It’s the lead in to your funnel. The one thing that must entice prospective clients to hand over their email address, giving you permission to not only contact them in the future, but to actually sell them things. Professional Services, DIY courses, affiliate offers and others.
Is yours doing its job?
Often times it’s not, and you may not even know it. Take a look at your current opt-in offers with a critical eye and watch for:
A Compelling Offer
This is what will ultimately entice someone to join your mailing list. It might be a free eBook or a resource guide or a short video training series. It could even be the promise of a weekly email, but it has to be something valuable to your ideal client.
Not only that, but the copy on your page must clearly state the benefits of your offer. What will your reader gain from it? What’s in it for her?
It’s important here to know the difference between a feature and a benefit. No one cares if your eBook is 147 pages long. That’s a feature. The benefit is what sells it. In this case, the benefit might be that the reader will discover an easy way to save $100 per month on her house payment. That’s certainly worth giving up your email address for!
A Call to Action
This is where you ask your reader to do something. You want her to fill in her name and email address and click that button, so you have to make it very clear that’s her job.
Great calls to action don’t look like work (subscribe, join, learn all sound like too much trouble), and compel the reader to take the next step.
Using an enticing call to action can mean the difference between a 1% conversion rate and a 60% conversion, so it’s important to look at your call to action with a critical eye, and to test it to make sure it’s performing.
Which brings us to analytics. You can’t improve what you don’t track, so be sure you’re using some kind of analytics on your squeeze page. Google Analytics (and others) will tell you how many visitors you receive. Divide the number of opt-ins by the number of page unique visitors, and that will tell you your conversion rate.
Take this one step further by installing some split-testing software (Google Webmaster Tools or LeadPages will do the trick) to serve half your visitors one page, and half a slightly different page. Compare the results, keep the one with the higher conversions, and then test again with a third version.
It’s no longer enough just to have an opt-in form in your sidebar. You have to consciously create a landing page that makes a great offer, has a strong call to action, and continually test and tweak it to improve performance. Do this one thing, and your funnel will fill itself—and so will your bank account.
As always, I'm looking forward to reading your comments or questions, Coach Deb
Feeling overwhelmed at the thought of setting up your sales funnel? You’re not alone. Many online business owners fail to properly plan out their funnel, and it shows.
They have an opt-in incentive that doesn’t appeal to their audience.
Their follow-up emails don’t flow naturally from the opt-in.
Messages are unbalanced—either too many sales pitches or not enough. Even worse, the offers don’t match the market.
Making these mistakes is common, so if you recognize yourself here, don’t feel bad. The good news? There’s an easy fix.
Step 1: Survey Your Market
All too often we think we know what our readers and potential buyers want, but in reality, we’re simply guessing. We make the mistake of believing that we are our market, but that usually is not the case.
The only way to know for sure what your market truly wants and needs is to ask them. Set up a simple survey (even a Google form will work) and ask your blog readers, social media followers, and email list to give their opinion.
Do this right, and you’ll know exactly what you should be offering your audience, plus, you’ll know that language to use on your opt-in page.
Step 2: Create Your Opt-in
Now that you know what your market needs, it’s time to create your opt-in incentive. Keep in mind that readers today seem to prefer simple, easy-to-digest offers rather than 200-page eBooks or 7-part video series. This makes your job a bit easier, too.
Some popular choices for opt-in incentives include:
Step 3: Map Out Your Autoresponder
Every good opt-in incentive should be followed up with a series of emails that build on the material. If you’ve offered a resource guide, for example, then your follow-up emails might include usage tips for each of the resources, or case studies that show how others have benefited from using the tools.
Step 4: Make an Offer
Arguably the most important part of your funnel, your offer must be the logical next step for readers to take. They’ve worked through your opt-in incentive, read and acted on your emails, and they’re hungry for more. Time to make your offer.
Just like the other pieces of your funnel, your offer needs to be the answer to your readers’ most burning questions. If you consider your opt-in and follow-up series to be the “lite” version, then your offer is the premium package. Bigger, beefier, and the perfect next step.
Before you post your first opt-in code, take some time to map out your funnel according to these steps, and you’ll not only fill your funnel faster, but you’ll close more sales along the way.
Tell us what your most successful opt-in offer is, Coach Deb.
What makes you read a blog post or article or email?
Interesting stats? A clever turn of phrase? An attention-grabbing headline?
All of those things can pique your interest, but they won’t keep your eyes on the page. For that, you need a story.
As a coach, service provider, or blogger, your job is to craft a narrative that draws your reader in and keeps her interested. Do it right, and she’ll share your content with her friends and colleagues, greatly expanding your reach. Do it poorly, and she might read your post or your email, she might even buy from you. But she won’t remember you, because you won’t have made a connection.
Share Your Personal Stories
One of the best ways to build a relationship and grow your audience is to share your personal stories. Tell your readers how you got started, what lessons you learned along the way, and how your life and business were improved because of them.
Personal anecdotes don’t even have to be business related to have an impact. Did you notice a fantastic marketing strategy while standing in line at the supermarket reading the magazine headlines? Share the story. Did you learn how to treat customers better by dealing with your cell phone company? Tell your story.
By making the connection between a memorable event and your coaching business, your readers will remember you long after they click away from your site or close your email.
