One marketing tactic digital entrepreneurs use and love are challenges. They can be so much fun and useful when they are used properly. Some people swear by them and say “challenges always work.”
Probably just about every tactic in digital business can work sometimes, but there are also some tactics that work better than others.
Here we look at some ways that paid and unpaid challenges are not used effectively—and ways that they can get in the way of people making purchases.
Why Peak Excitement Is Critical
The way many people use challenges actually dissuades people from buying. And, with even more challenges, comes less engagement. So, why is that?
When someone first encounters you and your offer—what it is that you can give them/how you’re going to solve their problem—they’re at peak motivation and peak excitement.
Every hour after that initial peak engagement that excitement decreases. It’s one of the reasons you hear about “our lists being stale.” People are excited when they first get on our email list, but the longer they stay on the email list, the less engaged they are.
We also see that in a much shorter time span. It’s possible they can be stale just 10 days after getting on your list. Motivation can dwindle pretty rapidly.
Let’s say someone’s signing up for a five-day challenge. Day one you’ll see the most excitement. As days pass, however, attendance starts to drop off. Like with live launches, if you’re doing a live challenge and people have to show up at a specific day at a specific time, that’s not necessarily conducive to their lives. It’s hard to move your life around for even a couple of days when it doesn’t fit their schedule.
Challenges put people on our timelines—what works for us and not what works for them. Excitement drops off if they can’t attend the days that they need to attend.
Each day that a challenge goes by, the engagement drops off and fewer people show up. By the time you make your offer, there’s probably only a few people left and we’re looking at probably a 2% sales conversion (!).
What most of us end up doing is getting people on our list and then telling them, “Oh, in a month, I’m going to have my challenge,” or “In three months or in six months, I’m going to have my challenge.”
By forcing people to wait to hear about the solution that you have for them, by waiting to give them that information, all we’re doing is burning up all that excitement and that motivation. I know people think, “Well, but I’m teaching, and they find that really valuable and that’s great.” It’s the same problem that we see with webinars. Teaching might be exciting. But learning is not exciting. Learning requires energy. (And teaching doesn’t get people to buy. Here’s why.)
Certainly, learning is very important. There should be learning in our courses and in our programs, but when we’re teaching people, we’re actually burning up that energy more. By the end of the challenge, we have people at low excitement and we wonder why we’re not getting those high conversions and we’re not seeing that same excitement that we saw on the first day. It’s because we’ve burned up all that motivation.
What Are Paid Challenges?
Some challenges require a small fee upfront. Those are what we call paid challenges. You might get slightly more engaged people, but it’s the same problem: Their motivation shelf life is still decaying day by day, just the same as someone who signed up for a free challenge.
(It goes without saying too much that free challenges run pretty much the same way—they just don’t require any payment upfront. These challenges effectively give potential customers even less of an interest to invest in your full course.)
As online business owners, we have to have things in place within our programs to get people to take action and to get people to use the things that they’ve paid for, but a purchase burns off a lot of that excitement. If someone makes a purchase, they think, “Oh, I took a big action. Now I don’t have to do anything more.” All of us have done that. We’ve all bought courses or challenges, and our brains think, “I did it and now I’m done.” Obviously, that’s not true.
But purchasing is just the first step. Our average customer doesn’t know that it’s part of the process, so they purchase and then they tend to fall back into not taking action.
When people pay for things, they value them more than if they get them for free. But just because they paid for something doesn’t mean that they will then put a lot of value to it. Quite frankly, at a price point like $27 or $47 or $97, after that initial payment is made, it’s really easy to forget versus if someone made a $2,000 or $3,000 purchase. Obviously, you’re not going to do that for a challenge; that’s going to be the cost of your full program.
The big problem with paid challenges: If they’re burning up some energy to make the decision to make a purchase, then that’s energy they don’t have to make the full purchase!
It used to be a trope of digital business that if you wanted to get people to buy something big, you would sell them something little. Say you sold them a $7 e-book, then they’d be more warmed up to buy something big. Many of us online business owners believed this for a really long time! Some people call it a trip wire. But it’s not necessarily true.
Think about it: It’s not something that happens in regular life anyway. You don’t go to a restaurant and think, “Oh, I paid for this appetizer and now I’m more likely to buy the full meal.” Buying one little thing doesn’t make it easier or make us more amenable to buying something bigger later. If anything, sometimes it can trip us up because we buy this little purchase and we think that before we buy that bigger thing, that we need to really make sure to make the most of the smaller one.
That’s the thing with paid challenges, too. Customers may put off buying your bigger offer until they’ve really made the most out of this challenge. Or, alternatively, the little purchase solves their issue or whatever they had, and they think, it’s more than enough and they’ll figure out the next step on their own.
The Problem With Live Challenges
And let’s look at live challenges. You’re spending so much time giving your energy and your attention to people who haven’t yet paid you! Live challenges burn up a lot of your time and a lot of your energy, and fundamentally, you being live is not what makes the difference.
People can get as excited about our offers and view us as experts just as much from recordings as from live programs. People can be just as encouraged to make purchases and be just as excited about making the from our recordings as from live.
People can get to know, like, and trust you from many other paths. Trust is about the consistency of your messaging across all your channels—it’s your email, your social presence, what your website is saying. Is your messaging consistent across all of them? Are customers getting to see you across all your channels in a way that they feel like they get to know who you are, what your offer is, and they feel that if they make the purchase they have a sense of what the brand offers? You can build that trust via consistent messaging across every channel that you’re on, not just in your live challenge.
The Advantage of Automated Challenges
Automated challenges give as much value as live challenges and people can watch them when they have time. When we make it valuable and they take the time to watch it, we don’t burn up that initial excitement.
Again, when people first get on our lists—first engage with us—they’re need to get our best offer. They should be simultaneously nurtured and sold to with our best messaging. (Read more about the advantages of selling on autopilot here.)
There will always be people who are not ready to purchase. So, we use our automated challenges as part of our sequence to re-excite them before another sales period. We see people throughout our sales circuits reenter an excitement bump when we do things like use our automated challenges. Our Circuit Sales Systems students know.
We have all kinds of enhancements that we add in, but the key is we are using them to re-energize people before a sales sequence and we did not burn out their excitement from that initial peak. At that initial peak, we always give them our very best sales message and nurturing at the same time. We don’t make them to wait five days of a challenge. It all happens immediately with urgency attached to it.
Again, we’re not saying to eliminate your challenges. We wanted to give you some different ways of looking at challenges from what you’ve been hearing and maybe an opportunity to look at your challenges and evaluate whether they really are what’s best for your business and also what’s best for your audience. You might find that there is a different way to use your challenges that is so much more effective just later on in your sales sequence!
In this episode from the Energize Your Online Business podcast, tune in to discover what Nicki and Kate find to be the most effective and efficient ways to maximize on the success of challenges.
What have you found to be difficult with live and unpaid challenges? We’d love to hear from you! Tell us in the comments below.