The Inbound Customer Value Optimization System (Using HubSpot)

500px_Square_Bob_Ruffolo.jpg By: Bob Ruffolo

Chapter 1:  The Customer Value Optimization System

Systems are essential for growing your business effectively.

How would you like to get your hands on the same system that companies like Starbucks, Amazon, and Beachbody have used to dominate their respective markets?

The name of that system is Customer Value Optimization (CVO) and this guide is going to show you exactly how to implement it in your business.

What makes this system especially attractive is how easily it scales from mom-and-pop shops to billion dollar enterprises and works for all types of products and services.

Any business can use the Customer Value Optimization system -- and hundreds already are!

According to legendary marketer Jay Abraham, there are only three ways to grow a business::

  1. Increase the number of customers
  2. Increase the average transaction value per customer
  3. Increase the number of transactions per customer

Customer Value Optimization works so well because it accomplishes all three.

Who Created the Customer Value Optimization System?

Customer Value Optimization was developed by Ryan Deiss, founder of  Some variation of his funnel model is used by 90% of the most successful online marketers today, making him and one of the most highly-respected experts in the digital marketing space.

Ryan also has several other businesses in over a dozen markets across the world. In just the last 36 months, his companies have:

  • Invested over $15,000,000 in marketing tests
  • Generated tens of millions of unique visitors
  • Sent out over a billion permission-based emails
  • Run around 3,000 split and multivariate tests

What sets Ryan apart from the typical online marketing guru is his real-world experience. He practices what he preaches and shares techniques that are backed by results.

Why Customer Value Optimization Aligns With Inbound Marketing

Inbound excels at bringing quality leads to your website and converting them into customers. Inbound is also great for customer retention by ways of “delight.”

Although it’s important to keep your customers happy, companies also need to focus on increasing the value of their customers so they can grow their business – that’s where Customer Value Optimization comes in.

Think of it like this: inbound turns prospects into customers and Customer Value Optimization turns those one-time customers into indispensable lifetime customers.

Ryan’s theory is that the company who can outspend their competition will ultimately be the winner; so the goal of raising the value of your customers is to, in turn, increase the amount you can spend to acquire those customers.

How to Build a Customer Value Optimization System

Like any good system, the Customer Value Optimization system is broken down into clear steps – five to be exact:

  1. Lead Magnet Offer – A free product/service that’s used for lead generation in exchange for a prospect’s email address (or other contact information). It’s similar to premium content in inbound.
  2. Tripwire Offer – A lower-priced product designed to convert as many leads into paying customers as possible.
  3. Core Offer – The flagship product or service a company offers and is usually higher-priced to increase the average transaction value per customer.
  4. Profit Maximizer – The highest-priced product or service a company offers, typically as an upsell from the Core Offer to maximize the average transaction value per customer.
  5. Return Path – Tactics for increasing the number of transactions per customer, such as email marketing, social media, blogging, etc. This is comparable to the “delight” phase of the inbound methodology.

Before implementing these steps, however, you have to handle two preliminary tasks:

  • finding product/market fit
  • choosing your traffic source

Take a look at the image below to see how it all flows together:

Determining Product/Market Fit

Product/Market fit is all about providing the right offer to the right people. In other words, it’s about creating a solution that people not only want, but truly need.

The two most common problems associated with this for new companies are that:

  1. Their offer doesn’t provide the right solution
  2. Their offer doesn’t appeal to the right people

If your product is a good fit for your market, neither of those problems occur.

Choosing a Traffic Source

The first thing we need to make clear is that you DO NOT have a traffic problem.

Between the various social media networks, search engines, and ability to buy targeted traffic from any niche of the world, you have no shortage of opportunities to drive people to your website.

Ultimately, according to Ryan:

“The goal, no matter which traffic source you choose, is to drive prospects into the CVO Funnel.

Become a master of a single, steady traffic source.  Stay focused on that traffic source and, once mastered, add a second and third traffic source.

These traffic sources include…

  • Email Marketing
  • Social Advertising (Facebook/Twitter/YouTube ads, etc)
  • Banner Advertising
  • Blogging
  • Organic Social Media
  • SEO

Your traffic strategy (if the goal is acquiring new leads and customers) begins and ends with driving visitors into the CVO funnel.”

The first step in getting those visitors into your funnel is offering a strong lead magnet.

Step 1 – Offer a Lead Magnet

A Lead Magnet is something irresistible that you offer a prospect in exchange for their contact information. Although they don’t pay money for a Lead Magnet, this is a valuable transaction that starts your company’s relationship with that person; an ice breaker if you will.

To be effective, your Lead Magnet needs to not only provide tremendous value, but it also needs to provide a specific solution. Specificity is the key to higher conversion rates.

Below is an example of an effective Lead Magnet from Digital Marketer.


Step 2 – Offer a Tripwire

The goal of your Tripwire is to convert leads into real customers and ultimately increase the number of total customers your business has.

The Tripwire is priced low, usually between $1 and $20, and it needs to be irresistible to your leads. A simple way to make your Tripwire irresistible is to price it at cost, or even below cost, in some instances.

It needs to be a no-brainer for people to take advantage of. (i.e. Spotify giving new users three months of its service for only $0.99.)


Although the Tripwire is one of the most valuable offers in your CVO funnel, you shouldn’t be concerned with how much immediate profit you receive from it. You’re using this offer to build a list of real buyers that you can market higher-ticket offers to moving forward.

Step 3 – Offer a Core Product

Most businesses already have a Core Offer in the form of a flagship product or service. Core Offers are higher-priced and more difficult to sell to cold prospects.

Selling your Core Offer to customers who downloaded a Lead Magnet and purchased a Tripwire Offer, however, is significantly easier.

Now your customers will assume that your Core Offer is worth more than the price - this is why you made a point to over-deliver in the first two steps.

At this stage, some businesses choose to make a profit from their Core Offer, while others reinvest that money to acquire more customers and don’t see a profit until the last two stages.

Step 4 – Offer a Profit Maximizer

Your Profit Maximizer is an upsell you offer to increase the average transaction value per customer.

Some of the most successful businesses don’t even make a profit until their customer buys the upsell.

For example, McDonald’s makes very little off of each burger (a Core Product) they sell. Instead, their profits come from the fries and Coke. The same goes for Best Buy – they sell computers, TVs, and other electronics on thin margins, but make their profit from their warranties, installation, and Geek Squad support.

Your Tripwire (and Core Offer, in some cases) pays for the biggest expense of most businesses – acquiring new customers. Any transaction after the initial sale is a Profit Maximizer.

Step 5 – Create the Return Path

Finally, with the Return Path, you aim to increase transaction frequency per customer.

Some customers will flow right through your funnel, purchasing everything they’re offered, but most won’t. That’s why your business needs a Return Path to follow-up and keep them engaged with your brand so you can try and convert them later.

Common Return Path tactics include:

  • Email marketing
  • Retargeting
  • Remarketing
  • Loyalty programs
  • Custom audiences on Facebook
  • Organic social media

Return Paths are also used to alert existing customers about new offers.

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Chapter 2: Product-Market Fit

One of the biggest challenges in growing your business is finding product/market fit.

In addition to transforming the way you market your product or service, finding product/market fit completely changes (and improves) the product development process.

With good product/market fit, you offer a product that you know your customers want, ultimately, making it extremely easy to convince them to buy it. But like with anything, without a thorough understanding of product/market fit, you’re basically guessing.

What is Product/Market Fit?

The term product/market fit was originally coined by entrepreneur, investor, and software engineer, Marc Andreessen:

Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.

A “good market” is one that’s either large enough or has enough demand to be profitable –  ideally both.

A small market can be profitable if there’s a high demand for what you offer and a massive market might completely ignore your brand if your offer doesn’t spark interest.

In other words, product/market fit means you are offering something that a group of people love and there’s enough people in that group to provide sustainable growth for your business.

Why is Product/Market Fit Important?

Product/market fit is the golden rule for any startup – entrepreneurs need it or their concept will fail. However, defining product/market fit isn’t as easy as it sounds because it requires a deep understanding of the market you are targeting.

Product/market fit is more than simply providing value, it’s about providing the right solution to the right person and being able to clearly explain why your product is valuable to them.

You haven’t successfully achieved product/market fit until your prospects can tell you why your product is valuable and then offer to buy it.

The Quick Way to Establish Product/Market Fit in Your Marketing Message

Finding product/market fit is usually a time-consuming process.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s well worth the time required, but I know how impatient marketers can be and you want to get started now.

