If you’re a marketer who’s growing your business by building landing pages and sales funnels in your niche, you’ll agree that being able to ‘funnel hack’ is a vital skill.
Wait. Did I hear you ask…. what ‘Funnel Hacking’ means?
What is Funnel Hacking – Definition
Funnel Hacking [verb] – “to funnel hack”
The process of strategically investigating the sales and marketing process of your competitors, which you can use to model and test within your own sales & marketing processes.
E.g. “I just funnel hacked that guys website yesterday and he had two up-sells!” or “Man that landing page is sweet! I’m just going to quickly funnel hack it in Clickfunnels.”
Why Should You Know How To Funnel Hack?
Funnel hacking is one of the easiest and most crucial ways to grow your business. Being able to go deep into your competitor’s sales funnel and reverse-engineer what they’re up to, you can begin to test their strategies within your very own business. In an online business this can be anything from split testing their landing pages, price points, email sequences and even retargeting ads.
It’s common knowledge that split testing various elements of your sales funnel can yield to great results, but testing blindly is a slow and sloppy process, agreed?
By taking advantage of the culture of ‘funnel hacking‘ and getting into the thick of your competitor’s processes, you can really see how successful they have been, and start to see similar results within your own business. While this won’t happen immediately, you’ll begin to see trends in what’s working and what’s not a lot faster than testing floating ideas from scratch.
So Where Do I Start With Funnel Hacking?
While there’s no right or wrong way to begin to funnel hack your way to more profits, I thought I’d lay out a simple road map for you to follow which will allow you to really take advantage of funnel hacking.
Make A List of Competitors
The very first thing you’ll need to do is make a list of all of your competitors that you have in your market. These people are your immediate and not so immediate competitors which take a chunk of the market you’re fighting for.
The reason why I include direct and indirect competitors, is they will both have concepts which are working in your market in some way, shape or form. So we’re not going to start discounting anyone from the mix just yet.
Since we’re starting from the beginning, you won’t be able to see much on the outside of your competitor’s website. It’s simply a shell for all the juicy, money generating mechanisms which are happening on the inside.
BUT that doesn’t mean it’s useless.
The first step you need to take is acquiring a screenshotting tool which will allow you to easily screenshot website pages (full pages from top to bottom) so you can start saving them to your computer. My tool of choice is called Awesome Screenshot which is a Google Chrome extension, however I also use Greenshot which is a program that you install and has some great screenshotting settings you can customize to your liking.
Either of those tools will do the trick.
Create a ‘New Folder’ called ‘[Competitor Name] 1’ and start taking full page screenshots of the pages that you visit and place them into the folder you’ve created for that website.
Be sure to either create sub-folders or rename the images so you know which pages they’re reflecting from the start otherwise it’s very easy for it to get messy and lose track of what’s going on. What I generally do is setup folders along the lines of:
Competitor Research Folder Structure
- Front End Funnel Landing Pages
- Backend Funnel Landing Pages
- Ad Creatives
- Retargeting Ad Creative
It chops and changes from case to case, but essentially it’s a nice way to organise what I’m looking into.
Start Building Your ‘Funnel Hacking Bible’
Now that you’ve taken the screenshots of the homepage of your competitors, it’s time to do some quick evaluations.
This is what I like to call my ‘Funnel Hacking Bible‘.
It’s the notepad/document where I put together all of my ideas, strategies and notes that I want to implement into my existing funnel.
Open a Word Document or Notepad and start taking down some of the key homepage/first page trends your seeing.
Some of which may include:
- What type of copywriting are they using in their headlines?
- What colours are they using where?
- Are buttons located above the fold or below the fold?
- Do they have videos used or just text?
- Are they listing benefits or features?
- Do they include social proof?
- Are there any pop ups during exit intent?
- Is the header section of the site fixed?
- Is there a full sign up form or an opt in form?
- Are steps taken 1 or 2 step?
- Are prices mentioned for their products (if so, what are their price points?)
- How many words are there on the homepage? (Short vs. Long)
And the list goes on….
As you have multiple websites open which are within the same industry, you’ll begin to see the trends in their marketing and be able to contrast what you are doing vs. what you’re not doing. Contrast what Competitor A is doing vs. what Competitor B is not doing.
Each of these trends should be added into your Funnel Hacking Bible (FHB) and be noted on accordingly.
Strip Away The Technology & Tracking
Now that you have arrived to the first page and can see what’s going on (visually anyway…), you’re most likely only seeing about 20-30% of the picture. Operating a sales funnel has many different stages, but generally they include:
- Driving Traffic
- Converting That Traffic
Within both of these stages, marketers use tools and resources to become as effective and profitable as possible. So what we want to see, is which tools are they using in their business that we can also use to see if they help make us profitable?
To find this, you’ll need to download two more great Google Chrome addons.
