9 Components Of An Effective marketing Funnel For Holistic And Coaching Practices

9 Components Of An Effective marketing Funnel For Holistic And Coaching Practices

Does the thought of marketing funnels freak you out?

How do I create a marketing funnel from scratch?

Where do I start with creating a marketing funnel for a holistic practice, coaching business, or my own creative startup business?

How much does it cost to set up a basic marketing funnel for an entrepreneur just starting out?

What the hell IS a marketing funnel, anyway?

In a nutshell, all it is are the steps you take someone through from the time they first become aware of you, to the time they make a purchase.. and even beyond.

This includes onboarding, taking care of existing clients or patients, keeping them in the loop for future offerings, getting feedback, and making it easy for them to give you referrals, reviews, and testimonials.

Where do I start?

This blog is all about knowing where to start and having an actual checklist of all the parts you will need to have in place BEFORE you worry about how the whole thing functions or try to visualize all the moving parts.

If you actually use this blog, and use it as an “actionable checklist,”  I think you will get a LOT out of it.  It’s designed to be an overview and let you see, all in one sitting, at what you will need to gather.

Disclaimer: There may be a few affiliate links sprinkled throughout this blog. I may make some coffee or wine money from them. I only recommend products and services I use or have used or in the past, and I dislike B.S. affiliate sites as much as you do. Only my honest thoughts here. 

This guide is for those who already have a website in place, preferably a WordPress site.

I have also not included webinars as part of a basic marketing funnel in this blog. I’ve had success with webinars and want to address them, and will in a separate blog.

The goal today is to get you started!      

Even if you are pretty good at tech, trying to picture it all without some time spent learning, seeing, and experiencing the individual components is very difficult.

Have you ever assembled a piece of Ikea furniture? If so, you probably know that the best way to go about it is to take inventory of each part, from the biggest piece of wood to the most minute hardware, and gather the tools you need before actual assembly.

When it comes to funnels, there IS some front-end work to be done, but the good news is that this time spent IS a good investment. The machinery you create will automate your marketing and free up your time to focus on the things that best leverage your time.. and the things you are good at and most enjoy doing.

Does this guarantee that you will make $1,000’s in your sleep? No. But just like with health and fitness, creating a plan will GREATLY improve your chances of success.

No B.S. Just real info.

Also, if you are an introvert  (like me) and don’t want to hustle for each and every client and deal with time-wasters, you want to have an online funnel or a pipeline in place.

Let’s address a few concerns you may have.

How much do these “pieces” cost?

I’ve included options that are either free (for basic plans) or low cost. The good news is that there are more and more affordable options for those just starting out on a budget then ever before. Active Campaign, for example, (an email marketing service) has lowered its prices on its entry-level plan, which means that solo business owners have more options now than just Mailchimp.

Funnel Fear: Does this look scary?

Maybe, maybe not. Some are flow chart nerds, some are spreadsheet geeks, and some.. none of the above.

This is a map of a quiz funnel I created. At first glance, just like a whiteboard or a bunch of sticky notes that someone else created, it looks complicated and makes you want to reach for another round of coffee. 

If you look closely, it’s not too bad. At the very top (not pictured) you might have people see the quiz, which lives on my client’s website, from a link on Facebook or Instagram.

Once they take the quiz, depending on their results, they will be sent a series of emails that leads them to check out other offerings.

Pretty cool! 

You’ll also be creating a process, flow chart, map, whatever you want to call it, of YOUR process. It will make perfect sense to you, but maybe not to someone else.

Tip: If  you have a team, you will all want to make sure that you understand each other,  using naming conventions, etc. 

For each step, you are going to need one or more of the tools I’m going to walk you through.

Then what? 

Don’t worry yet about the moving parts. To reassure you.. the tools I chose “play well” together. Sometimes, all you need is a link to copy and paste in the tool that leads to the next step. (Breadcrumbs?) I’ll guide  you through the “moving parts in the next blog.

I’ll even include a few simple and effective funnel templates to get you going.. (look for it in the next blog) 

Ready?

The TOOLS

You will need time to familiarize yourself with each “piece” before you begin to assemble the “machinery” and test the “moving parts.”

Take your time!

Here is the list/inventory of “parts and pieces” that you will need to create your marketing funnel. I purposely chose the resources that will work best for a small, service based business.

The Creative Tools

Quiet time, coffee, wine, an occasional walk or bike ride, a big piece of paper, a whiteboard, a blank Penzu or Google Docs page, index cards, crayons, whatever.

• A thing you want to sell, and a date you want to sell it by. This could mean a physical product by the holiday season, a course in the fall or spring, or an ongoing course you want to sell. You may have more than one product to sell, as in a low-cost, low-risk product or service. (see previous blog about marketing funnels)

• A solid idea of your target market. If you haven’t done the classic ideal client avatar exercise yet, I highly recommend doing this. I have an abridged version I offer for free, and a very comprehensive version for my coaching clients.

When clients work with me or take my courses, I really go into detail in providing guidance, tools, and workbooks to get this part up and running.

Please don’t skip over this important task of REALLY defining you USP (unique selling proposition) or ideal client avatar. This will make the entire funnel.. from the mechanics of the funnel to the content you create to the copy in your landing pages, ineffective.

The 9 Components of an Effective Marketing Funnel: a.k.a.  Tech “Pieces and Parts”

Pick one piece and devote a day to learning as much as you can about it.

DIYers: it may take more time than this, but still don’t spend TOO much time struggling. Get help if you need it!

You can choose to learn the tech first, before building your funnel.

1. The Email Piece

What it does: Email is probably the most important aspect of your marketing funnel/machinery. Statistically it does a much better job of converting leads into paying clients than social media, even though it’s not nearly as “sexy.”

