Every entrepreneur needs to figure out how to acquire customers in a sustainable manner if they want to stay in business.
And if you are a bootstrapper who is funding everything yourself, you need to figure it out fast because you can’t rely on investors with deep pockets to keep the lights on.
Our co-founders were in this situation a decade ago when they launched ClickFunnels without raising any venture capital.
Today we are going to share the customer acquisition strategy that they used to grow this company from zero to $100M+ in annual revenue…
Don’t Make This Customer Acquisition Mistake!
We would argue that the most common customer acquisition mistake entrepreneurs make is driving traffic directly to their company websites or sales pages.
The problem with this approach is that it’s the online equivalent of coming up to a complete stranger and saying “Yo, here’s my product, now buy it!”.
That person doesn’t know you, doesn’t trust you, and hasn’t had the time to do their research. So why would you expect them to hand you their hard-earned money?
If you examine your own shopping behavior, you’ll quickly realize just how ludicrous this expectation is.
When was the last time you saw some random ad, clicked on it, and bought that product there and then?
We have all made impulse purchases at some point, but if you are like most people, you probably primarily buy from brands that you trust.
And it’s probably safe to assume that you have been following those companies for a while, have researched their products, and have looked into various alternatives before buying anything from them.
When you consider the transaction from the buyer’s perspective, it becomes clear that the seller needs to build trust in order to close the sale. But how can you do that?
This is where the Value Ladder sales funnel comes in…
How To Acquire Customers With the Value Ladder Sales Funnel
We believe that the most effective way to sell anything online is the Value Ladder sales funnel.
It was created by our co-founder Russell Brunson who then used it to take ClickFunnels from zero to $10M+ in annual revenue in just one year (it’s at $100M+ now!).
This sales funnel has four stages:
- Bait. You offer the potential customer your lead magnet in exchange for their email address.
- Frontend. You offer the potential customer your least expensive and least valuable product or service.
- Middle. You offer the customer a more expensive and more valuable product or service.
- Backend. You offer the customer your most expensive and most valuable product or service.
Ideally, you also offer a continuity program of some sort, meaning, a subscription product that generates recurring revenue.
So the main idea here is this:
Instead of driving traffic directly to your website or sales page, you drive it to your lead magnet landing page and convert those visitors into email subscribers.
Then, once you have their email addresses, you pitch your products and services to them via email.
The reason why this sales funnel works so well is that it allows you to:
- Start the relationship with that person by offering free value.
- Nurture that relationship by continuing to provide free value via email.
- Build trust by providing progressively more paid value at each stage.
Here’s how Russell explains it:
How To Build a Value Ladder Sales Funnel for Your Business
So how can you build a Value Ladder sales funnel for your business?
Step #1: Create a Super Valuable Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is a freebie that you offer to the potential client in exchange for their email address.
It can be anything that they can either download to their device or access online:
- A report.
- An ebook.
- A video class.
- A video course.
- An email course.
- A webinar.
What’s important is that your lead magnet provides an effective solution to a problem that the potential client is struggling with.
That problem should either be the same one or related to the one that your frontend offer addresses.
Ideally, your lead magnet should not only serve as bait but also set the stage for the upcoming frontend offer pitch.
There are several ways to achieve this depending on what you sell:
- Books. Use the first chapter as a lead magnet then pitch your book.
- Physical products. Create an educational lead magnet that explains how to do something, then pitch your physical products as the best tools or materials for that (e.g. use a free makeup tutorial video as a lead magnet, then pitch a makeup kit that has everything the customer needs to achieve that exact look).
- Info products. Use an excerpt as a lead magnet, then pitch the whole product (e.g. if you sell a video course, offer one lesson as a lead magnet, then pitch the whole course).
- Software. Create an educational lead magnet where you explain how to do something, then pitch your software as the best tool for that (e.g. we teach people how to build sales funnels, then pitch them our funnel building software).
- Services. Create an educational lead magnet that explains how to do something, then pitch a service where you do it for them (e.g. use a free video where you explain how to create an SEO strategy as your lead magnet, then pitch a service where you create an SEO strategy for them).
There should be a logical progression from the lead magnet to the frontend offer. The more seamless the progression, the easier it will be to close the sale!
Step #2: Create a Landing Page for Your Lead Magnet
Now that you have your lead magnet, it’s time to create a landing page for it. This is the page that you will be driving traffic to.
A squeeze page, which is the most basic type of landing page characterized by being just one screen long, is probably your best bet.
We don’t recommend designing it from scratch unless you have previous landing page design experience. Why?
Because online marketers have been relentlessly optimizing landing pages for at least two decades now.
At this point, we know what works and what doesn’t. Or, to be more precise, we know what’s most likely to work.
That’s why when it comes to the initial design of your landing page, it makes sense to follow the established landing page design best practices.
And the most straightforward way to ensure that your landing page complies with those best practices is to use a proven, high-converting landing page template.
Our software, ClickFunnels 2.0, includes a template library that features landing page templates for all of the most common use cases.
So why waste time reinventing the wheel when you can simply do what’s been proven to work?
Step #3: Create an Irresistible Frontend Offer
The purpose of the frontend offer is to convert leads into paying customers.
You can use an existing product or service for this, but we recommend creating a new product designed specifically with that goal in mind.
Here are three practical tips for creating an irresistible frontend offer:
- Make it digital. This applies regardless of whether you sell services, digital products, or physical products. Ebooks, video classes, and video courses are all great frontend offer formats.
- Price it at $7. This price point is not low enough to make the potential customer question the quality of the product but also not high enough to make them stop and think twice before buying.
