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Today using funnels for conversions seems like a vital part of marketing your products but so much of that is thanks to our guest for today, Russell Brunson. Russell is the CEO of Click Funnels, a SaaS product that provides everything you need to market, sell, and deliver your products and services online through funnels. Click Funnels is approaching $200 million in revenue and they haven’t raised a cent in venture capital, so our conversation with Russell today is mostly about the funneling strategies they use to make this possible. First up though, Russell tells the story of Click Funnels’ conception, which involves his initial entrepreneurial ambition of selling DVDs containing instructions for making potato guns. After learning about sales funnels through this venture, and then developing Click Funnels, Russell found that nobody even knew what sales funnels were. We hear from him about how this problem led him to write all his books, which both act as instruction manuals for using and optimizing funnels but also behave as funnels for his company. This leads Russell to speak about the other clever ways he converts people into customers and keeps Click Funnels growing, such as webinars and challenges. Other interesting tidbits from today’s episode are the stories of how Russell made $3.2 million selling Click Funnels to the audience of Grant Cardone’s 10X event, and how Apple completely blocked his number one podcast. As you’ll find out in this episode, Russell’s love of storytelling is a key feature of his success, so make sure you catch this interview. 


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Sometimes you may find yourself doing so many things in one day that you actually lose track of what’s important and what isn’t.

That’s why I use a task prioritization chart that I take a look at every quarter or so. I want to keep track of what I’m actually working on every single day to see what I need to cut out, what I need to delegate, and where only I can make an impact.

My Task Prioritization Chart

Personally, I divide all of my tasks by expected ROI.

Task prioritization chart

For example, I have a category for $10 per hour tasks, another for $100 per hour tasks, another for $1,000 per hour tasks, and finally one for $10,000 per hour tasks. These categorizations tell me how much I would have to pay someone else to get a specific task done right.

So if you find yourself doing $10 tasks when you’re running a six- or seven-figure business, you probably need to rethink your priorities. On the flip side, you probably don’t want to be delegating the $10,000 per hour tasks out to anyone—that’s where you could be making the biggest impact yourself.

Related Content: The Power of Blocking Out Your Time for Business Growth

Things like cold calling, talking to unqualified prospects, doing expense reports, or scheduling social media probably shouldn’t be done by you. I know you see guys like Gary Vaynerchuk engaging on social media all the time, but that makes sense for Gary because he has branded himself as a social influencer.

Gary Vaynerchuk

When to Delegate and When to Do It Yourself

Think about the tasks that you do every single day. Whether you’re using a calendar or Evernote, look at what you’re doing every single day and then look at the last couple weeks. I have a daily to-do list and I’ll look back at last month or last quarter and realize, “Wow, I shouldn’t be working on this.”

As time goes on and your company grows, it’s your job to take more things off your plate and delegate it to other people. This is why companies hire other people. Your managers get stacked up with work, too. They need to hire people as well.

Hiring is one of the most important things you can do because you’re focusing on assigning each person in your company to their proper task category in order to maximize the ROI of human effort.

Learn More: Ultimate Guide to Building a World Class Team

Let’s look at $100 an hour tasks, like talking to qualified prospects, doing social media, managing pay-per-click campaigns, doing customer follow ups, and so on. Customer follow ups, for example, are super important, so you probably don’t want to categorize it as a $10 an hour task and delegate it out to someone who doesn’t do it right. You could, but your business might suffer as a result.

Now let’s look at $1,000 per hour tasks, like building your marketing or sales funnel. If you want to have a marketing automation sequence that is perfectly optimized, that’s a big undertaking and a big time commitment. But you know it’s worth it for you because it’s going to pay dividends down the road.

This is a task that you could do yourself if your company is smaller. Not only can you probably not afford to hire someone to do this, you definitely do not want to hire a $10 per hour or $100 per hour person to do a $1,000 per hour job.

Focus on the $10,000 per Hour Tasks

Finally, there are the $10,000 an hour tasks. If you’re making seven figures per year, these are the tasks that you and your partners, if you have any, should absolutely be focusing on.

Related Content: The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: How to Juggle Multiple Projects and Have a Life, Too

A lot of these high-priority tasks are things that sometimes only you can do. For me, it could be throwing an event or a dinner, or interviewing people on my Growth Everywhere podcast.

Growth Everywhere YouTube channel

Same thing with Marketing School—it has to be me personally doing this each time with Neil. Public speaking or podcasting requires me to actually be there in person to make the biggest impact.

But what I can probably start to offload are the live webinars that I do. Maybe somebody else can take that on. Maybe that becomes a $100 per hour task.

Planning, Prioritizing and Delegating

Once you’ve identified the $1,000 or $10,000 per hour tasks that you should be doing yourself, you want to make a game plan for how you’re going to tackle those tasks both on a daily basis and over time. If you need to have somebody else do that for you, like a project manager, then you’re basically out of control. You may no longer see the bigger picture.

On the other hand, the tasks that you’ve identified as able to be delegated, whether it’s a web development project or a new marketing campaign, you should absolutely not take on yourself, even if it is tempting. You need to find the right talent, give very specific instructions, and then take a big step back.

So try this out if you haven’t before. Create a task prioritization chart or matrix with $10, $100, $1,000, and $10,000 per hour categories. Prioritize your tasks and then share the document with your team as well so they know where you’re at and they know what you should be working on.

Remember, if you ever start to slip back into $10 per hour tasks such as project management and things like that, you need to get them off your plate immediately.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

GE Here’s Why Focusing Too Much on Conversions Can Actually Hurt Your ROI

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

Creating a lucrative and scalable revenue model can be difficult, especially if you focus on the wrong end goals.

Brands often fail to generate a decent Return On Investment because they are too hung up on specific elements of their sales funnel. A preoccupation with certain types of conversions is just one of the reasons that your ROI can collapse.

Don’t Become Obsessed With Conversions

Andrew Baird wrote an insightful LinkedIn post about the pitfalls of focusing too heavily on conversions. He asked a client for financial details, which apparently took the client by surprise.

“‘Why do you need to know my financials? Don’t you just need the conversion stats?’ the client asked.”

Baird pointed out that conversions themselves didn’t necessarily mean much if they failed to generate money. You can suffer a negative ROI if you are selling low-ticket items or can’t turn many of your leads into sales.

“Increasing conversions when every sale makes you very little (or loses you money!) won’t help,” Baird writes. “Equally if your conversions are at 75% [then] starting with conversions won’t give you the biggest bang for your efforts.”

Conversions are essential events in your revenue model. However, a specific conversion is useless if you view it as the ultimate end goal.

Learn More: LeadPages CEO Clay Collins Talks About How To Ramp Up Your Conversion Rates (Up To 75%!)

How Valuable Are Your Conversions?


Do you know what your conversions are really worth? There’s no point in prioritizing them until you know, because determining the value of them is necessary to estimate your ROI.

It’s important to remember that most of your leads will never translate into sales. According to research from Marketing Sherpa, only 7% of leads turn into paying customers. Of course, this is a rough estimate, and conversion rates vary by industry and company. But it shows that the vast majority of conversions never generate any revenue.

Here is the equation you must follow to calculate your lead value:

Lead Value = Lead Conversion Rate * Average Sale from a Conversion

ROI = Lead Value / Average Cost of Generating the Lead

The math behind this model is simple, but these equations can be difficult to apply in real-life situations. Remember that some leads will convert to sales more easily than others. Also, some leads are more likely to convert into higher-paying customers.

You need to understand how certain types of traffic convert and how many of those leads will turn into paying customers.

For example, let’s assume that you are setting up a Google AdWords campaign. You bid on one keyword for $0.40 a click and another for $0.30 a click. You might find that the conversion rate (possibly an e-mail opt-in) on your landing page is 20% for both of these keywords. However, the lead-to-sales rate is 10% for the first keyword but only 5% for the second keyword.

The average revenue from leads generated with the first keyword is $30 and $20 for the second keyword.

In this situation, you’re paying 33% more for every lead that you generate with the first keyword that you’re bidding on. However, you are generating three times as much revenue from each lead with that keyword. This means that your ROI is over 130% higher by bidding on the keyword with the higher CPC.

If you were focused exclusively on generating as many conversions as you could for the lowest possible cost, you would actually be generating a much lower ROI.

Read More: Here’s How to Use Web Analytics to Boost Content Marketing Performance

Why Is an Obsession with Conversions Problematic?

