In this guide, you’ll learn how to build a high-conversion sales funnel for your digital course, so you can attract more customers, increase your conversion rate, and grow your business.
Keep reading to learn what it takes to build a successful sales funnel, the best sales funnel software, and a new tool that simplifies it all.
What is a sales funnel?
A sales funnel is a multi-step marketing campaign designed to quickly turn cold prospects into customers. Traditionally, it starts with an ad promoting a free lead magnet, followed by one or more paid offers.
It’s built with sales funnel software that automates the delivery, creating a seamless flow from one step of the funnel to the next. The goal is to keep customers engaged by taking them immediately to the next stage of the funnel, based on their behavior within the funnel.
At each stage of the funnel, it’s understood that a percentage of prospects will exit the funnel. It’s optimized to keep the ideal customer engaged all the way to purchase.
Those who aren’t interested in buying, and those who aren’t able to take action now, will drop off as the funnel progresses. But since sales funnels generally include a lead collection form, they can build your email list while helping you sell your digital products.
Why sales funnels work
Sales funnels market and sell just one product. If you have two digital courses, you’ll create two sales funnels, one for each course. Each funnel attracts the ideal customer for that product, so it’s easier to speak directly to their needs and desires.
Like a physical funnel, sales funnels attract a large number of prospects for your product. People who are at the top of the funnel may be interested in your product. But they may not be ready to make a decision. Or they may be looking for a different type of solution.
People who are deeper in your funnel are usually a good fit for your brand and products. And people who move all the way through your funnel become loyal customers who buy multiple products.
Do you need a sales funnel?
If you sell digital courses, coaching, consulting, or products, you need a good sales funnel. It will help you reach more people, automate your marketing, and sell more products with less effort.
Your funnel allows you to find new prospects who need the solution you offer. At the top of the funnel, you can give them a quick win by offering a free resource, often called a lead magnet.
If they accept your offer, you’ll make a paid offer. And if they buy, you may decide to make a second, higher priced offer that raises the order value and gives your customer a better, more complete solution.
It’s a win-win. Your customers get high-value solutions to their pressing problems. You get new customers who see you as a trusted resource who they can turn to when they want help.
What are the stages of a sales funnel?
The sales funnel is often broken into four stages:
Every sales funnel starts with some mechanism that creates awareness around a specific problem. This should be a problem that you solve with your product or service.
There are many ways to create awareness. A few common ways are:
- Facebook and Instagram ads
- Google ads
- Search engine marketing
- Lead magnets or other free offers
- Ebooks that include a link to your landing page
- Online quizzes
- Social media posts
- Emails to your list or to partner lists
- Email sequences
Regardless of the channel you use to drive awareness, you must focus on a problem that your prospects want solved. People don’t slow down to read an offer unless they’re trying to fix a problem or achieve something that matters to them.
Once you have your prospects’ attention, you need to generate interest in your solution. In the Awareness stage above, you introduced a problem. At this stage, you want to magnify the problem and establish that your product or service will help them solve the problem. To do that:
- Start building a relationship with your prospect
- Teach prospects about the scope of the problem
- Explain why they need to take immediate action to solve the problem
- Let them know there’s an effective solution that’s easy to implement
You can build interest quickly by sharing your own experience with the problem. This helps them feel they aren’t alone. And seeing you on the other side of it, they begin to trust you to help them overcome it.
At this stage, your goal is to get your prospect to make a buying decision. To do that, you must overcome every objection your prospect might raise.
In your sales copy, you’ll introduce different solutions. In many cases, these solutions are the different options available to your prospect:
- Taking no action at all
- X, Y, Z features (which happen to be available in competitor products)
- A, B, C options to solving the problem
One at a time, you must address these alternatives and explain why they aren’t the best way to solve the problem. Then, talk about how your product works. Explain why it’s better, faster, and/or cheaper.
