How to Create Top Converting Sales Letter Funnels

Sales Funnel

One of the most successful marketing practices for selling products and services online, the sales letter funnels were first described by Russell Brunson in his book, Funnel Hacker’s Cookbook, in which he introduces how to design effective marketing funnels using ClickFunnels tools. The book describes no less than 22 marketing funnels that can help to optimize your digital presence, brand awareness, and conversion rate. Ultimately, for anybody who wants to boost their sales performance, the sales letter funnels tackle one of the biggest marketing dilemmas, namely how to sell more of one type of product without neglecting your other offering. Optimizing the sales funnel online enables marketers and businesses to actively increase their average cart value across the whole brand proposal and boost upfront sales. 

If you haven’t bought the book yet, you can hear the master himself, Russel Brunson, introducing the many funnel recipes here and the idea behind the book. You can also download a free copy of the book, or order a hard copy. 

Since Russell Brunson published the Funnel Hacker Cookbook in 2017, the sales letter funnels method has become one of the most popular conversion path strategies.

Tweet by Craig Cherlet, Entrepreneur Accelerator, one of the many business professionals supporting the use of the Sales Letter Funnels

Because of its diversity and adaptability, the sales letter funnel is suitable for a variety of business scenarios. If you are wondering how to bring your online transactions to the next level, this overview of what sales letter funnels can do for you and how to use them for best results can help you improve your marketing returns.

What are Sales Letter Funnels?

While the term, sales letter funnels, is relatively new, the principle is a known phenomenon. The sales letter funnel is a digital marketing growth hack that relies on an automated buyer funnel. Designed to increase cart value by encouraging buyers to perform additional purchases, your sales letter funnels require an in-depth understanding of your marketing and transaction goals, UX testing, and engaging funnel blueprints, which we will address later. 

The funnel is typically represented as an upside-down pyramid through which your business funnels new leads to develop a relationship with the user and a sale. 

The sales letter funnel consists of three distinctive steps: 

  • Sales page with an order form: The long-form sales letter that promotes your business goal is the first page.
  • One-time-offer page (OTO): The funnel takes the buyer through your upselling one-time-offer page designed with an automated yes/no funnel scenario. 
  • Thank you page with an offer wall: The sale cycle moves forward with a promotional offer wall page that introduces further products or services.

Sales Page: The First Page of Your Sales Letter Funnels

Each sales letter funnel begins with a traditional long-form sales letter. The content of the sales letter focuses on selling one product or service to your web visitors. As such, the letter is a content-generating exercise that consists of the traditional sales content elements: 

  • An attention-grabbing headline that showcases the main message from the letter
  • An engaging copy during which you explain more about your product, service, or business. 
  • Eye-catching media, such as a photo or video, to catch the attention and showcase your product or service. 

At the bottom or on the side, your sales letter needs to merge with a purchase form that records buyers’ personal information and transactional data if relevant. The form is detrimental to the success of the next steps of your sales letter funnels, as users will navigate through the different funnel steps via click only. You can’t interrupt the navigation process at a later stage by capturing additional data. 

OTO Page: Building On The First Sale via Upselling or Downselling

Ideally, you want to upsell every transaction. The second part of your sales letter funnel sends the user to your one-time-offer page where you propose an additional product or premium service as a Yes/No question to increase the cart value. 

If the user is receptive to the upsale offer, they can click on Yes. The additional offer is added directly to the order, which is why it’s essential to capture transaction details or crucial contact data on the first page. 

However, if the user rejects the upsale offer, they are directed to the downsale page. The downsale page is a counteroffer that suggests a lesser expensive product or offer, such as a downsale payment or a digital version of the product they want to buy. Just like the one-time-offer page, this page also displays a yes/no scenario, which the option to add the additional product or service to the basket if the user clicks on Yes

Thank You Page: Order Confirmation & More Offers

The order confirmation marks the end of a unique sales letter funnel. However, the sales letter funnels cycle is automated to feed more leads into new sales funnels. Indeed your order confirmation is displayed on an offer wall page. The confirmation is a recap of the yes or no clicks and first-page purchase. Additionally, the offer wall can redirect buyers to complementary offers or other products and services. 

Unlike the traditional marketing funnel that grows narrow at the bottom and reaches its conclusion with a sale, the sales letter funnels create potentially infinite sales cycles by turning each buyer into a new lead in a different funnel. 

Are Sales Letter Funnels Right for My Business?