The open rate for email may not seem high on first glance, but it’s still much better than the random nature of social media and its algorithms. The only problem is that some still perceive all email as being “spammy,” a mindset that isn’t going to do much for your marketing.

Your emails are going to be not only respectful, but beneficial for the real, live people on your list. And yes, that does include making occasional offers.

I send mails about once a week, and I’m serious when I refer to subscribers as my “inner circle.” They get more info that social media followers do.

This includes:

• An email marketing service. (Not to be confused with an ordinary email service like Gmail, or even the email connected to your website hosting.) You need a way to send mass and automated emails and collect emails easily, right from your website or landing page via an email marketing service like MailChimp or Drip or CovertKit.

Honestly, you can set this up in an hour.

I know everyone has their own personal preferences and the big default seems to be MailChimp, but I think that the best options are MailerLite for those looking for a free option or who are just starting out, and Active Campaign for those who are ready to take their business to the next level. The entry level price has come down significantly.

It will pay off to get an account and start to familiarize yourself with the terminology if you have not already done so. You can also “opt in” and get my email guide for beginners.

Learn these terms and concepts:

• List (groups in MailerLite)

• Forms

• Automations (sequences in some systems)

• Subscribers (terminology varies depending on the service, but we are talking about the actual PEOPLE that are subscribed to your lists.

You can find out what these terms are in my Email Markeing Guide.

Get used to the concept of tracking data and analytics as well. Begin with the data you can find on the dashboard of your email marketing service. See what emails are getting opened as a start, and who is clicking on the links you include in your emails. 

I’m not going to go into that here in this blog, but once you understand these concepts, you have taken a HUGE step in understanding marketing funnels.

• An opt in form linked to your email marketing service. By now you probably are familiar with these things. Popups, slide ins, top bars, pages with those nifty forms where you can enter your name and email and Poof! You are taken to another page where you are thanked for signing up and guided to the next step in the process.

It looks like magic, but there are a few moving parts involved. The part that many may find daunting is researching a service or plugin from all the choices available, if you are using WordPress. Some plugins are fantastic, others are mediocre, and some, quite frankly suck. Read on to find out more about how to get started with opt-in forms.

A word about WordPress and the “moving parts” of marketing funnels

Your website is one of the pieces of your email marketing machine. This is often missing in most of the sites I’ve seen built by fully hosted platforms like Wix, Weebly, and SquareSpace.

I’m going to be honest: If you are trying to save money and aggravation and make full use of email marketing and marketing funnels, these platforms may not be the best choice. They work great for getting a pretty site up and running, (and under certain conditions which I list below)  but if your goal is to have it act as your best employee, your site is going to have to do MUCH more.

Yes, you can create an opt in form  on a page using SquareSpace. If you are not sure what an opt in form is or how it works.. I’ll be talking about that in a moment. Just know you will use them a lot. 

It  can work, but there are also some very real limitations as far as getting everything you need: A powerful email system, professional-looking forms, flexibility, value, and integrations with other apps and platforms you want to use, all at the SAME TIME.

Many times, there are some serious compromises, workarounds, and extra costs involved that are not discovered until one has fully invested in a website on one of these platforms.

You also want these opt in forms to “play nice” with ANY email service you want to use. As of this writing (and I do make sure to keep up with new developments)  if you want to use the most powerful AND lowest cost (or free) options that will actually work with the rest of your system, I recommend using a WordPress site and plugins to do the job for you.

It’s NOT just about how ONE of the “parts and pieces” work, but how they all work together.

Think of it as hiring employees.

Maybe you have one prospect who is good at answering the phone, scheduling, and insurance billing, but isn’t great when it comes to marketing and social media. If he or she is great at the first three things, it could be a no-brainer to train them about marketing.

Or not.. If you have a candidate who rocks ALL of these things. If you have a business, it is imperative that you have platforms, processes, and a team that allows you to create seamless systems for everything from production to marketing.

You are also a real business.

That’s why I recommend WordPress. Sooner or later, with the “shortcut” options, you are going to run into a technical or integration glitch.

One solution that a platform will offer will do ALMOST everything you want it too.. Except for that ONE thing. The reason is that these closed systems that are designed to KEEP you within the “walled garden.”

When you settle for less than a platform like WordPress, you may not be able to see what you are missing at first, but these obstacles that prevent you from creating the systems you need can potentially cause you to want to bang your head against the wall.

And they are not always cheap.

Having said all this I DO recommend other platforms under the following circumstances:

• You are already a celebrity who uses podcasting or video as a primary way to get the message out: Think Joe Rogan.

• On the opposite end of the spectrum, you are just starting out and don’t yet have a solid USP, ideal client avatar, or branding. (knowing that you could be wasting a lot of money paying monthly fees if you spend months or years by putting off making any decisions)

I like for clients to know all this BEFORE they make a decision about which platform to use.  If you have a real business, it is not a great idea to make choices based on ONLY ease of use and the illusion of low cost at first glance.

A word about Kartra and Kajabi

I have some clients who are using Kartra, and know the backend fairly well. I think it’s a great system that works well for capturing leads, email marketing, creating landing pages, and creating courses and memberships. It does have a few drawbacks.. It’s not the best platform for blogging, creating a tailored brand, and other customizations like quizzes.

For some, it can be totally worth it to use these platforms and can actually save time and money. In my opinion though, I prefer to hang on to my WordPress site as well, since I like to have a site I own and maximum options for customizing my brand, blog, and other functions.

Definitely worth investigating!

Got WordPress? Cool! If not, these next sections will still help you really understand what makes up a marketing funnel so that you can decide what system to implement for yourself.