There are several reasons that a preoccupation with conversions can actually be counterproductive. Here are some issues that you need to be aware of:

Conversions are arbitrarily defined

You could consider any action that a user takes to be a conversion. Subscribing to an e-mail list, submitting a quote request, or simply visiting your website are all examples of conversions. Unfortunately, none of these actions by themselves yield revenue.

You could easily increase your conversions just by setting lower goals when defining conversions. For example, instead of counting quote requests, you could focus on the number of users that show any interest in one of your products (such as asking a question about the product).

You’ll probably have a higher number of conversions, but you haven’t improved the effectiveness of your marketing funnel.  

Free Bonus Download: Get this handy checklist of 15 simple and actionable ways to increase the numbers in your sales funnel. Click here to download it free.

Lead quality varies

Some conversions are much more valuable than others. You might encourage 5,000 people to subscribe to your e-mail list, submit a quote request, or take some other action, but few of those leads will ever pan out. Your lead-to-sales conversion rate might be especially low if you make the following mistakes:

Some brands are tempted to make these mistakes because they want to pad their conversion numbers. This can be particularly problematic if you’re relying on a marketing team that’s compensated based on the quantity rather than the quality of your leads. This is why many brands with affiliate programs compensate their affiliates for sales rather than leads.

Better Sales Funnel Planning

So, if you shouldn’t worry as much about your site’s specific conversion numbers, what should you put your energy into instead? The following suggestions will help you better create and optimize a fully-functioning funnel:

Determine which conversions matter most

As mentioned above, conversions are arbitrarily-defined concepts. If you truly want to make your sales funnel work effectively, you’ve got to isolate specific conversion cases and determine exactly which conversions mean the most for business.

Following the description above, opting in to an e-mail list, submitting a quote request or taking other actions (from downloading case studies to making sales) all constitute conversions. And if you focus exclusively on boosting conversions, you’d treat all these options equally, even though — from a business standpoint — they don’t all make an equal contribution to your bottom line.

The point of this article isn’t to convince you that tracking conversions is useless — far from it. The goal is to help you recognize that you need to be more exacting with your measurements. It’ll take some time and effort, but it’s crucial that you identify what a given conversion means to your business in terms of dollars and cents so that you can focus your marketing efforts on the conversion types that move the needle most.

Plan strong TOFU, MOFU and BOFU content

If you aren’t familiar with these acronyms, here’s a breakdown:

We aren’t just talking vegan protein sources here — we’re talking about the content that’s needed to guide website visitors through all stages of your buying process. Each piece of the puzzle is important, and yet TOFU and MOFU content is often set to the side in favor of a focus on conversion-driving bottom of funnel content.

Take a critical look at the content on your website. Can the pieces you’ve created be used to attract a larger audience, as good TOFU content can? Do they help visitors get familiar with the features and benefits of your product or service, as in the case of effective MOFU content? If you’re all about the CTAs and getting viewers to take that last step (BOFU), it may be time to build out your content strategy.

Read More: How We Instantly Raised Average Order Value by 10% [case study]

Invest in proper attribution

As you’re expanding your content approach, take a careful look at how you’re attributing your conversions. In that rush to drive conversions and figure out what contributed to them, many marketers give full attribution to the last touch — the final blog post that was read, the final CTA that encouraged action or some other far-down-the-funnel variable. And why wouldn’t they? It’s by far the simplest approach.

That said, it’s a woefully inaccurate way of assessing the value of each piece of the funnel. Instead of putting all your emphasis on encouraging and tracking conversions, give at least some of that energy to the process of investing in and implementing multi-touch attribution technology. Doing so becomes more essential every day in this omni-channel, omni-device world.

Free Bonus Download: Get this handy checklist of 15 simple and actionable ways to increase the numbers in your sales funnel. Click here to download it free.

Don’t Neglect Your Sales Funnel

Generating leads is essential if you want to earn sales down the road. However, even the most targeted leads don’t turn into customers on their own. You need to carefully nurture them before a sale is made.

If you want to have a workable sales funnel, then you must execute every step correctly. You need a strategy to engage your leads and encourage them to take the next step. This process can take months, so make sure you’re committed to your goals. Keep track of your leads, define how you acquired them, and split test different variables in your marketing funnel to make it as effective as possible.

Have you found that focusing too much on conversions has hurt your ROI? Feel free to share your comments below.

Image: Wikimedia CommonsFlickr

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

The Content Marketing Funnel

It’s 2017. Do you know where your content is?

Today, nearly 88% of B2B marketers are creating custom content marketing and 76% of marketers plan to produce more content in the future. But many digital marketers are lost when it comes to making a distinction between content that works, and content that doesn’t make an impact.

The traditional sales funnel has been changing to a content marketing funnel, which many brands are still doing their best to figure out. Marketers are now able to support sales in an unprecedented way by targeting each part of the funnel with unique, stage-specific content types that help qualify, nurture, and convert leads into paying customers. Strategic use of content optimization opens up a world of opportunities.

In our experience, lots of companies don’t know how content marketing comes together, and they ask questions like:

What these companies fail to understand is that content creation, when done correctly, isn’t a race against the competition. It’s more like a spectator sport, one in which you watch your leads get closer and closer. In this framework, every piece of content you create is an opportunity to bring a new lead closer to a sale or to inspire an existing customer to take action.

Is content volume important? Absolutely. But content synergy is far more important. In other words, there’s no point in creating 100 blog posts if you’re just going to send all your readers to your homepage.

If you struggle to come up with relevant and interesting material, want new ways to repurpose your curated content, or want to learn how different types of content target different parts of the funnel, this blog post is key to creating an effective content marketing strategy.

What Is the Content Marketing Funnel?

Picture the wide top of a funnel. This is where a large number of people might become aware of your products or services. All these people are your leads, or potential customers. As they move through your funnel towards the much narrower neck, many will drop off. A much smaller number of leads will actually make it through the entire funnel.

The purpose of the funnel is to convert as many leads as possible into actual customers who are willing to pay for your products or services.

The traditional sales funnel has three broad stages:

  1. Awareness – when a lead first discovers your brand
  2. Evaluation – when a qualified lead (or prospect) decides to find out whether your product or service is the right fit or not
  3. Purchase – when the prospect gathers the last bit of information they need before deciding to buy and becomes a customer (the stage every business wants to achieve!)

Content Marketing Funnel

Image Source

The generic content marketing funnel is similar, but has a fourth broad stage:

The great thing about content marketing is that it can help your business reach users at any stage of this funnel, whether they’re at the top or floating somewhere in the middle. And as leads continue to interact with your business, and your business produces more quality content, you’ll widen the neck of the funnel.

What Content Type Goes Where?

Now for the burning question every marketer wants answered: What kind of content belongs at which stage?

Here’s the expanded four-stage content marketing funnel with different examples of content that is ideal for each of the four stages:

We want to be very clear that this is just our map for content types—there is no real consensus on what types of content work best in each stage because it depends a lot on your sales cycle, your industry, and your audience. There is also a lot of overlap between content types and stages.

That being said, this is the best we’ve figured out for now, and it holds true for the vast majority of companies with successful content marketing campaigns.

Let’s learn more about each type of content, and why it works in its respective stage of the funnel using the startup company Canary, “a complete security system in a single device”, as a case study.

Content for Attracting Leads

Content Marketing FunnelThis is the landing page that users see when they go to the Canary website. One of the first things that you’ll notice is how simple it is, with more negative space than text.

Because it’s holiday season right now, a “12 Days of Canary” pop-up appears asking for visitors’ e-mail address to get updates about holiday deals.

Content Marketing Funnel

This is effective for existing customers who may be coming back for more, or new leads who will make a decision based on the idea of a good deal. It’s straight to the point and quickly guides prospects to where they would be most interested in going.

And if the prospect scrolls down a little further…

Content Marketing Funnel

Again, there is not much text, but there is a call-to-action to learn more about a collaboration between State Farm and Canary to support first responders, such as arson investigators and training dogs. People who have State Farm Insurance will see an opportunity to save money on insurance, and others will see a company that cares about the men and women who protect us all.

Learn more: 10 Tips for Landing Page Optimization

For completely unqualified prospects who know absolutely nothing about your brand or product, the best types of content are simple landing pages, short introductory or product videos, and infographics. In other words: there should be as little written content as possible.

Keep in mind that no one cares about your company yet. Unqualified leads either don’t know who you are or have never seen any of your stuff. So you need to catch their attention with more riveting types of content.

