In the past couple weeks there have been two products appear in my Facebook feed that have piqued my interest. One, I instantly purchased after visiting their website and the other, I didn’t even get close to putting in my shopping cart. One had a good sales funnel and the other had bad sales funnel.
Both products caught my attention and initially had me thinking I would buy, so a good start to two different sales funnels. But it all went downhill from there with the one company while the other one actually went uphill and encouraged me to buy more.
One product was a niche product: a water bottle that tracks how much water you drink and the other was a nice sweater.
The sweater was exactly my style, had a few colors I loved and cost less than the water bottle. But after clicking through the photos, reading the description and checking out the reviews, I decided it wasn’t a good idea to buy.
On the other hand, the water bottle’s website further increased my perceived value of it and after going over the details and discovering their promotion, I purchased not just one but two water bottles.
The sweater website felt cheap, so I expected the sweater would likely look and feel cheap as well. The photos were okay but there weren’t any detail or close-up pics, which raised another red flag. The description was average but then came the review section. It was a big hole in their funnel that a lot of potential customers escaped through.
Even though the price and shipping costs of the sweater were less than the water bottles, I didn’t want to take the risk of receiving something I didn’t feel good wearing, that would only last a few washes or might not even arrive in the mail. The photos and descriptions gave me a bit of doubt but the reviews confirmed them and encouraged me not to buy and not to even bother signing up for their newsletter.
A product listing will either:
There’s not much you can do for those people your product just isn’t the right fit for but sales funnels will help you sell to more people your product is a fit for.
No one sees a product for the first time and marches straight to the checkout. Whether online or in-store, we take the time to examine, even if we’re in love with it and 99% sure we want to purchase. Product tags, finishing details, descriptions, photos, sales pitches, reviews, etc. all must nudge a shopper closer to the checkout.
One wrong move and shoppers are heading in the other direction.
When someone lands on your website or shows up at your craft fair table, you must lead them through a process that strengthens their belief it’s a good idea to buy and eases them into it.
I like to call this a sales channel funnel; elements that are a part of your craft show display, website or online shop that encourage shoppers to place an item in their shopping cart.
You don’t jump in with a “Here’s my newest scarf. Ready to buy?” when a shopper first walks up to your table and you don’t leave a description blank or use the space to describe what a shopper has already gathered from the photo (Beautiful green knitted wool scarf). Neither of those approaches influence someone to buy.
But you can’t just have a sales channel funnel; you must also have a sales funnel for people who are interested in your product but aren’t ready to buy.
An average 2% of shoppers will purchase. That means 98% of the people you work so hard to get to your online store or attract to your craft show table, end up leaving without taking action.
So instead of giving shoppers two options:
You add a third option that requires less commitment and allows you to stay in touch:
You know that people who visit your sales channel (website, online shop, craft show table, etc. more sales channels listed here) are interested in your products. Some people will decide your products aren’t the right fit (e.g. not what they’re looking for, live in an area you don’t ship to, not a fit for their budget, etc.) but the others who are still interested but don’t buy, are considered leads.
So you also need a sales funnel for leads, which helps them build confidence in your brand and the idea that buying is the right choice.
And once someone has purchased, you must continue to market to them.
It costs much less money to retain a customer than acquire a new one. Plus, repeat customers tend to spend more money, so it’s a win-win.
Instead of reaching someone on Facebook several times, encouraging them to visit your website, getting them into your sales funnel, sending emails and answering questions to get a sale, you’re able to send an email to an existing customer and be more likely to make a sale through just one step.
That’s why you need another sales funnel to keep sales rolling in from existing customers.
STEP 1: The job of your sales channel’s funnel is to either get a shopper to buy or to be interested enough they’re willing to hear more about your product in the future.
STEP 2: Your lead sales funnel’s job will be to convert those interested shoppers into buyers.
STEP 3: And once someone becomes a customer, you need a funnel in place to encourage them to buy from you again.
All three steps are explained in detail in my new ebook HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY but I’m going to go over how to set up an automated lead sales funnel for your business in this article.
For each step (and for so many other reasons) you need to set up a newsletter and start gathering email addresses.
I understand that it can seem like an unnecessary monthly expense to start a newsletter but trust me; every business needs a newsletter!
I use a lead sales funnel for Made Urban and swear by Convertkit. This post does include affiliate links for them but I sing their praises even when I’m not making a commission 😉
I started collecting emails and sending newsletters through Mailchimp, which was a good platform, but now that I’ve been on Convertkit for almost a year, there’s no comparison for me; Convertkit is the best option.
Traffic to our website really started to ramp up about a year and a half ago but I didn’t see a big jump in my subscribers until I switch over to Convertkit in December of 2016. I’ve grown my subscribers by more than 4000% and it hasn’t even been a full year yet.
If you’ve joined my 5 DAYS TO A STANDOUT DISPLAY CHALLENGE, you’ve gone through one of my sales funnels.
