The Beginners Guide to Sales Funnels For New Entrepreneurs

*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. If you decide to purchase any of these resources, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. 

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Sales funnels are a great way to increase sales and grow your business.

A sales funnel is the most important marketing tool online business owners have in their marketing toolkit. It’s sometimes referred to as a “marketing funnel”.

They help you create a path for customers to follow, that makes it easy for them to make purchases on your website.

However, there are a lot of entrepreneurs and bloggers – both new and established – who have no clear understanding of what a funnel is or how it works.

They don’t understand how this critical tool can make a drastic difference in how they run their business and how they make money online.

As you can imagine, failing to fully understand this critical part of your business means fewer sales, lower profits, more stress, confusion, overwhelm and ultimately, an unstable business.

If you’re new in the world of entrepreneurship or haven’t yet created a sales funnel for your business, this guide is perfect for you!

This guide will cover everything from how they work, why they’re important and how to set one up quickly and easily.

What is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel is a set of steps that you create to lead your customers towards the purchase page. This diagram shows an example of how it works:

These steps involve a set of landing pages and emails depending on how complex your funnel is.

How Sales Funnels Work

Imagine your funnel looks like, well, a funnel, it’s easy to see that your free content—at the top—is consumed by the largest number of readers.

If the reader likes what you’re saying they click on a link that takes them to your landing page.

Let’s say this page is offering a simple freebie in exchange for an email address. Your potential client will put their name and email address into a form on the page and click submit.

If you’ve set up a very basic funnel(more on this later) then the next page will be a thank you page. The form they completed on the landing page would have been connected to your email service provider, so an automated email will be sent to them with the freebie they requested.

You now have a name on your list that you can now send emails to and make offers to.

This is an excellent way for you to guide them through all of the products that you offer without overwhelming them with choices on your webpage.

Different types of funnels you can create for different purposes 

There are different types of sales funnels that work in unique ways including a lead funnel, affiliate funnel, digital product funnel, application funnel, and webinar funnel.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the ones named above.

Lead Funnel

The most basic sales funnel is a lead funnel and it focuses on growing your mailing list so you can nurture your audience and promote to them when you need to.

This is essential to set up right from the start of your business.

Lead funnels are the most common type of funnel.

A lead is defined as an individual who has shown interest in your business but hasn’t made a purchase yet.

Lead funnels help you identify and connect with these types of people. This is when you offer a Freebie also known as a Lead Magnet or Opt-in to someone who might be interested in your services.

It starts with the free content you offer your audience. This costs your audience nothing but time and gives them valuable information that either educates or entertains.

This can be blog posts, YouTube videos, Facebook content, and other information readers can access at no cost. This is the “top” of your funnel.

Next, you’ll have an attractive offer that requires no financial commitment, just an email address. This will be your lead magnet/opt-in and will help you build your email list.

You can offer a free ebook or guide, video series, checklist, workbook, or other valuable content that will help your audience take action on what they have read in exchange for “opting in” to your email list. The key is to focus on delivering 1 solution to 1 problem.

If they decide to get your freebie, you get their email in exchange.

Once on your mailing list, you’ll then nurture the subscriber by providing valuable educating content. You can then promote both affiliate links and your own products to them in order to turn them from subscriber to customer.

This type of funnel includes a landing page and a thank you page.

Tripwire Funnel or Optimized Funnel

The optimized funnel turns your reader into a paying customer within a few clicks.

The funnel starts the same way, with free content on your blog or social media, then on to offering your lead magnet.

When they have opted in, at this stage, you present your new subscriber with a low-cost offer called a tripwire.

A tripwire should be between $7 – $20. This can be an eBook, mini-course or a Low-cost trial membership (think $7 for 30 days).

The key here is that not only is the item you offer contains valuable solutions, but you already sell or plan to sell it at a higher price point. You then add urgency by offering the product at a low cost for a limited time after they have opted in.

The idea behind it is that you get someone to commit to being a customer straight away and also with a good tripwire you can make the lead funnel pay for itself.