Write Case Studies
Another powerful story telling technique is case studies. Tell your readers exactly what your client did to double her income last year, or how a client took your advice and lost 50lbs this year.
These beefed up testimonials (because that’s all a case study is) will keep your readers interested in learning more from you.
Connect Unrelated Stories in New, Interesting Ways
Want to really make an impression? Make unusual connections in your story. Share the struggles Frodo faced as he made his way to Mordor to destroy the ring, and how that relates to business today. Or talk about the squirrel in your yard that bravely defends his territory every time you take the dog out, and how it reminds you of your early days in business when you were convinced that competition was bad.
By making a connection between completely unrelated topics, you can quickly craft a blog post or email that will get readers thinking, and that they’ll remember for a long time to come.
Avoid the Awkward Segue
One word of caution though. Don’t toss in a story just because you think you need a “hook.” You’ll know you’re doing this if you can’t easily transition from the story to the purpose of your post or email. If you find yourself saying something like “Ok, that’s enough personal stuff, now let’s get back to business,” you’re trying too hard.
Your stories should naturally flow into business, if you want to make a big impression. And trust me, when you get this right, you’ll suddenly find your posts going viral and your profits soaring.
Get writing and have fun with it!!
The first thing new online business owners learn is the power of the offer funnel.
You’ll find WordPress plugins to help you design your funnel and landing-page creators to assist in building it. And yet still your funnel doesn’t perform as it should.
So what’s missing? Cohesiveness.
I know, I know. You mail regularly. You’re making offers. You even make sales. If you weren’t, you certainly wouldn’t be in business this long. But if your funnel isn’t bringing in a steady cash flow that grows month after month, then something is clearly wrong, and I’m betting it’s because you lack consistency and cohesion.
Most of us do, so don’t beat yourself up, but do take a look at your funnel and offers with a critical eye, and ask yourself:
Does my opt-in offer satisfy a real need of my ideal client?
Too often we throw together a simple eBook or webinar without ever stopping to consider if our ideal client—the one we really want to work with—really needs or wants it. Unless your opt-in offer answers a driving question or solves a problem for your client, she’s going to pass.
Does my follow-up series continue to help resolve her issues?
This is where a lot of funnels go off the rails—in the follow up. In order to maintain cohesion and keep your readers’ interest, your follow-up emails should continue to address the issue that originally brought her to you. Unrelated products and random affiliate offers do little to build trust and can even lead to unsubscribes.
Does my big offer follow naturally from the opt-in?
If your opt-in incentive is designed to help homeschooling moms manage their time better, then your programs must include an element of time management as well. Anything less and your loyal readers will feel as if you don’t know them at all.
Just like a great sales page, all the pieces of your funnel need to flow naturally from one to the next, leading your readers toward bigger and better offers. It’s this cohesiveness that will help plug the leaks and keep your funnel filled with prospective clients who can’t wait to buy from you.
As always looking forward to your comments and ideas, Coach Deb
It might just be the most stressful decision you ever have to make: what to charge?
You’ve got the competition to consider, your own skill set, what you perceive to be your skills (yes, this is different from the former for most of us), what your market will pay, your location, and a host of other variables. Working it out can feel like a hurdle you can’t quite get past.
Of course, there are some strategies you can employ. One popular method is to find a “What’s Your Time Worth Calculator” on Google. There are many free ones out there. These will quite quickly tell you what you need to be charging to reach your income goals, and they’re a wonderful place to start.
But what about all those other questions? Creating a solid pricing structure requires you to do a little more digging. So, with your starting number in line, look at:
This might take a little detective work, since a lot of service providers don’t publish rates. But if you pay attention to their websites and social media, ask a few discreet questions, and get on their mailing list, you can figure it out.
Be realistic about who, exactly, your competition is, though. Don’t undervalue or over-sell yourself. In other words, make sure you’re comparing yourself to another provider who shares the same skills, market, and track record, rather than simply looking at who you strive to become.
In some fields, this is easy. There are certifications and educational programs that allow you—by virtue of having achieved them—to charge a certain rate. If you’ve followed this path, then pricing will be easy for you. If not, take a solid look at what you can legitimately claim as a skill.
Look, too, at your track record. Have you proven yourself by helping former clients (and do you have the testimonials and case studies to show for it)? Have your former clients moved on to bigger and better service providers after working with you? (That’s a good thing!) These are all reasons to maybe consider a higher price range than you might have first thought.
In the game of setting rates, it’s your market that has the final say. As any first year economy student can tell you, the price of anything lies where what the buyer is willing to pay meets what the seller is willing to accept.
If your goal is to give newbies a helping hand and lead them down the path to success, that unfortunately means you can look forward to low paying gigs. That’s not a bad thing—everyone has to begin somewhere—but it does need to be acknowledged. If, on the other hand, you’re target market is more established and economically stable, then a higher fee isn’t just warranted—it’s a must. They will expect a higher price and will not find value in the lowest-cost provider of anything, whether it’s coffee beans or business services.
Finally, don’t forget that pricing is never set in stone. It’s flexible. If you find you’re attracting the wrong market (or no market at all) you can always change your rates. Working too hard for not enough return? Raise your rates.
It’s your business. You get to call the shots.
Looking forward to reading your thoughts and comments below, Coach Deb
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