Email List Building Funnel – How To Get Leads Online
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As a course creator or membership site owner if don’t have a process for consistently attracting new email subscribers to your list you will struggle to grow your business, and have the impact you want.
In fact, I would say that it is the number one thing that holds people back when it comes to building a profitable, stress-free, online business.
In this post, I am going to break down a simple front-end lead generation funnel. I will describe each step in the funnel, the key to success for each step, and the technology stack you need to support you.
If you are just starting out with lead generation this post will give you a massive head start cutting out hours and hours of pain, frustration, and wasted time and money as it will give you a proven framework to apply quickly and easily in your business today.
If you already have your lead generation process up and running this post will give you an opportunity to review your funnel and identify the key areas you need to optimize to reduce your Cost Per Lead, increase your conversion rate and increase your revenue per lead.
Lead Generation Funnel Overview
We are going to start off today with a simple lead generation funnel and over the coming weeks I am going to expand on this model and introduce more complex funnels but in order to do that, we need to have solid foundations in place.
So for the purposes of today’s post, we are going to look at 3 phases
Once we have our funnel ready to go the very first thing we need to do is drive traffic to it. So Phase 1 is the traffic phase. This is such an important step as we have to ensure that we are driving the right people, at the right time, and at the right price.
This brings us to Phase 2 which is the capture phase. The goal here is to convert the traffic into subscribers and get the subscribers’ email addresses over to our email provider.
Unfortunately, this is where most people’s lead generation strategy ends. And having reviewed hundreds of funnels it is very often the single biggest point of failure I see.
For me, Phase 3, the engage phase, is the most important part of your lead generation funnel. And I will break down why and exactly what you need to do in this post.
Ok, so now that we have broken down the high-level funnel let’s dive into each section and look at the key components and your focus for each.
Phase 1: Traffic – Driving the Right People at the Right Cost
You can break your lead generation traffic sources into 4 primary channels.
Now one of the big traffic sources missing from this list is email. If you have a new lead magnet I think it is a great idea to share it with your existing email list.
In fact, doing so, and getting them to opt-in again is a great re-engagement strategy to keep them warm and it will also give you some great segmentation data and will also identify your most committed subscribers.
However, as we are speaking specifically about lead generation I am going to exclude email from our traffic sources for today.
When it comes to developing your traffic strategy I think the worst thing you can do is try to implement all 4 at once. The real results come when you master a channel.
And by real results, I mean attracting email subscribers who go on to become repeat customers over a long timeframe at the right price
Mastery only comes through intense focus over a sustained period of time so I really want you to get specific and intentional on the strategies that you adopt.
Paid Traffic – Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, Google Ads, TikTok Ads
So channel number 1 is Paid Traffic. This may be in the form of Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, TikTok Ads, and to a lesser extent Twitter, LinkedIn, Bing, Yahoo.
The great thing about Paid Traffic is that you get immediate feedback and you can also get a volume of consistent traffic which enables you to optimize your landing page.
In addition, you can get almost instantaneous results and you are in full control of both how much you spend and by extension the number of leads you generate.
On the downside, it can be tough to break into this channel. Especially on mature platforms like Facebook and Google where there is strong competition and you will be pitched against experienced advertisers.
Each platform has its own approach and best practices that need to be observed to get results and there is a steep learning curve.
Plus mistakes can be costly and add up quickly over time. My key piece of advice here is to invest in education and Mentorship early in the play.
I very often think that until you have a funnel that is converting reasonably well and your ad spend is up to at least $150 per day you should not approach an agency to run your ads. But engaging a Mentor will help you get to this point so much faster plus it will teach you so much about your offer and how to write copy that converts.
Search Traffic – SEO – Blog SEO & Video SEO
By search traffic, I am predominately talking about SEO in the form of written blog posts and videos on YouTube. Google and YouTube are the number 1 and 2 search engines in the world.
This is very much a long-term play. You have to commit to this process in time frames of years instead of weeks and months.
It can take even the best in the business up to 6 months to see any rewards from this channel.
Does that mean that it isn’t worth doing? Hell no. Some of the big benefits of SEO is that once the initial work is done it doesn’t cost any more to keep generating leads. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t an initial investment, nor does it mean that once you publish a post you can forget about it and it will bring you new leads every day
However, over longer timelines, the ROI from SEO will far outstrip the ROI from Paid Traffic
When it comes to blogging and YouTube one of the best strategies you can follow is to be very specific in the topics you cover and to niche down on who you are speaking to and the topics you cover. Above all else consistency is key.
1 piece of quality content a week is all you need to make this strategy work but you need to deliver it once every week and have your timeframes set to a period of years rather than weeks and months.
