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Biggest mistakes you are making with your funnel, and how to fix them to increase conversions immediately




Tristam: Good afternoon, good evening, or good morning from wherever you are watching today. If you're a regular SEMrush Live viewer, welcome back, and if you're new to this channel, welcome. I'd like to introduce Talia, who will be doing the presentation today. Do you want to say hi, Talia?

Talia: Hi. Excited to be here.

Tristam: Today we're all marketing in a number of different ways, and that can fall flat on its face if you're not looking at your destination. Are you fixing your funnels? Where are those leaks? And the biggest mistakes you're making to your funnel and how to fix them. This is what we'll be discussing and learning from you today, Talia.

Talia, do you just want to give us a little introduction of who you are and a little bit more about what we're going to be presented with today?

Talia: Yeah, sure. I'm Talia and I'm a conversion optimization specialist. I've been helping businesses optimize their funnels, their websites, their emails for I'm going to say a decade, but it really makes me feel old. For a long time now, doing a ton of A/B tests and running kind of strategic different tests to figure out what is the best way to optimize the customer journey for our clients.

What we're actually going to talk about today is funnel optimization. I'm going to talk to you about the biggest mistakes that people make with their funnels, the biggest mistakes that I have seen thousands of funnels make, and then I'm going to show you how you can fix them and avoid them. I'm also going to talk to you about the four part funnel that I use in my own business and for my clients. 

If you're joining us here today you may be joining because you have a funnel that isn't working, or you may have spent hours, weeks, putting it together but something isn't working. Maybe it's top of the funnel stuff, maybe it's the bottom. You're not really sure what's broken and what's not, or let's say, how you're going to fix it. So that's one part. 

The other reason is because maybe you're just getting started with funnels and you're unsure where to start; what your ad should say? What your landing page should include? How to choose the right words, or visuals, or testimonials, and different elements in your entire funnel, and how to make things work? 

I've been building and optimizing funnels for my clients for many years now. However, when I got started I made a ton of mistakes. I'm going to mention some of them today,. I think many times I wasn't really sure how to go about it, or how to optimize, or what to do. But these days I can put together a funnel for my clients very confidently. 

Today my goal is to give you all the tools that you need to review your funnels, to create better ones, funnels that generate more leads for you and lead to more sales.

The Number One Job of a Funnel

Okay, so the funnel's number one job is to guide your prospect towards an end goal. Here's the thing, bringing in leads is a crucial part of your job, whether if it's leads you want to turn into demo requests, if you need free trial users, maybe enrolling them in your program, or clients who want to hire your services. 

Whatever it is, they all start out as leads, and to get to those leads, you need a funnel. What you need is a funnel that will guide your prospect from that first interaction to the start of your relationship, and actually even further. Each part of your funnel is in charge of moving them closer to making a decision of choosing you over your competitors. 

Imagine seeing an ad on Facebook for a free vegan-based recipe guide. You click through and you land on their landing page, and you see an opt-in for a free ebook. You opt in, you join the email marketing list and you receive the guide to your email. 

Later that week you start seeing ads on Facebook for their subscription service. Daily vegan delivery meals for working professionals. They're offering you every single day they'll deliver a meal to your office, which is vegan, for people that don't have time to cook, delivered straight to your desk. So you click through, you make a payment, and you subscribe to that meal service. 

Each step in this funnel that I just talked about is in charge of moving you to the next step. The ad was only in charge of moving you to that landing page, and the landing page is in charge of getting you to sign up. Then you have to move on to the email. Every single step moves you to the next one. It's guiding you through that decision-making process and ensuring that you choose them.

Now, as you may have noticed from your own experience, building funnels isn't simple. Sometimes funnels have just three steps in them, sometimes they have 250. When they're set up correctly, you can analyze them, you can see where people struggle to take action, you can evaluate your entire messaging and the strategy and make changes accordingly. 

Funnels are a great way to not only get more leads, but also learn a ton. When they're set up correctly, funnels help you keep your campaigns organized, they move people for the different stages of choosing your solution, and they drive your target audience strategically toward your desired action.

A Simple Four-Step Funnel to Drive Conversions

Now that we have an understanding of what a funnel's job is and how it can help drive leads to your business, I'd like to introduce you to a very simple funnel, the one that I use with all my clients. This is the four step funnel that I use to increase my client's conversions.

 I use this funnel because over the years it actually, it's almost never failed me. Not because I always immediately got skyrocket conversions; of course I've had to optimize them many times. But this specific set up, the way it's set up in this funnel is the one that I guess has never failed to connect with the audience, move people towards the next stage, and ultimately convert them.

