DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online

DotCom Secrets: The Underground Playbook for Growing Your Company Online

by Russell Brunson

This is most likely the most detailed, and simply the best book about building successful online funnels. Over the last few years, marketers started to become so good at selling things online, that the prices of receiving traffic increased. Nowadays, in order to sell stuff online, you have to follow the new sales methods that are described in this book.

Summary Notes


Many companies sell their products via sales funnels. Over the last 20 years, some things have changed, but the rules are generally the same; offline sales funnels are almost the same as online sales funnels. This book is mostly about how to create sales funnels that sell.

The secret formula

The secret formula of Russell Brunson consists of 4 questions, that you must ask yourself in order to create a business that will both grow and be enjoyable to work at.

Spend some time figuring out the answers to these questions. This is one of the most important elements from his book.

Actions to take

The value ladder

The value ladder is a method to get your first customers. In this method, you offer customers a free or very cheap product and then begin to offer them more and more expensive ones. With this strategy, you will have a lot of clients at the beginning. Once you give them your free product, you will have an opportunity to sell them something much more expensive.

For example, you can give them a free massage, and then, during the massage, upon finding out that they have a spine problem, sell them a spine correction. During the spine correction session, you can try to sell them a few-days program of spine strengthening for a much higher price. And so on.

It’s good if your value ladder has four steps:

  • Bait - Free product
  • Frontend - Very cheap product ($5-50)
  • Middle - Middle priced product ($100 - $1,000)
  • Backend - High priced product (>$1,000)

Actions to take

From a ladder to a funnel

If you have designed your value ladder, it’s time to convert it into a funnel. The first step is to give people the bait. For those who take it, you will then have the opportunity to sell your frontend product. Not all of them will buy it, but a certain percentage will. And for those who will buy it, you can then sell your higher priced product, and so on.

Just like your value ladder has a minimum number of steps, so to should your sales funnel (and they should be the same). It’s important that the funnel is long. When the internet was first created the funnels didn’t have to be so long, but currently, with so many potential competitors and high-ad prices, funnels must have at least these 4 steps.

How to find your dream customers

In order to get your dream customers, find out who they are exactly, and where are they hanging out. This is not about some vague demographics. Rather, it’s specific, targeted. You’re looking to define the character of these people. And when you define it, then identify where they are gathering. Where they are hanging out. There is a place for sure where they are gathering.

Actions to take

The three types of traffic

There are 3 types of traffic. The traffic you control, the traffic you don’t control, and the traffic you own. The first one is all the traffic from advertisements, affiliates, and other paid sources. It’s the traffic you can control. The traffic you don’t control is the traffic from blog posts, mentions on facebook, and other sources. This is also called cold traffic because you cannot fully control the journey of the user.

These two types of traffic (the one you control and the one you don’t) have only one goal - to convert to traffic you own. This means your own subscriber list. You own the traffic because by having the list, you can send emails to them at any time. You can easily convert this type of traffic into paying customers. Russell Brunson mentions that he used to earn on average $1 monthly per user on his subscriber list.

The attractive character

Many people that are building a subscriber list are struggling with selling. Usually, this happens because they do not create the so-called, Attractive Character. This is a persona, who you create in order for people to like you and trust you. It’s like a Hollywood star or any other celebrity - you go to see a movie just because you like the person. Creating such a character is very important for this type of business.

The Attractive Character is not necessarily someone who is physically attractive, but someone that other people can relate to.

There are three components of the attractive character:

  • Elements
  • Identity
  • Storylines

Actions to take

The soap opera sequence

When someone joins your email list, you want to build strong bonds with them, and in the end sell your product. A great way to do this is by using the Soap Opera Sequence. This is a sequence of emails, that will have a great opening, build up the backstory, and then have a conclusion. It has been named after soap operas. If you watch soap operas, you know that they always end with some issue not resolved, and you really want to watch the next episode in order to find out what happens.

First, you build up the connection with your Attractive Character. Then you show his backstory. And then you show the epiphany - how your character solved a very important issue in his life.

A good rule of thumb is to have a sequence that has around 5 emails, however, there are people that make them much longer. The action below describes what those 5 emails are.

Actions to take

Daily Seinfeld sequence

After you send your Soap Opera email sequence to your subscribers, it’s good to send them more emails. According to Russell Brunson, sending emails daily is the best strategy. Each email you send will sell a certain number of products. If you only send emails weekly, you will be losing a lot of money. The best emails to send are about nothing. Yes, that’s right. The name the Seinfeld sequence comes from a TV show, which was great, but was really about … nothing.

Actually, your emails should not exactly be about nothing. Your emails should contain about 90% entertainment and about 10% content. The entertainment part is the daily stories from your Attractive Character. It can be anything that’s happening on a daily basis, that is entertaining, and then leads to content that will sell your product.

Actions to take

Reverse engineering a successful funnel

There are two ways to make a successful funnel. You either invent everything by yourself, or you reverse engineer a funnel that already exists. If you choose the first way, most likely you will fail, as this is very difficult work. The easier and more likely to succeed is the second way. Find out all your direct and indirect competitors, and carefully analyze, how they are doing each step of the funnel.