Video often produces higher search engine optimization and stronger engagement and boosts the chance of a sale by 64–85%. In fact, by 2017, 74% of all web traffic will come from video. Video is also mobile-friendly, which means it puts you in front of the 31 million people who plug into the web via mobile device every day (and that’s just in the U.S.!). Since Canary offers a complete security system that you can access when away from home via an app, it’s essential that they make sure their content is mobile friendly.

A large portion of Canary’s business is selling security cameras, so it’s important that they showcase the high-quality footage that their products can deliver. Their Instagram, with over 5,000 followers, consists mainly of animal videos captured by their security cameras. Prospects can laugh at cute dogs and cats, and see how effective Canary’s product is at the same time.

Content Marketing Funnel

Once you’ve captured the attention of your leads, the best way to capitalize on this is by steering these potential customers toward qualifying facts or figures and by getting them to start asking themselves whether they should make a purchase. This can be achieved through the smart use of infographics.

All businesses can benefit from incorporating infographics into their marketing strategy. Just look at these stats:

Also called “data visualization,” infographics meet at the intersection of information, illustration, and design to present data that might otherwise be bland and boring in an engaging way.

Content Marketing Funnel

Image Source

And, as with videos, infographics are perfect for mobile devices. When there are 44 million more active mobile subscriptions in the world than there are people, ensuring that your content is mobile friendly is something that you can’t afford to neglect.

Content for Converting Prospects

Your leads have now seen your landing page, found your social media accounts, laughed at your viral videos, and probably looked over a few of your compelling and impeccably designed infographics. And they’re ready for more.

One of the first things a prospect will want to know after deciding that a product or service might be useful is whether they can trust the brand behind it. The best way to build that trust is by establishing domain expertise as a helpful thought leader. And helpful leaders usually offer free advice.

That’s why Canary offers plenty of helpful information across all their marketing channels, starting with a multifaceted blog:

Content Marketing Funnel

Learn more: How to Write Blog Posts that Actually Convert Readers into Customers

But how will Canary’s prospects find their blog posts? Will they have to visit their website to see what’s new? Nope, that’s where social media kicks in.

92% of marketers stated that a social media strategy was vital for their business because it creates a sense of community engagement. By creating regularly updated content channels on the social platforms where your target audience regularly hangs out, you provide your prospects with easy access to your advice. You also give them a chance to see what other prospects and customers are saying.

A prospect can instantly scan through dozens of eye-catching pics, announcements, and satisfied customer comments. Social media is the quickest, surest way of getting prospects and customers to engage and eventually become brand evangelists (which is why it shows up in the “Delight” stage as well).

Content Marketing Funnel

The ideal social media strategy includes regularly updating all your business’s social media accounts to maintain a strong and consistent presence on all platforms and catering to your followers as needed. Canary’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all regularly updated with content that is both informative and lighthearted, but still relevant to their brand. They also have their own hashtag, #caughtbycanary, for customers to locate and share snippets of footage caught by their Canary cameras.

Content Marketing Funnel

You should also have a clear FAQ page on your website to answer the most relevant and common questions they are likely to have before committing to your product or service. Canary includes a section called FAQs: Before You Buy:

Content Marketing Funnel

Once you’ve demonstrated your helpfulness and expertise without strings, a prospect is going to be far more comfortable with and serious about your brand. But there are still a few more steps they must take before they commit to making a purchase.

You have to convince them that buying from you is the smart thing to do. This usually means providing more qualifying information to assuage their fears. But this information can’t be an infographic. These prospects aren’t leads anymore, and they’re going to start scrutinizing everything a little more closely. In other words, now’s the time to offer long-form, in-depth content like whitepapers, e-books, and even informative webinars.

Learn more: The Ultimate Recipe for Effective Customer Lead Generation

Content for Closing Customers

Savvy brands like Canary understand that all marketing is in service of the “Close” and “Delight” stages. And, whenever possible, closing should be a repeat stage. Once a customer pays for their first product, the goal is to make them pay for another product or service, and become a recurring customer.

And the absolute easiest way to close a prospect is through ratings, reviews, testimonials, and case studies. In fact, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

For a company that sells security technology and home protection, stories about the prevention of break-ins and other crimes can be powerful testimonials. And this is some of the content that Canary features on their blog:

Content Marketing Funnel

Everyone dreads the idea of someone breaking into their home to steal their possessions while they’re away or threaten their family’s safety if they’re at home. The headline alone targets that feeling and captures the reader’s attention.

But even if a prospect never makes it to their blog, Canary has another big promotion stamped on their landing page:

Content Marketing Funnel

Names like Forbes and Time Magazine appear, but Oprah takes the spotlight. The “Oprah Effect” can launch even a small, struggling company into stardom after an appearance on her show. Even if your product hasn’t been promoted by Oprah, word-of-mouth recommendations from satisfied customers on social media, Amazon, or Yelp are more than enough.

For prospects that need a bit more convincing to close, you can also use strategic questionnaires and self-assessments. These help “nudge” prospects over the edge into customer territory by showing them just how much they need your help. They also help save you time by qualifying prospects even further, so you can get on the phone with the ones you’re most likely to close.

And if there are prospects you just can’t crack the first time around, you can always get them the next time there’s an opportunity. That’s why it’s so important to set up and maintain an e-mail newsletter. 91% of consumers check their e-mail daily, and 72% of consumers prefer to receive commercial communication via e-mail.

Content for Delighting Customers

E-mail is also the primary method for keeping in touch with existing customers. It’s how you continue to offer one-time customers helpful, resourceful content to keep the relationship fresh and relevant (until you have a promotion or upsell).

In fact, the “Delight” stage is a lot like what it takes to keep any relationship going. It’s not enough to attract, date, and enter into an official relationship with someone special. If you want to keep their affection, you need to remind them that you care with gifts and shows of affection.

For businesses producing content, this means that you should regularly check in via e-mail with announcements, discounts, and surveys. You should also share (through both social media and e-mail) any new blog posts or whitepapers and e-books that are relevant to your existing customers.

Canary sends its subscribers regular e-mails that contain news and other relevant updates on the company and its products.

By sharing top-of-the-funnel attract and convert content to customers, the content marketing funnel comes full circle. Customers who become e-mail subscribers are essentially passed through a second funnel: the e-mail marketing funnel (supplemented by social media), which eventually turns them into loyal customers and promoters.

Learn more: 5 Case Studies of Successful Marketing Funnels

What Does Your Content Marketing Funnel Look Like?

It goes without saying that Canary’s content marketing strategy isn’t going to work for all companies.

But the beauty of the content marketing funnel is that it can be adapted to any business, no matter what you’re selling. A tech startup and a mid-market retailer may target different parts of the funnel with different types of content, but the general strategy will remain the same.

Use this example of a content marketing funnel as a template and an inspiration for your own content marketing strategy.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how your brand uses different types of content for the different parts of the funnel. Let us know in the comments below!

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Yuri Elkaim

Hey everyone, in today’s episode I share the mic with Yuri Elkaim, a nutrition, fitness, and fat loss expert, as well as a New York Times bestselling author who makes fit and healthy simple again with clear, science-backed advice.

In this interview we talk about how Yuri took his business from $6K to multiple 7 figures in revenue, the secret to getting 50% opt-in rates for some of his content (which is unheard of in the blogging world!), and how spending more time building customer relationships drives conversions way up.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: Bestselling Author Yuri Elkaim On How His Fitness & Nutrition Videos Got 22.5M Views on YouTube TRANSCRIPT

Time Stamped Show Notes:

3 Key Points:

  1. Give VALUE to your audience through GREAT content.
  2. A sales funnel is simply a process that serves as a bridge linking people to what they want.
  3. Place your customers on the “customer success path” to win that sale.

Resources From This Interview:

Leave some feedback:

 Connect with Eric Siu:

The Turkish Rug Funnel

I’m going to tell you a story about a beautiful rug that I purchased in Istanbul, Turkey a while back.

Why? Because of the entire process that eventually led up to the purchase. It’s a story of pure marketing and sales effectiveness.

Back in 2014, I went to Istanbul with two of my buddies from Entrepreneur’s Organization.

The Turkish Rug Funnel

Imagine two white guys and an Asian dude showing up in Turkey. We stuck out like sore thumbs everywhere we went.

The Turkish Rug Funnel

As we started to explore on our first day out, a young man approached us and started to make small talk.

I didn’t think much of it since I was more interested in finding out things we could do around the area. I thought he would go away eventually, but he kept the small talk up. Sales lesson: be persistent.