Customers who purchase your low-priced product move further down your funnel, and are presented with more, higher-priced products through your email promotions.

As they continue to buy, they move closer and closer to your top-end offers, which make up the bottom of your funnel.

This type of funnel includes a landing page, a thank you page that includes a product at a lower price point and a final thank you page.

Affiliate Funnel

An affiliate funnel is when you are promoting other people’s offers but as a savvy newbie, you know you have to collect email addresses to build your own business.

So you create a freebie connected to the affiliate offer and when someone signs up for the freebie the thank you page takes them to the affiliate offer.

Digital Product Funnel

A digital product funnels main purpose is to sell your offer.

It allows you to capture email addresses and present them with higher value offers (i.e., workshops, courses, printables) that will make more money than you initially would have gotten with just a freebie.

This type of funnel could include bump offers, upsells, and downsells.

Application Funnel

An application funnel is a sales funnel that allows you to filter and qualify leads based on your specific criteria. Potential clients have to submit an application and can only make the purchase once approved.

This type of funnel is usually used for high-ticket items and can be used in conjunction with a webinar funnel.

Webinar Funnel

A webinar funnel is an extremely effective marketing tool for BOTH your business AND affiliates. It’s highly interactive as well as informative for those who attend which allows everyone the opportunity to walk away with something of value.

Again this is usually used with high-ticket items.

sales funnels

What to Consider Before Setting Up a Sales Funnel

Once you’ve chosen the type of funnel that fits your business model, there are a few factors to consider when setting it up:

  • The number of steps in the funnel, which depends on how complex you want to make the funnel and what activities each step is made for (e.g., purchase page or email signups)
  • How many emails to send out – the more you have, the better your chances of making a sale will be. However, too many can become annoying for customers and start hurting conversion rates.+
  • How often should each email go out? It’s best to schedule them at different times throughout the day so that they catch people when they are most likely online

Why Use Sales Funnels in Your Business?

There are several reasons why you should use sales funnels in your business. Here are just a few:

  • Helps build trust with potential customers so they feel comfortable doing business with you
  • Clearly defines each step of the buying process to help convert leads into customers more efficiently and effectively than other marketing channels
  • Allows people who aren’t ready to make a purchase yet to opt into your email list where you can continue marketing to them
  • Allows you to become more efficient with your time by automating some of the sales processes like sending out emails and following up.
  • Helps you to focus on what matters. On providing value to your audience and getting paid for that value.

You can build your business. Have one core product. Focus on building a tribe of potential customers who would love to use that one product. That’s what a sales funnel can do for you.

When should I start using a sales funnel for my business?

While there isn’t a specific time to use sales funnels in your business, it’s best to start using more complex funnels when you have a strong strategy to drive enough leads to your site or funnel that can be converted into customers.

You should however start creating basic funnels straight away, by having a basic lead funnel, that you can build out later.

3 Key Pages to Building Your First Sales Funnel

So now you know what a sales funnel is and why you need one or more, how do you set up your first funnel?

In fact, not knowing how to set up a funnel is the number one reason small business owners say they can’t get their funnels set up—they simply don’t know what to include where.

Here’s the easy answer: At the very least, your sales funnel needs three pages.

Opt-in/Lead Magnet Landing Page [Essential]

This one obviously comes first. You may hear this called an opt-in page or squeeze page.

It serves one purpose—to get the reader to take action. You want them to take up your offer and give you their email address in exchange for the free gift, this is the gateway into your funnel.

Everything that follows depends on this page, so you want to be sure you: Include a clear call to action—“Access Now” or “Click here to download this report for free”.

Eliminate distractions—that means no links to other websites or even a navigation bar.

Address the readers’ pain points and how your offer provides the solution. Focus on the transformation they will get by taking up your offer. Always think benefits, not features.

Tripwire Page [Optimized Funnel]

This page has one function. That is to get your new subscriber to become a customer.

You’ll make an irresistible low-cost offer that your reader will find hard to resist. This is your tripwire. You can include a video on this page and should include a timer to give your offer urgency.

