5 Tools To Help Automate Your Sales Funnel
Business owners and especially online entrepreneurs love tools. Anything that can make our job easier we jump on and give it a try.
Over the last week or so I have been trying to set up the foundation for my 1 on 1 Facebook Coaching. I needed to put together a system that could help bring in leads, get coaching signups and process payments in a seamless and automated fashion.
My goal was to use the tools I already had and not jump into a brand new off-site system, that meant changing to a new email platform and finding out how to make separate web apps talk to eachother.
Read below to see the 5 tools I used to bolt together my custom sales funnel.
Note: some links inside this post are affiliate links, it costs nothing extra if you end up purchasing through these links. I use these tools, feel very strongly about them which is why I have become an affiliate for them.
1. Thrive Themes - Landing Page Builder and Lead Generation
I have talked about the Thrive Themes platform on my personal blog before and I am bringing it up again here because it is such a powerful platform.It is not just a collection of amazing, well built wordpress themes, it is also what I like to call a business in a box online marketing platform.
The first part of the system I use pretty much daily is the content builder. I have been hard coding html and css for years, and while I know how to do it, does not mean I want to do it...EVERY DAY.
Here's a video w/ Shane from Thrive Themes showing off the landing page templates:
I build a lot of webpages on many different sites, I have been signed into wordpress everyday for YEARS, but never have I been able to put pages together faster than with Thrive Themes. It is the first content builder that makes sense, it actually feels like an extension of my html and css brain.
There is a lot more flexibility with this drag and drop editor than others I have used, the layout and wireframing is far more forgiving and gives you a lot of options for laying out your content. But this is not a web design blog now it.
Thrive Has Leadgen Down
A great addition to this content builder are the many built in landing page templates. While it does not have as many as leadpages, it has all the different styles of landing pages you would ever want to create.
Or just use the content builder and the blank landing page template to build from scratch.
Unlike Leadpages every template is completely editable, every section of it.
For more on how Thrive stacks up against Leadpages check out this comparison breakdown here. (affiliate link that is)
The Real Juice of the Thrive Platform is Thrive Leads
A landing page is great, but you need to collect leads too right?
Well thrive has you covered there as well. Thrive leads is a standalone plugin but it is also included in the Thrive membership package. Thrive leads will integrate with your email service provider so your opt-in forms will link right up to whatever list you want.
A look at the Thrive Dashboard from inside WordPress
Where it really gets fun is when you want to collect emails in the content around the rest of your site outside of your landing pages. Thrive comes with a full suite of optin plugins, top ribbon, slide in forms, exit pop-ups, in content optins, and sidebar widgets.
This is important because a big part of our strategy is sending traffic from Facebook ads to certain blog posts. While our initial goal is to drop a pixel onto the visitor so we can remarket our lead magnets to them later down the road, we also want to try to get them on the list right then and there.
So using things like top smartbar ribbons, slide in lightboxes, and exit pops to try and grab that subscriber at the first point of contact can lead to more conversions, and multiple bites at the apple.
You edit these different forms just like they were any other page you would build inside the Thrive drag and drop content builder.
Every form can be targeted to specific pages and posts so you can show different offers based on the content of the page your visitor is on. The thrive lead suite is very much like SumoMe but with a lot more customization and targeting features.
The back end of thrive leads is great too, as you login you can see all your stats, impressions, optins, conversion rate, everything.
A landing page and opt-in forms are great but you got to have a list to put them on, and a email program that can automate, segment, and nurture your leads.
2. Convert Kit Email Automation - a Smooth Marketing System
I have been a mailchimp guy in my brick and mortar business for years. For a simple pool and spa shop doing email marketing to drive sales, it works great. However, for advanced email marketing automation and lead nurturing we need something with a little more spunk, a little more fire in the belly.
That platform is Convert Kit from Nathan Barry. An internet marketing entrepreneur and author turned SasS founder with this new email platform. This is an email marketing tool built from the ground up to serve bloggers and online entrepreneurs.
The basic idea is that you should not have to organize and manage multiple lists and set up different optins, sequences, and settings for each list whenever you have a new optin, product, or topic on your website.
All your subscribers in convert kit are in 1 list. You then add segments and tags to separate them based on how they opted in, what their interests are, actions they take inside the emails, and whether or not they are a buyer or not.
