“Ben, I don’t get it… I can get people to buy my one-time payment products all day long but I can’t get them to sign up for a monthly subscription. What’s going on here?”
“I hear you. It’s a question of trust.”
It requires a much deeper level of trust to sign up to be billed monthly rather than to spend money one time. (even if you think the subscription sounds great)
With that in mind, I’d like to walk you through a process that I’ve shared with our private clients about how you can automate the process of building trust and get more people into your subscription or SaaS (Software as a Service).
The Six Steps Below will give you the full story on how to understand who your ideal subscriber is, gain their trust using content marketing, and automate the trust building process, so you can get more paying subscribers.
Step 1: Define Who Your Ideal Subscriber is and Why.
When we start selling our subscription programs, it is important have a good sense of who our customer is and what they are looking for to solve their problems. This is the first step to knowing how to gain their trust.
Most subscription and membership programs fail because there is a misunderstanding of the ideal customer and how the subscription fits their need.
To make sure that your subscription doesn’t end up missing the mark, you need to do a little research. This research can be broken down into three different sections. Using this formula you can start to get a picture of who your ideal member is so that you understand who they are and can tailor your subscription to fit them exactly.
Research Part 1: Who are They?
The first thing you need to do is breakdown who your audience is. We do this by asking a few key questions about who our audience is and what is going on in their head.
Grab a notepad and jot down the answers to the questions in the image above. When you’re done you’ll have a much better understanding of who you ideal subscriber is.
Research Part 2: Who Are You?
Once you figure out exactly who it is your ideal subscriber is, you need to get a sense of your own personal story and why you started your business in the first place.
Answer all of the questions below. You’ll start to see how your story relates to theirs. This is essential for when you are working to build common ground with someone (and eventually build trust to the point where they’ll invest in your subscription program).
Research Part 3: What is Your Membership About?
Finally, you have to answer some questions about what your subscription program is about and how it relates to your audience (and helps them solve problems and achieve their goals) and how it relates to you (the story of why you started it).
Once you start getting a sense of who your audience is, how you relate to them, and how your product solves their problems, you need to start figuring out how to get in front of them to start gaining their trust. For a full run through on how to go through this process check out this great video from the ScriptDoll team on How to Get Inside Your Prospect’s Minds so that you can sell them your Product.
Step 2: Understand How to Get in Front of That Audience Correctly.
Once you get finished with step 1 and have a good idea of who your ideal subscriber is, the next step is to determine where they hang out when they are online.
We have developed a process that helps us dig into exactly where to find our ideal subscriber so that you can get in front of them.
Make a List of the 5 Places You Think Your Ideal Subscriber Hangs Out
I start with a simple list that I create using my computer’s notes app. I write down at least 5 urls where I think my ideal audience hangs out when they are on the internet.
This list is only a guess and it may be completely wrong but this is enough to get us started. We can dig in deeper and start to figure out where our folks are really hanging out and what they really like in terms of content.
Next Use Facebook Audience Insights to Dig Deeper
The nice part about finding bigger sites where you think your ideal subscriber hangs out is that they probably have a presence on Facebook that you can use to your advantage. We’re going to take our list that we just made and input those into Facebook’s Audience Insights Tool to see what we find.
Keeping with our example I’m going to type in the “Art of Manliness”
From this initial search into the people that like “The Art of Manliness”, I can see that they fall into the 25-34 range and are 97% male. This is a good sign as it lines up with what I guessed from my initial research.
From there I click on the “Page Likes Tab” and See what other things the people that like “The Art of Manliness” like on Facebook.
I sort the results by Affinity. Affinity is the likelihood that someone, who likes the original interest that we typed in (“The Art of Manliness”) will like these other pages (as opposed to everyone else on Facebook). Once I have that information I write down what I learned on my text document. I then repeat the process with all 5 of the original websites that I had on my original note (if possible). For more cool stuff that you can learn from the Facebook Insights Tool check out this Facebook Audience Insights explanation by Jon Loomer.
It seems that folks that like the “Art if Manliness” are really into growing Beards. That is extremely useful information to have so that we can start a good conversation that establishes trust.
Next Use Buzzsumo to See Exactly what kinds of Content your Audience is Interested in
Buzzsumo is a site that lets you reverse engineer the types of content that are working really well for a site on Social Media. It allows us to see what content has been shared from a certain site and on what social networks.
I start by typing in the base URL of the site I want to reverse engineer.
Buzzsumo will spit out the top content from our target site (artofmanliness.com) and sort it by total number of shares. I pull each of those post titles and place them in my original text document so that I have them for later.
Finally, I use an App Called Similarweb to Figure out Where my Sites are Getting their Traffic.
I start off by typing the URL of the site into SimilarWeb and then we are presented with a bevy of useful information.