Read More: The 9 Marketing Mistakes You Don’t Realize You’re Making (And How to Avoid Them)

Eventually he asked us if we would like to see his parents’ store. We reluctantly agreed since we couldn’t come up with anything better to do.

The store was a combination of family stores all connected to each other. We walked into a shop filled with beautiful rugs and immediately saw a worker diligently weaving a rug.

The Turkish Rug Funnel

Here’s the ‘scout’ that managed to get us into the rug shop.

I’ll be honest—it looked like a tedious process and opened up my eyes to the amount of effort it really took to produce a quality rug. Much respect.

Having the process on display was clearly no accident—think of it as an explainer video in today’s world. When explainer videos are in play, visitors typically land on a webpage and click on the video to learn more about the product/service.

Free Bonus Download: Get ready to receive a handy checklist on increasing the numbers in your sales funnel — info not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Before we continue: do you remember the sales framework from Glengarry Glen Ross?

A – Always

B – Be

C – Closing

If you don’t, let me refresh you with this masterful scene:

To recap, here’s the sales framework from the video: AIDA


Keep in mind that our objective for the day was to go find activities to do. Now we were sucked into the vortex of Turkish rugs.

The Turkish Rug Funnel

I’m not gonna lie: they had our attention.

When the novelty of watching the rug weaving process started to wear off for us, they pulled another secret weapon out of their arsenal: food and drinks.

They asked us to stay a little and they’d give us tea. By the way, if you haven’t had Turkish tea, it’s delicious (I’m a tea guy!).

Key Takeaway: If you’re selling something that seems to be a commodity, bringing in other tantalizing elements (such as food and drink) can be your loss leader in drawing in a cold prospect’s attention.


By this step of the process, their main sales guy had entered the picture. If you’ve seen Boiler Room or The Wolf of Wall Street before, this guy’s personality would’ve been the perfect fit.

He was aggressive and used every tool in the shed to push us further down their sales funnel.

If you’ve read Robert Cialdini’s Influence, you might remember the chapter regarding reciprocity (and if you haven’t, it’s a must read). The basic premise is this: if somebody gives you something, human tendency is to respond favorably with a favor in return.

By offering us tea, they were betting that they could leverage the norm of reciprocity. As entrepreneurs, the three of us had a good idea of what was going on and intended to bounce out of the funnel at some point, but the sales guy was the glue that held the process together.

As we drank our tea, the salesman (we’ll call him ‘Jack’) asked if we wanted to see some of their beautiful rugs. Again, none of us were truly interested…that is, until I realized something: I would be purchasing a home pretty soon and needed a nice rug for the place.

Fortunately, one of the guys in my group used to sell rugs and could differentiate world-class quality from duds. So we agreed to entertain them for a few more minutes.

Delighted, Jack shouted out the names of two young children and they ran in carrying rugs over their shoulders. One by one, they methodically dropped the rugs in front of us and watched our facial reactions to see if we had any interest.

To be honest, nothing really caught my eye in the beginning and I was ready to leave. However, one of my counterparts wanted to see more rugs.

At this point in the funnel, Jack could smell our interest starting to grow (at least a little bit). But he knew it wasn’t enough; he had to continue to push us further or else he would soon lose us.

That’s when he unloaded his second weapon on us: FOOD!

Remember, these guys had a collection of stores connected to each other: a restaurant, a clothing store, a rug shop, and more. They were using every advantage they had to keep us hooked.

Bravo on this one because the food was incredibly delicious. Imagine getting authentic chicken and lamb skewers with rice, tomatoes, peppers, and PERFECT seasoning.

The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but trust me when I say the food was to die for:

The Turkish Rug Funnel

Before we continue on with the story, let’s quickly recap the funnel:

  1. A scout from the rug store goes out to find tourists.
  2. The scout engages with the tourists in an attempt to draw them into the store.
  3. Upon entering the store, the tourists are greeted with an in-person demonstration of the process (the ‘explainer video’).
  4. The group is then asked if they want to have some tea.
  5. After agreeing, the group is sent into a private room. This is where the salesman, Jack, enters the picture and starts to persuade the group to at least take a look at some rugs while they sip their tea. “Don’t worry! We are all friends! No pressure!” Uh-huh, sure.
  6. Jack gauges the group to see if there is any real interest. If there is, boom. Time to go deeper into the funnel.
  7. Jack orders his team to bring the tourists food and takes them to another room.

Ok, let’s keep going.

Key Takeaway: The rug salesman did an excellent job of maximizing the resources he had around him—he squeezed every ounce of juice out of the restaurant and the children and it was 100% necessary to get us (the prospects) on the hook.

Free Bonus Download: Get ready to receive a handy checklist on increasing the numbers in your sales funnel — info not found in this post! Click here to download it free.


I think it’s really smart that the process involves moving people around to different areas. It’s almost akin to how  presenters are always changing slides or angles during their videos/talks to keep the audience engaged. In this case, they were changing our environment every now and then (and even giving us different types of food and drink to consume!)

By the time they served us a full meal, we found ourselves on the highest floor of their building—they really were driving us up the funnel! Perhaps this is where they typically take customers to close them on the sale.

The Turkish Rug Funnel

By this point, Jack had a look of doubt on his face because he started to realize that the friend who initially showed interest wasn’t really going to buy anything. It almost felt as if he thought we were taking him along for the ride. To be honest, that’s what I thought we were doing. Oops.

That all changed when one of the rugs caught my interest. Jack jumped up like a kid and focused 100% of his attention on me.

As a salesman, you obviously want to focus on the low-hanging fruit. An easy way to remember this is to use the standard BANT framework, which means to qualify a prospect based on:

Let’s analyze my friend who feigned interest:

Now let’s take a look at me:

Jack was very smart to go all-in on me because although I was on the fence, I was his best shot at getting the sale.

He started to pare down the rug selections to the type of style that I wanted and continued to shout orders at his boys (no more than 13 years old). At this point, they were sweating profusely because of all the running around they had to do to find the right rugs, drop them in front of us, roll them back up, and then repeat the process.

Just goes to show you how much hard work goes into getting someone to buy a damn rug.  =)

Now I know you’re probably thinking that I’m the sucker for getting dragged this deep into their funnel, but we weren’t caught with our pants down completely.

My friend, Adam, happened to know rugs really well. He used to sell high-end rugs, so he gave me the scoop on the products and told me that Turkey was in fact known for their high-quality rugs and he could tell the difference between quality and garbage.

It’s always good to have an Adam when you have no idea wtf is going on.  =)

He told me that the rug I had my eye on was easily worth $10,000 in the United States due to the quality.

As a bachelor, that was totally mind-blowing because I’ve never spent over $200 on a rug (which I purchased from Ikea).

Key Takeaway: Jack did an excellent job of pinpointing the prospect who was most likely to close using the BANT framework.


Now, it was time to begin negotiations. We were down to two rugs: a medium-sized version and a larger one. Jack told us that the medium-sized rug would be $3,000 while the larger one would be $5,000.

“But since we are all friends, I give you discount: $2,500 for smaller one and $4,500 for larger one.”

Lol. Yeah man.

Jack was employing the classic price anchoring strategy where he would give us a higher price initially and then throw in a discount to make us think that the new price was reasonable given the ‘original’ price.

First, give me a break: feeding us and showing us a bunch of rugs over a 45-minute time period doesn’t make us friends. Don’t be fake with your generosity—people can see right through it.

The only reason I was still engaged was because the product quality was excellent and I thought I could negotiate the price down. Always remember the points that you’re unwilling to compromise on. For me: #1 was product quality and #2 was price. For him: it was about selling at an acceptable price.

Good negotiation is all about conceding certain points to make both sides feel like they ‘won’. I highly recommend reading Getting To Yes by William L. Ury to get better at negotiating. It’ll help you get more things that you want in life ?

My friend whispered to Jack that I was not willing to pay more than $3,000 for a rug to set a new anchor price for Jack. After pacing for a few moments, Jack told me that he would sell me the smaller rug for $3,000.

The guy was clearly acting with his stalling—almost as if it was a really tough decision. But for some reason I could smell his Hollywooding.

So I decided to take action and do some acting of my own. I got up and whispered gibberish to my buddy and then sat down again. Then I got back up and walked around. Then I sat down again.

“I will pay $2,500 for the larger rug. That’s my final offer.”

Jack looked taken aback and had a ‘fuck you, boy’ smirk on his face. This time, he really looked pained.

Or perhaps he was acting.

Who cares, I thought. I was getting a steal.

The Turkish Rug Funnel

The Rug.

