Why go through the trouble of following these 11 steps?  You want to be able to maximize course sales for the least amount of effort, right? You basically want to put passive income generation from your online courses to be on autopilot.   That means driving potential students to your course landing page – wherever it may be – and convincing them to pay for your course – and hopefully any other course your produce after that. That’s called “conversion” and it’s the goal of creating your sales funnel is to get conversions.

Matt Ackerson founded AutoGrow (Petovera Inc.) in 2010 as a conversion-focused web design agency. The company has since worked one-on-one with over 500 customers and clients to create their sales funnels. Matt is a graduate of Cornell University. He and AutoGrow have been featured in Techcrunch, Forbes, Inc, Venture Beat, Mashable, and Popular Science among others. He and the team write in-depth articles on digital marketing, sales funnel design, and also offer an advanced funnel training course here on AutoGrow.co

The questions have intensified with two recent announcements. UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann said that Optum plans to grow from $16 billion to $100 billion annual revenue by 2028, and will do that without building any hospitals. A few days later, CVS announced that it would expand its three-store HealthHUB pilot into 1,500 locations by 2021. HealthHUB is CVS’s in-store health and primary-care experience.

For United/Optum, hospital services are not seen as something that adds much breadth to the top of the funnel or that draws people into the funnel—certainly not enough to justify Optum taking on the high fixed costs and poor pricing of inpatient care. Rather, hospitals are an additional interaction within the funnel that can be accomplished through partnerships rather than ownership, according to Wichmann. Those partnerships, he says, “will occur in markets where there is maybe fewer assets for us to accumulate and build from."

The questions have intensified with two recent announcements. UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann said that Optum plans to grow from $16 billion to $100 billion annual revenue by 2028, and will do that without building any hospitals. A few days later, CVS announced that it would expand its three-store HealthHUB pilot into 1,500 locations by 2021. HealthHUB is CVS’s in-store health and primary-care experience.
Molly might conclude that anybody who fills out her online demonstration request form is an MQL.  Another company might set the bar to MQL qualification at something involving a combination of viewing specific pages, interacting with certain forms, and opening a certain number of email messages. For that kind of analysis, we recommend marketing automation software.
Following their information search — or sometimes running concurrently with this process — potential customers start comparing the alternatives that your article has discussed. Again, the time spent in this stage will vary based on the type of purchase being contemplated. Choosing a restaurant might be as simple as deciding, “Well, I feel like Chinese food, not Mexican, tonight.”
Customers move on to Stage 5 when the sale is complete. Molly should brainstorm the kinds of information these customers will need, as well as how she’ll provide it as part of a cohesive onboarding process. Though she doesn’t need to worry about customers finding her at this stage or moving on to the next one, it’s still important to meet their needs so that they walk away feeling good about their purchase decisions!
On the contrary, if your new customers are welcomed by a thoughtful onboarding process, personal attention and are educated about all the resources they are going to be needing to use your product successfully, they’re more likely to confirm to themselves that they made the right choice. And when they’re confident, they’re more likely to pass on their satisfaction to others in the form of product endorsements and recommendations. This further leads to increased brand advocacy.
Now, you don’t need a massive advertising budget or a product that targets a basic human need to use this approach. Whether its a paid search ad that addresses the main reason behind someone’s search or a paid social ad that connects your target audience’s need to what you sell, good Stage 2 marketing helps people connect the dots between their pain and your solution.
Most prospects will look to enter this stage after identifying your offering as a possible solution and completing the information search process described in the earlier stage. However, some customers might be introduced to your brand after completing Stage 2 with your competitors, as in the case of an industry blog running a comparison chart of the different competitors in your space.
Sales funnel conversion rate – If you’re going to choose only a few metrics to focus on, make sure this is one of them. This metric tracks the number of prospects that enter your funnel at any point and how many convert into customers. As you make changes to your marketing strategy in the future, seeing this number improve will let you know you’re on the right track.
Exits from stage – Similarly, seeing an excessively high number of people falling out of a particular stage is an indication that you aren’t doing enough to answer their questions or you’re asking them for too much of a commitment too early. Add more content to give them the information they need to move forward or make it easier for people to convert (e.g. don’t ask for a phone number when they’re downloading a certain e-book).

Sales and marketing teams need to adapt to these increasing demands. They have to work more closely together. While the marketing team still hands leads to the sales team at a point in the funnel, they have to stay involved to maximize customer retention and advocacy. The sales team needs to be involved early on, providing the benefits of their customer knowledge to help increase qualified leads and conversions.


Here’s where you can position yourself as the industry expert they’re seeking with content that helps them. Try doing some keyword research to figure out what types of content you should be creating for the middle of the funnel (MOFU) audiences — you can find out which search terms in your niche attract high volumes of traffic and create content around those queries later.
Force moves the sales process forward. Areas of force include accurate and timely information, a good understanding of the problem, your ability to listen and overall responsiveness. Friction slows down the sales process. Essentially, when your prospect has to jump through too many hoops or faces obstacles or inconveniences throughout the sales process, this creates friction which makes your job more difficult.
As with other steps in the sales funnel process, this one can take a while, but it’s a necessary evil, or benefit, depending on how comfortable you are creating and editing videos.  You can easily start out by creating a few simple videos that introduce yourself and your course to help establish your topic authority and create some awareness.  You can create a handful of brief videos that cover a simple topic. Whatever you are comfortable with. 

