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. Your website is your office and your shop…
What’s the big fuss about ClickFunnels?
No, this is not an affiliate pitch to sign you up for their platform to get a commission.
We are talking about WordPress sales funnel themes and plugins.
But you need to read this section because there is something you MUST MUST MUST understand and copy from them, otherwise you are completely missing the boat!!!
Any idea how Russell Brunson built a funnel 10 years ago?
He had to do it from scratch.
- Putting the page sequence together,
- Hiring a copywriter,
- Hiring a graphic designer,
- Hiring a programmer to code the pages,
- A shopping cart…
When all was said and done, it cost Russell $29,000 to set up one funnel like this:
(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.)
This is why Russell originally created ClickFunnels (14-day free trial link) – he wanted to do everything to make funnel building easy and his clients successful.
I don’t use ClickFunnels and since you are on this post, you are probably not going to.
But these are things that you will need to copy from them:
If you are hoping for any kind of success in the field of funnels, you need proven templates.
I have a collection of the ClickFunnels’ top 30 share funnel templates. These are all ready to import with one click for ClickFunnels users, without the need to design anything. When you have a chance, browse through them, play around with them, because this concept of proven templates takes a bit more to sink in than just reading this paragraph.
Unfortunately no one in WordPress has this. You need to ethically copy these templates.
Russell paid $20K for the copy of the above funnel and I know you are not going to pay that kind of money.
But if your copywriting sucks, you will get no sales.
He created Funnel Scripts to make the copywriting task easier.
3. Funnel Hacking & Strategies
They also have the whole concept of Funnel Hacking –
Going into a successful funnel and copying what works.
Let me ask you: What is more successful…
- Opening your own random restaurant without much of a plan … OR
- Opening your McDonalds based on the proven model, product structure, etc?
The second one clearly wins.
The CF community also has tons of tutorials that explain money-making principles. One such concept is offer creation.
Even though I don’t actively use CF, I got the majority of my funnel knowledge from videos and courses created by their community.
The WordPress community has none of these…
- No plan,
- No templates,
- building a few random pages,
- writing your copy and thinking it’s great.
That’s your recipe for failure.
Building Inexpensive Sales Funnels?
The downside of ClickFunnels is that building a funnel with them is “relatively” expensive. It costs $1,164 per year on the basic plan and the average Joe doesn’t have that kind of money.
What you’re paying for is all the design work that was done in the background and the convenience to integrate all the funnel steps within one platform.
So how do you cut the cost?
Is it possible to create a powerful conversion optimized sales funnels in WordPress with similar capabilities, such as A/B testing?
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, pricing table)
- Combine the blocks into various types of page templates (e. g. landing page, thank you page)
- These pages are combined into actual WordPress funnel templates (Free Plus Shipping funnel, Tripwire, webinar, 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.
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)
- Easy creation of your online course or membership area
- A shopping cart to collect payment for your products
- A choice of pre-made opt-in forms
- Easy integration with your favorite email marketing service
- Lead magnet delivery
- Scarcity marketing (countdown timers)
- Exit popups,
- Social sharing,
- Your own affiliate program
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.
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.
An incorrectly designed, poorly optimized website will prevent you from getting opt-ins and sales.
All these factors point to the direction that the majority of your plugins and themes should come from the same source.
Picking The Best Sales Funnel Theme
The first thing you will need is a WordPress theme.
Honestly, there are far too many of them and this can be very confusing.
Themes usually have a pre-made set of home page templates. This is good, because you don’t need to create one from scratch, but at the same time your hand will be tied with each 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.
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.
The Problem With Free Themes
Many people start out with free themes.
These are fine at the beginning, but you will sooner or later need a premium theme.
- Free themes are infamous for poorly optimized coding.
- They load slow and every delayed second will result in 7 percent of your visitors leaving your site before it even loads.
- They don’t look good and many of them are not mobile responsive.
- Your hand is tied because you don’t have a chance to change around their design if it doesn’t fit your site’s purpose.
- And it’s a pain or outright impossible to build a landing page or a funnel with them.
On top of all that Google knows that you are using a free theme and it will affect your search engine rankings the same way as if you were using a free host.
The 10 Thrive Themes
The package of Thrive Themes and their plugins fits all the criteria I listed above.
- Efficient coding,
- fast loading time,
- they are based on consultation with successful marketers, therefore are
- built to increase conversion.
You can choose from the themes below. Click on the links provided to read the detailed reviews on each. If you want to see what these themes look like, check the actual demos of the different themes. Just change the name of the theme in the dropdown menu near the top left corner of the screen.
Thrive Theme Builder & Shapeshift Theme Release
What you have read above is about to transform into the stratosphere.
