Last updated on December 7th, 2022
Recently, I’ve had a few queries about funnel hacking. Some people have heard that it’s a great technique to use for marketing, others have heard that it’s illegal, and some people are cautious to use it because it has ‘hacking’ in the name.
Because of this, I thought I would write a guide which should answer all your questions about funnel hacking. So, here’s the guide I have made after much research. I hope it helps!
What Is Funnel Marketing?
Before I can start explaining funnel hacking, I first need to tell you about funnel marketing.
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Funnel marketing is a type of roadmap used in marketing that details the customer’s journey. It starts from when someone first learns about your business and follows them right up to the purchasing step.
Each step comes with its own deep analysis, strategies to help retain a potential customer, and more.
The marketing funnel helps simplify the customer journey for companies and helps them plan steps and strategies to retain their customers for each step.
As 79% of marketing leads fail to end in a sale, a funnel helps track at what step businesses are losing their leads and inform them so they can make changes.
It’s even helped me change my strategies to boost my sales – and yet 68% of companies do not have a sales funnel for their marketing needs despite lead conversion being the top priority for 69% of marketers.
The funnel itself has several steps that stand for a part of the average customer’s journey. As each step progresses, it’s likely that you lose a certain amount of potential leads – which is why the group narrows down like a funnel.
Some marketers use different versions of the funnel but I like to simplify it into three steps.
- the top of the funnel (Awareness),
- the middle of the funnel (Consideration),
- and the bottom of the funnel (Conversion).
Each step also has its own strategies, so here’s my own run down of what each step means in terms of marketing.
Awareness is the first step in a potential lead’s journey into becoming a customer. It refers to when they first become ‘aware’ of an issue they face and that your business may be the solution you need.
As a result, awareness strategies focus on audience appeal. This can range from advertisements, social media posts, to hearing about your business through other people.
Basically, you are trying to make your business appealing to your potential customers.
Some awareness campaigns and strategies include:
- Landing Pages – They have a conversion rate of 23% and a HubSpot study found that companies with 30 or more landing pages generated 7 times more leads than those who used less than 10.
- Paid Advertisements – 68% of marketers stated in 2020 that paid advertising was either very or extremely important to their overall marketing strategy. Such strategies include PPC, influencer marketing, and Google Ads.
- Social Media – There are roughly 3.96 billion social media users out there and as 75% of users say they use social media to research products, 73% of marketers claim that social media marketing has been effective for their business in some way.
This step occurs after your lead has interacted with your brand in a meaningful way. This can range from following your business on social media, signing up to your email marketing scheme, or contacting you to enquire for some details.
Now, your business needs to engage with these leads as they are considering your company.
The goals for most businesses at this stage are to prove that their business is trustworthy.
Some strategies to achieve this include:
- Content Creation – Creating meaningful and informative content helps establish your company as a reliable source of information, so leads are more likely to trust your business. A 2021 Semrush survey found that 97% of businesses use content marketing.
- SEO – Jumping off content creation, SEO helps your business rank higher in SERPs as search engines trust your business. Google is one of the most trusted online platforms out there and over 25% of users click the first Google search result. So, SEO (see also, ‘How to Boost Your SEO by Using Schema Markup‘) helps boost your business’s trustworthiness.
- Reviews – In 2017, 93% of consumers said that online reviews affect their decision to purchase. A 2020 BrightLocal survey found that consumers also need to read an average of 10 reviews before they can trust a local company, and 40 reviews before they trust in a business’s star rating.
Now, we have to the final step in the funnel – conversion. This is where those leads become customers as they make their purchase.
By now, your business will have gotten their attention and built their trust – but there are still strategies you can do to help ease them through this final step and to help ensure they return for more.
- Email Marketing – 64% of small businesses use email marketing and sending several emails helps turn abandoned carts into purchases.
- Free Trials – Free trials have a good track record when it comes to conversion rates. For example, DropBox found that offering free trials increased sign ups by 60%.
- Loyalty Program – A loyalty program helps you retain customers as customer acquisition is five times more expensive than customer retention. Selling to an already existing customer is also 60% to 70% more successful than selling to a new customer.
What Is Funnel Hacking?
So, hopefully you now understand what funnel marketing is and why so many marketers keep in mind. Now, it’s time to move onto the actual point of this article – what is funnel hacking?
Funnel hacking is basically using your competitor’s marketing funnels for your own purposes rather than building your own.
Funnel marketing is a long, complicated process which involves a lot of research, a lot of effort, and a lot of trial and error.
