Until you start digging into the data, business can feel very unpredictable and inconsistent. Neglecting key metrics can also lead to a lack of clarity on important business decisions.
Here we look at 12 sales funnel mistakes that course creators make with growth strategist Michelle Fernandez. Not only is Michelle a Circuit Sales System student who is building her own Circuit, she’s also helping other students build theirs.
We dig into all things automation, all things funnels, and metrics and metric tracking as well.
(One note on terminology: Circuits and funnels are two different things, of course. Funnels go one way and then they end, which is a big part of the problem. Circuits are an endless loop of getting people to purchase. For the sake of simplicity, we use the term funnels throughout.)
Mistake #1: Elements Don’t Work in Harmony
In helping people add automation to their businesses, Michelle has seen many mistakes! Whatever your product is—whether it’s physical or digital—you need to have everything working in harmony. Many business owners don’t have their traffic funnel set up because a lot of people think, “Oh yeah, I just turned the ads on.” But there’s a whole funnel within your traffic funnel.
Some have the top of funnel on and are reaching only “cold” people, but they are not retargeting them to get back in the funnel or reminding them that they signed up to watch something and they haven’t watched it yet. (See more about reminders in Mistake #2.) A lot of people forget to include their “warm” audience.
There are different things within that traffic funnel. You have your landing page funnel and your email funnel, but there are so many people who don’t have all the pieces of the emails together. They just think either one or three emails and they’re good. They’re not thinking of the abandoned cart, for instance.
And now text is really big so, in some cases, you could include a text option. Circuit sales is on-demand. You could watch it any time. However, some people are doing a live webinar. So something could even be thrown in to the text to remind them, “Hey, you signed up for this on-demand thing, the clock is ticking, and you need to watch this soon!” That’s the big mistake that course creators are making: not having all their elements working in harmony.
You can get one element running and then you can add another. Say you’re driving ads to opt in for your circuit, then you get that going and then layer in retargeting to people who have not watched the video yet. Then layer in texting or direct message outreach to people who have signed up or got to the page and haven’t signed up yet.
The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be done all at once. It can be done in stages, but each one of them can build on each other. And you have this ecosystem of people seeing you in a lot of different places. It gives the impression of your brand being everywhere, and the more that you are everywhere, the more people are thinking that your product or service really is good.
Mistake #2: Not Sending Reminders
A lot of course creators think, “They didn’t watch it or they didn’t open the email or they abandoned it then they must not want it.” That’s not the case! There’s nothing wrong with reminding people. It’s not bothersome to them because they wouldn’t have signed up in the first place if they weren’t interested. Reminding them guides them back to where they were. The mindset of a lot of business owners is that they don’t want to bother people. Their thinking goes in a downward spiral: “Nobody wants my stuff, and this is never going to be successful.” No! You just have to remind them.
You can send them a reminder that they haven’t watched something yet, but you can also send a message with a quote from a student and a note to make sure to see the rest of it in the video. In that way, you’re adding value in those follow-ups.
Mistake #3: Broken Buttons
Sometimes buttons are not directed to the right place. On your page you should have several buttons and make sure they’re all working and going to the right place. Tech breaks all the time. Even if it once worked, it may not always. Work in a process or a system to check once a week or once a month. There’s nothing worse than somebody saying, “Hey, I tried to get this and I couldn’t.” Your immediate thought becomes, “How many other people tried to take that action and it didn’t work? I spent all this money on ads to get there!”
Michelle recommends testing buttons every week or every two weeks. The whole idea is to build momentum in your circuit where it is just this machine that’s going, so you don’t want to miss out even one day on something.
Mistake #4: Ignoring Metrics
Many course creators are not measuring their metrics. Take a step back and consider if you were getting on average three sales a day and, all of a sudden, you’re getting none. Is there something wrong with the funnel or is it just a Sunday or a holiday? Is your funnel working?
Make sure your customer service team is savvy enough to alert you if something is a little bit off. Are they contacting you if they’re receiving a lot of messages about something not working? They need to be alerting you so you can fix what’s broken immediately.
At Nicki K Media, we track our metrics every Friday across our brands. Also, our operations manager goes into SamCart and looks at all the brands because we have a general idea of what we should be selling every day. We check on a weekly basis and can discover if something is off.
We also take a quick peek on a daily basis. Once you have a consistent system running where you know how many sales you should be generating on a daily basis, you can notice on a daily basis if sales are off—instead of so many of our friends who have run live launches and they don’t figure it out until after the fact that there was a big problem and they get half of the numbers they’re expecting!
Mistake #5: Emails Aren’t Delivered
Michelle sees many clients who didn’t realize that their emails were not being delivered, and they wondered why their launch tanked. They were counting on having a six-figure launch and got one or two sales.
Anytime you put out a new funnel, run yourself through it before it is live to your recipients. You’ll find so many things that are slightly off and you can fix them before it goes live to the world. Also, have someone else on your team do the testing in addition to you, and use a different browser than you did.
Mistake #6: The Funnel Isn’t Protected
Protect the funnel! Nobody should touch the funnel except for the one person on your team who “owns” it. If you have too many people going in and making changes, there isn’t one person who knows what’s supposed to be there, what’s supposed to be turned on or off or test mode. Things are much more likely to break or get funky with more than one person touching your funnel.
Mistake #7: Running Tests Poorly
There are several best practices to running a test properly. Institute a process for how you run your tests. Never start a test on a Thursday or Friday. Never start a test before anybody who is a point person is going to be on vacation.
Use a Slack channel or whatever means you communicate to your team to let them know about the tests you’re running. If there’s anything that’s off, go into that Slack channel and see if there’s a test running that’s affecting it.
