Long before I could even begin to define a Facebook ads funnel, from the moment my first $3 sale showed up in my eCommerce dashboard for an eBook I'd written out of pure necessity (to help potential clients plan their brand fully before I started working on their website), I was amazed at the magic/science of someone who doesn't know you one day, purchasing from you and passionately sharing your stuff all over the web the next day.
I made up my mind to get a Ph.D. where I could research the factors that go into the purchasing decisions of consumers buying from infopreneurs, influencers, and "authorities" online. Still working on that whole Ph.D. thing, but until that time, I have some 80% nerdy, 20% hip, but 100% mind-blowing examples and trainings for you if you want to start selling your programs, services, or digital products online . . . on autopilot . . . while remaining very human and in touch with the people you are serving.
We're gonna get into actual funnel examples, and so much more . . . you're ready, right? And more on these mysterious sheets in a second.
First, it's time to briefly review what a funnel is and why I go through an intense period every 2 years or so where I desperately try to think of a different name for "funnels" because of the way people abuse, misuse, overuse, etc. the term.
What is a funnel, really?
A funnel is simply one or more of your ideal audience members being drawn in by an amazing resource or gift you offer, then being taken through a series of content pieces or interactions that you’ve created, in which each step is meant to:
(1) educate and motivate your audience to act on something helpful to them, and
(2) accomplish a specific brand goal for you.
My belief is that even though your funnel may have one general goal, the most feel-good, customer-centric, and sensitive funnels are ones that are highly valuable even if someone doesn't purchase anything and/or ones that have a few stop-off points for people just in case your end goal is not what they need.
Which is why I'm always trying to rename the dreaded f-word — "funnel" . . . people in the online marketing space seem to love to abuse the word . . . by offering little value, lots of pressure, and only high price point resources. Funnels don't have to be ridiculous. They can be some of the most amazing experiences for your audience . . . something that you get thank you emails and fire 🔥emoji tweets about.
Back to the point of this article . . .
Let's get to an example funnel, eh?
We can take the example of my totally real friend (I didn't make him up or anything) named Theo to illustrate extremely helpful funnels. In this content series, Theo is not only selling his $35 guide to being a digital nomad in Playa del Carmen, but he is also dishing out essential, valuable information for people who might only need a few additional details or for people who can't yet afford his book.
That funnel looks super sexy and helpful, right?
But you may have noticed a very key thing is missing. "Traffic" as the marketers say. Humans as I like to call them. How are human-actual-people going to become aware of Theo's amazing free video on "A day in the life of a digital nomad in Playa del Carmen" to begin with? In order for a funnel to work, you need a flow of new people being introduced to your brand or offer.
Getting people to the start of your funnel . . .
There are countless ways someone can become aware of Theo's video (or his free checklist, or his workshop, or his email training series, or whatever he chooses to share):
Theo might share a link to his video in a Facebook Group for digital nomads that he's a part of
Theo might share his link on Instagram
Someone might tweet out about Theo's video/resource
People could find his video from a pin on Pinterest or a Facebook Live video
. . . and so on
BUT. How can Theo create a consistent stream of the right kind of people landing on his resources? People who are interested in travel, digital nomading, living abroad, doing freelance work on the Internet, etc.?
One seriously epic way is to invest a little time learning how to target, and scale with, Facebook ads.
And I have some seriously cool examples for you in this article. But first, know this: I used to be so epically scared of Facebook ads. I was 100% sure (in my state of ignorance) that they were going to waste my time and money.
Then I started paying attention to various friends of mine online. Like Aby Moore, second from the right in the image below---she drove hundreds of dollars in sales on a workbook from $130 in Facebook ad spend. Or like the amazing Kimra Luna, on the left below---her love affair with Facebook ads started when she spent $400 and got 1000 people signed up for her first business webinar.