The first touchpoint in the funnel is the ad. The ad is in charge of engaging your prospect for the first time, making a promise, essentially reaching out to them while they're busy doing something I guess completely different. Because they're let's say on Facebook, they are watching a cat video, or they're reading something about their friend, or watching a baby video. The ad is in charge of grabbing their attention from within their feeds and bringing something to their mind, something that they care about, something that you want them to care about into their attention. That's step number one.

Step number two is the landing page. That's what we do, that's where we lead them from the ad. That's where we establish our first real connection with the prospect, we show them that we understand them, we appeal to their struggles, their pains, we show them that we can be that solution that they're looking for. 

Next is actually the most underestimated part of the funnel, and most companies, businesses, just don't use this. It's the one that everyone just overlooks, the thank you page. A thank you page is probably the place to get more conversions, form those connections, build relationships, and ensure that people keep coming back.

Finally, you have the email, and the email is probably the most important element when it comes to sales. More specifically, the first email, and this is what we're going to talk about today, is imperative to make sure that people afterwards keep opening your emails, that they take the actions that you want, that they try a demo, or if they buy something from you, and that email is going to be the basis of your entire relationship. 

This is probably one of the most high converting funnels that I have in my business right now. From the ad to the welcome email, each part is very carefully considered and every piece of it works with the next one, and that's how I'm going to basically break it down for you guys. Funnels take time, and sometimes we can spend weeks and months on putting them together, but every little piece matters, and I really want to help you put that one together.

The Biggest Mistakes in Most Funnels

Let's get started and talk about why people just aren't into your funnel: the biggest mistakes. Many times it feels like it's a guessing game. You're not exactly sure what's going to work, why and how. Once you've poured all of your heart, and your time, and your sweat, and maybe tears into this funnel, it's incredibly frustrating when it doesn't work. 

Sometimes it's the ad, or the emails that you're sending, or even your thank you page. Most times it's the landing page. The problem is it's hard to tell what part of the funnel isn't working, and even when you do find out what part of the funnel isn't working, it's hard to know what to fix. 

You can find the problem within Google Analytics, or Facebook Ads in the Ads Manager, but it's still hard to figure out why this problem is happening and what you need to do in order to fix it. The good news is that over the years I've identified and committed some of these biggest, most crucial mistakes that people make with their funnels, the ones that are costing businesses tons of money, resources, and let's face it, your sanity. 

Funnel Mistake #1: Ads Not Connecting Well with the Buyer’s Journey

Let's break down these biggest mistakes. The biggest mistakes that people make with their funnels, and how you can fix them. Okay, problem number one: your ad isn't connected to your prospect's stage in the customer journey. 

This is top of the funnel stuff, and this is about the ads. People go through several stages within the customer journey before converting. Most times I've seen that the ads in a funnel aren't connecting to the right stage. This is a big problem that people keep seeing. 

When you create an ad that doesn't resonate with your audience's stage in the customer journey...you end up doing three things actually. One of them is promising something that people don't know they need yet. What this means to them is that you are offering something they just don't need. They're not ready for it, you are in their way, and you're blocking their feed. 

Problem number two is you're using words, stories, emotions, and creatives that just don't resonate, because if they don't know that they need a solution, you're definitely not using the right words or the design, and you're not going to resonate with prospects. 

If your ad isn't connected to your prospect's stage of, stage in the customer journey, you also may be alienating potential buyers. Basically what you're doing is these people could've become clients or customers of yours, but because you're using the wrong words, or the copy, or the story, or the wrong emotions, or maybe even the wrong targeting, they're not going to come back to you later.

I want to show you an example that kind of drove me crazy the other day. I saw this ad, I had no idea who this company was. I had no idea why I needed animations on my site. I don't need an animation on my site. If this is happening to me, that means it's happening to a ton of other people that they're targeting, like me, that don't know them.

But Toonly over here is coming out with pricing, deals, offers that, all of this isn't even relevant to me at this stage. This ad isn't going to work on me because first, I need to understand why my current solution isn't working. In my case it's, why do I even need an animation? For other people it's going to be “your animations aren't working”.

You can't pitch me the pricing before I even know what's wrong. This is why your funnels exist, because you start the journey off in the ad by explaining the pain. You would then move them to the next step in the funnel, usually the landing page, and that's where you address the solutions and you can include the pricing, but not always, by the way.

To make this ad work, what they need to do is actually first tell me why not having a video on my site is a problem or killing my conversions. You need to think about the people that you're targeting and think about the different stage they're in within your customer journey. You have to adapt your messaging in the ad to the customer journey.

