The online courses industry is booming, with the global E-learning market projected to reach $457.8 Billion* by 2026. You have entered a great industry, your course has been fine-tuned for your students to get the most out of it, and it seems you have everything you need. You've posted it, and you're ready for enrolment. But you're not seeing the enrolments you had hoped for. You know the course is good - why isn't it delivering results?
Enter the sales funnel, an essential but not so often utilised marketing tactic to ensure your course is seen and, most importantly, sells!
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is everything that happens after marketing tactics – what brings people to the sales funnel – and ends with them making a yes or no decision to buy, or in this case, enrol in your offered course. From feeding awareness to the public to closing a sale, the sales funnel takes on four key areas that lead to a successfully marketed course.
- Awareness: The phase where the customer encounters and becomes aware of your business, offering, or course.
- Interest: This is where potential customers come into play; they show more interest than just knowing what you offer. They may look into other components of your business, such as the website or social media, to know whether or not they can trust you.
- Decision: These customers are contemplating whether to choose you or a competitor. The decision phase is where you need to stand out from the crowd to make your offering the most desired one.
- Action: The decision-making phase is where the consumer has begun enrolling or purchasing your course. This step is where all marketers want their potential customers to end up.
Why is it important?
A great idea and motivation to build a course does not equal a successful course. That's why a sales funnel is essential. A sales funnel facilitates your marketing tactics by;
Building up your marketing strategy
A marketing strategy is an important part of any product sale. A sales funnel helps you build direction for your marketing strategy by helping you decide which tools you need for each stage of your business model. By breaking your sales funnel into different stages, you can target each potential customer according to their needs, helping you move them to the action phase of your plan.
Say your desired customer is in the decision stage; they've looked through your company's platforms or may have even reached out to inquire about the course. Here, you would adjust your marketing strategy to best fit your goals- maybe promoting the success stories of your previous learners to convince them to move to the action phase. Your marketing strategy should be specific to each stage of the funnel to ensure you promote the right things to the right people.
It helps attract new leads.
For a funnel to work, it needs to be 'fed' - in this case, with leads. Even if the leads that enter your sales funnel don't make it to the action portion of your funnel, you can still back-pocket them for future purposes or recycle them by initiating EDM content to refunnel them.
Since the sales funnel is only functional when leads are in the cycle, it is important to reach a wider population. Ensuring you have enough leads will allow you to progress through the sale funnel. As leads move through each stage they lessen, that is they drop off through each step they convert through. Knowing that many leads will not progress through the funnel and noting where the most drop-off occurs will inform you where you need to adjust your strategies. As such, it is important to gather enough input on the right leads to ensure you are having customers reach the end stage of customer conversion.
It gives you direction
Once you have become confident in your funnel process, knowing your target market and how to relate to them will consequently drive more potential customers, leading more through the funnel to the action phase. The more potential customers, the more sales over time occur. With more sales comes direction to your long-term business model as you begin to grasp an audience and know how to get from one point to another.
Direction comes from knowing your audience and your product. By building up your audience, you can understand why and how people find and use your product. This knowledge helps you direct your efforts in the right direction for company success.
It helps you grow
The more you know your sales funnel and use it over time, the more feedback you receive on the funnel’s performance and on lead behaviour.. Higher numbers of sales gives you the information you need to realign and adjust your strategies to create the most effective sales funnel possible. Over time you will notice your funnel becoming more streamlined, making for a growing business over a long period.
Growing a business is no easy feat, but with feedback comes the ability to expand. Knowing how your customers feel about your product and what brought them to you can continue to draw in crowds. Over time you will find it easier to bring in an audience and promote your courses, creating a continuous growth cycle.
* Zafeer, A., 2022. Top 21 Online E-Learning Statistics and Trends for 2022. [online] Website Rating. Available at: <https://www.websiterating.com/research/online-learning-statistics/> [Accessed 20 July 2022].