[3 Step Process] How to Build a Sales Funnel that Takes the Cake

Tiered cake example for how to build a sales funnel

Editor’s note: This post was originally written in 2016 and, while the best practices remain as relevant as ever, the article has been updated to include even more insight into sales funnels and how they work within your small business’ marketing mix. Dig in!

Do you know how to build a sales funnel from start to finish?

Do you feel overwhelmed when you start to plan out your marketing funnels?

Sales funnels are the backbone of your digital marketing campaign, but they can also feel messy and complicated.

So, it’s time to demystify the process and make sales funnels three things:

  • Easy to create
  • Easy to launch
  • Easy to measure

Yes, it is possible to have fun with sales funnels, and we’ll show you how!

We’re going to give you the recipe to create the most effective marketing “cake” using just three ingredients, four steps, and one funnel! So let’s get cooking!

What to expect in this sales funnel post

We’ll start with some basic definitions of what a sales funnel is (including quick funnels), then walk through the online sales funnel process, one step at a time. (We’ll even include details on how to properly work in lead generation with landing pages, which is our specialty.)

What is a sales funnel?

Landing pages can’t function by themselves. No (successful) web page is an island. A single page usually isn’t enough to make the sale, especially when engaging new customers or selling an expensive product.

You need to first drive traffic to the landing page. Then you need to engage and influence the traffic. Finally, you need to follow up to convert and finish the sale.

This process is what we call a “sales funnel.”  

Sales funnels have a lot of moving parts, which can make them overwhelming and exhausting for marketers. But it doesn’t actually have to be complicated.

Learn more about the ins and outs of marketing funnels with Neil Patel.

Bonus resource: What is a quick funnel?

Quick funnels are sales funnels that draws in customers. They are synonymous with a sales funnel and work to convert customers through offers. 

How do I make a funnel page? (In three parts)

Let’s go through how to build a sales funnel with just three sections and four easy steps.

Leadpages, we use the “Micro Funnel” system. This organization helps break down the sales funnel into bite-size chunks, so it’s easier to digest.

Think of the Micro Funnel as a three-layered cake. Each layer has its own flavor, but they work together to create a cohesive dessert that entices your customers to take a bite.

There are three key blocks in the Micro Funnel:

  1. Landing page
  2. Pop-up
  3. Thank you page

You’ll also usually have a step before the landing page that drives traffic, like social media or a paid advertisement. The landing page is where your traffic “lands” when they show initial interest with your business.

A pop-up is where your customer decides to make the purchase or opt-in to what you’re offering. Our Leadbox is a specialized 2-step form that makes it simple and easy for users to opt-in. The number of sign-ups you get is directly linked to how streamlined the signup process is.

Then you have a thank you page. This shows your appreciation for your customer, while also encouraging a deeper relationship with your business. For example, someone gave you their email on the pop-up in exchange for a free eBook. You can now have a page that thanks them for signing up, gives them the eBook, and encourages them to purchase the associated workbook that enhances their eBook purchase.

How does a funnel work? 

Each Micro Funnel should have its own specific target and purpose. For example, Micro Funnel A might encourage customers to input their email address in exchange for a free eBook. Micro Funnel B asks consumers to purchase a $5 webinar. Micro Funnel C works to convert users to become coaching clients for $50 per month.

You can then string these Micro Funnels together to a larger sales funnel. With funnel A, you’ve grabbed their email. This gives you the traffic for funnel B, where you’re asking for a deeper investment of time and money. This then gives you an audience of customers who have already shown interest in your brand, so you can upsell for your main product with funnel C.   

Now let’s look at the specifics of how to build a sales funnel in just four steps. Really, that’s it. Four steps and you’re there!

1.  Start at the end

What is the outcome?

You want to know where you’re going in order to get there. You need to know what kind of cake you want to bake before you buy the ingredients. Before you start building a funnel, you need to know what the final objective is.

Where do you want the user to end up at the conclusion of the sales funnel? What action do you want them to take? How do you want them to interact with your business?

For example, you might have a marketing funnel directing customers to sign up for a webinar. Or your sales funnel might conclude in the sale of your consulting services. You could even have a funnel designed to upsell consumers after they’ve already purchased something from you.

The goal of your sales funnel should have the following two outcomes:

  • Build a deeper relationship with your consumer
  • Convert the consumer to some sort of call to action

What do the numbers look like?

Make this goal specific and measurable. There are two reasons to put a number on your objectives.

Firstly, you can’t determine the success of your funnel unless you know whether or not it’s helping to grow your business at the rate you expect. In fact, not quantifying your goals could be why your marketing results aren’t living up to your expectations.

Secondly, you need to know the end number in order to determine the initial numbers needed. You won’t be able to convert all of the traffic you attract. The purpose of a sales funnel is to funnel out the wrong customers to leave you with a strong pool of purchasers. That means you need more initial traffic than what you will finally end up with.

So let’s look at some numbers.

Let’s say that you have three basic parts to your sales funnel before conversion: a social media advertisement, a landing page, and the pop-up. (You’ll usually have a thank you page afterward, as well, but we aren’t including that in these numbers.)