As Russell Brunson mentions, every business could benefit from using funnel strategies. His Funnel Hacker’s Cookbooks shares 22 distinctive recipes for four types of sales funnels: 

  • Lead funnels
  • Buyer funnels
  • Event funnels
  • Other funnels

Sales letter funnels are only one of the many recipes shared in his book. Depending on the type of funnels you need and your business model, it may not be the most suitable funnel recipe to achieve your goals. 

No matter what you want today in your business and in your life, you’re only one funnel away.
Quote – Russel Brunson
#salesfunnel

Can You Sell Your Product or Service in A Click?

The main idea behind the use of sales funnels is that your business can generate an automated clickable navigation path from lead to conversion. As a result, the purchase interaction can be automated once the sales form is filled up. Products or services that require additional exchanges before purchase, such as highly customized items, are not suitable for the sales letter funnel as an end product. 

Similarly, any product or service that relies on an extensive personalization process can not be sold via a sales letter funnel as the sale process needs to be completed by the time the user reaches the thank you page. If the sales process requires additional steps, it will slow down the automated clickable funnel and affect the conversion

Do You Have Upsale Products For the Funnel?

Upsell means, in essence, selling something extra that can complement the initial purchase that the buyer has already committed to. Because the sales letter funnels strategy focuses on increasing the transaction value, you can’t use the funnel without relevant content for an OTO page. In other words, businesses that are still at the beginning of their go-to-market phase need to develop more than one product or offer to make the most of this specific buyer funnel. 

Additionally, your OTO page needs to be relevant to buyers. A user who has agreed to purchase product A is only willing to add the OTO offer to the cart if it relates in any form or shape to their needs. Therefore, your OTO offer should focus on extending the use and benefits of said product A. As the adage goes, you can’t compare apples to oranges, nor can you upsell apples with oranges. 

The same principle applies to the downsale page. To be successful, it has to be relevant to your users’ interests. Therefore, a business that can’t provide distinctive offer packages around the same product or service is unlikely to benefit from the sale letter funnels methodology. However, you will find a suitable funnel recipe in Russell Brunson’s cookbook. 

Can you Downsell at the Same Cost As You Upsell?

At the heart of the sales letter funnels methodology, the OTO section is designed to encourage buyers to include additional items or services to the basket. Therefore, your OTO section should provide your business with the best chances to maximize a transaction

It’s built on a negotiating technique, which aims to make an interested buyer offers to maximize the chances of purchase. The upsale page presents a complementary item at a value x, which needs to increase the value of the purchased item from the sales letter. The idea is to test the willingness of the buyer to increase the transaction amount in an effort to secure a more suitable solution. The upsell amount can be either superior or inferior to the product or service the buyer committed to purchasing, as long as it will enhance the benefits gained from the initial purchase. 

As such, the downsale page needs to take into account the response to the first OTO value. Users are only directed to the downsale page if they reject your upsale offer, in other words, if they are not willing to pay the additional x amount on the purchase. Therefore, the downsale offer should suggest an add-on product or service or even a payment plan that is more cost-effective. 

You need to respect the following order of values: X > Y, whereby Y is the downsale value, and X is the upsale value. 

As such, make sure that: Y/X > 1.

Do you Have Further Offers?

The sales letter funnel drives a cycle of automated sales funnels. The thank you page that displays the order confirmation acts as a magnet for further funnels through an offer wall. 

For small businesses, the sales letter funnels strategy is only effective when you can introduce the buyer to additional offers and services that are also available. The buyer’s cycle creates new leads that are directed to further sales funnels. As such, you can apply the sales letter recipe to build a successful conversion path if your business is not in a position to diversify its market offering. 

Does it mean you should always have more than one product or service at any given time? The answer is yes. However, even niche businesses can capitalize on the sales letter funnels by guiding buyers towards other sales funnels, such as promoting relevant webinars (as per the event funnel) or suggesting buyers join your business forum, for instance. 

How to Get Started with Sales Letter Funnels

As explained by Russell Brunson in his Funnel Hacker’s Cookbook, you can’t build a funnel using only traditional website design. Because your funnel needs to create a unique path that guides leads to the conversion completion, aka increased cart value, it requires a unique and isolated layout from the rest of your website. You don’t want potential buyers to get distracted and click on a navigation link from your menu half-way through the sales letter funnels path.