Hto fix your ads? Number one, identify what stage of the customer journey people are at. To do that, you can actually look into the keywords that people are using, you can look at the traffic source that people are using, you can use the keywords that people are searching on your website itself. 

Number two, you can then create ads that speak to that stage. Here are two questions that you can ask yourself before you start creating an ad.  “Is the promise that you're making relevant to the people that you're targeting? This is a question you want to ask yourself before you hit publish on an ad. 

Do the visuals, copy, and stories you're using in your ads resonate with that specific stage? So if you want to sell to people at the beginning of the customer journey, for example, make sure you're first reaching out, reflecting that pain, setting the scene for “I need to buy”. 

So your ads have an important part, a job to do. They need to stand out in people's timelines, they need to grab people's attention and drive them to action. All this in one ad, right? You have to make sure that you're not making that mistake, and that is a very big mistake that companies are making right now.

Funnel Mistake #2: Landing Pages That Don’t Inspire Action

Let's move into the most important part of your funnel and that is the landing page. Problem number two: your landing page isn't inspiring action. The landing page is the most important part of your funnel, it's where people truly connect with you for the first time and make a decision. Often they actually do it within less than three seconds. 

Time and time again I've seen that when you get your landing page right, the rest of the funnel actually falls into place too. Here are two top reasons why your landing page may not be inspiring actions.

Number one, maybe your landing page isn't solving a problem. This is a mistake that I've seen...I'm going to say about 90% of businesses make, okay? Don't just create a landing page, create a landing page that solves problems. 

You don't need a general landing page that captures lots of irrelevant people. You need a landing page that solves your specific audience problem. The specific prospects that you have, that's a problem you want to solve. 

To solve your prospect's problem, you need to understand the ins and the outs of your audience. Intents, the challenges that they're facing, their desired outcomes, and without this, you're just throwing random words on a page, sounding like everyone else, and you will actually get drowned in the sea of sameness, because everyone looks the same right now.

Here's the thing though: to solve your prospect's problem on a landing page, you don't have to do a complete redesign, you don't have to have all the best trends. Sometimes it's just about using the right words.

People are using the internet to solve their problems. Whether it's to find answers to questions, inspiration, maybe they want a quick recipe, maybe they want a service provider. Every single person that comes to your website is searching for a solution for your problem, and it's on you to show them  and prove to them that you can solve it. 

Option number two of why your landing page isn't inspiring action is that maybe it's just about you. Most times when I ask my students and clients why people buy from them, they give me a long list of features, and the best pricing, and that they have the best technology and the best solution. It always goes on about the company, their features and their pricing. That's why we see so many landing pages like this. 

They talk about digital product innovation, we do this, and this, and this, and this is our pricing, and this is who we work with, and this is how amazing we are. We see landing pages like this. The smartest way to check your properties. Mainly basically all about the company itself and not about the customer. 

But the thing is that people don't buy products. We don't buy features, we don't buy pricing, what we buy is actually better versions of ourselves.

So here's an example. Who would you call if you now wanted to get a dog walking service? This landing page, "The number one dog walking service in Washington. Contact us to book your dog's walk today." Or "Stop worrying at work, we've got your pup. We make sure your loved one gets daily exercises and a whole lot of love until you get home." What message is more likely to convert? Who would you call? 

On one hand, saying that you're the best could work because it's a great thing to say, but when you involve the emotion, when you make it about the customer, when you make it about their fears, their worries. I mean, at the end of the say you're sitting in the office all day worrying about if your dog is getting all the exercise that they need and the love that they need, and when someone says this to you, it's far more likely to convert. 

Okay, let's talk about how you can avoid making these mistakes, and here are quite a few ways that you can do that.

Number one, before creating a landing page you need to know which problems your prospect is trying to solve. Do your research. Go where your prospect is and look for those questions that they're asking, the problems that they're mentioning. You can do this in Facebook groups, in forums, on Quora, in articles, and even on your competitor's websites looking at the reviews that they're getting. Simply put, when you solve real problems, people are more likely to connect with you and convert. 

Number two, make it about the customer. Highlight her value, her outcomes, and take the conversation away from you. Write copy and design a landing page that is focused on solving those problems. You can do this by creating valuable guides, check lists, webinars, or even giving a free consultation. Get them started on solving their problem so you can later swoop in and solve it for them in a completely different way in your email sequence. Make sure that your landing page has just one goal and that it is clear why they should take this action.