I set it all up through Convertkit and have had amazing success with it.
In general, the conversion rates for my sales channels and newsletter signup forms, as well as the open rates and click rates for my newsletters are all well above average so I figure…I must know what I’m doing 😉
But…enough about me, let’s get to how you can set up a sales funnel for your handmade business’ leads.
The first step is awareness but we’re not going to go into detail here. Awareness involves using marketing channels and methods that grab people’s attention and direct them to one of your sales channels.
Facebook posts, showing up in Google searches, advertisements, setting up at a craft show, etc. are all ways to get your business in front of new people. I cover many more marketing channels and methods in HOW TO SELL BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY so check that out if you could use a little help with the first step of marketing.
Once you’ve gotten people to your sales channel, your first choice is to sell to them (covered in your sales channel funnel and explained in my ebook) and the next best option is to get them onto your newsletter list and into your lead sales funnel.
Start with an incentive: why should people join your newsletter list?
Someone has made it to your website or listing page, they’re obviously interested in what you’re selling but they’re not invested yet.
What might be their objections?
If someone likes your product but decides I’m not sure if it’s right for me or I’ll think about it and maybe come back later to buy, consider what is it they’re unsure of or need to think about?
It may be:
Some of the issues, such as slow loading website and unanswered questions, should be resolved right away and don’t require a sales funnel. But any other reasons you brainstorm that can be fixed through persuasion (e.g. showing shoppers why your products are worth the price), should be considered for the content of your sales channel.
For example, based on the reasons for not buying, your opt-in offers may be:
The most common type of opt-in form offered by ecommerce stores is the discount offer (e.g. sign up and receive 10% off your first order).
This isn’t always a good idea for handmade businesses and should only be done if your margins can cover the discount. Meaning, even with giving customers a percentage off their order, free shipping, etc. you still make a healthy profit.
When you do run a sale or promotion (e.g. end of summer sale), instead of just slashing the prices on your listings, consider requiring a shopper to sign up for your newsletter to access the sale prices. It increases your chances of getting a return on investment since you get a chance to sell to that person again in the future. If you simply lower your prices, anyone can access the sale price and you don’t get the opportunity to keep in touch with them.
Although the discount offer is most popular, it’s not the only option. Not to mention, it’s not always the best. Many people who subscribe to get a deal tend to unsubscribe once they get the discount or promo code.
Consider what else might be a benefit to your shoppers. You really must have a clear idea of who your ideal customer is. The success of your entire sales funnel relies on you really knowing the niche market you’re selling to. Guess what?! My new ebook helps you with that too 😉
Let’s say you want to get into shape and you land on a website with a product or article that’s going to help you do that. A pop up appears offering something in exchange for you giving your email address.
Which offer piques your interest?
It depends on your goals and your workout preferences right? If you hate working out, option 2 will grab your attention. If you’re looking to flatten your tummy, it’s option 4.
If that website doesn’t know the details of their ideal customer, they’re likely to throw out an opt-in offer that doesn’t get subscribers.
Sure, your customers may wear jewelry (or scarves or handbags or hang art, etc.) but there are all kinds of people who wear jewelry. Are they someone who:
Someone who follows trends may appreciate a jewelry trend report for the current season with ideas on how to wear the looks.
A few other opt-in ideas for handmade businesses to encourage shoppers to join their newsletter are:
The more you tailor the offer to your exact customer, the better chance you have getting them into your sales funnel.
Informational offers are something you can put work into creating once and reap the benefits over and over, so the time in to get it right.
Another popular opt-in offer is to keep shoppers up to date on new arrivals, exclusive items, deals, contests, etc.
Brainstorm the objections people may have when it comes to buying your product or the interests that might appeal to them. Then come up with an opt-in offer.
Convertkit allows you to create multiple forms to collect email addresses so you can alter the text, image, opt-in offer, etc. based on what your website visitors are viewing.
For example, a vendor selling art for a nursery may have the opt-in offer 5 nursery color schemes that don’t involve pink on product listings for female products and 5 nursery color schemes that don’t involve blue on product listings for males.
You not only need interesting opt-in offers but you also must find an interesting way to communicate them on your forms.
“Join my newsletter” won’t capture as many emails as a form that communicates the benefits of being a subscriber. Join your newsletter list and I get what out of it?
Join my newsletter to stay up to date on new product releases
Could turn into:
Don’t you hate it when you forget where you saw that awesome item? Join my newsletter for monthly reminders on where to find awesome items.
Join my newsletter and be the first of your friends to know about new trends.
Find a way to add personality to your opt-in form and tell visitors the benefits of subscribing.
Create as many forms as you like on Convertkit using the FORMS tab and CREATE FORM button. Your graph will keep track of how many subscribers subscribe through each form and display through the different shades of blue within a bar. If you place your cursor on a block of the bar, it will show you which form that block represents and how many subscribers it collected that day.