2. The opt-in form piece

What it does: This is your main tool for converting social media audiences or visitors to your website into “warm leads” by offering something of value (like a free piece of information or “lead magnet.”) They are designed to connect to your email marketing service so that when someone signs up, they will automatically receive emails, which you set up in your email service behind the scenes.

There are examples of live opt in forms on this page. Go ahead and try one, so you can see a funnel in action!

The one pictured below is also an opt in, but it is just an illustration:

How do these things magically appear on a page? Usually via a plugin. There are plugins for popups, slide ins, and top bars. My picks:

• Hustle
• ZotoBox
• Divi Bars
• Thrive Leads

Again, referring to our “Ikea” approach, take some time to explore some of these options. Hustle is free. Zotobox has a low cost monthly option with a lot of cool features. Thrive Leads has what I think are the best-looking and highest converting (meaning that people are more likely to click on them) opt-ins. You can check it out via a membership or purchase a license for a one-time very reasonable fee. 

Divi bars are also pretty cool.. You can see it in action at the top of the pages on my website. There is a little bit of a learning curve, but those top bars can be pretty effective!

Don’t think too much right now about what you will be linking these pieces to. Just investigate a few options and take the time to learn one or two to keep in your “toolbox.”

Note: There are other things to consider, such as GDPR compliance. I introduce this concept in my email marketing guide for beginners.

If you are still using a service like Wix or Weebly or SquareSpace, as of this writing you will need to pay for a subscription to a 3rd party OR be limited to the email services provided by these platforms, which are not, in my opinion, sufficient enough for creating effective marketing funnels.

If you have already invested in building a list in another email marketing service, you won’t be able to use that service AND create attractive forms on these self-contained, closed platforms. Your hands will be somewhat tied unless you get super creative and/or pay extra fees.

If this all sounds complicated,  it CAN be!  My goal here is to be honest and tell you exactly what problems you may run into when using those “easy to  use” solutions for real-world marketing purposes. They often turn out to not be so easy after all! 

3. The Thank You page piece

Have you ever seen the pages you are taken to when you enter your name and email address and subscribe to a newsletter or download a freebie?

Here is a very basic example:

It looks like magic, but there is a little more to it.. not so much the tech, but the content of a Thank You page.

All it is is a blank page you create on your website that contain one or more of the following elements:

• A genuine, heartfelt thank you.

• Information on what to do if they have trouble locating the email. (This is necessary because often gmail will assign emails to the promotions folder by default)

• The next steps to take.. Which could be to watch for cool things to come in their inbox, or:

• An opportunity to do something else, such as purchase a low-cost course (loosely defined as probably not your premium $10,000 coaching package just yet.. This would be like asking someone on a date and then asking them immediately to your apartment for a drink!)

When well done, a Thank You page can be a GREAT tool in your funnel. I often overlook this one too, when I get “busy” and need to go back and make myself some nice TY pages!

If you need inspiration, do some online research and yes, opt in to some lists!

4. The content piece

What it does: Written, audio, or video content is the “currency” of content marketing and marketing funnels. It’s what you offer to potential clients, patients, and guests freely. It also is a way of capturing leads, educating and nurturing them, and in many cases, is the the actual product you will be offering, such as a course.

Notice that blogs, videos, courses, and emails are the equivalent of the slabs of wood that will make up the top and sides of your Ikea desk. Without content, there isn’t going to be much of a marketing funnel.

This is the most time-consuming aspect of creating a marketing funnel.

If you have all this in place, great. If you don’t, you can still create your map or flowchart.

When you map out your funnel on your piece of paper, notecards, Google Docs, Penzu, or whatever medium works best for you to get your creative muse juice flowing, you may naturally come up with a list of things to write about that will naturally take your client/patient/guest through a journey.

Seriously. Even a notepad to jot down that idea for you next blog or how your entire funnel may fit together may be one of your best tools ever.

I also want you to know that it takes TIME to build a library of content. Please give yourself time, and just begin. Create a system for yourself that supports creating content, whether that means writing or making videos, jamming on Instagram, or jotting down recipes and taking photos of your healthy dishes you want to share.

Set aside a specific day when you create content, but don’t let it take over your whole day. Challenge yourself to create it in as little time as possible, without sacrificing quality.

Content should also be original. If your content currently consists of sharing other people’s memes, well, let’s change that!

Part of this piece includes the technical side of creating content. If you are creating videos and webinars, you will need additional software.

My picks:

• Camtasia for recording videos. It can work well for all types of recordings, but I use it mainly for trainings as I can record both my voice and what is happening on my screen.

• Google slides, PowerPoint, or similar apps. Slideshows are perfect for creating courses, webinars, and more. Even an industry giant like Amy Porterfield makes extensive use of slides.

There are a lot of other advanced options for streaming and video editing, but for our purposes here I’m not going to dive into those.

Podcasting is also an advanced form of content, which I really and drawn to, but again, I will save this topic for another blog!

Content creation tools

These are what one might consider the fun part of this whole process.. The “toys,” (apps and gadgets) that you can use to create the types of content you enjoy the most.

• Canva is an app that allows you to easily design everything from book covers to social media graphics. It’s a must-have. There is a free version but the pro version allows you to do things like re-size images and save images with transparent backgrounds. Trust me, these features will come in handy. (currently the plan is $12.95 per month)

• Google Docs This is how I create 90% of my ebooks, lead magnets, and .pdf guides. Then I just create a cover in Canva, add it to the document, and save the file as a .pdf

• Adobe Creative Suite is my choice for creating more advanced content. This is a great choice if you have graphic design skills and are already used to Adobe’s products, which I will list here:

-InDesign, which in my opinion is much more powerful than Canva for creating ebooks, (probably because I’m used to advanced page layout software and find Canva too limited for the purpose of creating books)

-Illustrator for creating vector images

-Photoshop

-Adobe Premeire for advanced video editing. If it is worth it to you you can bundle it with other products listed above to save money.

