What Is A Sales Funnel And (Why) Do You Need One?

I’ve been working with online course creators for years. Most people I work with and talk with have amazing courses and a good amount of website traffic. 

So, they’ve got a great product, they’ve got lots of potential customers, but they’re frustrated because there’s a part in the middle that’s missing. The questions they all have are:

  • Why am I not making more sales?
  • Why is my conversion rate not better?

Does this sound familiar? Are you one of those people?

What do most of them do then? 

They do what they know best – they create more courses and they work on getting more people to their website. 

Now – when you’re starting out with your content marketing it’s (relatively) easy to 2x your traffic. But once you’ve been going for quite a while you’re not going to make those huge increases. 

When you have one course – then making a second one can lead to a huge increase in sales. But if you have 5 or 10 courses, then making another one is not going to make a huge difference. 

Increasing your traffic and creating more courses will bring results, but there’s another bigger lever you can pull. One that could allow you to 2x, 5x or maybe even 10x your sales.

That lever is a sales funnel.


A sales funnel is everything you set up that’s going to convert visitors into leads, leads into sales and sales into repeat sales. 

Another way to explain is: A good funnel takes your audience on a graceful and beautiful customer journey. People go from hearing about you to learning more and trusting you. They opt in to join your email list and decide to buy something from you for the first time (usually a cheaper course). They start buying more expensive courses and finally, they become loyal, returning customers. 

And it’s really nicely explained (or at least I think so). Maybe it sounds like it would lead to a super organised funnel. Like those ones you see in blog articles about funnels:

But, in reality, most people’s funnels look something like this:

They’re pissing out money left and right. They’ve got so many holes you can’t believe and are nowhere near as neat as the first picture. If you watched any of my webinars, you probably saw these two pictures, I really love using them to explain imagination vs reality. 

Creating that funnel isn’t easy, and I’m not pretending it is. But it is doable. It’s not some mystic art, it’s a practical thing that you can do, one step at a time. 

For now, I want you to know that if you don’t have a funnel, you’re missing out on a lot of your potential revenue. You’re missing out on a huge opportunity to finally earn what you’re worth and to sell your courses to many more people. And to help those people change their lives through what they learn in your courses. Once you learn about this and implement it, then you will thank past you for this.


When one of our clients, Seonaid, started working on her funnel she managed to grow her revenue 8 times while doubling traffic. Yes, eight times! That means she made 4x as much per website visitor. And that number is only going up. We believe she can make about 3x more from her current website traffic in the next year. I’ll keep you updated on Seonaid’s progress.

Another client of ours, Paintable, doubled their revenue while hardly increasing traffic at all.

That’s why you need a funnel.

If you have great online courses, over 2,000 website visitors a month, an email list of over 2,000 people, then a good funnel will definitely bring you results (more money). 


After you saw the two images I showed at the beginning of this post, the question you probably have right now is: 

If I have funnel #2 how do I make it look like funnel #1?

Which hole should I fix first?

Well, in my opinion, the best answer is – the one that will bring you the most money. 

But, how do you figure that out?

You look at numbers. First, you must know your numbers for each stage in your funnel. Then, you must know the benchmarks. When you compare those numbers, you will see what you need to optimise. 

The best decisions in marketing are the ones that are guided by data. We believe in that so much we’ve put it into our company name. 

In this blog post, I’ve explained how to find the biggest hole in your funnel.

If you want to see how much you could be making if you optimise your current funnel, use our Funnel Revenue Calculator.

By John Ainsworth

John Ainsworth is a funnel builder, and marketer with over 10 years of experience. He founded Data-Driven Marketing to help people who are making great courses and need help with their funnels in order to scale their business.