What is a sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is the pillar of virtually any prosperous online business. Many successful businesses on the virtual markets rely on discernable sales funnels to market their products, drive qualified traffic, generate leads, and close sales.

Without this important feature, your amazing business website or online store could be just another waste of money and other valuable resources. In this definitive guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about sales funnels and how to launch a fruitful marketing campaign without too much hassle.

Why You Need A Sales Funnel


The modern online shopper or consumer is sophisticated. Unlike in the past where digital marketers could create the need to make a purchase, today’s customers want to have control over what they choose to buy. Savvy online shoppers prefer doing their research, comparing solutions or products and purchasing from a business they trust. That is why cold-selling ad traffic without a well-designed funnel will lead to suboptimal sales numbers.

Instead of using conventional outbound marketing strategies to sell your products to your prospects, you need to implement an inbound marketing approach that is focused on educating, informing, and coaching your potential customers.

Once you have started driving traffic to your online business, you can nature those leads, and push them further down the funnel by establishing yourself as an authority in your niche. In other words, use a funnel to tactically introduce conversion points when you’re satisfied that your prospects perceive you as a go-to resource in your target market.

Consumers, especially online shoppers buy from people or brands they trust. A sales funnel offers a digital marketer ample room to build trust with his/her prospects. With an email autoresponder of a sales funnel, you can provide value to your new subscribers – in an email series, in your own terms, until they can’t wait to hear from you again. The email sequence helps build trust with your audience before you even introduce your product or service into the picture.

Reverse Engineering


It is important to conduct some market research to understand what your competitors are doing before you create your new sales funnel. By using white hat competitive intelligence gathering techniques, you will identify the strategies that successful businesses, in your industry, apply when promoting their products to your target market. Once you have identified and analyzed what they’re doing or using to drive traffic in your chosen market, you can reverse engineer those approaches and incorporate them in your funnel.

With the numerous marketing gurus offering “tested and proven” marketing strategies or ideas, it can be overwhelming for budding entrepreneurs to sift through all this information and choose an effective approach. However, the simplest and fastest approach is to find where successful businesses find their traffic, plunk yourself right in front of it and send it on a little detour of your website.

In other words, instead of working so hard to start generating new traffic from scratch, take advantage of the already existing traffic by reverse engineering your competitors’ sales funnels. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel when you can analyze a decade’s work, into a day’s worth of effort and time. Here are ways on how to learn what your competitors are doing, where their traffic is coming from, and how to transform it into your traffic.

5 Variables of successful campaigns

Understanding the five elements of a successful ad campaign is the first step to reverse engineer your competitors’ traffic streams. In fact, it is very important to understand at least four of these elements before you start creating your new sales funnel. If your current sales funnel isn’t delivering results, one or two of these elements need to be addressed.


A demographic is a set of characteristics that define the potential customers in your target market profile. Defining your demographics helps you know who belongs to your ideal customer persona and who doesn’t.

Some of the distinguishing factors to take into consideration when defining your demographics include race, gender, education, age, location, language, income level, and perhaps political affiliations among others. For example, if a heating and cooling company puts an air conditioning offer in front of people who live in a hot climate/region or country, they are more likely to buy, as opposed to marketing heaters to that demographic.

Meaning, if you know the type of customers the competition is going after, it is simple to know the ideal demographic to target. By digging deeper into your competitors and conducting thorough market research, a whole new world of opportunities will emerge.

With the discovery of new demographics, you’ll start generating more qualified leads and increase your sales significantly. In addition, when you know your demographics, it is also easy to know where your target audience is likely to hang out online. With this information, the process of scaling your ad campaign and being productive is almost effortless.


The offer features your specific product offerings including the price point, upsells and down sells. Remember, when buying a product, the first offer you see is not necessarily the company’s primary offer. Therefore, it pays to purchase your competitors’ product so you can learn more about their sales funnel.

Perhaps, what your competitors are offering on face-value is only supposed to get prospects in the door before introducing them to the real moneymakers down the line. If you want to see your competitor’s entire offering, you need to go an extra mile and make a purchase. With some hundreds of dollars, you can purchase a few products from different, successful businesses in your niche in order to learn more about their offers and sale funnels.

