more likely show social mimicry private (the comfort of their home on the computer). They also found that people were more likely to default to the choices of others in low-risk situations (giving up an email address).
Social proof shows other people who’ve made the choice to trust you with their contact information. Since it’s a low-risk situation and it’s their first time meeting you, they’ll default to social mimicry.
Darius Foroux places social proof in prominent places so you can’t miss it. It must work like a charm since he’s been able to amass over 20,000 subscribers.
Turning Your Subscribers to Customers, the art of the Quick Sale
You’ve introduced your visitor to your brand, made a good impression, and gotten their contact information. Now it’s time to get them to buy something. I know what you’re thinking, “It’s too early to start selling.”
What makes you think it’s too early to start selling?
Is it because everyone says you should deliver a lot of value before selling?
Is it because you don’t want to turn your subscribers off?
Get those thoughts out of your head. Your subscribers will never be as engaged with you as they are moments after they sign up. It’s the perfect opportunity to present an offer.
Should you jump right into your $3,000 six-week training program? Absolutely not.
All you want to do is take them from casual subscriber to real customer. Your goal isn’t to make a huge profit. In fact, all the revenue you make from these quick offers should be reinvested in better content and distribution.
Once someone has purchased from you, they’re more likely to purchase from you again. If you make a good impression with your introductory offer, you’ll occupy a “first to mind” position. That means when they’re looking for something relevant to your brand, you’ll be the first name that comes up.
This quick sale right after the email optin, also known as a tripwire or front-end offer, usually costs $1-$20. It’s a decision someone can make without much thought.
Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer presents his book Invisible Selling Machine as the front end offer to his readers and new subscribers.
On The Experiment, I offer a content calendar after my reader’s subscriber to my newsletter. The Insanely Useful Content Calendar is normally $35 but as a subscriber, you can get it for $12.
The page above is just a lander, if they show interest and click-through, they’re given more information about what they’re buying.
Zen Like Products takes a different approach by giving away jewelry, all you have to do is pay shipping and handling. Notice how they display the retail price. With that information, you know you’re getting a great deal.
These are a few examples of what can be used as a front-end offer. You can also use software, clothing, webinars, etc. Always remember, your offer should be less than $20, high quality, and USEFUL to your target audience.
So far, we’ve touched on three things, awareness content, an email optin, and a front end offer. If you implement these three strategies to your business then you’re ahead of 85% of bloggers. If you implement the last part, you’re ahead of 99% of bloggers.
Let’s dive in.
Short Email Sequence
Email marketing can get complicated — fast. The more you work with email marketing, the better you get. I want to give you a starting point and a few best practices you can build on to increase your blogging revenue.
Your goal is to move your prospect from where they are now to where they want to be. The bridge between those two points is your product or service. If for example, someone wants to lose weight, the bridge could be a workout or dieting program.
The email sequence you’ll use has three parts.
- Presenting the problem. People need to know you understand their hopes, dreams, ambitions, and desires. To present the problem effectively, you need to know a few things.
- Where your prospect is now. What point are your email subscribers in their journey before the transformation? Are they just starting to realize they want to lose weight? Are they at the point where they want to make real lifestyle changes? Or are they completely clueless? When you have this information, you can make informed decisions.
- How your prospect feels right now? Using the example of weight loss, your subscriber may feel disappointed, out-of-place, have a lack of energy, and self-conscious. After the transformation, they’ll get a boost of confidence, more energy, and become comfortable in their own skin. Present the problem from a point of understanding.
- What’s holding them back from getting to their goal? With weight loss — and every other niche — there are countless excuses people give. You’ve got to face those immediately. If you don’t, they’ll be a persistent objection and prevent them from becoming customers. A few examples are no time, no equipment, not knowing how to lose weight, no money to eat healthily, etc.
- Present the Transformation. In the first email, you presented the problem and showed them you get it. You showed them you understand what they want and the problems they’ve had in achieving it. Now, it’s time to show them how life can be different if they get to where they want to be. The transformation.
Paint the picture of how their lives can and will be different if they decide to face their challenges head on. The amount you can charge is in direct proportion to how well you paint the picture of the transformation.
The further it is from before to after state, the more expensive the solution. The closer it is between the two states, the less you can charge.
I can’t stress this enough, take the time to get clear on the transformation you’re helping people achieve. If you can’t articulate it, it may be best to scrap the product altogether rather than wasting time and energy on promoting it.
- The sales email (presenting the solution). Don’t be afraid to sell. The first email was presenting the problem. The second email was painting the transformation. The third email is where you present the solution – the bridge between where they are and where they want to be.
This solution is your core product and the place you make a healthy profit. Here are some best practices to follow to get the most out of your sales email.
- Create a compelling subject line and keep it short. If they don’t open it they can’t read your message.
- Make a killer opening line. You’ve got them to open your email, now they’ll want to know if it’s worth it. You can make sure it is by giving them a killer opening line to hook them.
Lead with a statistic. “Did you know that [insert statistic] fail to keep weight off because of XYZ.
Ask a leading question. “How would your life be different if you could lose 20 pounds?”
As a direct question. “Is x a priority in your life right now?”
Test out different variations until you hit on one that works well for you.
- The body copy. Forget about all the generic one size fits all marketing speak. This is your opportunity to shine. Talk to your subscriber as someone who understands where they’re coming from and what they want to achieve.
Let your understanding of their emotions come through and present your solution as the way to get what they truly desire. If you have a good product, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Give them a reason to act now instead of later. With weight loss, it could be that the winter months are coming to an end, or it could be because they’re getting older and need to take care of themselves. You know your product and audience better than me.
- Closing. Close with a call to action people want to click. “Find out more” works, but something specific is better. How about “Click here to lose 20 pounds in the next 4 weeks and get in the best shape of your life.”
Which one would you be more likely to click on? Me too.
We’ve gone through the basic building blocks of a sales funnel to realize more revenue from your blog. We touched on four distinct parts.
- The awareness content. This is where strangers are introduced to your brand and get a feel for what you’re offering. It’s also an opportunity to take the relationship to the next level.
- The Email Optin. This is the lifeblood of your blog. With great awareness content, building an engaged subscriber base is an easy process. Test out different email optins and content upgrades until you find the ones that work best for you.
- The front end offer. You’re not trying to make a profit here; instead, you’re trying to turn your subscribers into customers. This changes the dynamic in your favor.
- The core offer after a short email sequence. When you’re first starting to make sales funnels, you don’t need to make an email sequence with 20 different triggers. All you need to do is help them get from point A to point B with your product being the bridge. Illustrate the problem, paint the transformation, and give them the solution.
You’ve got a solid foundation to make a high converting sales funnel for your blog. The name of the game is to test until you hit on the exact combination that works best for you.
If you have any questions about how to set up your own sales funnel or want to add anything, let me know in the comments.
Daniel Ndukwu is the Founder of The Experiment where he shows bloggers and entrepreneurs how to build tribes that build their businesses. Get his free Ebook The Tribe Builders Handbook to start building yours today!