Funnel Mistake #3: Not Using Thank You Pages

We focused a ton on the landing page; now I want to talk to you about the thank you page. I mentioned before that it's probably one of the most important parts of the funnel and I was not kidding. It's probably the most overlooked one, and at the end of the day if you're not using this thank you page, you're losing out quite a bit. So problem number three: you're not leveraging thank you pages. 

Most often when you convert, when you get a lead, or you I guess get a conversion, the first thing you'll do is send people to either a pop-up that says, "Thank you. Thanks for subscribing." Maybe it will just say like, "Check out your email. Go see what we've sent you."

The thank you page is a crucial part of the funnel. It actually has two goals. Number one is to make your prospect feel confident in the action that she just took. There's a little psychological trigger called choice supported bias, and the idea is that we want to feel good about the actions that we've taken. It's your job in the thank you page to remind people that they did a great job. 

Goal number two is to ask her to take another action. It's actually called foot in the door technique, and it's another psychological trigger that's based on the fact that when we've taken one action, we're far more likely to take another. You can actually ask people to take so many actions on the thank you page and get them to be even more I guess ingrained within your company and wanting your relationship. You could get them to share the action they just took. You could ask them to leave a review.

Okay, so how can you fix your thank you page? Number one, create an actual thank you page and avoid using these pop ups. Take the time to create one. Ask them to take one action on your page, something simple...one simple thing that they can do, and reward them for taking that action by offering a valuable asset. 

Funnel Mistake #4: Ineffective Email Campaigns 

The last problem that you may be experiencing is that your email isn't delivering on your promise. People love to say that email is dead, it's not working, but I'll just show you a quick number that email is the most effective channel until today, still today, when it comes to leads and sales. Over 82% of businesses say that email marketing is the most effective channel for them for turning prospects into a customer. 

 I never create a funnel without an email sequence. But I have to remember that there's a big issue with email...you wake up in the morning, there's 1,500 emails in your inbox, you have no idea what to do and you just start deleting. To be honest, I delete a ton of emails without even opening them. How do you stand out in that inbox and make people actually open your emails? The idea is that you want to have a huge impact. You want to really stand out.

One of the things that I do is I send very personal emails. One of my last emails was questions my toddler asks me, real questions. The idea here is that I try to connect with people on an emotional level, but most people that send emails don't really do that. So here are a few of the different problems that you may be experiencing with your emails.

Number one, as we said, your email isn't delivering what it promised. You need to add meaning to their action, and you need to strengthen their decision in that email, but most businesses don't really understand that, and what they do is they immediately send an email or a trail of emails with promotions, and just self high fives and reading about their solution. 

Number two, which may be an issue with your emails is that you're not giving people a reason to open your email. You need to stand out in your inbox. You need to connect with people, and you need to provide value. If you're not doing that, people will just stop opening your emails, stop communicating with you.

Ask yourself, what was the motivation behind the action, why did people sign up? How can I reflect that back and add more meaning to that action? What are the next steps she could take to achieve this outcome? If you ask yourself these questions and you answer these three questions, it's actually far easier to craft high converting emails.

What I want to say here I guess is that when you're thinking about writing your emails, think about the whole idea of what your promise is, why people are doing this, how can this person solve their problem for themselves, because at the end of the day they're not looking for you, they're looking for a solution to make them better at who they are and tell them what to do next. 

All this comes together as one whole funnel, right? We have the ad, we have the landing page, we have the thank you page, and we have the email sequence. All of this works together, and I think the most important thing to say here is that when you make it about the customer, when you put them at the focus, you will always be able to create more high converting funnels, whether if it's about the ad, if it's the landing page, if it's the thank you page that needs to make it more about them, or even in your email, that first email that you send out. Everything there needs to connect with the customer on a more personal level and grab their attention, make it about them.

Okay, so that's all we have for today. Thanks for joining and you can grab all of my resources and free templates from here. We have that psychological triggers guide that I mentioned, and many other things in there to help you. I am now going to stop sharing my screen and I'm going to come back.

Should Landing Pages be Long-form?

Tristam: We've got some questions that come in, and that was a fantastic presentation. Thank you very much. "Should landing pages be super short these days, other than the one client that you gave the example of? Should they be generally short with a call to action to sign up?" What are your thoughts on that?

Talia: No. Here's why. Everyone loves to say, "Don't write long copy. Make the pages as short as possible because no one reads today." People aren't illiterate, right? People know how to read. The reason that people don't read is because we're not giving them a reason. 

