Marketing Funnel Template for Digital Products and Online Training Businesses

Published Date:  06 Feb, 2019 | Updated Date:  09 Oct, 2023

Want to sell more online courses, memberships and training programs? Use this 4-stage marketing funnel strategy (and free marketing funnel template) to build a business platform online that can be sold for top dollar.

This article was last updated April 2023. Watch the video that inspired this article for expert insights from our top Navigator, Pol Cousineau, or enjoy his free 50-minute webinar to build a money-making business platform online with a constant stream of customers and students!

Planning, building and implementing a marketing strategy without any gaps is critical to build your business when selling digital products, online group training, or membership options.

But how do you build a great marketing strategy?

With a marketing funnel that works for you, not against you.

marketing funnel template for digital products and online training businesses

When you have a marketing funnel properly installed into your business, what you really have is a lead generation and sales conversion machine working 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year.

That’s why we’re sharing the proven marketing funnel system we developed: to accelerate your ability to identify marketing strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for your business!

Using this article, you’ll learn how to spend less on marketing, and build a better platform that can be sold for top dollar.

Pro Tip: Your best bet at great marketing is to make sure your website is at its best–and that it actually provides users with an accessible sales funnel that leads to your products.

We recommend you read our Sales Funnel Stages article, where you’ll learn how to use our free Sales Funnel Planner to maximize sales and set a great basis for your marketing efforts down the road.

What is a marketing funnel?

A marketing funnel is a process that turns cold prospects into customers and loyal advocates through marketing and relational strategies.

It is the process of building a relationship with your target audience that evolves into a customer relationship as a result of your marketing and promotional efforts.

Imagine, for example, that your customer or client is frozen solid in a block of ice. I use this analogy because your audience is mentally encased in skepticism and suspiciousness that can make them cold to direct sales offerings.

You have to thaw the ice if you want them to ‘warm up’ to you, or your cause. This is what creates the need for a logical and systematic marketing funnel process.

“At The Digital Navigator, we’re all about human to human. If we’re going to be creating people that are advocates of our brand – meaning they’ll refer others to us – then we want our audience to feel they have an actual relationship with us. Actually this is where I find a lot of businesses that are selling profitable digital products online sometimes miss the mark…they forget the human aspect of it.”

 

– Pol Cousineau, Founder The Digital Navigator

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4 Steps to Build a Lucrative Marketing Funnel for Course Creators, Coaches and Spiritual Teachers

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What’s the difference between a sales funnel vs marketing funnel?

We like the following quote from a recent LinkedIn article to describe the difference between marketing and sales funnels:

“Where marketing funnels are all about your prospect’s interactions with the brand’s content, sales funnels are about the prospect’s interactions with your people.”

 

– Pol Cousineau, Founder The Digital Navigator

Why do I need a marketing funnel for my business?

The companies that grow fast are those that view their marketing efforts in a series of stages of the funnel process.

Once your business has matured, the goal is to increase the lifetime customer value (refer to the Ascend stage below) and decrease your customer acquisition costs.

Without a flow of relevant leads, you’re dying a slow death. With them, you can quickly scale the growth of your company and generate vital profits that provide the income and lifestyle you deserve.

When you’re a new or small business and you’re trying to grow, you know the value of generating more targeted leads. Developing a constant flow of new inbound qualified leads is the lifeblood, the oxygen of any business.

That’s the importance of adopting marketing funnels for your digital product, online training, or membership business.

The actual value of your company relies on having repeatable systems that generate income and profit–which is exactly what business is all about.

That means having the proper marketing funnels incorporated into your business early can help you turn bigger profits in the long run.

The person who eventually buys your business wants to generate profit and income without you being there, and will be open to paying top dollar for that ‘premium’.

Need more reasons to have a marketing funnel for your business? Here are five more reasons to deploy and perfect marketing funnels wherever you are in your business journey:

Top 5 reasons why you need a marketing funnel for your business

  1. Marketing funnels don’t just turn prospects into customers; they also turn them into loyal advocates who are more likely to recommend your product to friends and family.
  2. Marketing funnels up the value of your final product, in the same way brick and mortar businesses have value-add offerings when you pop into their stores.
  3. When you build a marketing funnel, you better understand which assets you already have that might be worth something to your customers. Have DIY training programs, short meditation audio, or a course they can enroll in? Infographics, articles, or case studies? These products can be added to your marketing funnel for more success, and more revenue!
  4. Marketing funnels help you create a more well-rounded marketing platform. The assets you use at every stage ultimately add value to your company, and help establish its value apart from your direct input.
  5. With the right combination of sales funnels and marketing funnels, you can eventually replace yourself with a manager or another owner who can turn the profits on your behalf, leaving you free for other projects.

