How To Build An "Unstoppable Sales Machine" That Earns On Auto-Pilot
Apr 22 2018
17 min read
17 min read
Table of Contents
Are you running an online business or just taking advantage of a temporary money-making method? Yes, I'm talking to you Mr. Affiliate Marketer and Blogger.
Think about it.
Because answering this question today will determine whether you’ll still be making money a year or even a decade from now.
Or whether you’ll still be running in circles after wasting precious years of your life, earning a few bucks here and there, but not really getting anywhere.
The most successful online entrepreneurs don’t just make money.
They build sustainable businesses.
And they focus on growth.
Every single day.
This is why they constantly move up and not only get richer every day but also become more independent in the process.
They don’t need to spend hours on their businesses every week.
Because instead of focusing on isolated money-making methods, they build sustainable and automated online systems that keep pulling in new leads and churning out money even when they’re not around.
Affiliate Marketers: This Is For You
I read something by Jay Abraham, a leading business consultant, and it really hit me in the head.
He said there are really only 3 ways to grow any business - offline, online, affiliate marketing, blogging, e-commerce or any other business.
You can grow by increasing the number of customers
Or by increasing the average transaction value (your average sales per customer)
Or by increasing the number of transaction per customer (repeat sales)
Apply this to ANY business model and you'll grow.
Successful affiliate marketers, bloggers, freelancers or entrepreneurs in any other business focus on these three core values.
To help you understand this better, see this illustration
Do you see what's happening here?
Increase any of the three values in this equation and your profits increase dramatically.
For example, an increase of 33% in the number of customers, 25% in average order value, and 50% in repeat sales result in a massive 250% increase in overall sales.
Whether you're an affiliate marketer promoting Amazon products or doing any other online business, THIS IS FOR YOU.
This is how you increase sales.
Instead of trying random money-making methods, build a system that feeds these three core values in your business.
This gives you a clear target.
That's what the top affiliate marketers are doing all the time.
They're either generating new leads to turn them into customers, or increasing the average customer transaction value by promoting high ticket products or pitching upsells and downsells, or they're simply increasing sales by selling you more products.
Most of the time, they're doing all of those things together.
Which is why they're growing all the time.
Sounds great, doesn’t it?
This is what we’ve been advocating for years on NicheHacks.
Affiliate marketing, AdSense, CPA/CPM etc. are all great ways to make money.
But alone, they’re unsustainable.
Instead of relying on them as isolated monetization methods, look at the bigger picture and focus on building a long-term business that uses these methods (and many others like them) to build an automated and self-reliant business.
An unstoppable sales machine.
Not sure how to do it?
What You’ll Learn In This Post
How successful marketers build systems for their businesses
Why you're building your email list the wrong way
One small change to your sales funnel that can double your sales
How to never worry about traffic again
1. Determine Why People Would Buy From You
Every business is born out of a problem.
A well-defined problem.
People won't just pull out their wallets and hand over their hard-earned money to you.
You need to give them a good reason to do it.
Consumers don’t buy products, they actually pay for better versions of themselves.
They pay you because they’re not satisfied with their current state.
Your product/service/offer needs to change their current state of dissatisfaction into satisfaction.
If they’re convinced you can do it for them, they’ll pay you.
The bigger the problem, the more money you can charge.
That’s how business works.
Focus on solving problems, not selling product features.
For example, look at this article published by a mattress review site.
Or this article, for example, published by an affiliate site promoting juicers, blenders, and other food-related appliances
Are they selling anything directly?
Instead, they’ve focused on the common problems of their target audience.
This content will help them build trust, which usually translates into sales (because they have affiliate links in the content)
This is why you need to find the key problems, the big problems, the burning needs of your audience and solve them better than any of your competitors.
Without determining EXACTLY what problems your business is solving, you’ll find it hard to stay in business for long.
Before investing a single penny in tools or services, smart marketers research their audience and try to know as much about them as possible.
This is where buyer personas, sample profiles of your ideal customer, come handy.
For example, here’s a persona created by DigitalMarketer targeting agency owners.
Hubspot offers free buyer persona templates and a really useful online persona creation tool that’ll help you create your buyer personas in just a few minutes.
Here’s a profile I created using their free tool.
This is an imaginary profile you need to create after research.
You can research your audience using Facebook Audience Insights, Quora, competitor sites and relevant industry forums.