Trust me, I know – I’ve built numerous ‘funnel’s during my career. However, a lot of marketers want to make this process quicker and easier to save time and energy – and so, they turn to funnel hacking.
Most people associate ‘hacking’ with illegal activity, stealing resources and data, and so I’ve met a lot of businesses who flinch at the thought of funnel hacking before they even know what it is.
However, funnel hacking is all about researching and investigating your competitor’s marketing funnel and using that as a framework for your own. There’s no actual hacking involved; just a lot of research!
So, funnel hacking is the process of investigating your competitor’s marketing funnel, reverse engineering their strategies, and testing them for your own business. This can help boost your marketing efficiency and reap great results.
Is Funnel Hacking Illegal?
So, let me set the record straight here – funnel hacking is completely legal.
There’s nothing immoral or shifty about using funnel hacking to speed up your own funnel marketing strategies. As a result, I’ve met plenty of marketers and businesses who use funnel hacking.
However, plagiarism is illegal.
There’s a fine line between funnel hacking and straight up plagiarizing another business’s hard work. If you want to use funnel hacking for your own business, then you need to know the difference and make sure you do not cross any legal boundaries.
Funnel hacking is used for research and investigation purposes – not something you can copy and paste over when it comes to ads, landing pages, and social media posts.
This case study from another marketing blog shows just how funnel hacking can go wrong when companies or marketers plagiarize.
Some companies use copyrighted templates in their marketing and trying to copy and paste those over to your business without paying any fees can land you in hot water.
If you’re worried about accidentally plagiarizing while funnel hacking, then here’s a neat trick I use. Treat it like using research to inform your essays at college – you can reword the research you have but you can’t lift quotes from a textbook and try to pass it as your own.
The same goes for marketing!
So, funnel hacking is completely legal but you have to ensure that you don’t plagiarize straight from your competitors – or you could end up in trouble!
How To Try Funnel Hacking
Although I find funnel hacking to be an efficient marketing method, it still has its own complex processes. So, here’s my step-by-step guide I use for my own funnel marketing tactics.
Check it out below and if you want to try funnel hacking yourself, then you can use this as your own guide too.
Step One: Find Your Competitors
To try funnel hacking, you will obviously need to identify your competitors. If you can name any off the top of your head, then write them down in a list until you have a good number you can research and learn from.
If you don’t, then here’s some great methods I use to find my competitors online:
Social Media – A quarter of digital ad spending goes into Facebook, and it has around 10 million. So, this means you can easily run into your competitors on social media platforms like Facebook.
Search Engine Results – Google has 92% of the search engine market worldwide and so, businesses want to rank high in its result pages to gather more leads. This means that typing a few keywords related to your business into Google (and other search engines) will easily help you find your biggest competitors.
Customer Surveys – Email surveys have a response rate of 24.8% which means that you can use these to ask your customers about your competitors. They can name drop some other brands or companies they found during their own research before they came to you – and this will give you a great place to start for your funnel hacking.
Step Two: Check Out Their Funnels
Now you have your competitors, it’s time to start your funnel hacking.
The first thing I do is visit each of their websites and start screenshotting everything that comes up.
This includes the website layout itself, any landing pages I see, their social media profiles and posts, their email funnel – anything and everything the competitors use for marketing themselves towards their customers.
Then, everything is saved into individual folders for each competitor ready for later analysis.
There are plenty of great tools out there you can use for quick and easy screenshotting but if you’re ever stuck, then here’s the most basic method you can use.
Select the ‘Print Screen’ button on your keyboard, and then open up paint on your computer. Paste the image in, crop it down to size, and save it into your folder. It’s super easy!
By doing this, you are acting as the ‘customer’ going through your competitor’s marketing funnel.
You will see exactly what your competitor’s customers are seeing and you will see what is similar or different to your own customer’s journey when interacting with your business.
Here are some of the types of content I like to pay particular attention to when funnel hacking:
Front-end and Back-end Landing Pages: I mentioned earlier that landing pages have the highest conversion rate (23%) of sign-up forms and so, many businesses use them to increase conversion rates. A local landing page study from 2018 found that 30% use video content and 36% have testimonials – but funnel hacking can help you work out what type of landing pages work best for your type of business.
Ad Copies: These are ‘call to actions’ that help influence customers to make a purchase, turning them from a lead into a customer. These can range from discounts to free trials, testimonials to name dropping influencers who use certain products from the business.
Emails and Auto Responders: If you have the ability to sign up for emails, you can then research and capture what their emailing marketing and autoresponder sequences are.