Social Traffic – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok
Here I am talking about Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook. Obviously, there are hundreds more out there but these are some of the main ones.
The 4 biggest networks are Facebook with 2.5 billion monthly users, Instagram at 1.5 billion users, TikTok at 1 billion monthly users, Twitter with 460 million monthly users, Pinterest at 431 million active users.
Each network has its own process for growing your network organically and through paid methods. As networks get more mature and attract more users it gets more difficult to grow organically. That’s why I am so excited about TikTok at the moment.
TikTok has become the most popular website in the world taking the title from Google which held the crown for the previous 11 years
No matter which Social channel you choose make sure that you fully understand the native growth practices and create content to suit the specific platform.
Once you start building your audience you then need to develop specific strategies to drive people from the platform to your opt-in page.
And herein lies one of the biggest challenges of building an audience on social. There is a very fine line that needs to be thread between entertaining, providing value and making asks of your network to perform some form of action like visiting a landing page
It is important to get into an established cadence and get people used to asking without overdoing it. But one of the best ways that you find this balance is by turning everything into a conversation and by truly engaging with your audience.
One of the things that will help massively with building your social traffic is using scheduling apps like Later, Loomly, MeetEdgar, Plannable or Hootsuite
I have used all of these tools and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.
None of them will integrate with all platforms and even within platforms they do integrate with some formats are not available to post so the first port of call is to sit down and figure out your primary platform and post type.
JV Traffic – Joint Venture List Building
Now JV traffic can be one of the most powerful and quickest ways to build your list.
Most JV partners, especially those with bigger lists know the ROI of each email they send and very often there is going to have to be a financial incentive for them to email their list unless you have a personal relationship with them.
This is why the JV traffic source is best used for list building on the front end of a promotion or launch.
However, if you invest in building your network and you have something of true value which will appeal to someone’s audience it could be possible to convince them to mail for you
It is absolutely essential if they do however that
- Your landing page is proven to convert. Ideally, if you were getting a JV involved you will have first-run traffic to the page from paid advertising and hit a conversion rate of 50+% from cold traffic.
- You have some mechanism for reporting back to the JV the number of visitors, subscribers, and conversion rates from their traffic. You can either do this through affiliate links or by providing them with a unique landing page where the only traffic is from them.
Phase 2: Capture – Convert the Traffic into Email Subscribers
The key to success in Phase 2 is creating a landing page that converts.
Now to discover how you can do that I have an entire post on the components and layout of a landing page that converts above 60% from cold traffic.
As a high-level overview, there are only 5 key components of a landing page.
Body Copy – 3-5 bullet points
Call To Action – Button
Now in order to deliver your Landing page, you are going to need to pick a site builder.
To start with you could go with WordPress or whatever your website is built on.
I love building landing pages in WordPress. You have the ultimate freedom to design it in whatever way you want. This is made especially easy if you use the Elementor builder plugin for WordPress.
Elementor is a drag and drop builder for WordPress which makes it super easy for even inexperienced designers to build custom designed pages in WordPress
Despite how easy Elementor makes it there is still a learning curve and that is why lots of people go with option 2 which are the specialist landing page builders.
The two best know and most widely used options here, especially amongst course creators and membership site owners are Clickfunnels and Leadpages.
Clickfunnels specializes in building marketing funnels. They have a lot of pre-made templates and funnel flows to get you started. Again they are a drag and drop builder with a much easier learning curve than Elementor however the trade-off is the cost.
With Clickfunnels there is a monthly fee of either $97 or $297 per month.
I am a huge fan of Clickfunnels especially when it comes to more complex funnels where you are going to have upsells and order bumps.
Plus the content that you get to once you are a member really helps you in your funnel design planning and implementation.
The next major platform is Leadpages.
Leadpages has all the functionality you need to deploy high-converting landing pages.
Again Leadpages is a drag and drop builder that is so easy to use and understand. Most people can get up and running with Leadpages after an hour or two of playing around with the builder.
You are a little more limited with your design options in Leadpages and it certainly isn’t without its quirks however it is a solid option and one that I have used many times to deploy fast loading, good looking, and most importantly high converting landing pages.
Once someone opts-in from your landing page they should be redirected to a Thank you Page.
Your thank you page is a hugely important part of the process and is so often a missed opportunity to start building rapport and the foundations that someone needs to make the step from email subscriber to paying customer.
Phase 3: Engage – Build Connection, Build Rapport
So many people get pissed off with Facebook saying it sent them crap leads when often all that happened was they landed in your email platform, they were neglected and they disengaged with you before you had a chance to nurture them properly.
You need to have a nurture or indoctrination sequence in place that people are automatically sent across the 7-10 days directly after you opt-in.
