What marketing campaigns are you running to attract new customers and reactivate existing buyers?
These are two good ones:
- The Flash Sale Funnel
- The Velvet Rope Funnel
We've sold everything from software and men's clothing to survival kits and makeup brushes with these funnels.
So, what’s a funnel?
You might call it a “marketing funnel”, “conversion funnel”, “marketing pipeline”, “sales funnel”, “sales pipeline”, “sales process”, “sales cycle”… or any number of other terms that are all describing the exact same thing.
Bottom line, if you have a business it’s because you (intentionally or unintentionally) developed processes or funnels that…
- Acquire new prospects and leads…
- Convert those leads into buyers…
- Get those buyers to buy more or buy more often (or both)!
The marketing funnels outlined in this article turn leads into customers and customers into multi-buyers. Both funnels capitalize on deep discounts and can be used to create a buying frenzy—no matter the industry, product, or time of year.
I’m going to share the steps to implement the Flash Sale and the Velvet Rope campaigns. Let's start with...
The Flash Sale Funnel
So... what is a Flash Sale?
It’s Groupon. It’s the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. It’s a high value, deep discount (usually 80-85% off retail) sale that is very difficult to resist.
WARNING: Flash Sale campaigns are very powerful but don’t be tempted to overuse them. You don’t want to train your customer base to only buy when there’s a deep discount.
The One-Two Punch
The Flash Sale works because there are two very powerful principles at play:
- A deep discount
- A limited time
Heck, the phrase “Flash Sale” has the urgency of a limited time to act baked right into the name. And nothing moves a crowd of prospects like a high value product or service, deeply discounted and available for a limited time.
But, how does the campaign make money?
It’s a good question. After all, if you’re discounting a product or service that deeply, how will you ever turn a profit?
The Flash Sale itself is the “front end” of a funnel that, on the back end, makes a number of upsell offers that ultimately makes the campaign profitable.
But remember, the goal of these campaigns is not maximum monetization but ACTIVATION: Activating new buyers and reawakening old buyers. This strategy will have a tremendous effect on the economics of your business. Once a customer buys a quality product or service from you, they’re likely to buy again (and possibly tell their friends about you).
Here’s what I mean. This flowchart features the Flash Sale Funnel with upsells on the backend of the funnel:
There are three steps to a Flash Sale:
Step 1 – Create a Landing Page
This could be a long-form text sales letter, a video sales letter (VSL), or simply a video demo of a product. You can do this in Shopify by creating a new page or using a page builder from the Shopify app store.
The big thing to remember is to highlight the two most important principles of the Flash Sale:
- The deep discount
- The limited time
Step 2 – Broadcast an Email Sequence
The magic of the Flash Sale Funnel is it’s a ridiculous deal for a limited time. So, promote the sale with email blasts. We usually run these promotions for three days and rarely more than five days. We’ll send one email per day of the promotion—so a three-day sale gets three emails.
The first of the three emails simply announces the Flash Sale with a subject line like…
[FLASH SALE] The Ultimate [Product/Service]
Then, the email body copy points out a problem or frustration the email subscriber may be experiencing, and notifies the subscriber that the solution is available at a deep discount for a limited time.
The second email highlights the desired end result for the price point with a subject line like…
[DESIRED RESULT] For Only $[XX]
This is only a 3-day sale, so it makes sense to start communicating the deadline in the second email. Write a P.S. in this second email like this...
P.S. This deal expires on [DATE/TIME] so grab it now if you want [DESIRED RESULT] for the lowest possible price.
The third and final email in the series focuses on the scarcity and urgency of the Flash Sale with a subject line like…
[LAST CHANCE] [XX]% off sale ends today
Call out the frustration or problem in the body copy and then transition quickly into the urgent nature of the deadline with something like…
You need to get yours TODAY because tomorrow the prices will be MUCH higher.
This email campaign will activate leads both new and old.
If the Flash Sale is profitable for you, move on to Step 3.
Step 3 – Turn on the Traffic
The Flash Sale Funnel is a great way to test new low-dollar, front-end offers for other funnels. We call these Tripwire Offers.
If you see that a Flash Sale is profitable for your business, consider moving the offer to the front end of a more permanent funnel and going to “cold” traffic (that is, traffic that has never heard of you or bought one of your products before) on Facebook or YouTube, endorsed emails, or affiliates.
If you’re looking to activate a bunch of new buyers and create a buying frenzy, you’re going to love the Flash Sale Funnel.