While it doesn’t go to the full extent required to develop products your customers can’t live without, the following method does help you establish product/market fit with the products you already offer.

Introducing The 8-Question “Before/After” Grid created by Ryan Deiss:

“Before you create or market another offer — go through this exercise.

Ask yourself these 8 questions…

  • What does your prospect HAVE in the “Before” state?
  • What does your prospect HAVE in the “After” state?
  • How does your prospect FEEL in the “Before” state?
  • How does your prospect FEEL in the “After” state?
  • What is an AVERAGE DAY like for your prospect in the “Before” state?
  • What is an AVERAGE DAY like for your prospect in the “After” state?
  • What is your prospect’s STATUS in the “Before” state?
  • What is your prospect’s STATUS in the “After” state?

For example, we’ve done some consulting for a company that offers a product to parents of babies.

It’s a little, squishy baby bath tub you place in a sink or in a larger bathtub. It keeps the baby comfortable and safe while the parent bathes them.

But it does so much more than that.

As a father of four, I know that bath time for baby is a scary, frustrating experience.

Customers that buy this soft, safe baby bathtub are transformed…

  • From HAVING a cold, hard bathtub to a warm, squishy bathtub.
  • From FEELING scared and frustrated to confident and in control at bath time.
  • From having an AVERAGE DAY with a terrible bath time experience to making bath time a breeze.
  • From a STATUS of unappreciated as a mother to a “super mom.”

Average marketers only articulate what a customer will HAVE if they purchase their product or service. Great marketers speak to how a customer will FEEL, how their AVERAGE DAY will change, and how their STATUS will elevate.

With this simple 8-Question “Before/After” Grid, any half-decent copywriter will be able to create a marketing message that will have an impact.”

Now that you have an effective strategy for showing product/market fit in your marketing, let’s dive deeper into the process of finding product/market fit.

5 Steps to Finding Product/Market Fit

When it comes down to it, product/market fit is really product/people fit. Your market is a group of people and to successfully sell to those people you need to understand them very well.

There are a lot of tactics you can use to find product/market fit, but the most important one is investing the time it takes to truly understand the people you’re marketing to.

1. Develop Buyer Personas

Understanding a particular market really means understanding the people in that market. In the Inbound Methodology, we call the ideal target customer your “buyer persona.

Your company can have multiple buyer personas, but you should only focus on one at a time with each offer. Each buyer persona should include:

Basic Details About Persona's Role

  • What is their role at the company?
  • Are they a decision maker?
  • What is their title?
  • What knowledge and tools are used in their  job?

Key Information About the Persona's Company

  • How large is the company? (Employees)
  • How long have they worked there?
  • Annual revenue?

Relevant Background Info

  • What associations and social networks do they belong to?
  • Educational background.
  • Are they married?
  • Do they have children?
  • What are their hobbies and interests?


  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Household income

Personal and Professional Goals

  • What are they responsible for?
  • What does it mean to be successful in your role?
  • What do they wish to achieve?
  • Long term goals?

Challenges to Persona’s Success

  • What are their biggest challenges?
  • What is keeping them from being successful?
  • What type of solutions are they looking for?

You can learn more about creating buyer personas here.

2 . Talk to Your Buyer Personas (In Real Life)

Once you’ve identified a buyer persona, you want to get to know them as well as you can. This requires you to actually talk to them.

Although it’s convenient to chat on social media or in industry forums, you should look for opportunities to meet these people in person or at least talk with them on the phone.

Your goal isn’t to pitch these people on your product or service, unless they ask for information about your company, of course. Your goal is to identify all of the areas where your product can provide value.

You also need to learn how your buyer persona talks about the problems they need to be solved or the goals they want to accomplish. Their language creates your perfect marketing message.

3. Understand What Your Customers Need Now and in the Future

Product/market fit changes as your market changes. To maintain consistent product/market fit, you have to anticipate changes and be flexible enough to move with new trends.

Too many companies have failed because they misunderstood product/market fit – Blackberry is a good example.

The same quality that originally perfected their product/market fit, the full keyboard, was the exact quality that turned their customers away because their needs changed.

Stay up-to-date by reading (and participating in) industry blogs, surveying customers, and actually talking with prospects in your market so that you can be better prepared to make changes as needed.

4. Focus on a Specific Value Proposition

Although it’s very tempting to promote as many features as possible, it’s more effective to drill down on the one, most important feature. You have to identify the quality that your buyer personas can’t live without or that your competitors can’t provide as well as you.

There will be plenty of time to share more features with your prospects and they will be more interested once you’ve already got their attention.

To see this in action, take a look at each new iPhone launch by Apple. Each new version of the phone has dozens of new features, but Apple usually focuses on one feature, such as Siri or the screen size.

Ask yourself what’s the biggest concern of your buyer personas right now? That’s where you find your value proposition.

5. Establish Credibility for Your Brand

Credibility is a powerful marketing tool. Finding product/market fit is much easier when your buyer personas respect your brand.

Granted, poor product/market fit can also ruin your credibility, so don’t think your brand is too big to fail because you’ve won the market’s respect.

The best way, and also the quickest way, is to tell a story. What is your brand all about? How did your product or service originate? Why should your buyer persona care about you?

There’s nothing more engaging than a story, but there are other ways to further establish your credibility.

The major one is being involved in your industry.

Publish all types of content for your market, write guest articles for industry blogs and magazines, and show your prospects that you know what you’re doing.

Trust is critical for establishing credibility and increasing the lifetime value of your customers.

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Chapter 3: Choosing a Traffic Source

One of the biggest problems marketers face when they get started with Inbound Marketing is website traffic.

The competition for traffic has increased dramatically with the rise of internet marketing and it takes time to build a steady flow of website visitors.

Getting website traffic, however, isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems at first -- and there are virtually unlimited ways to do it (though some work better than others.)

In this chapter, we’re going to show you 25 ways the best marketers increase website traffic. These are the actual tactics that successful businesses across all industries are using to get more prospects on their website right now.

1. Target Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are specific phrases or niche keywords within your industry. Although they don’t have as high of a search volume, you can actually get more traffic from long-tail keywords because they’re less competitive.

Major keywords like “IT” or “Inbound Marketing” take a long time to rank highly for, but you can quickly pop up in search engines for long-tail keywords. Plus, long-tail keywords typically correlate with prospects who are ready to buy right now.

For example, people who search “IT consulting firm in Austin” are further along the purchasing cycle than those who search “IT consulting.”

Related resource: The Power of Specificity: How to Rank Higher Using Long-Tail Keywords

2. Write Irresistible Headlines

Headlines can make or break the success of your content. A great headline compels people to click your links on social media and also makes your content more likely to get discovered on search engines.

Media outlets such as BuzzFeed and Upworthy have built their businesses on catchy headlines. However, the caveat is that your content needs to actually be good. If your content is nothing more than click-bait, it will only backfire in the long-run.

Related resource: 5 Irresistible Headline Writing Strategies to Live and Breathe By

3. Include Internal Links in Your Blog Posts

Every blog post you publish should include links to other relevant posts on your website. This tactic improves your SEO, making your content more likely to get discovered on Google.

Linking to relevant content also makes it easier for your visitors to find more content of yours that they might enjoy, pushing them down the sales funnel.  

4. Start Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is great for SEO, driving traffic, and connecting with people in your niche. Industry blogs have highly-targeted audiences with high levels of engagement are a very effective platforms to expand your reach.

Related resource: Guest Blogging: 4 Ways to Make Your Outreach Emails Irresistible

5. Become a Contributor to a Major Website

Savvy marketers create content for industry blogs and major websites like Forbes, Huffington Post, etc. While major websites might lack the specific targeting of a popular niche blog, they give your brand mass exposure and align your brand with an already trusted name. This increases your credibility and also gives your website a big SEO boost, in turn helping your search rank.

Related resource: Guest-Blogging: How to Become a Contributor to Major Publications

6. Post More Frequently

Your posting frequency has a big impact on the amount of traffic your website gets. Neil Patel of QuickSprout found that by posting high-quality posts 6x per week (as opposed to 5), blog traffic increased by 18.6%.

However, more isn’t always better. Pick a frequency that you can stick to without seeing a decrease in quality of your blog posts or decrease in your metrics.