Therefore, as Brunson explains, a sales funnel exists online, but it doesn’t behave like a website. In his words, the traditional website acts as a brick wall that prevents visitors from engaging effectively and developing profitable sales behaviors. Multiple call-to-actions on the same page, combined with the diversity of messages, can lead to confusion. That’s precisely where your sales letter funnels come into play. 

Your funnel blueprint needs to capture visitors and tag them as leads, and accompany them through the sales process to create not only customers but also multiple-purchase baskets. With this principle in mind, you need to figure out the main steps through the sales letter funnel: 

  • What is it you want to sell with a sale letter?
  • What can you offer to upsell and downsell your additional OTO page? 
  • What other offers are relevant to your buyers?

Creating a Funnel Path

Because your funnel isn’t like a traditional website, the first step needs to identify your leads. You can’t build an effective funnel if you don’t set up a first interaction that lets you capture users that can become potential leads. However, identifying your leads happens ahead of the funnel entrance. As such, your sales funnel is the digital equivalent of a salesperson that accompanies users through the purchase experience. 

Because your website can’t provide that level of lead identification on one single entry page, most marketers rely on additional marketing campaigns, including paid advertising with landing pages. The lead is attracted through advertising and released after the first conversion step – aka for a positive conversion, once the purchase has happened. The model, however, may not be sustainable depending on the ratio between the ad costs and the transaction value. Your sales letter funnels model can also use the same lead identification step, but it uses the OTO page to create profit by increasing the cart value AFTER the first conversion. 

Russell Brunson builds his funnel paths outside of the typical website content management system. The recipes in the Funnel Hacker’s Cookbook use a funnel builder tool called ClickFunnels. While ClickFunnels functions just like an intuitive webpage editor, it doesn’t replace your CMS. It enhances your website by creating dedicated sales paths for your visitors. 

Another favorite funnel builder tool you can use is Builderall, which offers a step-by-step video approach to the blueprint creation.

For this, you will build your sales letter funnels blueprint as such:

  • Creating a lead generation funnel that sends visitors to your sales funnel:
    • Defining where the traffic comes from, which can be via an advertising campaign
    • Introducing a lead identification step, which could be a long term keyword phrase match an opt-in form to the site newsletters, etc.
  • Creating the actual sales letter funnels:
    • Sales letter page
    • OTO pages with upsale and downsale pages
    • Thank you page either combined with an offer wall or following an isolated offer wall page
  • Linking to the next funnel via the offer wall

Examples of Successful Funnel Paths

What does a successful sales letter funnel look like? You don’t need to look further than the FunnelHackersCookbook.com to see an example of a sales letter funnel. In this specific case, however, the page uses a video sales letter, which can be a more engaging approach to a long-form letter. 

Next to the video copy, the contact form collects leads. But the form also directs leads to an upgrade page that can increase the cart value and maximize the gain from the purchase. In other words, the upgrade offer acts as an OTO page

Additionally, here are some business scenarios where sales letter funnels can make a significant difference if used properly. 

Sales Letter Funnels and eCommerce Business

Your sales letter needs to focus on a key product, which you can describe in the copy. Use the letter as a way to highlight the journey of the product through its concept to its construction, for instance. Alternatively, you can also explain why your product is one of a kind, or how it will revolutionize the market. 

You can use the contact form to build a long-term relationship with your leads, such as by offering to register to the newsletter. This can act as a safety net to collect leads that are not ready to commit to a purchase. However, if you have already collected leads data, you can use the contact form as a transaction area that collects delivery and payment data. 

Your OTO page can promote a complementary product or service, or offer a unique discount for the main product, depending on the chosen interaction on the sales letter page. 

What makes sales letter funnels highly successful for eCommerce is the ability to create an emotional connection about a product, which wouldn’t have been possible on a traditional webpage.  

Sales Letter Funnels and Retail Business

Brick and mortar businesses can benefit from an engaging digital presence. Your sales letter can introduce potential buyers to the story of your store, including the challenges and sacrifices you’ve faced during the process. You have only one chance to make your store personable and relatable, which is why your sales letter should paint the human story behind your business. 

If you don’t ship online order, you can register leads for the newsletter or your product offer releases via the main contact form Use the OTO pages to add a discount for purchases made before a specific deadline, for instance. Alternatively, if you ship products, you can also upsell and downsell with your most popular items. 

What makes sales letter funnels useful for brick and mortar business is the fact they can drive more clients to your store via voucher discounts and downloadable store offers.

