How do you build profitable sales funnels in WordPress on a budget, using a theme & funnel builder plugins? Quality should be comparable to ClickFunnels and not look stupid.
The downside of ClickFunnels is that building a funnel with them is relatively expensive. So how do you cut the cost?
One way is to utilize its unadvertised “secret” $37 or $19 plans.
As an alternative, you can create a powerful conversion-optimized sales funnels in WordPress with similar capabilities, such as A/B testing.
(This post contains affiliate links. This means I get a commission if you make a purchase through my links. There is no additional cost to you, but it enables me to provide you information like this for free. Please read my disclosure for more info.)
If you want to build WordPress funnels, you will need to learn and be able to create the following items:
- There are different types of content blocks (e. g. text, image, column, container, pricing table)
- The blocks can be combined into various types of page templates (e. g. landing, presell, thank you page)
- These pages are combined into actual WordPress funnel templates (Free Plus Shipping, webinar, opt-in funnel, etc)
Different types of funnels have been put together and tested for different purposes.
They are created using a handful of page types.
To make things complicated, the same type of page can be implemented in many different ways.
You can use different platforms, the same landing page can be built using different images, videos, etc.
Building A Sales Funnel In WordPress
Building a sales funnel in WordPress that converts can be a challenge because WordPress is not naturally set up for this task and you may not be a designer.
In order to build a high converting funnel you will need the following:
- A theme with a home page template that fits your purpose exactly
- A page builder to build landing pages, pricing tables and sales pages
- A variety of pre-made templates for the above (because you are not a designer)
- A choice of pre-made opt-in forms, exit popups
- Lead magnet delivery
- Easy integration with your favorite email marketing service
- A shopping cart to collect payment for your products
- Easy creation of your membership area or online course
- Your own affiliate program
- Social sharing,
You should have enough choice to pick the look and the feel of your website so that it fits your niche and your content.
It should be easy to build the components that make up your sales funnel and they should all integrate.
You should easily (automatically) be able to place the opt-in forms to the positions where they are the most effective.
You should also be able to build landing pages, or any other pages, with the click of the mouse.
The platform should have enough templates available, where you can just change the text, change the photo and flexibly add any additional components as needed.
The Nightmare of Plugin & Theme Conflicts
Since there are multiple functions in any funnel, you will need several plugins.
If the plugins are from several different companies, chances are they may not integrate, functions may overlap.
The resulting plugin conflicts may cause annoying gray pages on your blog and you need to figure out and replace the one that doesn’t work with the rest. You will also have speed problems because of different standards and lazy coding.
Therefore the majority of your plugins and themes should come from the same source and should have error-free integration to the rest.
Picking The Best Sales Funnel Theme
Unfortunately there are far too many WordPress themes and this is very confusing.
The main points of a theme are the page layout, the colors and the ability to navigate your visitors.
Themes provide a pre-made set of templates/layouts. Having templates is good, because you don’t need to create a layout from scratch, but this comes with a price: your hand will be tied with each template.
Simplistically, the layout of your home page is divided into two parts:
- Above-The-Fold – content you can see WITHOUT scrolling down when your home page is first loaded.
- Below-The-Fold – content you only see when you scroll down.
Above-The-Fold is the most important part, because everyone who lands there will see it an you have about 3 seconds to impress them.
When I set up my first site, I spent 3 days looking through various free themes and it was an exhausting exercise.
Eventually I picked the free BB App Theme, which had
- the logo & navigation,
- a background image with a half-transparent layover
- a featured image on the left,
- a headline & sub-headline
- and two buttons with “Explore Now” and “Purchase Now”.
It worked okay as my first attempt. There were slots at he back-end where I was able to replace the text and the images.
Since I only needed one button to say “Start Here”, I deleted the text of the second button. That did the trick.
In fact this very theme helped me earn my first ever affiliate commission of $236.
But… It didn’t have the option to change font size, it had 1 home page template.
If your funnel says you need an opt-in form on your home page and the theme template has a green and a blue button… That obviously won’t work.
Many people start out with free themes.
These are fine at the beginning, but you will sooner or later need a premium theme.
Do yourself a favor…
Get a theme that provides multiple layouts AND a page editor, so when you need a different layout, you won’t need to start from scratch.
Thrive Theme Builder with Shapeshift Theme
I use Thrive Themes, Thrive Architect and Thrive Leads on my sites.
Per the data provided by BuiltWith, about 120,000 websites are built with Thrive Themes.
Since they were created based on consultation with successful marketers, they are built to increase conversion out of the box.
