In this article we are going to talk about the ten essential steps for designing a funnel that converts. Spoiler alert: design is a huge component for each and every step!! We’re going to talk about why each step is essential and the design elements that can increase conversions!
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One of the most common mistake I see (and personally made myself) is seriously underestimating exactly how much work goes into blogging.
It’s easy to think that to start a blog– all you have to do is write good content and put it out there on social media. But there’s SO MUCH MORE to it than that!
A common theme I’m seeing lately is newer bloggers not realizing how much DESIGN goes into blogging. Almost everything we do requires some kind of design.
From the pins, to lead magnets, social media posts, products, and even landing pages. They all require design!
Side Note: Don’t miss our article 5 Reasons You Need Great Graphics to Grow Your Blog (click here to read)
It wasn’t until I really started getting into the strategy of blogging that my business took off. Strategy isn’t something that comes naturally to me so this took a lot of time, trial & error, mistakes, investments, and learning to really nail down for me.
I can do the design part of it all day but putting it all together? Definitely a challenge!! So now, I want to break it down for you!
Step One: The Image (Entry Point)
Most of the time, unless someone finds you on google, the entry point to your blog is visual. This mean it’s a Facebook post, a Pinterest pin, a instagram post, a twitter post, or something along the social media lines.
Even ads via Facebook or Pinterest are again– visual.
If your design doesn’t stop them, you won’t get the click
It’s honestly as simple as that. The world is becoming so visual and long gone are the days of writing a blog post and putting it out to the world with an ugly pin and a catchy title.
Now we’re competing with colors, videos, text that pops and so many distracting elements such as ads, pop-ups, and even outside things like kids needing yet another snack.
Your design needs to stop the scroll. It needs to catch attention.
Even more than that: it needs to be professional, readable, bright, and relatable.
Here are some tips to increase conversions
- Use stock photos! Don’t try to take your own unless you’re in a niche that requires this like food craft, or home decor. If you are in niche that requires this, invest some time into learning how to take great quality photos because it will make or break your conversions.
- Choose photos that are light, bright, and relatable. If it doesn’t look like it could happen in real life then it’s too cheesy to get the click
- Keep each platform in mind; big, bold, readable text works wonderfully on Pinterest whereas Facebook images convert better with very little to no text.
- Test different titles, especially on Pinterest– how many ways can you say the same thing? You never know what’s going to click with people so it’s worth making multiple images and testing different text.
- Use design elements like banners or arrows to draw attention to CTA’s
- Keep your ideal reader in mind when choosing the design elements of your post– everything from the photos to the words you read. Design is still JUST AS MUCH communication as the verbal language.
- Use a template! Sometimes it’s not always feasible to hire out pin design or try to learn the skill from scratch and I get that, which is why I created the Complete Blogger Template Toolkit which has done-for-you templates for all the different social media platforms. Other options include: The Mega Pin Creators Bundle (pin designs only) and our lite social media templates inside the Design Vault!
If you’re looking for social media graphics you’ll find them in The Complete Blogger Template Toolkit! If you’re looking for JUST PINS (or MORE pins) you’ll find 60 unique ones inside the Mega Pin Creators Bundle.
Step Two: The Lead Magnet
Next up you’re going to need to create your lead magnet! There are a few ways I like to generate lead magnet ideas. Everyones blog and mission is different so I’ll break it down into a few different categories.
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If you have ANY kind of paid offer
Work backwards!! You need to start with the paid offer (even if it’s an affiliate product you’re going to promote in your welcome email.
Side note: we will cover the email portion of this later in this article!
Ask yourself different questions about your reader and your paid offer:
- What problem does the paid offer solve
- Where does my reader need to be in order to know that they have that problem
- What kind of information do they need prior to being ready to get that problem solved?
- What’s another problem they might have BEFORE being ready for the paid offer that I can solve?
Let the paid offer guide your decision. The more closely related they are, the better the conversion will likely be!
If you DON’T have any kind of paid offer
Let’s start by doing a quick content audit. What are you top posts and topics that you talk about. How broad is your blog?
I’m a firm believer that a blog can be broad but the email list cannot. That’s why I always recommend to frame your lead magnets in a way that speaks to a specific person (even if they are about different things).
It all comes back to your target audience (or avatar).
What do they want and WHY do they want it.
Once you’ve taken a look at your top posts, think about the next logical step or how you can expand on the content in an actionable way.
If you’re looking for lead magnet templates you’ll find them in The Complete Blogger Template Toolkit! Many also use the product template inside The Product Creators Ultimate Toolbox to create lead magnets. Alternatively, you can find a couple free lead magnet templates inside the Design Vault as well if you’re wanting to try some risk free!