You’ve tracked your campaigns, and you’ve noticed that an average of 20% of the people who see your social media advertisement will click through to the landing page. Of those landing page visitors, 40% tend to make a purchase with your pop-up.

So, if you had 100 people see your social media ad, only 20 would end up on your landing page (20% of 100). From there, only eight people (40% of 20) would end up purchasing.

But let’s say that you want at least 100 people to purchase from your sales funnel. You can work backward to see how many people you need at each point along the funnel. If you want 100 sales, you would need 250 people to end up on your landing page (100 divided by 0.40). In order to get 250 people on your landing, your social media ad needs to target 1,250 consumers (250 divided by 0.20).

You need to know what you want your final numbers to be, so you can appropriately design the other steps of the funnel to bring you to your ideal goal.

Discover the ins and outs of attracting traffic into your campaign with our Advanced Campaigns Guide!

Get the Guide

2.  Get them engaged

What will engage your traffic?

You have the end goal in mind, but how do you get people there? What will engage them enough that they will want to buy?

This is where you consider the content of your landing page and pop-up form. You’ll want to find ways to engage your customer in unique ways so they can’t say no to what you offer them.

For example, if you’re selling an eBook, you could offer a free chapter in exchange for their email address. Submitting their email is a low barrier to entry, and they’ll receive a lot of value in return. From there, you can use their email to push them deeper into the sales funnel, especially since they have already shown interest in your product.  

Free samples or complementary products are often the most engaging offerings. Giving your customers the opportunity to “try-out” your product in exchange for a minimal cost, like their email or a low price, filters out the serious customers and pulls them towards the end of the funnel.

You also want to focus on creating amazing copy for your pages. These landing page copywriting hacks can help excite and encourage your customers. Make sure that the page is oriented towards conversion, but not like it’s written by a sleazy salesman.

3.  Learn the laws of attraction

What will attract traffic?

You’ll only be able to engage and convert relevant prospects. That means you need to attract the right traffic, and you need to attract a lot of it. (Remember your numbers from the first step.)

We refer to this traffic as “leads.” These are the leads you get from your marketing that you are pulled into the first step of your sales funnel. By knowing what the rest of your sales funnel already looks like, you can better direct your traffic sources to qualify your leads.

Keep in mind that most people who come across you won’t click through to the landing page until they’ve had multiple impressions with your brand. That means you need to find unique ways to stand out and encourage that initial click.

You’re attempting to turn strangers into subscribers, which means you need to focus on a strong source of traffic. Consider how you’ll bring people to your landing page. Below are some of the most common traffic methods:

  • Pay-per-click ads
  • Press attention
  • Blogs
  • Video
  • Collaborations
  • Social media, especially Facebook
  • Web search results

Learn how to build a sales funnel that starts with quality leads using these 10 budget-conscious traffic sources.

It’s time: Create the Micro Funnel

What is the step-by-step process?

Now you know…

1) What your end-goal is,

2) How you’ll engage your audience to pull them to the final conversion, and

3) How you’ll attract traffic into the funnel in the first place.

So let’s flip the order and put it all together.

Remember, a Micro Funnel consists of three parts:

  1. Landing page, where your traffic lands
  2. A pop-up form, where your customers make the opt-in decision
  3. Thank you page, where you deepen your relationship with customers

A summary of when to create sales funnel

You’ll want to create a unique Micro Funnel for each objective and transition. There are six main types of advanced funnels:

  1. Blog opt-in to sale
  2. Webinar to sale
  3. Video series to sale
  4. Consultation to sale
  5. Opt-in to webinar to sale
  6. Opt-in to sale

We go over how to effectively employ these processes in our Advanced Campaigns Guide below.  

You’ll want to structure your marketing funnels based on your end goal and the content or products you want to offer to your audience. For example, a life coach might want to offer a free consultation to prospects. After the call, the prospect then receives a series of emails and pages that bring them to the final sale.

One of the best parts about Leadpages is that you don’t actually have to create the Micro Funnel yourself. Our templates are specifically designed to build the pages, funnels, and conversions for you. You simply input your own content and brand voice, and you’re ready to go.

Check out our Advanced Campaigns Guide to learn how to build sales funnels that will grow your business easily and effectively.

Want some sales funnel examples?

Are you in need of some inspiration? Check out our free resource on marketing funnel examples. Consider this resource a continuation of what you’ve learned up to this point.

We’re going to show you a couple of new ways to string together Lead Funnels, emails, resources, and traffic sources all culminating in the all-important sales funnel. A lot of these examples come straight from the LeadPages playbook, so you can use some of our favorite conversion tactics in your marketing efforts.

Ready to build your sales funnel?

There is finally a light at the end of the funnel. With this simple process, sales funnels don’t have to be complex. You can understand how to build a sales funnel by breaking the “cake” down into four digestible steps:

  1.    Know your objective, and quantify the goal. If you know the numbers you want to end with, you know the numbers you need to start with.
  2.    Consider how you will engage leads with your copy and offerings.
  3.    Use appropriate traffic sources to find and qualify relevant leads.
  4.    Create a three-part Micro Funnel based on your goals.

After you build a sales funnel, you can then focus on analytics and making sure your landing pages, pop-ups, and thank you pages perform well. You can do this through landing page testing and analysis.