For every 100 people in your sales funnel, 97 won’t buy a darn thing from you. This isn’t an inflated statistic. In fact, 3% is considered a decent conversion rate. But what can you do about those 97 people who ended up in your funnel?
Are you going to just let them sit there without buying anything?
If 3% of people are buying your offer, I bet you could sell more.
The key to making more sales is to optimize your sales funnel. Internet marketing isn’t about plugging away at your laptop. It’s about locating bottlenecks in your funnel, testing your copywriting, and understanding conversion optimization.
You shouldn’t chase new customers until you’ve already optimized everything you can inside your sales funnel.
You’ve already done the hard work of attracting these people. Now let’s work on getting them to buy.
This article will give you 3 steps (plus one BONUS tip) to optimize your sales funnel, increase your conversions, and sell your products.
What is a Sales Funnel?
A sales funnel is the experience your audience has with your brand. This journey takes them from being a reader or follower to becoming a paying, happy customer, and eventually someone who promotes your product for you. It’s their entire customer journey.
The goal of conversion optimization is understanding the customer journey and giving your audience what they need to move closer to buying.
Your job is two-fold. First know what your customer expects. Second, deliver.
If a visitor clicks through to a landing page, you’d expect the landing page copy to match wherever they’ve just clicked from, like a Facebook ad.
A typical sales funnel will start with an opt-in (also known as a lead magnet). Then you send emails to nurture your audience before offering them a paid product or service.
An example sales funnel inside Funnelytics. Nicola Moors Ⓒ
Now I’ll show you how to optimize your funnels by mixing a little bit of copywriting know-how with data and analytics.
Step 1: Understand your target audience
Your customer is not a lifeless avatar. They’re a real-life human with beliefs and values.
In fact, you can highlight a shared value you have to create a deeper connection because you’re showing your prospect that you care about what they care about. As an example, innocent drinks (a UK-based brand) isn’t just selling smoothies. They’re selling a better future.
They’re not selling you a drink. In their copy, they highlight that by buying their products, you’re contributing to a better world.
Your sales copy should sell the promise of how much better your customers’ lives will be once your product is in it.
That’s because transformation sells.
Pioneering neuroscientist Antonio Damasio and fellow researchers at the University of Iowa, discovered in an experiment named the Iowa Gambling Task, that patients with damage to the part of the prefrontal cortex that processes emotions often struggle with decision-making. This tells us that emotion drives decisions.
So by treating your target audience as a 2D persona, you’re missing out the reasoning behind the decisions they make.
Take the emotion from your copy and you’re likely missing out on conversions.
The number one rule of customer research is to never assume.
Throw out everything you think you know about your audience. Let your research and data do the talking.
How Do You Research Your Target Audience?
Here are the top ways you can dig into your audiences’ values, beliefs and emotions.
Research Option 1: Surveys
”Surveys are easier and faster for customers to quickly provide feedback,” according to Easy Digital Downloads.
In my experience, people love being asked for their opinion. So use this to your advantage by inviting your customers (and even people who haven’t bought from you) for their feedback.
In fact, implementing this customer feedback loop is the easiest way to retain more customers.
Create automations and insert touch points that ask for intel at every stage of your customer journey.
My favorite places to ask for feedback in my funnels are:
- Adding a question on your lead magnet’s thank-you page to ask visitors why they downloaded it
- Asking for feedback before you launch a new product to uncover your audiences’ beliefs and objections to that particular topic (great for creating pre-launch content)
- Asking new students or buyers to give insights on why they bought from you so you can attract more people like them
- Requesting feedback from non-buyers to find out how else they’ll solve their problems uncover the hidden competitors you might not know about
All of the above can be created and added in so you can collect intel automatically at each stage of the customer journey.
An example survey question I love to ask buyers. Nicola Moors Ⓒ
Research Option 2: Interviews
Remember we want to uncover our target audience’s emotions. And while surveys are great for quantitative data, it’s really difficult to go deep. So I use customer interviews to ask follow-up questions and really dig into the heart of what’s really going on inside your customer’s head.
We want to uncover the insights that they might not even tell their friends about.
So if I was to interview the person who responded to my survey question above, I would want to know the following:
- Explain what you mean by “nebulous idea”?
- How had you gotten your information on brand voice previously?
- What type of things were you Googling?
- What information were you specifically looking for?
- It feels like the idea of brand voice was confusing to you and your clients. Is that accurate?
- Now you’ve used this product, how do you feel about brand voice?
Other things you might want to know:
- What problems does your target audience have?
- What are their goals?
- What do they want to achieve by solving this problem or hitting this goal?
- What is driving their decision making?
- What’s holding them back from buying?
- How else are they solving this problem?
- Who else do they look to for support with this problem?
Research Option 3: Review Mining
Mining through online reviews is an incredibly insightful way to get even more intel on your audience. In fact, it’s my favorite way.
Look for the places your audience hangs out.
That could be:
- Social media – for example Facebook groups
- Amazon reviews
- Social proof – review your testimonials and see what language is being used
And look at what they’re saying about your topic or product.
Search for keywords that will help you find out their problems, hesitations, and desires.
All of the above will help you get closer to understanding your audience and getting your message right.
Step 2: Optimize Your Product
Once you understand your target audience, you can use the intel to craft the perfect offer for them.
In marketing, the key to creating high-converting funnels and selling your products isn’t to find an audience for your offer. You design the offer for your audience.
The audience always comes first.
Never create a product just because you want to. Make sure there is a need in the market for it. (What we like to call proof of concept.) Your audience will crave your optimized offer because it solves a need for them.