Here at IMPACT, for example, we actually found that blogging 3 times a day (up from 2) did nothing to improve our monthly numbers. With two articles a day, we saw our overall blog traffic increasing month after month, but when we switched to 3, it plateaued, so we scaled back down.

7. Post Content to LinkedIn

LinkedIn has always been the go-to B2B social media network, but originally it wasn’t a great source of traffic for marketers. That has long changed.

One of the reasons LinkedIn has become a great traffic source is LinkedIn Pulse – LinkedIn’s long-form publishing platform. Not only will publishing content on LinkedIn build your credibility and image as an expert, it can be used to drive traffic back to your website.

Related resource: 6 Tips for Acing Your LinkedIn Pulse Publishing

8. Create YouTube Videos

YouTube drives the most engaged traffic out of all social media networks, with an average of 2.99 pages per visit, so needless to say, every brand needs to be taking advantage of it. YouTube videos also dominate organic search (especially since it’s owned by Google) and improve your SEO.

9. Answer Questions

Q&A websites like Yahoo! Answers and Quora are great sources of targeted traffic. When your buyer persona asks Google a specific question, they’re more likely to end up on a website like Yahoo! Answers because of how strong their SEO is.

While you can (and should) compete with them by creating an FAQ page on your website and creating blog posts to answer questions, it helps to go meet your personas half way by establishing your presence on these websites as well.

10. Respond to Blog Comments

The rules of SEO are constantly evolving, but one of the big things Google is adamant about is engagement and blog comments are a strong indicator of engagement.

By responding to comments on your blog you build relationships with your readers and encourage more people to comment.

Comments build community and that community can bring a great deal of traffic.

11. Tag Influencers in Your Tweets

Whenever you mention an influencer in your content, let them know by tagging them in a tweet promoting the post. This catches that influencer’s attention and can help start a relationship.

If they like the content they will (hopefully) share it with their audience, giving you an immediate spike in traffic.

12. Paid Search

Although there are many ways to get free traffic, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying for traffic, as well. In fact, when your website is converting well, paid traffic pays for itself. Google Adwords (or other paid search) is arguably the quickest way to get purchase-ready prospects on your website today.

Learn more: How to Get a Better Marketing ROI with Google Adwords [Infographic]

13. Facebook Advertising

Currently, Facebook has the most cost-effective advertising platform in the world.

Part of the reason is that Facebook is the largest social media network and, unlike most social media networks, people from all demographics are active on Facebook.

Every business, yes even B2B brands, should at least test Facebook ads before ignoring them altogether.

Learn more: 7 Inspiring B2B Facebook Ad Examples

14. Create Evergreen Content

Extremely valuable, long-form, comprehensive blog posts generate more lifetime traffic than regular blog posts because they stand the test of time. They also rank higher in Google.

The best long-term traffic strategy is creating content people can’t ignore.

Learn more: The Best Content Marketing Strategies Your Company is Still Ignoring

15. Prioritize Email Marketing

It’s so easy to get caught up in bringing new people to your website that you forget about your current subscribers.

While you don’t want to annoy your blog subscribers by emailing them daily, you do want to keep them up-to-date – after all, your blog subscribers are more likely to purchase from you than people on social media.

Learn more: 5 Actionable Tips for Email Marketing Beginners (And Experts)

16. Start a Facebook Group

Niche-specific Facebook Groups can be powerful traffic sources and are extremely easy to set up, but they also require a lot of time to manage. The other downside is that you’re building a community that you technically don’t own or control -- Facebook does.

Learn more: How to Use Facebook Groups to Get More Traffic and Traction for Your Blog

17. Start a Forum

Like starting a Facebook Group, creating a forum is similar requires a lot of time. Unlike social media communities, however, a forum can live on your website.

In this scenario, not only do you own the forum, but your website also reaps the SEO benefits of all the long-tail keywords used throughout the platform. Just think about how often a Google search takes you to a forum. Wouldn’t it be nice if your brand owned one of those forums?

18. Submit Your Content reddit

Getting to the first page of reddit can turn one little blog post into a viral monster overnight. However, you don’t have to make it to the coveted first page to get traffic from reddit.

The key is being an active contributor in various subreddit communities and making a point to not spam them. Redditors are very perceptive to marketing tactics and won’t give you much traction unless you’re there to provide value.

Related resource: How to Find & Market to Your Audience on reddit

19. Build Connections in Your Niche

I know this sounds cliché, but building relationships with other people in your niche will often result in organic inbound links and referral traffic to your site. Yet despite the fact that nearly ALL of the top marketers do this, the majority of marketers don’t.

20. Ask an Influencer to Guest Post on Your Site

Guest-blogging is a two-way street. Generally speaking, you will get more traffic by guest blogging on other websites, but you can also generate traffic by getting influencers to submit a guest post on your site because they will likely share it with their audience.

This is one of the many benefits of building relationships in your niche! (Hint hint.)

21. Interview Influencers in your niche

If you’d like to leverage your relationships with influencers to increase traffic and don’t want to pitch them to do a guest post, offer to interview them instead. It much easier for them to say “yes” and you essentially get the same benefits as you would from them publishing a guest post.

22. Host Webinars

Webinars are great for increasing traffic, and especially powerful for lead generation.

The major advantage of a webinar is the video format, which is most engaging. Plus, you can always record the webinar and repurpose it into future content or turn it into a lead magnet.

In general, you should already have a small audience established before doing a webinar so you aren’t talking to crickets. Be sure to announce your webinar to your email list in advance and give them a reminder on the day of the webinar.

Related resource: Why You Should Use Webinars to Generate Leads (& Who’s Doing it Right)

23. Add Social Sharing Buttons to Your Website

Social media drives a lot of traffic and social sharing is the modern word-of-mouth marketing that brands crave. 

Social sharing buttons make it as easy as possible for your readers to share your content with their followers on the social media network of their choice.

Social buttons are built into most new website themes, but there are also plenty of free (and paid) plugins that you can install and configure quickly.

24. Make Sure Your Site is Responsive

Having a responsive website is a requirement now. It won’t give you a boost in traffic, but a non-responsive site will limit the amount of traffic your website receives.

Not only are most web visitors on mobile and less likely to spend time on a non-responsive site, but Google also ranks non-responsive websites lower in their search rankings.

Read this blog post from Google to learn more.

25. Make Sure Your Site is Fast

Slow websites send visitors away in a hurry. Loyal blog subscribers will put up with your website’s slow load times, but new visitors typically don’t.

You have to remember that all website visitors don’t have access to the fastest internet. A couple of seconds in loading time for you could be 30 seconds for your prospect.

Search engines also take site speed into consideration as one of their ranking factors, but a slow site won’t significantly hurt your rankings.

Related resource: 10 Ways to Speed Up Your Website – and Improve Conversion by 7%

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Chapter 4: Mastering Your Lead Magnet With 5 Steps

A Lead Magnet can completely make or break your lead generation success and it also plays a vital role in developing a Customer Value Optimization system.

Even if you’ve never heard the term “Lead Magnet” used before, there’s a good chance that you’re already familiar with them and you’ve likely even downloaded one yourself at some point. Lead Magnets are extremely common with Inbound Marketing for one simple reason – they work, very well.

What is a Lead Magnet?

At its core, a Lead Magnet is anything of value that you can exchange for a prospect’s contact information – usually an email address.

The most common Lead Magnet that you’ve probably seen is a free guide or report that’s delivered in PDF format. However, there are plenty of other Lead Magnets you can offer. More on that later.

A Lead Magnet has one goal: to maximize the number of targeted leads you are getting for an offer.

Why Do You Need a Lead Magnet?

You need a Lead Magnet because it makes your job as a marketer easier and more effective.

If you were involved in the early days of online marketing, you probably remember when people were excited to sign up for a free newsletter because they were happy to be using email at all. Today, not so much.

Although money isn’t changing hands, getting the email address of your prospects is a valuable transaction. It converts them to a lead, expresses interest in your offer, and gives you the ability to market your products or services to them.

The problem is most people are stingy about sharing their email address, so they have to feel assured that there’s something valuable in it for them – which is where your Lead Magnet comes in.

An irresistible Lead Magnet immediately grabs the attention of your buyer persona and delivers real value to them. By winning over your leads with a free offer, you are peaking their interest in your paid offers and starting your relationship on a positive note.

On the other hand, an underwhelming Lead Magnet will have the opposite effect. This article will make sure the latter doesn’t happen to you.

Where Does the Lead Magnet Fit in the Customer Value Optimization System?

