How To Create a Dangerously Effective Automated Sales Funnel

JillBlog, hits, Sales Funnels43 Comments

How to create a sales funnel

Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re grinding it out in your online business, taking all this sexy action and building your list, creating share-worthy content, and rocking your customers worlds…

But when you look back on your revenue and expenses for the month, you think “WTF?! Where did all my money go?”?

And so you get a little fired up, a little anxious, and the angry typing ensues.

Have you been there?

Come onnnn.

Admit it.

I have.

And it’s frustrating as all hell.

I mean, we bust our butts to create businesses and lifestyles that light us up inside…

Which means when things aren’t clicking and more money is flowing out than in, things can get a little…ummm…stabby.

So what’s a webpreneur to do if they want to take their business to the next level and make more money, without having to put in more hours?

Simple.

You create a sales funnel.

But, what?

How?

Why?

Deep breath.

Here’s how to create a sales funnel…

What the Eff is a Sales Funnel?

Simply put, a sales funnel is the journey you take your website visitors through when trying to sell your products and services to them.

Now some funnels (sometimes also referred to as a marketing funnel) can be super simple and some can be more complicated and involved.

We personally prefer to keep things simple and streamlined so we stick to 4 main sales funnel stages:

  • Read magnet
  • Lead magnet
  • Introductory offer
  • Core offer

(Wanna deep-dive into funnels? This book is the Holy Grail..and it's free!)

However, before we dive into the nitty gritty, let’s first talk about how you can pinpoint exactly what your funnel should be about in the first place.

After all, there’s no worse feeling than going full steam ahead on an idea only to realize that you missed the mark and none of your site visitors are jiving with your new fancy funnel.

Because let’s be real, that feeling blows.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to avoid it and make sure your funnel hits in a big way.

Actually, there’s two…

The Simple Way

This process is, well, simple and best of all, it works like a charm!

All you have to do is send an email out to your list—I prefer the subject line “Can I ask you a question?”—and ask them: “What is the ONE thing you are struggling with right now?”.

As people start to respond you can keep track of the common issues or problems in a spreadsheet so you can see which are the most popular.

From there, pull out the most common problems, narrow it down to one (ideally the most popular) and use it as inspiration for your first funnel.

Worried people won’t respond?

Don’t be!

You can even incentivize someone responding by saying you will pick 10 (or 20…or whatever you want) people to do a 15-minute call with.

This will help you understand your subscribers on a much deeper level, ultimately giving you the information you need to create wildly successful sales funnels around their core needs, fears and desires.

The Surefire Way

Of course, you can always crank things up to eleven and take this process to the next level!

How?

Facebook groups.

Now, I know I’m a little biased…

I mean, hell, our first free FB group got up to well over the 45,000 member mark with our new free FB group topping over 6,000 in less than 2 months!

So I think I know a thing or two about how to grow ‘em, engage ‘em, manage ‘em and how to sell inside your Facebook group…without sacrificing your community.

Here’s how you can add a group to your sales funnel arsenal…

Similar to the process above, you’ll want to send an email out to your list and ask them to reply back with the one thing they’re currently struggling with.

But here’s where things change slightly…

Inside your email, you can mention that those who reply back to your email with their biggest struggle will get early-bird access to your new FREE Facebook group where members will have more direct access to you.

Once you then have a decent amount of replies you’ll start to group them into common struggles and challenges faced by your audience.

From there, take the top 3 most popular answers and run a poll inside your group asking people to vote on the one they struggle with most.

Kinda like I did here:

how to create a sales funnelOnce you have that data, you can take the most popular answer, use that to create your first funnel and let your members know that you’ll be creating a series of free content around their particular struggles.

This will help you not only serve them, but you’ll be able to build your list, get your brand out there in a bigger way and show your audience that you have a vested interest in helping them overcome their obstacles.

After that, it’s all about pulling the trigger on your funnel.

Starting with…

The Read Magnet

Yeah.

Notice how I didn’t say “lead magnet”?