At this stage of the funnel, you want to pour on the proof. Include reviews and testimonials from happy customers. Include case studies and success stories. There should be no question that you can deliver the solution you’re promised.
SoulFoodWeb features a video of their student testimonials.
At the bottom of the funnel, you simply ask your prospect to take action. To do that:
- Present your offer
- Reduce risk as much as you can
- Give a clear, compelling call to action.
Provide a button that leads to an order form, or embed a form on your page. Your goal at this stage is to reduce friction, making it as easy as possible to respond to your offer.
What makes a sales funnel successful?
A successful sales funnel loses a percentage of prospects at every stage. Let’s say 100 people enter the funnel. A fourth might not be interested. Another fourth might not be ready to make a decision now. Only one to 20 percent will take action and buy.
According to Adobe Digital Index 2020, the average conversion rate for a well-optimized funnel is just 3 percent. So it’s important to dial in the details of your funnel. Building it doesn’t guarantee success. Let’s look at four things you can do to ensure your sales funnel is successful.
Target the right people
Even a perfect funnel will flop if you put it in front of the wrong people. To get traction, you need to target the right people with the right message and the right offer. You need to know your ideal prospect inside and out:
- What problem do they struggle with most?
- What are they trying to achieve?
- Why does it matter to them?
- What makes them say yes to an offer?
- What makes them say no?
Figure out where they hang out online, so you can put your message in front of them. And know what they care about, so you create an irresistible offer.
Create rapport right away
On a sales page, your headline and lead (the first 100 to 500 words of your sales page) are key to capturing your prospect’s interest. The first thing you must do is communicate that you understand the problem they’re facing.
To do that, quickly let them know that you’ve been where they are, struggling just as they do now. Talk about the problem as someone who’s experienced it. Use stories to illustrate the challenges. Agitate the pain it causes.
If the prospect is experiencing this pain, your story will be riveting. When you introduce your product or service as the solution, they’ll feel relief. They’ll continue to read as you explain how they can get similar results.
Set and meet the right expectations
The way a prospect enters your funnel can influence their expectations. Ideally, you’ll want to create a unique sales funnel for each channel you pull traffic from.
If you capture awareness with a Facebook ad, your prospects will be directed to a landing page that continues their Facebook experience. A free or low-cost offer does this well.
If, on the other hand, you capture attention in an ebook, prospects will expect to be given resources related to that book before you make an offer. Create a resource page for the book, and include an offer for the next stage of your funnel.
Position your product strategically
To stand out and get noticed by your target audience, you’ve got to position your solution as better than every alternative out there.
It must be unique. Most of the offers being made by your competitors are indistinguishable from one another. To stand out, you must make a unique offer that’s different from every other option your prospects see.
It must have a better mechanism. People don’t buy just one product and stop searching for answers. More than likely, they’ve already bought a few products similar to yours, and they’ve failed to deliver the outcome your prospects are looking for.
Make it clear that your offer works differently. Explain how it works and why it’s better.
It must be proven to work. Consumers are jaded by companies that have over-promised and under-delivered. Your solution must be credible, and you need strong evidence that it’s worked for people like your prospect.
Include as much social proof as possible. Include customer reviews and testimonials.
Create an intuitive buying experience
Always remember that your prospects have other options. If you don’t make it easy to buy, or if you raise any doubts that you can deliver as promised, they’ll exit your sales funnel and buy from a competitor.
To keep that from happening, make the buying experience as seamless as possible. Aim for:
- No friction
- No distractions
- An intuitive, step-by-step buying process
Tracking and measure everything
No funnel works perfectly right out of the gate. Set up tracking for every stage of the funnel, so you know where people drop off and where you need to make improvements.
Connect Google Analytics to your website, landing page platform, email service provider, and any other apps you use. If you can use an all-in-one application like Kajabi, all the better. You only need to set up your Google Analytics application once, and you’ll have all your metrics in one place.
