5 Ways to Cut the Fat From Your Sales Funnel in 2017

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“The things you own end up owning you.”

So spoke the infamous character Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club.

It was one of my favorites growing up; maybe you can relate.

Why do they end up owning you? Because of a little thing called maintenance.

It’s the unfortunate reality that owning more stuff takes up more physical space, and requires your time. For example, if you buy a shiny new red sports car, you need to wash it and keep it polished. Finding a good enough parking spot is also more difficult because you’re afraid someone else might dent it.

Your sales funnel is quite similar. How? In order to generate traffic, leads, and—most importantly—sales, the funnel requires maintenance.

Here are just a few reasons why:

  • Tools and technology change.
  • Your conversion rate should improve over time.
  • Tastes and styles change. (Do you want your website looking like it’s from the year Fight Club came out, or do you want it to be sleek, responsive, and mobile-friendly?)

But don’t get bogged down and waste your time. It’s 2017. Let’s cut the fat and put your sales funnel on a diet. This will allow you to save time and make your marketing funnel more of a lean, mean conversion machine!

Here’s how…

Fat-Cutting Method #1: Consolidate Your Email Lists

Looking at our own email lists here at AutoGrow, we have between 10 and 20. These are from the start of our history. They include old campaigns and sales funnels.

We use ActiveCampaign to manage them, which we highly recommend. It’s like Infusionsoft but a fraction of the cost. It allows you to do marketing automation, sales automation, and A/B testing.

When you want to follow up with those who signed up to your email list, you can. ActiveCampaign allows you to set very specific triggers so you never lose a potential customer again.

So why consolidate your email lists in the first place? It’s good because you can’t always keep track of all that information. You may forget about a campaign months after it was launched.

Take a look at how your contacts are being tagged as well. How many tags are you tracking for different contacts? Are they still relevant? Or should you just stop tracking some tags?

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How can you combine email lists? Do you need them all? Would it be easier to put everyone onto a newsletter list instead?

If a certain email list is irrelevant for any reason (maybe your customers signed up for a different offer), why not transfer these contacts to your main email list?

Fat-Cutting Method #2: Cut the Carbs… I Mean Email Autoresponders

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You already know that email marketing is the most effective form of direct response marketing. At AutoGrow, we use our own email autoresponder. Not too long ago we had a survey-based system where customers could opt in. We would then ask them to tell us what their biggest marketing challenges are.

We had different autoresponder sequences depending on goals—like getting more traffic, building a website, generating more leads, or growing conversions.

As you can imagine, that turned into a really big email automation. It involved 4-5 giant automations, from the surveying to the segmenting to the actual follow-up offers. And then if they clicked a link, we had to follow up with them and suggest additional offers as upsells.

Phew! Once we simplified our business, we focused on email pop-up optimization instead. Now we no longer have a need for email autoresponders and we’re glad. That’s less for us to maintain.

Email autoresponders can be a behemoth. They’re also practically outdated as soon as you write them. Some marketing tactics and best practices just don’t hold up over time. If you learn how to do something even better, it’s a process to update the autoresponders.

This year, look for opportunities to cut down and turn off your own email autoresponders. The maintenance and keeping track of everything can be a complex and tedious process otherwise.

Fat-Cutting Method #3: Prune and Polish Your Blog

Google likes it if you’re maintaining your content. That makes it more likely to rank higher.  To do this, cut or freshen old posts.

Anthony D. Nelson at Moz published a case study on blog post dates. He did a test to see whether fresh content improves rank on search engine results pages. He went back to 16 blog posts that were up to four years old. He only updated the publishing date.

What did he find? Organic traffic increased for every post.

Brian Dean at Backlinko increased organic traffic by roughly 260 percent by pruning his content. It only took him two weeks to do it. He edited the publication date, included case studies, and added new images. Then he republished.

Content scheduler MeetEdgar changed their content promotion strategy. Instead of writing more posts, they decided to promote the content they already had. The results? More blog traffic with less posts.

We’ve personally pruned irrelevant content. Our blog has existed for years. However, some of the content hasn’t always been relevant to online marketing.

We once had a writer delve into political writing. That post still gets a lot of traffic, even today. But it doesn’t represent who we are or how we want to be seen.

So what will I do about it? This year, we plan to go back, find the article, and unpublish it. That’s what we mean by pruning a blog. Surely you have some content that’s irrelevant that you can also remove.

Not only is this good for your reputation, but it’s good for Google rankings, too. Once we delete the political post, Google will know our brand is more focused on sales funnels and content marketing.

Of course, pruning is just one part of the equation. Quality content, like a great article that’s getting a lot of traffic, can be made even better. Add a video to it, rewrite it, and add in new tips and best practices you might have learned. Update it and make it better.

Fat-Cutting Method #4: Reduce Tool Usage

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We just published a list of 30 tools for better content marketing. Many businesses invest a lot of money into these tools and then never use them. If they are used, it’s not to their fullest potential.

So what’s the solution?

Instead of paying for all those unused tools, cut back. Eliminate what you’re not using. You’ll save money and time.

Consolidate where possible. Can you use one tool to do the job of two?

For example, we have the intercom tool right now on our site. This allows people to chat with us via the widget at the bottom of the page. If they have questions about our service, pricing, or FAQs, they can ask there.

Of course, that costs us money every month. What we plan to do next is deactivate the paid chat widget and use a free one called Drift instead.

Which tools are wasting your time or money? Make it your goal this year to cut them out or use one to do the job of two.

Fat-Cutting Method #5: Eliminate Focus on Traffic Sources That Aren’t Working

trafficIt’s easy to get tunnel vision and only focus on attracting more traffic. You might be buying ads from Reddit, LinkedIn, or Facebook. You might be focusing on organic traffic from Google or social media like Pinterest. You might be looking at traffic sources from email, or using Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics.

You could drive yourself crazy with all that. What to do? Enforce the 80/20 Rule. It’s based on the Pareto principle that 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the effort.

The recommendation is to eliminate traffic sources that are not converting. Look at the quality of the traffic that’s coming in. Look at the people who are coming in from those traffic sources. Then say, okay, are they converting?

Are they actually signing up for email lists?

Are they actually buying from us?

By cutting down efforts on non-converting traffic sources, you’re going to save time. You’re going to focus on what works and spend less resources focusing on what doesn’t. When eliminating traffic sources, keep the 80/20 Rule in mind.

Conclusion

Just like losing weight is a high priority at the beginning of the year, so, too, should be cutting the fat from your sales funnel. If you follow our five methods, you’ll find it’s easy to eliminate outdated practices that aren’t helping your business.

Remember:

  • Eliminate email autoresponders when possible. Shrink and combine your email lists to free up time.
  • Delete old blog posts that don’t suit your brand message. Refurbish and republish old posts, updating them with new information. Your organic traffic could spike!
  • Look objectively at the tools you use. Which ones are wasting your time and money? It’s time to dump them.
  • Use the 80/20 Rule to remove outdated or insufficient traffic sources.

Which part of your sales funnel needs the most work in 2017?

Do you have any additions to these methods?

Let me know in the comments below.

Keep Hustlin’, Stay Focused,

—Matt

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