Step Three: The Opt-in Page
Now that you have your blog post it written, your social media image is amazing and your lead magnet is created, it’s time to create a dedicated opt-in page or form.
Forms are best for the blog post itself.
Landing pages should also be created to send traffic directly to your offer via social media or paid advertising.
Let’s start with opt-in forms
Currently, my favorite tool for this is Convertbox. Convertbox is a program that lets you set up multi-step opt-in forms and it is seriously amazing.
Not only are the conversion rates amazing BUT my favorite thing about it is that I can set up a second step inside the pop-up box.
This means I can offer a limited time tripwire offer right inside the pop-up without ever taking my reader away from the content they were trying to consume.
This is so much better for usability and reader experience in my opinion!
If you’re not wanting to invest in a tool like Convertbox, stick to your email service provide. My provider of choice is Convertkit and they have really upped their game with the design of opt-in forms!
Regardless of the tool you use, be sure to include some kind of attention grabbing mockup style graphic on your form!
Here’s an example from my site:
The opt-in page
As far as tools go, I currently have two recommendations:
- Elementor (a free drag and drop builder)
- LeadPages (a paid drag and drop builder)
Each platform has it’s pros and cons. Elementor is a great option for new or intermediate bloggers. It’s free but has a super affordable price if you wanted to upgrade to the pro version.
It’s easy to use and you can create some amazingly beautiful pages with it!
Bonus: I actually have Elementor templates inside Confident Funnels which comes with all the pages you need for setting up your entire funnel.
It works on WordPress so the downside is that it does take up space on your server and if the plugin is deleted you’ll lose the formatting of your page (but you won’t lose the content like you would for other plugins like Thrive Architect or Divi)
LeadPages is also very easy to use. I love the analytics, being able to quickly duplicate my pages, and the fact that it’s hosted on an outside server. If my site broke tomorrow my funnel would still be working.
The downside is that because it’s separate from WordPress, you need to set up your pixels, Google analytics code, and any other conversion tracking individually on each and every page you create.
The other downside is cost: it’s rather pricey for a newer blogger but a great tool to switch to down the road if desired.
When you set up your opt-in page, the most important parts are:
- The headline
- The visual element (usually a mockup style graphic of the lead magnet)
- The offer itself
- The button
- How it looks on mobile (this is a common thing to forget)
Step Four: The Tripwire
Ok great! You’ve got your lead magnet all set up! Now it’s time to monetize, especially if you’re going to be doing paid advertising to grow your list.
Essentially, this is a low-cost, quick win type of product that is offered right after someone signs up for your email list. They will be redirected to a thank you page that let’s them know their freebie is on the way and offers them a special one-time-offer (OTO).
With tripwires, you want them to be highly related to your lead magnet offer (these are the ones that will convert the BEST) and you’ll want a visual element above the fold. This will help grab peoples attention the best since they likely won’t read the page unless you grab them.
Be sure to double check how your tripwire page looks on tablet and mobile devices as well. The visual elements I always include above the fold are:
- A product mockup
- A countdown timer (that redirects so the offer is truly a one time offer)
- A button that pops!
Here’s a visual example of one of my Elementor Page Templates from Confident Funnels– this is the tripwire page part of the funnel:
You’ll notice that this entire section appears “above the fold” (meaning someone doesn’t have to scroll to view it) so you’ve got the product mockup, countdown timer, and buy button in immediate view to grab attention!
Side note: you can find product mockup templates (for Canva) inside Confident Funnels and The Complete Blogger Template Toolkit. The Product Creators Ultimate Toolbox has various mockup templates for both Canva and Photoshop!
The rest of the page is similar to a short-form sales page. It’s important to sell the “quick win” here since tripwire purchases are usually more of an impulse buy– that’s why we want our offer to be really compelling and valuable at a “no brainer” price.
Step Four Alternative: The Thank You Page
Now if you don’t have a tripwire offer, you can still optimize your thank you page for maximum value and connection.
That being said, I would hold off on running ads to your opt-in if you’ve got no paid offer (exception: if you don’t have a tripwire but you do have a larger paid product or high converting affiliate product you can sell via email sequence to that lead).