Initial offer:

Final sale price:

Whether I really got a steal or not, I’ll never know. But in negotiations, FEELING like I won matters a lot. Although Jack put on an act while we were negotiating, he probably made a 2-3x return on investment.

Here’s what I liked about his acting: whether he was feigning it or not, it at least slows down the other party’s negotiating willpower a little bit. In negotiations, when your offer is hugely unfavorable to the other side, it’s offensive and both sides might end up walking away from the deal.

Key Takeaway: Negotiation is all about making both sides feel like they ‘won’ the deal. Everyone has their ‘must haves’ and points that they’re willing to concede on. My ‘must have’ was on price because I knew the quality was already there. For them, it was all about selling for an acceptable margin.

So I got my rug. End of story, right?

Nope. The Turkish rug funnel goes further!

Free Bonus Download: Get ready to receive a handy checklist on increasing the numbers in your sales funnel — info not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

After we completed the transaction, Jack asked us to stay a little longer for more tea and Baklava! Just for reference, Baklava is a delicious Turkish pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and held together with syrup or honey.

See how food plays into each step of the funnel? Let’s take a step back:

  1. Tea – used to gauge our initial interest. If we show any sign of interest, we get…
  2. Kebabs – always delicious to eat authentic food from any country. So good.
  3. Baklava – used to further the conversation and continue our journey down the funnel.

Jack asked us to go downstairs with him so he could ‘show us something’. It’s always an ominous sign when someone just wants to ‘show you something’.

And what do you know, we walked straight into another one of his stores. This one had leather jackets, home decor, and beautiful silk scarves that immediately caught my eye.

And guess what: I ended up buying four scarves. My buddies ended up buying two each.

Key Takeaway: After a customer has purchased, they’re much more likely to buy more from you. Especially RIGHT AFTER the initial purchase. Upsells/cross-sells are a must if you want to expand your revenues and Jack did a good job of adding them into his funnel.

A few days later, we happened to walk by the same store and what do you know: Jack was outside. He saw us and rushed towards me, grabbing me by the arm and saying they have more beautiful rugs for me to purchase.

Talk about not being practical. I already bought a rug from you two days ago, so what makes you think I need more rugs??

Key Takeaway: Selling is about relationships as well; don’t make it 100% transactional. I do applaud his aggressiveness though.

Learn More: 10 Steps To Creating A Successful Sales Team From Scratch


Sales and marketing funnels are in play everywhere you go. However, it’s not every day that you get to see a funnel work from 0 initial interest to a final sale (plus upsells). Pay attention when you’re being placed in a funnel and try to extract the key points that caused you to take action. What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about the funnel? Whether or not you buy something, are there any takeaways you can use for your own business?

At the end of the day, all you really need to do is pull one or two nuggets and implement them for your own business.

What are some interesting real-life funnels that you’ve seen?

How Much Should You Pay Per Lead To Be Profitable?

Something I don’t see talked about very often is how much a company should pay per lead. If you are a well-funded startup, you can afford to lose some money per acquisition as you figure out the best model that works for you, but if you’re bootstrapped, you don’t have that luxury.

If you’re in the latter category, this post is for you.

For Lead Generation

To start, let’s assume that you sell custom-designed logos online with a website that gets 10,000 visitors a month.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say your customer lifetime value is $1,000.

Then let’s say you convert 1% of your 10,000 visitors into e-mail subscribers per month. That’s 100 e-mail leads.

Then let’s say of those 100 e-mail leads, 15% are qualified. So 15 qualified leads.

Of the 15 qualified leads, maybe you’ll close 20% of them. That means you’ll close 3 per month.

Here’s how much you can pay per e-mail subscriber:

$1,000 x 1% x 15% x 20% = $.30

Each of your e-mails is worth $.30. Ideally you would give yourself some margin and aim to pay $.05 to $.10 per e-mail lead.

David Skok recommends keeping customer acquisition cost (CAC) at least 3x less than customer lifetime value (CLTV):

How Much Should I Pay For A Lead(1)

Not too sure about your numbers? Add some more margin by making your CAC 6x to account for additional variables.

This is why it’s important to continue to look at your funnel metrics the whole way and figure out what you can optimize because every percentage point matters.

Now you’re probably wondering, how in the world can I get e-mail leads for $.05 to $.10? Great question.

While it’s very tough to get leads in that range in today’s world, it’s still possible to get close by running contests or even renting e-mail lists. And yes, renting e-mail lists still works (depending on the niche that you’re in).

Like anything else in marketing, your offer has to be compelling and your targeting has to be precise.

But that’s the hard way.

The easier way would be to optimize what you currently already have instead of trying to bang your head against the wall on something foreign. Most startups suck at optimizing what is already working and instead try to add additional custom acquisition channels without first 10x/100xing what they have.

Let’s organize the funnel metrics again (based on what we described above):

First, we’ll see if we can do some conversion rate optimization on the site and in our e-mail sequence:

Just by making a few quick changes in our funnel, we’ve increased our worth of an e-mail by 4x and as a result, we can now pay 4x more per e-mail. That’s A LOT more manageable.

But ‘manageable’ isn’t good enough. We want more.

Price is something to generally revisit because you’re constantly improving your product/service. It makes sense to think about increasing your pricing every quarter due to increased demand, overhead, and other variables.

Let’s continue to build off our previous example of conversion rate optimization success. This time, we’ll be doubling our prices because business is great and we feel that we were undercharging in the past:

We have even more wiggle room now that we have adjusted CLTV. If we can just make other minor tweaks to get our conversion rates higher and perhaps bump the price up a little more, we’ll be able to get more aggressive with our advertising initiatives.

Read more: The Ultimate Recipe for Effective Customer Lead Generation

Free Bonus Download: Enjoy this handy checklist of 15 ways to increase your lead flows! Click here to download it free.

Here are 15 things you can do to increase your numbers in your funnel:

How Much Should I Pay For A Lead(2)

How Much Should I Pay For A Lead(3)

Free Bonus Download: Enjoy this handy checklist of 15 ways to increase your lead flows! Click here to download it free.


It’s VERY important to know your conversion numbers at each step of the funnel. When you have these numbers buttoned up, all you need to do is tweak and test each step of the funnel until you have a well-oiled machine. Using an Excel Spreadsheet or Google Spreadsheet will suffice for tracking, but be sure to track your numbers on a daily basis.

From there, it all becomes a simple game of driving the numbers to a satisfactory level at each stage of the funnel and then pouring gasoline onto the fire.

What are some smart ways you know of to increase numbers in your funnel? Let us know in the comments below!


What Is Inbound Marketing

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

You’ve likely heard the term, you may even believe you have a good grasp of the basics. But chances are you’re thinking of inbound and content marketing as the same thing. People often confuse the two, much like Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman.

Inbound is the most popular kid at school these days, captain of the football team and holding the place of honor at the cool table. But for many of us, it’s an enigma. A mystery wrapped in a puzzle.

So what is inbound marketing? Let’s start with what it’s not.

Inbound Marketing = Content Marketing?

Afraid not. Many industry “experts” make this mistake, so don’t feel bad if you fall in that camp. It’s not the same thing. The terms are not interchangeable, despite the fact that many sites do just that.

Inbound marketing is any marketing activity that gets you found, that brings leads and customers to you rather than you heading out into the world to find them. Inbound is frequently done via content marketing, though it’s not the only way (social media participation is another, such as hashtag conversations on Twitter). It may include SEO, social media, videos, e-mail campaigns, podcasts, infographics, blogs, and webinars.

So, content marketing—the creation and distribution or useful content to connect and engage with a specific target audience—is just one inbound marketing tactic…but it’s perhaps the most important one.

What is inbound marketing

(Image source: DigitalRalph)

Put another way, all content marketing is essentially inbound marketing, but all inbound is not content.

“Inbound Marketing is about getting found online, through search engines and on sites like Facebook and YouTube and Twitter…” ~David Meerman Scott

And you want to be found online. Consider these facts:

It all begins with getting found. Just like the Hollywood starlet getting discovered while serving coffee at Starbucks.

Inbound tactics like content and SEO make you visible to a world that is increasingly looking for answers, information, products, and services online. It gets you on their radar without the pushy sales methods that everyone hates so much. This is a very good thing for your bottom line, but it’s not a get-rich-quick scheme. It takes time.

“Content marketing is a long-term relationship. It’s not a one night stand.” ~Ross Simmonds

The Content Conundrum

Creating and distributing all that content—blog posts, e-books, slideshows, videos, infographics, podcasts, articles, case studies, white papers, graphics, webinars—can eat a lot of your workday.

