I think what Brian and the testers are missing is that 15k is neither big enough to be impressive nor small enough to be inviting. It’s not a number that works effectively as social proof, and while I can’t test it out myself, I believe, based on evidence for social proof around the web, that DIYthemes would have had much better success with a combined number in the 50k+ range as mentioned above.
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Much of this is steeped in buyer psychology. The best marketers in the world know that there is a psychological process that must occur for prospects to whip out those credit cards and turn into buyers or even hyper-active buyers. One such person whose perfected this process is Russell Brunson, an "underground entrepreneur" who founded a company called ClickFunnels, a sales funnel SaaS business that empowers marketers from around the world to build marketing automation without all the hassle.
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Of course, implementing this isn't easy. You need to first develop your stories, then decide on how you're going to convey those stories and at what drip-rate. For example, your first email or two might go out on the day they first signup, then one email per day might go out afterwards. How much of that will be story-based and how much will be pitches?
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The final stage of the sales funnel is the action that you're intending them to perform. In most cases this is the purchase. Again, how well you move them through the various stages is going to set you up with a specific conversion for this action. For example, if 100 people click on your offer and 10 people enter your sales funnel but only purchase people purchase, then you have a 2 percent conversion.
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People like more choices, so consider creating subscription levels that let people sign up to receive content that’s relevant to them. For example, if you sell widgets and tax advice, provide three options on your opt-in form that allow users to sign up to receive info about widgets, info about tax advice or both. Further customize by allowing them to designate how frequently they’d like to hear from you — weekly, monthly or only when something really special is going on. People may be more likely to sign up for your email list if they have some control over the content they’ll receive.
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For example, when a customer finds you organically through a Google search for example, that means you have some element of authority. When you have authority, prospects are more likely to enter into your funnel because they know that if they found you relevantly, that whatever it is that you're providing must be of a great value. That's just the nature of SEO and organic search.
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However, getting to this stage is no simple feat. It takes an enormous amount of work and effort plus tracking. By implementing sales funnel software, such as the platform built by Brunson, you can definitely cut down the headache, but there's still lots of work to be done. Copy needs to be written, tracking pixels need to be installed and email sequences need to be created. But that's what it takes to succeed.