The Lead Magnet is at the top of the CVO funnel and is the primary driver of targeted leads in a CVO system. This is why it’s so important to deliver value because the effort you put into your Lead Magnet pays dividends throughout the CVO system.

Lead magnets are typically offered on a landing page that you send prospects to from any traffic source you choose. The more traffic you send to your landing page and the more targeted that traffic is, the more leads you will be able to convert.

Once a lead has entered your CVO funnel by receiving a Lead Magnet, you will later offer them a related Tripwire with the goal of converting as many leads into customers as possible.

How to Create a Lead Magnet in 5 Steps

You can always tell when a marketer didn’t put much thought or effort into their Lead Magnet. They may target anyone with a pulse or their presentation overall may be lacking.

To be effective, your Lead Magnet needs to have a purpose. That all starts with who your Lead Magnet is serving.

Step 1 – Choose Your Buyer Persona

The biggest mistake marketers make with their Lead Magnets is trying to attract too many people. You want to do the exact opposite.

Your Lead Magnet needs to be ultra-specific to the people you want it to attract. If your Lead Magnet isn’t relevant to the wants and needs of your buyer persona, they aren’t going to download it.

Most companies have multiple buyer personas, but each Lead Magnet should only target one of them.

Don’t worry about deciding which buyer persona is the perfect one to start with – eventually you should have Lead Magnets for ALL of them, so pick the one that you can provide the most value to now and move on to the next step.

Don’t have buyer personas for your business? Download The Marketer's Buyer Persona Kit to get started.

Step 2 – Identify Your Value Proposition

Once you’ve decided which prospects you want to target, you have to give them a compelling reason to download your Lead Magnet. The amount of leads your Lead Magnet generates for you will be directly tied to the promise you make to those prospective leads.

The best value propositions are something that your buyer persona already needs, requiring less convincing on your part. Instead of trying to create something you think they could want, figure out what they already need and deliver that.

In this case, bigger isn’t better. Don’t try to write a massive eBook or create a 30-day email course. Think ultra-specific!

Find a common problem that your buyer persona faces and provide a quick solution to that problem. The quicker you can get them results, the better.

The Lead Magnet examples later in this chapter to get an idea of how specific we’re talking here.

Step 3 – Give Your Lead Magnet a Name

Now that you know what you're offering and to whom, giving your Lead Magnet a name will be easy. Your title is essentially a headline for your value proposition that appeals to your buyer persona.

Similar to crafting an eye-catching headline for a marketing email or blog post, the title of your Lead Magnet is bound to make a drastic difference in its conversion rate.

If you're new to writing headlines, read this article to learn five basic strategies for writing irresistible headlines.

Step 4 – Choose What Type of Lead Magnet You Will Offer

By now, you probably have a good idea of what type of Lead Magnet you are going to offer. However, you often have several options to choose from that could effectively deliver your value proposition.

Here are some things to keep in mind and to help you decide:

  • Keep it simple – An overly-complicated Lead Magnet defeats the purpose. If no one knows what you’re saying, they won’t be able to appreciate it. Keep it simple, concise, and packed with value.
  • Focus on your strengths – Are you a great writer? An eBook will probably be your best format. Not so great at writing, but comfortable on camera? Go with video, instead.
  • Prioritize rapid consumption – You want to solve your buyer persona’s problem as quickly as possible. This gives them a quick win (which you did promise) and moves them down your funnel quicker. Choose a format that allows fast delivery and consumption.

While the options are virtually limitless, most Lead Magnets fall under the following categories:

  1. Guide/report
  2. Cheat sheet
  3. Toolkit/resource list
  4. Video training
  5. Free trial
  6. Discount
  7. Quiz/survey
  8. Assessment/test
  9. Sales material

If you're unsure, just choose the Lead Magnet type that you feel most comfortable creating.

Step 5 – Create Your Lead Magnet

The strategic work is over, but you still have to put in the work to create your Lead Magnet.

As you work on your Lead Magnet, remember who it’s for and the value proposition you’re promising to them. If you keep those two things in mind, the process will be straightforward.

9 Types of Lead Magnets You Can Offer (with Examples)

The first thing that probably comes to mind as a Lead Magnet is a free eBook in the form of a guide or report. These are popular because they’re easy to create, easy to adapt to any niche, and people enjoy them.

However, you aren’t limited to an eBook, or any of the other examples on this list.

These are just the most common types of Lead Magnets to help you get started, but if you have something that’s high-value and easy to deliver, by all means try it out.

Let’s take a look at the 9 time-tested types of Lead Magnets.

1. Guide/Report

This is the most common and straightforward Lead Magnet you can offer, but just because it is used most often that doesn’t mean it isn’t effective.

In fact, one of the main reasons the guide/report is a go-to Lead Magnet for marketers is that they work so well. The key with all Lead Magnets, but especially guides and reports, is specificity!

Focus on one specific goal for one specific buyer persona.

Take a look at the example below:

MuleSoft has made it clear who they’re targeting, SaaS executives, and the solution they’re offering, how to make your app “enterprise ready.”

The specificity of this Lead Magnet and the sales copy on this landing page ensure that the only people interested in downloading this guide are also potential customers for MuleSoft.

2. Cheat Sheet/Handout

Cheat sheets and handouts work well because they usually provide highly-tactical information that saves the prospect a lot of time.

Although they are often delivered in PDF format, cheat sheets take a different approach than reports and guides.

Cheat sheets are usually only a page or two long and they get straight to the point. You’ll often see these presented as checklists, blueprints, and mind maps.

Below is an example of a mind map used as a Lead Magnet. Notice how they’ve blurred out the content to give a glimpse of what’s inside and build curiosity.

The solution is specific and concise, but you can see from the image that there’s still a lot of information packed into this “blueprint.” This is exactly what you want in a Lead Magnet – useful content that your leads can put to use immediately.

3. Toolkit/Resource List

Toolkits and resource lists make great Lead Magnets for the right buyer persona. This provides one piece of reference material for them to use over and over, without having to track down all of those tools or resources on their own.

Below is MindTools’ “Time Management Toolkit,” which is basically a list of different tools their leads can use to manage their time more effectively.

Below is one of the tools from the Time Management Toolkit, which is an activity log provided by MindTools.

This type of Lead Magnet is perfect for your business if you already have tools and resources available that you want to make sure your leads are aware of.

4. Video Training/Webinar

Video is a highly-engaging format, and if you’re comfortable in front of the camera and have a skill you can teach, this could be the perfect Lead Magnet to offer.

Below is a great example, from Podcaster’s Paradise:

In this particular Lead Magnet, John Lee Dumas shows prospects how a podcast can benefit their business and teaches them the basics of getting started.

At the end of the webinar, there is an upsell for an information product that goes into greater detail for creating a podcast, along with a private community.

Instead of a live webinar, you can send leads to a private page with a recorded video or you can send them a recording of a previous webinar.

Aside from specificity, the key is providing valuable information that your lead can actually use. Too many webinars skip that part and go straight to the upsell without providing value.

5. Software Download/Free Trial

I’ve been a Netflix customer for 7 years now and do you know how they captured my business? A 30-day free trial.

There are very few Lead Magnets that will be as effective for SaaS businesses (and other software companies) than a free trial because people love to try before they buy.

Below is an example of a free trial offer that’s designed to convert.

Did you notice the “no credit card required” in the copy on the form? This is incredibly effective for lowering the barrier to entry because they don’t have to worry about canceling their free trial to avoid getting charged.

6. Discount/Free Shipping

People love discounts and getting things for free. For many people, giving away their email address is a small price to pay if they can potentially save hundreds or thousands of dollars on a purchase.

This Lead Magnet works best for companies selling physical products or anything where you get a lot of repeat purchases from customers.

The following example is from Southwest Airlines, which is well-known for hooking up their loyal customers with amazing travel deals. 

Keep in mind – if your products are lower-priced or the discounts aren’t significant, this Lead Magnet might not be as tempting to your prospects.

7. Quiz/Survey

In some industries, quizzes and surveys have tremendous value and are very effective as a Lead Magnet. Before you make assumptions, I’m not talking about the Buzzfeed quizzes that end up in your Facebook timeline – I’m talking about quizzes that actually solve a problem. 

Below is a great example of this type of Lead Magnet offered by Neutrogena:

Not only is this a fun activity for their buyer persona, but they’ll be able to take better care of their skin and know which products are right for them.

