The Secrets to Sales Funnels: Our Complete Guide for Building Sales Funnels in Just a Few Clicks
Launch Your Online
Business in Just 7 Days
How badly are you looking to generate a sustainable income online?
Have you tried different methods with barely any results?
Then, maybe what you’re lacking is a comprehensive sales funnel that delivers the results you’ve been looking for.
By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to:
Recognize the 3 sales funnel stages and why they’re important
Build effective, sustainable, and optimized sales funnels in any niche
Automate your entire sales funnel and easily scale (if you want to)
Figure out what to look for in your competitors’ sales funnels and
how to draw inspiration from them (we’ll show you 3 examples)
Are you ready? Let’s begin!
What is a sales funnel?
In a nutshell: A sales funnel refers to the steps that customers go through before making a purchase decision.
Regarding your online business, this translates to the web pages your website visitors go through before deciding if they want to buy your offers or not. (I.e. The customer journey, but with web pages)
So the whole purpose of a sales funnel is to drive your website’s online traffic, generate qualified leads, and convert prospects into paying customers.
— Pfff, but that’s the goal of every online business.
And that’s precisely the point! Each business (online or not) has a sales funnel of some sort, the question is whether it’s effective or not.
And by effective, we mean, is it a personalized sales funnel that speaks directly to the hearts and minds of your target audience?
To learn how to come up with such funnels, you first need to learn the different sales funnel stages and how to structure them.
Breaking down a basic sales funnel
Each sales funnel you build should have 3 stages:
Top of the funnel — this is where you drive traffic and get as many people as possible into your sales funnels
Middle of the funnel — here, you go through the process of filtering qualified leads (potential customers) by teaching them how you could solve their problems with your offerings
Bottom of the funnel — last but certainly not least, this is where you close the sales process with those qualified leads
Let’s take a deeper dive and learn how to build each funnel stage.
The top — Awareness & opportunity
Requirements for this stage: getting defined traffic from paid ads, social media, and blog posts, to landing pages that would resemble the entrance point of your funnel.
The first stage of any successful sales funnel involves customers becoming aware of your offerings and why they need them.
At this stage, your business goals include advertising to a target audience, creating awareness about the problems your offerings fix, and building appeal to prospects.
In digital marketing, it’s imperative that you identify a specific niche market to delve into, instead of trying to cater to everyone.
This is followed by vital lead nurturing which works like this:
The person identifies a problem that they have
They understand the different variables that form that particular problem
They see your offering as a possible solution that’ll get them to a point where they no longer have this problem
They start researching your online business more to see if you make a good fit for them or not
Most modern consumers are savvy, and they look through a variety of available content across several websites before funneling into the next phase.
So you want to give them educational content that’s suited to helping them solve their problem(s) and guide them towards buying your offers.
The goal of this lead nurturing process is to hook prospects at the top of the funnel right down to the bottom.
And in order to do that properly, make sure to develop positive relationships with buyers through various activities, such as:
Getting them to join your email newsletter — you can do that with lead magnet landing pages
Sharing your story to make yourself more relatable as a human and let them know you were in their shoes
Offering free trials and free tiers of your products/services
With that said, if everything goes to plan, you should currently have a group of prospects ready to be introduced to your personalized offers.
The middle — Find solutions
Requirements for this stage: engaging prospects you have gathered from the previous step with promotional content like emails, notifications, sales pages, etc.
Think of it this way, you’ve now got their attention, and it’s time to start the actual selling process.
That means showcasing your product/service paired with social proof, actual results and data, pricing, and whenever possible, guarantees.
This also means eliminating any leads who are not yet ready to buy your offers.
This will guarantee that when you close the sales in the following stage, you achieve the highest conversion rate possible.
Speaking of which, this is the perfect time to start calculating your conversion rates to ensure that your online traffic is doing what it should do — if you have a lot of clicks, but no conversions of any kind then something is wrong.
For content, you should start introducing product comparisons, webinars, case studies, and engaging videos.
This will leave you with a handful of engaged leads who are highly qualified.
The bottom — Time to make some sales!
Requirements for this stage: customized checkout pages, very compelling and clear offers, and competitive pricing.
As a business that runs thousands of funnels every year, we can describe this part of the sales funnel in four words: easier said than done.
Yes, in theory, all you have to do is push your qualified leads onto your checkout pages, and you’ll generate sales.
But in practice, it’s much harder. Allow us to explain that with a few questions:
1. Is your offer better than what everyone else is bringing to your customers’ table? Or better yet, what distinguishes you from the rest?
2. Have you clearly addressed all customer doubts and concerns about your offer?
3. Have you shown enough social proof and 3rd-party reviews of your offer?
Many fail when answering these questions, that’s why almost 70% of customers leave their carts without completing purchases.