But just look at the payoff:

And with billions of people online at any one time (primarily consuming content, hanging out on social media, and conducting searches), that’s a lot of attention and positive feelings coming your way.

So inbound marketing—and by extension, content—takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, but the ROI is unparalleled in 2016.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 inbound marketing statistics you need to know . These numbers will show you the full value of inbound marketing and can’t be found in this post! Click here to download it free.

How to Harness Content in Your Inbound Efforts

Content marketing needs concrete goals, a specific and identified audience, a distribution plan, and analytics to help measure and define success. Tall order? Sure. But well worth it.

“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world that you are one.” ~Robert Rose

Your efforts need to be guided by your marketing goals, and those might include brand awareness, lead nurturing, conversion/sales, customer service, retention/loyalty, up-selling, or creating passionate subscribers (happy customers make fantastic cheerleaders in cyberspace and beyond).

Create and make available something that someone wants, and they’ll come to you. Right to your digital doorstep. All you have to do is open it and say “hi.” Connection made. Conversation started.

More Useful Stuff:

More Than Just Content: What is Inbound Marketing?

10 Content Marketing Myths that Are Killing Your Conversions

The Inbound vs. Outbound Debate Is Over

With apologies to Don Draper, outbound (or traditional) marketing is going the way of the dodo. It doesn’t speak to the audience, it speaks at the audience, shoving messages under their nose whether they like it or not.

Television and radio ads, billboards, online banners and popups, prints ads, phone calls, flyers, direct (i.e. junk) mail, and so on are all examples of outbound marketing. It’s aggressive in its pitch: Buy our product now! You need this laundry detergent because it will make your life beautiful, fragrant, and 39% better!

These are also known as interruption marketing tactics, because they do just that: they interrupt the audience’s television show or song or their perusal of the latest issue of Cosmo. And people hate being interrupted.

44% of direct mail is never opened, 86% of us skip through commercials (thank you PVRs!), and 84% of 25-34 year olds have bounced from a website because of in-your-face ads.

“We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.” ~Craig Davis

And this is where inbound and content marketing come in and sink the game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. Inbound marketing pulls the audience in and engages in a two-way conversation. It provides value by giving them something they want, need, love, or are interested in…with no strings attached or expectations.

They come to you. There’s no hard sell. In fact, there’s no sell at all. Inbound is about creating relationships, building awareness, providing a solution to some problem or pain point, and building trust.

Then, when it’s time to buy, you’re first in their mind. So:

“If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.” ~Guy Kawasaki

So What’s the Big Deal?

Let’s look at some stats:

And you’ll be in good company. According to Hubspot’s annual State of Inbound report, 3 out of 4 marketers are now prioritizing their inbound efforts, and a whopping 84% of small businesses are primarily using the strategy.

Inbound marketing achieves a higher ROI than outbound methods regardless of a company’s size or marketing budget.

Want to increase your odds even more? Check your metrics at least three times per week, and let them guide your efforts. You’ll be 20% more likely to see a positive return on your investment.

The best marketers monitor:

It’s not just about traffic.

(Source: Compfight)

The CMI and MarketingProfs B2B Content Marketing Report paints an equally impressive picture:

But wait (you might be saying), that’s all great for B2B businesses. But I’m in the B2C arena. Fear not! CMI has you covered, too:

That’s the big deal. The very, very big deal.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 inbound marketing statistics you need to know .These numbers will show you the full value of inbound marketing and can’t be found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Get Onboard with Inbound

But how do you put it all together? Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. No cookie-cutter template that’ll work for everyone. Inbound marketing may be a fickle toddler, but there are plenty of best practices and insider tips to get you started.

How We Use the Web

Think about your own Internet usage. What do you do online? If you’re like most people (and let’s assume you are), you spend a lot of time conducting search queries. We have the collected knowledge of human civilization at our fingertips and in our pockets. Literally. And that’s pretty amazing.

We can instantly find the answer to virtually any question. Those answers can spin us off in new directions, leading to different questions, and introducing us to new websites, brands, and personalities. It’s a smorgasbord. An all-you-can eat buffet. And it is glorious.

Billions of searches each month means billions of opportunities to connect. 2.3 billion social media users means more opportunity to engage than you can shake a virtual stick at. Americans check their social accounts a remarkable 17 times each day! In short, there’s a huge, captive, and engaged audience out there waiting to meet you.
What is inbound marketing

(Source: Pixabay)

Using inbound tactics—with a healthy dose of content—brings a steady flow of laser-targeted traffic to you. You know they’re interested in whatever you have to offer before you even shake their hand (digitally speaking) because they followed your link, or downloaded your content, or commented on your wall. You have what they want.

Don’t blow it by trying to close the deal on the first date. Get to know them.

Inbound Recipe for the Modern Marketer

So, what do you need to succeed? Inbound is a diverse creature. It’s not just content. The best inbound marketers use a mix of:

The goal with inbound is to get known and spread brand awareness. You want to have your name on the tip of everyone’s tongue and grow your fame and authority.. Be visible. Be approachable. Be helpful. But don’t try to sell too soon. Modern consumers are sick and tired of aggressive sales tactics and most will simply walk away if you do it.

That’s the beauty of inbound…you’re selling without selling. The relationship that you cultivate—either real or perceived—makes the sales part almost automatic. People buy for emotional reasons. They buy from brands and companies they know, trust, and love. And inbound marketing grows all of that for you.

Inbound and the Buyer’s Journey

Let’s stop and consider for a moment the way we shop and buy. Even when you physically head out into the real world, that journey often starts online.

A Nielsen survey commissioned by Google found that over three-quarters of consumers conduct searches on their smartphone while on the go, and over half of them want to make a purchase within the hour.

So start with search. Understand that proximity matters to them…they want their search results to be nearby (use location indicators and keywords). And make purchase immediacy a priority (make it easy for them to buy online, to contact you via e-mail or phone, or find your physical location).

This all falls into the sales funnel, whether it starts online and migrates to the real world, or takes place entirely in cyberspace.

The Inbound Sales Funnel

Your inbound marketing needs to walk them through your funnel, from top to bottom. What you provide and offer at each section will be the difference between a successful sale and waving bye-bye as they claw their way back to the top and out.

What is inbound marketing

(Source: Greenhouse Agency)

The inbound sales funnel is typically divided into three sections, and each one requires its own ingredients:

It’s paramount that you create some way to collect details (e-mail and names) in the middle. That turns a nameless prospect into a warm lead. And that’s a very good thing.

If you remember one thing, remember this:

Overall, you’re trying to increase the volume at the top of your funnel with your SEO efforts, targeted and valuable content (blog posts, infographics, videos), active social media participation, and well-researched PPC campaigns, while increasing conversion at the bottom of your funnel by making your offer too good to refuse, and serving up personalized (get their details!) and actionable next-steps. Close the deal…but only at the bottom.

The Buyer Decision Process

The traditional buyer decision process looks like this:

  1. Problem or need identified
  2. Information and research
  3. Evaluation of available options
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post-purchase evaluation

This can easily be applied to our inbound funnel:

  1. ToFu – Problem/need identified, and research stage
  2. MoFu – Evaluation of options
  3. BoFu – Purchase decision, and post-purchase evaluation

See? It goes together like Bert and Ernie.

Just remember that your work is NOT done once you get that sale. Follow up afterwards to create loyal, satisfied customers. Bad word-of-mouth can kill you in 2016 because anybody can reach millions of people in a matter of minutes, so go that extra mile.

Free Bonus Download: Get a list of 10 inbound marketing statistics you need to know .These numbers will show you the full value of inbound marketing and can’t be found in this post! Click here to download it free.

Final Thoughts

So, do you have a plan? Like a good reporter, you need to ask the right questions when sketching your inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is not going away anytime soon, and for that we should all be thankful. It relies on brains, not budget. It literally allows the small guys—the mom ‘n’ pop businesses—to compete on a global scale.

Through SEO, social media engagement, PPC, content distribution (especially blog posts, videos, and visuals), and live appearances, you can pull prospects to you.

What’s inbound marketing? The marketing you’ve been waiting for: affordable, uber-effective, and possible for everyone.

If you’re ready to get found, get connected, and get that sale, let the experts at Single Grain handle every step of your online marketing so that you can concentrate on delivering an amazing product or service.

Ultimate Recipe for Effective Customer Lead Generation

This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.

It’s as annoying as hell, isn’t it?