Take notes during your competitive intelligence process and pay attention to what they sell, how they sell it and the exact point, in their sales funnels, when they offer particular products. For instance, you’ll learn that some businesses use videos in some of their emails, while others focus on inbound marketing programs, rather than selling their products directly to their existing customers.

If you find your competitor’s marketing strategy convincing or appealing to you, as a customer, there is a likelihood that it will also appeal to your target market. Reverse engineering what you have learned increases your chances of success.

Landing Page

This is a crucial page in your funnel because it is the first page potential customers see or land on after clicking on your ads. Apart from having a business website, you can also have a dedicated landing page on various landing page building platforms such as BuilderAll and ClickFunnels. Thoroughly, examine and scrutinize the formats or structures of your competitors’ landing pages.

While some businesses create opt-in pages, others may choose to go with sales pages; choose the most trending and effective option in your target market. Again, you can only know what is effective by analyzing your most successful competitors’ preferred landing page formats.

Instead of creating your landing page, launching it and hoping it will work, consider reverse engineering what is working for others and model that into your own landing page. In other words, focus on creating something similar to what is already working.

Creating random landing pages that you think look great, without investigating successful landing pages in your niche is a waste of resources. The secret is to follow a proven model in order to scale your business. After all, if you want to succeed in doing anything in life, you need to find someone else who is doing what you want to do, perfectly, and model it into your efforts.

Once you have all the ideas on your fingertips, you can test and tweak what you have created to make it even more effective. The A/B testing process can even be done while you’re already making money.

Traffic Source

Analyze your competitors’ traffic streams. There are several helpful analytic tools you can use to know the traffic sources that your competitors use to generate sales. There are different traffic sources out there such as social media, media buys, emails, banner ads, native traffic, mobile traffic, etc.

Don’t create your own traffic source; the existing traffic sources are ideal enough for your business. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out where you can find the right traffic for your specific product offering, simply tap into what is available and redirect it into your e-commerce business. With the right tools, you will know where your competitors are getting their traffic from and funnel it to your landing pages or online store.

Ad Copy

What does a successful ad in your niche look like? It is important to know what entices your prospects to your competitors’ ads. You should know the type of content that your target audience responds well with.

For instance, you may be shocked to realize that your target customers prefer video content, instead of the long blocks of plain text that you have been creating. It all boils down, to what the body copy looks like. Remember traffic is made of real people, and how your ad copy is designed will influence their decision to click on your ads.

It can take several months of trial and error approaches to discover how your target customers can be persuaded to click on your ads. Therefore, instead of wasting time trying to figure out what appeals to your potential customers by blindly tweaking and adjusting your ads, take a look at what your competitors are doing. Later, you can run split tests to know what works most so you can have the most effective, converting ad copy.

How Can You Reverse Engineer

A Successful Marketing Campaign?​

It is not safe to move forward with a particular strategy if you have more than two unknowns of the five elements of reverse engineering an ad campaign. Now, that you know the right information to look for in your competitors’ marketing campaigns, it is time to learn how to dig up the gen and utilize it.

1.Know Where to Find Your Direct and Indirect Competitors

The best place to find your potential customers is where your competitors are. But what is the difference between direct and indirect competitors?

•  Direct competitor: Is a business that is selling a product or a service similar to yours, to the same people.

•  Indirect competitor: Is a business that is selling a product or service that is not similar to yours, but to the same people or demographic. For example, a company in a different niche could be selling a certain product to an elderly demographic, which you’re targeting. By researching both your direct and indirect competitors, you’ll discover new platforms where you should be placing your ads.

Meaning, you find out more about the new opportunities that your successful competitors have been incorporating in their sales funnels. There is huge potential in knowing more about what your competitors are doing and modeling it towards creating your own funnel. Therefore, your first step is to identify these direct and indirect competitors and come up with a definitive list of their websites, landing pages, and URLs.