Other great investments:

• A microphone. For little over $100, you can get a very decent entry level microphone. My pick: Blue Yeti.

• Podcasting software: I’m currently investigating options.

I’ll keep adding to this list!

5. The SEO piece

What it does: Most people think of ranking in Google when they think of SEO. The real purpose of SEO, when you really think about it, is getting more traffic to your site via organic searches. It doesn’t matter if you are on the first page if nobody is inspired to click on the result to get to your site.

If you are a beginner or JUST getting started.. don’t get too caught up on SEO just yet.  Even experts could devote their whole life to it and not even come close to knowing everything. Not to mention that the big gurus have money to spend to hire other experts and do intensive research.

For the purpose of creating your first marketing funnel (or refining an old one) your goal here is just to put aside an hour or so a week learning about SEO, in particular KEYWORDS, and how they can be woven into your content (blogs.)

This is the ONE area where I want my clients to take in info slowly, and implement action steps one at a time, in order to fully grasp each concept.

Soon, you start to get the hang of it.

Without descending too far into the SEO rabbit hole, this means doing some detective work to discover what your potential clients are actually typing into Google or other search engines to find your stuff. (Keywords) 

THIS is why you need to complete the Ideal Client Avatar exercise FIRST!

The next step: The SEO guide for beginners:

6. The social media piece

What it does: It is a great tool for casting your “wide net” and building an audience. This piece will also also help promote your blogs and other content, which lead people through your funnel.

Social media can also be a HUGE time suck. Be sure to use social media platforms that make the most sense for YOU.

Keep in mind that this is where “shiny object” syndrome can take over, with the pressure to use the “latest, most cutting-edge and sexy” tools available to “keep up.” For this reason, I have not really fully explored chatbots at this time.  This doesn’t mean that it’s not a great tool, but that I too, have had to prioritize.

Honestly, you can do fine and thrive with the options I’ve listed here. (Updated for 2020)

Video (YouTube and Facebook)

For me, Facebook and Instagram have been my primary channels, but I also love YouTube. This is because I also have another project/business called The Balkan Nomad, which relies on images and video and highly visual information.

With Tech and Wine, I create a lot of technical and training videos, so it simply makes sense to invest my time in video rather than a platform like Pinterest, or even IG, if my time is limited and I don’t have extra help.

Update: You could choose to stick with Facebook for your video content, if that is your preference.

It seems like each month FB is getting to be a viable alternative to YouTube.  The BIG difference: Facebook is all about “discovery” and is primarily for social purposes, and YouTube is a search engine. Both can be quite useful, depending on what product or service you are offering,  your audience, how people buy/browse/research, etc.

I think that it is best to master one social media platform before diving into another to avoid overwhelm.

Live Streaming

Currently I’m using StreamYard’s free version. So far, so good. Facebook is slowly making it easier and more attractive to do live broadcasts, including some of the features that 3rd party apps like BeLive and StreamYard offer.

To be honest, I’m fine right now with StreamYard, but I’ll keep  you updated.

It’s easy to use, even for the “non-techy.” I recommend creating a “test group” in Facebook and playing with the app and creating a few test broadcasts, so that you can feel confident when you broadcast to your actual group.

StreamYard will walk you through the whole process of creating your broadcasts.

Facebook also makes sense because that’s where my target audience hangs out, and I tend to deliver information that goes a bit more into depth. I actually like the “permanence” of FB and the ability to archive and store more info, which is different from the current trend of info that is more ephemeral. I personally like a combination.

Instagram

IG was something I dropped for a while, until I discovered that I can do a lot more than just direct people to a “link in the bio” and collect followers. (I was inactive for a long time!) I also discovered a HUGE timesaver: FaceBook Creator Studio. 

I can now save a lot of time by posting FB and IG posts from the same place, instead of using a 3rd party app. IG works VERY well for the tourism industry, especially hostels, cafes, and places where a younger (but not necessarily teens) hang out.

You can do a lot more than you could even a year ago, especially with Stories. You can even make some of your Stories “permanent” with the Highlight feature.

Stories are definitely still worth exploring and tapping into.  You can use stickers to ask questions, create polls, and more. This is a great way to get input from your target audience.

There’s even more potential for actually gathering LEADS rather than just followers.. I’ll save an in-depth exploration of this for another blog.

Podcasting

Podcasting is something I also would love, as I’m an audio geek and don’t really care much for appearing on video, but I’m practicing what I preach and focusing primarily on just a few channels, so that I don’t spread myself too thin. In the future, I could take my growing library of blogs and re-purpose the material, at least as a starting point, for podcasts.

Podcasting can involve some work setting up, and requires a commitment. The good news is that these can be “batched.”

I’m not offering any insight about podcasting until I’ve experienced it directly. (Since I’m not making money primarily from affiliate info, I only talk about the stuff I use, have direct experience with, and would actually recommend to others)

Pinterest

Pinterest works beautifully for many businesses that focus on visual and inspirational information, such as recipes or design ideas. It’s “partner” is Canva, which allows you to easily create posts for any channel or media, and resize it for other purposes with the click of a button.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal.. but it’s one of the most time-saving features I’ve come across for those who are building a content library based on visual media. If you are good at design and enjoy it, go for it!

When I was an acupuncturist.. Wow.. Pinterest was the BOMB for me. Recipes, infographics.. And more. I love Pinterest! I may start using it again, now that I’ve got more infographics I’ve created.

