So you’ve got your blog up and running, you’re starting to gain a following, and you want to capitalize on your growing popularity. One of the best ways to do that is by creating products around whatever your expertise is. Your followers obviously like what you have to offer, so whether it’s through e-books, audio programs, webinars, or video workshops, creating products to deliver what they want is a no-brainer. Once you’ve created products to offer on your site, one of the greatest things about the Internet comes into play: you can automate the entire process. Sure, you have to do the work upfront to create the products and the process, but once it’s in place, it takes very little attention beyond tracking your progress and making necessary adjustments. This is a great thing, because it frees you up to create more quality content, and more products. So, how do you automate your sales process? Here are four easy steps to make it happen:
1. Get ‘em on the list. The first step to the automated online sales process is to get your site’s visitors on your email list. Your list will become the biggest asset you have, so this step is critical to your success. To entice people to sign up for your emails, there are two critical factors you must nail down. First and foremost, your free content (your blog) must be high quality and compelling. If you’re not delivering value to your visitors, there’s no way they’ll sign up to hear more of what you have to say via email. Secondly, you’ll want to offer a valuable incentive for people who sign up for your emails. Value is the key. While you’re not going to give away the farm in a single swoop, the offer you create must have real, valuable content, or the subscribers you do get will promptly unsubscribe. The point is, you shouldn’t be trying to trick anyone into signing up. They’ll detect it immediately, and no one wins.
2. Send out the emails. The next step in the process is to decide what you’ll send out once a person subscribes to your list. Obviously you’ll be sending a welcome email with a link to the free product you promised. But then what? One of the greatest tools in the email marketing toolbox is the sequential autoresponder. Whatever email marketing provider you sign up with, they should have the ability to set up sequential autoresponders to each new subscriber. These autoresponders might even serve as the free product offer the subscriber signed up for. For example, you might offer a “Free 7 Day E-Course on How to Make Money with Affiliate Links.” Then, each day for the next seven days, your subscriber will receive an email with another part of the course. If you follow this path, it’s a good idea to just provide the content without selling anything in these emails. Even if you’re giving value, that value is diminished when you turn it into a sales pitch. This brings up another good point: When setting up your sequential autoresponders, make sure you’re not selling in every one. People get a ton of email, and if they know they’re in for a sales pitch whenever they open one of your emails, they won’t be on your list for long. You want people to look forward to your communications, and then when you do present an offer, it’s far more likely to be acted upon.
3. Accept online payments. So someone has signed up on your list, they’ve received some great value from your emails, and now they want to buy the video course you just offered. This is the coolest part of selling on the Internet. It used to be that you had to be present to sell something to someone. Now, you can do it in your sleep! Whether you use a service like PayPal, Google Checkout, Amazon Payments, or your own merchant account, it will be easy for you to sell your products on your site. The nice thing about the ready-made services (PayPal, Google, Amazon, etc.) is that you don’t have to purchase shopping cart software to use them. You’ll be able to create “buy now” buttons and easily incorporate those into your page. The down-side is that you pay a little more in fees, and you have less creative and functionality control. In either case, you’ll have access to comprehensive sales reports, so you can…
4. Track and measure. As your online sales get underway, and for as long as you sell online, you’ll want to know how you’re doing – not just in terms of sales, but with marketing and conversion rates as well. You want to know how many people are visiting your site, how many of those are signing up for your email list, and how many email subscribers are clicking back through to your site and/or ordering products. Using your site analytics, coupled with the stats provided by your email marketing company and your e-commerce provider, you’ll have easy access to all this information. These statistics are very important, because they will paint a picture of how your content and your marketing are working to convert browsers into customers. Using this information, you’ll be able to make necessary changes to improve your click-through and conversion rates. Of all the steps, this is probably the least “easy” but it’s really not hard once you get used to looking at the numbers. Then just make small adjustments and see what changes. There’s no fool-proof formula that works for everyone, so you get to build your own!
Bonus step! This isn’t as much a step as it is a suggestion. Provide outstanding service at every turn, and whatever products you create from your expertise, always offer a money-back, “risk-free” guarantee. Few people, if any, will take you up on it, and it just makes people feel better about spending money on your products. For those who do ask for their money back, don’t hesitate to return it, no-questions-asked. Then try to get some feedback, but don’t count on it. Sometimes you just have to move forward and focus on those who love you and your stuff!
The Internet has given us the ability to make money using automated systems, and we’d be crazy not to take full advantage of that. So follow the steps above and get your cash-flow on autopilot.