Step Three: Analysis
The final step in my funnel hacking process is arguably one of the most important – analyzing all of the screenshots you have collected and making note of all the tactics and strategies your competitors are using.
This step also takes a lot of time but I have found it to be incredibly informative and helps me save a lot of time trying (and sometimes failing) different marketing strategies in my projects.
By funnel hacking, I can find:
- Common words, phrases, and sayings used by my competitors in their copies.
- How they structure their headlines.
- What kind of evidence and proof they display to their leads to convince them of the business’s trustworthiness. For example, videos, testimonials, reviews, etc.
- What kind of ‘call to action’ opt-in options they offer.
- What their email marketing sequence looks like and how frequently they contact their leads.
- How they personalize their marketing (if at all).
- How many landing pages they use and for what kind of content.
Over time, I will start to spot trends that occur across my competitors.
This can help me identify what works and what doesn’t for my competitors and the most successful strategies are sure to be replicated across my competitors.
Then, I can incorporate these ‘trends’ into my own marketing in some way.
I also find that the more competitors I funnel hack, the more reliable my analysis results are.
So, I would advise you to try and funnel hack as many competitors as possible including both direct and indirect competitors to gather as much information as you can.
It’s also important to keep in mind that you don’t have to use the same marketing strategies as your competitors. If something does work for your business, then you don’t have to stick with it because it’s what your competitors do.
Funnel hacking is only meant to act as a springboard towards your ideal marketing strategy and not as a strict structure model. It helps you get ideas, and is not supposed to be followed rule for rule.
Popular Funnel Hacking Tools
I have found funnel hacking to be an efficient way to research my competitors and to help build my projects’ own funnels for marketing – but there are ways to boost that efficiency even more. I also like to use different tools to speed up the processes I use.
So, if you are concerned about spending a lot of time funnel hacking and you want to speed things up even more, then here are some of the tools myself and others use for funnel hacking:
One of the most effective tools for funnel hacking (in my opinion, anyway) is Ghostery.
It’s a Chrome extension you can easily use to help stay ‘invisible’ from trackers as you conduct your funnel hacking.
It was originally made to help users stay hidden from these trackers but when it comes to funnel hacking, it instead can be used to show the kind of trackers and programs your competitors use on their users.
This way, you can see all the ‘hidden’ activity in your competitor’s funnel and find more information that you would not find if you didn’t use this Chrome extension.
You can even reverse-engineer those trackers to see if they would be handy for your own business to use.
So, it’s a natural way to step up your funnel hacking methods for free.
AdBeat is the advanced tool to use if you want a general look at advertising strategies for your industry as a whole.
It helps you find what is working for other companies no matter how small your niche is, and focus on strategies around paid advertising or landing pages, and more.
Basically, AdBeat follows the money trail to see where your competitors are spending their marketing budgets so you can follow their lead if you choose.
SEMrush is traditionally used by marketers like myself for SEO purposes but it’s also great for giving you deep and meaningful insights into your competitors.
As a result, I like to use SEMrush to identify my competitors and find both paid and organic insights.
You can also use SEMrush for a bunch of SEO tasks which makes it a great tool for handling various processes that are important for your business.
As a funnel hacking tool, you get to use it to source information regarding your competitor’s ad copies, backlinks, keyword research, SERP rankings, and you even get an estimate on how much they spend on advertising (however, this is only an estimate).
BuiltWith Technology Profiler
This is a super handy tool which you can use to identify what kind of technology your competitors are using.
Although most funnel hacking is focused on the marketing strategies of your competitors, knowing what programs, platforms, and technologies they use can help you find the best for your own business.
Using BuiltWith Technology Profiler will allow you to see if a competitor uses Google Analytics, social media platforms, programming languages, advertising pixels, and so much more.
You can use this information to boost your website’s own efficiency for SEO, programs used for security purposes, and analytics to inform their own marketing decisions.
So, funnel hacking is a completely safe and legal method used to research your competitors’ funnel marketing so you can use their strategies for your business’s own purposes.
Although some businesses make the mistake of plagiarizing their competitors, many use funnel hacking to get better insights into what kind of keywords, landing pages, and email marketing tactics work for their competitors.
They then use this information to help build their own funnels for their customers’ journeys to help boost conversion rates and their business’s overall success.
Many marketers (including myself) use funnel hacking as a type of research into our competitors and I have found the results to be worth the effort.
I also love how efficient the process is compared to building a marketing funnel from scratch and I generally see better results too.
So, I hope this has helped you understand both funnel marketing and funnel hacking a lot more. If you have any further questions, please feel free to drop me an email! My inbox is always open!