How to build a sales funnel
Let’s walk step-by-step through the process of building a successful sales funnel.
Step 1: Choose the product you’ll build your funnel around
Each funnel promotes just one product. Every touch in the funnel points prospects toward this product.
You need to choose the product you’ll promote. Then work backwards to decide how best to create desire, interest, and awareness about your product.
Step 2: Map the funnel
To build a sales funnel that’s optimized for success and provides a good buyer experience, you need to start by mapping it out on a high level. This is where you’ll make strategic decisions about how the funnel flows from one step to the next so you give your customers a great experience.
You can use a diagramming app like Funnelytics to map out your funnel. Or you can manually draw it out on a napkin, white board, or your tablet’s Notes app.
Focus on the customer journey.
- How will you drive awareness and interest?
- How will you help people decide that your offer is their best option?
- Where will you ask them to take action?
- How will you reward or respond to those actions?
The map above is a basic funnel that you can’t go wrong with. It starts with a few basic traffic sources.
This traffic is sent to a landing page where a lead magnet is offered. If they say yes, they’re added to a subscriber list. They’re then taken to a thank-you/sales page where you offer your digital course or coaching services.
If they choose not to buy, you can send them an email series that continues to promote that product. If they say yes, they’re sent to an order page, where they can complete the purchase.
At this point, you can make an upsell offer or end the transaction. An upsell offer should be related to the product that the customer just bought. It should add more value and help the customer achieve success faster or more easily. Think advanced class, templates, coaching, or a membership offer.
When the order is complete, you’ll need to deliver everything the customer ordered: the lead magnet and the products that were ordered. It’s also a good idea to send the customer an onboarding series if they’re a new subscriber.
Step 3: Set up your shopping cart
If your digital product isn’t already in your shopping cart, set it up now. Here, you’ll create your order page and set up your customer flow.
Note: Decide in advance what the URLs will be for each page of your funnel. Jot them down in a document or spreadsheet, so you can check them off as you build each asset.
Step 4: Create your lead magnet
Create the lead magnet or low-cost offer you’ll use at the top of your funnel. Then create a landing page where people can download it.
This can be a simple page. It should have an intriguing headline, a few bullets describing the value of your lead magnet (what they’ll learn or be able to do), and an opt-in form.
Create the form in your email service. You may embed the opt-in form on your landing page or create a two-step opt-in that pops up when a visitor clicks the button.
Step one of a two-step opt-in
Step two of a two-step opt-in
Finally, build a delivery email that’s sent to anyone who fills out your form. It should congratulate them for taking action and give them a link to the lead magnet.
Step 5: Create a thank you/sales page
When a prospect opts in, they’ll be taken to a thank-you page. (You’ll need to set up this automation through your email service.)
But don’t stop at saying thank you. Your prospects are excited. Built on that energy by offering your digital product on this same page.
Your sales message may be text, or video, or both. In your presentation, address the big problem your prospect is facing. Introduce your product and its many benefits. Then give your call to action: buy now.
To build your landing page, use a landing page builder. They give you added functionality for unique layouts and design elements. They also help you minimize distractions so your page converts better.
Step 6: Create your email nurturing campaigns
This is a funnel, remember. Not everyone will respond right away. For people who don’t buy, create a series of emails that will continue talking about the benefits of your product. In many cases, after learning more about your product, the prospect will decide to buy after all.
Build a welcome series for your new customers as well. After buying your product, they should be put into an onboarding sequence that gives them access to the product and gets them engaged right away.
Step 7: Create your traffic generating assets.
Finally, create the content you’ll use to boost awareness and drive traffic into your funnel. Publish these wherever your audience hangs out online:
- Social media
- High-traffic blog
The best sales funnel software
Sales funnel software allows you to build a high-performance sales funnel and give your customers a smooth experience. With the right software, you can automate things, so it’s constantly pulling people through your funnel, making sales 24/7.
