In our Teachinguide survey, online instructors ranked marketing courses as one of the top challenges they face.  In previous articles we’ve begun addressing this issue by providing some tips on various marketing tactics.  That said, apart from creating great course content, the # 1 marketing activity that you should spend your time on is creating your online course sales funnel.  Course coupons and/or a blog alone won’t drive people to enroll in your course in droves. 
Newsletters: Another effective engagement tactic is a regular newsletter. It’s typically delivered via email and focuses on delivering helpful information with a mix of incentives to encourage additional purchases. The newsletter conveys less of a salesy feel than email marketing content, so it can be a more inviting way to stay connected to your customers. Email marketing software, such as Mailchimp, can be used to execute both email marketing and newsletters.
For example, when a customer finds you organically through a Google search for example, that means you have some element of authority. When you have authority, prospects are more likely to enter into your funnel because they know that if they found you relevantly, that whatever it is that you're providing must be of a great value. That's just the nature of SEO and organic search. 
In brief, we are inclined to go along with someone’s suggestion if we think that person is a credible expert (authority), if we regard him or her as a trusted friend (liking), if we feel we owe them one (reciprocity), or if doing so will be consistent with our beliefs or prior commitments (consistency). We are also inclined to make choices that we think are popular (consensus [social proof]), and that will net us a scarce commodity (scarcity).
Audible is an Amazon-owned producer of audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment. This platform builds awareness and brings potential subscribers into their sales funnel by partnering with authors of books featured on the platform to promote their audiobook using a free one-month trial for the service. When users sign up for the free trial, they are given 30 days to use the service before being automatically enrolled in a monthly subscription.
While everyone evaluates their options at this stage in the buying process, how carefully they evaluate their options depends a lot on their personality and the cost of the solution. Generally speaking, the more financially conservative your target audience is and expensive your solution is, the more comparison shopping your potential buyers will do.
Social proof is the psychological idea that people determine what’s correct by finding out what other people think is correct. Customer reviews are 12x more trusted than descriptions that come from manufacturers. Social media is a powerful tool for creating social proof. Let the stories and experiences of your happy customers create converting content for you.
The main thing you need to do is understand what keywords your target audience is searching for. If you’ve done your homework creating course titles and landing pages already, then this should not be a strange concept.  If you create your website in WordPress, it provides SEO guidance, so there’s good news.  That said, don’t get too hung up on SEO, it takes a good while to understand and get good at it. Just keep working at it.
Before you start building your sales funnel, it is essential to have a clear business vision, develop an ecommerce marketing strategy, and then define your target audience to work towards your business growth. If, for example, you are looking at how to create an online clothing store, you need to follow specific steps to develop your business and stay successful.
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.
Principle of commitment & consistency -- When people commit to something, they're far more likely to purchase from you. That's why getting them to agree to something like a free + shipping offer or by agreeing with something you've said in some way. This is a powerful principle in sales and if you pay attention to some of the best marketers in the world, you'll notice that they work fervently to get your commitment to something, even if it's very small in the beginning. 
But once you acquire enough initial customers and you ensure their success and happiness, they become a force for your flywheel. This is because either they buy from you again or they bring in new customers by promoting you to their network. This is the key to keeping your flywheel spinning without continuing to invest all your resources in acquiring new customers.
Before you start building your sales funnel, it is essential to have a clear business vision, develop an ecommerce marketing strategy, and then define your target audience to work towards your business growth. If, for example, you are looking at how to create an online clothing store, you need to follow specific steps to develop your business and stay successful.
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.
Armed with extensive online information, a modern buyer requires different skills from a salesperson and frequently exhibits different behavior than buyers of the past. A modern buyer may get very excited about a purchase and spend a lot of time in the research phase and then abruptly stop, ending the sales process sometimes without any reason at all. Often, modern buyers want to reduce the friction of buying and using a product to make it easy for them to achieve the value.
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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.
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?
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The sales funnel metaphor is somewhat misleading; in real life, the process never goes as smoothly as liquid down a funnel. In the last decade, digital marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and CRM have drastically changed the process of converting new leads into customers. Given this, it’s increasingly important that business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing teams are aligned in their views on a sales funnel strategy and lead generation as a whole.
Audible is an Amazon-owned producer of audiobooks and spoken-word entertainment. This platform builds awareness and brings potential subscribers into their sales funnel by partnering with authors of books featured on the platform to promote their audiobook using a free one-month trial for the service. When users sign up for the free trial, they are given 30 days to use the service before being automatically enrolled in a monthly subscription.
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.
At Disruptive Advertising, the marketing funnel is a key part of how we approach every client’s marketing. Getting into specifics about which tactics work best under which conditions in which stages is beyond the scope of this article, but if you’d like help setting up your own marketing funnel, let me know here or in the comments. Or, for additional content, check out this blog post.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Robert Izquierdo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, Starbucks, and Tesla and recommends the following options: short November 2020 $85 calls on Starbucks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Time in stage – In an ideal world, your marketing content would be so compelling that people move from the top stage to the bottom stage in a single day. But since that’s rarely the case, it’s worthwhile to know if your prospects are getting hung up in one of your stages. If so, you’ll want to add more content to your site that answers the questions that are unique to this stage of the funnel.
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.