That’s because we believe dangerously-effective sales funnels don’t go for the jugular straight outta the gate.

Instead, they warm a reader up first.

They romance.

They make it all about the reader, before ever asking for the opt-in.

And that?

Is just the beginning.

So here’s how you do it…

Using your survey results, start mapping out a jaw-dropping, clarity-inducing monster of a blogpost that hits on the one struggle most of your audience is plagued with.

Go deep.

Get in-depth.

Drop some mad knowledge.

And don’t hold back.

Kinda like what I’m doing with this blogpost.

Now does it absolutely have to be a blogpost?

Nope.

Instead, you can create a video or even a podcast episode around it.

Hell, you could host a FB Live broadcast about it, transcribe the video, turn it into a blogpost, rip the audio and SHAZAM!

You’ve just covered all three bases with one single post.

The whole goal of this post is to attract people who are interested in that specific topic.

However you choose to deliver that content is totally up to you!

(This free book dives even deeper into this stuff!)

To get the creative juices flowing, here are three posts that typically do well:

  • How To posts
  • List posts
  • Case studies

Then once you’ve created your read magnet, you need to start thinking of additional value-packed resources that can serve as a next-level lead magnet and entice people to opt in to get their hands on it.

Now, if you’re having a “next-level-what-now?” moment, don’t sweat.

I’ll break it all down in a sec.

However, the key with these read magnets and lead magnets is to make sure they are both related to the overall purpose of your sales funnel.

That means, where relevant, you’ll want to link to your lead magnet within your content (and at the end) and prompt people to opt-in for it.

Once that’s all set and your lead magnet has been peppered throughout your post, it’s time to get eyeballs on it.

To do this, you can do a few things:

  • Email your list with a link to the post
  • Post the link inside your Facebook group
  • Pimp it out on your social media channels
  • Talk about it on a FB Live Broadcast
  • Create guest posts for other sites around this topic that link back to your post
  • Drive some paid traffic to it – Facebook ads, anyone?

The key is to get people on your page, consuming that content and opting in for your lead magnet.

Speaking of that…

The Lead Magnet

So peep this…

A lot of web surfers these days seem to be getting more protective over their email addresses.

Which means the days where you could offer “free updates” as an opt-in, and build a list of tens of thousands of subscribers are straight up over.

Now?

You need some game, playah.

That means you’ll want to create a free giveaway that not only builds upon your read magnet, but takes it to a whole ‘notha level.

What’s more is you’ll want to deliver this all via email.

Want to know how I structure our emails and what I say to move a new subscriber through our funnel?

Grab them here and use them as inspiration for your own funnels!!

See what I did there?

This is the funnel in action.

Not only have I polled my audience to find out what they wanted, but I created that piece of content (*cough* you’re reading it right now), and have sprinkled my lead magnet link throughout this post that helps takes this content to the next level.

What’s more is it’s not a frivolous freebie, like an unnecessary ebook that will sit in someone’s inbox waiting until they “have time” to read it.

Instead, it’s quick, consumable, and most importantly, it’s solving a specific problem.

Am I saying all e-books are useless?

No, not entirely.

But they certainly don’t make for the most effective lead magnets.

I mean, think about it…

How many free ebooks have you opted in for that you’ve actually finished?

I’m guessing not many.

Instead, you can save yourself loads of time and create bite-sized lead magnets that pack a value punch and provide a quick win.

For example, you can create:

  • Cheatsheets
  • Checklists
  • Swipe files
  • A recording of a talk you gave
  • A replay of a workshop you hosted
  • Resource lists
  • Buyer’s guides
  • Printables
  • Email courses
  • Webinars
  • Audio downloads
  • Step-by-step blueprints

The choice is yours and you are only limited by your own creativity.

Then once they have opted in, the fun begins!

Now while most people think the process goes like this:

how to start an online business
We believe it should look a little something like this:

starting an online business

I know.

It’s likely a lot to take in.

Fortunately, Josh breaks this entire system down in hyper-detail inside our program: Perfect Sales Funnel.

