Fundamental to the success of many Internet companies, in particular information product based businesses, is the concept of the sales funnel. Many of the most well known Internet marketers established themselves in a niche and dominate by crafting a highly refined sales funnel process, guiding consumers through a tested and optimized channel of marketing and sales.
Basic Sales Funnel Structure
The sales funnel begins by capturing the attention of prospects. Some prospects are convinced to become buyers, who purchase an entry level product, demonstrating that they have a need for what is on offer and are willing to invest money to solve their problem. The sales funnel continues to nurture the best customers, filtering out mismatches and refining the specific target customer, offering them more specialized products and services, often at higher prices.
By the end of the process the funnel has identified the ultra-responsive customers who purchase everything on offer and experience the most value and satisfaction from every purchase made. It is from these ultra-responsive consumers that the majority of profits are made.
In the following series I will introduce you to the sales funnel using simple language. I will teach you how to craft a sales funnel, including analysis of the front-end and back-end, and demonstrate why you must continuously test your funnel process to ensure long term success.
To open the series I will relate to you my story of how I was first introduced to the sales funnel online as a customer, which led to further exploration of the funnel by reviewing how other Internet marketers implement the funnel in their business. If you are not sure what a sales funnel is, the story below will clarify things for you. Let’s begin…
Experiencing The Sales Funnel
I first heard of the sales funnel about two years ago as I began to study online marketing seriously. Before this time I had participated in many sales funnels, without realizing of course, by consuming products and services online that were sold to me via a sales funnel process.
During my university days I signed up to an email newsletter called Double Your Dating, which proposed to teach any man how to meet and attract women.
I can’t remember what first compelled me to search for dating advice, probably as a result of a rejection from a particular girl or a date gone bad, but it didn’t take long to come across David DeAngelo, the author and owner of the Double Your Dating Internet business.
I would later find out that David DeAngelo is a pseudonym – not the author’s real name – but nonetheless I found his newsletter compelling reading. I recommend any guys reading this (or curious girls…) check out the newsletter if you want to some entertaining “education” about the female species.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I first came across the Double Your Dating email newsletter I was presented with what I would later learn was known as a namesqueeze page (if you have don’t know what a namesqueeze or squeeze page is, read my introduction here).
A year or so after first signing up to a newsletter that “squeezed” my name and email address, I learnt how fundamental the namesqueeze is to Internet marketing, which precipitated my introduction to list building – perhaps the most critical element of any Internet business. Back then I was a typical prospect for an information product business and I lapped up all the free information I could get, little realizing I was falling into the top of a sales funnel.
For many months I read the dating newsletter, enjoyed the case studies, the testimonial stories from satisfied customers who had discovered how to meet and attract women thanks to the advice of within the Double Your Dating ebook (social proof in action!).
Due to my interest in business I looked at the newsletter from the point of view of a prospect AND a marketer, and as a marketer I was blown away by how emotionally compelling the offer was. Here was a product that, based on testimonials, the sample materials and the sale propaganda, presented a “solution” to one of the most significant challenges men face – how to attract, date and sleep with women. It was genius, and I suspected Mr DeAngelo was raking in the profits (I’ve since learnt that it is a $20+ million dollar business).
Eventually I was persuaded enough by the free newsletters that I purchased the Double Your Dating ebook for $27. I had just converted from a prospect into a customer and fallen a little further into the rabbit hole…err…sales funnel.
Based on the free newsletter I had come to believe that by purchasing the ebook I would receive everything I needed to know about landing the women of my dreams. I read the book, found it as compelling and interesting as the newsletters, and then started to receive a different series of newsletters.
Apparently when I had purchased the book my email address had found it’s way on to a new email list. This time it was the email list for people who had purchased the book. Now I received stories from other men who had purchased the book and had some success, but needed a little extra training to really improve their “game” with women.
Conveniently enough, David DeAngelo had recorded a video series on CD of further training including interviews with “players” – guys who had tremendous success with all kinds of women – and real life interactions with women so we could watch the experts at work “live in the field“. For $97 I could add the videos to my training and truly become an expert with women.
I didn’t buy any more of David DeAngelos products and months later unsubscribed from all the newsletters, but my sales funnel education process had only just begun.
My interest in dating training was diverging (probably because I had a girlfriend at the time) and I no longer was as compelled by the Double Your Dating premise, but I still admired the sales process from a marketing point of view and began to investigate what other “dating trainers” offered. I found out that beyond the video series, it was also possible to attend live seminars and even, if you had the financial reserves to spend thousands on your dating education, take private coaching in small groups with a professional trainers. Some experts offer over the phone consultation and travel around the world presenting to groups of men and conduct “field work” at clubs, bars and bookshops.
Putting The Pieces Together
Although I didn’t purchase anything else from David DeAngelo, I certainly came to admire his sales process. I credit my experience with him as my very first motivation to endeavor to become an online Information marketer.
It made so much sense to lead in with a quality free newsletter, then sell a book, then a more expensive product and so on.
It made sense that people would be much more likely to buy after enjoying free materials, which demonstrated the expertise of the author and created credibility.
It made sense that for those who become real customer evangelists, and in David DeAngelo’s case I assumed there were many rich and single lawyers and doctors and accountants and other working professionals, who would lap up everything they could that might help them finally realize a lifelong goal – the woman of their dreams – whether it would in fact help them or not. That is such an emotionally compelling offer.
In more recent years I’ve gone on to study the exact sales process that Internet marketers like David DeAngelo implement. The term used to describe the process is called a “sales funnel” and it was clear to me that having a sales funnel was the way I wanted to go.
The Sales Funnel Is The Key To Successful Internet Business
In 2006 I joined a 12 month high-end Internet business coaching program led by Rich Schefren, which further cemented my devotion to a sales funnel focused Internet business model.
As I have written about previously, going deep, which essentially means to create a sales funnel, is the key to long term success as your marketplace becomes increasingly competitive. The companies without a defined sales funnel suffer as they are unable to compete with companies that know what a customer is worth to them long term, thanks to refined metrics calculated at each point as a customer moves along the sales funnel.
However before we can consider the metrics of a sales funnel we must understand the two critical components, the front-end and the back-end. In part two of this series on the Sales Funnel I will introduce you to the top of the funnel – the front-end. In part three we look at the back-end and in the final section I will discuss the specific advantages the sales funnel creates and how you can leverage these advantages to increase your profits and remain ahead of the competition.
Part two is now available: The Sales Funnel Part Two: Generating Leads At The Front End