what is a sales funnel

What is a Sales Funnel? An eCommerce Seller’s Guide

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you for your support!

Love it? Share it!

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel is the journey that you take a potential customer on, from first contact to purchase.

What is a sales funnel?

The top of the funnel collects all your leads from advertising online or in print, events you attend, people finding you online or on social media. These people won’t all become customers, but they all express interest in your business at some point.

The next section of your funnel is where you nurture your leads using email. Your email list is the most valuable part of your business. A well-nurtured list will buy from you again and again.

The email’s you send new potential customers can introduce you and your products, tell the story of your business and offer special coupon or sales.

This is where an amazing sales page will come in a seal the deal! A well-written sales page, with an easy to use buy button, will help you to turn potential customers into paying customers.

what is a sales funnel

A few definitions

If you’re looking to start building a sales funnel you’ll need to know a few words.

  1. CTA – Call to action. This is the pop-up box, email form, or other calls to share a person’s email address. You’ll usually give them something free in exchange, such as a coupon, pdf or printable, access to a Facebook group, etc.
  2. Opt-in – the free thing you give in exchange for an email address.
  3. SEO – Search Engine Optimization. If you are using search to help bring people to your site or sales page, you’ll need to know about SEO.
  4. Traffic – the people who reach your website.
  5. Social Proof – testimonials and reviews by real users that other’s can read or view to see that customer enjoy your product.

Sales Funnel Stages

The stages of a sales funnel are often referred to as AIDA. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action.


This is when people find you. This is the entire point of marketing, to get potential customers attention. At this stage, you need to ask them to connect with you by:

  • Joining your email list.
  • Following you on social media.
  • Joining your Facebook group.


Your next goal is to create interest in your product and your business.

  • Send interesting emails.
  • Engage on social media in meaningful ways.
  • Use social proof to build curiosity about how your product could change someone’s life.
  • Talk about how your product solves a problem.


You need to ask for a decision from your potential customers. No one purchases without deciding to purchase.

  • Create an excellent sales page.
  • Offer a free call to go over the product or service.
  • Send people to a webinar or video series about the product.
  • Offer an exclusive product for email subscribers only.


This is it! You have a new customer! Make your product simple to buy by using an uncomplicated checkout page and offering multiple ways to pay.

Example of a sales funnelCan any business use a sales funnel?

The short answer, yes!

There are so many different ways to use sales funnels that any business can benefit from setting one (or more!) up.

Online businesses will find them essential to generating sales, but even offline businesses can increase foot traffic and sales by using effective sales funnels.

RELATED POST: Build a Profitable Sales Funnel Template for Your Small Business

How do I get started building a sales funnel?

Step One: Set up email

The first step is to build an email list. Take your time getting it set up right.

It’s important to choose a service provider that will allow you to use automation. This is the ability to send emails automatically when someone signs up for your list. My favorite provider is ConvertKit, but there are many services out there to choose from.

ConvertKit has set up a webinar to help you get started building a sales funnel. In it, they show you:

  • How to get the right leads on your email list
  • A simple three-email sales template inspired by creators earning a full time living online
  • A step-by-step tutorial to get an automated sales funnel up and running in 24-hours

There will also be some free stuff given to you at the end of the webinar to help make setting up and writing your sales funnel even easier! This training is useful for everyone, not just those who use ConvertKit. You’ll get real, actionable takeaways you can implement today no matter what email service provider you use!

Want to watch? Click here to sign up for the Sales Funnel Webinar!

Step Two: Create an opt-in

This is the free offer that you exchange for email addresses. Think of something that would be enticing for your ideal customer. It could be almost anything that is free for you to provide. A special Facebook group, an item that is only available to subscribers, a discount, first access to sales, or anything you can think up!

Step Three: Add your CTA

You’ll need to set up some CTAs (Calls to Action) on your website. These can be pop-ups or forms at the top or bottom of each page. They should specify what a subscriber will get in return for their email address.

Here is an example of one of mine:

[convertkit form=4968791]

Step Four: Write your welcome sequence

Write a few welcome emails to be spread out over the first few days after someone signs up. Introduce your business and your products and talk about the problem that they help solve.

Step Five: Create your offer

You’ll want to create a special offer for the end of your welcome emails. Think about what your ideal customer would really like to receive. It might be a coupon to your best selling product or an invite to a special sale for email subscribers. Make this offer as irresistible as possible!

Step Six: Build your sales page

This offer should have a sales page of its own, that is written to convert people to purchase. Encourage them to make a decision to buy with a limited time offer or a limited quantity, something that makes it important for them to decide.

Step Seven: Load your funnel

This is where you need a marketing strategy. You’ll have to decide how you are going to get traffic to your website and sign up for your mailing list.

If you have a high-value offer, you can consider Facebook or Pinterest ads that sell your free offer. If you have a lower priced product, try sharing your opt-in on social media and include a link to your opt-in in your email signature.

This is also where using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can come in handy. That is a whole post in itself, but basically, you write your website to rank on Google for various keywords related to your product.

Brainstorm a ton of different ways you could promote your opt-in to new people and try them all! You can never promote too much!

This covers the basics of “what is a sales funnel” but you can go way deeper and more complicated in your funnels over time. Don’t get overwhelmed with all the steps it takes to create a simple funnel. Just take one step forward at a time and pretty soon you’ll be making money from your very own sales funnel!

What is a sales funnel? Read this guide for an explanation and a step by step guide to setting up your first funnel. Plus, easy to follow graphics and examples! #salesfunnel #smallbiz

Ready to create your own Sales Funnel? Check out Quick Start Sales Funnels for step by step instructions!

Love it? Share it!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.