You can make it as detailed as you like.
It helps you imagine your customers better and understand their problems in detail.
All your marketing strategies should be targeted towards this profile.
Once you’ve done this, move on to the next part.
2. Build Your Tribe from the First Day
There’s no better way to build a sustainable online business than growing a tribe around it.
A passionate group of people who trust your brand, visit your site regularly, and consider you an expert.
An engaged and growing tribe will fuel your business and allow you to sell products at your own price and frequency.
They’re qualified leads just waiting for your next sales offer.
NicheHacks Facebook Mastermind, for example, is our tribe. It’s a vibrant community of around 50,000 people who’re looking to learn online marketing and start niche businesses.
But tribes are built around needs and interests, not products and sales pitches.
Which why I discussed it in the first point.
Once you’re aware of your audience’s needs, you need to actively build a community around your brand that fuels your business even when you’re not working.
There are several ways to do it.
Building an Email List
I don’t need to tell you how important an email list is to your business.
It’s the engine that runs an automated online business.
Which is why most marketers consider it the most effective digital marketing channel
It’s also the first step in any online sales funnel.
A sales funnel helps you convert cold traffic into leads, nurture it, and finally turn it into customers.
Source: Content Sales Funnel
So it’s crucial that you’re constantly building and growing your subscriber base.
And what’s the fastest way to get subscribers?
Lead magnets of course.
A lead magnet, an ethical bribe, a giveaway (or whatever you wanna call it) is a freebie that people can download by giving you their email addresses.
Your lead magnet can be an eBook, a webinar, a cheat sheet, a video or anything else that gives IMMEDIATE value to your readers (I’ve shared more than 30 lead magnet ideas here)
Here are a few things to keep in mind while creating a lead magnet
It should solve ONE problem IMMEDIATELY
It should be aligned with your paid offer
It should be easy to download (ask for email only)
A lead magnet doesn’t need to be a 100 page eBook.
It can be a single-page document or a simple template or a strategy blueprint.
For example, here’s a lead magnet that not only offers immediate value but also looks really tempting
To maximize lead generation, display your lead magnet on all the prominent areas of your site like the homepage slider, at the bottom of every blog post, as a pop-up, or anywhere else where your readers can see and notice it (Sumo is a great plugin that’ll do all of this for you)
For example, HubSpot uses a sliding box at the bottom of their blog posts.
Getting email subscribers is just the first step of your sales funnel.
But it’s the most crucial one since it gives you permission to contact your readers and build a relationship with them. It gives you a platform to build and nurture your tribe.
You might use other community-building methods as well, but all of them should eventually route users to your email list.
Here are a couple of other strategies you can use to build your subscriber base.
Growing a Facebook Group
While Facebook Pages are becoming useless with every passing day because of their limited organic reach, Facebook Groups have become one of the best ways to grow vibrant and engaged social media communities.
More than 1 billion people use Facebook Groups and their number is growing.
Why creating a Facebook Group is so useful for your business?
Because it allows you to interact with other people who’re interested in the solutions you’re offering.
It’s your space where you set the rules and you decide what’s posted on the group and what’s not.
But growing a Facebook Group demands time and dedication.
To build a high-quality group full of value, you need to share your best tips and resources with your group members.
Share knowledge and position yourself as an expert.
If you do that successfully, you’ll be able to drive loads of traffic from your Facebook Group to your main site where you can turn it into email subscribers.
NicheHacks Facebook Mastermind is a great example of this.
It is a tightly moderated group of almost 50,000 people (all credit to Nader for awesome moderation)
But Stuart has grown it to this level by offering free value to the members, answering their questions, and helping them out.
That’s not easy to do when you’re getting hundreds of posts every day in your group.
But because it’s a vibrant and engaged community, NicheHacks gets more than 10% of its traffic directly from this group.
This epic guide on growing a profitable Facebook Group is a great resource if you want to learn more about this topic.
Enabling Browser Push Notifications
If you think push notifications are annoying, you’re not alone
But there are gentler ways to enable push notifications as well
Like them or not, browser push notifications are a great way to notify people about new content on your site and generate returning traffic.
Like other community-building strategies, the ultimate objective of push notifications is also to get people on your site often so that they eventually turn into email subscribers and become a part of your sales funnel.
This post tells you everything about setting up push notifications on your site.