We can instantly see where any site gets most of their traffic and where they end up sending it. In this case “The Art of Manliness” get’s about 12% of its total traffic from other referring sites that link to it.
We see what percentage of a site’s traffic comes from Organic and Paid Search (and the keywords that people are searching for that lead them there).
We can also see what percentage of a site’s traffic comes from Social Media. This is especially interesting when you have the data that we just gathered from Buzzsumo earlier.
And Finally, We can dig into what other sites are like our target site (which gives us even more intelligence on where our ideal subscribers hang out online).
I compile all of this information into my text document. I’ll be using this later to create my own “trust building content” to drive people into my membership sales funnel.
In the next step of the process you have to get a firm understanding of how people actually begin to trust you.
Step 3: Understand How People Gain Trust Quickly (The Trust Pyramid)
Now that you have a good idea of who your audience is and where they hang out online, you need to understand the mechanics or how trust is built (both online and offline).
Once you understand how people mentally check off boxes on their way to trusting someone (or not trusting them) you’ll be able to create content and sales processes that make this process work for you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week on autopilot.
Trust in a Business typically works like this.
- Someone Gets Value from a Piece of Advice or Content which is free.
- They dig deeper to find out more about the value they received (the stalk the creator of the valuable content)
- They find more Value from content that was created by the Creator of the Original piece.
- They Give Something Valuable (but not too valuable) to them to Get more Valuable Stuff (an email address or a small amount of money).
- If they get value at all of those stages they invest heavily because they have been met with value at every turn. (This is the stage when you should be selling your subscription to them).
You can think of it as a pyramid where the farther down someone gets to the base, the more trust they have in the Business.
For Example: Think about a subscription business like Netflix.
- You probably learned about them by watching something over at a friend’s house and thought that the service seemed cool.
- You went home and did a little research by heading over to the Netflix website.
- You probably dug deeper into what Netflix offers to see if they had other tv shows and movies you liked.
- You signed up for a free trial to give it 30 days as a test.
- You just never cancelled because you wanted to keep the good stuff coming. (you trust them)
The cool part is that you don’t have to be as big as Netflix or have as much content to use the Trust Pyramid to grow your own subscription rapidly. All you need is to create a few pieces of strategic content and use those pieces of content to flow into an automated followup system (which can be used to sell your subscription longterm).
Step 4: Learn How to Automate “The Trust Pyramid” Using Web Content.
To start automating the trust building process, you have to create pieces of content so that people can consume your business at their convenience. Let me give you an example from the Brilliant Team over at Digital Marketer and point out the way they are using the “Trust Pyramid” in a step by step fashion.
Step 1: Offer Free Content Related to Your Product
They target their audience using Facebook Ads. A great example is the ad you see below.
This ad is great because it doesn’t look like an ad. It doesn’t lead to a sales page or a page where you have to put in your email address to get the content. This ad leads to a blog post that gives all the information that was promised right inside of a blog post.
The post this ad leads you to can be found right here.
Step 2: You Stalk The Creator
When You Get to the Blog and start reading this post you are either going to go look at the other cool content on the blog or go check out more about who wrote it. Even if you go check out more content from them you eventually end up digging into who the creators of the blog are.
At the top of every page on Digital Marketer you can see the “Start Here and Learn More About Digital Marketer” link. Notice how easy they make it to find out more about who they are.
Once you make it to the About Page they walk you through their story and what their mission as a company is. The important thing to realize about the Digital Marketer About Page is all the ways they link out to other pieces of content so you can find more amazing stuff from them.
This “about page” ties all of their content together and gives you more places to dig into their great and informative content. This builds up their authority and increases the amount of trust that you put into what they have to say and their position in the market.
Step 4: You give something of value to get more of their value
At this point, you have built up enough trust in the Digital Marketer Brand to look into their paid content or content that is hidden behind an email optin.
If you pay attention to the Digital Marketer website there are email optin pages and sales pages strategically embedded all over the place.
At this point, you hand over your email address and their email autoresponder can now start approaching you in a much more intimate location: Your Email Inbox.
Step 5: You Invest Heavily into their Paid Offerings
Now that you’ve consumed a ton of cool content and opted in for even more cool content, you have most likely built up a great deal of trust for the brand that you’ve been interacting with. To top it all off, they are now communicating with you inside of your inbox about some of the even better content that you can get if you become a member.
Digital Marker has a program called “DM Labs” that is a paid monthly membership where they house a great deal of the more private, and high level, content.
The really genius part about what Digital Marketer does, and what other companies that follow the “trust pyramid” example do, is that they don’t just pitch you on a ton of different benefits of joining their membership.
They have automated email followups which tell you about “one thing” inside the membership that fits your interest (based on what you originally signed up for).
You think, “Man I want that!!! Wait… Look at all the other cool stuff I get if I become a member too.”
At this point, you’ve followed the entire “trust pyramid” and you trust them enough to sign up for a monthly membership (and anything else they produce that interest you).