Pro Tip: If you’re a business owner who wants to focus more on teaching and spending time with your students and customers, marketing funnels provide a sustainable way to do just that.

Jen Gilchrist with SoulSuccessUnleashed.com – a popular client we touch on later – often tells us she enjoys letting the funnel drive students, so she can focus on being with them instead of constantly chasing prospects:

“Since working with [The Digital Navigator] I have 5 times the enrollment. They work great with my assistant and I trust that things are being handled behind the scenes between our teams. This gives me the confidence and energy to do what I love to do.”

 

– Jen Gilchrist, Soul Success Unleashed

How to Create an Effective Marketing Funnel from our Marketing Funnel Templates

The best marketing funnels use a preferred sales system approach you can think of in terms of a choose your own adventure story.

Basically, your prospects should have multiple solutions available to them, so they can choose (and feel in control of) the path that best helps them overcome their goals.

You consider optimizing your lead generation funnel, or refining an existing purchase funnel (or both). Either way, you’re building a sales system with multiple assets for each stage of the marketing journey–just with different goals.

For example, lead generation funnels are all about grabbing the attention of specific fish in the big sea…and reeling them in with your automated marketing system, or marketing funnel.

Purchase funnels, on the other hand, are all about ‘pulling in the big one’, and aren’t much different than a sales funnel (most refer to them as the same thing).

A typical marketing funnel campaign will therefore combine elements of both, where the first net captures great leads and sends them through the marketing funnel, and the second goes directly to the purchase page for your product or business.

Whatever the case for your business, actually creating an effective marketing funnel can be done in four stages to help you maximize this free marketing funnel template.

marketing funnel stages infographic

As you can see from the infographic above, marketing funnels can be broken down into four key steps: build awareness, engage, convert, and ascend.

With these four steps, this marketing funnel system will take your target audience from suspicious and skeptical to raving, repeat customers.

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4 Steps to Build a Lucrative Marketing Funnel for Course Creators, Coaches and Spiritual Teachers

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Not only that, but you’ll be able to spend less on marketing overall; that’s the power of installing a marketing funnel machine that continues chugging while you’re busy creating more great products to sell online!

Pro Tip: Before we go any further, it is important to note that your free and paid offerings must have actual value. If your goal is to extract as much money from others as humanly possible, your content might come across as value-less, and your customers will know it right away.

Always think how you can make your relationships win-win for all sides of the equation, and spend time with those who are spending money on you.

4 Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Funnel | How to make a funnel for marketing

1. Build Awareness

Get discovered by new prospects and cold leads through paid channels such as paid advertising or a guest interview.

Build Awareness

The businesses, solopreneurs, and other virtual service providers that always reach new audiences are the ones that are generating more leads, faster.

Creating awareness about your business is something that must be done constantly, systematically into an ever-expanding audience.

That’s why building awareness is the first stage of what those in the industry call a marketing funnel automation:

“Marketing automation is a type of software that allows companies to effectively target customers with automated marketing messages across channels including email, websites, social media and text messages to generate sales leads…Marketing automation software manages the online element of a marketing campaign, including data analytics that can create more precise personalization of content to individual customers to drive engagement and revenue.”

How to build awareness for your brand or business:

You build awareness by posting blogs, content on social media, videos on YouTube, podcasts, infographics, memes, image gifs, and other forms of free content that people who have never heard of you can stumble upon.

Other channels include paid leads, cold leads, and other forms of advertising or guest interviews. It’s important then to have at least one or two systems that allow you to share high-value, free content so people can become aware of who you are and what you offer.

For most who offer online training and digital products, they become strong in one organic channel first. This is the best place to start if you are still early on in your business, or currently make less than 100K a year online.

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Most of our clients above the 100K range are already strong on one platform, which is when they will begin really reaping in the benefits of their paid advertising.