LinkedIN

Linked in is great for B2B and focusing on “thought leadership.”  Previously it was a place where you could post a resume, but today, it is so much more.

I won’t discuss that in depth here, since most of my clients focus on B2C.

Twitter

Twitter lends itself well to breaking news and keeping up with celebrities. It’s arguably the best way to gain direct contact to celebs and “influencers.”

I don’t use it much, to be honest, at the moment. It’s not my favorite SM channel, but it may be perfect for others.

What about you? What makes the most sense for you, given the time you have, the nature of your business, your target audience, and how you like to present your ideas to the world?

Pick one to focus on to start. Once you master even one social media channel, you are well on your way to building a powerful and effective marketing funnel for your holistic practice or coaching business.

Scheduling your posts

I highly recommend scheduling at least some of your posts, or you’ll be living on social media.

For this, you will need a scheduling/social media posting app. Make sure to keep up with what is happening in social media, such as changes in algorithms, posting rules, etc, so that your efforts are not wasted on posts that never get seen, or worse, a suspended account. (it’s rare, but does happen)

My picks:

Buffer: Their plans change frequently, so check to see if there is a still a free version and how many channels you can post to.. and how many posts per month you are allowed in any given plan. You can post to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIN, and Pinterest. 

FaceBook Creator Studio: Perfect if your primary channels are Facebook and Instagram.

7. The online payment piece

When you build your funnel, you will need to create a way for people to sign up and pay for your offering.

This means:

• A payment Gateway. Again, don’t try to think about how this big piece is going to fit into the big machine. Just get it set up. A payment gateway is not the same as the apps like MoonClerk or Teachable that have ways you can set up online payments. Those apps will still need for you to have your payment gateway set up. (Generally, in the U.S., this is going to be STRIPE)

“A payment gateway is the service that sends all of your credit card transactions to your credit card processors. It authorizes and processes transactions.

In other words, a payment gateway is simply a software application. It’s basically a conduit between an eCommerce website and the bank that authorizes (or declines) a customer’s credit card payment.

Credit and debit cards, eCheck (ACH), and even cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are all processed through payment gateways.

This is NOT a “tech thing.” It’s about filling out an application, since it’s about your bank account and taking credit cards.

It takes about 30 min max, and the approval process is generally less than a few business days. 

My picks: Stripe and DirectPayInc.

Stripe. DO set this up first. I’m so glad I set up a Stripe account before I moved overseas. SO many systems use Stripe as their main payment gateway.

DirectpayInc: This is a great service for those who have both brick-and-mortar and online services to offer. They make it easy for those who have various income sources and diverse or fluctuating income without raising red flags for fraudulent activity. If you are selling $47 mini courses for 6 months and then finally make a sale for your $3,000 coaching program you will know what I mean!

Very “coach friendly” in a way that most credit card processing companies are not.

Payment Management

Payment Gateways are different from Payment Management and Invoicing software. Payment management software typically includes:

• Invoicing

• Recurring payments (great for memberships)

• Integration with landing pages

• Integration with your email marketing service (so that when someone checks out, they get a confirmation email, or trigger an automatic email or automation sequence)

• Checkout embedding (code you can embed on your website or landing page to get a fully functional and sometimes custom branded checkout)

• Custom buttons

It can be confusing because some platforms, like PayPal, offer BOTH payment gateways and payment management systems.

Take some time with this. Taking payment online looks like magic, but there is a lot to consider, besides even the moving parts, such as:

• What currencies you accept

• Currency conversion rates

• Transaction fees

• Whether or not you want to set up recurring payments (memberships, payment plans, etc)

• Integration with your email marketing service

And more. My picks:

MoonClerk: This is a simple, VERY intuitive option for those who are just starting out. Once you understand the basics of taking payment and the terminology, this app really is easy to set up.

PayPal: It’s been an option for me because it is versatile. However, it does have its downsides, such as transaction fees, clunky looking buttons and checkout, and limitations for accepting recurring payments.

This guide is not a comprehensive guide on taking online payments. I recommend spending some time doing homework to find out what works best for you.

8. The coaching/course platform piece/CRM

What it does: When someone signs up for a course, how will you deliver it to them? Where will your course be “housed” and displayed in an easy-to-navigate and professionally laid out manner?

You will likely have a link in the first email your new customer gets after they check out. (Don’t worry about those moving parts involved with this process till you get there!)

Some of your choices include:

• Sending them a link where they can simply download your entire course material (I used to use SendOwl for this, which worked fairly well. I think they have since made the product even better)

A platform like Teachable, Thinkific, or Udemy (I don’t recommend Udemy, as it gives you so little control over marketing and pricing. It’s like the Groupon of online courses)

• A membership area. You can create these with WordPress plugins. I’m currenly investigating options I can use and recommend. You can also try platforms like Kajabi or Kartra, which are pretty cool, and have a free trial period.

• A Private Facebook Group, using Units. This is a totally FREE option. However, this option isn’t nearly as sophisticated when it comes to managing larger groups of people that each need individualized coaching or assistance. It won’t connect to your email marketing service, and you will still need a way to take payments, track metrics, etc. 

• Other platforms, such as CoachAccountable or PracticeBetter which give you “rooms” to take you clients to that give you all kinds of great tools to make online coaching easier. This is a great option if you are offering a combo/package of group, 1:1 and digital products and services.

If you are already familiar with patient or client management software which allows you to track where each client or patient is at in your process, you probably understand how important this is. (Jane, Acusimple, etc) 

Bottom line: If  you have more than a handful of clients, or if you are building a time and location independent wellness practice that can be run from anywhere in the world, you do NOT want to be managing the entire process, from the time a lead subscribes to when the become a client and and beyond.. manually.