As you can see, I have many different forms as I like to know which pages of my website are converting the best, as well as offer different opt-ins based on the subject of the page.
You can choose to create a form (which appears on your website) or a landing page (which your website links to and is hosted by Convertkit).
And you can choose between a few different styles of forms (I like the style on the left best)
Once you set up the content of your form, you can go into SETTINGS to:
Sequences allow you to set up a series of emails that are slowly sent to subscribers and designed to convince leads it’s a good idea to buy from you. Convertkit allows you to set up those emails once and automatically send them as new people subscribe.
You can choose:
Add just a few emails to the sequence or several by using the ADD EMAIL button.
Let’s take a look at a couple types of sequences you may want to set up for your handmade business’ sales funnels.
You want to take care of your customers right? A sequence can help you stay in touch and make them feel appreciated so they’re more likely to buy again. When someone purchases, you can offer the option to sign up for your newsletter.
You can create a specific form for the last page of your checkout process. This form can tag a subscriber as a “purchased” and trigger your PURCHASED sequence. I’ll cover how to do this in the next step.
Consider your business and how it operates to determine the exact types of emails you send and when you send them but here’s an example:
After the sequence finishes, you can create another RULE that adds a tag to their account, triggers another sequence or adds them to your regular newsletter list. I’ll also explain how to do this in the next step.
“Customer & Completed” tag may help you identify people who have bought an item and received all 4 sequence emails. They may now be ready to receive regular newsletter updates letting them know about promotions, new products, events, magazine features, etc.
If a shopper doesn’t end up purchasing and subscribes to your newsletter through a form with an opt-in offer (e.g. Subscribe to receive 5 inspirational ideas for girl nurseries that don’t use pink), it can trigger your lead sales funnel sequence.
If a handmade vendor sells art for nurseries, their email sequence might look something like:
If someone purchases before email #4, you can stop that forth email from sending using Converkit’s filter or setting up a trigger.
Be sure you also change your sequence to PUBLISHED before adding the form to your website and test signing up so you can be sure everything is working properly.
The REPORTS tab will show you:
Based on the entire sequence (shown on the left) as well as for each email. This will point out any leaks in your funnel; if people stop opening your emails after the second one, you may need to improve your content or subject lines.
To correctly identify subscribers and know what type of a sequence to send them, you’ll need to tag them. When someone signs up for your newsletter did they purchase or not purchase?
Imagine you just purchased an item and two days later you receive an email from the business asking if you want to purchase again. Seems a little pushy right? You may not have even received your purchase yet, how could you possibly be ready to buy again? A promotional email would be more appropriate to send in a month.
But if you don’t purchase, going a month without hearing from a business would make you less likely to buy. You’ve probably forgotten about the item you were looking at and may have even forgotten the business’ name…who’s emailing me?
Through Convertkit, you can either use different signup forms, which can trigger different sequences and tag subscribers, or you can tag a subscriber as “purchased” or “has not purchased” based on an action.
In order to automatically tag someone as “purchased” you must integrate your ecommerce store with Convertkit under AUTOMATIONS -> INTEGRATIONS
Shopify, Woocommerce and Gumroad are a few tools Convertkit supports. Once they’re linked up, Convertkit will recognize when one of your subscribers purchases and can tag them, un-tag them, subscribe them to a sequence, etc.
There are lots of other helpful options you can set up through automations that will ensure subscribers are receiving the right type of emails at the right time to increase engagement and sales.
Select a TRIGGER
In AUTOMATIONS, you can click on RULES. Click “Add a Rule” which will bring up TRIGGERS on the left side of the screen and ACTIONS on the right.
If you used Shopify, Woocommerce or Gumroad to sell your handmade products and have integrated them with Convertkit, you can select PURCHASES A PRODUCT under Triggers.
Select a provider (for me it’s Gumroad because that’s the tool I use to collect payment for and deliver my ebook) and then select a product. To add multiple products, add the + button to repeat the steps.
It takes a bit of time to get set up but it’s worth it.
If you don’t use a platform that can be integrated with Convertkit and automatically track purchases, you can create a different form. Only show the form after someone has completed a transaction so you know anyone who subscribes through it must have purchased and can tag them as a “purchased”.
Select an ACTION
When someone becomes a subscriber you can:
You can choose one action or multiple actions. Use the + button to add additional actions.
For example, when someone purchases, you may:
Save the rule and edit or delete it at any time.
Your forms, emails, sequences, rules, etc. are not set in stone. Make edits to them as you go based on:
If you’d like more information on where to market your products, the methods to use, the sales funnels you should set up, examples and how-to instructions, check out my ebook HOW TO SELL HANDMADE BEYOND FRIENDS & FAMILY.
Any questions about sales funnels or how to set on up?
*Be sure to check your country’s newsletter laws before setting up forms or sending out newsletters.
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