The dream of every online business owner is to buy a domain, create a beautiful website, send traffic to that website, and wake up every morning with sales notifications via email.
The reality happens to be much different.
You have to constantly check what resonates with your audience via your analytics tools, make or source products around that, tweak your positioning, talk to your audience, and one hundred and one other things.
This also requires a lot of traffic to test. It doesn’t help that there are millions of articles going live every day.
Don’t get me started on all the moving pieces involved in a product launch. In the end, it becomes very high touch.
What if there was a better way?
Is there a way to do the hard work up front and reap the rewards with just a bit of maintenance at regular intervals? In fact, the only thing you absolutely have to do is send traffic to strategic landing pages to capture contact information.
After that, your sales funnel does the heavy lifting. We’re going to look at how to create a low touch sales funnel that sells all day every day for you without losing the human touch.
What is a low touch sales funnel?
There are many different ways to sell a product. In our everyday lives, we encounter all of them.
If you enter an upscale fashion store, one of the floor sales reps will meet you at the door, welcome you, and help you find exactly what you’re looking for. That’s a type of high touch sales funnel.
A better example would be the process to sell industrial equipment or enterprise software. These sales cycles can last anywhere from 12 – 24 months and the buyers tend to be locked in for years. In order to get those contracts, sales reps cold email, talk on the phone, go out for lunch, and perform demos.
If you enter Walmart, they may greet you at the door but no one is going to follow you around the store. There are floor clerks, but their main job is to point you in the right direction and keep the shelves stocked. You can forgo human contact right up until you want to check out.
In fact, self-checkout lanes allow you to avoid human contact entirely. That’s an example of a low touch sales funnel.
A high touch sales funnel is one in which a real live person guides the prospect through every stage of the buying process. The sales rep may make first contact, educate the prospect about their options, and even get them set up with the product.
A low touch sales funnel is one in which leads are generated, nurtured, and turned into a customer with little or no human interaction. That doesn’t mean they can’t get in touch with a human or that the process is difficult to navigate.
On the contrary, the hallmarks of a low touch sales process are thoughtful experiences that gently nudge someone towards your desired action. It works well with lower cost items (less than a few thousand dollars in lifetime value).
Surveys to learn about your audience
We go into business with the assumption that we understand what we’re selling and who we’re selling it to. That’s not the problem. The problem is most people don’t take the time to thoroughly validate or invalidate their assumptions.
Let’s use an example. Let’s say you’re selling coaching, courses, and other products related to weight loss and fitness.
Obviously, the people who land on your website want to live a healthier life. Why do they want that and where are they in their journey?
Can you really say?
Have you ever asked?
Irrespective of that slight hiccup, you create great content and are building an email list. When people sign up, they get a great sequence and a few of them buy what you’re selling.
Here’s where it goes wrong. Everyone, no matter where they are in their journey, gets the same sequence and the same product pitched in the same way. The average email open rate ranges from 15% – 29% depending on your industry. Simply putting a name in the subject line increases your open rates by 22%.
What do you think personalizing the messages to your subscriber’s situation can do to your click-through rates and conversions?
Do you think that would increase sales conversion rates?
Of course it would.
We’re going to be using surveys to understand the different groups of people who’re interacting with your website. The insights you gain will allow you to group your audience and increase your open, click-through, and sales conversion rates.
What to ask in the survey
There are already a lot of great resources online that show you the best practices for creating surveys. I won’t focus on that.
Instead, we’ll focus on a specific question you’ll ask to get the most out of this exercise.
Before we jump into the questions, it’s important to note there are a number of dimensions you can use to group your audience.
- Based on stage of their journey. For weight loss, you may have overweight or out of shape, getting in shape, fit, or want to bulk up.
- Based on what they do or who they are. Also in weight loss you could have busy corporate types, professionals like doctors, and stay at home business professionals.
There are more dimensions but I like to focus on those two when I’m running surveys.
Now, for the question:
What’s the biggest challenge you have in relation to X?
Continuing with our fitness example, the question would be “what’s your biggest challenge with fitness and weight loss?
This question gives you insights into the different groups you can segment your audience into. It also sheds light on the exact language they use to describe their problems.
Not all answers are created equally. The longer the answer the more weight you can give it. Those are the people who feel the pain of the issue they’re describing the most. Optimize for them.
Place this question at the beginning of your survey. If you don’t get any other answers, you’ll get this one.
Send your survey out to your current mailing list or create ads to drive traffic to a landing page. You want a good number of answers to account for any outliers (I like to aim for one hundred survey answers).