You want to reverse engineer the following elements:

  • Demographics - Any characteristics that you can recognize from your perfect target audience, like age, sex, education, geographical location, language, income level, and so on.
  • Offer - Research deeply what they are offering, not only what’s at the tip of the iceberg. Buy their product or service, in order to find out what other, more expensive offers they have.
  • Landing page - This is the most important element of the entire funnel. What does the page look like and what elements does it have? What’s working for them well?
  • Traffic source - You don’t need to create the traffic. It’s already out there. You just have to find out where it is and redirect it to your offer.
  • Ad copy - What does a successful advertisement look like? Why do people click on the ad? What makes them so good? Where are they placed?

Actions to take

Seven phases of a funnel

Before we go into the seven phases, it’s important to understand what pre-framing is and how important it is. Framing is all that your visitors see and hear about you before they get to know you. So, in a standard funnel, that would be an advertisement or article they read before they enter the product page.

To describe what he meant, Russell Brunson recalled a study that was described in Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior. The study details an economic class in which there was a substitute professor for a day. Before the students saw him, they had to read his biography. There were, however, 2 version of the biography handed out. The only difference between them was one sentence, that described the professor as either “a very warm person” or “rather cold”. After the class, the students were asked to evaluate the professor. The students who got the first version of the biography described him as more sociable, good-natured, and considerate to others. The second group of students, however, described him as self-centered, formal, irritable, and ruthless. And all after the exact same class. This shows how important and how powerful pre-framing is.

Actions to take

The twenty-three building blocks of a funnel

Building a funnel is like building something from Lego pieces. You have this set of pieces and you just have to connect them together.

Russell Brunson defines 23 pieces of a funnel, that you can use to build your own. There are some combinations that will work much better for your offers than others. So it’s important to experiment and test which ones are better for you. Here is a website, co-founded by the author of the book, that has all the elements mentioned below:

The building blocks have 4 categories - a few of them for each step of the customer journey. Here they are:

Pre-frame bridge

  1. Quizzes - you can see many of them on FB. Quizzes are great because you can ask for an email address in exchange for the result. You can also put viewers into different segments (funnels), depending on their answers.

  2. Articles - they are great for cold traffic resulting from an ad. Most likely they will work better if they are placed on a third-party website.

  3. News - they grab more attention than other non-news information. The downside is that they have a shorter life, but usually it’s worth writing them.

  4. Blogs - they are good to pre-frame any topic. For example, compare existing solutions on the market with an explanation of why your solution is better.

  5. Videos - they are great for pre-framing material, such as testimonials. You can use them to educate viewers. As with every other element, don’t forget about a strong call-to-action.

  6. Email - pre-framing via email works well if you’re using JV partners to endorse you or buy a solo ad.

  7. Presell pages - these are great when wanting to educate people and give them background information. These pages have a call-to-action leading to the product page.

Qualifying subscribers

  1. Pop-ups - this element is kind of obsolete now, but it still has some use in special circumstances.

  2. Squeeze page - this is a very simple page that looks like a popup, where the user has only two choices - give their email address to go forward or leave the page. They are very effective.

  3. Squeeze pop - these are like squeeze pages, but you can place them in many places on the same page.

  4. Free-plus-shipping, two-step form - in the first step the user is asked for an email with some personal information. In the second step, he is asked to pay for the free shipping. So, we have two steps in one form - qualifying subscribers and qualifying buyers.

  5. Webinar registration - free webinars are great to generate leads.

  6. Free account - it works very well with software and membership programs.

  7. Exit pop - once people want to leave your site show them a popup with a great headline. This is the last chance to get their email address before they leave your site.

Qualifying buyers

  1. Free-plus-shipping - this is Russell Brunson’s favorite way to qualify buyers.

  2. Trial - a very low-cost trial offer is also a great way to qualify buyers.

  3. Tripwire - you can offer one part of your product for a very small price - like seven dollars.

  4. Self-liquidating offers (SLO) - some of your offers, like free-plus-shipping, may lose you money, this offer will help you get your money back. It’s a more expensive one, between $37-$97 dollars. People need a strong bond with your Attractive Character to buy these types of products.

  5. Straight sale - a regular sale with one of your high-ticket items (between $97-$5,000 dollars or higher).

Identify hyperactive buyers

  1. One-time offers - usually these are additional offers that complete the value of the initial one.

  2. Down-sales - when a buyer refuses your one-time offer, you can try to sell them a regular payment plan version.

  3. Affiliate recommendation - when the buyer finishes all the purchasing steps and is on the “thank you” page, you can link him to other offers he might be interested in.

Frontend vs. backend funnels

Now, you’re ready to design your own sales funnel. Connect all the pieces described in this book together, make a funnel, and experiment with it until it brings you tons of money.

Actions to take

The best bait

There is some special power to the word FREE. People just love free stuff. You can get a 99% discount on a product, you can sell it for one cent, but it will never get as much attention as a product that is free. What’s also interesting is that free-plus-shipping also works very well, despite the fact that the buyer must use his credit card.

The second important fact to know is that once people pay for something, they are much more willing to buy from you again. So, if they pay for the shipping of a free product, next time they are much more likely to buy your high-priced product. You can double or even triple your revenue by adding free-plus-shipping products - it’s so powerful.

You can offer other free products, like free memberships or free ebooks, but they will never be as powerful as a free product-plus-shipping.

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