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Struggling to collect emails from prospects so you can send them more marketing materials? Do you see potential customers abandon their cart and don’t know how to follow up? Are you finding your inbox too hard to manage, and never end up getting back to your customers?

You’re not alone — these are common struggles for creators, many of whom don’t have a background in sales. But these challenges can lead to huge potential losses in sales. The key to turning things around? Proper sales funnels. 

A sales funnel represents all the stages your prospects go through on their customer journey, from when they first become aware of your business to when they buy your products or take other desired actions. Effective sales funnels can help you convert significantly more prospects into customers.

Colin Longworth is the Founder of and an expert in building custom solutions and sales funnels. He has been a Thinkific creator for over 5 years and a Thinkific Expert since 2019. In this post he shares 5 high-converting sales funnels you can use to drive more business.

Want to skip ahead?

What exactly are sales funnels?

A funnel is a pathway that you want your customers to follow, to reach a particular goal or outcome. 

That outcome could be a sale, a download, a subscription, or it could just be that you’re reducing friction. You want to get the user from point A to point B as quickly and with the least friction as possible. Ultimately, funnels will all aid in improving your revenue so you can grow your business faster.

Learn more about sales funnels in our Complete Guide to Boosting Business Revenue with Sales Funnels

Combatting sales funnel myths

The words “sales funnel” induces fear and panic in many creators, but it doesn’t have to. Here are 5 common myths that Colin believes should be addressed before diving into the specifics of funnels.

Myth 1: Funnels are expensive to create, operate, and maintain.

That’s simply not true. Funnels can be implemented for free or for under $50. Once they are implemented, maintenance will take very little time because they run automatically!

Myth 2: Funnels need complicated subscription software to work correctly.

Expensive or complex software isn’t necessary. You can build great funnels with very easy-to-use software that is available to you for free or for a small subscription fee.

Myth 3: Without custom landing pages or gamification my funnels won’t work.

There’s no need to have very advanced custom landing pages for your funnels to work. Some of Colin’s best converting emails only have a small paragraph. Some of his best landing pages have only one button and some simple text. As long as the content and timing of your communication are appropriate, it will work!

Myth 4: I need to hire someone to implement my funnels.

If you can use Facebook, Thinkific or any other software, you can definitely create your own funnels. Colin will show you exactly how in this blog post.

Myth 5: Funnels need multiple steps and complex user flows to be successful.

Not true. A complex flow leads to more complicated problems that are often very difficult to fix. A shorter flow works just fine for most business needs.

Now that we’ve got the myths out of the way, let’s get started with building funnels.

Colin will introduce 5 sales funnels that are applicable and essential to every business—but still run on autopilot. Colin will also demonstrate how you can add them to your Thinkific site. 

The platforms that Colin uses in the examples are MailChimp, Typeform, and Zapier. All of these platforms are available in the Thinkific App Store.

5 sales funnel examples

1. Footer opt-in

The first step in sending marketing content to your prospects is to collect their personal information. Once they have navigated to your site, they have shown some interest in your products and you should take action to win them over as a customer!

If you’ve been on a website and seen a section that reads, “Welcome! Subscribe and get 15% off your first purchase.” That’s a perfect example of a Footer Opt-in. This funnel allows prospective customers to join your newsletter very easily and you can collect their contact information to send future marketing communications. 

The implementation is straightforward and only takes 15 to 30 minutes. On average, roughly 1-2% of site traffic will opt-in to this. Once you have their contact, there’s a great chance you can nurture them to the point of purchasing your products. 

Watch this video to see Colin implement this funnel step by step:

2. Contact us follow-up

Every website needs a Contact Us page to make it easy for customers to reach the business. For your own site, customers might come to you with questions about your courses or pricing. If it’s difficult to reach you and their questions are left unanswered, chances are they will leave and search for other alternatives. Don’t lose out on sales!

A Contact Us follow-up funnel will allow you to automatically follow up with students who get in contact. Building this will only take 15-30 minutes and in Colin’s personal experience, 25% of people who enter these funnels took further action, like purchasing his products!

How this funnel works is when a user navigates to your Thinkific site, and fills out the Contact Us form, then Zapier will recognize this action and add the user to MailChimp. In MailChimp, you will set up an automation that will send a follow-up email about their questions.

An additional benefit to this funnel is reducing support time and the manual effort of having to follow up with each student. The most powerful part of this funnel is the FAQ follow-up. Colin recommends starting an FAQ section from day one when you start building your own site. Imagine yourself as a new user, what would you want to know? What questions would you have?