But more on that in a sec…

For now, let’s talk about what the heck an Intro Offer is and why it is the most important part of your funnel.

The Introductory Offer

Often referred to as a “tripwire”, an intro offer is a relevant low-cost offer you make to a new subscriber once they have joined your list.

Now I know that sounds a little ballsy, but hear me out…

Because our whole goal with these funnels is to turn our readers into lifelong customers, it’s important to make a relevant offer that ties into your lead magnet (and read magnet) while they are still hot n’ heavy for you.

That means striking while the iron is hot and offering them something so irresistible that it’s hard for them to say no.

For us? It’s our Perfect Sales Funnel program.

You see, as you’ve moved through this post, I’ve been guiding you through how to create a sales funnel that is straight up deadly when done right…

I’ve outlined most of the layers (we still have one to go!) in this post…

And I’ve given you the chance to get funnelled by grabbing a copy of the emails I use inside our funnels.

(If you would rather copy & paste some killer, high-converting funnel copy into YOUR funnels, take a spin through this page!)

If you opt-in, the next phase of our funnel (the Intro Offer) will be triggered and you will be presented with the chance to snatch up Perfect Sales Funnel as a one-time offer at 75% off.

Do you see how this entire process stays congruent and never veers off the topic of sales funnels?

That’s the strategy in action.

Each step feeds into the next, without any hiccups or disruptions to the flow.

Why is that important?

Because if you don’t keep your funnels steps congruent and on-topic you run the risk of someone closing the window, deleting your emails and peacing out from the funnel.

And no one wants that.

So to avoid that, keep these few tips in mind…

  • Your introductory offer should be affordable and priced under $50
  • The offer should be relevant to your read magnet, lead magnet and core offer (coming up next!)
  • It should 10x the value they’ve received in your read magnet and lead magnet
  • It should be offered on the Thank You page once someone opts in for your lead magnet (more on that in a sec)
  • It should not be used as a money-maker—instead use it to change the relationship from subscriber to customer

So what can you offer as an introductory offer?

What about:

  • A video course
  • A one-time audit (of someone’s website, SEO, design, speech, diet, closet, their systems etc..)
  • Rapid-fire coaching calls (this is what we started with!)
  • An ebook you wrote
  • A customized diet plan
  • Lesson plans
  • Shopping lists
  • Done-for-you graphics
  • Audio course
  • Mini group coaching calls
  • Mini meditation series
  • A paid challenge
  • $1 trial for your product or software

Whatever it is, just make sure you rock someone’s world with it.

So how do you go about selling your Intro Offer?

Simple. With another blogpost.

*record scratch*

“Wait. What? You want me to create ANOTHER piece of content?” is what I assume you just said in your head…

And, yes. Technically.

But not just any piece of content.

Instead, you’re going to be creating…

The Value-Driven One-Time Offer

Think of it as your pre-pitch post.

And it goes a little something like this…

Once someone opts in for your lead magnet, they are redirected to a post that looks like this:

how to create a sales funnel(You’ll see it when you opt-in to get my emails. *wink*)

As you can/will see, at the top of the page we state right off the bat that their freebie is on the way and invite
them to read another free piece of content (while they wait) that is relevant to the topic of the funnel.

(Don't want to write this stuff yourself? Check this bad boy out!)

Why do we do this?

Because we want to keep the reader warm, engaged and move them down the page where we can then present our Intro Offer for the first time.

For the funnel you’re currently in the post I’ve written walks you through a must-have for any funnel.

What is it?

Creating genuine urgency inside an automated and evergreen funnel.

Why don’t we include that content inside the main read magnet to beef up the value and go straight for the sell after they’ve opted in?

Because ruthless funnels give more than they take.

They warm the reader up.

They build trust.

And to earn that sale you need to step up your game.

Fortunately, Josh walks you through this whole process inside Perfect Sales Funnel where he breaks down what to do and HOW the heck to do it all…without wanting to chuck your laptop out the window. (Because…tech.)

Doesn’t that sound like a sweet sigh of relief?