When another business has been active for just a fraction of the time that you have and yet still manages to eclipse your lead generation efforts, you’re left scrambling around trying to find any decent leads while you watch your smug competitor speed off to success.

How do they do it?

I’ll tell you. They’re not securing more business because they’re a better brand or even have a better product. No. They’ve understood the problem that is inherent with the majority of the sales and marketing advice you’ll find online: it’s incomplete.

It’s kind of like offering a 10-step guide that consists only of stages three to seven: you read it and think, “Wow, this is some grade A stuff!” but really, it’s pretty useless without the other five steps. The majority of free online advice isn’t intended to help you. It’s there to increase the profile and standing of the business that publishes it. 

Your competitors are leaving you behind because they’ve figured this out. Instead of following the advice of one business, article or e-book, they’ve compiled several sources into one comprehensive strategy.

You need the whole process, a list of all the actions and how to combine them to create an end product.

And that’s exactly what this article is: the full recipe for effective lead gen. But first…

What Is a Lead?

A lead, despite what you may think, is not a sale.

They are two different stages of the purchase journey that are often confused with one another.

Ultimate Recipe for Effective Customer Lead Generation

Image Credit

A lead is nothing more than someone who has expressed an interest in your business. They’re the people who say, “Yeah, I might be interested in what you’re offering.” It’s your job to follow up on this interest and turn that lead into a sale.

But this is where things get more complicated. The stage of the buying journey from lead to sale isn’t as simple as a journey from A to B.

Hubspot’s got a great little guide on the different stages of the customer lifecycle. I’ve paraphrased the stages that are pertinent to us:

Lead – Leads are the first step in creating a customer. They’ve expressed more interest in your business than the average member of your target demographic but aren’t anywhere near the purchase decision point.

Marketing Qualified Lead – MQLs are the next stage of the sales funnel. These are the people who raise their hand and say, “This seems like a pretty sweet deal.” They’re interested and will likely purchase from you one day, but aren’t quite ready for it yet.

Sales Qualified Lead – An SQL is an MQL who has demonstrated an interest to purchase because they’ve got specific questions about what you offer. These are the people who need a one-on-one with your sales team.

Opportunity – Opportunities are the people who have become a real sales opportunity.

Customer – Someone who gives you money for your product or service. 🙂

But remember, this all comes after lead generation. For any of the above to happen you’ve first got to get those leads into the top of your funnel.

So how do you do that?

Free Bonus Download: Get ready to receive more actionable info on increasing the numbers in your funnel not found in this post! Click here to download it free.

A Top-Down View

One of the most effective and ethical ways to gather good leads that have a high potential to turn into an MLQ is with good old content marketing.

For the purpose of this guide, I want you to do something for me. Ignore the popular, often-spouted advice that producing content is enough. This isn’t Field of Dreams and you’re not Kevin Costner. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come.

Creating content is just one part of the equation. All the successful online marketers you hear about, from Derek Halpern to Neil Patel, agree that creating content is only 20% of the work. You need to spend the other 80% promoting it.


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There are four key components to effective lead generation. I’ve outlined each stage and the order in which we’ll be examining them:

  1. Create a kick ass lead magnet
  2. Set up your lead capture landing page
  3. Establish a nurture campaign
  4. Generate traffic

Enough with the plan and on to the details!

Create a Kick Ass Lead Magnet

The first thing you need to do is establish a good lead magnet (or content upgrade). A lead magnet, as fantastically defined by Digital Marketer, is “an irresistible bribe offering a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.”

Ultimate Recipe for Effective Customer Lead Generation

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Why do you need a lead magnet? Well, as Peep Laja says, 95% of your visitors are not going to purchase on their first visit. They’re browsing or researching products available.

You want to be there for as many of those 95-percenters when they finally decide to take the plunge and purchase your product. But if you’re just funneling prospects through to product pages or random company pages it’s simply not going to happen.

It could take the prospect anywhere from a few hours to a few months to finally reach their purchase decision. Are they going to remember that single offer you made after all that time? Unless they have a photographic memory, nope. They’re going to go with the business they stumble upon when they’re finally ready—or the smart business who’s kept in touch.

How do you keep in touch? By capturing their email address.

How do you capture their email address? By offering a free, high-value resource for them in exchange for their details.

There seems to be some confusion online as to what exactly constitutes a good lead magnet, so I’ve listed the most successful kinds of lead magnets:

Creating a lead magnet isn’t as simple as choosing a format from the above list and offering some free advice. The primary goal of your lead magnet should be to solve a problem that your audience experiences.

Follow these three steps and you’ll know exactly what kind of lead magnet will boost your lead generation rate:

1) Research Your Audience

You’re going to need to delve deep into your audience research to create a great lead magnet. You want to know who your audience is, the problems they’re facing right now, and the solutions they need.

2) Find Their Overlap

Now that you know who your audience is and the problems they face, ask yourself how you can help them overcome these problems. Can you create a case study that explains how marketing managers can get better SEO results? Or a free e-book explaining which running shoes are best for different running styles?

Find the problem, figure out how you can help solve it, and give away that advice for free.

3) Create as High Quality a Lead Magnet as Possible

This last step is a bone of contention for many marketers. Should you really offer something of such high value that your new leads are amazed you’re not charging for it? Why not monetize the lead magnet and instead have a product to sell?

Well, you coneil-pateluld. But as we’ve already said, 95% of people who come across it aren’t going to purchase on their first visit. Would you rather see a slight raise in revenue from charging for the lead magnet, or capture the e-mails of a huge number of prospects for ongoing sales opportunities?

Neil Patel reportedly pays $30,000 for content that he gives away for free—content which has helped him create a marketing empire and brand himself as one of the Internet’s top marketing experts.

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It might seem crazy, but giving away high-value content for free really can work.

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Set Up Your Lead Capture Landing Page

Once you’ve gotten your lead magnet sorted out, you’ll need to set up your landing page. The landing page is the crux of this operation. It’s where users will decide if the offer is worth the cost of their e-mail address.

Single Grain Landing Page

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There’s a load of advice on the web which extols the value of various sign-up forms and pop-ups on your site. These can work, but they pale in comparison to the effectiveness of a well-optimized landing page.

Your prospects want to know what they’re going to get in return for their e-mail address. Trying to explain the full benefits of your high-value content is incredibly difficult when you’ve got limited real estate to play with, so establishing a specific landing page for the project not only gives you more room to detail the benefits, but allows you to drive specific, targeted traffic to it, thus increasing the relevancy of your page.

Unfortunately, landing page optimization is incredibly complex. If you’re serious, you’re going to need to implement numerous A/B tests, monitor your heat maps, and change nearly every element on the page.

I don’t have enough room in this article to go into depth on landing page optimization, but below I’ve listed a few golden rules:

The list is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you’re looking for more info, be sure to check out 10 Tips for Landing Page Optimization.

Landing pages are the backbone of lead gen. If you get it right you could see a huge increase in the number of leads you’re generating. I saw my own capture rate triple after implementing this incredibly simple page.

Have a Word Landing Page

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The key is to have a dedicated landing page for each lead magnet and to continue testing it to figure out which elements resonate best with your audience.

Nurture Your Leads

You’ve created a kick ass lead magnet and have set up a dedicated landing page. All that’s left now is to watch the leads roll in, right?


There are still two key areas that contribute to turning leads into customers. The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a comprehensive nurture campaign.

Digital Lead Management Process

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Those leads that you’ve captured didn’t sign up because they liked you or your product; they signed up because the lead magnet piqued their interest. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to buy from you. In fact, 50% of the leads in every system aren’t yet ready to purchase and around 80% of new leads never convert into paying customers.

A good lead nurturing campaign isn’t going to bring those numbers down to 0%, but it is going to drastically reduce them.

A good lead nurture campaign keeps your business at the front of your prospect’s mind for when the purchase decision has been reached. It also builds enough trust to make the purchase decision easier and can even gain you a few extra referrals.

Lead nurture campaigns can take many different forms, but the key to success comes down to three primary considerations:

  1. Ensure that each e-mail is useful.
  2. Give every e-mail a measurable goal (clicks, engagement, etc.).
  3. Measure and optimize (be sure to measure each individual e-mail as well as the macro conversion).

Get People Into Your Funnel

Congratulations, the framework of your funnel is now complete!

All that’s left is to get people into the top of your funnel so you can start growing your list and optimizing your campaign.

Traffic generation comes in all shapes and sizes, so finding the right strategy for your brand will take a little trial and error. The below listed options are some of the more popular strategies. Try them out and see which brings you the best results for your business.