Note: For ads, you may need to provide an incentive. Please don’t use Amazon gift cards or entry into a contest to win an iPad. You may get more responses but you can’t be sure those people are in your target market. Use an incentive that would appeal to your target audience like a discount to one of your products.
The above is a survey ad example from Ahrefs.
Once you’ve gotten enough answers, it’s time to analyze your results. Keep in mind that surveys sent to an external audience have completion rates of 10-15%.
Typeform is a good option for surveys.
Analyzing the survey results
Since the most important questions are open-ended, you can’t use a piece of software to analyze the information for you. You’ve got to get in there and draw conclusions yourself.
Let me show you an example by answering the fitness question myself.
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to fitness and weight loss?
I’m not a fat guy by any means. When I was younger, I worked out three days a week in the gym close to my house. I did that for at least five years. I’m still young (28) so my body is more or less the same as it was 10 years ago. Over the last few years, I’ve been working in a sitting position with the occasional standing desk. It’s not enough to make any big difference though. I travel a lot so it’s difficult for me to find a gym in the places I end up and get partners to work out with me. In the end, I usually work out in the place I’m staying (if at all) which doesn’t have proper equipment. I need a way to stay active and accountable without face to face interactions and proper weight equipment.
Let’s read between the lines and see how many things we can identify.
- Long inactive work days
- No access or poor access to gym equipment
- Lack of motivation to exercise and no accountability
You can pull out even more from there. I’ve consolidated the possible choices into three. When you’re looking at your data, you’ll see dozens of possible groupings. Many of them are variants of the same thing. Go through answers multiple times and consolidate different problems you notice into broad strokes until you have about four groups.
Any more than four and you’ll have trouble making the follow-up sequences with email.
The other questions you ask in your survey will give you a better picture of who your respondent is. Think demographic data like age, sex, occupation, etc.
When you’re done you’ll have the major groups in your audience.
You can look at a live survey here to get a feel for the kind of questions you can ask.
Now that you have four unique groups and know what they want, it’s time to segment new leads. For that, we’re using quizzes and opt-in surveys.
Quizzes or surveys to capture the right information
Interactive quizzes are an amazing way to increase your conversion rates while capturing quality data about your leads. 3.5x more marketers reported that interactive content converts very well when compared to static content.
I’ll be using quizzes as an example but the same principles apply to opt-in surveys.
Your quiz should be designed with your audience in mind (now you understand them) as well as with your goals in mind. There are a number of things to take into consideration.
- Keep it between seven to ten questions. Any more and your audience will start to get tired.
- Start with an easy yet exciting question and end with an exciting question.
- Then ask your main question (what’s your biggest challenge related to x? or which of the following best describes you?) second. The answer choices are the groups you identified through your survey analysis.
- Try to use a variation of the questions “What X are you?” “What is your X” or “what kind of X are you?” for your title.
- At the point of lead capture, let them know you’re going to give them a personalized result based on their answers as well as resources through email that’ll allow them to make the most of the information they’re about to get.
For surveys, use a headline that lets them know answering the questions will help you personalize their experience. The most important thing is to get the information needed to segment your audience into the right groups.
Most quiz creation software allows you to push your new leads into specific lists in your email marketing software. This is very important. It’s what allows you to send better emails and automate the entire process.
We’re going to look at what to do with that information in the next section.
Personalized emails and websites to sell all day every day
We’re now at the best part. By this point, understand who your audience is, where they are in their journey, and what their biggest challenge/problem is. You also have a way to segment new people who’re becoming leads in your business.
Ok, so what do you do with all this information?
You send timely, relevant, personal emails that people interact with then send them to personalized pages they can buy from.
Of the companies using personalization, 72% take advantage of email and are seeing over 30% improvement in their KPIs.
After implementing this, we’ve seen a much greater interaction rate with our emails.
In order get similar (or better results), you’ll need an email marketing tool that allows you to insert dynamic content. If that’s not possible, you can segment at the list level.
Note: If you use WordPress, there are a number of plugins that allow you to personalise the user experience on your site. To learn more, check out this post over at WP Superstars.
There are a number of beliefs people need overcome before they can comfortably buy what you’re selling. Sometimes, it’s difficult to instill those buying beliefs. Other times, it’s simple.
For example, the buying beliefs you need to instill to sell a $20 pair of jeans are different from the beliefs you need to instill in order to sell a $3,000 course or $20,000 car.
List all the things people need to believe in order to buy your products and services.
Do they need to believe content marketing works? Do they need to believe drop shipping is the future? Do they need to understand the benefits of AI? Do they need to believe your cotton is special?
