Direct response marketing is often touted as the pinnacle of marketing brilliance — it’s designed to elicit immediate engagement from an audience that’s never heard of your business before.
For example, a TV commercial will tell viewers to call a specific number to get something for free. They will call and get on the phone with a salesperson who will upsell them on another, slightly more expensive product, and maybe upsell again if they accept the first offer.
By baiting people with compelling offers and then upselling them once they’ve taken action, businesses can generate more leads and make more money.
And a sales funnel is just a systematic way of creating these direct response marketing experiences — except it’s done online and on autopilot.
Here are some tips for creating explosively successful sales funnels.
1. Drive High-Quality Traffic
The foundation for any profitable sales funnel is high-quality traffic.
Low-quality traffic — which refers to traffic that isn’t interested in what you’re offering or can’t afford it — will always result in a low conversion rate and a high cost per conversion.
So how do you drive high-quality traffic?
That is, traffic that…
- Wants what you’re offering.
- Can afford it.
First, you’ve got to define your target market. Check out the video below for some tips on creating a simple (but thorough) customer avatar…
Once you know who your dream customers are, go through what we call the “Dream 100” process.
This consists of finding the places where your target market congregates online and then infiltrating those communities and driving them to your sales funnel.
Try to identify…
- 10 websites and forums they spend time on
- 15 active Facebook groups they participate in
- 50 influencers they follow on Facebook and Instagram
- 30 podcasts they listen to
- 40 email newsletters they subscribe to
Once you’ve got a list, go one by one and either work your way in or buy your way in…
- Work your way in — This means you’ll be emailing people, building relationships with key decision-makers, and looking for collaboration opportunities. You might guest blog for a website that your dream customers read, be a guest on a podcast that they listen to, engage in forums where they spend time, or trade mentions with influencers.
- Buy your way in — This means you’ll pay to get attention in these places. You might pay to display advertisements on a specific blog, sponsor a podcast or newsletter, or run Facebook Ads to people who follow a specific influencer.
To learn more about finding your dream customers and driving them to your sales funnels, check out Russell Brunson’s bestselling book, Traffic Secrets — click that link to get a free copy.
2. Create Overflowing Value
What is your offer?
Your answer to that question is even more important than the structure of the sales funnel — what are you offering your dream customers?
And is it absolutely irresistible?
Make your offer so compelling that your customer avatar would be crazy to turn you down.
You’ll notice that on just about every one of our sales funnels, we stack value and offer a heavily discounted price. We do this when the offer costs nothing…
And when it costs $100 or more…
Our goal is always to provide so much value that…
- Our dream customers would be crazy to say “no”.
- No one can ever accuse us of under-delivering.
Unsurprisingly, value stacking like this results in wicked high conversion rates.
Check out the video below to learn how to do this…
3. Use “Hook, Story, Offer” Format
Perhaps the most difficult, overwhelming, or confusing part about creating a sales funnel is the copy — the words on the page.
What are you supposed to say?
Please buy this. It’s awesome.
The good news is that your copy can be pretty basic and still be effective — it just needs to check the right boxes.
We recommend the following format…
Hook — You hook the person with an irresistible headline that builds curiosity and makes them want to keep reading.
Story — Then you tell a story that relates to the challenges and struggles your target market is going through. You show them that you understand where they’re coming from.
Offer — Finally, you reveal the solution you discovered (your products or services) and offer it to the visitor for an irresistible deal.
You’ll notice this format repeated on almost all of our sales pages — because it works really well.
Check out the video below to learn more about how Russell uses this process to write his sales copy…
4. Start With Paid Bait
Before you can sell someone one of your main products or services, you’ve got to draw them in with a compelling offer — something that puts the risk on your shoulders, not theirs.
This is called the bait.
It’s an irresistible offer that’s overflowing with value.
It draws people in.
But it’s not the end of your sales funnel — it’s just the beginning.
In one of our offers — called Lead Funnels — we give away our 2-page bare-bones funnel that generated 185,372 leads for us for just $7.
Now obviously, we could give this away for free and it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference for us financially, but charging $7 is important because of what comes next.
After someone confirms their order by entering their shipping and payment information, they are taken to our upsell page… which they can add to their order with just a single click since they already took the high-friction steps of entering their payment and shipping info (that’s where most people abandon their cart)…
And since the person is now in spending-money mode, they are far more likely to accept this one-time offer.
Welcome to sales psychology 101.
Today’s lessons are…
- Start your sales funnel with irresistible bait that costs just a little bit of money ($5 – $10)
- Require them to enter their payment and shipping information before they see your upsell.
5. Use Social Proof
There are some elements of a sales page that, if done right, can have a huge impact on the conversion rate.
Social proof is one of those elements.
Check out these stats from OptinMonster…
- 87% of buying decisions begin with research conducted online before the purchase is made.
- 92% of consumers are more likely to trust non-paid recommendations than any other type of advertising.
- The average consumer reads 10 online reviews before making a purchase decision.
So how can you add social proof to your sales funnel?
Here are some ideas…
- Success stories
- Business stats
- Publications you’ve been featured in
Katie Melissa’s course, Blessed To Sell, for example, I happen to know has a stupendous conversion rate… and like 90% of the oh-my-god-when-does-it-end sales page is testimonials.