The FunnelXpert website was originally built on the Pressive Theme. Now it is being switched over to ShapeShift.
Pressive is a theme with a distinct character, but the focus is still where it needs to be: on your content, your offers, your conversion elements.
Performag is the first true magazine theme for WordPress. There are many other magazine themes available for WordPress, but unfortunately they only give your site a magazinish look. Performag does a lot more than that. It’s not about the look of your site at all, even though that is also spectacular, it’s about the whole range of machinery that is inside this theme. PerforMag is built with a different purpose in mind: to increase your site’s ad revenue, increase your social sharing and increase user engagement on your site. In short: it’s streamlined for the business purposes of a magazine website.
Rise is a theme for blogging, affiliate marketing and other online businesses. It was built in collaboration with an affiliate marketing veteran, Zac Johnson, who has been a successful affiliate marketer for longer than most of us have even known the internet existed.
Storied is a theme that was primarily built for blogging. You have a story to tell and through beautifully formatted multi-media posts (video, audio, image and other media posts are supported), you connect with your readers and build your audience.
Voice is a theme that emphasizes content & authors. The post author is prominently displayed next to the content, making it ideal for personal branding. At the same time, it’s also about conversion.
Minus is a beautifully minimal design theme. Most pages are carefully composed with typography, white space and very little else. This minimal design makes the theme highly adaptable to almost any purpose and any brand.
Ignition is a theme that’s very well suited for building a marketing website. With Ignition, it’s a joy to create awesome looking sales pages and marketing pages for your products, memberships and services.
Luxe is a theme that is all about stripping away the distractions and the unessential, and keeping only what truly matters for making your site beautiful and functional. A minimal design style with subtle highlights and typography.
FocusBlog is a multi-purpose theme. You can use it to create a corporate website, a marketing site with landing pages and sales pages, a site for a local business and much more.
Check the actual demos of the different themes.
All these themes are built for speed. Your site should load under 3 seconds.
Go ahead and check how fast your site loads in different areas of the planet. Also check how fast my site loads.
All these themes are built with a responsive design that fits any screen, search engine and conversion optimized. They are built to increase your mailing list by getting new subscribers and you get fantastic support.
All Thrive Themes are WooCommerce compatible. On all your WooCommerce pages, you’ll find a clean, simple design with a focus on clarity.
You will need a free WordPress importer plugin to import your current store.
Check out this demo store.
Thrive Themes & Plugins Pricing & Discounts
In addition to the theme you will need:
- a page builder plugin
- a lead collection plugin
- possibly an online course/membership plugin
I use the following tools.
Thrive Leads is an all-in-one list building tool.
You can create any kind of opt-in forms, you can determine where you place them with one click (e. g. at the end of all blog posts excluding specific ones).
There are several pre-made opt-in templates like the one above
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).
- Single site license: $67
- 5-lincese pack: $97
- 15-lincese pack: $147
- Single site license: $67
- 5-lincese pack: $97
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
Because of the upcoming theme builder, Thrive Themes are unavailable separately. They are still included in the Thrive Themes Membership package.
Here you have two options.
- $228.00 Thrive Personal Annual Membership ($19 per month) – this includes all the Thrive themes and plugins.
- $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.
I personally recommend the $228 Personal Annual Membership, which enables you to use all the themes and the plugins on 25 of your own sites. If you split the cost with someone, that’s the best deal you can get.
(Having your membership will also make you eligible for the theme builder, without additional costs.)
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.
- Single site license: $97
- 5-lincese pack: $147
- 15-lincese pack: $399
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 A Complete Funnel With Thrive Themes
As you can see, you would be saving the money between ClickFunnels’ $1197/year and Thrive’s $228 for lifetime.
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.
Creating Landing Pages With Thrive Themes
Creating landing pages with WordPress is a pain.
With Thrive Content Builder (now called Thrive Architect) you can instantly publish beautiful, conversion optimized and 100% editable opt-in pages, sales pages, webinar registrations pages, etc.
At the point of writing this post, Thrive Architect (see detailed tutorial) has 276 different templates to choose from, many of these are landing pages. All you need to do is to change the text and the images to whatever you want to.
Creating Landing Pages With Elementor
Elementor is also a page builder. It has a free version that you can download and test.
This is how it works:
Check out their entire landing page library.
Creating Funnels With CartFlows
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.
Setting Up Your Opt-In Forms
In setting up your opt-in in Thrive Leads, you can create several lead groups.
- post footer
You can restrict the categories, posts and pages where these appear. As an example, on this blog I use post footer opt-in forms at the end of the post. I could set it to show a different one for certain posts, pages or categories.
You can select from over 40 different pre-made opt-in layouts and you just need to replace the text, add your own image.
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.
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.