How to Choose Which Parts of Your Sales Funnel to Improve First

Have you ever wondered while thinking about your marketing… “Is THIS the best thing for me to be working on right now?”

This post was inspired by a recent conversation I had with a friend of mine on Skype.

In his case, he was having a debate with his business partner. He owns a t-shirt company and believes they should focus on the top of the funnel. In other words, this includes driving traffic via social media marketing and lead generation.

His business partner thinks they should focus on driving more conversions from their existing traffic.

Who was right?

Well, it depends.

I’ve spoken to a lot of marketers and entrepreneurs who face the same dilemma. They’re almost like a spinning top. They’ll try out a new tactic, and if that doesn’t work, they instantly move on to the next thing.

To paraphrase Woody Allen, 80% of success in life is showing up.

I say that the remaining 20% is choosing what you’re going to do when you show up.

And like the Pareto 80/20 Principle says, it is this 20% that get the majority of your results.

It’s important that you choose wisely.

When it comes to your sales funnel, you may feel clueless about certain parts of it.

I know I felt that way when I first started…

I don’t feel that way anymore, though since I started improving my process. Now I know which numbers to focus on. It’s the numbers that let me determine which piece of my funnel is leaking the most.

You don’t want to be a spinning top, trying out random tactics. You want to act with a strategy in a data-driven manner.

How do you do that? How do you choose what to focus on in your funnel so your time isn’t wasted?

Allow me to explain.

Step #1 – Start with Tracking and Know What to Track

Here’s a quick refresher for anyone who’s new to how we think of funnels here at AutoGrow:

Sales funnels have a top, middle and bottom.

We call this the three F’s.

  • The bottom is the Foundation, aka your website.
  • The middle is the Follow-up, or email automation.
  • And the top is Fuel (site traffic, like you are fueling an engine).

You want to segment and track the data at each of these three levels.

For instance, in the Foundation you should learn where those people visiting your site are navigating. Are they going from your blog to your homepage to your checkout page? Are they even checking out?

To figure that out, you should consider creating a growth tracker spreadsheet. We started one here at AutoGrow in February.

Here’s a screenshot of what we track, feel free to model it:

We update this tracker on a weekly basis and use it as a barometer of how well our efforts are producing positive growth results. By forcing ourselves to “look in the mirror” as a company, this creates discomfort and encourages us to constant action.

We found a big bottleneck in one of our own sales pages using the growth tracker. A bottleneck is any part of a system (like a sales funnel is a system) where there is the least efficiency, and work, results, or leads get “stuck” or slowed down.

In our case, the bottleneck was our flagship product’s page, the Sales Funnel Blueprint.

But we did not just decide to relaunch the product. Instead, we went ahead and rewrote the entire landing page. That’s over 4,000 words!

(Note: It is often big changes like this that can get big results. If you feel your funnel is underperforming, consider how you can apply the Law of Big Changes from our detailed article on Sales Funnel Physics.)

Why did we choose to focus on this? We had so many other things that we could work on. We could have written another email autoresponder or a free course. We could have created another lead magnet, or a tripwire, or even a new product. Not to mention the ongoing blogging and promotion efforts.

So why focus on this? Why the course landing page?

Because that page was our biggest bottleneck.

We looked at the numbers from a top-level point of view. When we saw the low conversion rate for that sales page, we said, “OK, this is the biggest bottleneck in our sales funnel. The data says this is what we need to focus on, so this is what we will change.”

Step #2 – Make the Numbers Your Compass

Before, I mentioned the importance of numbers in your sales funnel. Now that you have the tracking in place you want to let these numbers are your compass.

This takes emotion out of it and helps to stop doubt from holding you back.

You might be scared or uncomfortable because it’s something new. You may feel forced to step outside of your comfort zone.

It can also be difficult to realize that what you’re doing is failing.

It is an “honest compass.” It doesn’t care about your feelings, it simply reflects results and points the way forward.

Once you know what stage to focus on, it’s time to brainstorm solutions.

Need proof that data-driven marketing works? A company called Teradata did a survey on B2B marketers. When Teradata asked how them the benefits of data-driven choices, here’s what they said:

  • Of those surveyed, 30% said they had a more sustainable competitive advantage
  • That same 30% also said they could use historic and real-time data to provide great customer service.
  • More than half, 53%, said they most benefited from customer’s positive reactions, which means more conversions and sales

Step #3 – Brainstorm, Act, and Be Patient

Maybe you need a better lead magnet or better SEO. Or maybe, like us, you needed a better sales page.

But there is one exception to this process.

If you’re starting from scratch, you want to build out your funnel in this order of priority:

  • Start with the foundation, your website. Get that as solid as possible, from copy to functionality and design.
  • Next, follow up. When people arrive to your website, they are going to opt in, buy or request a quote. By having that follow-up in place, you’re going to maximize the amount of conversions that occur.
  • End with fuel, where you can feel confident with your solid marketing foundation. This works, so now you just have to shoot for the moon.

If you are starting from scratch, you’ll need to first get all that in place, in that order.

Once you’ve identified the key bottleneck, it’s time to list out ideas for what to do differently.

Let’s take AutoGrow for example. We chose to do a rewrite of our landing page because we saw it as our biggest bottleneck.

What else could we have done after noticing the data was pointing to our landing page as the bottleneck?

Well, we could have removed the landing page altogether.

(Although, after practicing the Salty Foot Formula, we know our landing page works).

We could have checked to see if there was something technical that was holding back conversions, like broken image links or a slow page load time.

We could have also delayed showing people that page. Perhaps we’d wait to provide access once they joined our email list. Then, the traffic arriving there would be higher-quality, since these are more motivated prospective customers.

We could have just focused on a redesign or made smaller changes via A/B testing.

Having looked at the data and applied the Laws of Funnel Physics, I concluded that we needed to make a major change to the landing page.

For my friend and his business partner who were having the internal debate, the data can now be the arbiter of the discussion. It removes all emotion and points the way to success.

It’s the data that tells you where people are getting stuck. If they’re stuck on your sales page or your email mailing list, it’s not time to SEO your site or grow Instagram followers.

You get the idea. You have to focus on what the data points to.

This takes time and patience… Be prepared to wait and observe the results.

Want to know the value of patience? A ConversionXL client did a short round of A/B testing. By short, we mean 48 hours.

Data showed that Version B had a 0% chance of surpassing Version A.

So, hey, he figured his work was done. Version A was clearly superior.

Case closed, right?

No.

With a little more time and patience, it turns out that Version B was preferable among his customers. The confidence in Version B was now 95%. But it took 10 days for that data to emerge.

Conclusion

If you’ve enjoyed this article, make sure you grab a copy of my free download bonus, “The 11 Point Perfect Sales Funnel Checklist.”

You may be in a situation where you can’t agree which part of your sales funnel needs improving.  Or maybe you yourself just aren’t sure.

That’s OK, it happens. By following this simple guide, you should be able to pinpoint which part of your sales funnel is weakest. You can then focus on that bottleneck.

To review:

  • Remember the three F’s: foundation, follow-up, and fuel. The foundation is your website. The follow-up is your email automation, and the fuel is your customer sales and traffic.
  • Start tracking all parts of your sales funnel. This lets you find bottlenecks.
  • Let the numbers be your compass. Numbers are not emotional. They’ll provide consistent guidance.
  • Be patient. You can find a bottleneck quickly, but it may take a little while for you to see a positive result. That’s normal.

Which part of your sales funnel is the weakest link? Which tactics of mine are you going to use to make it better? Let me know in the comments.

Keep Hustlin’, Stay Focused

—Matt

 

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