I think so too.

Now I bet you have a question, and I bet I can guess what it is…

“What if my subscriber doesn’t take up my offer?”.

Well, good news!

This is totally normal.

What’s more is it presents you with the chance to revisit this offer within your email sequence.

What I mean is, whether they take the offer or they decline it, they are going to be sent down an email sequence that will eventually pitch your core offer.

Now if you’re thinking, “OMFG I don’t want to burn my list and sell, sell, sell!”, I want you to realize one thing…

While you may be making offers to your subscribers, they are all in line with the content they just consumed.

Therefore it doesn’t feel random, pushy or desperate.

Instead it feels aligned with the topic they are currently interested in.

Which means they likely want to learn more!

And if you have the solution, then it’s on you to sell the shit out it.

Remember, selling your products, programs or services isn’t bad, it’s merely an opportunity to exchange value for value.

That’s it.

Besides, you can always pad your email sequences with additional value-packed resources and content that will help them achieve a particular outcome.

Again, you’ll see this all in action the minute you sign up to steal my emails.

From there, it’s all about…

The Core Offer

This is where everything you’ve created comes to a head and you’re given the chance to introduce your new subscriber to your flagship product, program or service.

Which means this is your chance to change someone’s world, and increase your bottom line.

And it’s where you get to play around, experiment a little bit and have some fun!

*fist pump*

Now Josh breaks this all down for you inside Perfect Sales Funnel, however I just want to say this…

One of the most important things to keep in mind with your core offer is you’ve gotta bring your A-Game with it.

That means it has to be detailed, value-packed and help your customer achieve a specific outcome, goal or result.

So what can you offer?

Pfffft what CAN’T you offer is more like it!

Here are a few ideas to get the wheels turning:

  • An online course
  • Tickets to your premium live event
  • High-ticket coaching
  • A certification program
  • A monthly membership community (like we do with Screw U)
  • Done-for-you services
  • Group coaching programs
  • Monthly consulting sessions
  • A software
  • A bootcamp
  • Mentorship
  • A physical product

The choice is yours!

For us? It’s our monthly membership community, Screw U, that teaches you the HOW of online business.

Which means we can use this simple sales funnel template to entice readers to become members over and over again—like we do here, here annnnnd here!

What’s more is YOU can do this!

You can create sub-topics around your core offer and reverse engineer funnels around them.

Simply start with your core offer in mind and use that as inspiration for your introductory offer.

From there, figure out what your lead magnet could be based off that and round it out with a read magnet on the overall topic.

For example, say you had a business that helped people with digestive issues and your core offer was a 8-week digestion and hormone detox program.

You could fracture those different modules into separate funnels—kinda like what we’re doing with Perfect Sales Funnel (which we’ve ripped from inside Screw U) right now.

So you could create one around detoxing your pantry and fridge, including what to keep and what to throw away…

One could be focused on the different supplements you need to take and why…

Another one could be around the emotional issues that are sure to pop up when detoxing your body…

And so on, and so on.

What’s more is anyone can do this!

So how do we go about actually selling the core offer?

On a live masterclass!

(This is our go-to FREE resource for all things masterclasses, webinars and trainings!)

I know, I know.

I’m basically telling you to create a THIRD piece of content, and you’re likely shaking your fist at me or wanting to send me angry emails.

And I get it.

It can feel like a lot of work, but you know what it also is?

Deadly.

Best of all, you really only need to set it all up once and then it’s just a matter of repeating the process over and over again.

Now am I saying you have to host a webinar to pitch your core offer?

Hell no.

Should you consider it though?

Shit yes.

Why?

Because live webinars convert.

Plain and simple.

(Here's a FREE webinar script you can use)

Of course, if hosting a live webinar makes you break out in anxiety-ridden hives, there are other ways you can go about it.

You can use different emails in your core offer sequence to address their main pain points, walk the reader through how your core offer helps to solve those problems and back it up with case studies or testimonials.

Or you could send them to another sales page that breaks it all down for them.