I watched how my friend (and former client) Courtney Sanders absolutely blew up online---the good way. She didn't start testing out thousands of dollars. She started testing out a $100 ad spend and getting back $196 in sales of a 7-day challenge---as she explains in the slide towards the left above.
And of course, I've been watching two people I admire a ton, Verick Wayne (my friend since undergrad)---as he got more and more passionate about Instagram and Facebook and paved the way for me to use them more effectively, and Andrew Hubbard---a genius Facebook ads strategist who works with course sellers, event hosts, and more.
And after all these examples and lessons, I decided to give Facebook ads a serious try. The results have been kinda magical, and today I want to be a ShareBear and share as much as possible with you. Cuz you know, sharing is caring.
Facebook ads funnels aren't scary, and they can be totally human and warm.
We're going to get into four super clutch examples based on four pretty common product/business models that you might be pursuing or considering.
You may be selling:
Courses and eBooks
1-on-1 services like consulting and freelancing
Masterminds or group coaching programs
Tickets to live and virtual events
We're going to take some examples from a book I created on funnels, example avatars---one for each of the product models above---and trace out a full, epic, profitable funnel that starts with a targeted Facebook ad. Today we're starting with Facebook ads funnels specifically for course creators or book sellers.
How to Create a Facebook Ads Funnel to Sell Your Course or eBook on Autopilot
Let's revisit this Theo character from one of my books. Remember . . . he is selling a digital guide (eBook and an accompanying video or two) on living and working internationally in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Step 1: Create a Compelling Offer to Start off Your Facebook Ads Funnel
Theo might start with a simple Facebook ad that he targets at anyone who has similar habits (on Facebook) to his website visitors---he can do this by installing a piece of code on his site (a Facebook pixel) and then creating a "lookalike" audience in his Facebook ads account.
In addition to the fact that the people he targets "look like" people who already visit his website, he might also make a condition of his ad that it's only shown to people who also like a popular digital nomad Facebook page, are between the ages of 23 - 38, and use Gmail as their primary email provider.
His Facebook ad can be a simple 90-second video (maybe where he's simply holding his phone on a selfie stick and walking around key spots in his city during the day---with good light---sharing 2 or 3 key tips about being a digital nomad).
His video ad can direct people to a landing page on his website where they can sign up (with their name and email address) for two more videos in his series---one that explains the ways you can make money as a digital nomad and one that explains the basics of living internationally.
Pro tip: Theo can use the "thank you" page after people sign up for his free videos to lightly (or fully and directly) mention the $35 guide he sells. This can help sales trickle in immediately and pay for his Facebook ads. But, since he's still giving free value, it won't turn off most (reasonable) people to get a special offer of an affordable digital guide.
Personal story side note: I've used this "redirect to special offer" method before to drive over $10,000 in sales of an online course immediately after people signed up for a free workshop series.
Step 2: Follow Up with a Reminder and Some Helpful Info/Resources
Since Theo recently collected people's email addresses, he can send a follow-up email, 3 days after they initially signed up for his list, re-linking to the videos (in case his subscribers missed them), and giving some new, relevant information to his audience.
^^ In this email, Theo is combatting a common objection/fear he hears about moving abroad through a well-researched government report on the low crime rates in the city he lives in. He's also giving people a chance to check out a free podcast series he created with some amazing fellow digital nomads, or to join his free Facebook group and/or buy his $35 guide.
Personal story side note: Theo's funnel is very similar to how I've sold a graphic design course in the past. Facebook ad >> to workshop >> to helpful email chain with more videos/info >> to purchase. The course was priced at $175, and even though only a small percentage of people purchased it, it was enough to pay for the ads and make a nice profit. Having a smart email list-building strategy is sooooo important that we created a full 5-day email course on building an engaged email list of people who actually buy from you . . . And it's free.
Step 3: Re-Target People on Facebook AND Send Another Educational/Motivational Email
Here's where some next level cool stuff comes in. You may or may not know that most entrepreneurs and businesses online are getting open rates on their emails between 17% and 25%. No, I'm serious. Check out this report (updated in 2017) by MailChimp.