We recommend Facebook/Instagram as they are still the best channels with lower advertising costs for the results but they provide. TikTok is of course good on video, whereas we rarely see success on LinkedIn for this audience.

You might want to test out Google Ads as well, but this is normally for businesses that generate in the six figure range (at least $200k).

Although Google Ads could be done early, the cost per lead is pretty high there and targeting is pretty wide–not always great for those with lower budgets.

“Your goal here – although it would be nice to sell – is not to sell. It’s really to start that relationship and demonstrate that you can add value for the customer. So you want to think about the problem that you’re solving, and then create those assets accordingly.”

 

– Pol Cousineau, Founder The Digital Navigator

2. Engage new prospects

Warm up your prospects by showcasing expert content, increasing exposure, and engaging in two-way communication.

Engage new prospects

Once a person becomes aware of who you are, you have the opportunity to start building a relationship with them. When they consume your content in some way, we call this engagement.

If they become aware of who you are – say they clicked on your link in a Facebook post and read your article, or they watch your latest YouTube video – they’ve engaged with your content and are ready to begin their relationship.

Engagement is important because it means your prospects are warming up to you. They are no longer encased in that block of ice – suspicious and skeptical of you – but they have found value in your content and are now responsive to you.

Their engagement with your content is the first great sign of building trust with them. This is how you stay top of mind, and become the expert they want to learn from and reach out to.

Pro Tip: Using a tool like Google Analytics or private analytics, review the average time on page metric by channels to see if people are actually consuming your content.

For example, we frequently notice that organic traffic from Google searches is much more engaged with the content when comparing it to paid advertising channels such as Facebook.

You can also use our article, How to Optimize Your Website for a Successful Ad Campaign, for more help!

The important thing for engagement is to warm up your prospects by showcasing expert content, increasing exposure, and engaging in two-way communication.

For businesses that sell online training and group programs, the best way to do this by far is to get people to consume a video training series. When you share several videos, they see and hear you providing useful value.

You might also decide to use an email marketing series or social media groups, since opening emails and social media readership is considered engagement as well.

Here are a few other ways we do (and don’t) recommend you build engagement for your brand or business:

  1. Send out regular content through email, and encourage readers to respond to those emails.
  2. Engage through Facebook on your ads, posts, and other shared content by responding to comments or referring content to a specific follower or preferred social media site.
  3. Do NOT use a messenger bot to respond to different prospects in real-time. They are losing a lot of popularity in recent years in terms of user satisfaction.
  4. Include a phone number where people can reach you, or get them to schedule a consultation to chat live. A ten-minute zoom meeting works wonders!

You can also use a strong content strategy to build engagement. When you know content will be published, you’ll be more prepared for those new influxes of comments or messages that are bound to come from your engagement efforts.

Pro Tip: Make sure to publish the type of content that your audience will enjoy for more engagement potential. That’s why we’ve created marketing funnel images and images of sales funnel you can download.

Don’t know how to create great content, or what content to write? Use our recent guide to expert content creation to boost your content-related offerings (and even increase sales using great content!)

Whatever route you choose (and we think more than one option is your best bet), remember that the engagement is meant to build a sense of familiarity between you or your brand, and your prospect.

Just remember, this step is not directly about sales. At this stage, it’s true that many of your engaged prospects will not need your services right away.

Instead, the idea is to ensure you’re top of mind when they recommend services to a friend, or when they do need services, that they come to you or your website.

3. Convert engaged prospects into investing customers

Your prospects become leads and customers when they put more skin in the game by sharing their contact information and investing their time and money.

Convert engaged prospects into investing customers

Conversion has two meanings, one for your marketing funnel, and one for your sales funnel–almost like two loops of a spiral.

The first is getting them into your lead generation system or email marketing system–which we’ve already done in the first two stages of this marketing funnel.

The second type of conversion is the sales stage where a person who has been following you becomes a customer.

Sales conversions are obviously something you want to see a lot more of, right?

If you answered yes, then you want to be sure that you are offering a good process to take people from being a follower, fan, or e-mail subscriber to becoming a paying customer.

in other words, we’re taking LEADS and converting them into SALES. This is where your marketing investments will produce their greatest ROI.

As they watch a video you created, read an article you wrote, or listen to an interview you created, their customer potential increases…the conversion starts to happen–and if they spend money, even better!