Or you could invite them to get on a call with you.

Or you could follow them around Facebook with some heavy retargeting ads.

Whatever works best for you and your business!

The good news is you’re the boss and you can roll with whatever process converts highest and feels best to you.

It just takes some thought, some prep, and some audience feedback.

“But what if they don’t opt in…or take up my intro offer…or invest in my core offer?”

Is what I imagine you’re thinking to yourself…

Fortunately, it’s a simple fix!

Capturing Lost Leads and Customers

First things first, if someone doesn’t opt in or doesn’t buy, don’t sweat.

You’re not going to convert errrr’yone and turn them into stark raving fans.

And that’s a good thing!

Why?

Because you ONLY want the people who are a perfect fit for you, your business, and what you’re offering.

So if a few slip through the cracks, don’t stress over it.

Instead, here are a few things you can do to follow up with them:

If they don’t opt-in:

Place a Facebook tracking pixel on your read magnet page and retarget people with your lead magnet, giving them another chance to sign up

If they don’t purchase your introductory offer:

Offer them one more chance (for 24 hours) to get your offer…at a higher price.

If they still don’t take it up, have an email in your sequence that asks why and invites them to reply back and let you know.

This will give you amazing insight into where you might be missing the mark in either your communication or your offering.

If they don’t purchase your core offer:

Give them a chance to sign up for a webinar that is related to your overall topic where you will be pitching your core offer again

If they still don’t purchase, or sign up to your webinar:

Send them an email and ask them how you can help them and what kind of content they would like to see you create

This will give you even more insight on the specific topics your audience is struggling with, ultimately providing you with even more inspiration for future funnels.

And that?

Well, that’s just gold.

Not sure what to say in these emails, how to structure them and when to send them out?

Click that “free instant access” button in the box below and get your hands on the emails I use in our sales funnel.

Fo’ free!

So it’s kind of a no-brainer.

And if you’re ready to take your business to the next level and create some seriously fly sales funnels, grab our 5-part program, Perfect Sales Funnel and let us show you exactly what to do, and how to do it.

Word.

starting an online business

  • Awesome post! I really like the idea of beginning a funnel with a “Read Magnet”. I will be implementing these steps immediately. Thank you!

  • This opened my eyes to a lot of Qs I had. Love the “read funnels” idea.

  • Jill, fab blog! Smart methodology too here. Asking for feedback is the easiest way to create something that folks want. I use email and also probe with twitter, and through blog comments, to let the truth serum flow freely 😉

    Ryan

    • Awesome strategies, Ryan! And so happy to hear you dug the post 🙂

  • Michael

    Jill awesome blog and insight. I want to ask how you initially get the audience and email list to start the sales funnel?

    • Josh Stanton

      Michael just jumping in here and sorry for the late reply. The traffic comes from a combination of free organic sources like Google and social sharing as well as paid Facebook Ads.

  • clevergirlfinance

    love love love this thanks so much for the valuable information!

  • Finally a format one can follow for a clear strategy. Loving the detailed course too! Thanks!! 🙂

  • Mel Dee

    What an amazing article! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Kyron Eldridge

    What platform you use to create the funnels? Leadpages.net??

    • Josh Stanton

      We used to, but now we’re using Clickfunnels.com

    • Rashida Joyce

      Clickfunnels is awesome. It has a higher price tag but it does everything. It is worth the time and fustration your save.

  • Samdan ali

    excellent content! i do have a question though. I want to build sales funnels for local clients, what would be the best platform for building sales funnels? or do you even need a platform?

  • Dianne

    Thanks for epic post. I actually purchased the Perfect Sales Funnel program many months ago, and shamefully have not yet worked through the program, which I am planning on doing this weekend coincidentally. My question is, has anything changed that I should be aware of in the last 6 or so months since I bought it? As we know on this online space, things change fast and furiously! Thank you 🙂

    • Dianne, we’ll be sending you the link to the new PSF course in the next few days 😀

      If you like you can email us at [email protected]

  • Becky Kilsby

    Jill – this is magnificent! Thank you for the detail and the humour. i’m at a much earlier stage and don’t yet have a list – have you written about this?