If you don’t know who your stiff competitors are, start by using major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. You simply type the primary and secondary keywords or search queries that people who would want your products may use when looking for your products.

For example, if you deal with weight loss products, consider phrases such as “how to lose weight” or “effective weight loss products”. Clicking on most of the paid ads that appear at the top of search results will give you an idea of who your most competitive competitors are. With a list of your competitors URLs, you’ll be able to figure out all the five aforementioned elements in their campaigns.

2.Know What They Are Doing

Use reliable tools such as Similar Web, to know where they are placing their ads. You simply input a website and generate a report that shows the competitor’s traffic source. You will get a list of each competitor’s source of paid traffic. You can also dig deeper to see other vital metrics such as the duration a particular ad has been running on a certain traffic source.

In most cases, you’ll realize that long-running ads are the real moneymakers that are highly converting. In addition, you will know the type of ad copy that is most effective or the banners ads that are converting most for your competitors.

You will also see the formats of the landing pages that your competitors prefer sending most of their traffic to. Leverage this information in creating a sales funnel campaign that has the potential of replicating similar results. You can learn everything your competitor is doing and reverse engineer it effectively for your own funnel.

The Seven Phases of An Effective Funnel

Interestingly, the difference between running a six-, seven-, or eight-figure business is your understanding of how to successfully monetize the different phases of a sales funnel. Therefore, it is crucial to know every customer’s touch point and how your potential customers engage with your business at every phase. Since different people require different experiences and processes, you need to carefully engineer the process each potential customer goes through.

For your customer to ascend your value ladder, you need to focus on how you can manipulate each variable, and build good customer relationships for maximum monetization. A customer can choose to stay with your business for a few hours, days, or several weeks depending on how you manage his or her experience with your online store. Every step is a pre-frame of the previous step. That is why it is imperative to understand the pre-framing concept in a bid to build relationships so customers can continue buying from you, a brand they trust. Here are the seven phases of a sales funnel that you should test, tweak, and monetize when building a strong brand.

Phase One: Determine Traffic Temperature

It’s crucial to examine the traffic temperature or mindset of your traffic before it reaches your website. Each of the three levels of traffic, namely, cold, warm, and hot requires individualized communication. Therefore, you may even need different landing pages to act as bridges for each of the three levels or groups of traffic. Depending on your source of traffic, you need to take extra time to ensure this is set up correctly.

For instance, if your prospect is concerned about a general problem, but is not aware of what he or she really seeks, your headline should start with the problem and crystalize it into a need. If your prospect has a desire but is not aware of your product, your headline should start with the desire. And, if your prospect is aware that your product can satisfy his or her desire, your headline should start with the product.

Focus on where the prospect is at the time. You need to know where the potential customer is along the product awareness stages: problem aware, desire aware, or product aware. When creating your ad copy, consider creating content that is relevant to the specific customer you’re targeting. Obviously, since these customers have different traffic temperatures or mindsets, you have to create different content for each of them.

Phase Two: Set Up A Pre-Frame Bridge

You can use a blog post, YouTube video, email, or PPC ad to set up a pre-frame bridge. Remember, different levels of traffic will require different bridges. Cold traffic is quite hard to convert and requires more engagement; it may take days or weeks of providing valuable content to the cold traffic before you start pitching your product.

Warm traffic requires some pre-framing and some sort of endorsement from a person they trust; you can use an article from a reputable, authoritative website or publisher that endorses you as a viable or reliable solution provider. With hot-traffic, you don’t have to do a lot of credibility building, and thus the bridge is very short; you can send a simple email with a link to your landing page.

Phase Three: Quality Subscribers

The goal of this phase is to find out who is willing to give you an email from the cold, warm, and hot traffic in exchange for valuable information. If people are not willing to give you their email addresses at this point, it is highly unlikely that they’ll give you their money later. You can get qualified subscribers who are fairly interested in your products or services by using squeeze or opt-in pages. You can offer to give them a report or an interesting eBook in return for their email addresses.

Phase Four: Qualify Buyers

You need to find out who among your subscribers is a buyer. Identify the potential customers among the subscribers who are ready to pull out their credit cards and make a purchase. It is very important to qualify buyers immediately without delaying for some hours or days.