What types of sales funnel software do you need?
To build your funnel, you’ll need tools that allow you to create or manage each stage of the funnel. Here’s the basic functionality you need to look for.
- Landing page builder
- Shopping cart
- A/B testing
- Analytics to measure success
- Email software
- Ad management software
- Graphics tool
You can purchase a sales funnel software for each functionality, then try to stitch it all together. But when you do that, each integration becomes a point of potential failure.
With one comprehensive tool that’s designed to showcase your product and push prospects through your funnel, you can build a better funnel with fewer integrations. That usually creates a better experience for you and your customers.
For example, Kajabi Pipeline is an all-in-one solution that gives you everything you need in one place:
- digital product creation
- Email marketing
- Sales funnel software
That makes it easier to build your funnel. It also minimizes areas where things can break down. Since each functionality was designed to go with the others, the experience is seamless.
Examples of successful sales funnels
Let’s look at how successful entrepreneurs are building out their sales funnels.
Do Hard Things
Do Hard Things is a book authored by Alex and Brett Harris, founders of The Rebelution. Their aim is to encourage teenagers to rebel against low expectations.
On their website, they’re building an audience for training related to the book. Their audience: teenagers and their parents.
Step 1: Let visitors choose their journey
If you have more than one customer avatar for your product, this is a good approach. Since you need to speak differently to each avatar, create a separate funnel for each. Then let them tell you which landing page they need to see.
Step 2: Long-form sales page
In this case, there’s no lead magnet. Prospects are taken to a long-form sales page, where they learn about the program, see testimonials, and join the waiting list.
What we like
Any time you let your users select their own path, you’ll win. This page instantly tells visitors that there’s information (help, if you will) that’s specific to them.
The long-form sales page is written specifically to the user’s persona. As a result, the copy speaks directly to the user’s concerns and desires.
What could be improved
While this flow is well designed, it isn’t complete. Step 2 is neither a lead magnet nor a sales page. Unless people decide to join the waiting list, there’s no way to add them to your list.m
By adding a free download before this page, Do Hard Things could create another touch that builds trust and engagement.
A book can make a good entry-level product. It can also make a good funnel. Emily Benson has done a good job of using her book on her website, Boutique Training Academy.
Step 1: Invite the click
Emily has made the book her first link in her site’s navigation. For anyone wanting to learn more about her, that’s an obvious click.
Step 2: Let people explore the book
This click takes people to Amazon’s preview of the book. They can read through Chapter 1. Then, they’re given a popup for buying the book.
What we like
A book is a great lead magnet. It’s authoritative. It shares valuable information. It usually leaves people wishing for more. I like that Emily lets people read some of the book before asking for the purchase.
What could be improved
I don’t love that people are leaving Emily’s website to explore the book. Even though she’s asking for a purchase, she’s losing control of the traffic. This is essentially Amazon’s funnel, not Emily’s.
There are two ways Emily could restructure this funnel to regain control. She could put an opt-in form in front of the book preview. Or she could use the book to drive traffic to a lead magnet.
- Create a simple landing page that offers, “Read the book.” Ask people to opt in before sending them to this preview of the book.
- Create a bonus page for the book, with a collection of resources that add value to the book. Then create a landing page where visitors opt in to get access to that page.
Here’s another book funnel that quickly turns visitors into customers. On the homepage, Roger Sitkins offers two ways to learn how to improve an independent insurance agency.
Step 1: Onsite book promotion
Step 2: Book landing page
Notice that this isn’t a lead magnet. Roger is selling the book as his entry product.
There are times when a low-cost offer is more strategic than a free download. A book funnel is a good example. If you’re a consultant, a book can help people get to know you and your methods. It gives them a taste of what they can expect if they hire you.
Step 3: Book order page
Roger doesn’t send people to Amazon to buy his book. He makes the sale directly, so he can add buyers to his email list.