Plus, by prompting their buyers to “solve” their acne (rather than alternatives like finding the right products or finding their skin type) they effectively touch upon a major pain point and truly strike a chord with their messaging.  

To maximize your conversion rates, you can also present your prospects with the opt-in form after they’ve completed the quiz.


That way they’ve already invested a little bit of time and they will have built anticipation for the results.

8. Assessment

An assessment or test is similar to a quiz, but it is particularly effective for companies selling a service. 

In this case, prospects aren’t simply looking for an answer – they’re also looking for an expert opinion. 

HubSpot has been generating leads with its “Marketing Grader” assessment for years:

9. Consultation/Sales Material

Some of your buyer personas are already interested in what your company offers and the most desirable Lead Magnet for them is specific information that’s used to make a purchasing decision – usually pricing. 

In the past, Ikea gathered contact information in exchange for its catalog, which is delivered in a digital format:

Digital sales material is generally better because it allows for rapid consumption and it’s more cost-effective.

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Chapter 5: How to Create an Irresistible Tripwire Offer

Generating leads with inbound marketing isn’t usually the biggest challenge companies face – it’s the conversion of leads into customers that marketers get stuck on.

Business is all about relationships and your relationship with potential customers starts when they convert to a lead.

When someone becomes a lead, they’ve shown interest in your company, but the only way to separate lookers from buyers is to ask for the sale and there’s a big difference between a free Lead Magnet and a higher-priced Core Product in the mind of your buyer persona.

Instead of going right in for the sale, you need a way to warm people up to purchasing your Core Product without asking much from them.

The solution is called a Tripwire Offer. This type of product or service is one step in the Customer Value Optimization (CVO) System and probably the most important one.

What is a Tripwire?

A Tripwire is a product or service specifically designed and priced to convert as many leads into customers as possible.

Your goal is NOT to make a profit from your Tripwire Offer, but rather to dramatically increase your customer base and cover all of your lead generation expenses.

Many companies, in fact, choose to sell their Tripwire at a loss to gain even more customers. If you understand and execute on your Tripwire Offer, you’ll set yourself up to dominate your competition.

Tripwire Offers are usually priced between $1 and $20. However, high-end brands can easily sell Tripwires as high as $500 that convert well.

The lower the price is, the more irresistible your tripwire will be, but you don’t want to present it as cheap. Instead, you want to make it clear that you are giving them an incredibly valuable deal that they would be silly to pass up.

If the perceived value of your Tripwire isn’t higher than your price, your leads won’t be interested. For this reason, many companies choose to giveaway their Tripwire for free. (i.e a free trial or free plan)

Why Do You Need a Tripwire?

Once a lead converts to a customer, the relationship changes. It’s much easier to sell more and higher-priced products to an existing customer than it is to a lead or prospect because their guard is down. They’ve already experienced your value first-hand and have far less qualms then people who are completely new to your product.

You need a Tripwire to convert as many leads as possible into customers to increase your upselling opportunities.

The ultimate goal of a CVO funnel is to maximize the amount of money you can spend on acquiring customers, but acquiring new customers is expensive and growth is often limited by your marketing budget. A Tripwire helps bring people into your pipeline easily and helps pay for future customer acquisition.

The more revenue you generate from your Tripwire, the more you can invest in paid traffic (or other marketing tactics) to drive brand awareness and generate more leads.

Where Does the Tripwire Fit in the Customer Value Optimization System?

Looking at the CVO system as a whole, the Tripwire Offer is arguably the most powerful part, even if you don’t walk away with a penny in profit.

While Lead Magnets are amazing for generating leads and Core Products can be more profitable, Tripwires tend to have a higher conversion rate and are better at qualifying leads.

It is the perfect in-between solution.

Many businesses have been using this strategy quite effectively for many years. For example, Best Buy was able to dominate its market by selling high-end electronics at a more affordable price than its competitors.

It didn’t (and still doesn’t) make a profit from doing this, rather its profit comes from accessories, warranties, installation, and Geek Squad services.  The majority of the retail giant’s products are just there to get customers in the door. The low prices are a Tripwire.

Another common example is McDonald's, which doesn’t make a profit from selling burgers, but from the upsell of fries and drinks.

When you’re optimizing customer value, as we are here, you have to think of the big picture.

Do you want a $10 profit on this transaction or do you want thousands of dollars in profits on repeat transactions over the course of your customer’s lifetime? The answer is obvious, but many businesses still settle for the initial transaction.

By providing an irresistible Tripwire, you can earn the business of your customers and in turn, upsell them on more offers in the future.

Now let’s take a look at some different types of Tripwire Offers.

6 Types of Irresistible Tripwire Offers and How to Create Them

The options for a Tripwire are virtually endless, but there are six categories that cover the majority of Tripwires used today.

One thing to keep in mind – a crucial part of this strategy is pricing your Tripwire so low that it’s difficult for your buyer persona to say “no” to buying it. For example, many companies will often give the product away for free and only require their customers to pay for shipping.

How you choose to price your Tripwire Offer is up to you and will likely depend on how much you are paying for traffic, but the point is not to maximize profits (yet). The point is to maximize the amount of customers you have!

Another thing to keep in mind is that your Tripwire should always be closely related to a Lead Magnet and Core Product. The purpose of the CVO funnel is to slowly ease your customers through progressive transactions that increase in value to nurture them), but this only works if each offer is building up to a related offer. It it doesn’t, it just comes off as random, irrelevant spam.

Now let’s go through the different Tripwire Offers you should consider offering.

1. Physical Premium

Physical products make great Tripwire Offers.

Ideally, you want to offer a lower-cost item that’s highly-desirable by your buyer persona. Small gadget-style products are great because they’re affordable to produce and ship.

It defeats the purpose if you can’t price your Tripwire Offer aggressively low.

Square is a great example of a physical product Tripwire. With Square, businesses can get the physical credit card reader for free, but to actually run transactions, you must sign up for its services.

Another example is this box of free snack bars from Thrive Market. The 6-pack of bars is yours free to enjoy; you just have to pay shipping and handling:

As you can see, the Tripwire Offer doesn’t have to be expensive to create. It all comes down to understanding your buyer persona and knowing what they find valuable.

2. Small But Critical

A clever way to quickly gain new customers is to offer something small, but critical to what your buyer persona is trying to accomplish.

The classic example is how Vistaprint dominates the printing industry by winning over a large portion of new business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. They accomplish this by providing the small, but critical thing their market needs – cheap business cards.

Their customers don’t need to print massive banners or fancy brochures at first – they just need some affordable business cards to get started.

Of course, Vistaprint upsells premium versions of their business cards during the design and checkout process, but the primary goal is getting the maximum amount of customers right now.

When their customers do need more printing services later, which brand do you think they’ll consider first? Exactly.

3. Book

Publishing a book adds instant credibility to you and your brand. Not only does it give you an opportunity to show people that you know what you’re talking about, it’s opens up a wide range of new business opportunities.

The key to using a book as an effective Tripwire Offer is to publish a physical book. Although eBooks are more respected than they were in the past, the market still places higher value on physical books.

Plus, mailing a physical book to your customer requires you to have their physical address – information that might come in handy later.

A popular strategy is to offer your book for free, but the customer pays for the shipping like the Motivation Manifesto does here.

However, you don’t have to use the “free plus shipping” model if you don’t want to. Rather than give it away, Ryan Deiss of Digital Marketer has you purchase book at a special low price:

4. Paid Webinar

Most webinars are free to attend with an upsell at the end. With paid webinars, however, your customers pay to attend in the first place.

Paid webinars aren’t as common as the other Tripwire Offers, but they can be very effective for covering the costs of customer acquisition.

If you choose to use a paid webinar, it’s best to call it something else to increase the value proposition. (Most webinars are free these days and people expect to be sold to during them, so this may not be the best approach when you’re putting a price tag on it.)

Using terms like “training,” “boot camp,” “course,” or “seminar,” however, can help get your point across without eliciting the same connotations associated with a webinar.


5. Software/Plugin

One of the most effective Tripwire Offers you can use, depending on your industry, is software.

Software allows you to solve very specific problems, creating high-value solutions that people want to pay money for. Whether or not you charge them is up to you.

There are two ways you can approach this. The first one is to offer a lower-priced piece of software all the time (i.e. Slack or Tidal, below)

The other approach is to sell your software at a premium price and promote the occasional flash sale to get all of those customers who have been on the fence.