Remember you want to make this a one-time limited offer on a product you genuinely sell at a higher price.

Confirmation/Thank You Page

This is where you will confirm that their offer is on the way. If you have a double opt-in you can tell them the next steps, they need to take in order to collect their freebie.

Or you can make sure they actually collect their downloadable item from this page.

Like the Tripwire page, this is valuable real estate, so you want to be sure you use it wisely.

In addition to the downloadable item your customer just purchased (or opted in for) you also want to showcase your other offers—especially those at a slightly higher price point.

Here’s why: the person looking at this page is a hot prospect. He or she is in a buying mood. You want to be sure to take advantage of that by putting your most relevant offers on this page.

To encourage buying, again consider including, a limited time offer—scarcity sells, so if you can legitimately limit sales to a few hours/days or number of units, then this is the place to do so.

A “no-brainer” coupon offer—an insider’s only deal can be a powerful motivator, especially if it’s a fantastic price.

If you’re setting up a free funnel, this page has great power—and you don’t want to waste it!

Here is where you can offer upsells, remind people to follow you on social media, and give them a peek at your other products and services.

Extra bonuses—give them access to additional products/services if they buy through your link on that page. These should be bonuses that aren’t advertised on the public sales page for that product. Again—insider’s deals are motivating!

3 Steps to Setting Up a Basic Sales Funnel

Building an email list should be your first priority when starting your business. This will allow you to build relationships with people who want to learn more about your products.

The next step is to create a sales funnel that will allow you to capture new leads and begin selling to them. Below are the five steps that every business owner should take when creating their own basic sales funnels.

Step One: Create Your Lead Magnet

A lead magnet sometimes referred to as an opt-in, freebie or bribe, is an offer that you give to anyone who signs up for your mailing list.

This can be anything from a free checklist on a related topic to discounts and coupons for future purchases of products.

The one thing that all lead magnets have in common is the fact that they are valuable enough so people will gladly share their email address with you.

The goal of this step is to give your readers an offer that will be valuable enough for them to sign up and provide you with their email address, which can then later be used as a contact in the sales funnel.

The lead magnet should also focus on one particular topic since it’s important not to spread yourself too thin when trying to attract customers.

Step Two: Setup Landing Pages & Sign Up Forms

Once you have your lead magnet in place, the next step is to capture the email addresses of all people who download it through an opt-in form or link on your website.

You should sign up for an email automation tool like Convertkit or Aweber not only manages the emails you receive but also allow you easily create signup forms to place on your website or landing pages.

You should provide a clear call to action on your landing pages and make sure that it’s visible enough on the page so people can find and click through to take action.

Step Three: Email Marketing

With your email marketing automation system in place, you will need to set up your email welcome series.

Which are the emails someone receives after they have given you their email address. This should include between 3 – 5 emails that go out either every day or every other day after they sign up.

This allows you to build a relationship with your new leads by introducing yourself and letting them know how you can help them by providing more valuable content to them.

After that initial welcome series, you should also be including them in all the regular value-based emails that you send to your list.

Even if people are interested in your product, they still need to get used to hearing from you first before considering buying anything.

Getting Started With Your First Sales Funnel

Sales funnels are a great way to organize your sales process and increase conversions. They can help you better understand the customer journey from initial interest, through engagement, all the way to purchase or conversion. 

“If you are just starting out with your business, it is wise to start using sales funnels.

Putting together a sales funnel isn’t complicated—or at least it doesn’t have to be.

As your business grows and you have more products to offer, you can expand your funnel to include more upsells and downsells, but for now, this simple setup is really all you need.

The information provided in this guide should help get you started on the right path.

We’ve also included a Sales Funnel Swipe File with 3 different types of funnels!

These will make it easy for you to put together your own funnels by just looking at the file and seeing what pages you need to set up in order to make it work.

If you’re looking to get started with any of these steps, check out the Build Your Business Vault – where you’ll find the sales funnel swipe file!

Once again- these are three free resources that I hope help get you started on the right path towards success. Happy funneling!

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