In the hundreds of tests, thousands of tests that I've run, it's not about how long the page is, it's about the content in it and what it's about. When you make it about your own product and your features, so you're not really getting people a reason to read on, but if you start in the right way and you picture their pain, and you relate to them, and you show them that you know them...people are far more likely to actually connect with you and not just take that one-time conversion.

Short pages do work. It's not that they don't work, but many times if you haven't really made the case for the entire solution, you might get a lot of downloads or many sign-ups, but after that, they'll be gone. These people aren't really committed to you. They don't really know you, they don't really care, they just wanted to grab that thing and go away. I definitely recommend testing long-form with landing pages, with emails, and even with ads. 

What Is a Good Email Open Rate to Aim For?

Tristam: We've got a quick question from SF Digital Studios. "What would you say is a good email opening rate to shoot for?" I guess that's probably an open question depending on the industry. Or have you got an interesting place where people can go and find sort of general email open rates because I'm sure there's many, many studies out there.

Talia: Well, there's so much depending on this. As you mentioned, the industry is a big thing. The size of your list is also a very big thing. If you have 500 people versus 20,000 people, you're going to have different kinds of open rates.

But the things that do actually affect open rates I would say are your subject line, obviously, but also the name that you're sending it from, and the idea of unsubscribing people. I'm going to say something that's very unpopular and that probably businesses don't like to hear, don't hide your unsubscribe link in your email. A lot of companies like to hide it, and then when people are unsubscribing it's a terrible thing. 

I actually run a campaign on our email list once every six months to remove, automatically unsubscribe people who haven't been engaging, haven't opened or clicked on any of our emails in the past six months, because the more people you have on your list who aren't engaging, your results are coming down. 

Email and Funnel-Building Tools

Tristam: Awesome. Then so just to add a little bit more on emails, Rent Homes 123 said, "Should you get a dedicated email host as opposed to using our web host to send emails? If so, what would be your recommendations?"

Talia: I myself use GetDrip, which is my go-to, but you can use Mailchimp, or GetResponse, many different companies that you can use. I like using GetDrip because of the automation that it provides, segmentation, I can segment my list. I know who I'm sending emails to and I can get people to segment themselves.

I think that probably the more important question here is going to be what type of emails you want to send. Are they heavy design, kind of designed based heavy emails, are they more text-based? I find with my emails that the more they look like they've been sent from my Gmail account, personal email, the better they work and the more they connect with people. You want to go with software that provides you the tools that you need for your specific prospects, and that depends on your business capabilities, your budget, your resources, and who your audience really is.

Tristam: Fantastic. "Any recommendations on a good funnel builder and email marketing software?" We've just sort of covered there on the email marketing software.

Talia: Right, we didn't talk about funnel builders or landing page builders. My two favorite ones are Unbounce and Leadpages. Those are the two that I use. I just partnered with Unbounce on this huge three landing page guide for SaaS businesses. 

Simple vs Fancy Email Designs: What is Better?

Tristam: Miroki again asked the question, "Also noticed Talia's emails are very simple in format and not the fancy formatted ones Mailchimp or iContact has. I've noticed a trend towards these emails. Is this something that's becoming more popular now?"

Talia: It's a great question. I mean, I do think it is becoming more popular. I do think it really depends on the type of business that you're running. When you're trying to sound more personal and you want to show people that it is really you as a personal brand, I think you have to be doing it. Even as a small brand, that's the way you should go.

I'd urge you to test it obviously, but the thing with design-heavy emails is that they normally also include many links and many things in them. The idea of this broken down email that kind of looks like a Gmail, it's not only just the fact that there's no design in it, it's also the way we break the lines and how I break each line, the way I write it, the spaces between each sentence. 

My entire email strategy is built around helping readability, and also design to get people to take just one action. So that's the strategy that I use that I've tested that works the best for me. When I ran a conversion optimization agency a few years ago, the more design-heavy kind of email worked best for us. It really depends on you as a brand and who you are, but I definitely urge you to test it because they're also emails that go through better in terms of filter of email and spam and stuff like that.

Tristam: Awesome. Well, we have hit the one hour mark. Apologies for anyone that I didn't get to ask your question. Talia, where can people find you online so they can come and hound you with these questions and get their questions answered? Also if you want to drop what your website is as well so people can get all the extra information as well. That'd be fantastic.

Talia: Sure. So if you have any questions I'd be happy to keep answering them. On Twitter I can do that. You can find me @TaliaGw, so that's where you can find me on Twitter. I want to comment the link but I can't for some reason.

Tristam: Fantastic. Well, we'll wrap it up there. Talia, thank you for today. 

Talia: Bye, thank you.

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