Next, is the…
The Velvet Rope Funnel
The Velvet Rope Funnel capitalizes on deep discounts (we’ll have more on the origins of its name in a moment) and another powerful psychological trigger: Exclusivity.
Like the Flash Sale, the Velvet Rope has three steps. Here’s how it works…
Step 1 – Build the Front End of the Funnel
The Velvet Rope Funnel is designed to build an email list of people motivated by deals and sales. And its landing page couldn’t be simpler.
For the Velvet Rope Funnel, create a landing page that makes an enticing sale offer. The opt-in page looks something like this…
As mentioned earlier, you can create a landing page like this yourself or use one of the many page builders apps on Shopify.
When a visitor clicks the ENTER THE SALE button, they will be asked to opt-in to become part of the “Secret Sale Discount Club.”
Upon entering their contact information, the prospect is immediately dropped on the page displaying the products available in the sale. Like this for example:
Notice that the offer includes access to a discount club that grants early bird access to sales and (if you like) exclusive access to other sales. The key here is the exclusive access. Hence the name, the Velvet Rope Funnel.
As your discount club continues to grow, you’ll find that you’ll be pulling in a significant number of purchases before the sale even begins by notifying your secret sale club members.
Now, let’s have a look at the back end of this funnel…
Step 2 – Build the Back End of the Funnel
Adding an upsell on the back end of the Velvet Rope Funnel is optional, but recommended if the goal of this funnel is monetization and not just activation of buyers.
By making a relevant upsell offer to your sale buyers, you’ll increase the average transaction value of this funnel, which means you can:
- Sweeten the Deal – If you’re able to monetize this funnel with an upsell on the back end, you can offer an even deeper discount on the front end or include additional bonuses to make the offer even better.
- Scale the Offer – By adding an upsell, you’re more likely to be successful taking this offer out to colder audiences with ads because you’ll have more money to spend on clicks.
- Pocket the Cash – Yeah… I don’t think I need to explain this one. :)
The completed Velvet Rope Funnel looks like this…
Ok, now that we have the funnel pages built, it’s time to promote the sale.
Step 3 – Create the Follow Up Campaign
The Velvet Rope campaign will work best to your sources of owned media such as…
- Your Facebook Fans
- Your Pinterest Followers
- Your Instagram Followers
…and particularly the existing leads and customers on your email list.
The ideal length of a Velvet Rope sale is three to five days. We usually deploy a four-part email series called “Going, Going, GONE!” with the Velvet Rope Funnel.
The first email should greet subscribers using a subject line like…
Welcome to the club ([INSERT SALE NAME HERE] sale access)
Use the body to welcome them to the “secret sale” club, give a succinct description of club benefits, and then quickly transition to promoting all the goodies you have for them in THIS sale with a piece of copy like…
Ok, enough about future sales, have you checked out this sale?
Include an image of the products you have for sale and be sure to link that image to the sale page because that image will get clicks.
The second email should immediately ramp up urgency and scarcity with a subject line like…
Only 2 days left to save up to 75%
Use the body to communicate the urgency of taking action NOW, so they don’t have to pay full price. (Nobody likes to pay full price.)
Then, send two emails on the final day of the sale. The first email on the last day of your sale should, once again, increase the urgency of taking action before time runs out. Use a simple subject line like…
[INSERT SALE NAME HERE] sale ends tonight!
Send your last email during the final hours of the sale using one of these subject lines…
- Last chance – Closing at midnight TONIGHT!
- Bad news… sale ending!
- [Urgent] Final Notice
Keep the body simple, just communicate the urgency and give them the link to the sale page.
Do you see why we call this the Going, Going, GONE! email campaign? It’s all about urgency and scarcity.
The 3 Keys to Success
The Velvet Rope Funnel works best when there is a combination of these three ingredients at work…
Which of these campaigns should you use? Why not both?
Just be careful not to overuse them. It can be dangerous to train your customers to buy only when there is a significant discount. We run one of these two funnels as often as once every couple of weeks on our ecommerce properties. The next time you want to create a buying frenzy, set up a Flash Sale or Velvet Rope campaign. They just flat out work.
About The Author
Ryan Deiss is cofounder and CEO of DigitalMarketer, a provider of marketing training and certification programs for thousands of small to mid-sized businesses. Get more from DigitalMarketer by accessing the Ultimate Guide to eCommerce Email Marketing here.