Sales Funnel Optimization Strategies

Sales Funnel Optimization Strategies

You already understand why it’s so important to have a proper sales funnel.

But just putting one in place isn’t enough. You need to optimize it if you want to make the most out of it. But how can you do that?

That’s exactly what we are going to discuss in this article.

Want to increase your conversion rates, get more sales, and make more money?

Continue reading…

The Key To an Effective Sales Funnel

Before we get into the seven strategies that I am going to share with you today, let’s look at the big picture first. What makes a sales funnel effective?

Here’s how my colleague Aaron Orendorff explains it:

“The key to an effective sales funnel: Engage with and provide increasing value to your prospects throughout each sales funnel stage.”

That’s why you need to stay focused on providing value to the prospect.

As long as you do that, you’ll be on the right track.

Okay, let’s get into the sales funnel optimization strategies now…

#1 Use The Value Ladder Sales Funnel

A traditional sales funnel follows the AIDA model that was developed in the 19th century by Elias St. Elmo Lewis.

AIDA is an acronym that stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action:

  • Awareness. You catch the potential customer’s attention.
  • Interest. You pique their interest in your product.
  • Desire. You convey the value of your product.
  • Action. You ask them to buy your product.
traffic segmentation illustration

However, here at ClickFunnels, we promote a sales funnel model called The Value Ladder, which was developed by Russell Brunson, the co-founder of this company.

Here’s how it looks like:

  • Bait. A free offer known as a lead magnet that gets the potential customer into the funnel.
  • Frontend. An affordable offer that is a no-brainer and gets the potential customer to buy something from you.
  • Middle. A more expensive offer that provides additional value to the customer.
  • Backend. Your most expensive offer that provides the most value to the customer.
traffic sales segmentation illustration

The reason why this sales funnel model is called The Value Ladder is that at each step you provide more value to the potential or existing customer.

the value ladder illustration

Why does The Value Ladder sales funnel model work better than the AIDA sales funnel model?

It’s because it utilizes the “foot-in-the-door” persuasion technique that my colleague Holly Flick recently discussed in her “Sales Psychology: Getting Into The Buyer’s Mind To Make The Sale”article:

“You get the potential customer to commit to something, then use that small initial commitment to escalate to more extensive commitments.”

With the AIDA model, you give, give, give, and then ask for a sale.

With The Value Ladder model, you give, then ask for a sale, then offer the customer more value with your next product, and then even more with the next one.

That way, you get your foot in the door with an affordable product, which makes them more likely to buy the subsequent products.

#2 Make Sure That Your Offers Build on One Another

Okay, so for the Value Ladder to work there has to be, well, a value ladder.


  • Each offer in the sequence has to be related to the other products in it.
  • Each offer in the sequence should provide more value than the one before it.

That way, the person in the sales funnel is climbing the value ladder, up until they purchase your most expensive offer.

We have created a free template that can help you properly structure your Value Ladder.

You can download it together with a 10-point checklist.

value ladder checklist

#3 Get High-Quality Traffic

Not all traffic is made equal.

There are two types of traffic:

  • Low-quality traffic which doesn’t convert well.
  • High-quality traffic which does convert well.

It’s important to understand that you can have the best sales funnel in the world, but if you send low-quality traffic to it, you’ll struggle to make sales.

For example:

Let’s say that you sell a muscle-building program for men that helps them build big biceps in 12 months.

You have an excellent Value Ladder sales funnel. It’s properly structured, it’s optimized, etc. Literally nothing about it could be better. It’s perfect.

But then, for some unfathomable reason, you decide to show Facebook ads to women in the 70-75 age group who are interested in baking, knitting, and playing bingo.

It goes without saying that in all likelihood you won’t make any sales despite your top-notch sales funnel.

Now, obviously, this is a ludicrous example, but it illustrates the point:

You don’t want just any traffic, you want high-quality traffic. 

Otherwise, your sales funnel won’t convert as well as it could… Or at all.

That’s why you need to optimize your marketing strategy for traffic quality:

  • Clearly define your target audience.
  • Only market to that target audience.

This also means deliberately ignoring everyone else.

For example:

When Noah Kagan included women in his Facebook ads targeting, he started getting super cheap sign-ups to his email list.

But then he checked the stats for these subscribers and realized that they weren’t opening his emails.

Then, when he looked at his email subscriber demographics, he realized that almost none of them were female, so he stopped targeting women.

Here’s how he explains his decision:

“It’s not that I don’t like women. I love them!

But the point is that they are not actually as interested in my content.

There’s probably someone who can better share that type of content with them.

So I target my audience which is males, 25-44.”

So figure out exactly who your target audience is, then target only them in your marketing.

#4 Improve the Quality of Your Lead Magnet

The biggest mistake that entrepreneurs make when it comes to lead magnets is not providing enough value to the potential customer.

Too many lead magnets appear to have been put together in haste just because the business owner felt like they should offer a freebie.

But that won’t cut it. You need something that provides genuine value. What exactly does that mean?

It means offering a solution to a problem that the potential customer is struggling with.

For example:

Brennan Dunn of Double Your Freelancing offers a free email course on how to start or grow a freelancing business.

When you go to the Double Your Freelancing home page, you are offered lesson #1.

double your freelancing homepage with get lessons 1 button

When you click on the “Get Lesson #1” button, you are given more information about the course:

double your freelancing course details

There’s also social proof:

double your freelancing course review

And, of course, an opt-in form:

double your freelancing email capture form

This free email course is valuable to Brennan Dunn’s target audience of freelancers who want to make more money.