Here’s 1/100th of the page…
Get creative if you have to.
And jam-pack your sales funnel with social proof, especially if what you’re offering is something that people will be skeptical about.
It’s far more convincing to hear it from others than it is to hear it from the copywriter.
6. Create Urgency
If cleanliness is next to godliness, then urgency is next to high conversion rates — it’s critical.
And it’s also really simple.
Let me give you an example.
I’m the Co-Founder of The Tonic email newsletter and we’ve recently been looking to pay for sponsorships in other newsletters to increase our sign-ups.
When I met with a representative of another newsletter offering us an opportunity, it was mid-October, and when I asked him when we should move forward with the sponsorship, he said something like…
“Let’s do it soon. Actually, I’d like to squeeze you in for October because November is already booked and our list is growing so fast that our spots will likely cost more by the time December rolls around.”
I knew exactly what he was doing — using urgency.
And I still couldn’t resist.
I agreed and we moved forward with the deal.
That’s how powerful urgency is.
So don’t just offer something… offer it for a limited time, or with limited spots, or for a time-sensitive discount.
People are procrastinators.
And urgency motivates them to take action right now rather than later.
7. Remove Navigation
This next tip is simple.
If you want the highest possible conversion rate (which you do), then remove all navigation on each page of your sales funnel.
Most websites offer a lot of places to click.
And that’s nice if you just want a hub where your existing customers can browse your online store… but it’s terrible if you’re trying to sell a specific product or service to a specific group of people.
Websites end up being more like a brick wall…
Then a smooth and seamless conversion machine…
Ditch the website.
Get yourself a sales funnel with no navigation other than the CTA.
And watch the video below for our opinion on the matter…
8. Order Bumps, Upsells, and Downsells (Oh My!)
Here’s another fact of online marketing for you to think about: when someone buys something, they are more likely to buy other things.
That’s why there’s such a thing as a “buying spree”.
People don’t go to the mall for 30 minutes per day… They go to the mall once a month and buy a ton of stuff.
When it’s time to buy, it’s time to buy.
Your job as a marketer is to capitalize on those “buying spree” moments in the life of your customers and sell them more stuff while they’re in the mood.
Fortunately, these opportunities are easy to spot… because they occur whenever someone buys something from you.
And that’s why having a sales funnel with order bumps, upsells, and downsells is so important (rather than just selling one thing at a time) — it’ll increase average order value and give people what they want when they want it.
Did I lose you with those three terms?
Here are some definitions…
Upselling is where you offer an additional product or service in the middle of your sales funnel — usually, this is an exclusive, limited-time offer.
Downselling takes upselling one step further.
When someone rejects your upsell, a downsell pops up offering something less expensive — it could be the same offer as the upsell but with an additional discount, or some less expensive variation of the upsell.
Order bumps are products or services that people can add to their order at the last minute with a single click. They usually are on the “Confirm Your Order” page.
9. Knock Down The BIG Domino
Copywriters and marketers talk a lot about the importance of addressing objections.
Visitors arrive at your sales funnel, after all, with lots of baggage — limiting beliefs, trust issues, insecurities, and so forth…
To get them to buy, you need to address all of those objections, right?
Well, maybe not.
What if there were just ONE THING — one belief — you needed to create in your target market in order to get them to buy…
… one BIG domino that would knock down all the other dominoes?
That’s the premise of the video below — check it out…
Here’s what you need to figure out…
If I can make them believe that [MY NEW OPPORTUNITY] is the key to [WHAT THEY DESIRE MOST] and is only attainable through [MY SPECIFIC VEHICLE] then all other objections and concerns become irrelevant and they have to give me money.
Fill in the blanks for your own offer and business.
Then, using the “Hook, Story, Offer” format explained in tip #3, use your copy to create that one belief in your visitor.
All else will take care of itself.
10. Follow Up
Direct response marketing is great.
And ideally, lots of people will convert on the first pass.
But they’ll never be a sales funnel in which every convert-able person converts on the first pass.
Some sales will happen during the follow-up process… because that’s just how marketing and sales work.
Check out the following stats…
Even if not most of your sales happen during the follow-up, a sizable portion will.
Check out the video below to learn how Russell Brunson thinks about follow-up funnels…
11. Split Test
We’ve offered a lot of advice in this article for creating high-converting sales funnels.
But here’s the thing to remember…
Every sales funnel, every offer, every target market is different.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to selling your products and services. Ultimately, you’ve got to figure out what works for your business.
Here’s what that process looks like…
- Apply what you’ve learned in this article.
- Test, test, test…
- Pay attention to results and do what works best.
- Keep testing. Keep iterating.
Every marketer (and business owner) wants to generate more leads and make more sales.
Sales funnels are how you do that.
These page-by-page experiences exist to convert visitors into leads and leads into customers. They exist to help you grow your business systematically, without the ebb and flow of less direct marketing methods.
Above, we’ve provided 11 tips for creating explosively successful sales funnels… all pulled directly from our own experience.
All that’s left is action.
Click below to start building your sales funnel for free!