This is something that can be hard to conceptualize for those who have local practices and interact only via phone or email. If you are planning on scaling your business so that you don’t have to be physically present to manage every single aspect of your business, start with a CRM like PracticeBetter, and make it your “hub.” 

About cost.. 

The cost to get the full potential for any CRM is going to run around at least $50 per month, but it’s always been worth it for me.. I’ve made back this amount several times over each month in avoiding cancellations and no-shows with the email and text reminders alone.

You get a LOT more with these platforms.

Set aside an entire day to explore these options.

My pick: PracticeBetter. Since the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve done some research to help clients make a transition to telehealth. A few months before the crisis, I pivoted to focus on helping clients transition to time and location independent practices or businesses. This platform is PERFECT for those who need a HIPPA compliant and secure telehealth option and/or who want to scale their practice to include digital programs and packages.

All the other “pieces” I recommended in this blog “play well” with PracticeBetter. 

9. The calendar and online booking piece

Part of your funnel may include a way for people to book a call with you to find out more about your offerings or to book their first appointment.

My picks:

Practice Better . I was previously using a separate booking/calendar system, but I’m paying the same ($19 per month) for a system that is a lot more robust and at the $49 level has everything you would need for a location-independent practice. It’s geared more towards health coaching, but can work for any kind of service. Use it if  you want to grow more into telehealth or add coaching and group coaching to your existing practice.

I use Practice Better and so far, so good!

Acuity: A favorite for many coaches and healers for good reason. It’s powerful, easy to use, and does what it says. I’ve tried using it for non local, remote services and investigated it for growth potential (programs, packages, bundles, etc) and it falls short.

Use it if you have a local practice and don’t plan on scaling.

Calendly is an entry-level option. I used to use it, but the free option doesn’t cover what I need, and the next price tier puts Practice Better in a position of better value.. you get a lot more for that $7 extra per month ($19)

At the moment, I do not have a booking system I can recommend for those in the hospitality and tourism industry, but I’m researching this.

A final note:

Setting up this infrastructure does take time, so don’t compare yourself to someone who has been in business for 5 years and has had time to create beautiful website with multiple products and landing pages,  a library of content, a membership site, and has 10,000 email subscribers. This process is BOTH about acting quickly and getting your “stuff” out there, and with taking the time to build something you can be proud of.

Be sure to check out the next blog in this series, which is all about mapping out a funnel and the moving parts involved in creating a powerful marketing funnel for a holistic or coaching practice, or for any solo entrepreneur!

Need More?

I hope this blog has helped you in some way.. If even taking some of the first steps involved in creating a marketing funnel.

This blog is pretty intense: It’s all about facing the “tech stuff” that many wellness professionals are intimidated by. 

I intentionally put it all in one place so that you could see everything at once. Often getting a “big picture” of the “scary stuff” can be very helpful. 

Start with learning about and building each of the pieces and parts of your funnel infrastructure so you can get a clearer idea about how they may all fit together before focusing on the moving parts.

There’s still a LOT more to this, though. Every business and every marketing journey is different, and you may very well find that you need some help setting up the “tech.” 

That’s what I’m here for! I’ve set up funnels before both as an acupuncturist and a digital marketer

And yes, I can help you with all of that!  I offer BOTH 1:1 coaching and group coaching to help people just like you.

Just click on the burgundy button below for a free 30 minute consultation.

Are Newsletters Dead? Email Marketing for Wellness Professionals Part 2

Are Newsletters Dead? Email Marketing for Wellness Professionals Part 2

Why email marketing is still relevant and EFFECTIVE in 2020

Be sure to read part one of this blog, which explains why email isn’t anywhere NEAR the point of taking its last dying breath.

Email may still be old school, but that’s no reason why you have to use it in an old school way, such as boring, corporate newsletters and “in-your-face” promotions.

Today, email marketing is essential for holistic healers, coaches, and small businesses.

If you at all interested in growing a holistic practice or creating a time and location independent business based on your holistic practice, don’t ignore email!

In this blog, I’m going to go into more detail about the purpose of email marketing. This is intended to be an overview, not a step-by-step how to from start to finish. For even more detail, check out the free download on this page, or check out my signature marketing course.

Let’s start exploring the different types and purposes of your email campaigns:

LEAD GENERATION

This is exactly what it sounds like: a way to generate leads, or prospective paying clients, patients, customers, or guests.

By leads in this context I mean people who voluntarily subscribed to your newsletter, “inner circle,” or whatever you want to call it.

When they sign up,  your email service, (I recommend MailerLite or ActiveCampaign) assigns them to something called a LIST.

Lists are not what they used to be.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, lists were a commodity that was bought and sold so that corporations could inundate you with emails you didn’t want or ask for. The targeting for these types of lists tends to be terrible, which makes the experience even MORE irritating for the recipient.

Today, things are different.

Email lists are carefully created, attended to, and pruned. It’s more of a human, organic process than it used to be back in the days when people bought and sold lists like candy. It’s done respectfully by any smart business owner.

Legal Considerations

But just in case, there are data privacy laws in the EU and in CA that make SURE that this is what is happening, and that leads are treated with respect, like real human beings, not just as “data” or “revenue sources.”

First, I think that many are still unaware that opting OUT is an option, via UN subscribing. This is something that is a “built in” feature with every email marketing service I can think of.

Every email sent will have an “unsubscribe” option that is easy to access.

Second, there is more transparency now than ever when it comes to “opting in.”

Let’s see what that looks like. 

Here is an example of one of my lead generation tools. First, a “landing page.”

Landing pages are simply the page people land on and see a CTA (call to action) button. So the “landing page” could be a standalone page, but also a blog or  your home page.