As they watch a video you created, read an article you wrote, or listen to an interview you created, their customer potential increases…the conversion starts to happen–and if they spend money, even better!

How to increase conversions for your brand or business

There are multiple steps to the conversion process, which is why we’ve written a companion article to help you progress through the conversion-building stage of your marketing funnel called, Sales Funnel Stages: Step by Step Guide to Building a Sales Conversion Machine.

And while we will go into much greater detail about the conversion process there, let’s quickly summarize the main points you’ll need to take with you as you continue through to build a successful marketing funnel for your products online.

The most important thing to increase conversions is to make a firm call to action – a CTA – in every piece of content you provide.

A call to action does not always mean asking for the sale – it could mean asking them to opt in in order to receive a free sales letter template.

The best conversion mechanism is to have your student-prospects engage in a video series, and then deploy a series of emails that include relevant content or videos with additional value–but for a limited time only.

That’s how you get customers to go for big-time purchases at the $500 to $2000 range.

You can also try using low-dollar offers to get conversions at this stage, though we don’t always recommend it to our clients. This would be something like an audio meditation followed by an email series or webinar that offers courses in the $200 range.

However, for your offers to convert they must be congruent with your content. Ask yourself, is the product or service you’re offering aligned with the content in which it is embedded?

One way to make sure is to remember that you – as a business owner – are also a guide and educator. Your videos or online training will give engaged audiences a taster for your products that reduces doubt that it will work for them.

“When I see high lead capture percentages with low sales it is because of this lack of alignment…between content, and call to action.”

 

– Pol Cousineau, Founder The Digital Navigator

Pro Tip: With ongoing engagement of high-value content from your business, your customers will feel more open to your business. This creates much less friction when you ask for the sale (once you’ve converted them as a lead). We therefore recommend you attend this free training webinar to further explore all four stages of the marketing funnel.

4. Allow your customers to ascend further along your sales ladder

Maximize your profits by offering additional products and services, exceeding your customers expectations, and creating brand advocates.

Allow your customers to ascend further along your sales ladder

Ideally, from the conversion stage you want to then persuade prospects to move up – or ascend – to your higher paid offers.

This is where you’re going to be maximizing your profits by offering additional product services as well as exceeding the expectations of your customers.

However, you must always deliver on your promise with relevant and useful value offerings. As a licensed CPA in Quebec, I learned how vital this final step is to the profitability of any business.

That’s because the ascend stage contributes to improving your lifetime customer value. Know as well that potential investors in your business will also use this to evaluate the worth of your business.

How to motivate customers to ascend the sales ladder

Typical offerings for the ascend stage are products and services that will help your clients reach their goal faster or more easily.

There are going to be some people who want to take advantage of your expertise through higher level advanced courses, who will pay for private VIP one-on-one sessions with you.

You can for instance provide a ‘self-learning’ option for your program, and another one with live access to you, group call options, or Q&A sessions with available mentorship opportunities.

At this point though, you should be moving away from offers that are below the $100 range. For example, some of our clients offer continuity programs at upwards of $1500, with the option to invest in additional sessions.

Complementary offerings are also a good fit. Another way to look at it, is once your client reaches their initial goal, you want to anticipate, or ask, what is the next problem my customer will want to solve?

Say someone enrolls in a course at $1497. A lot of students may want to move on to use those skills professionally, and so a relevant opportunity would be a certification program for $1997 that focuses on gaining confidence with clients.

What matters here is the delivery into the ascend stage: you could have an automated email campaign, you could be doing Facebook live streams videos or a webinar promoting that retreat and inviting people to it.

You can also decide to send out personal invitations through regular mail to some of the graduates of that meditation program to come to your retreat.

“We have found that when you have a webinar with available replay (in combination with social posts and automated emails), you will have more people ascend. That is how we do with 90% of online training clients for their business.”

 

– Pol Cousineau, Founder The Digital Navigator

This type of intuition is meant for us to know based on our own expertise as businesses selling digital products or physical wares online–but if you aren’t exactly sure where to point your clients, we can always jump in to help…just ask!

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4 Steps to Build a Lucrative Marketing Funnel for Course Creators, Coaches and Spiritual Teachers

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Free Marketing Funnel Template | Coaching Funnel Template

We want to gently remind you to review the sales funnel stages you need to be aware of as you scale your business, particularly if you’re an online coach or educator who is looking for a coaching funnel template to help sell your products.

