The sales funnel of an online business encompasses every step from someone visiting a website to joining an email list, to purchasing and repeat purchasing. Although huge efforts likely went into designing and producing products and securing customers, most businesses can do more to optimise their funnels, making a huge impact on their profitability.
John Ainsworth is the founder of Data Driven Marketing, an agency that works with online course creators, that “already have web traffic and great products, but not enough sales”. Over twenty years of building sales funnels, Ainsworth has analysed hundreds of millions of dollars in online business, to pass the learning onto his clients. Many of Ainsworth’s five and six-figure clients have reached seven figures in annual revenue after implementing his guidance.
Making improvements to each element of a sales funnel compounds. I interviewed Ainsworth to find out the seven most powerful tactics online business owners can deploy.
1. Add “order bumps”
“This is the easiest way to increase total revenue,” explained Ainsworth, “and other industries do it all the time.” Order bumps are additional products offered on the checkout page, via a tick box. These are products that accompany what the customer is buying. “At McDonalds, if you order a Big Mac they will ask ‘do you want fries with that?’ If you add something to your Amazon cart, then they will suggest other products you might want to buy.” Amazon has reported that 35% of its revenue is generated from cross-selling and up-selling.
“For an online course the order bump could be a PDF workbook.” On the checkout or order page, add a few sentences explaining the product and the price. Ainsworth explained that “40% to 60% of people buying an online course will buy an order bump product, and for e-commerce stores it’s between 5% and 15% of customers.”
Look at your most popular product, choose a less expensive product that goes with it, and set up your order bump.
2. Create upsells
With online business funnels, upsells are offered after the customer has checked out. After you have bought a flight ticket you’ll be upsold holiday insurance, car hire and a swanky hotel. Often they are offered in the follow-up email or on the purchase confirmation page.
They tend to be the same price or a little more expensive than the original product. “About 10-20% of people will buy these additional offers,” said Ainsworth. “If you’re selling a basic language learning course, the upsell could be the intermediate course. For a monthly subscription, the upsell could be a quarterly or annual subscription. For a bottle of supplements, the upsell could be 3 bottles.”
Look at your most popular product, choose the product that would make sense for a customer to purchase next and offer that for sale on the confirmation page. Offering a one-time discount on the upsell product is a compelling reason for a customer to buy it there and then.
3. Improve your offer
Want to buy this proven, highly acclaimed, bestselling product with a money-back guarantee and super-easy returns? It’s a compelling offer, so why not? Ainsworth explained that “improving your offer doesn’t mean reducing your prices or improving your product, but rather offering better bonuses and improved guarantees.”
When a customer is buying from you they are taking a risk. They risk losing money and not being happy. Ainsworth wants you to take the risk. “If the risk is the customer’s, fewer people buy. If the risk is yours, more will.” Can you throw in anything that reduces the risk of dissatisfaction even further? This is called coinage and consists of those additions that add insane value for a customer but don’t cost you anything. Free worksheets, a promotional tweet, a website backlink. Perhaps express delivery or an invitation to an exclusive webinar or group.
Figure out if you could offer a satisfaction promise or a money-back guarantee to take the risk out of your future customer’s decision.
4. Sell to your email list
Most revenue in the online business space comes from email, rather than directly from website traffic or social media. “Some of our clients make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month from the emails they send,” explained Ainsworth, but “online business owners want to be careful “not to bombard their subscribers with so many sales promotions that they unsubscribe in annoyance.”
To not bore or annoy your subscribers, Ainsworth explained you should “use a mixture of compelling and value-adding content and promotion in every email.” Make it so your email subscribers love your emails, and even look forward to receiving them. This will “reduce your unsubscribe rate and should make you sales every month.”
Make sure those who are ready to buy have the chance to do so by selling within your email newsletters.
5. Grow your email list
Now you’re making more money from your emails, the next step is to grow your list. Ainsworth explained “your email list is your most valuable marketing asset, but the average website has an opt-in rate of less than 1%.” Ainsworth believes it’s possible for nearly every site to reach 2-5%, “which will mean huge growth over time.”
Calculate your opt-in rate by taking the number of new subscribers you secure per month, dividing that by your website traffic and multiplying the number by 100. Less than 2% means you are leaving revenue on the table.
Grow your email list by creating a highly desirable lead magnet, which is a free resource sent to new subscribers, giving someone a genuine reason to subscribe. Use a lead magnet with a high perceived value and link to the lead magnet in multiple places on your site.
6. Improve your sales pages
Bad sales pages are commonplace. Unclear images, confusing descriptions and no clear journey around a website often create more objections than they answer. Ainsworth has a list of components of a great sales page, which should “grab attention, explain your product’s benefits, answer your prospects’ questions and calm their fears.” Visitors to your site are likely interested in buying, but when they become nervous, uncomfortable and afraid that it won’t work for them they simply click away.
“There are fifteen crucial elements to a sales page you have to include. Three of the most important are testimonials (which provide invaluable social proof), guarantees and frequently asked questions.” In Ainsworth’s experience, “nearly every sales page is missing some of these elements and has done others badly.”
See your sales page with fresh eyes and put improvements in place, or ask your target audience members for their opinion.
7. Improve your checkout pages
So you’ve optimised your sales page and added guarantees, upsells and order bumps to your carts. There’s more. “Many people are falling at the last hurdle by having a poor checkout page” explained Ainsworth. “Someone is on the checkout page because they want to buy, but while putting their credit card details in they are at their most uncertain. It’s essential to reassure them here.”
Crucial elements to add to the checkout page include “your guarantee, testimonials, reminders of what’s included in the product, along with benefits and trust badges.” All of these will mean your customer feels more comfortable spending their money with you.
How’s your checkout page looking? Make sure it evokes trust and confidence in multiple places.
There are several ways to grow an online business and not all of those ways include creating more products or writing more content to drive traffic. Add order bumps, create upsells, and improve your offer to make more revenue per transaction. Improve your website’s pages, grow and sell to your email list to convert more traffic to sales.