Here, your marketing brilliance should come to life with a set of tactics that would position your offer as a prime candidate for your prospects.
This includes offering:
This extends to promising customer support, providing a FAQs section or a help center, video demos, and boasting top benefits.
You also need to optimize your checkout process to include:
A simple form that’s easy to navigate and provides a simple way to insert payment information
Trust symbols to show that your website, products and transactions are are high-quality and secure
The original price is followed by the discounted price
A clear list of the items in the cart (don’t include packages they didn’t ask for!)
Then, if you want to take your marketing efforts even further, you can offer upselling, cross-selling, and downselling to prospective customers.
By using all these techniques in conjunction, you can offer exclusivity to your customers, without paying for additional marketing channels.
And finally, this purchasing experience allows for balanced growth between old and new customers, especially since it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than a new one.
Note: You’ll notice that these stages blend in nicely with the AIDA marketing formula, which is:
Awareness — Happens at the top of your sales funnel
Interest — Happens at both the top and middle of your sales funnel
Decision — Happens at both the middle and bottom of your sales funnel
Action — Happens at the bottom of your sales funnel
Visual representation of the AIDA formula
How to create a successful sales funnel
Somewhere out there, there’s a whole graveyard of “bad” offers that didn’t get a single sale — simply because there was nobody wanting/needing to buy them.
On the other hand, you’ll rarely find demand for a product/service without finding competition. And this means you'll have to try your utmost best to stand out in the crowd.
But no worries, we’ve got you covered in this section with a proven blueprint that you can use to create any type of funnel that'll blow your competition out of the water. It includes:
Doing proper research
Determining traffic sources
Building the web pages of your sales funnel
Optimizing your new sales pipeline to perform the best it can
Let’s dive into it.
Research is vital
It’s simple really, if you mess this step up, you’ll generate little to no sales.
Imagine spending days and nights building something you’re planning to sell only to get hit with a wall on launch day with other competitors offering better versions of your offer at a 10th of the price…
Or worse, not finding a market for your offer at all.
Unfortunately, a lot of people make this mistake by having an attitude of “build now, find customers later” when they really should be going for the “find potential customers now, build along the way according to their needs and budgets” attitude.
But we’re not going to let that happen to you, here’s how to do your research before
building any marketing funnel:
1. Analyze your audience:
If you’re at the stage of building sales funnel pages, then you should already have a buyer persona figured out along with characteristics, arguments, and wording that speak directly to them.
You also want to get that hook that’ll allow you to swiftly capture their attention.
This means addressing their main issues, presenting solutions that’ll resolve their biggest fears, and showing them where they can be after taking you up on your offer.
2. Know your offer:
This seems trivial, but when was the last time you took the time to truly think about what you’re selling?
So if you haven’t already, start building a list of features, benefits, reviews, and all the constructive feedback that you can get.
This will later help with building effective web pages that actually convert.
3. Conduct competitive research:
By this, we don’t just mean going to your competitors' websites and checking out their offers, design, and pricing.
You want to get a level deeper than that, check out their reviews on 3rd-party platforms like Trustpilot, G2, customer reviews on YouTube (not affiliate ones!), and other independent reviewers in your industry/niche.
You could also visit Facebook groups, Reddit threads and Quora questions where your target audience is actively discussing your industry/niche. You'll find honest answers that haven't been influenced by companies or influencers.
Then, you want to identify places where you excel over your main competitors, which will help you write better copy when trying to sell yourself to prospects in all funnel stages.
All of these steps would give you:
A clear idea of how your audience thinks, how you can help them, and how to communicate with them in the best way possible
A list that would guarantee that you know your business better than anyone and everyone at any given time
Ability to generate highly targeted sales and marketing efforts that would focus on your strengths and compensate for any weaknesses your competitors can capitalize on
Determine your traffic sources
Traffic is the true currency of the web, and if you consistently have it, you’ll always have a chance of succeeding.
Targeted online traffic is even better, and by now you should have a type of traffic you want to attract, which you can do so with these methods:
1. Paid advertising:
If you want results fast, go with paid ads from Google, Facebook, etc. If you don’t want your marketing budget to disappear, make sure you know what you’re doing.
Be careful, paid ad platforms aren't easy to master, and you could risk losing a lot of money if you don't run your campaigns in the right way.
If you don’t want to risk it, you can always hire a freelance paid media consultant from places like Upwork and PeoplePerHour, just make sure they have good ratings and reviews.
2. Social media:
Never underestimate the role of social media platforms in your marketing and sales efforts. Make sure to constantly share updates, new announcements, educational content, and lead magnets.
