There is a great potential in product funnels as used in mailing lists to earn you money. But they have to be set up correctly - something most of the advice I've gathered from articles on the web don't do. Let's cover some basics. 3-4% of the people you contact (or opt-in) will buy anything you put in front of them - so the bigger your list, the more income you will make.
80% of your total income will come from 20% of your public - more or less. (And this means 64% comes from 4%, 51% comes from .3% - at least on paper.) As people don't find things to be of value, they will drop off/opt-out. With a poor conversion factor, you will probably wind up with 50% or more of your list being that 3-4% and so this will skew your data.
High opt-outs, few purchases will give you a steady income - as long as you keep creating new products for these "buy anything" public. You are then in maintain mode for this small niche - and your income is pegged. You want to be able to scale your income and keep increasing it, plus freeing your time to find new niches - not just new stuff to sell old customers.
Conversion is the key. You have to take that 80% of your public and convert them to buyers - if not big buyers, you want them to move up your funnel as fast as possible. There are a couple of solutions to this: [Note that the below is new theory based on study of brick-and-mortar sales functions - but what works in the real world converts over to the virtual simply.] 1) Make your funnel look like an upside down champagne glass (the old-fashioned wide at the top, thin stem and then flattening out to a base as wide as the top - an hourglass that was sat on, more or less). What you don't want is to have a shape like a grain silo - straight sides up and down with only one path to the top, take it or leave it.
Think champagne glassses - for the expensive varieties of that beverage you can celebrate with. You want to have lots of introductory services so that they can take cheap or free courses one after the other, while you continue to build relationships with them - plying them with various surveys until you know where they personally are coming from/looking for and also you have a better idea where your beginning list participants are at. Many don't buy right off, so give them more to do which builds trust so they will. The top of your upside-down champagne-glass-funnel is wide again - but for those who have made it right on up with their Paypal account open to you at every offer. You have to keep them buying, so have a lot of new material up there, which they can use and benefit from. This doesn't just mean selling them more hours of personal coaching - which is expensive for you as well.
New webinars on your latest research - on a reserved seat basis - is probably a more likely ticket. 2) Make people an affiliate at every level. This builds your community and allows participation.
As well, you can offer rewards to top-performing affiliates, so that they work for you just to earn those top rewards (which other people buy outright). Regular training webinars at an affordable price also will keep them working for you. This is also a way for these people to get more exposure to your solutions and makes them more able to afford your higher-end services. Now an interesting organizational point comes up.
You are going to not just "segment" your list as some articles have pointed out, but you are going to have to subdivide it, stratify it, and then segment those stratas and divisions. Let's clarify those terms: Division - part of the list by product line. You have an autoresponder service which should give you virtually unlimited email series.
Set up your service so that you are servicing each different product line as itself. Example: I have a list for people interested in self-help books and products. Another division would be the list of affiliates selling my self-help products. Affiliates wouldn't be excluded from taking services - they should be encouraged - but regular public wouldn't know what's in the affiliate division, unless they signed up for it. Now, in the self-help area, I have general self-help and a section just based on the Law of Attraction.
These people can go back and forth through all the lower-level ecourses I offer (and I am planning about 5 or more, in addition to special reports, MP3's, etc.) Afterall, they are part of the self-help division, if not (yet) self-help affiliates. At the top strata, you can give them everything you have to offer for sale, since they trust you inplicitly with delivering high-quality items routinely. At this point, you also should have a sales record of them, as well as what courses they have taken - so you can personally suggest some items to them based on their experience.
You now have developed a one-on-one relationship and can easily move into the per-hour coaching. Enough of these and you can reserve a suite of rooms and a meeting hall in some exotic locale so that they can all meet you in person and get their questions answered personally. A workshop - which they foot the bill for.
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