Case Study: The 4-Part Sales Funnel That Rescued This Blog

So, you want more traffic?

You keep looking at your traffic wishing it was higher and thinking it’ll solve all your problems.

Well I have a surprise for you. Traffic is not all it’s cracked up to be.

My wife and I run a healthy food blog and while we were clearing 5,000 visitors a day, we were also losing money. We almost had to shut everything down.

steady blog traffic

We had created a site that generated a ton of traffic but our email and sales funnels were not optimized.

We made $187.82 a month just from ads and a few eCookbook sales. This was barely enough to cover hosting and our email provider.

The emails we did collect were stale and those subscribers were not used to purchasing from us.

With hosting bills piling up and the cost of generating new content going through the roof (because the more recipes we posted, the more food we went through) we weren’t sure what to do.

Have you experienced something similar?

sales funnel blog

What to Do When You’re Struggling to Monetize

Food blogs are tough to monetize, and especially when we started there weren’t many real case studies on how to monetize a food blog. The only blogs that were successful were huge.

There are ways to generate traffic, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to money. Sometimes you’re in a niche without obvious sales funnels or products. Or so we thought at the time.

There’s a lot of information out there with B2B examples but not nearly as many with B2C examples. So we tried to find a few different examples in our niche to really understand how to model a funnel.

If you’re struggling to monetize your blog or website, find someone in a similar niche with a successful business model and look at their funnel.

This will show you how to monetize your blog.

Since we use video and are a food blog, we sought larger food blogs and YouTube Channels in a similar food niche.

This gave us some ideas of how to improve our monetization strategy (which we’ll get to in a minute).

Figure Out Your Strengths (and Use Them)

One of the best ways to make money in your blog or online business is by using your strengths.

Do more of what works for you, and less of the things that you don’t enjoy doing or are simply not good at.

Our largest social channel at the time was Facebook, and despite its algorithm problems, Facebook still generates 10% of our monthly traffic.

traffic sources

We were good at making videos, so we used that strength to leverage Facebook video to generate more leads.

We’re also good at creating content that resonates with our audience. Sometimes that’s videos, blog posts or social media posts, so, we got to work figuring out how to use these strengths to improve our systems.

For you, the first step is to brainstorm the things you enjoy in your business and your current audience resonates with.

  • Ask yourself: What’s the one comment you get over and over?
  • What is the email you receive so often it stands out?

You can even reach out to people and ask them to tell you what they think you do best.

Don’t be afraid to send out a survey or just ask your audience instead of wracking your brain.

Why Pivoting Our Business Kept Us Going and Made More Money

Often, we weren’t working on the tasks we were passionate about. We were posting too many unhealthy recipes and focusing on giving the audience what we thought they wanted.

So instead of guessing, we surveyed our audience.

We did this by using the free version of Survey Monkey. You can put together a free survey and collect up to 100 responses. If you want more then you have to upgrade to the paid version.

We used all ten questions the free version gives you and asked several questions around the current content that we were posting, as well as the content we liked creating and wanted to create more of.

Here’s an example of our survey:

survey response

Then we dove in deeper and after surveying, we realized the audience really liked when we posted sneakily healthy recipes. For example, our cauliflower cheese sauce recipe was a hit because it was healthy but also delicious.

Realizing this allowed us to pivot our brand to be completely healthy and clean eating focused. This allowed for better email conversions to new introductory products and a core offer that was more expensive and therefore brought in more revenue.

We found out what our audience wanted to see more of. We also asked about demographics (for example, age, gender, location) so we could further pinpoint who our audience is and put ourselves in their shoes when writing content and creating products.

survey responses

Apply this to your own business to figure out how to monetize your traffic by keeping your ear to the ground. Find out what your audience really wants and make sure it lines up with your passion in some way.

How Better Email Collection Led to An Increase In Monthly Email Subscribers by 726%

After we gathered this information, the first thing we had to fix was our email collection.

We were getting about 6-10 subscribers a day.

Think about that for a second. We had over 5,000 visitors a day. At the high end, that’s a 0.20% conversion rate.

You should be able to convert at least 3% of your subscribers. We weren’t. .Our email collection process was outdated. We didn’t have anything except an opt-in on the sidebar and after the post.

