The marketing funnel is the number one method of making money online. It is the method most used by top internet marketers and continues to work even as the internet continually changes. Perhaps the most striking aspect of a marketing funnel is that it puts power into the hands of ordinary people by providing them with the opportunity to make an unlimited amount of money.
There are essentially three steps to creating a marketing funnel:
- Choose a market (or a niche within a market)
- Set up a squeeze page and/or a blog with an opt-in box and automated email follow up
- Send traffic to the squeeze page
Each of these steps will be covered in detail in separate posts, but for now I will only show how the steps hang together to make a simple but effective system for making money online.
A Bird’s Eye View of a Marketing Funnel
The following diagram is a simple, bird’s eye representation of a marketing funnel.
A bird’s eye view of a marketing funnel
The diagram shows how, having chosen a market, we drive traffic to a squeeze page, also known as a landing page, containing an email opt-in box. For the uninitiated, a squeeze page is nothing more than a simple web page used for collecting names and email addresses. The process of collecting names and addresses for marketing purposes is called “list building” and later we will learn why list building is the cornerstone of any online business.
When someone (a lead or prospect) “opts-in” by entering their name and email address into the opt-in box, they are entered into an autoresponder, through which they will receive a series of pre-written emails, in the form of a newsletter or eCourse, with each email communicating useful and free information to the recipient. Some of the emails will contain links to relevant affiliate products you recommend. An autoresponder is simply an automated email delivery service used by internet marketers to communicate information to a large number of prospects or customers simultaneously. Although there are several prominent companies that provide this service, I would recommend Aweber as the industry leader with a proven track record.
The aim of an email series in this context is to cultivate a relationship with your prospects by giving them the useful information they are seeking when they sign up to your list. If the prospects find the content of your emails useful, then they are more likely to spend their hard earned cash on the affiliate products you recommend and, more importantly, they will be prepared to buy from you again and again. A well-constructed email series will therefore comprise a balanced mixture of useful free content and hard and soft sell emails.
The Ethical Bribe
Given that most people are somewhat hesitant about sharing their personal details online because of a natural tendency to mistrust the internet, how then do you persuade such visitors to part with their name and email address when they land on your squeeze page?
Well, the most effective way is to offer visitors to your page a free gift or a low cost product in return for giving up their name and email address. This is sometimes referred to as an “ethical bribe.” Now, because the act of bribery is normally considered an unacceptable form of behaviour by society, the idea of offering a bribe to people that visit your website may cause alarm to some readers. However, rest assured that in this case the word “bribe” is used in a positive sense, as implied by the term “ethical bribe”
You see, an ethical bribe within a sales funnel is a free gift or low cost product, such as a short report, eBook, newsletter or eCourse about a particular topic, which is delivered to the visitor via email. This means, if the free gift on offer on your website is of interest to the visitor, then the only way he or she can receive the free gift is to enter their name and email address into the opt-in form.
To be sure, some sceptical visitors will use false names and throw away email addresses just to get the free gift, but this does not matter in the whole scheme of things because, if you provide quality information and promote quality products in your chosen market, then genuine prospects will appreciate what you have to offer and opt-in to your list.
An example of a squeeze page can be seen in this link to a Now Lifestyle sales funnel. Now Lifestyle is one of many programs available for affiliates to promote in the multi-billion dollar Health and Wellness market.
Website or Blog Set Up
In addition to a squeeze page, a successful sales funnel will be augmented by a website or blog to capture leads from “organic” search engine traffic. Millions of people visit the internet every day to search for solutions for their problems and the term “organic traffic” refers to visitors that land on your website from search engines like Google, YouTube, Bing and Yahoo, as opposed to visitors that come from online adverts and other forms of paid traffic.
A website or blog will contain mainly articles, but may include videos, podcasts, infographics and other forms of content covering a variety of topics and offering valuable information on the subject in question. As with an autoresponder email series, some of the blog articles will contain links to recommended affiliate products. These articles are indexed in the search engines and when people use related “key words” to search for information, some of the visitors will land on your blog when the articles appear in the search engine listings. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a specialist area concerned with optimising blog entries to maximise the chances of the articles appearing at the top of search engine listings.
A good blog will also have an opt-in box to capture the email addresses of visitors. A stark fact of the internet is that the majority of visitors to a website never return, therefore it is important to capture the emails of as many visitors as possible, which will allow you to contact those visitors at a later date to persuade them to return to your web site and buy from you.