From this point, we just need to dive into how to structure followup emails so that they are working for your business without you having to send them out every day.
Step 5: Automate Follow up with Interested Parties using Intelligent and Automated Email Marketing.
The secret to running a truly automated sales business is to have systems that are working for you while you sleep. Using the “Trust Pyramid” concept you just learned that you need to create content that leads people to want to learn more about you and, eventually, opt in to get more premium content. The next step is to setup an email autoresponder that will work to sell your product or subscription program while you are sleeping.
We’ve tested out all sorts of email marketing software, but the one that has been the clear winner in terms of ease of use and segmentation options is a service called Active Campaign.
Why would I recommend Active Campaign over other autorespoder systems?
Active Campaign allows you to use something called “Tagging” inside of their “Automations”. Tags are simple little bits of information that you put on people inside of Active Campaign which signifies a behavior that they took. You can tag people in a million different ways but we follow some very basic rules.
Let’s cover the basics of tagging and how it relates to automations inside of Active Campaign.
Tagging and Why It’s Useful
When someone has opted into our system we use the following Tag Categories:
- #interest tag: We tag an individual with an interest tag whenever they optin to a list to get a certain piece of information. For example, if you opted in to get information about how to run effective Facebook Ads we would tag you with “facebook ads interest” (we replace the hash tag with the topic). This means you are interested in the topic but you aren’t necessarily someone who has bought something from us regarding that topic.
- #buyer tag: This is similar to the interest tag. The difference between the #buyer tag a and the interest #tag is that the #buyer tag is only used when someone purchased a product from us. For example, if someone purchased a Facebook Ads product from us, they would have the “facebook ads interest” tag as well as the “facebook ads buyer” tag. This helps us segment out folks that are actually buyers of a certain kind of product.
- #pricepoint tag: This tag is used in conjunction with the buyer tag to let us know what price point someone has spent on a product in the past. If that Facebook ads product was $200 we would tag the buyer with a “200+ pricepoint” tag inside of our Active Campaign System.
- #automation tag: This tag is used to let us know that someone is actively being sent emails right now and that we shouldn’t send them any more. If you are in the middle of an automated email sequence that is teaching you about how to create great Facebook Ads, and you are following our sales process, I don’t want to interrupt you by talking about something new that we just came out with. I can segment you out of my new broadcast emails by telling the Active Campaign system to send to everyone except those people that are inside of my “facebook ads automation” (and tagged as such).
- #completed tag: Every few months or so we’ll circle back through and market a product to our master email list again. When I do that I don’t want to send the same promotion to people that have been through the automation before. I just want to send it to the people that have recently joined my list and never seen the email sequence. I use a tag that looks like this “facebook ads automation completed” so that I know someone has made it through the entire system. I won’t send that same promotion sequence to people that have made it all the way though.
- #welcomed: When someone opts in for the first time to our email list I want to send them a proper welcome and I have a special set of emails designed to do just that (this plays heavily into the trust pyramid that you learned about above). I tag them when they come into our system for the first time with “welcomed”. This works in a way so that they’ll only see the welcome emails once, even if they optin to another one of our list.
Automations Inside of Active Campaign (the secret weapon)
All of the tagging only makes sense when you see how someone goes through an automation inside of the Active Campaign Emails System. I could do an entire course on how to create automations (I have and it’s called “Living Emails”) inside of Active Campaign, but lets just say that this is where the magic happens.
The power of automations inside of Active Campaign is that you can base what happens to an email subscriber on the actions that they take.
For example, if someone clicks on a certain link, I can tag them with “Facebook Ads Interested” and send them a new set of emails based on that interest. They wouldn’t get those emails if they didn’t click on the link.
The beauty of using tagging and automations (and the Active Campaign App) is that you can send messages to your email subscribers based on the things that they are interested in and skip sending them messages for things that they aren’t.
For Online and Offline Businesses this is a revolution because its extremely easy to set this up in a couple of days and then it works for your business forever.
Step 6: Feed the System You’ve Built Weekly
Setting this up may seem like a little bit of work but in the grand scheme of things it takes a ton of work off of your plate because of how much marketing it automates for you. Imagine what would happen if you had a few extremely useful pieces of content out there that helped your target audience enough that they got results before they ever purchased a thing from you.
Building Trust with Good Content is like feeding someone a meal. They will get hungry again, and since you fed them a good meal once, they will come back for more.
Once they trust you, they’ll want more and they’ll optin for more. From that point just make sure you have a good email marketing system in place to sell your subscription for you on autopilot.
From that point, every interview you do, every article that you write about your industry, and every good social media post becomes an opportunity to put people into your automated membership selling system. It literally starts stacking and working on autopilot just from the actions and interactions you normally have throughout the day.
Enjoy This Walkthrough? Let us Know in the Comments Below!
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