What’s all the fuss about ClickFunnels?
Marketing funnels (also known as sales funnels) are the topic of the town lately.
You can hardly find articles on internet marketing without the mention of ‘funnels’. Creating marketing funnels (or funnel hacking as it is called), is one of the most talked about subjects in the marketing world.
What does ClickFunnels do?
ClickFunnels is a unique tool built for simplifying the task of building professional grade sales funnels.
For many marketers, it has become their go-to tool.
In this review, we will explore ClickFunnels in detail — what it does, how it works, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it fares with the competition.
If you’re interesting in learning more about funnels, how you can build one, and whether or not ClickFunnels is the right product for you, read on.
Let’s throw some light on the basics first.
What is a marketing funnel?
Definition: A marketing funnel is a guided path in which prospects move sequentially in your sales process. It takes people from their first engagement with your brand (cold prospects), through a number of steps that are intended to result in one or more conversions and the goal of the steps is to give real value and build a good relationship.
A conversion can be any of these — from opting-in to an email list, or downloading a doc file, to attending a webinar, or making a purchase.
A funnel will usually encourage several different conversions along the way.
A funnel will often incorporate branches — upsells, downsells, and one-time offers knows as OTOs — with the goal of maximizing the profit from each visitor.
Customers may be offered different things at different points, depending upon the actions they take as they move through the funnel.
Funnels may be simple, or incredibly complex and sophisticated, but at the end of the day, they are all about one thing — increasing conversions and profits.
Now you know why they are so popular!
Why funnels work?
Marketing/Sales funnels guide visitors through a process that would start with a very low commitment (such as downloading a free report), and then gradually ‘warms them up’ and exposes them to higher-priced offers as they become more familiar with your brand, and develop trust in you.
Imagine walking up to a total stranger (who has never heard of you) in the street, and asking them outright for a large order.
It’s just not going to happen, is it…
The secret funnel formula
However, if you first of all offer them something of value — for little or no cost, they are much more likely to respond.
In fact, if they are your ideal customer, and you are offering them something of value to them for free, they are extremely likely to respond.
And they will think well of you thereafter. Because you’ve helped them.
They have now entered your funnel…
Now you have demonstrated your worth to them, and have built some rapport, you can start offering them some opportunities to buy.
You might want to start with a lower priced offer, to get some commitment from them — to get them to buy into you — before you proceed to offer them something higher priced.
If that is too much for them, you might then offer them a cheaper option (also known as a downsell).
But if they do buy, you might then go on to offer them a more expensive, premium product at a higher price (upsell).
Those are the basics of a sales funnel.
The value ladder
You start with a micro commitment (such as giving their email address to receive a free product), demonstrate your value, and then as their trust in you grows you take them up an ascending value ladder.
This method of doing business is not only extremely profitable, it’s also very ethical.
It is the antidote to many of the ills that afflict digital marketing.
If you do this successfully, you won’t just make more money, you’ll create a business that you feel good about, and that your customers love.
In fact, we’d say it is essential that you adopt these principles if your business is to survive in the future.
Because if you don’t, your competitors will…
What is ClickFunnels?
ClickFunnels is a tool designed to help people implement sales funnels in their business.
A typical funnel might incorporate one or more optin/squeeze pages, an email autoresponder (to send a sequence of emails that move them up your value ladder), plus one or more sales pages, members area, order forms, additional content etc.
In the past, this would require you to have a website, hosting, an autoresponder service, landing page software, split-testing software, membership site software, and probably a host of designers and programmers to cobble the whole lot together and that would be a mess because of complications.
ClickFunnels lets you do all of that under one roof.
This not only saves you a lot of money in buying all those different products and services, it also save you the technical headache of trying to make a lot of disparate tools work together.
With ClickFunnels, you don’t even need a website anymore…
People spend a lot of time creating and managing their website, without giving much thought to their actual sales process or funnel.
In reality, the funnel is the “without which, nothing” of your online marketing activity.
Anything that is not part of your funnel is essentially pointless!
I’m not suggesting that you should ditch your website altogether, as Russell Brunson and the guys at ClickFunnels suggest, but it’s definitely worth focusing on your funnels above everything else.
ClickFunnels will let you build all your squeeze pages, sales pages, email sequences, membership areas, online training courses etc, and link them together to build your funnel — all in one, easy to use beginner-friendly tool.
Sounds good? Let’s see how it’s like in practice.
Getting started with ClickFunnels
ClickFunnels has a free 14 day trial that will let you explore the product at your own pace, and you can try all its features to see if it’s suitable for you.
The signup process for the free trial was a bit clunky for me — you have to enter your card details when you signup for the trial (your card is not charged until you complete the trial — you can cancel any time).
However, the onboarding process was pretty slick.
Many people don’t bother to watch the tutorials when they get a new product, preferring to dive in and figure it out themselves — I am a prime offender at this!
However, by doing that you’re actually wasting a lot of time, and it takes you way longer to get up and running with the product.