It also helps to move the potential customer across the sales funnel. If they get value from this free email course, they will be more likely to purchase one of his premium courses.

This is an important point to keep in mind:

Your potential customers will use the quality of your lead magnet to decide whether or not they should buy your products.

So create something that provides genuine value to your potential customers.

Ideally, you want a lead magnet that you couldcharge money for if you wanted to. It has to be that good.

#5 Optimize Your Landing Page

Your landing place is the “make it or break it” moment in your sales funnel.

The potential customer is either going to buy your product or leave. Which is it going to be? 

You can increase the odds of the former by following the best landing page conversion rate optimization practices:

Have a Headline That Conveys the Value of Your Product

When a potential customer visits your landing page, it must be immediately clear to them what your product is all about.

Your headline needs to convey how your product will make their lives better. 

What is its main benefit? Emphasize that.

For example:

Nathan Barry, who is best known for being the founder of ConvertKit, still sells two ebooks on his website – “Designing Web Applications” and “Authority”.

Here’s the headline for the “Designing Web Applications” landing page:

“Learn to design an experience your customers love.”

Clear, concise, effective.

sales page of designing web applications

Sell on Benefits, Not on Features

You should always sell on benefits, then support your pitch with the features. What does that mean?

  • A benefit is the value that the product provides (e.g. “These shoes will keep your feet warm and dry”).
  • A feature is a quality or a function of that product (e.g. “These shoes are waterproof”).

You need to make sure that your landing page copy is focused on the benefits of your product, not on its features.

For example:

Nathan Barry’s “Authority” landing page copy is focused on its key benefit: making money as an author.

sales page of the book authority

So ask yourself:

Why would someone buy your product? What value does it provide? What does the customer really want?

Then focus on that.

Provide Social Proof

You have probably heard the saying:

“Don’t ask a barber if you need a haircut.”

Your potential customers are aware that you are not the most reliable source of information when it comes to your own product.

This doesn’t mean that they think that you are a liar. They simply realize that you are biased.

Of course you think that your product is great. But do other people also think it’s great? That’s what your potential customers want to know.

So make sure to include testimonials on your landing page to reassure them. 

For example:

Nathan Barry backs up his “Authority” landing page claims with this customer testimonial:

customer testimonial of authority book

Note how the testimonial features the full name of the customer as well as his picture and the exact results that he got.

Eliminate the Risk

It’s 2021.

We are all used to shopping online.

But we are still a bit wary when buying something on the Internet. Why?

We don’t want to spend money on something that doesn’t deliver what it promises.

It’s important to relieve this understandable wariness by providing a money-back guarantee (e.g. “No questions asked, 30-days money-back guarantee”).

This eliminates the risk, gives the potential customer peace of mind, and makes them more likely to go through with the purchase.

For example:

Ramit Sethi offers a 60-day money-back guarantee with his course “Mental Mastery”.

money back guarantee on mental mastery course

In fact, he even insists that people get a refund if they try the course for 60 days, but don’t love it.

This not only completely eliminates the risk, but also inspires confidence. The course has to be good if Ramit Sethi offers such a bold guarantee, right?

Have a Clear Call to Action

You don’t want to make your sales pitch and then shy away from closing the sale.

Don’t leave the potential customer unsure of what to do. Make sure that your landing page has a clear call to action at the bottom of it.

#6 Reduce the Number of the Checkout Form Fields

Now, this one may seem silly, but the potential customer might be deterred by the number of form fields in your checkout flow.

According to the Baymard Institute research:

On average, 26% of users have abandoned purchases during the checkout flow solely because the checkout flow was too long or complex.

Meanwhile, also according to the Baymard Institute, the average ecommerce site has 12.8 form fields in its checkout flow. 

That’s way too many considering that a purchase can be finalized with just 6-8 fields!

You can watch this presentation from the Baymard Institute’s research director Christian Holst to learn more:

In this video, he shares a select number of core findings from Baymard’s 30,000 hours of large scale ecommerce user experience testing, with a specific focus on the checkout flow.

He also demonstrates how to reduce the number of form fields by providing a concrete example in which he reduces them from 16 to 8.

This presentation is almost one hour long, but if you are serious about optimizing your checkout flow, it’s worth watching it in its entirety.

#7 Have an Exit-Intent Offer

Okay, but what if you did your best, yet the potential customer decided not to buy?

Well, at this point, you don’t have anything to lose, so you can make them an exit-intent offer.

It’s an offer that is shown to the potential customer just as they are about to leave your landing page.

It’s best to use a downsell for this, meaning, an offer that is more affordable than the one they just rejected.

It can be a simpler version of the same product or a different product that addresses the same problem.

And the less expensive the downsell is, the better, so don’t be afraid to offer it at a break-even price.

What matters here is not making a profit now, but getting that person back into your sales funnel, so that you could make a profit further down the road.


If you haven’t done any conversion rate optimization work yet, the chances are that there’s a lot of space for improvement.

It also means that you probably haven’t picked up all the low-hanging fruits, aka simple tweaks that lead to big increases in conversion rates.

So don’t hesitate to invest time, energy, and money into optimizing your sales funnel. 

 It may take a while until you get it just right, but once you do, it will be well worth the effort.

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