Ways to provide value and establish connection on your thank-you page:
- Include a short story about yourself and your “why”- include a personal photo or headshot
- Include links to your best articles that people might find helpful
- Create a “favorite resources” page that you can link to (this is great for affiliate links too)
- Link your favorite affiliate products directly in the thank you page via recommendation tile graphics
- Link to your social media profiles, podcast, or youtube channel
- Make a short value video and embed it on the page
There are a lot of ways to get creative with your Thank You Page (this can also be on an “offer expired” page if you ARE using a tripwire– this is the page that your user will be redirected to after rot offer expires OR if they sign up to your list again at a later time)
Step Five: The Welcome Email Sequence
Ironically, I usually suggest very LITTLE visual elements inside your email. I am NOT a fan of headers or other images inside an email.
The one exception I make to this is the newsletter signature. I love for my signature to be very well branded, show off my signature products, and to include an image of my face.
This helps establish connection, build awareness for my brand and my best products, and put a “face to a name” so-to-speak.
Here’s a visual example of a portion of one of my emails:
You’ll notice that prior to my signature, my email is plain text (I sometimes use colored headings to separate different sections or topics in the email– similar to a blog post) but there are no other images.
This is because I want the email itself to feel like it’s coming from a friend! I don’t want to appear to be another spammy business in someones inbox. I take the time to make my emails personal and I’m FAMOUS for getting personal with my list with storytelling and value.
Connection is a “make or break” piece of a funnel that converts because connection helps build “know, like, and trust”.
Inside the newsletter signature graphic you’ll see I included:
- A headshot
- My logo
- Logos for my signature products
- A quick tagline and my website URL
- Everything is branded with my colors and my sign off “happy designing”
Now, there are exceptions of course! If I do ever include other graphics or visual elements in my newsletters, they are:
- Personal photos
- Testimonial photos
- Countdown timers
- Product mockup images
Countdown timers and product mockup images are usually for sales sequences though, not the typical newsletter.
If you’re looking for newsletter graphics you’ll find them in The Complete Blogger Template Toolkit!
Step Six: The Product Design
You’ve likely heard the phrase “the money is in the list” but maybe you’re not quite sure how or why. Well, let me tell you!
With your email list, you establish connection with your reader and provide them value. In providing value, you let them know about products or affiliate products that you’ve used or created that will solve a specific problem they are having.
Because they know, like, and trust you they are willing to trust your recommendation and purchase that product. You get paid to help them.
Here’s the thing though, you have to actually help them with your product or affiliate recommendation! The products you offer your list can not be random. They have to be extremely strategic and essentially made for them.
The key to conversion is to quite literally make a product FOR your people.
And it’s even better when people actually tell you this!
Alternatively, if you don’t have your own product that you’ve made for your reader, you can still solve their problem by telling them about something you’ve used to solve YOUR problem that they are presumably going through now.
There are some pros and cons about affiliate programs though..
- Pro: This is risk free for you, it takes no time or energy to create
- Pro: There is little to no customer service issues that you’ll deal with after the person purchases (you might field some questions though since the person knows you’re the one that recommended it to them and you’d be able to provide feedback or answers as a user instead of the creator)
- Cons: you have almost no control– no control of price, no control of the sales page, no control of the email follow up sequences, no control over the customer service, etc.
I like being in control of my products, I feel I can BEST serve my audience when I’m able to solve their problem in my unique way that I know they respond to.
I also like being able to have launches, flash sales, etc when I feel like it and if I notice conversions starting to drop I have data at every point of my funnel and can pin point where optimization is needed.
Coming Up With a Product Idea
I always start with my audience and my data. I see what topics people are responding to and what people are asking for. I look at survey responses, questions, emails, comments, social media comments or messages, etc.
- What are people asking for?
- What is the problem they need solved?
- Why does it matter to them that this problem gets solved?
These are the things I really focus on when generating a product idea. Just because it’s a thing that I think is a good idea, doesn’t mean it’s going to be something my audience wants or needs. To provide real value, you need to start with your people.
Types of products
There are so many different kinds of digital products you can make for your audience! To name a few…
- Coaching or other services
- Downloadable files (like SVGs)
- Video Training
- Instruction guides (cookbooks and craft instructions fall under this style as well!)
- Study guides
Once you’ve chosen your product and the format you’re going to make it in it’s time to design!
Designing a Digital Product
You don’t need anything fancy to do this! In fact, digital products can easily be designed using simple design tools like Canva!
Here’s what I like to do (my “design process”) before I even sit down to start designing it:
- Content completely written out
- Inspiration session completed (I like to store ideas and inspiration in a Trello board)
- Map out my product on paper
- Decision made about color and font palette (usually it’s on brand unless it’s seasonal)
Then, when it’s time to start designing, I use my own templates. I’ve already designed them once, why start from scratch every time? Design (especially when it’s for a digital product) can be a very high ROI task (meaning, you get a lot of return on your investment) but it becomes less and less “high ROI” if you take too long and get stuck.