That means that for every 100 people you send your emails to, 80 of them don't open it. That's serious.
But, it's not the end of the world. There are almost 2 billion people on Facebook, so it's a good bet that a lot (if not all) of your ideal audience members are on Facebook.
So, instead of relying solely on email to deliver your funnel (let's say it goes out to 1000 people one month . . . you want more than 170 or 200 people getting it, right?) . . . why not add a Facebook ad into your funnel?
You're increasing the chances that the right person will see your content at the right time. So, let's look at what Theo does and see if it can give you some ideas.
We know that Theo already had people landing on a "thank you" page on his site after they signed up for his video series that they learned about through his Facebook ad (and/or some other means---he can always share his series using free methods as well).
Let's call that thank you page TheoTravels.com/video. Someone would have only landed there if they'd signed up for his series.
Theo can go inside his Facebook ads account and now create an audience (basically, a group of people to show ads to) that will only include people who've seen that specific page on his site . . . so the audience consists only of people who signed up for his offer.
And here's where he goes NEXT LEVEL.
Theo can create that audience out of people who've been on that page at least 3 days ago, but no longer than 10 days ago. Or whatever numbers he chooses. Why would he do this?
If he knows he's about to spend money to show an ad to people in his funnel, why not make sure they signed up for his resource at least 3 days ago (meaning they've had time to watch the videos and "warm up" to Theo) but not longer than 10 days ago (so he can keep the audience relevant and fresh---someone may not remember him from 33 days ago or may not be as concerned about the topic anymore).
He (and you and I) can essentially then spend money on just the people who have already shown a high level of interest in what we're talking about. And because of the way Facebook "Audiences" work, people will automatically be added and removed from the group of people we're showing ads to based on the conditions we set up.
So on Day 11 after signing up for Theo's resource and landing on his "video" page, that person will no longer be shown the ad for the second piece of the funnel (let's say piece #2 is a case study). If they haven't taken advantage of it by then, why spend money trying to make them? Also, Theo can add a condition that this audience he's showing an ad to on days 3 - 10 doesn't include anyone who has already visited the case study's landing page.
So to summarize, 2 - 5 days after someone initially signs up for a resource from you, you can start targeting them with an ad that takes them to the next content piece in your funnel. Simultaneously, you can schedule another email that also takes them to the next piece in your funnel. Adding in the *hopefully* high-converting ad to your email plan will increase the number of people who actually see your next funnel piece.
Step 4: Continue to Use a Combination of the Custom Audience "Hack" in Step 3, and Funnel Emails Spaced a Few Days Apart, to Deliver a Few More Resources
Remember, Theo still has a blog post on how to get great Internet speeds in Playa, his own case study of how he lives and works for under $1500/month, and a lesson on getting the proper visas and permits to stay legally in Mexico.
He can choose to create an ad for some, none, or all of his remaining funnel content pieces (videos, articles, podcast episodes, and more)---pieces that always link or invite people to purchase his guide or a different resource/course he sells. And, he can definitely, for free, create an email to go out every few days for the rest of his funnel content.
If he's using email software like ConvertKit (the one I use), then as soon as someone buys his guide, he can make sure they stop receiving funnel emails to promote the guide---all of this is done "automagically" with no extra work from Theo after he initially sets up the action/reaction in ConvertKit.
And that my human friend, is how someone can use Facebook ads to sell a course or eBook on "autopilot." Cool, right? Want more examples like this? And pssssst, if you liked this dive on funnels (I know this lesson was pretty detailed), you might just love our email course on building an engaged email list of people who actually buy from you. . . Just saying. I know this lesson was pretty detailed, but I break down the process of smart email list-building in bite sized pieces here.
I'll see you super soon for Part 2 of this series. Excited? Leave a comment below with a funnel idea you have for your own content (no matter how rough an idea). I want to hear about it.