Using Facebook Pixel
Ever noticed how you see ads for the same products on Facebook that you recently checked on Amazon?
That’s Facebook Pixel for you.
Facebook Pixel is a script that you can simply copy/paste to your site’s HTML code.
You can find it in your Facebook account’s Ad Manager.
Once this code is added to your site, it’ll track all the Facebook users who visit your site within a defined time period and allow you to retarget them using Facebook Ads.
It’s a great way to bring back visitors to your site who’ve shown interest in your products/content.
I’ve discussed this topic in MUCH more detail here
Closing This Point
No matter what business model you’re following, building your tribe is the most crucial part of setting up an online business.
Traffic generation is great, but if you’re not turning those visitors into subscribers and returning visitors, they’re of no benefit to your business.
So do EVERYTHING you can to get people on your email list.
Because once they join your list, you can talk to them, build trust, and eventually turn them into customers and word-of-mouth marketers for your brand.
3. Create an Autoresponder Sequence to Build Trust and Authority
You’ve turned a reader into an email subscriber, great work!
Getting people on your email list is just the first part of your funnel, now you have a great opportunity to turn your subscribers into loyal fans who trust you and consider you an expert.
And once they trust you, they'll buy any product you create or promote.
To do that, you need to set up an automated sequence of emails that’ll be sent to your subscribers over the first few days/weeks after they opt-in.
"But wait! I'm an Amazon affiliate and I'll get banned by Amazon if I promote affiliate links directly in emails. So email marketing is useless for me."
Not so fast, there's a workaround.
Remember, the objective of email marketing is to build a lasting relationship with your subscribers, not to simply bombard them with sales emails constantly.
So it doesn't matter if you're promoting products from Amazon or training courses on Udemy or digital products from Clickbank (which do allow you to send affiliate links in your emails).
You simply need to use your emails to build trust with your subscribers and redirect them to useful content that ultimately leads to sales.
You can do that as an Amazon affiliate as well.
For example, instead of sending out your affiliate link via email, create detailed and actionable product reviews or other content on your site that contain your affiliate links.
Then share that content with your subscribers.
For example; choose a product range that you want to promote, create reviews and useful content about them on your site, and promote that content with your autoresponder emails.
For example, have a look at this email I got from NerdFitness.com (a site that frequently promotes Amazon products)
Do you see any links in that email?
Any promotional stuff?
Any direct product recommendations?
Just an email that targets a problem and shares some tips.
At the end of this email, there's a link to a blog post.
In that blog post, there are links to Amazon products.
That's how the pros do it.
Got my point?
Good, let's move forward.
So you’ve already given your subscribers free value with a lead magnet and turned them into subscribers.
Now WOW them with even more free tips and resources via email.
For example, I got this email from Ramit Sethi a few days after I signed up to his email list
It’s a 500+ word email with lots of valuable pieces of advice.
I loved it of course.
So guess what happens when I see another email from him
Will I ignore it like most other emails I get?
Of course not.
I’ll be the first one to read it because I know there’ll be something useful inside.
That’s what you have to do with your autoresponder series.
Here’s an autoresponder sequence Pat Flynn uses for some of his sites
As you can see, most of his emails are “content” emails that only provide free value.
He’s sneaked in a couple of promotional emails as well because by that time his subscribers start trusting him.
But this is just one example.
You can create more complex and condition based autoresponders as well that follow different “If-Then” conditions.
Here’s a good example.
Source: Email Monks
I’ll elaborate this part in more detail in the next points.
But first, you need to know how to set up an autoresponder.
If you’re absolutely broke and have no money to invest in an email marketing tool, you can MailChimp for setting up your autoresponder.
MailChimp is free up to 2000 subscribers.
If you have money, though, consider better tools like GetResponse or AWeber.
I did this detailed comparison of different email marketing tools that’ll help you make the right choice.
4. Build Your Buyer Base With an Irresistible One-Time Offer
Having an email subscribers list is great.
But your competitors have it too.
What most of them don’t have is a buyers list.
Yes, a list of customers who’ve actually spent money on your product or the products you're promoting.
That’s MUCH more powerful than an email subscriber list full of freebie hunters.
You can dramatically increase your buyer list with just one small change to your autoresponder sequence.
This will immediately put you miles ahead of your competitors
Because once a subscriber actually pays you money (no matter how much) you can sell them more products because they’ve broken that mental barrier which stops most people from actually buying a product online
So how do you do it?