The first is called ‘Ghostery‘, this addon sees the “invisible” web, detecting trackers, web bugs, pixels and beacons placed on web pages by Facebook, Google and thousands of other companies which gather information about your internet activity.
While this app is primarily designed to stay hidden from trackers, it’s also a great tool to highlight to marketers which trackers and programs are being used on by competing businesses.
The second Google Chrome addon is called ‘BuiltWith Technology Profiler’ which allows you to…well, see what a website is BuiltWith within a simple click of an icon.
Now that you’ve installed both of these tools into your browser, reload your selection of competitor’s websites and you’ll be able to see all of the tools and tracking which is taking place for every visitor who hits their website. Pretty creepy how much is being tracked without you knowing right?
This will begin to answer some of your traffic and conversion questions like:
- Are they using remarketing?
- Are they using Google, Facebook or other platforms?
- Are they using any conversion tracking software?
- Which plugins are they using?
And again…the list goes on. Some sites have 5-10 trackers, others I’ve seen may have 40+ scripts running in the background of their websites.
All of this should go straight into your FHB as you begin to build a web of information for your competitors.
Advanced Competitive Intelligence Tools
Above we covered a couple of key addons which highlight the technology that is being used on your competitor’s websites, but what about really finding out how your competitors are acquiring the traffic in your niche. We want to be able to know specifically, which sources will really lead us to the golden nuggets in our marketing endeavors.
To find these real game changers we’re going to need to move beyond plugins into some competitive intelligence tools.
These tools uncover what’s happening right now in the market:
AdBeat or WhatRunsWhere: These tools instantly show you the strategies of online advertisers in your industry. You can see anything from how many days they’ve been spending money and running a particular advertisement, all the way to the creative and landing pages they’re sending their paid traffic to. Either one of these is a must have tool (which don’t come cheap) but will instantly let you leverage your competition’s ‘wins’ in your business.
SEMRush: While paid advertising is a very important part of any marketer’s funnel strategy, SEO cannot be left out either. This tool gathers paid and organic insights on your competitors. Some of the features include displaying, search positions & changes, ad copy, video advertising, backlinks, estimated traffic expenditure, keyword research and much more.
SimilarWeb: Another fantastic traffic insight tool which you can use to see a wide range of activity that’s going on within the websites you’re profiling. One of my favorite activities that you can see on SimilarWeb is the top referring sites and top destination sites as people flow in and out of your competitor’s website. Additionally you’ll also get information like a breakdown of social traffic, banner ads, other similar websites and more.
Follow: Follow is another great tool which gives you a lot of data for free (also has a paid plan) and lets you identify where the websites are doing a lot of their media buying. It’s a great tool if you don’t have the budget for one of the first two which can give you some really great intelligence on what’s going on.
Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
So by now you’ve got all the tools you need to see what’s happening on your competitor’s websites.
But there’s just one thing a tool can’t do for you.
Do you know what it is?
That’s make purchases of your competitor’s products and go through their funnel.
So now it’s time to take that $$ you’ve put aside for a rainy day and start buying competitor’s products through their funnels. You want to maximize all the data you get from this stage, because remember, we’re buying data.
The reason you’re spending money with your competitor is to rip apart their sales funnel so you have a complete anatomy of what’s going on behind their closed doors.
During this stage of the funnel hacking process, you want to take as many different variations of the funnel as possible. Take all the upsells, downsells, cross sells…everything!
This is crucial.
Because the funnel itself is what’s the heart of this whole operation. The ascension & process from Product A to Product B is what allows the business to buy traffic at the price that it does, add customers to their list at the rate they do and make a profit the way they do.
And if you’re going into a new market completely cold, this is even more important. You want to see what funnel the advertiser has been sending traffic to for the past 124 days (you’d be able to find this information from one of the competitive analysis tools listed above).
Everything leads to the funnel, and ultimately this is why funnel hacking is so important.
Re-Building A Winning Funnel
So you’ve finally got enough notes in your FHB that you’re wondering, gosh when can I start actually using all this?
You now know the look, feel and core strategy behind the competing sales funnels in your industry and it’s time for you to start building out your sales funnel.
The Clickfunnels Builder was built specifically with their intention in mind, building and hacking existing sales funnels so you can build a thriving business.
Step 1: Landing Pages & Homepages (Front End Funnels)
Firstly you’re going to want to start pulling apart the front end of the funnels you’ve been seeing. Clickfunnels has a wide range of templates you can use to get started, however if you want to go completely custom and build something with the same look and feel of your competitor, you can do that within Clickfunnels too.
I’d personally start with the 3 sales funnels which look as similar as possible to the competitors page you want to mimic.
Please note that if you’re funnel hacking a homepage or a landing page, the design will be a little different. There’s some great tutorials on using the Clickfunnels editor which you can watch too.
This is when those screenshots will come in handy which we saved earlier of the different pages as you went through of your competitor’s sales funnels.