With SaaS becoming the norm, a monthly cost is common, but it will most likely be more tempting to prospects if they only have to make a one-time purchase to use your software forever.

6. A La Carte Service

Similar to the Small but Critical offer, providing an a la carte service is a powerful way to turn prospects into customers quickly, by making them pay only for what they want.

The best examples of this in action are on Fiverr – which has built its platform around this strategy. Freelancers on Fiverr usually provide several services that are related to each other, with an a la carte service starting at only $5.

To make this work effectively, your a la carte service should be one part of a bigger picture. For example, GoDaddy sells domains for less than $1 to attract customers that also need web hosting and other related, but premium services.

Going down the CVO funnel, the next step is to offer a Core Product. If you over-delivered value in your Tripwire, upselling a Core Product is easy because your customers will assume the value exceeds the price (just as it did with your Lead Magnet and Tripwire.)

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Chapter 6: Offer a Core Product

Unless you’re still in the planning stages of your startup, you already have a Core Product or maybe even multiple. This is usually the catalyst in the development an organization and the idea that companies form around, but it’s also so much more than that in your Customer Value Optimization System.

What is a Core Product?

A Core Product is the most prominent product or service that you want your company to be known for. It’s generally what you want people to associate with your name and what people expect to get the most value out of when they buy from you.

Offering a Core Product to cold prospects is challenging and most businesses don’t grow very quickly with this approach. However, with the addition of a Lead Magnet and Tripwire Offer, selling it is going to be much easier!

At this point in your CVO funnel, you’ve already had two successful transactions with your buyer. Assuming you delivered value in your Lead Magnet and Tripwire, your customers actually want to learn more about your Core Product and anything else you offer.

Selling to satisfied customers is completely different than pitching cold prospects, and after seeing how much smoother the process is, you’ll never go back to the old ways of marketing again.

Your work isn’t finished yet, though. Now you need to make a critical decision that will impact the remainder of your CVO funnel...

Do I keep my profit or reinvest in customer acquisition?

Remember, the underlying goal of the CVO funnel is to have the ability to outspend your competition on customer acquisition.

Using this strategy, you aren’t making a profit from your Lead Magnet and you probably aren’t making a profit from your Tripwire – but you can choose to make a profit from your Core Offer.

If you want to take the more aggressive approach and become unstoppable you will take everything you make from your Core Product and reinvest it into acquiring more customers. In other words, you buy more traffic to send to your Lead Magnet to amplify the CVO process and gain as many new customers as possible.

Of course, you can also choose to reinvest that money elsewhere, such as:

The ability to outspend your competition in marketing is your most powerful weapon. Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with making a profit from your Core Product, it’s not as effective for immediate growth and long-term profit.

As Jeff Bezos says, “your competitor’s margin is an opportunity.” Your competitors are trying to make a profit from their Core Product, but you don’t have to keep a penny from your Core Product and you’ll still be more profitable in the end.

Some of the most successful companies in the world use the CVO funnel (or something similar) and don’t even make a tiny profit at this stage in the funnel. Choosing to do so leaves so much on the table that it’s simply not a smart business decision.

The real money (and profits) come from your Profit Maximizers and Return Path. We aren’t trying to make sales with the CVO funnel, we’re gaining customers and maximizing the value of each customer.

Think big picture. There’s exponentially more money to be made from happy, repeat customers than one-time transactions with cold prospects.

If you’ve over-delivered value in your Lead Magnet, Tripwire, and now Core Product – any upsell you offer becomes a no-brainer to your customer, and that’s exactly what the Profit Maximizer is.

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Chapter 7: Implement Profit Maximizers

The most successful businesses excel at one thing that mediocre businesses don’t – maximizing the value of their customers.

We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones,” a million times. While this is true most of the time and it’s solid advice for lowering costs, it’s not really great advice for businesses that want to maximize profits.

When you’ve got a Customer Value Optimization (CVO) system in place, you’ll gladly spend the money to acquire new customers. After all, your ability to outspend your competitors on customer acquisition is your biggest advantage.

Let your competition worry about how to save money here and cut costs there – we’re focused on growing profits, not cutting costs!

The second of legendary marketer Jay Abraham’s business growth methods is to “increase the average transaction value per customer.”

That’s where the Profit Maximizer comes in handy.

What Are Profit Maximizers?

The simplest way to think of a Profit Maximizer is an upsell, but Profit Maximizers come in many forms and the upsell is only one of them.

A Profit Maximizer has one primary goal – to increase the average transaction value of your customers.

More specifically, a Profit Maximizer is typically used to immediately raise the average transaction value, resulting in immediate ROI.

While mediocre businesses are focused on a single offer, smart (and insanely profitable) businesses are creating funnels with multiple offers to maximize their profit per customer.

For example, let’s say you have a $100 offer that you’ve sold to 100 customers. That’s a total revenue of $10,000.

You might not realize it, but roughly 30% of those 100 customers likely would have bought a $300 offer immediately following the purchase of the first offer. That’s an additional $9,000 of revenue, nearly double the amount of revenue generated from each customer!

That’s the power of a Profit Maximizer.

Now imagine how your business would transform if you reinvested all of the profit from your first offer and, instead, kept the profit from your Profit Maximizer. Sure, in this example it generated $1,000 less revenue, but you’ve gained thousands of dollars that can be invested in customer acquisition, exponentially increasing potential profit.

Are you starting to see why businesses like Starbucks, Amazon, and Best Buy love Profit Maximizers? More importantly, are you starting to realize how difficult it is to compete with a business that uses this model?

Good, now let’s take a look at six different types of Profit Maximizers that Inbound Marketers can use to increase the value of each customer.

1. The Upsell

Without this type of Profit Maximizer, McDonald’s would not only be out of business, but they never would’ve made it this far.

It might surprise you to learn that McDonald’s doesn’t make any money on their Core Product, the hamburger. Well, technically they make about $0.18 profit since they spend about $1.91 to acquire a new customer.

However, the fries and Coke that come in the combo meal (the Upsell) provide an additional $1.14 in profit.

Would you like fries with that?

They’re not alone. Although it might seem like Best Buy makes their profit from 4K TVs, laptops, and gaming consoles, the reality is that they are selling their Core Products on paper-thin margins to get you in the door.

Best Buy’s real profit comes from their Profit Maximizers like accessories and warranties. While they aren’t making much on the new PS4, they’re making a killing on PS4 accessories and warranty plans. Other Profit Maximizers they upsell are installation and Geek Squad support.

What could you be offering as an upsell?

2. The Cross-Sell

If you sell a lot of products or services, the Cross-Sell is another Profit Maximizer you should consider.

You see this in action all the time, most notably by Amazon, the king of cross-selling. Unlike upselling, a Cross-Sell doesn’t have to be directly related to your first offer, though the more related they are the higher your conversions will be.

One thing that Amazon does well is pitching the Cross-Sell after you’ve added an item to your cart or you’ve made a purchase. This is important because cross-selling can be distracting and you don’t want to jeopardize the initial purchase or it defeats the purpose.

3. Bundle/Kit

Product/service bundles are one of the timeless strategies that marketers have used for decades. They also make for an effective Profit Maximizer.

Bundles are great because they work well for products and services. Inbound Marketers can especially benefit from Bundles when they combine high-margin information products with lower-margin physical products.

What could you bundle with your Core Offer?

4. Value Buckets

Similar to a Bundle, Value Buckets maximize the value of each transaction by increasing the total quantity of items purchased. The key difference is that you’re offering a slight discount in return for your customer purchasing a higher amount of your Core Product.

This works extremely well for high-margin consumable products because there’s room to be profitable at a discounted price and consumables get a lot of repeat purchases anyway – so you’re really doing your loyal customers a favor.

I recommend A/B testing this offer on the sales page against the “Thank You” page to see what gets the highest conversions. The easiest way to approach this is a BOGO where they get the second item for half price.

5. Recurring Billing

This is widely considered the holy grail of Profit Maximizers and is one of the main reasons that SaaS businesses are so profitable.

Membership or subscription services are a dream for business owners because monthly revenue becomes more predictable, as does the average customer lifetime value – making it significantly easier to manage your marketing budget and know how much you can spend to acquire customers.

Companies like Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, and Netflix are all great examples of how to use this Profit Maximizer. However, we’re starting to see this trend pick up in all industries.

Recently I’ve noticed car wash services even promoting membership plans.

