My Highest Converting Sales Funnel

Behind the scenes of my highest converting sales funnel - from how I came up with the idea, how I launched the membership program, how I set up the sales funnel, to tactical strategies I've used to grow my business.

A few months into 2016, I was brainstorming potential new revenue streams and I knew I wanted to create some sort of membership (because recurring revenue sounded like a good thing). So in June (after 3 exhausting back-to-back course launches), I was ready for something else and wanted to test a low-priced offering because up until then everything I’d offered had been $100+ – little did I know that this particular idea would lead to my highest converting sales funnel of the year!

MY INITIAL IDEA

The Styled Stock Society happened kind of accidentally. I didn’t have a specific membership idea in mind, so I took a look at my email list to see if there were any particular opt-ins that were more popular than others. I was actually surprised to see that around 1,000 people had downloaded my free stock photos during April + May, so I thought ok, maybe I could offer regular stock photos for a monthly fee.

I decided on a simple photo subscription. I wanted it to be affordable but I also needed it to be worth my time. I don’t plan for the Styled Stock Society to be my primary income stream, so my original goal was earning around $500 / month for about 8 hours of work (2 hours on planning + prep, 2 hours shooting photos, 2 hours editing, 2 hours on admin). Not so bad, right?

Initially, the thought of “selling” my photos made me uncomfortable (because at the time I didn’t even think of myself as a photographer). I thought I had to go buy a bunch of new props to take all these photos.  And I was worried that if I didn’t make everything “perfect” that no one would sign up and it would be a huge failure blah blah blah.

I was telling my husband all of this and he basically told me to just STOP overthinking and just create an minimum viable product (MVP).

Stop overthinking and just create a minimum viable product.

To create an MVP, I basically just needed photos + a way for people to pay for them + a way to give them access to download the photos after they paid. I was hesitant to invest a lot of time or money without knowing what was going to happen, so the only props I bought were pink peonies ($16 at my local deli) and I used other notebooks / pens / etc. that I already had. All of the June photos were pink / gold / black / white because those are my brand colors, and I figured worst case scenario, if no one bought the photos, I could still use them for myself!

DURING THE “LAUNCH”

So without creating a fancy sales page, and without setting up a new membership site, I pre-sold the idea by sending 2 emails to the people who had previously downloaded my free stock photos. The first email announced the membership details with a special pre-launch offer ($25/year – which is crazy low, but I wasn’t confident that anyone would buy at all) and the second email reminded people that the pre-launch offer was ending.

I sent 2 emails and ended up with 72 members in that first week…

So I doubled the price.

For the next couple of weeks, the payment options were $25 for 6 months or $50 for 12 months. I essentially sent the same 2 emails to the rest of my email list with one announcing the new payment options and one reminding people that the offer was expiring and ended up with an additional 78 new members before the end of June.

In total, during the launch period in June, I launched to approximately 3,000 people and 150 people joined the Styled Stock Society during the launch period. That’s a 7.5% conversion – which was really surprising since most of my courses have previously converted around 2-3% – but I also took it as a sign to raise the prices again!

TESTING PRICING OPTIONS

Over the next couple of months I tested a few different pricing options – I gradually raised the prices and offered a combination of monthly / quarterly / 6 month / 12 month memberships. Knowing that I was spending 2 days per month on Styled Stock Society related activities, I doubled my income goal to $1,000 recurring revenue per month and tried to find the best combination of pricing options that would maximize my conversions AND my revenue. Currently there are 2 pricing tiers ($45 for 6 months and $75 for 12 months) – the most popular plan is the 6 month option which isn’t really surprising – even though the 12 month membership is a better value, having a sub-$50 price point for the shorter term options is more attractive to my particular audience and I’ve been pleased with the results and revenue so far.

SETTING UP THE SALES FUNNEL

After the initial launch period, I knew that if I wanted to continue to attract new members on a consistent basis I needed to have a process in place to attract and convert potential customers into paying Styled Stock Society members. I set up a really basic funnel that consists of:

A) An attractive free offer – 10 free feminine styled stock photos

B) A landing page – I also have a simple landing page to share the free offer.

C) A promotion strategy – I link directly to that landing page linked in all of my social media bios. I mention the free photos on Instagram once every 10 days and I have regularly scheduled posts on Twitter / Facebook that link to that landing page. I also have 2 different pins on Pinterest that lead to the landing page and those are re-pinned to my own board and group boards on a regular basis. I share the free photos in Facebook groups for bloggers / online business owners (though to be honest, I’m not at all consistent with that). 90% of my promotion is promoting the free photos and not the membership itself because I want people to download the free photos and end up on my email list where I can share more information with them over time! I also have affiliates for the Styled Stock Society who earn a commission for referring new members, and occasionally I offer other incentives for current members to share how much they love their stock photos on social media.

