With the advent of white-label community software, it’s never been easier to build an awesome membership site. You can opt for a totally white-label solution and build under your own brand, and it’s a great way to grow your influence, share your brand, and/or monetize a social media following.
But how do you get people to join? While there are a ton of great ways to do it, from straight-up inviting people, to sharing on social, to asking your members to help, one of the tried and true internet marketing strategies is with a sales funnel.
While it takes some experimentation, the right funnel can be extremely profitable. Many of the best funnels have made huge returns for their brands, and in some cases, when brands put $1 into advertising they can reliably get $2 or $5 out from a funnel – essentially creating an ATM. Do we have your attention yet?
In this article, we’re going to walk you through creating a sales funnel for a membership site. We’ll show you a simple way to get your sales funnel up and running and how to use it to grow your membership base.
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In this article...
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a model for customer acquisition that describes their journey up the value ladder, it guides customers through a clear sales process that includes decision moments and builds more trust with each step.
At each stage, some customers will drop off and your most ideal customers will go on to the next step. Funnels can be much better for customer acquisition than a website – websites often take a shotgun approach to give customers everything they might need, while funnels lead customers on a clearly defined journey.
4 Steps for creating a sales funnel for a membership website
1. Know your Ideal Member
No matter how pretty a sales funnel looks, it’s not going to do what it’s supposed to if you don’t know who it’s for. Don’t spray and pray with your funnel. Get clear on who your Ideal Member is!
When we talk about an ideal member for a membership website, we’re really talking about the person who needs it the most, the person who wants to go on a transformational journey with you.
Here are some questions to ask to clarify who your Ideal Member is:
- Who specifically will benefit from the transformation or experience you’re offering? (Get specific. How old are they? Where do they live? What websites do they visit? What YouTubers do they watch?)
- What do you (or the community Host) have that you want to bring to the membership site? (Your expertise? Your unique story or perspective?)
- What are they struggling with?
- How much would they be willing to pay for the transformation your membership website will give them?
Don’t just guess! You can talk to 10-15 Ideal Members and see if your assumptions about them hold up. Ask them some of the questions above.
Once you’ve done that, you can spin it into what we call a Big Purpose Statement. It looks like this:
These are some of the fundamental principles of Community Design™, and if you do this work first there’s a much higher chance your funnel will be successful.
*Psst. We have free training on both finding your Ideal Member AND defining your Big Purpose in our free Mighty Community. Did we mention it’s free? *
2. Identify your customer source
Before you even build the funnel, it’s important to know where you expect traffic to come from. If you already have an audience, it’s possible that they’ll come from a few different places: an existing email list or a social media following. These are your hot prospects, they already know you and what you’re about. You can absolutely create a funnel for existing prospects if you have them.
But most people will need to turn to new places to get enough traffic into their funnel to convert. And for most people, customer acquisition includes ads. Paid advertising has a few advantages, the first of which is that most platforms let you laser target your Ideal Member.
For example, let’s say you wanted to create a membership website for Millennial bird watchers. You can refine your target audience for ads to age group, location, or gender (if you want). Then you could refine further to interests, perhaps people who like bird watching or people who follow a similar page or influencer who talks about birds.
Targeting lets you select people who will be warm prospects – you can make sure they actually are people who like bird watching rather than just trying to reach the whole internet to find the few bird watchers.
If you’ve never done ads before, it can be a bit daunting. So here are a few simple tips:
- Choose one traffic source. Don’t try to master YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok all at once. Pick one and learn to use it well. There are enough potential customers on any of these sites to launch your membership community.
- It’s not all going to work. Funnels are based on experimentation and research. If you try one ad and nobody buys, it doesn’t mean you give up. Try something else!
- Don’t overspend! You should eventually get to the point where you spend less on ads to acquire a customer than you make from that customer. (Some platforms will give you an idea of the lifetime value of a membership customer – which you can use to calculate ad spend. You can find some useful insights in Mighty Analytics and also in your Stripe account.)
3. Pick a funnel
There are a bunch of different types of funnels. The right one for you might depend! We’ll make a few suggestions below. But remember, most funnel-creation software will make some recommendations and maybe even give a template to work with. (ClickFunnels is a good example of a cool funnel software that gives a lot of templates to build from.)
a. Squeeze Funnel (AKA Opt-in)
One of the first types of funnels you should know about is called a Squeeze Page AKA Lead Magnet AKA Opt-in. These marketing terms are basically fancy ways of saying “trade a goodie for an email address.”
If you’ve got your Ideal Member in mind, you should be able to come up with a goodie that they’d love. Here are some examples:
- Our Proven Formula to Book 25 New Sales Calls This Month
- 5 Secrets to Building a Meaningful Life
- 10 Perfect Fall Recipes You MUST Try
Really, if you’ve ever been on the internet, you’ve seen these. The funnel idea is super simple. You want 1. A super duper valuable thing that people will be willing to trade their email address for, and 2. A THANK YOU page.
This funnel is one you should get up and running ASAP. Even if you’re not ready to start selling yet, you can start generating leads!
b. Webinar Funnel
Another great funnel for selling a community is a webinar funnel. The webinar funnel is awesome because the webinar does 3 things simultaneously: 1. Names the problem people have, 2. Positions you as the person to solve it, 3. Gives value (even if they don’t buy). The reason webinars work is because people can instantly see you and decide if you’re someone they want to work with.
Usually, a webinar funnel has 4 components:
- A registration page
- A thank you page
- A link or invite to attend the webinar (it’s also possible to skip the thank you page and go straight to the webinar)
- An offer
c. Product Funnel
Finally, you might choose to go for a straight product/sales funnel for selling your membership site. This can work especially well if you’re reaching out to hot leads who are already on your mailing list and know your brand.
There are a bunch of different types of product funnels, so it’s a bit misleading to list it here as one. But if you treat selling your membership website like selling any other product, you’re probably on the right path.
Here’s a sample funnel that can work for selling a product:
- A Video Sales Letter Page
- An Offer Page
- An Upsell or Downsell Page
Again, these are not the only three options to sell your membership. But they are common and proven.
Remember, membership websites are like any other product! Not everyone will buy, some people will need to come back more than once before they’re ready. Don’t sweat it! But DO put a great funnel or two in place to make sure that your Ideal Members are getting through and not dropping off with confusion.
4. Test and Adapt
The final step to funnel building is to adapt. If you start running ads and traffic to a funnel and nobody buys, does that mean your membership website sucks?
Usually, the answer is no.
You’ll need to find the right audience, the right language to get your Ideal Members excited, the right price (maybe) and more. So don’t give up. Focus on tweaking your sales funnel to figure out how to make it better.
One of the best ways to do this is with an A/B test – basically creating two different versions of the same funnel page and see which one works better.
At the end of the day, creating a sales funnel for a membership site can be a great way to build your community. But remember, it will take some work to get the funnel working right. And if you do the background work to clarify your Ideal Member and your offer, there’s a better chance the funnel will work.
And if you’re looking for an awesome place to build your community, come build with us! Mighty Networks is a cultural software platform that brings together content, courses, community, and commerce. Mighty makes it easy to build and sell your membership. PLus, our flexible Spaces let you mix in features like forums, courses with pre-recorded or live teaching, live events, live streaming, custom course communities, messaging all members, a ton of content options, plus Q&As.