I’ll show you the methods we went from less than 300 subscribers a month to now over 3,000

Graph of a growing email list

Before we get into it, though, make sure you don’t make the same mistake we did.

Our main problem with our simple sidebar opt-in form was that 60% of our audience was on mobile or tablet. Your audience is probably the same. Most of our audience wasn’t even seeing the sidebar!

So here’s how we 10xed our email list.

We Started Using The Highest Converting Opt-Ins

Before, we were ignoring a huge opportunity to collect tons of emails. You may also be ignoring the same opportunity, because you find them annoying…

Pop-ups.

Yet as annoying as some people say they are, pop-ups work better than anything else. They helped Brian earn $82,125 more in his business every year, and they consistently convert better than any other opt-in.

We chose List Builder by SumoMe for our popups. It’s free, it looks nice and is easy to use. Plus there are tons of people using it.

Just turning it on led to 20 additional subscribers per day - this is amazing for us.

pop-up conversion rates

So the next step was to upgrade the pro version and start A/B Testing different options.

ab testing

A/B testing allowed us to figure out exactly what our audience was responding to, to increase our conversions and grow our list even faster.

Doing this showed us that by changing our opt-in to a Clean Eating Guide, we could bump our opt-ins to over 40 a day.

This was huge for us and immediately led to a revenue and traffic increase.

Being able to generate more revenue from ads, cookbook sales, and our meal planning service (our core offer at the time) so quickly was a huge relief.

When SumoMe added Welcome Mat to their suite, we (of course) turned it on and started getting 60+ subscribers day by designing a high converting Welcome Mat landing page.

This obviously helped with the bottom line also.

Plus, Welcome Mat was super easy to set up. There’s a default option that works well and if you have a ton of customization options with SumoMe Pro.

welcome mat example

Creating a Congruent Funnel Generated a Sale A Day For Our Business and It Can For You Too

You need a sales funnel. We needed one too, and by creating one, we were able to generate a sale per day for our business. If you have a product - or if you are in the process of creating one - one sale per day can increase your revenue significantly. Here’s how we set up our sales funnel (and how you can do the same).

Creating a Read Magnet Generates Revenue

One of the core pieces to setting up a sales funnel similar to ours is to create “read magnets” around the opt-in and introductory offer.

The idea of a read magnet is simple: it’s a piece of content some will read (or watch if it’s a video) which will later lead them to opting in for your lead magnet. It is really like an introduction to you so that visitors can decide if they like you enough to give you an email address.

For us that meant writing an article about what clean eating is, plus recording a video. We did the same with the topic of how to quit sugar.

This targeted content attracts the right kind of traffic - a targeted group of people you want to get in front of. These people will actually buy from you, engage in a relationship with you, and learn from you.

For us that immediately meant $600 dollars a month in sales. We then took this revenue and began to run Facebook ads, which helped us create more revenue.

Create a Lead Magnet But Keep It Congruent

You need a lead magnet or opt-in offer that compliments the read magnet and moves your audience closer to the introductory offer.

For our read magnet we had a clean eating post and other healthy food related topics, so for our opt-in we created a clean eating guide with recipes and tips and tricks to eating clean.

This moved our visitors closer to our 7 part video course on clean eating which is our introductory offer.

Craft an Introductory Offer Matches the Read Magnet and Lead Magnet

The most important part of this piece is congruence. If the content matches the opt-in, naturally your conversion will increase, and you’ll make more revenue.

If the opt-in matches the introductory offer then the conversion rate will also increase.

For us that lead to making a sale(s) almost every single day of the week, which at the time added hundreds of dollars a month to our bottom line.

Even when we weren’t launching or selling our core offer we were getting people purchasing our introductory offer.

revenue of the blog

This generates new customers, who are then led into your core offer. These customers are used to purchasing from you by now, so your conversion rate will increase even further.

Secret Pro Tip : Add an Inline Bump On Your Shopping Cart Page

We have two introductory offers. One is $9, and the other is $2.

For both of these we added an inline bump, which is just a checkbox that can be clicked to add an extra item to the cart.

sales pop-up

For the $9 one we made a 4 Week Healthy Meal Plan for another $9 or a total of $18.

