As an online business owner, your sales funnel is without a doubt, the most important marketing tool you have. And yet, so many entrepreneurs have no clear perception of what a funnel is or how one works.

As you can imagine, neglecting to understand this critical part of your business means fewer clients, lower profits, and ultimately, an unstable business.

Designing Your Simple Sales Funnel

Think of your sales funnel as a road map for your website visitors. At its most basic, a sales funnel includes free, ungated content, which requires nothing of your readers. Most sales funnels begin with blog posts, YouTube videos, social media content, and other information your readers can access at no cost to them. This is the top of your funnel.

Next, you offer great content that requires an email address to access it. This is often called a “freebie opt-in” or “Valuable Free Offer.” I’m sure you’ve seen this type of offer on websites and have probably even signed up for a few. This can be a free ebook or guide, checklist,  video series, workbook, download or another type of content that is available in exchange for “opting in” to an email list. You can also use “content upgrades” in blog posts. (There is one at the bottom of this blog post if you’d like to see one in action).

Once on your mailing list, you’ll then present your readers with a series of low-cost offers. Perhaps you have a low-priced ebook or a trial membership.

***Updated September 2018*** After designing and redesigning many, many sales funnels, I am no longer convinced that you need a bunch of low-cost offers to warm up your subscribers. It still works, but sending them straight to your full offer of coaching or one-on-one services is sometimes even more effective. And the best part is that it’s not only effective for you (getting the sale) but it’s more effective for your client who is now getting the help they are looking for. Go to to schedule a free call to see if this is right for you.

Customers who purchase your low-priced intro product move further down your sales funnel and are offered more, higher priced products. As they continue to buy, they move closer and closer to your top-end offers, which make up the bottom of your funnel.

How Your Sales Funnel Works

I want you to actually imagine looking at your sales funnel as though it were an actual funnel. This way, it’s easy to see your free content at the top is seen and consumed by the largest number of readers and helps build your credibility. Below that, your valuable free offer attracts a smaller subset of freebie seekers since they only have to give up their email address. After that, your low-priced products bring in yet a smaller group.

Finally, as you near the tip of the funnel, only the most loyal of fans of your readers and clients will purchase your highest priced offers. Keep in mind, however, if you offer very high-end services, I always suggest ditching the low-cost offer and only work on bringing in people who can and want to afford you.

Make Sure You’re Leading Your Readers

Your main job, as the business owner and marketer of your business, is to ensure that your sales funnel leads buyers naturally from the top, free offers all the way to the bottom high-end offers. The more buyers you can keep in your funnel, the more money you will have the opportunity to make.

Most business owners can easily envision the top of their sales funnel, but if you sincerely want your business to flourish, you must master the entire process, and that starts with understanding what a funnel is and how it works.

Why Your Funnels Leak, And What To Do About It

When you have a solid sales funnel in place, it’s easy to take a look at the number of subscribers you have at each level and predict rather accurately what the sales are going to be from day to day or week to week.

However, it’s possible for your sales funnel to develop a leak or two. You may find that your funnel has a hole (or two or three) where subscribers are falling through the cracks and aren’t moving through as they should. There are four common causes for funnel leaks, and once you find them, they’re pretty simple to fix.

Not enough traffic.

The heart of your sales funnel is the traffic you bring in. Without visitors to your website, blog, or opt-in pages, you’ll have no subscribers. Without subscribers, you’re going to have a really hard time making sales. Without sales, you’ll have no business. This is where so many people struggle. How can you get more eyes on your content and more subscribers into your funnel?

How to fix it: Traffic generation is an industry of its own, but you can use good SEO to encourage search engines to rank your content well. You can use a WordPress plugin like Yoast to help you out. Also, be active in the social media groups your ideal reader hangs out, or at live events. Use Facebook ads to drive targeted traffic to landing pages. Recruit JV partners and affiliates to promote your offers. Buy solo ads in related email newsletters.

No follow-up.

So many entrepreneurs make this mistake, and it’s such an easy one to fix. They spend a ton of time and energy setting up a great landing page and driving traffic to it, then they deliver the goods to their subscribers, and then…nothing. No follow-up emails. No offers to buy more. No related services or products. Nothing.

How to fix it: Before you spend time building that opt-in page or offer, be sure you have a back-end to promote, or those subscribers you so carefully collected will end up costing you money instead of helping you earn it back.

No call-to-action.

This usually happens at the top of the sales funnel. Your blog posts, podcasts, social media posts, YouTube videos (all those awesome freebies you have) must have some type of call-to-action, or you’re just wasting energy. Your call-to-action can be as simple as “Subscribe to my YouTube channel” or “Follow me on Facebook for more tips,” but it must be there.

How to fix it: Every time you write an email or blog post, ask yourself, “What do I want my readers to do when they’re done reading/listening/watching this?” That becomes your call to action.

Do you have a leaky funnel? With a few tweaks and some attention paid to your follow-up sequences, chances are you can fix those holes and increase your profits in no time!

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