Watch Colin implement this funnel in this video:

3. Abandonment /lead onboarding

It’s fairly common for prospects to sign up but not complete their purchase. Abandoning their cart might be the result of a distraction, an urgent task taking them away from your site, or simply doubts about the commitment. So how do you ensure they come back and purchase your course?

The solution is to build out an abandonment/lead onboarding funnel. Customers that signed up, but did not purchase a course, will be encouraged to come back and complete the checkout process. 

Similar to the previous funnel, an email will be automatically sent to those who never completed the purchase. Colin suggests sending a simple reminder about the items left in their cart or offering a slight discount to instantly boost your sales. This funnel is arguably the most important funnel of the 5 discussed in this article. 

Implementation takes around 1 to 2 hours and when Colin used it for his personal business, he saw around 50% engagement rate, and 13% of those who engage move forward with the sale.

Watch how Colin implements this funnel in this video:

4. Student onboarding

The sales funnel doesn’t end when your customers purchase your products, you need to continue to nurture and keep a good relationship with them for future purchases. One way to do this is to create a seamless onboarding experience.

Some students might be brand new to the Thinkific platform or to your courses and need some guidance along the way. When the onboarding process is seamless, they are more likely to come back and purchase other courses and tell other people about them. If they have an unpleasant start, students might abandon the course and will be hesitant to purchase more.

The Student Onboarding funnel aims to create an onboarding process that is frictionless and helps your customers get started faster. Some common ways to support your students would be to send a course welcome email, and sequences of emails that includes critical information like how to log in to your site, navigate the Thinkific dashboard, and ask a discussion question.

The implementation process is quite similar to the previous funnels and will take around 1-2 hours to build. Colin saw up to 30% improvement in student retention for his business.

Colin tends to educate students through cohorts or drip schedules. The easiest way to ensure your students have what they need to be successful is with a weekly email. Notify them about what to expect in the week ahead and how to be prepare. All of this, of course, can be automated and this is exactly the purpose of this funnel.

An added benefit of the funnel is it will reduce the number of refunds. The majority of refunds come from customers who log in but don’t how to get started and get overwhelmed. You can easily help onboard those customers and reduce your refunds.

In this video, Colin will show you how to build the Student Onboarding Funnel:

5. Automated review request

Online businesses live and die based on the reviews they receive. The more positive and highly rated a course is, the more prospects will perceive it to be trustworthy. Therefore you want to encourage learning to leave a review and potentially reward them for doing so.

How this funnel works is when someone completes a course, an email with a course review form will be sent automatically. Once the review is completed, follow up with a small reward for their action, like a bonus credit to use towards their next purchase. Additionally, based on the score given by users, you can also tag them as an advocate of your business.

The purpose of the tag is to add them to a list within your email platform. This particular group of customers is highly engaged and the best people to market to, receive feedback from, and pilot programs with.

Implementation takes around 15 to 30 minutes and 10% of people on average will leave a review, based on Colin’s personal experience. This funnel is also an overlooked opportunity to sell. When someone’s completed a corporate finance course, they might be interested in your accounting course. Another example is when they’ve taken your introduction course, they might be interested in the intermediate course next. Ensure you mention a relevant course to the one your student has left a review for. 

Find step-by-step instructions on how to construct this funnel in this video: 

Use TCommerce to simplify selling and manage payments

Colin’s 5 sales funnels can help lead to higher conversion. To ensure you are set up for success and can manage your increased growth efficiently, TCommerce can support your payment needs.

Read more: How one of the Top 10 Creators on Thinkific, Mina Irfan, Simplifies Her Business Using TCommerce

Thinkific has built TCommerce with our creators in mind — a new suite of business management tools that helps you simplify your business and selling. You can access your payment, selling, and content creation tools together in one powerful place so you can spend more time teaching. TCommerce is available on all Thinkific plans at no additional cost.

Here are some of the key features of TCommerce:

  • Access powerful, integrated selling tools designed specifically for course creators like you.
  • Accept and manage payments in one convenient place with our integrated payment processor, Thinkific Payments.
  • Simplify bookkeeping with easy access to your Payouts, Orders, and Transactions reports.

You can easily get onboarded to TCommerce by setting up Thinkific Payments, our payment processor built in-house. It only takes a few minutes to set up and is completely free. 

Need more help with setting up? Read our Help Centre article.

TCommerce is currently available for businesses based in Canada, the US, and the UK. If you’re not located in these countries, check out this page and sign up to get exclusive access.

Related: TCommerce: Less Time on Admin and Selling—More Time Teaching