Almost 80% of our customers take advantage of this.

Let me repeat that...

80% of people who buy our intro offer added this bump. This added on average an extra $7 dollars per purchase.

On the $29 dollar offer it was 50% of people adding the offer. That’s just crazy.

This gives you a lot more flexibility and you can start generating leads with ads once you can create this sales funnel path.

Solve Your Audience's Problem With Your Core Offer and Watch Your Revenue Soar

So now we get to the core offer.

This your bread and butter. Whether it's a membership site like ours or a high end coaching program, the same rules apply.

Your core offer needs to solve a more comprehensive problem than your introductory offer did.

We created an academy on taking back your health. We offer video courses on different topics and weekly interaction through Q&A's, videos, fitness routines, and more.

If your introductory offer was an SEO audit for example, maybe you offer is done-for-you services.

If it’s a fitness package maybe it’s a high-end 8 week program.

It has to be bigger, better and solve a more painful pain then your other offers.

Monetization Strategies and What Worked For Us

When we were looking at how to monetize our blog, there were a ton of options we were going through. Here’s what we landed on.

Why We Switched to a Membership Site

We used to have an 8 week program and we were in launch mode all the time. This was stressful and we found once people were done with the program, they disappeared.

We had spent all that time cultivating that relationship with the customer, and then we had nothing more to offer them.

So we changed to a lower cost (but monthly) membership site that included the 8 week program inside it.

This has been huge to predicting our revenue and relieving stress.

Sponsorships and Brand Deals

In our industry, sponsorships and brand deals are typical, and they’re not difficult to set up. If you want to take this route, I recommend making a list of 10 brands that line up with your audience and then email them.

In the beginning we didn’t ask for much when working with these brands, and in some cases we might work for more exposure rather than for being paid.

When you put together an email I recommend demonstrating why your valuable and what you can offer them.

sponsorship outreach template

Even if it’s small a dedicated audience that lines up with the product really well works great.

Plus now that you have people opting in you have an email list to use and you know what they buy with your new funnel.

You can use this information to find brands that tie in nicely to your niche.

Use Your Email List to Drive Traffic, Video Views and Lockdown Sponsorships

Because we have a growing email list now, we can use it to drive traffic to our content (and in our case, videos).

This allows you to generate more traffic, leads and better sponsorships and brand deals if that’s part of your monetization strategy.

You can use now drive traffic and targeted video views to your content thus making those brand sponsorships happy. As your list grows you can increase your rates.

Rinse and repeat.

Start Leveraging Your Strengths

So, you have your list set up and your funnel, but you’re still not getting any traffic. Sometimes you need to jumpstart your funnel.

Or maybe you realized you had to pivot and the free traffic you get isn’t connecting right.

This is when focusing on what you do well comes back into play.

Use one your great pieces of content on your best social channel or your email list - or even write a guest post somewhere to get a little more exposure - and then use that to start testing out your funnel.

When in Doubt, Try Out Video

Video is really hot right now. For us this meant making Facebook videos to go viral. This wasn’t a process we just knew how to do. Our first videos were horrible and in some cases we didn’t even share them on Facebook.

But over time we improved and then figure out how to make posts like this:

These posts get people interested in our brand and sometimes we get leads. We also supplement with posts like this that don’t generate nearly as many views (but sometimes generate revenue):

Everyone who watches the How to Quit Sugar video is super interested in the topic. Way more so than people who watch a Banana Ice Cream recipe video.

So the main takeaway is to try creating video or different types of content to engage your social followers.

Optimize Your Revenue Rather Than Worrying About Traffic

You now know how to improve your funnel from content all the way through core offer.

In this guide I showed you how to create content that resonates with your audience, a custom lead magnet that lines up with your content and takes your audience one step closer to becoming a customer.

Then we went over setting up that introductory offer and how to position your core offer as solving a wider bigger problem.

Now get out there and turn your traffic problem into a revenue solution.

All you have to do is follow the steps we walked through one at a time.

And the cool thing is once you have one path setup you can do it again and again setting up a bunch of funnels into your core offer.