How to Create a Sales Funnel to Sell Online Courses

Sales Funnel

Sales funnel

Online courses are a great way to make a quick buck by sharing what you know. 


They’re also a viable long-term income stream if you know how to market your course/s. 


That’s where a sales funnel comes in. 

1. What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a process that guides potential students to your course sign-up page. 


Traditional marketing tactics focus on promoting your course, but sales funnels focus on conversion

Parts of a Funnel

Parts of a Funnel

1.1. The 3 Parts of a sales funnel 

Sales funnels are usually broken down into four categories. But we only need to focus on three: traffic, leads, and sales. 

1.1.1. Traffic

For the funnel to work, we need people to enter it. This is known as traffic. We get this in two ways: 

  • Organic - Blog readers, podcasts listeners, social media followers, etc.
  • Inorganic - Adverts on websites or social media

In this step, you’re not promoting your course. You just want viewers to sign up for your mailing list


This is done so that you can build a relationship with prospects before asking them to sign-up. Think about it, you’d rather support a friend than a stranger. 


By slowly leading them to your course page, you can customize their journey and ensure conversions

1.1.2. Leads

The people on your mailing list are now leads


They’ve shown interest in what you have to offer and are more likely to enroll in your course.  


You can send personalized emails to let them know more about your course. 

1.1.3. Sales

This is when you close the deal. Prospects are directed to your course sign-up page to register.  


So now that you know how a sales funnel works, you might be wondering how you can create one. 


We’ve got you covered. 

It takes a bit of work to get it off the ground but, you’ll be able to automate most of the processes later. 

2. Create your sales funnel in 5 easy steps

2.1. Identify your audience

This is an important step in determining whether your course will be successful


Even though you love your topic, you have to make sure others are also interested.  


By reading comments on blogs and social media, you can easily find out where your people are. 


At this stage, you can decide whether there’s a market for your idea or if you’d be better off teaching something else.  

2.2. Choose a digital marketing service

Digital marketing services help you set up your sales funnel by allowing you to:

  • Automate your email campaigns 
  • Create beautiful landing pages for your visitors 

They also serve as a platform to create and host your course


They’re fairly inexpensive and the value they provide is vital for your growth. 


If you’re worried about spending money before you’ve made any then, you can always try out the free trials


Platforms like systeme.io actually offer you Freemium Plans so that you can use their services at absolutely no cost, forever! No credit card details are required for this.   

2.3. Get people to opt-in

It’s time to collect your target audience’s email addresses. 


Email marketing has the highest conversion rates in digital marketing. 


And it’s set to grow even more in the next two years. 


But it’s unlikely that people will give you their email address just because you ask for it.


This is why you need... 

2.3.1. Lead magnets

Lead magnet

Lead magnet

Earlier we spoke about leads, now we focus on lead magnets


These are things you can offer in exchange for someone’s email address. 


Examples of lead magnets include:

  • Free ebooks
  • Audio or videos related to your topic
  • Quizzes
  • Worksheets
  • Templates 
  • Printables 

The best way to advertise your offers is through pop-ups


Some digital marketing services offer exit intent pop-ups


These are pop-ups that appear when a visitor hovers their mouse over the exit box.  

2.3.2. Blogs

Systeme.io allows users to create blogs. Having your own blog is a perfect way to generate more leads


You can post content that your audience will be interested in. Then you get them to join your mailing list to receive additional content. 

2.4. Create an email campaign

Now that you have a substantial mailing list, you can start promoting your course. 


You don’t just want to send emails, you want to send emails that turn prospects into students.


Tips for sending emails that convert:

  • Interesting subject line - Get them curious enough to want to open it
  • Friendly tone
  • Insert some humor
  • Get to the point - tell them why your course would benefit them

Use these to create an email campaign


We’ve broken it down into two steps. 

2.4.1. Welcome Email

Set up an autoresponder


This is an email people get after they've performed a specific action. 


In this case, a welcome email is triggered once people enter information on your opt-in form


This email can provide the free content you promised. 


Having their email is not enough, you need their permission


Remember to ask them to confirm they want to receive future emails from you.


There are various laws in place to protect customers' rights. 


Also, sending promotional emails without consent is unlikely to get you students.  

2.4.2. Follow-up Emails

Follow-up emails are the heart of your funnel


This is where you throw out your line and start reeling them in.  


You can choose how many emails you send before you lead them to your course  sign-up page.  


Here is an example of a follow-up series for a course about gardening. 

 

Day 1: Is gardening just a hobby? How I made $50,000 gardening


At this point, you can share more about yourself, while slowly introducing your course topic. Keeping your audience interested ensures they will open future emails from you. 


Day 2: Use this 5 step method to rake in profits


Now you're introducing the idea that you’re willing to teach them how to do what you did. 


Day 3: Step 1 of the method


Offer them free content from your course. This way they've already become your student. 


Day 4: Sign-up for my online course to learn the full method and a few extra tips.


Convert them into paying students


Provide links to your course page and entice them to register. 


In a perfect world, everyone would sign-up but you have to consider that various factors play a role in this.  

  • Money - Some people might love your idea but just can’t afford it at that time.
  • Distraction - Life happens, we all know this. Someone could’ve been interrupted while reading your mail and simply forgot about it. 

2.5. Follow up with non-buyers  

Follow up

This is where your tracking and analytics change the game. By measuring click, open and bounce rates you can get people back into the funnel. 


❖ Opening rates


Did people open your emails? 


By having a look at your opening rate, you’ll know if there’s a problem with your subject line. 


Make adjustments to it and monitor if your rates increase. 


❖ Click rates


This is a measure of how many people clicked on links in your email. 


If you have high opening rates but low click rates, your content might be interesting - but not enough to sign-up for. 


Or your course price is too high for them. You might want to consider giving them discounts or letting them know when there’s a sale. 


❖ Bounce rates


Bounces are when your email doesn't get delivered at all. There are many reasons why this happens. 


The person's inbox could be too full or their email no longer exists. 


Remove bounce addresses from your mailing list regularly. You can't convert anyone with emails that aren't being delivered. 


Sometimes you might find that your opening and click rates are high but sales aren’t plummeting. Don't be discouraged!


Approximately 97% of people who visit your site for the first time leave without buying anything. 


Retargeting them is important. You know they’re interested. 


They just need a nudge in your direction. 


Segment these users into a list and send out personalized autoresponders to get them interested again. 


The more exposure people have to your content, the more likely they will purchase. 


4. I’ve built my sales funnel - what next?

By now, you’re selling more courses. But don't stop here. 


You want to keep tracking the conversion rates and make sure your emails are being seen. 


Don't just grow your sales, grow your brand


You want to become the number one choice for your niche.  

Steps to success

Steps to success

Keep making adjustments to your sales funnel


When it comes to marketing your course the work never stops, but it does become easier. 


Your funnel will work to create conversions but remember it’s up to you to keep bringing in more traffic.  

5. Conclusion 

Building a sales funnel is a surefire way to increase your course sales


The process does take a bit of work in the beginning but thanks to numerous automation, you can soon sit back and watch it work for you. 


I hope you find this guide useful for bringing in more course enrollments. There are many ways to build a successful sales funnel


You just have to prod and poke till you find the right approach for your audience.  

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