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.
If these three letters send shivers to your spine, you’re not alone. SEO is a huge topic. You need to know a minimum amount about SEO to make sure your content development efforts are not wasted. There’s just no point in writing a hundred blog posts if your website and blog are not optimized for Google (and Yahoo, Bing, etc.) search traffic that you want to drive into the top of your funnel.
For instance, if you’re running an accounting business, at this stage your leads would be comparing plans offered by different service providers. They might need resources like how to evaluate the landscape of accounting services (i.e. whether to hire a solo accountant, an agency, etc.), pricing guides (so they know what ballpark rates are), or how to choose an accountant.
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.
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.
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.
However, video conferencing and other apps offer an opportunity to engage prospects at a time and place that suits them. In fact, 60% of sales reps say they spend more time selling virtually than they did in 2015, according to the third edition of Salesforce’s global “State of Sales” study. Meanwhile, 52% of sales reps say they spend the same amount of time or less meeting with customers in person.
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Say you’re into cycling and you’ve decided to purchase Trek’s latest Emonda line road bike. You read a few less-than-positive reviews online, but brush them off on the understanding that all Internet comments should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, people only review products and services that they absolutely love or absolutely hate – but most customers fall somewhere in between.
There are a number of different tools on the market today to help you track these and other metrics, though for most businesses Google Analytics represents the most comprehensive, easy-to-implement solution. Since it’s free, use the service’s funnel-tracking tools until you determine that you need something more advanced and then move on to another sales analytics program or a complete marketing automation program.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
The final step in the process is to figure out which metrics you’ll track to determine how well your funnel is functioning. It’s crucial to work with the SQL and MQL data here to track patterns between who closes and how they interact with your site, content, channels, ads, etc. Once you have more information, you can continuously optimize your funnel
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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.
You can also promote your leads magnets on social media to generate leads or include a link to the landing page to your email signature. According to a recent Newoldstamp report, 34% of businesses that use email signatures for marketing generate leads by adding CTAs or clickable banners to their sign-offs. Email signature marketing platforms like Newoldstamp or MySignature allow us to automate the process.