On a macro-level, a sales funnel will start with a large number of potential buyers at the top Based on certain criteria, this pool of potential buyers is reduced to a fewer number of prospects. Towards the middle of the customer journey, the number of prospects reduces to a handful of opportunities, and after the decision-making stage, the sales process ends with a closed-won or closed-lost deal.
No matter what kind of purchase we’re making or how much we intend to spend, all of us follow a relatively similar path when it comes to deciding what to buy. This buying process, or stages, was first introduced by John Dewey in 1910, but even now — more than 100 years later — it’s still the foundation of understanding buyer behavior and marketing funnel creation.
In this article, we’ll summarize 10 steps, more or less in order of execution, that you can take to create a sales funnel to drive students to enroll in your course. We’re not going to go into great detail about each one of these steps – we’ll leave it to you to Google the hundreds of resources out there on each of these when you decide you want to execute. But we provide a general overview to guide your thinking about how to execute an online course sales funnel.
One quick word of caution, though. With every piece of content you create for every stage of your funnel, you’re generating data. Though all of it is useful to your sales process in some way, it’s easy to get bogged down in data and metrics tracking instead of focusing on the few key performance indicators (KPIs) that will actually give you the information needed to make meaningful improvements.
When these would-be buyers become interested enough in her products, they request an online demonstration by filling out the form on her landing pages. These requests are routed directly to her salespeople, who, because they’re dealing with warm leads, close roughly 50% of the customers to whom they demo. Molly’s company closes more sales than Norman’s, with fewer salespeople and no time spent on cold calling.
For instance, if you’re selling marketing automation software to a startup, showcase a startup that 10X-ed their leads. If you’re selling the enterprise version of that marketing software, share a case study from another enterprise company. The enterprise case study is too aspirational for the startup, and the startup case study doesn’t work in front of a huge global marketing team.
So ask yourself, is yours an expensive course that needs a lot of credibility to convince people to purchase it? Is it a free course you are launching and so may need less information and more hype and emotion? Is it a course series you are trying to encourage a commitment to? Are you one Udemy course among 100 competing courses on the same topic? Are there obvious challenges or objections that people will have to taking your course, such as a high price or hard to achieve objectives? Are you in a niche market and therefore need to really work hard to keep anyone remotely interested in your topic in your sales funnel?
3. Follow-Up – Not all leads are going to move smoothly from one step of your funnel to the next. And not all leads are going to be ready to make a purchase decision right off the bat. That’s where the follow-up stage comes in. This part of the funnel is meant to redirect leads who have exited your funnel and bring them back into the sales process. Retargeting ads and email campaigns make up the bulk of this stage.
However, the best part about this, and the most powerful route that entrepreneurs take to scale their businesses, is that if you know that sending 100 people to your site costs you $200, for example, but you get two people to convert at $300 each, then you have a $600 return on $200 invested (300 percent). When you know that, that's when the entire game changes and you can infinitely scale your offers.
1. Fuel – This is where fresh and unqualified leads first enter into your funnel. They’re typically attracted by an appealing offer, a tempting and free lead magnet, or simply the promise that you’ll be delivering them quality content chock full of valuable information. Many of the funnels we’ve built for our clients are fueled by Google PPC ads or ads through Facebook.
Once the prospect is in the proverbial funnel, you've peaked their awareness. That's the first stage of the funnel. However, getting a prospect aware of you is no simple feat. Depending upon how they've arrived to your website (organically or through a paid ad), those customers might view your funnel differently and your opt-in rates will vary significantly.