This funnel is a starting point to a funnel with landing page, OTO-page and thank you page. You can optimize it to your liking. I use Clickfunnels for all my funnels and I highly recommend it due to their analytics. Without analytics your funnel is useless as you do not know at what point people drop off your funnel meaning you can not fix what you do not know.
Through developing your online course, you should have the basis for some initial content to promote. Certainly, if you are just starting to create a course, then now’s the time to think about repurposing some of the content you will create. This would be blogs, guides, checklists, review articles, videos, webinars, podcasts, opinion pieces on Medium and LinkedIn and so forth. Make sure in this phase to create one or more lead magnets, such as guides, checklists, diagrams, etc. that you can leverage to collect emails later on.
Now, you don’t need a massive advertising budget or a product that targets a basic human need to use this approach. Whether its a paid search ad that addresses the main reason behind someone’s search or a paid social ad that connects your target audience’s need to what you sell, good Stage 2 marketing helps people connect the dots between their pain and your solution.

Define your end goal. This is the end relationship you want to have with the information you gather, and it differs greatly for online businesses. In some cases, the contact details of a person is your Internet-based goal, because it may funnel leads into a service-based business that calls its customers by phone, and in other cases, it is developing repeat clientele.
As each individual deal moves through each phase, the probability of closing the sale will change. The further along the sales funnel, the more information is exchanged and more apparent it becomes using the product will be advantageous to the customer. At this point, there is a higher potential for that deal to be ultimately successful unless the deal is moved to closed-lost in which case, the probability moves to zero.
Homepage: their homepage is the first step of their sales funnel. Their branding line is aspirational marketing. It’s about identity, freedom, and self-expression—ideas that are bigger than a product. It’s likely that this method converts better and is more persuasive. These companies are established, and through A/B testing are embracing these aspirational marketing ideas.

Content also includes developing your final offer, that is to say your course.  Take some time to write down exactly what your offer is.  What is the price for your course? What are the benefits and outcomes for students? What problem does it solve? Why should they buy a course from you? You will need this in the future when you create your email campaign. More on that later.
As you can see, each color-coded section of the funnel pictured above corresponds to a stage in the buying process. The widest tier at the top of the funnel represents “awareness,” the point at which potential customers are beginning their information search. The second tier is “interest,” roughly corresponding to the evaluation of alternatives described in the purchase process above. And, finally, the third and fourth tiers, “desire” and “action,” are self-explanatory.
Force moves the sales process forward. Areas of force include accurate and timely information, a good understanding of the problem, your ability to listen and overall responsiveness. Friction slows down the sales process. Essentially, when your prospect has to jump through too many hoops or faces obstacles or inconveniences throughout the sales process, this creates friction which makes your job more difficult.
Suppose your furnace goes out in the middle of winter. Your problem is obvious: you need a new furnace. And the solution is easy — you need to call HVAC providers in your area for quotes. But say you need a new car. Should you look for an SUV, a compact car or a mid-size sedan? Even vaguer still, if you’re frustrated with how much your accountant is charging you to do your business’ taxes, you might not even be familiar with all the different solutions, like cloud-based accounting services.
The definitions of MQL and SQL (SAL) should be spelled out, and agreed upon, in a service level agreement (SLA). The SLA outlines the terms of how sales and marketing will work together. The SLA should define what MQL and SQL look like, as well as state the time frame and process each team must follow. For example, an MQL has reached a score of 75 through a combination of content engagement and web engagement and fits the ideal customer profile. It must be accepted by sales or sent back to marketing within 24 hours of being assigned. The SLA should be drafted together by both marketing and sales leadership and signed off on by both parties.
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As you may already know, we offer a Done-For-You Sales Funnel Service for clients who want AutoGrow to custom-craft a funnel that will automate their sales or client lead generation, get them better quality prospects, and let them own a sales pipeline packed full of clients. You know that when it comes to creating funnels and implementing sales funnel strategies, we are the ones!
We’ve all received automated emails (like the one that provided a link to this blog post!), multiple times a day when we forgot to uncheck the box. You’ll need to join the ranks of these knowing marketers by adopting an automated email system to build your list of subscribers and people you wish to market to.  These systems are typically very easy to use and set up and allow you to segment your audience lists and more. Get to know yours intimately.
Make no mistake, creating a sales and marketing funnel using the process described above is no easy feat. This isn’t a project you’re going to complete in one afternoon — it’s a pursuit that you’ll want to actively address as long as your company is in business. It’s not a simple undertaking, but it’s one of the few opportunities you have to drive significant improvements in your efficiency and effectiveness when closing deals.
Why go through the trouble of following these 11 steps?  You want to be able to maximize course sales for the least amount of effort, right? You basically want to put passive income generation from your online courses to be on autopilot.   That means driving potential students to your course landing page – wherever it may be – and convincing them to pay for your course – and hopefully any other course your produce after that. That’s called “conversion” and it’s the goal of creating your sales funnel is to get conversions.
Content piece engagement rate – If you have calls to action on multiple blog posts or other onsite content pieces, you’ll want to know which are sending the most converted customers through your funnel so that you can replicate your success by upgrading/updating that piece of content, sending paid traffic to that blog post, promoting it via email, and/or creating more content pieces like that. Tracking engagement rates on each CTA will give you this information (you can easily set up Google Analytics goals in order to see which posts drive more conversions).
To better understand the concept of a sales funnel and just how you can implement it in your own business, let's look at the following image from Shutterstock. On the left side of the image, you see a magnet. That magnet is attracting customers, which happens a number of ways. From blogging to social media to paid ads and everything in between, how the visitors arrive to your website has some impact on the success of your funnel. 
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