No matter what kind of purchase customers are making or how much they plan on spending, all of them follow a fairly identical path when it comes to deciding what to buy. This process, or the different stages it is composed of, was first introduced by John Dewey in 1910, but even now — more than an entire century later — it still is the ultimate basis of comprehending buyer behavior and marketing funnel creation.
The last step in the sales funnel is to keep your momentum going. Follow up with all the new customers you have acquired and ensure they are happy with their product or service. A great way to accomplish this is to offer a membership-based rewards program. This will allow you to remain in contact with customers, giving you the perfect means for telling them about new deals and services.
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.

No matter what kind of purchase customers are making or how much they plan on spending, all of them follow a fairly identical path when it comes to deciding what to buy. This process, or the different stages it is composed of, was first introduced by John Dewey in 1910, but even now — more than an entire century later — it still is the ultimate basis of comprehending buyer behavior and marketing funnel creation.
The last step in the sales funnel is to keep your momentum going. Follow up with all the new customers you have acquired and ensure they are happy with their product or service. A great way to accomplish this is to offer a membership-based rewards program. This will allow you to remain in contact with customers, giving you the perfect means for telling them about new deals and services.

Have someone examine the ratio of visitors to your page, versus how many people enter their contact information to get access to content. A high percentage means you are targeting your demographic well, and should continue to offer similar content. A low percentage means you need to invest more in adding value to the free content or service you are offering.
That said, creating your online course sales funnel is completely doable and absolutely necessary if you have significant income goals for your online course business.  Part of the issue for a lot of instructors may be that the idea of doing all the things that need doing is overwhelming. So we’ve tried to break the process of creating and maintain your sales funnel into 10 broad steps to follow.
Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Robert Izquierdo has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Apple, Starbucks, and Tesla and recommends the following options: short November 2020 $85 calls on Starbucks. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
One of the main reasons for giving out this free content is to get prospect to give you their email address in exchange of an opt-in offer. This could be mini-course, download, cheatsheet or report. At this stage your email marketing provider must provide you automations, meaning emails are sent without your involvement and as per your defined actions.
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Online Sales Funnel – one of the most crucial parts of your business and one that should be on your agenda on a weekly basis. Without marketing your business will eventually fail as you will not get new paying customers. Good thing with online sales funnel is that it can be automated for the most part. You build it once and then just update it when necessary. I call this #automagic and a first step towards passive online income.

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If you're wondering what a sales funnel is, simply imagine a real-world funnel. At the top of that funnel, some substance is poured in, which filters down towards one finite destination. In sales, something similar occurs. At the top, lots of visitors arrive who may enter your funnel. However, unlike the real-world funnel, not all who enter the sales funnel will reemerge out from the other end. 
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