The purpose of this sequence is to build rapport, give them insights into you, your business, your passion, your methodology.
And remember people don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.
You want to inspire people and show them that you are not just another faceless marketer who is out to make a quick buck. You are committed to the cause of making their life better.
This is a great opportunity to share your very best content and to make the best possible impression.
In addition to sending them the Lead Magnet, why not follow up with an additional surprise and send them a high value, related or follow on download.
Make them feel really special and show them that you deliver over and above what you promise. Creating this impression will serve you in the long run plus you are upping the levels of reciprocity and building a deeper connection.
In order to do all this in an efficient and automated way, you are going to need an email platform to support you.
When it comes to email platforms there are lots of different options at lots of different price points.
As a course creator and membership site owner some of the key things you are looking for in a platform are:
Ability to build automation
Clear and visually initiative campaign builder
Ability to tag and segment users without using lists
An intuitive email builder
A platform that has good native integrations and more importantly integration with Zapier
Solid, easy to configure, and deep reporting on subscribers and actions taken by subscribers
With this in mind, I have picked 3 platforms that depending on the stage of your business and your appetite for rolling up your sleeves and figuring out the platform will suit you best:
Ok so level 1
If you are just starting out and you want something that is quick and easy to get up and running, intuitive to use, and also has the capacity to deliver a launch then ConvertKit is my go-to platform.
ConvertKit has become hugely popular over the past number of years and they are continuing to develop and add features to their platform.
They have a great feature set including landing pages, email sign-up forms, drag and drop email builder, e-commerce, and automation. The ConvertKit platform is only going in one direction and I love how simple it is to use.
Level 2 is ActiveCampaign
ActiveCampign has become one of the most popular platforms in the course creator and membership space. They have an advanced feature set and will serve the needs of most launchers with landing pages, e-commerce, drag and drop email builder, marketing automation, sales automation, lead scoring.
There is a little bit more figuring out with ActiveCampagin, however, you are rewarded for that effort with the ability to build complex launch and automated sales campaigns.
Level 3 is Keap formerly Infusionsoft
Now I’m not going to lie to you there is a lot to get your head around in Keap. There are people who have used it for years and they still find new features or ways of doing things
There is a really steep learning curve and more than likely you will need a level of training and support.
However, the very reason why this is the case is also the reason I love Keap so much.
If you can imagine it you can build it in Keap. It is a full business automation platform featuring sales and marketing automation, CRM, Sales Pipelines, e-commerce and subscriptions, reporting and analytics, email marketing, and text marketing platform
The campaign builder gives you 100% flexibility to build highly complex and integrated launch and follow-up campaigns.
So if you are willing to put the effort into learning how to use the platform you will definitely be rewarded for your efforts.
Bonus Section – A Simple Tweak to Massively Improve Your Results
Ok so that is an overview of Sales Funnel Number 1 which is your Email List Building Funnel.
Over the coming weeks, I am going to bring you through a number of other funnels introducing additional features and possibilities for your business.
Now at the start of this post, I promised I would share one simple tweak you can make which will massively increase the value of lead you generate. And I will get right to that but before I do I just want to recap what we have covered today.
There are 3 Phases in your email list building funnel Phase 1 is your Traffic Phase. This includes Paid, Search, Social & JV Traffic
Phase 2 is the Capture Phase. In this phase, we use our Opt-in page to capture people’s email addresses and then the Thank You Page to make sure that they interact with our initial email and start building a relationship.
We then enter Phase 3 which is the Engage Phase. In the engage phase we start building connection, reciprocity, and positioning your new lead so that they are ready to take the next step when you make an offer to them.
Ok so now for the bonus.
One of the issues with lead generation is that lots of our emails go to spam and promotion folders and despite our best efforts a good % of the people who opt-in will never open our email.
In essence, this means that despite having paid to get someone on our list we will fail to get a return on that investment.
And that pisses me off.
So here’s what you can do
Set up a free front-end Facebook Group. Try to have one Facebook group that can cover all your lead magnets so that you can leverage it on all your front-end funnel.
Then on your Thank You Page just under your video place a big button offering people the opportunity to join your community and get an additional item of value when they join your group.
This will give you the opportunity to test and sample the quality of your leads and as there is still good organic reach within Facebook groups it means your future offers will be visible by the group members.
It also gives you an opportunity to build an even deeper relationship with your new leads which in the long run will lead to more sales and an even stronger community.
Ok so now that you know the phases of your Email List Building Funnel you are probably going to want to take a deeper dive into Lead Generation.
So make sure you check out some of my other posts for lots more on how to get started with lead generation and how to design landing pages that convert.