How can you incorporate a subscription or membership site into your business model?

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Chapter 8: Create a Return Path

One of the most overlooked ways to grow a business is to increase the number of transactions per customer.

Enter the Return Path.

Because you have received someone’s contact information through your Lead Magnet, you have the ability to continue marketing to them even after they’ve made a purchase.

You can offer new Lead Magnets, Tripwires, Core Offers, and Profit Maximizers because you they have raised their hand and granted you permission to contact them. You aren’t a stranger trying to cold sell them on something they’re not even remotely interested in. You have a history together.

What is a Return Path?

A Return Path is a strategy for frequent, friendly communication with your customers that encourages them to make more purchases (and/or refer business back to you).

The goal overall is to increase the average number of transactions per customer, but you can also use it to send leads towards another Offer they may have rejected from your company in the past.

Return Paths come in many forms and are anything that drive customers back to your website or business. They may include:

  • Email marketing
  • Exit Offers
  • Organic social media
  • Loyalty programs
  • Content marketing
  • Sales calls
  • Ad retargeting

Email marketing is widely regarded as the most powerful Return Path and the most profitable businesses are those who successfully delight customers through email.

Your blog, however, will likely be the Return Path that reaches the most people.

3 Timeless Marketing Strategies for Customer Delight

Delivering a quality product or service will always be the best strategy to delight customers, but that’s only the bare minimum.

Businesses with the happiest customers go above and beyond what is normally expected with the following three strategies for customer delight.

1. Take an Interest in Their Interests

As an Inbound Marketer, you’ve likely turned your brand’s website into an information hub for your buyer persona.

To keep your customers delighted and coming back for more, you need to continue to address their interests and provide informative, educating, or entertaining content for them.

Actively reach out to customers, encourage them to reply to your marketing emails, and use social media to keep a pulse on what questions they are asking and what things they care about right now. That’s the secret to creating content that’s fresh, engaging, and delightful.

2. Solve Their Problems & Answer Their Questions

You will never run out of delighted customers when you continually solve problems for them.

In fact, your customers’ on-going questions or pain points are great topics for blog content as these are usually queries they’ll type into search engines.

Problems for your buyer persona are opportunities for your business. Not only through the content you produce and the products you sell, but also in building a relationship and earning the trust of your prospects.

The more pains you’ve remedied for them, the stronger that relationship will be, and when it comes to solving problems for your existing customers, your top priority should be solving any problem directly related to, or caused by, your products.

FAQ content and instructional videos are incredibly useful, as well as strong customer support. HubSpot, for example, is a master of this offering free support over the phone and thousands of resources in its Academy.

Remember, everything comes around full circle. The problems you solve for customers turn into testimonials which help you attract more people who need the same problems solved.

3. Achieve Their Goals

Some people are motivated more by fear and others are motivated by what they can potentially accomplish. Most people are motivated by both.

Answering questions and solving problems eliminate the negative things from your customers’ lives, but this strategy is focused on adding more positive things.

An effective tactic, especially in the tech industry, is creating email campaigns for customers that show them how to maximize their benefits from your product or service.

Not only does this help them achieve their goals of using your product, you also increase their happiness with your brand.

Of course, you aren’t limited to email campaigns. Blog content, webinars, and social media can all be leveraged to help your prospects and customers accomplish more.

While addressing questions and fears will likely get more people in the door initially, helping them reach their goals will have the biggest impact on your brand’s reputation.

Frankly, it just takes longer to see the benefits from this type of content because most people simply won’t put in the work required on their part -- but the people you do elevate will be your biggest marketing asset in the long-run.

6 Tactics to Create Lifetime Customers

We’ve covered the three core marketing strategies for customer delight – understanding their interests, solving problems, and making goals easier to attain.

Now we’re going to look at seven key tactics for delighting customers.

1. Feature Case Studies and Testimonials

Case studies and testimonials are powerful social proof and should be featured prominently.

Aside from courageous early-adopters, most prospects want to see that your product/service has worked for others before they invest their own money.

Case studies and testimonials do more than provide marketing tools for your brand – they also improve your relationship with the customers featured in those materials. Sharing a customer’s success story boosts their confidence and allows them to get recognition for their hard work.

Plus, they get an inbound link to their website, improving their SEO and driving traffic.

2. Offer Exclusivity

Your customers are more valuable than leads and prospects – and they deserve special treatment. After all, they are paying your bills!

Here are a few exclusive offers you can make:

  • Feedback/suggestions during product development
  • Beta testing invitation
  • Discounts
  • Early access to new products/services

The more your customers feel involved and valued by your company, the happier they’ll be and the more helpful they’ll be.

Your paying customers are your best resource for valuable insights in product development, marketing, and staying relevant – exclusivity benefits you as much as your customers.

3. Grandfather Them

It’s funny – raising prices makes your current customers dislike you and makes your prospects want you even more. (They should’ve jumped on the lower price!)

You can create a win-win situation by grandfathering your existing customers in with their current rate and only increasing the rate for new customers.

This tactic works very well for customer retention.

I’m currently grandfathered into an AT&T contract with virtually unlimited everything and I only pay $60 a month – until their service lets me down, I’m not going anywhere!

4. Offer Loyalty/Rewards/Referral Programs

Loyalty and rewards programs are perfect for businesses that can get a lot of repeat purchases from their customers (i.e. restaurants, services like dry cleaning or car washes, etc.) 

They encourage your customers to make more purchases and they save your most loyal customers a lot of money.

The tactic that far too few companies are using is a referral or affiliate program. This is where you give your customer a commission for referring customers – either in store credit, cash, or a free gift.

Your best customers are already spreading the word about your business, why not reward them for it? There’s no better tactic for encouraging your customers to be your salespeople.

5. Provide Social Media Recognition

Major brands are finally learning how to use social media properly – you know, actually socializing with people, instead of blasting promotional content nonstop.

Here are several ways to delight customers through social media:

  • Like and share positive mentions of your brand
  • Reply to questions, concerns, and comments
  • Promote one of your customer’s pages (if they have a business)
  • Run contests
  • Highlight user-generated content

The most important thing is that you’re actively listening and engaging with people on social media. Seeing your interactions makes your brand more human and likable to prospects and customers.

6. Solicit Feedback

Let the opinions of your customers be heard. You should always encourage feedback from customers and occasionally you should directly ask for it with a survey or email.

The most important thing is that you implement their feedback into your business and then you follow up and show them that their voice is heard.

As long as people know you care about them, they won’t worry about little imperfections.

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Chapter 9: What To Do Now?

You’ve got all the information you need – now it’s time to put it into action.

Here’s the 30-day game plan to build your own Customer Value Optimization System, as outlined in this eBook.

Feel free to work at your own pace, but rest assured, 30 days is more than enough time to get everything finished without rushing.

A 30-Day Plan to Tripling You Inbound Leads & Sales

Day 1-3: Identify Your Buyer Persona

Without a demand for your product or service, your business will fail.

Marketers often think they can create demand that doesn’t already exist, but it’s rare to succeed in doing so.

Instead, you need to create a specific solution for a specific person. This requires time as you need to dig deep and uncover the fears, pains, and goals of the people you want to target.

Actionable resources:

Day 4: Define Your Core Product

Your Core Product is the heart and soul of your Customer Value Optimization System; everything else stems from it.

It is your flagship product or service and ideally what your business is known for.

Use your Buyer Persona research to craft all of the features or services that you know your ideal customers want, or if your product is already created, you will know how to properly convey the value to your ideal customers.

*Be sure to review chapter 2 and make sure you have a good product/market fit.

Day 5-9: Create a Tripwire

Once you’ve determined your Core Product you must decide what kind of Tripwire to offer.

Your Tripwire needs to be a small part of the overall solution provided by your Core Product, so it’s easier (and logical) to upsell the Core Product.

Remember, this is a critical step in your relationship because your Tripwire converts leads into paying customers. The key is to make your Tripwire as irresistible as possible – usually by offering it at an aggressively low price.

*Review chapter 5 if you get stuck creating your Tripwire.

Day 10-14: Create a Lead Magnet

Now that you have a Core Product and a Tripwire, it’s time to create a Lead Magnet.

Similar to how your Tripwire was an introductory product to your Core Product, your Lead Magnet is an introductory offer to your Tripwire.

Since you’re working backward from the point of view of your prospects, In most cases, your Lead Magnet will be potential customers’ introduction to your brand -- so make it out!