If it has a button that takes them to another page to perform an action (such as an opt in, purchase, signing up for a webinar, etc) it’s a landing page!

They click on the button (no boring “subscribe or submit” buttons here!) and it takes them to an “opt in” form:

example of email opt in form

This opt-in form has a checkbox indicating, basically.. that “hey it’s cool.. I enjoy your stuff so go ahead and send me your best. I’m in.. lets have fun with it! Many email services provide an easy way to add these checkboxes for easy GDPR compliance.

Update 2020: Upon further research, I discovered that checkboxes are not mandatory. In fact, overdoing it can create a less-than-ideal user experience. Who wants to have to make all those decisions and check all those boxes? 

Not me!

As long as you explain CLEARLY what people are opting in for, you may not even need a checkbox. (See my latest opt-in form on the right) Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer nor do I claim to be, so if you are unsure of the law in your area, please consult a lawyer who specializes in data privacy laws.

Raise Your Vibe With Email

Sharing your “Free stuff”  (content) is a great way to build trust and rapport with your new leads.

Anyone with a service based business.. which is about being an expert in your specific niche.. will probably be happy to share with the world the important and transformational work they do.

If you love your work, it should be easy to come up with things to talk about.. whether it’s via a blog, a video, a podcast, or whatever inspires you.

Individual emails can be any length you desire, and you don’t have to work about optimizing anything for SEO: word count, keywords, etc. Just write from the heart. 

Your emails are not  just a weekly “love letter” to send to your inner circle.

They are also a fantastic way to share all that great content you’ve worked so hard on. Don’t let them just collect dust on your hard drive or cloud storage.. include a link to your latest blog or video.

Keep updating and sharing your content. BONUS: You’ll help your SEO and give traffic to your website a boost!

Sharing and giving like this raises the vibe for the  entire transaction process.. if and when it gets to that stage. It’s really just all about relationship marketing.

email marketing for holistic healers is about giving

NURTURING your leads

I like this word.. for some, it feels more natural than the phrase “leading someone through a sales funnel.”  (if you are not sure what that is, I’ll be blogging about it, but I’ve got a great marketing glossary just for you )

I call it “Being Santa Claus” or at least a generous elf depositing goodies on a regular basis.

WHEN YOUR UNIQUE OFFERINGS ARE A GOOD  MATCH FOR YOUR IDEAL PATIENT OR CLIENT, AND YOU PROVIDE EXACTLY WHAT PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR.. OF COURSE THEY WILL WANT TO READ WHAT YOU HAVE.!

YOU ARE TREATING YOUR AUDIENCE LIKE REAL PEOPLE, NOT JUST AS “YOUR LIST” WHEN YOU LOOK AT IT THIS WAY.

If not, it’s simply not a good match, and this is quite normal.  That’s the foundation of permission based marketing.

Think about some of your favorite online experts.. and how they make it fun and interesting. I enjoy Marie Forleo and Amy Porterfield, for example. Even when life gets chaotic and I don’t have time to keep up, at least I know that I can count on a new email or video or podcast, like clockwork every Thursday and Tuesday. And sometimes I’ll even “binge” on their new podcast or video.

CREATING REAL VALUE

I touched on this in the last blog, but I want to really drive home that email isn’t just about putting a “50% discount on gift certificates for Mother’s Day” sort of thing, when you “get around to it” tactic.

It’s a strategy.

For my audience with the Balkan Nomad project, I enjoy delivering content that is pretty unique. I also give guidance to people who either want to move to or become a “digital nomad” in this region.

You can’t Google the kind of coaching I could give to someone who wanted to do what I’m doing, since it’s all about a highly-individualized journey without a set formula. This isn’t a vacation-mindset thing with an itinerary, it’s a HUGE lifestyle shift in literally new territory, in every sense.

I give out free stuff consistently, and will likely end up writing a book, but if someone wants to hire me, my coaching isn’t rock bottom cheap. They key is: you have to walk the talk and deliver what you SAY you will. This sounds obvious, but unfortunately, there’s a lot of noise and outright BS out there.

I know that this isn’t YOU. Holistic practitioners tend to have the OPPOSITE problem: They have a LOT of real, honest, genuine and valuable content and services to offer, but they don’t THINK that they do, and tend to get stuck.

FREEDOM FROM THE CONSTRAINTS OF TIME

When I write something for the benefit of my ideal client avatar I only have to do once and it keeps serving me. 1:1 coaching is entirely dependent on TIME.  Time slots.. once they are gone, they are gone.

Same goes for you and your Hashimotos patients or ADHD clients, or whatever your niche is. You have to “give” to “get.” And if you don’t enjoy what you do, you won’t enjoy creating content about it.

THE SALES FUNNEL

A funnel has a wide top an a narrow bottom, which is why it makes a great model for creating a time an location independent business. 

I wrote a whole blog about marketing funnels. 

Before anyone can opt in to your email list, they first have to know you even EXIST.

Ways you can be found:

• Someone Googles a question and they end up on your blog

• You regularly post on social media

• You have a published book

• You have appeared on a podcast or TV show

• You gave a talk about acupuncture at your local health food store

These are activities that are at the TOP of your funnel. You are casting a wide net at this point, and offering free information to help people and raise awareness about what you do.. and so that the right people know that you exist.

You can do this online or offline.

The problem is.. you don’t really have a great way of keeping in touch with those who discover you, or do any kind of “follow up.” 

Attracting subscribers to your list generally is  in the middle part of the funnel. You can think of it as the online equivalent of “following up” but NOT by “bothering” anyone, but giving something of value on a consistent basis. (a subscription)

Taking care of your current clients and customers (active and inactive)

The top of the funnel is the WIDE part, for a reason: More people ENTER at the top, but at the bottom, you have a smaller number of leads that actually make a purchase.