D) An automated email sequence using ConvertKit – The day after new subscribers download my free stock photos, they receive an email introducing them to the Styled Stock Society membership. I give a brief overview of the membership sharing the key features + benefits as well as share a preview of the photos that are currently available to members. A couple of days later I send a second email with answers to membership FAQs, examples of how you can use styled stock photos for your business or your blog, and brief testimonials from current Styled Stock Society members. This is an incredibly simple email sequence (though at some point I will probably add a third email), but for now, this simple automation is converting around 8-9% (meaning 8-9% of people who receive these emails end up becoming Styled Stock Society members). Sometimes simplest things are the best.

Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

E) A time-sensitive offer – As an incentive to join the Styled Stock Society, I have a time sensitive offer “pitch” included in my email sequence.

TACTICAL MOVES

While this particular income stream is fairly passive – I’ve also tested a few marketing tactics to see see if I could make small “time” investments that yield not-so-small results.

  • Flash sales – I’ve done a couple of sales on 6/12 month memberships (but never the lowest tier) that have been successful at growing the Styled Stock Society membership. I don’t like to offer “sales” too often, but once in awhile they are can be very effective – for my birthday, I held a 24 hour flash sale on 12 month memberships and increased my (average) monthly revenue by 40% in less than a day!
  • Bonus offers – If you don’t want to run a sale, offering a bonus can also be an effective sales tool to convert potential customers who are on the fence. Around Labor Day I ran a special promotion that basically meant any new members received double the amount of stock photos than normal because they were given access to a previous month’s collection. It was an easy bonus to offer since it required no extra work on my part, but increased my membership by over 30% that month. In November, I created an bonus collection of holiday-themed photos that was “gifted” to anyone who joined before Thanksgiving and that was so successful that I’m now planning to offer quarterly seasonal collections throughout the year.

TWEAK + REPEAT

I’m regularly tweaking my automated sales sequence as well as thinking about ways that I can add more value to the Styled Stock Society while keeping it affordable (and well worth my time)! Since Styled Stock Society launched (just over 6 months ago from the time this post was published), I went from having no sales page whatsoever to having a separate website with information on the Styled Stock Society membership as well as a SHOP and separate services page for custom photography.

Now with hundreds of members (consistently growing each month!), this funnel has been converting higher than any other system that I have in place, and I’ve doubled my membership goals again and again (and again) over the past 6 months. If you’re interested in learning more about the Styled Stock Society, you can learn more about membership options right the way! 

 

Black Friday + Cyber Monday Deals For Bloggers

Black Friday Cyber Monday deals for bloggers + online business owners

It’s that time of year again! Stuffed with turkey and armed with credit card (#businessexpenses), here are a few can’t miss sales happening right now…

First of all, from yours truly – take 40% off Styled Stock Society 12 month memberships with code CYBERSTYLE from now through Monday 11/28.

FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Moo (30% off with code CYBER2016) – Need new business cards? Moo is my go-to for beautiful and affordable business cards for both myself and Mochi. Splurge on the luxe cards – they’re worth it! (expires 11/27).

ConvertKit (get 1 month free + bonuses) – I’ve been happily using ConvertKit for over a year now and highly recommend it for anyone looking for an email marketing provider! They normally don’t offer a free trial but during their cyber Monday promotion you can get your first month free PLUS a free month of Edgar (what I use for social media scheduling), a free month of Teachable (what I use for my online courses), and other bonuses you can find out more about right this way! 

Bluchic (40% off with code CYBERBC) – Upgrade your website with one of Bluchic’s feminine WordPress themes. All of their themes are gorgeous – you really can’t go wrong with any of them! (ends 11/28).

FOR YOUR WORKSPACE

Shopbop (buy more, save more – get up to 25% off with code GOBIG16) – Shopbop is one of my favorite resources for home accessories /  props plus 80% of my wardrobe. This is a great sale to stock up on presents for everyone in your life – including yourself! (ends 11/28)

Anthropologie (20% off with code STACKS) – Anthropologie’s home section is basically the stuff my Instagram-worthy-office dreams are made of. I may have a few too many things in my cart already…

FOR YOUR LIFE

Truffle (25% off with code GETGIFTING) – I swear by Truffle pouches + clutches to keep #AllTheThings organized in my bags + in my life.

The Bouqs (up to $30 off with code CYBER30) – The prettiest bouquets for the holidays (or just because!) delivered right to your door – I’m currently crushing on all the ranunculus.

I’ll be updating this post as new deals are added on Monday! What can’t miss sales are you taking advantage of this year?!

5 Reasons Your Marketing Isn’t Working

5 reasons your marketing isn't working (and how to fix them) - if you're feeling overwhelmed with marketing your business but aren't seeing results, here are 5 reasons your marketing might be failing you.

A lot of business of owners “hate” marketing, but if you want customers / clients who are not your mom – it’s pretty much required. While marketing isn’t exactly rocket science, it’s more than just pretty pictures and strategically placed fonts – it’s how you communicate your value and build relationships with potential buyers. There’s not a single “right” way to go about your marketing, but there are a few things you should definitely avoid!