How Do You Design the Perfect Offer and Optimize It?
Or how do you optimize what you’ve already got?
Even if your offer is already selling, go back to your research and look at the following:
What problems does your audience actually want to solve? How can your offer solve that?
How does your product help your customer achieve their goals? Remember your job is to show how their life will be easier with your product in it.
What could be holding your audience back from buying? If the cost is holding them back, could you offer payment plans or free delivery? I’m sure I don’t need to go into the enormous success of Amazon Prime.
If time is their hesitation, could you make the content in bite-sized videos or offer transcripts so they quickly read the content instead of watching a long video. If they’re unsure the product will work for them, could you offer a video demo or a money-back guarantee?
Compare yourself with the competition before your visitors do, according to CXL. What makes your product different? How can you position this? If your product is more expensive then you can explain why and how the benefits are worth the extra cost.
What’s your audience asking about your topic? For example, when building my digital product helping copywriters nail their brand voice, I saw they were asking what went into a brand voice guide. So I added a template and real-life example of a brand voice guide so they could see it in action. This made the product a no-brainer for them because they were already seeking this information.
Urgency or Scarcity
Why does your audience need your product right now?
Will the price increase?
Does the bonus run out after a time?
Social proof comes in many forms. If this is the first time you’ve launched this offer, you might not have testimonials from happy customers. That’s okay! Try adding logos of your customers to the page. You could also add stats, like Justin Welsh did here when he added, “Join 26k+ subscribers.”
Your audience needs to believe your offer is the next best step in their journey for them. Common objections might be:
- “Is this right for me?”
- “Is this worth the cost?”
Things like social proof, sales calls, providing your mobile number (if applicable) and behind-the-scenes demos can all help to increase your conversion rate.
A brilliant example of how to use social proof to build credibility with your prospect from Content Bistro.
Step 3: Craft the Perfect Message
Now your task is to craft the right message.
Getting deep on the right message is the fastest way I’ve increased conversions. But you don’t need to be a copywriter to write high-converting copy.
Luckily you’ve already done the hard work.
Effective copywriting is based on understanding your audience and re-using their language. You’re going to use the feedback you’ve gathered from your audience to write sales copy that converts.
Based on the problems and goals of your audience, what is the transformation you promise your customers?
The promise has to be accurate. Don’t inflate your promise or you risk losing customers—because you can’t follow through on the deliverables.
Use your target audience’s exact language so the copy resonates with them. Highlight the benefits of the offer in your copywriting so your audience can see how it will help them.
There are so many copywriting formulas out there and I think following Eugene Schwartz’ five stages of awareness is effective.
- Unaware: Has no idea they’ve got a problem. Push marketing drives awareness.
- Problem aware: Copy should talk about the problem your audience has and how it affects them.
- Solution aware: Show them the transformation they can expect. What would life look like if their problem was solved?
- Product aware: Introduce your offer and the benefits.
- Most aware: Use social proof and any risk reversals—like a guarantee or time-limited bonus—and give them an option to buy.
Following this outline will guide your copywriting so that you give your audience all the information they need. If done properly, you’ll have built enough rapport with them so that the logical decision is to buy from you.
Bonus Step: Map Out Your Lead Strategy
The number one mistake business owners make after creating a sales funnel is forgetting to create a strategy to generate leads.
You have a crave-worthy, optimized offer, with a killer message. But if no-one is reading your sales copywriting, then no-one will buy.
It’s that simple.
After you create the funnel, you have to create a plan to generate leads—AKA your lead strategy.
Here’s an example from one of my recent clients. This client hired me to write the sales page copy and email marketing sequence for a course launch. Mid-launch, my client was concerned that they weren’t hitting their goals. After analyzing the data, I spotted that the sales page was converting at 7.12%.
The real problem? They weren’t getting enough leads through the funnel.
The best copy in the world won’t sell if people aren’t seeing it. You need to invest in a lead generation strategy.
Now this doesn’t mean you need to get as many eyeballs on your funnel as possible. That won’t necessarily translate into higher revenue.
There should be a balance between generating quality leads and generating a quantity of leads.
Quality leads are people who are likely to buy your product. This is why customer research is key. When you understand your audience, you’re more likely to attract the right people into your sales funnel.
The next step in generating quality leads is to look at which channels your target audience is spending time on.
Examples of channels might be:
- Social media such as Instagram, LinkedIn, or Pinterest
- Blog posts
- Paid advertising like Google or Facebook
- Direct traffic through search engine optimization (SEO)
- Email marketing
You can use a mixture of paid and organic marketing to get in front of customers.
Organic marketing—search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, etc.—is a long-term strategy, but one you need to use for sustainable business growth.
Content marketing is pull marketing where you create valuable content that pulls your audience away from the search engine results page and onto your website.
And content marketing is an easy way to inform your target audience and funnel them towards being ready to buy. You can even embed opt-ins inside your blog post to move them into your email marketing campaign.
You can also use paid marketing, like running a Facebook ad to your newest blog post. This is push marketing. You push your content onto the platforms your audience is most likely to hang out on to interrupt their scroll and get them thinking and hopefully clicking.
As long as the blog post is written to meet your audience’s expectations, then it will funnel them closer to clicking the buy button.
So consider writing blog posts optimized with SEO copywriting, which will inform and nurture your prospect.
Conversion optimization and copywriting is so much more than just writing copy. Effective marketers test and tweak their copy to make sure it’s always converting as best it can.
Hopefully you feel confident in optimizing your marketing funnel, writing more effective copy, and increasing your revenue.