By adding a tripwire product.
A tripwire is a really low-cost but high value product which is solely designed to turn your subscribers into buyers.
It’s not your main profit maker.
It’s just there to break that mental barrier in your subscribers that stops them from spending money.
For example, look at the free lead magnet GuestBlogging.com offers
The moment you download it, you’re redirected to a one-time special offer.
This $7 PDF guide is a tripwire designed to turn you into a buyer.
Notice how both the lead magnet and the tripwire are closely aligned.
I actually bought this tripwire and thought it was amazing value for just $7.
I’m no more just a subscriber to them.
I’m a buyer.
And the next time GuestBlogging.com have a high ticket product on offer, there’s a good chance I’ll buy it because I’ve already trusted them once.
"But I'm only promoting affiliate products, how do I use trip-wires and one-time offer?"
I can hear you.
As I said, a tripwire is a high-value, low-cost product that's designed to turn subscribers into buyers
So there are a couple of ways to go about this.
You can either create a tripwire yourself that is closely aligned with the products you're promoting.
For example, if you're promoting fitness equipment and gear like treadmills, dumbells, running shoes you could create a video series or an eBook as a tripwire that shares practical ways to effectively use that equipment.
The alternate approach is to promote a low-cost affiliate product that is aligned with your core offer (fitness equipment).
In reality, of course, this product won't be a tripwire or a one-time offer, but you can make it look like one by promoting it via email to your subscribers when they download your lead magnet.
And as I said earlier, you won't be sharing the direct product link in an email. Instead, you'll be redirecting them to a landing page that has the product link.
Again, the objective is not to make a profit but to break the mental barrier that stops people from buying.
It's hard to get people spend money for the first time. But once they do, it becomes easier to sell them 2nd, 3rd or 4th time.
It doesn't matter if your tripwire is an affiliate product. What really matters is that your subscribers buy from you because that builds trust and prepares them for future sales.
Most marketers never do this.
They simply send a welcome email to new subscribers and forget them
This is a small step but it can literally skyrocket your business because it not only gives you immediate cash flow but more importantly gives you a list of buyers who’re more likely to buy from you again.
Of course, just like your lead magnet, your tripwire also needs to offer IMMENSE value.
If it’s a $3 or $7 resource, give $100 of value so that your buyer is blown away and ready to purchase your high ticket product.
Makes sense, right?
Let’s move to the next step.
5. Maximize Profits With Multi-Layer Upsells and Cross-Sells
You’ve turned cold website traffic into email subscribers.
And converted subscribers into buyers with irresistible tripwires.
Pitching a high-priced product to someone, who barely knows you, rarely work.
But that same person becomes a hot candidate for your high-priced products once he buys your tripwire.
And if you’ve spent time in creating a HUGELY valuable tripwire, you won't have to do a lot of selling for your flagship product.
So it’s time to upsell and offer your high ticket product at a special limited-time discount rate.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly your shelves are emptied.
That’s how successful marketers sell products like hotcakes.
This is exactly the strategy Bushra Azhar used to make more than $200K sales on her flagship product priced at $2000+ with a staggering 22% subscriber to buyer ratio.
But don’t stop there.
Maximize your profits, unleash the power of cross-selling as well.
Don’t get it?
Sell related and complementary products that your customers might find useful.
This is what Amazon does to you all the time.
For example, here’s a desktop LCD on Amazon
Immediately under this product, Amazon shows you this
See what Amazon did there.
It knows that people buying LCD monitors would also need a keyboard or a mouse or other related accessories.
Research shows that this is where Amazon actually makes most of its profits – from related products.
Replicate this in your business.
When a subscriber purchases your flagship product, pitch other related products they might need.
They’re more than likely to go for it.
All of this, of course, is only possible when you have an email list and a sales funnel.
Which is why I discussed that part in so much detail.
"But as an affiliate, I don't control the sales process, how do I upsell them?"
That's a tricky one, right?
Because the moment you send someone to an affiliate offer they're out of your control. You can't redirect them to any other pages because they're on the vendor's site.
But here's a workaround.
When a subscriber opens your initial email and clicks on your main offer, send them another email promoting your upsell immediately.
You can do this by creating condition-based autoresponders in any leading email marketing software.
Most autoresponder software allows you to set up automation rules where if someone clicks on a link in your emails they can be "tagged" as interested in that topic and added to a new list where they receive more emails about that topic.