Other elements which you will need to keep in mind when re-building a page include:
- Videos/Video Sales Letters
- Custom Graphics/Images
- Adding Tracking Codes
If you don’t already have a ‘guy’ who can help you with these areas of your funnel (that is, if you’re not able to do them yourself), you’d be wise to connect/ask individuals in the Clickfunnels Facebook Group who may be able to help you out (there’s a wealth of talent and resources in that group!). You can also poke your head in the DotComSecrets Facebook Group for great marketing information too.
Step 2: UpSells & Downsells (Front End)
So you’ve put together your homepage and/or landing pages for the new funnel you’re building, now its time to go a little deeper and start building out any upsells and downsells which are offered by your competitors.
These offers may be made immediately after an action is taken on their website like filling in a form, taking a survey, watching a VSL or clicking a button.
Step 3: Funnel Hacking The Back End
This is probably the hardest part of the process for any #funnelhacker.
The back end is not only where the majority of the profit is generated, but it’s also very difficult to uncover exactly what’s going on.
Every business will have a different back end product to ascend their clients from their front end offers into a more premium product (Make sure you get yourself a copy of Russell’s DotComSecrets Book to go deeper on this).
So the question is, how do you take notes and realize what’s happening with the back end? What actions do you need to take to be able to get the inside scoop.
Look At Backend Email Sequences
After you go through the front end of a sales funnel, a smart marketer will have a follow up email sequence which allow them to communicate with you based on the action that were taken on the website.
E.g. Send email xxx if they visit page xxx.
So make sure to save and note down what email sequences you are put through, and how many days from taking action within the website you are sent these emails.
You will almost be able to build your own ‘lookalike email sequence’ based on the emails you aggregate from your competitors.
Screenshotting Retargeting Ads & Their Landing Pages
This is a pretty neat ‘hack’ you can use in most industries. Chances are that one of your competitors are using some form of retargeting (whether it be on Google, Facebook or something else).
If you see these ads, make sure you screenshot the ad itself along with the landing page which it is linked to. This will break down the offer they’re giving you and what action they are looking for you to take too.
This might be in the form of offering you bonuses to take something previously offered in a webinar, after a VSL, after an email sequence or any other action which you didn’t complete to the end.
Based on this you can re-create a landing page similar in your own funnel using Clickfunnels and also get ideas on retargeting designs to offer your own customers.
NOTE: Don’t forget to save the URL of the landing pages too! These may come in handy in the future, so I’d save them into a folder called “Retargeting Landing Pages” which you can then have subfolders for if you’re being shown multiple offers for different products.
High Ticket Webinar Funnel Hacking
If by chance you go through a webinar funnel with a somewhat high ticket offer at the end of it, you can screen record the webinar and save a copy of it on your computer. This will let you see the slides, script and flow of the webinar by the host which might inspire you to get some ideas on.
Most of all, you’ll see the pitch of the product and types of objections they handle etc. This works great for products being sold straight off a webinar funnel (which can be re-built right out of the box using Clickfunnels).
TIP: Again, save the order page link they tell you to go to. I’d screenshot the order page too as they usually are time sensitive so it may be taken down at any time.
Ask For Affiliate Metrics (Affiliate Based Products)
If your competitor’s products have an affiliate program, they’ll generally discuss the numbers they’re achieving throughout their funnel. This is a great opportunity for you to see what types of numbers they’re getting. Affiliate pages (coming soon) offer a wealth of information to entice people to promote their products – great news for us funnel hackers!
You can even re-build an affiliate page in Clickfunnels yourself if you also run an affiliate program too.
Jump On A “Strategy Session”
(Aka Sales Call) And Note Take Like Crazy
One of the biggest back end funnels is to get people into a strategy call. Being able to go through the process of your competitor’s sales call will give you great clarity into products they may not list publicly, as well as their sales strategy. If you have the opportunity, jumping on the phone and taking lots of notes while your competitor ‘sells’ you over the phone will really give you a glance into what their strategies are.
Heck, it may even be worth taking the product offer to see if that’s where their funnel ends!
Rounding up, funnel hacking is one of the most important and crucial processes in any business. Being able to take the ‘working’ and ‘converting’ from one business and replicate it in your own way within your business, is what really leads to faster wins and success…and ultimately more profit.
With the tools, resources and processes that I’ve outlined above, you should be able to get off on the right foot to becoming a badass funnel hacker. Don’t be frustrated or set back if you feel that overwhelmed at first (there’s a lot to take in) but as you go out and sharpen your skills you’ll become more confident in building a high converting funnel for your own business…and one day, people will be funnel hacking you!
Is there a sales funnel right now you’re trying to funnel hack? Comment below and let us know if you’ve used any of the strategies mentioned above.
(Blog illustrations by AdToons. AdToons is the leader provider in whiteboard animation and other creative cartoon advertising services.)