In marketing speak, this is called a “conversion” because the lead is “converted” from a lead into a customer or client.

Having an email marketing system in place is also essential for taking care of those VIP’s at the bottom of the funnel.

The email journey

After an initial welcome email, the next step is to lead them through this process, which is pretty much everything I have been talking about up to this point, but now you are making strategic and well-timed offers that happen automatically in the whole email marketing process.

And this is never, ever, “slimy,” because subscribers always have a choice.

Some will keep reading your emails but never buy.
Some will never open your emails.
Some will unsubscribe.

And some will buy from you.

This is ALL normal. The only thing you don’t really want are inactive subscribers, so culling the list regularly is a good idea.

Funnels are more of a conceptual tool, but they don’t always reflect all the EXACT processes that are going on.

FLOW CHARTS

It’s easier to visualize a flow chart when it comes to the actual processes, like that opt-in form you saw above, thank you pages, automatic emails, and more.  Flow charts are a great way to conceptualize all the pieces and “moving parts.”  Here’s an example:

sales funnel for email marketing

When you set up something like this, it makes the process of selling your awesome products and services online much more natural and easy. It takes the burden off having to “hustle” for every. single. new. client. Plus, we get the ones that are a PERFECT FIT for our business.

This is the OPPOSITE of making awkward pitches that feel “slimy and icky.”

I think that many holistic entrepreneurs are still stuck on the notion that “pitching” a product we are selling is slimy. We need to get over it.  I expect to see offers from the people I follow. Something feels weird if I don’t see them!  (I have been “guilty” of not making offers for LONG periods of time)

Think about someone you might enjoy hearing from, say a favorite author. Is it considered “icky” to hear about their latest book?

Probably not, because you’ve already been introduced to the author via a funnel of some sort.

PROMOTIONS, EVENTS, AND RE-ACTIVATION CAMPAIGNS.

If you have a local, brick-and-mortar business, you may be asking yourself: “I get lots of new people coming through the door, but I want them to stick around longer: How can i get inactive patients to return?”

Although considered separately from a classic sales funnel, you can still send a different kind of email for those who have already bought from you.

These are generally those “one off” emails you send to your list with time-sensitive info or incentives to get inactive patients, previous clients, or guests who have stayed in your hostel or guest house last season, to come back!  Tell them how much you miss them!

These also should feel as if you are giving. It’s not “slimy” to encourage people to come back to see you. You may simply have slipped off their radar, and may very much WANT to hear from you again!

Are you slow in January? Do you offer a detox or hormone balancing program? Put that in your next email broadcast.

If you sell any kind of products or services online, you can offer special promotions. (i.e. the ever-popular Black Friday deals)

People actually  WANT to buy things and experiences or have a problem solved. Make it easy for them!

BUILDING TRUST OVER TIME

Email is the perfect way to strategically build/earn trust over time. It’s also not manipulative.. because regardless of whether or not someone buys, they will still get the same cool freebies that everyone else is getting. That part isn’t conditional, and there should never be any pressure.

STILL NOT CONVINCED THAT EMAIL MARKETING IS EFFECTIVE?

Remember, your odds of getting paid clients from leads (conversions) are much better via email, and if you don’t let your tribe know you are offering something cool.. you are cheating them out of the choice they could make for themselves. If you think about it.. THAT is kind of egotistical and slimy.

Your audience is capable of making their own decisions.. and GDPR has made the whole process much more transparent, which is a good thing. Honor and trust the way it works: unsubscribes and unopens also serve a purpose. Repeat after me: Nobody is being manipulated.

TIME AND LOCATION INDEPENDENCE AND CREATIVE PACKAGING

What if you want to stop “trading time for dollars” and open up to the possibility of offering products or services globally, or offer a digital course or group coaching as part of a “bundled” program in addition to the wonderful healing work  you already do?

You can’t deliver your product via your personal email, so having an email marketing account (such as MailerLite or ActiveCampaign) is no longer optional, but a requirement, so that you can deliver your products and services immediately when someone orders them.

By now, we all know how this works. If you routinely order from Amazon or purchase SasS (software as a service) subscriptions online, email is a part of the transaction process.

Say you are selling a digital course on self hypnosis. How will you deliver your course if someone buys online? One solid way is via a link in your welcome email. So if you are going to use email to deliver a product or service anyway.. why not use it to promote and market it?

As you can see, email is a great way to guide someone on the journey of being exposed to what you have to offer to buying something from you, if they choose. They can remain in the “free” tier forever, if they like, no problem.

THE NEXT STEPS..

If your next question is: Great Julie, I get it, but setting up a system is a royal pain in the arse.. how do I even start? I completely understand you sister!  (or bro!)

If your question is more along the lines of: Oh crap. Now I gotta put myself out there. and deal with writer’s block, possible unsubscibes, and even haters.. I get that too!

Or..maybe you have what Amy Porterfield refers to as “list shame” because it’s so small, which makes you wonder if you should even bother. I know this all too well.

This is all a normal part of doing business online these days. But please, don’t waste your time watering down your message by sending out a nice “safe” newsletter. This is NOT the way to find the people you are in alignment with and refine your offerings.

Glad you asked. A good start: Subscribe to the Tech and Wine Inner Circle newsletter, (See the opt in to the right) and get my epic Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing as a free gift from me.

Still feeling a bit overwhelmed? You are not alone. Email marketing involves some strategic planning and setting up systems that involve a lot of “moving parts.

I you have any questions, feel free to click on that burgundy button below for a free 30 min consultation.