What we like
Funnels are designed to do two things quickly: collect email addresses and qualify your prospects. This funnel does that remarkably well.
Roger offers plenty of free information through his blog and podcast. So he doesn’t offer a free download. Instead, he asks his visitors to put skin in the game right away by buying his book. This builds a high-quality list of buyers, not tire kickers.
It also improves the quality of his list. Everyone he adds to his list through this funnel is a customer. They’ve demonstrated that they’re willing to pay for information. And after reading the book, there’s a good chance they’ll upgrade to his consulting services.
What could be improved
While this sales funnel works, it could be optimized to be more user friendly.
- Create a lead magnet that attracts people who aren’t ready to spend money yet.
- Put a button on the book order page, so it’s easier to see the call to action.
Hey Jen Casey
Jen Casey is a brain-based business coach for online coaches. Here’s the funnel she uses to educate her visitors and quickly build interest in her coaching and training.
Step 1: Self-select areas of interest
On Jen’s home page, she offers three lead magnets based on the areas where she can give prospects a quick win.
Step 2: Lead magnet landing page
Here, Jen provides a simple landing page that describes the guide and asks visitors to take action.
Step 3: Lead magnet opt-in and delivery
Jen asks prospects for their name and email. This gives her the information she needs to continue following up with prospects.
In her delivery email, she immediately gives the link to the guide. She then follows with a reminder of why this guide is valuable, so her new prospects will open and read it.
We like that she gives links to the Facebook group and her podcast. At this stage, it’s important to activate new subscribers. By giving them multiple ways to engage with her, she solidifies the relationship.
Step 4: Free online training offer
Jen’s prospects have just indicated they want help with their sales conversations. Now is the perfect time to offer advanced training that gives them real solutions and builds trust in her coaching abilities.
Step 5: Registration page for free training
This is an evergreen webinar. Prospects may select the time that suits them best. A countdown timer reminds them it’s about to start.
Step 6: Confirmation page
The confirmation page is created by Jen’s webinar software. It confirms that they’ve registered for the event. It also gives them a link to attend.
The webinar is essentially a video sales letter with a teaching component. Jen engages her prospects, gives them valuable information, and then makes her offer.
Step 7: Follow-up email sequence
Not all attendees will take action during the webinar. By following up with an email drip sequence, Jen can continue marketing to them and make more sales.
What we like
The flow of this funnel is very good. It starts with a free download, then graduates to free training and a paid offer. This allows prospects to develop trust before she asks them to buy anything.
In this funnel, she offers a written guide and video training. This provides multiple formats of training, which engages all types of learners.
We especially like the inclusion of an evergreen webinar. This adds value to the funnel without adding a lot of extra work. Simply record a live webinar, then recycle it as an on-demand event.
What could be improved
The first landing page, where Jen offers her lead magnet, would convert better if she included some bullets teasing the information prospects will learn. It doesn’t need to be as in-depth as the free training landing page, but it should be treated as an important part of the funnel.
The best sales funnel software for you
The best sales funnel software isn’t a hodge-podge of mismatched apps. It’s streamlined. It has as few dashboards and integrations as possible. And it keeps your prospects in the funnel, from first touch to the final sale.
The more tools you bring into your funnel, the more points of breakage you create. And when that happens, people exit your funnel. Often, never to return.
That’s why we recommend sales funnel software with as much built-in functionality as possible. This allows you to pull in a few additional tools where needed, while minimizing the risk of breakage.
Start by mapping out your ideal funnel. Then look at the functionality it requires, so you know what to look for in your sales funnel software.
A good way to approach your funnel is with a concept called pipeline marketing. It combines sales and marketing data for better results. Kajabi’s Pipeline is built on this concept.
It has proven blueprints for all your marketing needs. So you don’t need to be a funnel expert to build compelling, high-conversion sales funnels. With advanced functionality already built in, it automates your campaigns, making it easy to connect with your audience and sell your knowledge.