It doesn’t matter how miniscule you think the buying belief is. Write it down.
Now, map out a series of emails that instill those buying beliefs. Use stories, case studies, education, etc. The most important part is you tailor your messages to where they are in their journey based on the information you got from the quiz or survey.
In total, you should have five to seven emails. At the end of every email (unless you have a very high ticket item), give them an opportunity to buy. If you do have a high ticket item, build up to sending them to a webinar or sales call – however you get it done.
Read this post for a deep dive about how to send awesome emails.
Let’s look at an example email with dynamic content that instills buying beliefs with storytelling.
In the image above, each arrow points to a portion of the email that will only show to a specific group of people. If someone matches x group then specific portions of the email will be hidden.
In essence, what we have here are four personalized emails.
Your job doesn’t end with perfectly crafted emails. You also need to personalize the pages people see.
Because if you’ve spent all your time sending people emails with relevant stories, content, and examples it would suck to drop the ball when they’re ready to buy.
There are a number of things to customize on your pages.
- Benefits of the features
Let’s look at each one in turn.
The headline is the first thing people see. It has to be a good one. Up until this point, you’ve been using personalized email messages. If you’ve done them correctly, the right buying beliefs have been instilled.
You now have two options, create multiple sales pages to cater to the people who’ve been primed to buy or create one page that changes dynamically.
Now, when someone with a specific tag clicks a link through our email marketing service, it kicks back data to our personalization software.
The above is an example of what happens when someone with the right tag clicks an email link. The process also goes in the opposite direction. If a subscribed person visits a specific page then a tag can be added to their contact record.
The single page I’ve created changes its headline and subhead to cater to that specific group.
On the left is the generic headline everyone sees if we don’t have any information about them. On the right is a headline that’s generated for a specific group we target. The one on the left works. The one on the right works better. When they continue to browse the website, other pages change in response to their segment.
Things to keep in mind when building your headline:
- It should match the message that brought them to your website
- It should address a need or interest
- When possible, make it specific
- Credible (don’t promise the world when you can only deliver Venezuela).
The next aspect you want to personalize are the benefits of your products and service.
Benefits of the features
A common misconception is you need to make different products for different groups. Most of the time, you don’t.
Apple has just a few products but they target different groups. They have business, personal, and education users. Their needs are different but a single product can meet them. There’s no point in apple developing a different computer for each type of user.
It’s the same product positioned differently for different people. They highlight one feature benefit mix for business users. With personal users, they highlight a different feature benefit mix.
Is there anything stopping you from doing the same thing for your products and services? In our fitness example, coaching can be for the beginner, intermediate, or advanced student. The only change is you’d highlight different areas of the benefits the person would derive.
Think about how you can do this for your products.
Let’s say you’re selling a course on Instagram growth that helps people at both the beginning and intermediate stages. What are the specific challenges people face as a beginner? What are the specific challenges they face as an intermediate?
Maybe the beginner is struggling building an initial following. Maybe the intermediate is struggling to find partnerships and monetize their account. Those are the specific problems you’ll address with your benefits and features.
Testimonials and examples
It’s a verifiable fact that testimonials, examples, and other forms of social proof go a long way towards increasing conversions. 90% of people who read online reviews claimed that positive reviews influenced their buying decisions.
Needless to say, the right testimonials can do wonders.
If you were trying to get in shape, what kind of testimonial would you respond better to? Is it the one from a bodybuilder or the one from a normal person like you who lost 20 pounds?
I’m assuming it would be the testimonial from the normal person.
You’d obviously gravitate towards the person who’s similar to you. If they can get those kinds of results, all things considered, so can you.
Your goal when tweaking testimonials is to show people who’re similar to the group who’ll view the page. If they’re beginners then show them to beginners. If they’re experts then show them to experts. If they’re coaches then show them to coaches.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in just a few thousand words. I don’t want you to be overwhelmed and think you have to get all of this done in a weekend. Take as much time as you need to get it right.
To recap, here are the steps to follow:
- Set up a survey that’ll allow you to divide your audience into three or four groups.
- Analyze the data and pull out the most important groups and understand how your audience talks about their problems.
- Set up a survey or quiz to segment people at the point of lead capture.
- Develop an email series that instills the necessary buying beliefs into your audience and send them to the next step in the process.
- Personalize the pages they land on based on the information you have about them. Customize the headlines, the benefits, and the testimonials you use.
Your first iteration won’t be perfect. Send a few hundred people through what you’ve created (at least 200) and look at the data. Tweak the places that are underperforming and send another group through the entire funnel. Continue to tweak like this until you have a lean, mean, sales generating machine.