The key to success with a Lead Magnet is specificity. Solve one specific and important problem quickly and leave them wanting even more solutions from your company.

*Review chapter 4 if you get stuck creating your Lead Magnet.

Day 15: Build a Landing Page for Your Lead Magnet

At this point, most of the hard work is completed. You have your Lead Magnet, Tripwire, and Core Product. Now you just need to build a framework for promoting and selling those offers.

The first step is creating a landing page – or in this case, marketers often call it a squeeze page.

Remember that the copy on your landing page needs to match the offer in your call-to-action that directed users to that landing page. This is critical to reducing your bounce rate and keeping your prospect focused on the specific offer your Lead Magnet provides.

Actionable resources:

Day 16: Build a “Thank You” Page for Your Lead Magnet

Your “Thank You” page is going to serve two functions – to deliver your Lead Magnet and to upsell your Tripwire.

On this page, you start the transition from giving away free content and free offers to asking your lead to make a purchase. (This is a critical step and will likely require some testing to get it perfected for your Buyer Personas.)

Here’s a perfect example from the guys at Digital Marketer to show you how this looks:

“In the funnel below we use email, Facebook ads, blog posts, and other traffic sources to drive traffic to a landing page that offers a Free Case Study (Lead Magnet) about marketing on Facebook.

Here’s that landing page:

The first strategy is revealed on the page above and an offer for a second free Facebook marketing strategy is made in exchange for an email address. When the site visitor puts their email address into the box, they land on a “Thank You” page that reveals the second strategy.

That page looks like this:

The second Facebook marketing strategy is revealed on the page above and an offer is made to get many more Facebook marketing tactics like this one in a paid training.  

Clicking on the green button directs the visitor to a “Thank You” page that contains a Video Sales Letter that describes a training called Facebook Ad Power (Core Product).

That page has a ~15 minute Video Sales Letter from Ryan a portion of which looks like this:

Day 17: Build an Upsell Page for Your Core Product

This is similar to your “Thank You” page, except this time around the visitor is already a paying customer. You’re not focused on changing the relationship at this point; your goal is to upgrade the relationship.

To write the best copy on this page, you need to make a mindset shift from upsell to upgrade. You’re not up-selling them on a better product or service, you’re upgrading the order they’ve already made.

I know it sounds subtle, but the difference is huge.

Here’s the second half of the Digital Marketer example mentioned earlier:

“If the visitor buys the Facebook Ad Power training, they are taken to a “Thank You” page that makes an upsell (Profit Maximizer) offer for our flagship event, Traffic & Conversion Summit.

That page looks like this:

It’s only after going through the entire funnel that the visitor lands on the final “Thank You” page.

That page looks like this:

Most of the sales messages we are using on these “Thank You” Pages are video sales letters or VSLs.”

Day 18-22: Run a Traffic Test

Now that you’ve created your Offers and you’ve built all of your landing pages, you’re ready to start sending some traffic to your Lead Magnet to see how everything performs.

Facebook Advertising is the most cost-effective source of paid traffic in most cases. If you don’t already have an active Facebook page for your business, you need to set one up and get 50 likes before you can do any advertising.

Actionable resources:

Day 23: Write Your Engagement Series

In a perfect world, your prospects would download your Lead Magnet, immediately purchase your Tripwire, and then immediately purchase your Core Product. Some people will do this, actually, but most of the time they won’t.

This is where you Engagement Series comes in.

Your Engagement Series is an automated series of emails (a Workflow in HubSpot) that your lead receives after not taking you up on the initial Tripwire offer.

Here are the official instructions for HubSpot users to create a workflow:

1. Navigate to Workflows

“From your HubSpot Dashboard, navigate to Contacts > Workflows.

2. Create new workflow

Once in your Workflows dashboard, click on the blue button at the top-right: create new workflow.

3. Name your workflow and select Standard as the workflow type

Since this example workflow is designed to send content to your contacts based on how they fill out your form, you will want to use a standard workflow. This will enable you to engage with people relative to when they engaged with you -- aka when they filled out your form.

In the window that pops up after clicking Create new workflow above, name your workflow and select the Standard workflow type. Once named, and type is selected, click the Create a new workflow button.

4. Select starting condition

There are several starting conditions you can choose from - for this example, we'll choose form submission.

After you choose form submission, you'll be asked to decide on what criteria you are entering your contacts into your workflow.

By default, the workflow will enroll contacts who filled the form out on any page, but you can filter down to only enroll contacts who filled the form out on a specific page.

Below the workflow options set are “Contact has filled out form called ‘Request a Quote’ on any page.”

Once these decisions have been made and chosen, click Save to ensure you've saved this step to move forward.

After you've saved your step, you'll see a screen that looks like the picture below. There are a few things you'll want to review or consider here, as outlined below:

  1. Contact has filled out request a quote - this shows you the criteria you set in the previous step. It's good to review this portion to ensure you're happy with the criteria you've set so far.
  1. and/or - These buttons will allow you to set and/or rules to build out your workflow criteria. Selecting one of these will take you back to the beginning of this step (4) and decide on new sets of criteria to add to the criteria you've already selected.
  1. Contacts will be enrolled for the first time they meet the criteria above - you can click Change here if you want your contacts to be re-enrolled if they meet your criteria another time. The way this example is set right now, any contact that gets enrolled in this workflow can only be enrolled the first time they meet that criteria.
  1. Enroll contacts who already meet these criteria - this checkbox is pretty handy if you've already deployed a form on which you are trying to build a workflow. So in this example, if I have some contacts that already filled out this form before I activate this workflow, I'll still be able to reach out to those contacts.
  1. Add an action to your workflow

Now that the starting conditions have been set to enroll contacts based on their specific form submission, you'll want to add an action or delay. (This link will show up when you hover your mouse over the white space below your set of criteria.)

This action is setup to send a follow-up email to the contact enrolled in the workflow. There are three major steps within this action:

  1. Select an action to be performed upon a contact entering this workflow which, in this case, is to send an email.
  1. Select an email - all emails that are saved for automation will appear in this dropdown and you'll want to select the appropriate email. (Please note: if you have an email that isn't set to be used for automation, it will not appear in this dropdown menu.
  1. Create email - if you have gotten to this step and you haven't created your email yet, no worries. This link will take you to your email tool so you can create your email before moving forward.

And, of course, make sure you Save your workflow action.

  1. Workflow settings

Click into Settings on the left side of your workflow. In the workflow’s settings, you’ll find a variety of settings you can use to change how your workflow functions.

Once you have selected the settings you’d like to apply, click Save changes at the bottom.

  1. Test your workflow

You may want to test your workflow before taking it live.

  1. Activate workflow

Once you're happy with how you've set up your workflow, you want to activate it so it can begin its automation magic. To activate your workflow, at the top-left, toggle the active status switch to ON.

After you choose to turn on your workflow, there will be an activation summary that will pop up.

This will go over the specifics of how you set up your workflow to act as a review before you take your workflow live. This window will allow you to enroll contacts who already meet your starting criteria as well as quickly edit your existing steps. You can also click the arrow next to each section to take a closer look at your settings for each.

Once you've decided your workflow is set up just as you like and you're ready to take it live, click Activate workflow now.

You can modify this example to suit your needs, and create other workflows based on information collected in your forms. You can serve contextual content to your leads to increase engagement and drive them towards a sale. Remember, for every business, the number of contacts nurtured, the goal of the workflow, etc. will be different.”

If you don’t have any experience with email marketing and want a template to follow, use the Gain-Logic-Fear series outlined in this article.

Day 24: Write Your Ascension Series

Similar to your Engagement Series, the Ascension Series is a follow-up email campaign that you send to customers who purchased your Tripwire but said “no” to your Core Product upsell.

The best part about this stage is that your customer acquisition costs have already been covered by your Tripwire, so you’re essentially marketing to existing customers for free. However, just because it’s free that doesn’t mean you should overdo it and start annoying your customers.

Actionable resources:

Day 25-30: Create Your Profit Maximizer

At this point, you’ve got a fully-functioning system that works around the clock to make you money. Most business owners would be content with what you’ve built so far, but you’ve got bigger plans.

Your Profit Maximizer is an extremely high-ticket item that only a small percentage of your customers will want or need to purchase – but it will likely contribute the biggest chunk of your profit because of its high margins and the fact that marketing your Profit Maximizer is free.

*Review chapter 7 for Profit Maximizer ideas.

 Back to table of contents

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