The automation section lets you customize the experience for every individual subscriber.
This simplifies the list management and lets you create a complete business automation system for a LOT LESS than companies like INfusionsoft and Ontraport.
Speaking of buyers, every sales funnel needs a way to get paid right? Let’s see , Stripe looks good!
If you want to up your email marketing game and you are currently using a service like Mailchimp or Aweber I HIGHLY recommend checking out Convertkit Here - Yes that is an affiliate link but I actually USE the program.
3. Stripe Payment Processing - Pretty Money
Paypal has been the online payment processor of choice for the online wheelers and dealers for years, what is funny is Paypal’s recent Superbowl ad touting its New Money. Well Stripe might be the real new money on the block.
Stripe is a developer's payment processor. With it’s .js library and web hooks developers are able to craft custom integrated checkouts right on their own sites without having to send them off to paypal and interrupt the experience.
If you are not THAT BIG of a nerd burger you can find plenty of apps that will integrate with Stripes checkout
What you do have to do though if you are going to have Stripe checkout on your site is secure your site. Stripe will not let you use it’s FREE payment processor on your site if you do not have an SSL certificate.I got mine set-up from Hostgator in a couple days and it was painless.
In the Stripe backend they have 2 api, the Live mode that processes real payments, and a test mode so you can test your check out sequence without having to actually pay yourself money.
The checkout app is very clean and modern looking and blends right in with my form builder of choice Formcraft.
4. Formcraft Form Builder
When you are just starting out building websites and you don’t have a dollar to pay for anything, the popular wordpress plugin Contact Form 7 works well enough. With enough CSS tweaking and some additional plugins you can make this free option really work.
However it came a time where I needed something more powerful with easier to implement integrations.
That is when I found Formcraft. A powerful drag and drop editor with every type of form field you can think off. But that’s not all, Formcraft can integrate with email services Mailchimp and Getresponse. You can also purchase add-ons like paypal and of course Stripe to create customized checkouts.
Look how clean this form looks with the Stripe integration.
So now I can have a form with date and time picker, so I can have people schedule their own 1 on 1 Facebook Ads coaching calls and pay for the slot all in the same form.
I also have Formcraft set to send an autoresponder message with my coaching call questionnaire so I can get a better idea of the clients business, and struggles before our Skype call.
You may notice I said Formcraft integrates with Mailchimp (which is one of the main reasons I jumped on it back in the day) but I am now using Convertkit for my email marketing software.
How will I get people who fill out this form onto my email list and tagged as a customer without doing it manually?
Well that my friends is where one of the most magical web apps I have ever found comes into play...
5. Zapier - The Magic Fairy Dust of Online Marketing
Wish all the apps, social media accounts, and cloud based work platforms could talk to each other and automatically collaborate? Well they can with Zapier.
Zapier uses the API connections of different web applications and allows them to communicate. This sets up some great custom integrations available from the gang at Zapier.
Basically as a user you can create Zaps, or automation workflows between many different applications.
I wanted to keep using Formcraft for my forms, but I also wanted to automatically add customers who sign up for coaching to my email list. Zapier was my solution. I was able to create a Zap that connected Stripe , the payment processing app, to Convertkit and assign anyone who goes through that Zap to my buyers or customers tag inside of Convertkit.
There are way too many Zap workflows to cover in this post but they have a great section on their site with tons of case studies as to how people bolted their businesses together with Zapier.
There are some great Zap connections to work with Twitter automation, google drive, evernote, and almost every major email service provider out there, I highly recommend checking it out.
Every Funnel Needs a Version 1.0
Now I could have made this simpler for sure, but I wanted to use products I already had to create my funnel. The linchpin of the whole system was definitely switching from Mailchimp to convertkit, as now I can set up all kinds on tagging and custom autoresponders inside my email list depending on how they go there and if they are a customer or not.
Could I gone with something like Click Funnels or Kajabi, but I already have this wordpress site set up, and thrive gives me almost everything I need, they even have an online course system built into the theme for when I get 5 Minute Ads of the Ground - (my upcomming free Facebook Ads video course)
This setup works great for me right now and while it took some time setting up, but it is well worth it now. Take some time and check these tools out for yourself, your funnel is everything, make sure it works for you.
Then when you're ready to drive traffic, lets set up a call and we can fill that funnel with targeted traffic from Facebook Ads.