If you’re anything like me, the first time you heard the term “sales funnels,” you envisioned a big Willy Wonka-esque contraption that takes random scrollers off the internet, works some magic as they move through the various whizzing parts of the machine, and churns out raving fans.
Although that idea is slightly valid because funnels are meant to work like a well-oiled machine, effective funnels are anything but random.
When you use sales funnels in your business, you’re sending your ideal audience on a journey through a series of carefully-curated pieces of content that eventually leads them to buy your product or service.
And since sales funnels are entirely dependent on content, you better believe you need to build a content plan with a solid framework if you want to see those dollars roll in.
Begin at the end and look at your goals
Like many things in life and business, starting at the end is the best way to plot out all the action steps you need to take to achieve your goal.
Here are a few questions to ask when beginning at the end as you build a content plan:
- Am I selling a product or a service?
- What is the price point of what I’m selling?
- Is this something that will always be available for sale or will it be for a limited time only?
The answers to these questions will help you determine:
1. How many funnels you should create
If you answered the first question by listing multiple products or services that are not inextricably intertwined, you’ll need to create multiple funnels that lead your readers down the path to the offer that will be the best fit for them.
If you find that you have multiple funnels you need to create, start by focusing on one to test out what works and what you’ll need to change before creating all the content for your next funnel.
2. How much content you need
The higher the price point of your offer, the more content and lead time you’ll need in your funnel to communicate the value your offer holds in solving your audience’s problem or eliminating their frustrations. Being able to identify which stage of the buying cycle they’re at is helpful as you build a content plan -- both in determining the volume of content as well as the type of content you need.
3. How much lead time you should allow for creating, scheduling, and publishing content
Having products or services that are only available for a limited time or have a specific number of spots available is a popular way to create scarcity around what you’re selling. However, the doesn’t mean every offer should be structured this way.
If you choose to create a funnel that supports a product or service that’s always for sale, you’ll be creating an always existing or “evergreen” funnel, which naturally triggers an automated system whenever your reader enters the funnel.
While a limited-time offer can also have automated elements, such as pre-scheduled emails and social media posts, it takes careful calendar plotting to make sure you’re giving your potential buyers enough time to learn about your offer, why they need it, and to make a decision before the doors close. Again, this factor will also depend on your price point.
Decide how you’re going to get people into your funnel
The initial goal for the first piece(s) of content your readers encounter in your funnel is to capture their email address. (Already have a list of subscribers you’re working with? You’re off to a great start!)
The best way to achieve this goal is by creating an opt-in offer or a lead magnet such as:
- An additional piece of valuable content that corresponds to a blog post such as an ebook, PDF, or email series (aka a content upgrade) that people can only get by signing up for your list
- Creating a mini-course that ties into the topic of your offer
- A quiz with the results delivered via email
- A webinar, online workshop, or Q&A session where people have to sign up to attend
You might find that you already have content you've created and you can repurpose for your funnel, or that you need to create something new that's highly specific to the thing you’re offering.
If you’re stuck on the best opt-in to create, ask your people! They’ll be the best reference on what would be most valuable to them and which method they would prefer receiving your material.
Develop your framework
Before you start creating your content, it also helps to develop the framework surrounding how you’ll deliver your content or how your ideal customer or client will experience it.
Some of my favorite tools that make for fun and functioning funnels (say that five times fast) are:
- WordPress or Squarespace - Your website and blog are arguably the best places to start with publishing the content that will get people into your funnel and to sign-up for your list
- ConvertKit - ConvertKit’s “Sequences” feature is the ultimate tool to keep people moving through your funnel and on to the sale
- Typeform - A clean and pretty interface that’s perfect for creating an opt-in quiz or for getting feedback from your audience on what content they would like from you
- Teachable - If you’re creating a mini-course as your opt-in, Teachable offers the ability to create a free course on their platform, which is sleek and very user-friendly
Alright, now that you know how to build a content plan to support your sales funnels, it’s time to start creating your content!
You’ve got your end goal in mind. You know your funnel’s “why.” You now know the time frame of your funnel and how in-depth it needs to go to adequately communicate your value to your ideal customer. Plus, you have some solid ideas for how to get the funnel party started, and all the tools ready to make it happen.
I’d say you’re ready to not only build a content plan, but to put your plan into motion and start selling. What do you say?