If someone is willing to buy your products, he or she will continue coming back provided you keep providing value. So as soon as a visitor enters an email address and clicks submit, he/she should see an offer.

Phase Five: Identify Hyperactive Buyers

A hyperactive buyer is a customer who is in a lot of pain and will buy from you more than one item at a time. For example, a passionate bowler can buy a ball, gloves, and shoes all at once, after a humiliating defeat. So quickly identify these customers and the pain they’re going through right now so you can leverage it to upsell. These customers should be treated differently.

keep providing value. So as soon as a visitor enters an email address and clicks submit, he/she should see an offer.

Phase Six: Age and Ascend the Relationship

When you get to this phase, you’ve completed the initial sales experience. So, phase six and seven explains what you need to do to keep these customers coming back for repeat business. Therefore, you need to age and ascend the customer relationships you have worked so hard to build. This is where the ladder of your product offering becomes important. Give your existing customers time to experience the value of the product they’ve purchased before you start reaching out to them again.

Phase Seven: Change your Selling Environment

It is almost impossible to sell very expensive products online. For example, online shoppers are not in the tendency of reading newsletters and clicking on products priced at over $10,000. Therefore, it is prudent to consider changing the selling environment, if you’re dealing with high-ticket products.

Pricey items should be sold at live events, over the phone or through direct email. In such sales environments, the salesperson has the benefit of feedback, can adequately overcome objections, and can help the customer make an informed decision on the fly.

Frontend Funnels

Two-step, free-plus-shipping

This particular funnel is very effective with free-plus-shipping offers. Typically, the first page on the funnel should have the who, what, why, and how script. Visitors will then be asked where to ship the product. The visitors will first fill out their shipping details in step one and proceed to step two where they fill their credit card information. It is ethical and crucial to mention that customers will be charged for shipping and handling.

You should capture the email address in step one because not every customer who fills out step one will proceed to fill the credit card information on step two. That way, you will be able to reach out to those who didn’t and encourage them to complete the process.

After the second step, you should introduce a special one-time offer (OTO) immediately after clicking the submit button so you can get an opportunity to upgrade the order. With the two-step-funnel, you need to build credibility and hit the main selling points as quickly as possible.

Self-Liquidating Offer

This type of funnel should be implemented when you want the frontend product to cover your campaign’s budget. An SLO funnel can help you break even by covering the expense of buying traffic.

If you structure it properly, you won’t have to deal with traffic costs and all your upsells will be pure profits. Basically, you use a lead magnet to attract prospects to sign up and once they click submit, they’re redirected to an SLO with your main offer. Depending on your business model you can also have a continuity funnel.

Middle Funnel


Over the past few years, webinars have become very effective sales tools. In a traditional presentation, the number of sales you make in your “back of the room” selling is limited to the number of participants in your event.

However, with a webinar that reaches millions of potential customers, you can sell more products. In other words, webinars incredibly change the dynamics of traditional seminars. A sixty to ninety minutes long webinar can be very effective if you intend to start selling products at the end of the webinar.

Backend Funnels

High-Ticket, Three-Step Application

This is the type of funnel to adapt when you want to pre-frame high-ticket coaching clients. The process of calling all your clients for consulting or coaching purposes can be hectic and too expensive. Moreover, it will cost you thousands of dollars to sift through your list and find the right clients who are interested.

With the High-Ticket, Three-Step Application, you can make good profits without having huge overhead. You can be able to make more sales with a few salespeople, unlike when using the conventional approach.

Final Word

Your website is the cornerstone of yourdigital marketing strategy because it can turn cold leads into warm leads. But, you need an e-commerce store with an effective sales funnel to start converting those visitors into paying customers and build a stable digital brand.

Your marketing strategy, therefore, should incorporate ways of warming up the clod leads and help inspire prospects to move further down the sales funnel and make a purchase. Without the right funnel in your inbound marketing strategy, you might not be able to nature the generated leads and you may experience high bounce rates and abandoned shopping carts.

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