Also, whoever is the key stakeholder for that test for the first couple of days of the test should check everything to make sure it’s running. Then for however long the test is running they should still be checking in periodically to make sure that everything is working. Tests are so important to our business to optimize. Just a half a percentage increase in this conversion rate can mean a massive amount for a business!
Mistake #8: Unclear Messaging
Another big mistake course creators make is forgetting the customer’s experience. They’re fixated on making something look pretty or whatever and tend to make communications more complicated.
Pick someone on your team who isn’t part of marketing and ask if they understand what a communication means. Do they understand what action you want them to take? Is the messaging clear?
Mistake #9: Tracking the Wrong Numbers
Michelle says one of the big turning points in the success of her business was really getting serious about her numbers, looking at them as unemotional data to figure out how to improve.
Have to have a starting point like KPIs, key performance indicators, or whatever your benchmarks you’re shooting for are. KPIs are really that critical indicator of what your progress is toward your intended outcome or your intended result.
There are certain industry benchmarks where you’re going to move your benchmark up. If you hit this, okay, that’s the industry standard, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for it.
How do you go from a 30% conversion to 35 and then 40 and then 45? A lot of newer business owners are not used to tracking their numbers; the number that they’re tracking is the sales. But those are the outcome and it’s making changes to those inputs that affects the output.
By the time you get to that output number, if you’re only looking at sales, all of this has already happened, and you can’t make changes by the time you got into the sales point. With the circuit you can continue to make tweaks while you’re making sales, but just looking at the sales number is confusing and misleading.
Go through the entire funnel. Start with the main part. What is your opt-in rate? What does your traffic look like? A lot of people think, “Oh, Facebook ads aren’t working,” but then maybe it is your funnel. Because if the metrics from the Facebook ads are hitting what they’re supposed to, then the ad is doing its job of getting the click and then the funnel’s not doing its job of getting the conversion or getting those opt-ins. So, we first look at your traffic. What is it doing? What’s the registration? If that’s not working, what can we do there? What is the watch rate or the show-up rate? How long are they watching? Where are they dropping off in the video?
What are each of the emails? Where are they clicking? Because the open rate is what we used to track, which we can still track, but it’s not as accurate as the click rate. What are you doing in your emails to make sure they’re getting clicks and are they clicking? If changes need to be made, could you put the link in a different place to increase numbers?
By having these KPIs in these benchmarks allows you to know exactly what to focus on.
Mistake #10: Ignoring the Context Around the Numbers
Let’s say you’re running Facebook ads and you have a compelling message. For Nicki K Media, our message is that we 40xed our business over the course of two years. That’s something that’s going to be broadly interesting above and beyond our target audience of course creators and group coaching facilitators and to some degree one-on-one coaches. It can be that sometimes an ad can be performing really well in that it gets people to click through a page. But if it’s not the right audience, if they opt in, your opt-in rates to the page can look great, but the sales are not going to work because it was fundamentally not the right audience.
The same is true for video views because it’s on-demand. If you’re only looking at the completion rate and they think, “People watched only 48%.” But when you look at the context and you see you’ve got 100 unique views with 200 total views. Then you see people are coming back, they’re watching it twice, or they’re watching it in two sessions and they’re finishing almost all of it. So, it’s important to look at the context around your numbers.
Also, people are so focused on how low they can get their cost per lead. Obviously, it would be great to have 50-cent leads. But if you could pay $50 a lead that resulted in a sale, you’d take it!
And if you have memberships, you should be looking at your retention. How many people renew? What’s your churn rate? How long are people staying in? You have to figure out what to do within your own program to get the retention as well, which is another metric to measure.
Mistake #11: Having Too Little Data to Make Decisions
We see a lot of course creators who say they’re tracking all their numbers and they’re not working. And you see that there are only five or 10 people who have gone through their funnel. You need to have enough data to make decisions.
Don’t just determine the amount to spend on ads because that’s what is in your budget right now. It’s going to take you longer to figure it out rather than saying, “Hmm, can I bite the bullet and maybe spend a hundred dollars a day?” Look at the front end with the traffic. You want to reach 2,500, 3000, 5,000 people. There are just so many people who would actually click and land on the page for you to start getting these numbers. So, over a week, spending a hundred dollars a day with the traffic, you can figure out so many things.
Mistake #12: Having the Wrong Audience
One of the things that we talk a lot about is running your circuit to organic first. These are the people who naturally found you and said they wanted that solution and opted in.
That’s a really good test for your circuit to make sure everything is dialed in, to make sure your messaging is on point, and to make sure it’s what people who have found you want because they are your audience.
Once you determined your circuit performs really well with organic, then you can start moving into Facebook ads. Because again, if you’re sending traffic to the wrong audience, it might look like your circuit or your funnel or whatever you’re doing isn’t converting. But when it’s going to the wrong audience, then it’s not going to convert. You have proof that it works and then you can go out and try to find that right audience with your ads.
All these mistakes are really just looking at the health of your business. Funnels, traffic, things like that are really your whole business. Looking at the metrics gives you more clarity on spending more money on ads or not or whether it’s feasible to hire a new team member. It’s about connecting the dots with your ability to grow. It’s about taking the guesswork out of what is actually working and what is not working.
For a lot of business owners, it can feel like business can feel very amorphous, like it’s a matter of luck or hoping. But when you actually dig into your numbers, there’s a lot less luck involved.
There are so many things to think about with your sales funnel—and so many mistakes to avoid! Take it step-by-step or hire someone like Michelle to help you work through all of this.
In this episode of the Energize Your Online Business podcast, Nicki and Kate are joined by growth strategist Michelle Fernandez to discuss how tracking metrics and analyzing data can ensure consistent and predictable sales growth. Listen in to find out how to take the guesswork out of what is and isn’t working in your Circuit.
What are some of the mistakes you have made in your sales funnel and how do you correct them? Let us know in the comments below!