- Efficient coding,
- fast loading time,
- theme builder
- page builder.
Thrive has 10 legacy themes, which still work, but these are not being developed any longer.
While ShapeShift is the only theme that goes with the theme builder, it comes with several pre-made templates for homepage and other pages.
Even better, you can choose from several header, footer and other content block templates.
(Just click on the Homepages menu point and select the theme layout you want to see.)
The Perfect Personal Branding Homepage
The websites that were used as a model for creating the Personal Branding homepage all have one thing in common: they’re sites that led their owners to fame and success. Each site is the center piece of a highly successful personal brand.
Based on their findings from the trends and current homepages, they’ve created the “perfect” homepage for a personal brand. Here are the components:
If you look at the below homepage of Marie Forleo, you can see that it has a layout that follows the above rules.
A business homepage above-the-fold layout is not that much different. Let’s take a look at Shopify.
Below The Fold
Below-The-Fold content reinforces your Above-The-Fold content.
The goal is to convince and educate your visitors on what exactly they’ll get out of using your service or buying your products.
1. Benefits List:
The main question your visitors will ask is, “so what’s in it for me?” — “Why should I eat at your restaurant?” — “Why should I hire you as my photographer?”
2. Trust Indicators:
Trust indicators can be customer success stories, customer testimonials or quotes, professional accreditation (industry association affiliations, Better Business Bureau score), media quotes, the number of social network shares, and display personalized blurbs about your team members to create trust.
People buy from people or businesses they like and trust.
So by showing other people like you and your brand, you can boost your credibility and trustworthiness.
The key is here is to positively associate your business with external parties and show that your business is operated by people, not robots.
3. Features List:
Features list helps your potential customers know what EXACTLY they are getting when they make a purchase.
List out your most compelling features that your visitors will want to have.
Additional Templates From Thrive Architect
Thrive Architect is a drag-and-drop visual editor for WordPress.
You can easily add buttons, timers and a host of other elements to your pages and posts.
This includes over 300 Thrive Landing Page templates.
Thrive Architect gives you not just a front-end drag & drop editor, but also additional homepage templates.
Here is the Chic template (click to open):
Here is a simple blog home page (click to open).
Thrive Leads is an all-in-one list building tool. Its 60+ lead capture templates match almost any theme.
You can determine where you want to place them with one click:
- At the end of all blog posts excluding specific ones
- Scroll mat
You can even do A/B testing.
The opt-in box at the end of the post, the ribbon at the top and the pop-up were all created using Thrive Leads (see full tutorial).
The asset delivery feature lets you upload files (e.g. PDF reports) to your WordPress site and have those files automatically delivered whenever someone signs up through a Thrive Leads form.
You can choose whether or not a downloadable file should be sent and which downloadable file should be sent, on a form-by-form basis.
This feature can be used for delivering content upgrades.
The plugin also provides detailed statistics, opt-in percentages for the different kinds of forms.
Connecting To Your Email Service
It is very important that your setup works with your favorite email autoresponder service.
Thrive Themes integrates with the following email and webinar services.
Connecting to these is extremely easy. Rather than connecting each opt-in form by copy-pasting your code, you just need to select your provider from a list in the API Connections menu and enter your API key. From there on you don’t need to mess with any codes when you set up a new lead group, you just need to select the service you already connected and determine the name of the list Thrive Leads should pass on the subscriber data to.
If your email delivery service isn’t included in the list, you can still connect by pasting the code into the opt-in form when setting up a lead group.
Creating A Complete Funnel With Thrive Themes
As you can see, you would be saving the money between ClickFunnels’ $1197/year and Thrive’s $228 per year.
But how do you turn this into a full funnel?
I have included here a rather long video that gives you a lot of details on how to set it up, this way you will know what you get yourself into if you decide on this route.
If you don’t have time to watch the full video right now, you can look at the following post on how your funnel can be set up on Thrive.
All Thrive Themes are not just WooCommerce compatible, they take the look of your store to a completely new level.
On all your WooCommerce pages, you’ll find a clean, simple design with a focus on clarity.
Thrive Themes & Plugins Pricing
Thrive Theme Builder pricing (includes ShapeShift Theme,, 1 year of support, 1 year of updates):
- Single site license: $97
- 5-lincese pack: $127
Thrive Architect has the following pricing (, includes 1 year of support, free lifetime updates):
- Single site license: $67
- 5-lincese pack: $97
Thrive Leads pricing:
- Single site license: $67
- 5-lincese pack: $97
- 15-lincese pack: $147
Thrive Apprentice is is the platform I use for my online courses. I also have a tutorial on how to set up an online course using Apprentice & WooCommerce and how you can build a course using a membership plugin, without Woo.
