Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

Five New Years Resolutions For Your Sales Funnel

The year 2013 has arrived, and although you’ve likely made resolutions for your personal life, now is the time to chart a bold new course for your sales funnel as well. It’s always tempting to leave well enough alone, but the best marketers are never content to just let things be and are constantly striving to hit new benchmarks with their sales. This year, commit to getting your hands dirty with the following five time-tested commitments for your funnel.

1. Truly Talk To Your Customers

This year, don’t be content to to simply count your sales. Instead, commit to getting to know your customer base. You can do this by using surveys and phone interviews to ask probing questions,  and get to the core of what they are really coming to you for.

These insights can be used to echo back shopper concerns, motivations, and desires in your sales copy, which is much better than trying to craft a letter from the powers of your brain alone. Talking to your customers might not seem like ground breaking advice at first, but it goes beyond merely looking at the emails they send – it’s about starting conversations and encouraging a dialogue with them. Don’t ask leading questions like “Do you want lower prices on widgets?” Instead, go for open-ended questions like “Why did you come to this website today?”

For more ideas on how to think about the right questions to ask, and how to learn from the responses you receive, have a look at this great post on how to talk to your customers.

2. Decipher More Data

Going data-less is no way to make a killing in 2013. Anyone can record their data but it takes a seasoned mind to sift through the data and extract meaning and patterns from it that can be converted into actionable improvements. For instance, a beginning marketer would celebrate “more traffic” coming in, but a dedicated professional looks for which particular traffic is converting, and who is leaving without making a purchase.

Actionable data is how you begin to cut all the fat off your sales funnel and turn it into a lean, cost-effective conversion machine. In 2012, you might have thought “I’m spending $25,000/month on advertising, and my retail website is bringing back around $40,000. I’m coming out ahead so I’m doing well!” Don’t stop there this year. Instead, ask how much of that $25,000 is pure waste, and how can you squeeze even more effectiveness and sales out of your investment.

If you really don’t have a clue about analytics and you run an online store, you could do worse than to start by watching this 60 second video on how to track ecommerce with Google Analytics!

3. Build a Stable of Great Products

(source: coolmikeol)

As advertising costs continue to soar, it becomes increasingly difficult to make a profit on your very first sale. This underscores how important it is to sell more things to the same customers over time. This creates a functioning cycle of more profit, which leads to more funds available for advertising, which leads to more profit.

Conversely, if you only have a single $50 product for sale, it might be very hard to continue to profit as you expand your efforts from PPC to inbound marketing and beyond. But by creating a stable of products that build on each other and can be sold to the same customers to increase the profitability of bringing them into the funnel, you can survive the stormy seas of rising ad costs.

4. Refine Your USP

Many businesses are afraid to repel certain parts of the market. They shy away from bold, polarizing messages because they are worried that they might lose potential customers that aren’t necessarily in their exact narrow market space. Paradoxically though, by keeping your unique selling proposition (USP) tame and vague, you are missing out on the opportunity to completely blow away those in your target market and might be missing out on untold numbers of sales that could be made through total ownership of that space.

Find out the biggest benefit that your business is specially designed to serve and focus on reaching that market specifically. For some thought exercises to help you better define your USP, consult this quick guide from author David Airey.

5. Make This The Year Of The Test

Experimenting with what works can be a scary proposition. “What if I break it?” is a common fear, especially when you’re talking about something like your headline, or the sequence of your follow up emails. However this flawed logic is the same that keeps people from asking out the love of their lives, or switching up their work out routine in the gym. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

A better approach is to make calculated experiments to the aspects of your sales funnel that could produce the biggest gains. Try split testing your offer page across several different variables:

  • Headline
  • Sales copy
  • Navigation design
  • Color scheme
  • Call to action

You can try out services such as Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer, which are designed to make testing easy and effective for you.

Remember, if your experiments are a success your sales funnel will be better for it. If they are not, you can always revert the website back later. For a complete guide to user testing including speicific ideas and strategies you can begin rolling out today, check out the book Don’t Make Me Think by author Steve Krug.

Always Be Improving

There is a common theme running through these five separate resolutions: always be measuring and improving. Whether you’re taking feedback from your customers, performing behavioral testing on your landing page, or refining your sales letter, your key to success in 2013 (and every year for that matter) should be to stay hungry. Once you decide that your funnel is “good enough” and stop thinking of small ways to improve it, you set a cap on how great your company can be.

Image credit: HiddedevriesMarius BDphifferMilosz1



Alvin loves geeking out on technology, psychology and economics news.

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