ClickFunnels combats this by offering you a bribe in a free “#FunnelHacker” t-shirt, and a ready-made email funnel, if you just watch the introductory tutorial video.
(ClickFunnels users go absolutely crazy for these t-shirts. They are incredibly passionate about the product, and the ClickFunnels user community is SO enthusiastic it’s almost like a cult!)
I loved the training, everything is explained very clearly and quickly.
Just 4 videos, a few minutes each, and they are well-worth watching (even if you don’t want the shirt!).
Building your first funnel
Once you’ve gone through the introductory videos, just follow the steps they showed you in building your first funnel.
Kick things off by choosing the type of funnel you want to build:
For this case study, we’ll build a simple squeeze/opt-in funnel with the objective of ‘Collect Emails’.
You would give the funnel a name, and then create your email squeeze page, and a thank you page, either from scratch, or using one of their ready-made templates, that would make for a good starting point.
For this exercise, we chose to use one of their templates and modify it, rather than starting from scratch.
In real life, you would want to create one from scratch, but actually why bother? If they are good enough for Russell Brunson to use, they are probably good enough for you!
After choosing a template, I replaced the sales copy with my own wording, added the images, and that was it.
From beginning till the end, this hardly took 9 minutes, and that was my first time using the product.
If I do it again, now that I’ve had a little practice, this would take about 3 minutes.
The finished landing page:
The next step is to create the thank you/bridge page that people are taken to after they opt-in, and to connect the form to my autoresponder so that I can deliver the report and then send them follow up emails.
In all, to create a simple landing page with an email opt-in page, a thank-you page, and to link it to my autoresponder hardly takes half an hour.
You don’t need any web hosting or website to publish the pages (although you can publish them on your own website if you want to).
I have to say the ease of use of ClickFunnels, and the quality of the finished pages, was second to none. They are all mobile-responsive too which means they look good across all the devices.
I’ve was using a product called Thrive Landing Pages since a while, and I loved it, but will have to admit – with ClickFunnels it was way easier and quicker to get decent results.
The tools are not identical though — ClickFunnels does a whole lot more, and does it way better, it therefore costs more too.
[Also, Thrive only works with WordPress, and you need to have your own website to be able to host your pages. ClickFunnels can be entirely independent of your website, and in fact you don’t even need to have one at all!]
But a simple landing page like this isn’t really a proper funnel, is it?
ClickFunnels is designed to do a lot more than that!
Far more than that…
Developing more sophisticated funnels
ClickFunnels claims that you can build any type of funnel you can possibly imagine, and from what I’ve seen that’s certainly true.
Here are some of the different types of funnels you can create with ClickFunnels:
- Lead Capture Funnels – Used to grow your email/mailing list.
- Sales Page Funnels –Used to sell products and services, incorporating upsells/downsells/one time offers or OTOs to maximize your profit per visitor.
- Webinar Funnels – Promote and get registrations for your webinars.
- Online Courses – you can sell and host your online course entirely within ClickFunnels.
- Membership Sites – Generate a recurring income by creating membership sites within ClickFunnels.
ClickFunnels comes with a selection of ready made templates for each type of funnel, and you can also create do your own from scratch.
This is where ClickFunnels absolutely shone.
The editor is extremely easy to use, everything seems to look good by default, and you don’t need any programming/coding skills.
All you do is drag and drop different elements onto the page, and change the wording and appearance (the color, font etc) to suit your requirements.
So creating the pages that make up your funnel is quick and easy.
But a funnel is not just a set of pages, it is also a set of actions that would take the user sequentially through a series of steps.
Your funnel will probably begin with an opt-in page to capture your visitors’ email address.
Typically, you will want to offer them some sort of opt-in bribe also known as a lead magnet, as a freebie to get them to give up their email address.
Once they have opted-in, they will be added to an autoresponder series that will send them a sequence of automated emails over the next few days, and they will be taken to a thank-you page where they will be given the lead magnet for which they signed up for.
On this page, you can offer them a chance to buy something.
This could be a never-to-be-repeated one time offer (OTO), or a low-cost tripwire offer designed to weed out the buyers from the freebie seekers.
Depending on the choices they make, they may be presented with other offers (upsells and downsells), or sent different emails depending on their progress through your funnel.
So a funnel isn’t just about creating a few pages, it’s also about linking these pages together with different action flows, and integrating them with autoresponders and payment processors, so that the whole process happens literally on autopilot.
Prospects go in one end, and money comes out of the other — that is probably the simplest description of a funnel.
ClickFunnels provides you with a platform where you can build your entire funnel, including email automation and payment processing — without needing anything else, or even a website, all under one roof!
It also provides comprehensive tracking and analytics so that you would know how each step in your funnel is performing, and optimize it to improve conversions and profits.
One of the main ways you can optimize your funnels with ClickFunnels is to use the built-in split testing feature to test out different landing pages, sales copy etc. to see which converts the best.
It really is an extremely comprehensive system, and to cover all of its extensive facilities is outside the scope of this article.
The best thing to do is to sign up for the free trial, and then take the free training you will get after you sign up.