So let's say you send out an email about "running shoes" and your subscriber clicks it you can tag them as "interested in running" and add them to a series of emails all about running with promotional emails to running shoes, gear, and guides mixed in.
This means you're sending super relevant content and offers to each subscriber based on what they've told you they enjoy and not bombarding your whole list with topics they aren't 100% interested in.
Again, you don't need to create the upsell yourself. You can simply grab a higher-priced product that is aligned with the main offer and frame it as a upsell in your emails.
But you can only do this when you have people on your email list.
This is why using a lead magnet and tripwire is so important.
6. Publish High-Quality Content To Engage Non-Buyers and Attract New Visitors
No matter how good your product or sales funnel is, the majority of your email list will still not buy from you immediately.
But that doesn’t mean they're useless.
Both buyers and non-buyers are your assets because they’re still your email subscribers.
You need to create a return path for them so that they’re added to your funnel again from the start.
Adding both buyers and non-buyers to your funnel again gives you two benefits.
It gives you another opportunity to convince non-buyers and turn them into buyers.
Adding buyers to your sales funnel again allows you to sell them more products in the future and increase the number of transactions per customer.
To do that, you need to keep offering them free value through high quality and actionable content so that they remain engaged with your brand.
Plus, publishing new content regularly is important to attract new visitors to your site that can be added to your sales funnel.
Do you see the cycle?
This way none of your subscribers ever go out of your sales funnel.
You create one funnel for new subscribers and when they eventually buy your products, you add them to another funnel.
The ones that don’t buy still remain on your list so that you can offer them more value and add them to a new funnel in the future.
And here’s the best part.
All of this can be automated using the email marketing and automation tools I mentioned earlier in the post.
7. Keep Diversifying Your Traffic Sources
I’m discussing this part at the end because traffic is useless if you don’t have a system in place to turn it into subscribers and buyers.
But once you have everything set up, you can simply start driving traffic to your site and watch it convert for you.
The key to a successful and sustainable online business, however, is diversification in traffic sources.
Smart marketers are never too dependent on a single traffic source.
Here are some of the traffic sources you can use.
Search Engine Traffic
Organic search is one of the primary traffic sources of most websites and ranking on Google’s first page for the right keywords can open traffic floodgates to your site. I’ve discussed this in MUCH more detail in this guide.
However, Google Search is a highly volatile traffic source so you should never rely completely on it.
Social Media Traffic
If you’ve built a community around your brand on social media, you can drive hundreds of thousands of visitors from platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.
I’ve shared some really useful tips on generating social media traffic in this post.
Facebook Ads are still one of the best ways to drive traffic to your landing pages and add new people to your sales funnel.
In fact, most successful marketers don’t really depend on search engines or organic social media traffic.
Instead, they simply set up their sales funnel and drive traffic using Facebook Ads.
Since most of that traffic converts into subscribers and buyers, the marketers still make a profit despite investing money in Facebook Ads.
I’ve discussed this topic in detail here.
I think I’ve already discussed this in a lot of detail.
But since it’s so important, I need to say it again.
Build an email list from day 1.
It’s your best traffic source any day of the year.
You can learn more about building an email list in this post.
These are just some of the traffic sources you can use.
But there are dozens of others that you can explore.
And that's the bottom line.
Keep diversifying your traffic sources so that your business is never too dependent on one source.
Connect the Dots, Get to Work
Successful online businesses aren’t created by accident.
Unlike isolated money-making methods, successful businesses have systems in place that keep adding new subscribers and leads to their funnel.
If all of this is a bit too much for you to understand, let me summarize it for you
Step 1 – Understand the needs of your audience and find problems that are worth solving
Step 2 – Create a high-value lead magnet so that you can turn cold traffic into subscribers
Step 3 – Turn your subscribers into buyers by offering them an irresistible and really cheap tripwire.
Step 4 – Maximize your profits by upselling and cross-selling higher-priced products to your buyers
Step 5 – Add buyers and non-buyers to new funnels so that you can pitch again
Step 6 – Start sending traffic to your site so that Step 1 can commence.
This isn’t rocket science.
It doesn’t matter what niche you’re or what business model you follow.
You can use different variations of this strategy to work for you.
So even when you’re away or not able to work, this automated system will keep selling for you.
Need more help?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.