Truly, as you begin to grow your sales funnel for your business website online, it’s important to use the downloadable sales funnel planner (which includes the marketing funnel infographic) to map out your sales funnel stages and build a great online training funnel!

How to use the marketing funnel template

With so many things to do, it is easy to jump from one thing to the next.

First, review the template itself. Then, take ten minutes to map out some asset ideas for each of the four stages.

Then, take this information and apply it directly to your business using the template, or a whiteboard.

The goal is to fill in all the gaps in your customer acquisition process, so you can grow your business quickly. By completing this exercise you will be able to have a business that’s more resilient that has happier customers and ultimately is more profitable!

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“You might be wondering, is this going to be valuable for me if I already have a business that’s making six figures? The answer is Yes! When you look at the sales funnel stages you will notice that there are areas that you tend to be weaker and there are other areas that you tend to be stronger. By strengthening those weak areas, you can generally increase your conversion rates in your sales significantly…we’ve seen double-digit increases!”

 

– Pol Cousineau, Founder The Digital Navigator

User Note: When you download your sales funnel template, keep in mind the difference between the ‘short’ and ‘long’ funnel templates. The ‘short’ funnel is your marketing funnel, and the ‘long’ funnel is the sales funnel.

For early stage businesses who are pulling in less than $200K a year, we recommend focusing on the marketing funnel first, while more mature businesses should focus on the gaps in the longer funnel.

How do I measure the success of my marketing funnel

How do you know you’ve got your marketing funnel ready, and your sales funnel ship-shape?

After all, funnels are nothing if you can’t measure their success!

So, to measure and improve the performance of your marketing funnel stages, we recommend you start from the top down.

Review your metrics for the Awareness stage such as number of new visitors, visitors by traffic source, cost per click and bounce rate on your blog pages.

We say this because we make it a part of our offering to provide a managed analytics platform for when we do marketing campaigns on clients’ behalf.

Then, if you detect a problem here, work on fixing it before moving to measurement metrics for the Engage stage–obviously there’s no point in having the perfect upgrade offer (Ascend stage) if no one is signing up for your product (Convert stage)!

Here are some expert guides, free masterclass resources, and other digital tools from our team that we think will help you measure and grow the success of each stage in your marketing funnel journey:

Awareness

Engage

Convert

Ascend

However, if you want to accelerate the whole marketing funnel process and have the experts take care of the dirty work for you, you’re most welcome to apply for our Marketing Funnel Intensive program, where we’ll help you map out all your campaigns and then build them for you!

This program is especially great for those who are currently pulling in $100K+ in annual revenue, whereas those who make less than that currently can still find a ton of assistance through our Work With Us services to help you establish a stronger foundation for your business online.

Until then, we wish you the best in your marketing!

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This article was last updated April 2023. Watch the video that inspired this article for expert insights from our top Navigator, Pol Cousineau, or enjoy his free 50-minute webinar to build a money-making business platform online with a constant stream of customers and students!

FAQ

What is a marketing funnel?
A marketing funnel is a process that turns cold prospects into customers and loyal advocates through marketing and relational strategies. It is the process of building a relationship with your target audience that evolves into a customer relationship as a result of your marketing and promotional efforts.
Why do I need a marketing funnel?
Without a flow of relevant leads, you're dying a slow death. With them, you can quickly scale the growth of your company and generate vital profits that provide the income and lifestyle you deserve. When you’re a new or small business and you’re trying to grow, you know the value of generating more targeted leads. Developing a constant flow of new inbound qualified leads is the lifeblood, the oxygen of any business. That’s the importance of adopting marketing funnels for your digital product, online training, or online group training business.
How do I measure the success of my marketing funnel?
So, to measure and improve the performance of your marketing funnel stages, we recommend you start from the top down. Review your metrics for the Awareness stage such as number of new visitors, visitors by traffic source, cost per click and bounce rate on your blog pages. Then, if you detect a problem here, work on fixing it before moving to measurement metrics for the Engage stage. Refer to the article above for a broader explanation.

2 Comments

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    • jessica@thedigitalnavigator.com

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4 Steps to Build a Lucrative Marketing Funnel for Course Creators, Coaches and Spiritual Teachers

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