Social media algorithms are designed to surface content that is most relevant and engaging to users. By understanding and leveraging these algorithms, you can generate free traffic to their sales funnels.
Aligning your content with platform algorithms ensures higher organic reach, driving interested users to your sales funnels.
This not only improves cost-effectiveness but also enhances your credibility and trust among users, as they are more likely to engage with content that appears organically in their feeds.
Taking advantage of user-generated content and real-time feedback, you can refine your strategies to create more effective sales funnels.
Additionally, social media traffic contributes to improved SEO, which further benefits your overall visibility.
In summary, using social media algorithms to your own benefit by regularly posting high-value content helps you increase visibility, target the right audience, and optimize your return on investment while building trust with potential customers.
Search engine optimization is one of the best ways to reach potential customers that are ready to buy your offerings IF you’re a good fit for them.
Since they all conduct searches based on the problems they’ve noticed, your blog content will get them one step closer to making a purchase decision.
Problem is, coming up with a content plan and following it for months could be a little too much for people looking to get some cash flowing as soon as possible — play your cards wisely and according to your unique situation.
4. Running an affiliate program:
If you want an “easy” way to grow, you can try your luck with affiliate marketing.
In a nutshell, you can create an affiliate program that handles recruiting affiliate marketers — each time an affiliate makes a sale with your offerings, they get an agreed-upon commission.
(You can set up your affiliate program with systeme.io in 30 minutes for free).
This is neat because it trims a lot of your marketing costs, the affiliates would do the heavy lifting with running ads and nurturing leads.
5. Running a referral program:
Not to be confused with the previous traffic source, a referral program is concerned with engaging existing customers and offering them incentives (like discounts) to bring new customers from their circles.
Build personalized sales funnel pages
Here comes the fun part! Get ready to create your various sales funnel stages.
The first thing you’ll need is a tool to build your funnel web pages, more precisely, a sales funnel software that delivers a no-code experience and in-house hosting.
How to build a sales funnel with systeme.io
For example, consider this situation:
1. You go sign up at systeme.io and get your lifetime free account
2. On this clean dashboard, you click on “Funnels” in the menu
3. Next, in the following screen, you simply click on “Create” and choose the name, type, and currency of your funnel
4. Afterward, when greeted by the funnel dashboard, you add a new step/web page that resembles the first page your visitors will land on
5. Next, the extensive library of templates appears
6. After picking one, you press the “magic wand” to edit the template with our blazing fast drag-and-drop editor
7. Here, you just click on the elements that are in the template to edit them to your liking — of course, you can add, delete, and organize elements as you please
8. Finally, click “save changes” on the top right to be back to your sales funnel dashboard
That’s it, your first web page of your new sales funnel is ready and live on the web. That took what, 5 minutes?
We know, we know — you’re probably thinking to yourself “But creating an effective sales funnel that generates a lot of money is way harder than that!”
And you’re right.
Remember, you already did most of the heavy lifting in the research step, this is where you unload everything in a neat, personalized, and influential way for your customers to experience.
In fact, if you really got the previous parts right, don’t be surprised if your first sales funnel ends up with stats like these:
Notice how on the left, your funnel pages will actually resemble your buyers’ journey.$
How to optimize sales funnel stages (best practices)
By now, you’ve got a solid plan of:
Defining your target audience and doing proper research
Having your website/sales funnel pages up and running
The next step is to iterate and excel when communicating with your customers.
And for that, you can use 4 methods:
1. A/B testing
2. Email marketing
3. Marketing automation
4. Monitoring performance
(Which conveniently, are all available with systeme.io!)
Use A/B testing
Sometimes called split testing, A/B testing is a method where you split online traffic coming to a specific URL between 2 variants of a web page.
This can be used to increase conversion rates on different sales funnel stages by testing how different elements of your pages (i.e. headlines) perform.
Note: Periodically run A/B tests, simply because there’s always something that you can improve.
How run effective A/B tests:
Here are a few tips on running effective A/B tests that will help optimize your funnels and
achieve your desired goals:
Define clear goals: Before beginning an A/B test, clearly define the goals you want to achieve, such as increasing sign-ups, boosting sales, or improving engagement.
Develop a hypothesis: Formulate a hypothesis about the changes you think will lead to better results, and make sure it is based on data and insights from previous user behavior, industry best practices, and competitor analysis.
Choose the right variables: Select elements on the page that are likely to have the most impact on your goals. These could include headlines, calls-to-action, images, or form designs. Focus on one variable at a time to ensure the test results are caused by that specific change.
Determine sample size and duration: Calculate the appropriate sample size and test duration based on your website traffic, desired level of statistical significance, and minimum detectable effect. This ensures your test results are reliable and meaningful.