Paid Ads

Paid advertisements have been the marketer’s go-to for an age. It includes everything from a small ad in the local rag to a TV spot to digital-only promotion.

Modern advertisers tend to rely on PPC advertisements. These include Google Adwords, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

An effective PPC campaign isn’t an easy thing to implement. You need to discover which channel is going to give you the best exposure to your primary client base before following the best practices for an effective PPC campaign.

Guest Blogging


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A lot of marketing managers dismiss the idea of guest blogging if you’re trying to sell a physical product, which is silly. It’s a great way to drive interested traffic back to your site regardless of what it is you’re selling.

But remember, the key to an effective guest blogging strategy lies in the research.

Just like your lead magnet, you need to discover the problems that your audience is experiencing. Find the overlap between those problems and your knowledge and create an awesome article.

Your next task is to find a publication that your prospects regularly read and trust.

Since you’re piggybacking on the trust of the publication, making sure that your guest post is of the highest possible value is extremely important. If you get your article and targeting right, you should see a heavy backflow of traffic that’s not only great in number, but also in quality.  

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the golden child of the marketing world at the minute. Creating useful content that propels your site up the SERPs is something that every business wants.

In fact, brands that establish a well-founded content marketing strategy are proven to gather 67% more leads. Keep in mind, however, that lead generation with content marketing isn’t as simple as publishing a few posts on the company blog. This strategy is not for those looking for a quick fix. It takes time to build a solid reputation and influence Google’s scoring metrics to place highly in the SERPs.

There are different kinds of content, all of which will appeal to different audiences and have different purposes. To take a very general view, you can put content into three categories:

Social Media

Social media is taking over. By 2018, there will be 2.5 billion social media users spending just over 51 hours every month flicking between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the menagerie of other social platforms. 

On their own, social media networks are little more than traffic drivers. You need a robust content strategy to back up your SM campaigns. So a tweet isn’t going to get you a lead, but a tweet to useful content might.

The users on each platform have different needs and expectations, so you’re going to need to understand the various best practices and discover which social platform works best for your needs. You might find that irreverent Facebook updates drive high converting traffic for your brand. Or perhaps a strong sales-focused tweet is your best bet for engaging with your target demographic.

Play around, track your results, and see which is the best social media fit for your business.

Free Bonus Download: Get ready to receive more actionable info on increasing the numbers in your funnel not found in this post! Click here to download it free.


Next time you see an online article that focuses on a very specific aspect of sales or marketing, don’t immediately amend your own business practices to follow the trend because chances are, that article doesn’t cover the wider strategy. Do read what they’ve got to say, internalize the advice, and then ask yourself how it fits into the wider picture of your own business.

But if you follow these four key elements to effective lead generation—kick ass lead magnet, lead capture landing page, nurture campaign, and generate traffic—then you should be well on your way to surpassing the competition.

Do you have an effective lead generation recipe? Leave us a comment and let us know—we’d love to hear about your experiences!

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zac johnson photoHi everyone, today we’re talking to Zac Johnson of,, and the Rise of the Entrepreneur podcast. He’s made a living and built a business around affiliate sales and his own product launches, which is something I think would be helpful for those of us in the tech world to wrap our heads around.

Making $1 At A Time Online In High School Created A Thirst To Make Even More Money Online

Zac started making money online in 1995 as a high school student. He made his first few dollars by creating banner advertisements for people in the AOL web diner, and soon made it his mission to make some real money online… the banner ads were only earning him $1 a pop.

He got involved in the Amazon affiliate program by creating an online celebrity directory with affiliate links to the movies and music associated with the celebrities he listed.

The site got a lot of search engine traffic, and with a 5% to 15% commission from Amazon, he did six figures in sales in just a few years, while he was still in high school.

The taste of affiliate marketing then got him interested in CPA (cost per action) marketing, where he could make money of his site audiences without them having to pay a penny… he just had to get them to sign up for a free magazine or fill out a survey.

He continued finding cool ways to make money on affiliate sales until he launched in 2007 as a site that would help people learn what he’d done over the previous years so they could do it too.

Selling His Own Products

On, Zac says he’s been able to sell ads, but his main product is, which came out as a result of everything has done, and offers a membership-based course.

Launching his own product has been totally different than affiliate marketing, says Zac. With your own product, you suddenly have to worry about sales, landing pages, transactions, customers, product, customer support and posting that you don’t have to worry about with affiliate sales… all you have to worry about there is getting traffic to your affiliate links and having a good enough page to provide some conversions.

Traffic & Numbers… And Podcasting

Jon says he gets thousands of people visiting his sites on a daily basis, but the numbers fluctuate based on how much content he’s pushing out and how much promotion work he’s doing.

On average, he says he gets about 2,000 visitors per day, but that can get up to 5,000 per day if there’s heavy promotion work going on.

He says that being a guest on a podcast and writing guest posts are some of the best ways for him to get his name out there as an expert in the space, generating more traffic back to his sites.

When It’s Time To Create A New Product

Jon says he usually knows it’s time to create a new product for his audience when he has the following things going on:

The Sales Funnel

When someone lands on, they see a landing page with a video at the top to watch and enter their email address in exchange for 7-day email sequence filled with vale.

After the 7-day email autoresponder series, they get an opportunity to test membership of a $97/month buy-in for only $1 for 7 days.

After they buy in, a new course unlocks every week, so over eight weeks, they get access to all the content.

People usually stay members of the site for 2-3 months, yielding anywhere from $194 to $291 per sale on average for Jon.

The Online Webinar Bubble

“I think the internet goes through these big bubbles every once in a while,” says Jon. “Like right now the craze is in webinars.”

But that said, scammy webinars and spammy-looking content will never do well.

Internet users aren’t stupid and see advertisements (good ones and bad ones) all over the place. He’s says you’ll know you’ve got a quality offering when people not only sign up, but start telling their friends about what you’ve got to offer.

Making Your Landing Pages Better

Beyond getting better at copywriting in general, Zac suggests A/B testing.

Even if your copy is garbage or amazing, he says, switching things like a green button to red can make a big difference in conversion numbers.

He also says it’s a good idea to check out what other people in your niche are doing to keep A/B testing good ideas alongside what’s already working for you to get the best results possible.

Getting Webinar Attendance From Facebook & Webinar Costs

Zac says that Facebook is really good for retargeting ads for people who are already on his mailing list, and people who have already visited… that way he doesn’t have to pay a ton of money advertising to people who have never heard of him before.

Up until now, he’s only done live webinars, but his attendance rate from his signups is usually 30% to 60%, and each webinar lasts from one to one and a half hours. From that, he gets about 5% to 10% conversion rates.

Each webinar runs him from $300 to $600 to put on, and he gets anywhere from one to three signups for his $497 lifetime access product that he promotes at the end of the webinar.

2015 Priorities for Zac Johnson

Right now, he says he’s working on cleaning up by going through and updating all of his old content from 2007 and after that’s not so applicable anymore.

He wants the website to be useful to people, and to tie it back to, which is his main focus right now.

A Day In the Life

Zac says he doesn’t use a set hour-by-hour schedule to get his work done.

Instead, he wakes up, checks his email, and has a list of a few tasks that he needs to take care of that day, but that can be done at pretty much any time.

His only fixed time commitments are podcast interviews, speaking engagements, and meetings, but his otherwise fairly open schedule works well for him.

Hacking Your Way to an Incredible Sales Funnel

Zac says the best way to learn how to create a great sales funnel is to create a separate email account and join all the lists of the sites you like, the podcasts you listen to, and the blogs you read.

One month later, go back and check that email account and look through the flow process of the different websites.

Anyone who starts throwing ads at you immediately is doing it the wrong way, says Zac. They’ve got to focus on building a relationship with you first.

He says you’ll be able to tell who’s doing it right and who’s doing it wrong by how they make you feel when you read through the emails, and you can emulate the people who are doing it right.

Advice to His 25-Year-Old Self

“Stay focused on whatever it is you’re working on… Focus on what you’re good at and just keep pushin’ it.”

One Productivity Hack

Zac suggests staying on yourself and not letting yourself get lax about your work. There’s not secret to it, but it’s what works.

“You can’t relax in this industry,” he says, “because as long as you’re relaxing, somebody else out there is working to get ahead of you.”

One Must-Read Book

Zac suggests The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth by Chris Brogan. He says it’s a fun book about business, entrepreneurship, and seeing opportunities from a different angle than people tend to think about them.

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