- Single site license: $67
- 5-lincese pack: $97
- 15-lincese pack: $127
The Theme Builder and all the Thrive plugins are available in the Thrive Themes Membership package.
Here you have two options.
- $228.00 Thrive Personal Annual Membership ($90 quarterly) – this includes all the legacy themes, the Thrive Theme Builder and the plugins. You can use them on 25 of your own sites. If you split the cost with someone, that’s the best deal you can get.
- $588.00 Thrive Agency Annual Membership ($49 per month) – this is if you are an agency, and you have the ability to give out the themes to 50 sites that you are selling service to.
Annual membership means that for $228 you get support for one full year. After that year, you can still use the themes and plugins, you still get the free updates for them, but if you need more support, you will need to purchase it.
Additional Thrive Plugins
The membership also includes the following additional plugins:
Thrive Quiz Builder builds fully customized quizzes that allow you to gain valuable visitor insights. You can use your quiz to collect leads. I would like to invite you to participate in this Blog Earnings Quiz.
Thrive Ultimatum is a scarcity marketing tool to optimize your conversions. Give your visitors an ultimatum that your offer ends soon… Lockdown Evergreen timer, the same for every single visitor. Even if they change browsers, their email address or change devices, they won’t be able to get back their offer price.
With Clever Widgets, you can show different content in your widget areas, based on posts, pages, categories, tags and advanced targeting rules.
With Headline Optimizer, you can test different headlines against each other.
With Thrive Comments, you can get your visitors engaged with comments, upvotes, downvotes, etc.
With Thrive Ovation you can get testimonials on autopilot.
Marketers Delight Theme
This is a not so well known theme that I accidentally ran into that you could consider for building your sales funnel.
If you have even less money to allocate for this purpose, this is another option you have. It costs $97 to use for up to 5 sites. Once your license key expires after one (1) year you will need to renew it at 40% of the original price to re-enable auto-updates to be sent to your site.
Marketers Delight is not just a theme, it is An All In One Platform For Pros. It includes the following elements:
- Page Leads
- Layout Options
- Popup Creator
- Custom Image Cover
- Landing Page
- Built-in after post call-to-action
- MD-only WordPress widgets
- Featured image covers
- MD Pro Share for social media
- One-click updates
With MD, you can build:
- Landing Pages
- E-Commerce Sites
- Business Websites
- …And More!
Marketer’s Delight offers a smooth styling that’s simple, yet still looks good. It is fully responsive, works on any mobile device.
Instead of having to worry about customizing every little thing, the MD WordPress theme comes nearly ready out-of-the-box.
If you’re new to blogging or creating websites, this is incredibly important. You don’t want to spend three days trying to figure out how to configure your theme.
MD can create any type of web page or lead page that you’d ever need to. That’s why the theme is a truly all-in-one solution for bloggers and entrepreneurs.
Page Leads are a powerful system of tools built into Marketers Delight that makes building custom call-to-action areas throughout your website as easy as filling out some text fields.
The Page Leads system was meticulously integrated into the WordPress admin panel so you can build these content areas on any post, page, category, or custom post type + taxonomy in WordPress.
The Funnel Page Lead is the most popular Page Lead bundled into Marketers Delight. Simply designed, the Funnel Lead was built to direct readers to the most important pages around your site.
Creating Sales Funnels With Elementor
Elementor is also a page builder. As of April 2020, Elementor is available in over 50 languages and is the 6th most popular WordPress plugins, with over 5 million active installations worldwide. It powers 2.24% of the top 1M websites in the world.
It has a free version that you can download and test.
Hello is a free lightweight WordPress theme. When a new version of Elementor is released, most of the testing is done using the Hello theme, therefore it has full compatibility.
It offers just about the most lightweight, stripped-down foundation possible. It has no features or integrations – it’s basically just a blank canvas on which you can build your Elementor site.
Because you’re expected to use Elementor to design all those elements, your site doesn’t look like a “real” website immediately after activating the theme. Users who are looking to design their website using Elementor’s templating system will love the fact that Hello doesn’t get in the way.
Hello supports all popular WordPress plugins, including WooCommerce. Lighter than most themes, with almost no styling and scripts, Hello will not conflict with other plugin.
A selection of Elementor page templates is available free of charge, and these pre-made designs are a great starting point for creating your own pages.
While you can use Hello and the free version of Elementor to create website designs, the reality is that it’s extremely restrictive, as you have no control over important areas, such as your header, footer, single posts and archives.