Once you’ve watched the training videos (and DO watch them, they don’t take long), take it for a spin yourself. That’s the best way to get a feel for it.
ClickFunnels offers integration with a ton of third-party solutions. Besides email marketing and HTML form integration, they also offer payment integrations. With ClickFunnels, you can integrate an e-commerce website to your landing page.
Some popular integrations include
ClickFunnels Affiliate Program
ClickFunnels has one of the best affiliate programs which pays out 40% of the monthly ClickFunnels subscription for any customers referred by you. And these are monthly recurring commissions — you get that payment every month, for the lifetime of the customer!
You don’t need many referrals to build up a tidy income that keeps coming in month after month, without you having to do a thing!
All ClickFunnels customers are eligible to receive these commissions on referrals, and you can become a ClickFunnels Affiliate without being a ClickFunnels user.
If you are a ClickFunnels user, the ClickFunnels affiliate program allows you to defray the costs of your ClickFunnels subscription, simply by recommending a product that you use and love yourself.
If you’re an affiliate marketer, then the ClickFunnels affiliate program will be extremely attractive to you, even if you’re not a ClickFunnels user, because of the high-value recurring commissions you can earn. You can signup for free as a ClickFunnels affiliate here.
ClickFunnels Pros and Cons
- Very easy to build complete automated funnels
- Excellent free training
- Creates beautiful looking pages very quickly
- Conversion tracking and split-testing to improve results
- Integrates with all the major email services
- Links to payment processors within ClickFunnels
- 14 day free trial — lets you test it risk-free
- Requires some investment in time (initially)
- A bit more expensive than Thrive or Leadpages (but does way more)
- Continuous subscription required to use your funnels
Community & 2 Comma Club
One of my favorite things about Clickfunnels is the community aspect of it. Currently there are over 80,000 members in the Clickfunnels Facebook group also known as “funnel hackers”.
This is beneficial because the group is more than willing to help beginners not only make money but also solve tech issues quickly.
Another good thing about the community is the ability to ask strategy related questions and have people who are knowledgeable in the same software you are using who can give you a quick response.
A lot of the times, some of these people are millionaires and part of Russell Brunsons “2 comma club”. You can build some pretty solid connections pretty quickly.
The 2 comma club award is an award that individuals who have made over 1 million dollars with Clickfunnels receive!
The community doesn’t stop there!
Clickfunnels also hosts an annual event known as “Funnel Hacking live”. This event has been going strong since the year after Clickfunnels launched in 2015.
How does ClickFunnels fare against the competition?
ClickFunnels vs Thrive Content Builder (Thrive Landing Pages)
We used Thrive Content Builder and Instabuilder the entire time to build my landing pages in the past. Both are decent products, but they only do a very small part of what ClickFunnels does.
Thrive only works with WordPress (and you must have a website ready to go to be able to use it), and it only makes pages. It doesn’t include an autoresponder or some of the other advanced features you’ll get with ClickFunnels.
If you do have a WordPress website, and an autoresponder service, then Thrive can be an alternative, but it is only designed for making pages, rather than funnels, so it lacks a lot of the features that ClickFunnels has.
ClickFunnels vs LeadPages
Like Thrive Content Builder, LeadPages is designed basically for building landing pages, rather than integrated funnels, so it’s not a like-for-like comparison again.
LeadPages also lets you build good looking landing pages that are mobile responsive, but LeadPages is really all about producing single pages, rather than linking them together to create sophisticated funnels.
ClickFunnels is focused on building funnels, not just opt-in pages.
ClickFunnels vs Infusionsoft
Infusionsoft (or Confusionsoft as its detractors call it!), is massively complex product that is horrendously expensive. You can’t just get started on your own — you have to pay somebody to set it up for you which may cost up to $2000!
Thereafter you’re in for at least $300 per month, and it is notoriously difficult to use.
That’s the bad bit over.
Infusionsoft is capable of building very sophisticated funnels too, but it’s not very good at making good looking pages (ClickFunnels is way ahead), and it’s certainly not quick and easy.
Final thoughts on ClickFunnels
ClickFunnels is an excellent product for creating and hosting sales funnels.
It was designed from the ground up, purely for that one sole purpose, and it does it very well.
It is not the cheapest product in the world by any means ($97 basic level, $297 for all the bells and whistles), but it can save you the cost of several other products that you will no longer need, which may actually make it one of the cheaper options.
The whole purpose of ClickFunnels is to increase your profits. If you use it well, it will make you far more money than it costs you, so price shouldn’t be an issue. Especially at the entry level (you can upgrade later).
There is also another huge benefit in using ClickFunnels, in addition to the product itself, that nobody talks about
That is the education that you get along the way. Not just the product training, but the whole mindset that ClickFunnels is built around.
It pervades everything they do, and if you become a part of the ClickFunnels community, you will find it difficult to avoid raising your marketing game as you almost subconsciously absorb all these principles.
ClickFunnels is worth it for the education alone!
If you’d like to take ClickFunnels out for a spin, there is free trial of ClickFunnels available here.