If you’re looking for product templates, check out The Product Creators Ultimate Toolbox— not only does it contain templates for all different kinds of digital products but also templates for every step of my product creation system from surveys to sales page copy and email sequences!
Step Seven: The Sales Page
Once you’ve gotten a product created and launched, it’s time to automate sales.
What I like to do is add a sales sequence to the end of my welcome value emails. I’ve already established a connection with my new reader and I like to offer something of higher value next.
With high value usually comes a price tag. However, as content creators we need to shift our focus from “feeling bad about asking for money” to “I’m able to provide value because of the fact that this person has invested in me. I’m able to feed my family, pay the bills, and spend more time helping my customer and creating them the very best content possible to serve them.”
During that sales sequence, I’ll link to a sales page I designed specific to this sequence. The reason for that is tracking. I know that the person who is viewing this page is only seeing it because they are in the sequence and that helps me track conversions on the email sales sequence itself.
On my sales page I like to include a number of visual elements including:
- Stock photos
- Product mockup images
- Countdown timers
- Testimonial graphics
- Personal photos or headshots
- Any graphics that might convey a special offer, flash sale, launch special, etc.
Step Nine: The Sales Sequence
After you’ve got your sales page designed for your sales sequence, you’ll need to actually write the sales sequence! Here’s the thing, this doesn’t have to be super complicated.
In fact, you can repurpose a lot of your launch especially if your launch converted well. I typically do 4-5 emails for a sales sequence in my email funnel but you can experiment with what works for you.
I try to keep these super simple and make sure there are little to no “distractions” from my typical newsletter such as footers with other links to my blog, other calls to action, affiliate links, etc.
The only thing I want people to click through to is the sales page of the product I’m promoting. The best thing to do with an automated sales sequence is:
- Continue providing value
- Address any objections
- Give people incentive to buy (via special bonuses or even discounts if you’d like)
Side note: I use and love Convertkit for my email marketing– they make it super easy to create visual automations, tag people based on opt-ins and purchases, and review analytics.
Don’t forget that The Product Creators Ultimate Toolbox contains all the tools you need to develop your product idea, design it, launch it, and automate it with templates for each step of the way! Another great tool is Confident Funnels: Elementor Templates which will give you the page templates for your opt-in page, tripwire page, offer expired page, sales page, and upsell page.
Step Ten: The Upsell
If you have another product that you think is a great next step, or provides extra value to the one that you’re promoting, then make it an upsell!
I’ve tested this in two ways. The first being the “upsell feature” on Teachable which displays as a button on the confirmation page and allows people to click through and purchase the upsell.
The second way was designing a sales page very similar to a tripwire page that the person is redirected to after purchase.
That page thanks them for their purchase and introduces them to the related product they might be interested in. At the bottom, they can say “no thank you” and continue to the product they purchased. Throughout the page are buy buttons. This option has converted nearly 10x higher.
Alternatively, you can offer upsells in your post purchase sequence. This doesn’t have to be limited to your products but affiliate products as well.
During your post-purchase sequence, you’ll provide value on how the buyer can get the MOST from your product and also introduce other related offers that might help them see more success. These are usually presented in more of a conversational way rather than a harder sell like a sales sequence.
What do all of these steps have in common?
There are TWO things all of these steps have in common:
- They work to provide the highest amount of value possible to your subscriber
- They all center around DESIGN!
In my article 5 Reasons Why You Need Great Graphics to Grow Your Blog I talk about the common mistake bloggers make which is underestimating how much design truly goes into blogging.
But it’s so much more than that, designing a funnel that converts involves designing:
- Entry point images (usually social media images or advertisements)
- Lead magnet design
- Lead magnet forms
- Lead magnet landing pages
- Tripwire sales pages
- Product design
- Design elements for your sales pages and other landing pages
- And so much more!
If you’re looking to take your designs to the next level, check out my resources:
The Complete Blogger Template Toolkit: All the designs you’ll need to optimize your blog, rock social media, and grow your list with lead magnets.
The Product Creators Ultimate Toolbox: My complete “templatized” product creation system that will help you develop your product idea, design it, launch it, and automate it with templates for every step of the way.
Confident Funnels: Elementor landing page templates to help you set up the funnel: opt in page, tripwire page, offer expired page, sales page, and upsell page.
Mega Pin Creators Bundle: Pin templates for your “entry point” graphics on Pinterest– perfect to promote blog posts, lead magnets, and products!
Don’t forget to sign up for Blog Graphics That Convert for our free video training on designs to create for your blog that will increase clickthroughs, SEO, sign-ups, and sales!