    • Josh Stanton

      Love hearing that, Becky!

  • Ashley Stephens

    Thank you for this post! What do you use to time your deal with the individual email sequences? We’re stuck on that.

  • Damien Coates

    Love this blog post (read magnet) and have tried a number of times to opt in for the emails but haven’t yet received anything still?

  • Karen Dudek-Brannan

    Do you cover how to do Facebook targeting in this course?

    • Josh Stanton

      No, PSF is strictly about funnels 🙂

  • Rashida Joyce

    I absolutely loved these emails. Thanks

    • Josh Stanton

      Thanks for checking it out, Rashida!

  • Im still working on my sales funnels so this is a real eye opener as you`ve made me see things I could improve.

    • Josh Stanton

      Stoked to hear that mate

  • Mark Pettit

    This is a great article and clearly shows your strategic process so thanks for sharing. I also heard you on Amy Porterfield’s show which was pretty cool. A question if I may, is there another post where you list the automation tools you use? TIA Mark

    • For funnels you mean, Mark?

      If so, we use ClickFunnels (screwtheninetofive.com/clickfunnels), Deadline Funnel (screwtheninetofive.com/deadlinefunnel) and InfusionSoft 😀

  • Thanks, this was the best blog I could find on this topic. I knew parts of this info before, but your blog puts all the pieces together in a clear way.

  • Francisca Ampratwum

    This is the best piece of content I’ve read on sales funnel. Now I get the whole picture! Thanks for sharing this. I am new to online coaching and don’t yet have a list but I have a facebook page with engaged people. Do you think I could start my survey from there? My facebook group is barely a week old so I only have a few people in there. Thanks

    • So happy to hear you dug it, Francisca!

      And you can survey whatever audience you have on whatever platform you have! I just like FB groups because they have the polling function 😀

  • Jay Weinstein

    wow glad I found this site and yes… all is true with the frustrations of understanding and building an effective a WT (EFF)!! funnel is part of the subscription a “one on one” call with a mentor.. the “hot seat” or is that a group meeting on line.? I m looking for some one on one coaching at least for a while till I get rolling, I think any way! JAY

    • Hey Jay!

      I’m not following what you’re asking… can you clarify for me?

      • Jay Weinstein

        well hmm i posted this over a month ago not even sure of my question
        ..given such a slow response Ive moved on..

        you can cal lif you’d like for a walk through 727 216 6411 if you[d rather not though no problem best Jay 7 27 216 6411

  • Tee Christensen

    Dang, I wish I read this before creating my freebie. And I paid for it too. Mistakes you correct, right? Lesson learned.

  • I absolutely love your writing style. I’m a huge sales guy and I absolutely love seeing QUALITY CONTENT out there helping people to get from where they are to where they want to be! You guys are amazing. One thing I’m not teaching is right now is marketing and let me tell you it’s not very many places many people can locate quality content helping them with marketing specifically. Keep up the good work!

    I’ve experimented with multiple funnel styles and types and you absolutely hit it on the head and gave me food for thought. I’m not easily impressed, well done. My favorite blast from the past was me using my email sequences to go above and beyond expectation and add an addittional piece of content for the subscriber to each email.

    I’m talking; webinars, youtube videos I made, social media posts, recorded team calls, recorded coaching calls, blog posts, press releases, and invitation to a private facebook group filled with quality people who had prospects begging me to buy after experiencing.
    -Downside people are scared to put the time in to create the quality content. Prospects can feel that fear and they don’t want to be your experiment. Put your heart and soul into it and people will feel that and have no reason to say no.

    I can keep going on forever off of this post! Great work!

  • Sydney Phavorachit

    I really enjoyed this article! I agree that video content is great way to attract readers. People would much rather watch a fun/unique video than read a few boring paragraphs. I found this article that focuses on the different types of videos that can be made for a business. This could be helpful for those looking into video marketing 🙂