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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
If you’re running a marketing services business, you might create content about how to choose a marketing agency, pricing guides, whether a company should go contract or hire in-house, etc. The above examples are non-promotional, educational content resources we’ve created for our readers who are considering hiring marketing agencies – i.e. in the middle of the funnel (MOFU).
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.
However, collectively, they do represent the many activities that you should be working on everyday to get your course sales funnel up and running. What that process looks like will depend very much on your existing knowledge of and execution on these components, your financial and personal motivations, time, talent and more. No matter what, you want to be working on as many of these bits as possible to get those conversions.
Beyond terms and process, one of the best ways brands can align both sales and marketing is through shared programs such as account-based marketing (ABM) and lead nurturing. In 2018, Salesforce Research found high-performing marketing organizations to be 1.5x more likely to use ABM methods, and 1.9x more likely to use lead nurturing than underperforming marketing organizations. They are “shared programs” since both marketing and sales should work together to create them. Marketing handles the technology and setup while sales pick the targets and help create the content. Sharing in the creation of the programs allows sales to feel ownership of the programs, increasing their use and overall effectiveness.
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.
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?
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.
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.
An exit pop-up. This is a powerful way of redirecting prospects who seem intent on, well… exiting off of the page. Sometimes that pop-up may contain a special deal and other times it may re-communicate the benefits of what’s on the page. We’ve found that using lead magnet exit pop-ups (as on the template above) is one of the best ways to keep traffic flowing into your funnel.
However, getting to this stage is no simple feat. It takes an enormous amount of work and effort plus tracking. By implementing sales funnel software, such as the platform built by Brunson, you can definitely cut down the headache, but there's still lots of work to be done. Copy needs to be written, tracking pixels need to be installed and email sequences need to be created. But that's what it takes to succeed.
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.
As “State of Sales” finds, salespeople believe a combination of human skills and data-driven insights is needed to convert prospects into customers. In fact, the ability to listen is seen by 78% of those surveyed as an important attribute needed for landing deals. But sales reps also have to demonstrate industry knowledge (74%), trustworthiness (74%), and knowledge of prospects’ business needs (73%).
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.
Steve Jobs was a pioneer of the funnel business model in the early days of the internet. His vision was that almost any person or company with an interest in information, interaction, or media was a potential participant in the Apple funnel. The top of the Apple funnel was very broad, with devices from desktop computers to iPods. Apple attracted people into the funnel with products that were so intuitive and elegant that they became status symbols. And inside the funnel, the compatible and interconnected nature of the devices, along with a sizable content library, created multiple opportunities for further transactions.
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.