Upgrading to Elementor Pro ($49/year for 1 site) will give you access to the complete Elementor Theme Builder.
This is how it works:
Pre-made blocks are available for about pages, call to actions, service pages, testimonials, subscriptions and more. Dozens of templates are also available for pop-ups.
Email Opt-in with Elementor Forms
Elementor Pro also unlocks a visual form builder.
Elementor includes a built-in and hassle-free integration to MailChimp, MailPoet, GetResponse, ConvertKit, Drip, ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, MailerLite Slack, and Discord.
Creating Funnels With CartFlows
CartFlows is being used in 10,000+ websites, and users love it because it’s so easy to use and it makes the checkout process way better.
The biggest downside to using page builder, etc plugins is that you don’t see your funnel as a visual and functional unit.
This situation is remedied by CartFlows and I believe that this is the closest WordPress alternative to ClickFunnels. This is a flow that I put together for selling an SD card with WooCommerce.
It has features like Order Bump, One-Click Upsell, you can replace your default Woo checkout page with a condensed 2-column/2-step checkout form.
They have beautiful templates for Elementor, Divi and Thrive Architect.
Some of these features are only available in the Pro version, which is not cheap ($300/year), but you can always test the free version.
Recommended Free-Tier Email Services
It is important that, if you are a startup, you have an autoresponder company that provides a free-tier service, so that you are not paying $10 or $20 per month for a small amount of subscribers that pay you no money.
I know that a lot of people use MailChimp as a free-tier service. While this may work for you, there are a couple of cons.
First, MailChimp has a confusing interface to set up your email series automation.
Second, you have a certain risk of your account getting shut down by their automated system, without any warning or chance to review, and their customer service takes a long time to answer. Their Acceptable Use Policy says,
“Prohibited Content …
“Work from home, make money online, and lead generation opportunities”
This is very general. Their automated system banned my ability to send emails just when I started getting some subscribers. (I am pretty certain that the 10 subscribers that I had at that point and the 40 emails that I sent out was not the greatest danger to MailChimp’s existence.)
After a week’s wait and repeated nudge to their customer service I was told to “move my business to a different service”. They didn’t quote what part of the agreement I violated.
I removed all my content and domains and I asked to re-activate my account, because I wanted to use my account for a different project, but no response after a week again.
After another inquiry they resent me the email that said my account was suspended and I should find a different service.
Therefore I am not happy with MailChimp and if you do more than sharing recipes or fitness tips or selling e-commerce, you need to assess the danger. Having to move all your emails to a different company is very time consuming.
“Affiliate Marketing and Affiliate Links are two different things. Affiliate Marketing is prohibited in MailerLite, but Affiliate Links are fine in most cases.
“Affiliate Marketing (Prohibited) – is a type of business where you earn commission by promoting other company’s products. We don’t allow this activity, because there’s no direct relationship between you and your subscribers. You are not allowed to send unrelated offers to your subscribers or pretend to be another brand.
“Affiliate Links (Allowed) – is a way to recommend product or service to your subscribers in your campaigns. Advertisement for another company (Affiliate Link) can only appear under your branding and be clearly presented as a special offer from another company. Moreover, the offer has to be related to your content and meet subscriber expectations.”
At one point MailerLite had spam delivery problems and I also had several instances where people weren’t getting my emails, they didn’t arrive into their spam folders either.
MailRelay is the service I use currently and I am happy with them. They allow up to 6,000 emails per month for free.
MailPoet is a service that lets you send newsletters from your WordPress dashboard, free up to 1,000 subscribers.
Handling Email Delivery Problems
When you set up your domain email, it is almost certain that you will need to handle email delivery problems. Otherwise your emails won’t arrive, or will go into the Spam folder.
WordPress email delivery is unreliable, therefore I use an SMTP plugin.
I use an email service like SocketLabs to deliver my WordPress notifications, their free tier allows you to send out 2,000 emails per month.
They have 15 years of experience in delivering email into inboxes. Their suppression system keeps track of undeliverable email addresses, unsubscribed email addresses and email addresses for which a complaint is received. Future messages to these addresses are automatically blocked to increase email deliverability.
Creating Sales Pages
Building A Course On Your Own Blog
Online courses are very popular these days for blog monetization.
If you want to avoid paying for a platform like Teachable, you can use the Thrive Apprentice plugin and build a course right on your blog.
You can sell your course using a free membership plugin, but you should also have a free tier membership where you can build a membership base and then sell them your product sand courses.
I hope that the above have been useful for you. Leave any questions in the comments.