5 REASONS YOUR MARKETING ISN’T WORKING

1) You don’t have a target audience

Marketing to “anyone with money” is not a thing. I’ve shared my thoughts on defining your target audience before, but I promise you – having a target audience will help you tremendously when it comes to your branding, your marketing strategy, your copy, and the products / services you offer. If you’re trying to appeal to everyone, you’re probably appealing to no one – so the more specific you can be in terms of who your product/service is for, the better!

Marketing without a target audience is really just putting stuff out into the world and hoping someone will buy it. I’m pretty sure that NO ONE would agree that’s the best marketing strategy – or is that even a strategy at all???

FIX THIS: Define your target audience. Figure out what makes them tick. Figure out where they hang out online – What social media platforms are they active on? What communities do they belong to? What blogs do they read? What problems do they have? If you’re just getting started, there’s a handy worksheet to help you define your target audience linked in this post!

MARKETING WITHOUT A TARGET AUDIENCE IS REALLY JUST PUTTING STUFF OUT INTO THE WORLD AND HOPING SOMEONE WILL BUY IT.

CLICK TO TWEET

2) You don’t have a strategic plan

You can spend hours and hours on “marketing” but if you don’t have a strategic plan, you could be wasting a ton of precious time! You can’t just post whatever you feel like on social media or spend hours taking pretty flatlays or writing blog posts or creating free downloads without a goal in mind. Your marketing actions should always have a purpose, and you should be leading your customers down an intentional path.

FIX THIS: Think about your client / customer journey – for example, most of my clients find me on social media. Either they come across my Instagram and click through to an opt-in form or they come across a pin that leads to one of my blog posts. From there, most people read a blog post or two and then may opt-in to my email list via a content upgrade or some other free offer. Once people are on my email list, they get a series of emails (depending on how they opted in) and eventually get pitched my paid products / services.

I find it easier to work backwards from your end goal (whatever you are selling) and reverse engineer your content paths. Mapping out a strategic plan will not only help you figure out what content you need to create and share, but it will also keep you on track to actually accomplish your goals.

3) You plan but don’t take action

What’s worse than not having a strategic plan? Actually taking time to make a plan and then not taking action. You can research and strategize and plan for months, but if you don’t take action – you fail before you even get started. It’s easy to get caught up in doing everything “just right” – trust me, as a recovering perfectionist (and former financial planner), I’ve spent wayyyyy too much time on “perfecting” plans – but in reality there’s no such thing as a perfect plan. 

FACT: Some things will not go as planned. FACT: You need to learn to adapt. FACT: It will all be ok.

FIX THIS: Set aside time each week specifically for marketing activities. Put it on your calendar. Find an accountability buddy. Do whatever you need to do to make sure you’re dedicating time to taking ACTION rather than just making to-do lists. If taking action is holding you back, I recommend setting specific goals to help move the needle forward – for example, instead of putting “do guest blog posts” on your to-do list, set a goal to pitch 5 different websites with specific guest blog post ideas. Instead of scrolling through Instagram and liking pretty photos, set a goal to connect with 10 potential clients and actively engage with their content leaving meaningful (not spammy!) comments.

MARKETING ISN’T SOMETHING YOU CAN DO FOR A HOT MINUTE UNTIL YOU GET BUSY + FORGET ABOUT IT.

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4) You aren’t consistent

For 99.9999% of people, success doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re not showing up consistently to connect with your audience, to build brand awareness, and to promote your products / services – then you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice. Consistency breeds credibility. Marketing isn’t something that you can do for a hot minute until you get busy and forget about it. Only a fraction of your audience is seeing your social media posts or reading your blog posts or opening your emails – so if you’re not being consistent, you’re not maximizing your reach.

FIX THIS: Scheduling + automation are your BFFs. When it comes to social media marketing, I definitely recommend scheduling your posts in advance. Create an editorial calendar for your blog/vlog/etc. and post as frequently as you can be consistent – quality above quantity, always. Here’s a helpful post to help you plan out your blog content! You should also have a regular schedule for email marketing and if possible, using automation can help save a ton of time and ensure that you’re communicating consistently (here are a few ways I use email automation)!

5) You aren’t paying attention to your analytics 

If you “know” me at all, you should have seen this one coming (I’m an analytics NERD) – the only way to really know if you marketing is “working” is to track your results. 

FIX THIS: Use the available tools to track your marketing activities each social media platform or scheduler has it’s own analytics, you should set up google analytics for your website / blog, and your email marketing service probably has it’s own built in analytics as well. And for your analytics to be relevant, you need to establish specific goals – so for example, if one of your goals is to use Pinterest to drive more traffic to your website, then you should be tracking your referral traffic from Pinterest and identifying which pins / boards / etc. are driving the most traffic to your website so you can do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. 

Plan your content in advance

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