- Remove all financial risk by providing an unconditional, no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee. This ensures that the potential customer doesn’t have anything to lose by checking out your frontend offer. Worst-case scenario, they will simply get a refund.
You might also want to watch this video in which Russell explains the difference between a product and an offer:
Step #4: Create a Sales Page for Your Frontend Offer
You also need a sales page for your frontend offer. This is the page that you will drive traffic to from your email list.
When it comes to sales page design, it’s the same as with landing pages: you shouldn’t design it from scratch unless you have previous experience in doing that.
Use one of the sales page templates from the ClickFunnels 2.0 template library instead!
As for the sales page copywriting, here are some of the basics that you need to get right:
- Headline. Your headline should convey the value of your frontend offer. How will it help the potential customer? Lead with that.
- Body copy. Appeal to the emotional buyers first with emotion-driven copy, then to the logical buyers with benefit-driven copy, and finally to the fearful buyers with scarcity-driven copy.
- Social proof. Provide as much social proof as you can in the form of customer testimonials, endorsements from well-known people, and “As Seen On” media badges.
- Call to action. Use offer-specific call-to-action button copy (e.g. “YES! I Want [Your Frontend Offer]’”) instead of generic copy (e.g. “Buy Now”).
- 30-day money-back guarantee. Make sure that your money-back guarantee is explained clearly and is featured prominently next to the call-to-action button. It should be impossible to miss!
There’s much more to sales page copywriting than that but unfortunately we can’t adequately cover this subject in this article due to space limitations.
But if you want to learn how to write copy that converts, we highly recommend our friend Jim Edwards’ book “Copywriting Secrets”. You can get it for FREE. All Jim asks is that you cover the shipping!
Step #5: Create a 6-Email Welcome Sequence
We don’t recommend hitting the potential customer with a sales pitch the moment they give you their email address. You haven’t built enough trust yet!
Send them this six-email welcome sequence instead:
- Email #1: Who Are You? Introduce yourself to the new subscriber.
- Email #2: Where Did You Come From? Share your origin story. How did you come to do what you do now?
- Email #3: What Do You Do? Explain in more detail what it is that you do.
- Email #4: How Did You Gain This Expertise? Explain what makes you qualified to do what you do. Share relevant experience, credentials, and accomplishments.
- Email #5: Who Do You Do This For? Explain who are your dream customers + share a case study on how you helped such a person get the results that they wanted.
- Email #6: How Can You Do It For Me? Pitch your frontend offer and provide a link to its sales page.
Use the “Hook, Story, Offer” copywriting framework to structure your emails:
- Hook the new subscriber with a compelling subject line.
- Create a connection by telling them a captivating story that resonates with them on an emotional level.
- Transition from the story to the sales pitch for your offer and end the email with a call to action
We use this framework for everything: ad copy, email copy, sales copy, you name it!
Here’s how Russell explains it:
ClickFunnels 2.0 includes an email marketing functionality that allows you to collect potential customers’ email addresses, set up an automated welcome sequence, and create email workflows with behavioral triggers.
You can also send one-off broadcast emails whenever you need to make a time-sensitive announcement!
Bonus: Add an Order Bump, an Upsell, and a Cross-Sell to Your Frontend Offer
We also recommend adding three additional offers to your frontend offer:
#1 An Order Bump
You know how grocery stores have all these small items like chewing gum and candy bars at the checkout?
An order bump is the digital equivalent of that. It should be something inexpensive that the potential customer might add to their order on a whim because why not.
Say, if your frontend offer is a book, you can offer an audiobook version as an order bump.
Ideally, your order bump should be in the $0.99 – $2.99 price range.
#2 An Upsell
An upsell is an upgrade on the offer that the potential customer has already accepted (e.g. McDonald’s infamous “Would you like to supersize that?”).
You can offer more of the same product, a subscription for that product, a more comprehensive version of that product, etc.
#3 A Cross-Sell
A cross-sell is an offer that is complementary to the offer that the potential customer has already accepted (e.g. McDonald’s famous “Would you like fries with that?”).
Say, if your frontend offer is a fitness ebook, you could cross-sell a one-on-one consultation and a custom workout plan.
Order bumps, upsells, and cross-sells may not seem like a big deal but they can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Those extra sales add up, especially over an extended period of time!
ClickFunnels 2.0 makes it easy to add these additional offers to your sales funnel!
How to Optimize Your Value Ladder Sales Funnel for Conversions
A/B testing is the primary method that online marketers use to optimize web pages for conversions.
Here’s how it works:
- You create two variants of the same page: variant A and variant B. There should be just one difference between them (e.g. the headline). That’s the element that you are testing.
- You split your traffic in two and drive half of it to variant A and half of it to variant B.
- You let the experiment run until it reaches statistical significance, analyze the data, and keep the winning variant.
We recommend using A/B testing to optimize every page in your sales funnel. This can help you 2x, 5x, or even 10x your funnel profits!
ClickFunnels 2.0 includes an A/B testing functionality that makes it easy to optimize your sales funnel for conversions!
Build Your First Sales Funnel In Just Five Days!
Let’s keep it real:
Building a sales funnel from scratch can seem like a daunting task.
That’s why we created our 5 Day Lead Challenge where Russell walks you through it step-by-step.
- Create your first lead magnet.
- Build your first sales funnel.
- Set up a six-email welcome sequence.
…and launch your funnel in just five days!
So don’t hesitate. Take action now. It can change your life!
P.S. This challenge is completely free!