Sales Letter Funnels and B2B

Maintaining your presence in a B2B environment can be tricky. But sales letter funnels let your clients see the human face behind the brand. It can be especially profitable to drive your sale letter content around the story of the founder and the challenges and trials involved in the building of the company or the creation of a specific service or product. You can then promote the sale of your key product at the end of the letter, capturing essential transaction-related data. 

Your OTO pages should promote complementary offers or payment package plans. 

You can also maximize the wall offer page to showcase other personal sales letter funnels, such as discovering the team behind other services.

Sales Letter Funnels and Professional Services

One of the most effective ways to boost your professional services business via sales letter funnels is to focus on correcting the false impression your target audience has of your company. For instance, if you have discovered through a brand survey that your audience prefers to work with your competitors for a number of reasons, you can use the long-form sales letter to address misconceptions and explore your business processes. You can conclude the sales letter page with the purchase of a service at the end. 

Use the OTO pages to bring complementary offers or set a recurring service package at a discounted cost, for example.

Sales Letter Funnels for Independent Authors/Creatives

Freelancing and independent professionals can boost their brand awareness by using the sales letter page as a storytelling exercise. It’s the opportunity to share the story of your latest creation, or you explain how your unique background makes you a valuable creative asset. You can sell an introductory product, such as your book if you’re an author, for example. 

The OTO page is the perfect platform to upsell a high ticket product, such as a workshop or your coaching services, in relation to the introductory product. 

The offer wall serves as a portfolio of your independent work services and products. 

Sales Letter Funnels for the Marketing Industry

As a marketing affiliate, you probably don’t need an introduction on how to use buyer funnels. However, you can boost your marketing presence by taking leads through the purchase journey, from your front-end product on the sales letter page to complementary services via the OTO pages

The offer wall can encourage clients to become a brand advocate or a distributor, which can expand your reach as a marketing expert.

Sales Letter Funnels Terms You Need to Know

If you are familiar with Russel Brunson book and the funnel strategies, you would have probably come across most of the following terms:

Funnel Blueprint

The blueprint is the detailed journey of your funnel. It shows the different steps that take your leads from the entry point to the thank you page. Additionally, the blueprint also needs to highlight the different yes/no scenarios and relevant paths. 

Tools such as ClickFunnels and Builderall let you design a blueprint template of your funnels. In the words of the Funnel Hacker’s Cookbook, the blueprints are the different funnel recipes. 

You can find helpful templates when it comes to creating the content of your sales funnel such as the following blueprints:

  • Russel Brunson’s free book copy
  • The one-product offer that can be upgraded through the OTO pages
  • The downloadable success story that you can upsell with adds-on services

Automated Funnel

Sales funnels are fully automated. The sales letter funnels method is only effective if it can upgrade leads into buyers without manual intervention. As such, the funnel builders help set the different automated actions you need to keep your sales funnel running. 

What are the main automated actions that need to happen: 

  • Capturing leads data
  • Creating a transaction cart that follows the user through the entire sales funnel
  • Directing the user to the relevant OTO pages depending on the yes/no scenario
  • Sending automated emails to confirm the order and inform the clients about order processing, shipping, and delivery
  • Keeping lead contacts from people that didn’t buy for additional marketing campaigns
  • Linking to further sales funnels after the thank you page
  • Tracking traffic through the funnel

ClickFunnels

ClickFunnels is the software tool used by Russel Brunson in The Funnel Hacker’s Cookbook to create sales funnel. 

Video Sales Letter Funnels or VSL Funnels

The video sales letter funnels offer an alternative format to the written sales letter. The video format provides a more engaging approach. However, different techniques can be used to turn your sales letter content into video media. 

Builderall directly uses a video template to create a video sales funnel,which they show how to integrate to your marketing campaign in their tutorial video. 

You can find similar options from competitors’ tools, such as ClickFunnels, which is the tool used by Brunson to design the video sales letter shared above. 

Alternatively, you can also recover a voice-over speech to a slide presentation, or even opt for animation. 

You can develop an interactive sales page, using the magic button VSL page, aka a call-for-action button that appears once the visitor is watching the video. 

Shawn Bayley is an advocate for the Magic button strategy as it maximizes your sales opportunity by engaging with your lead. 

Long-Form Sales Letter

Your sales letter is referred to as a long-form sales letter. What this means is that you can make the most of your content to engage with your readers. When creating a long-form sales letter, you need to consider different types of readers:

  • Skimmers: They skim the page and focus on the headline, visible headers, and the contact form at the end.
  • Patient readers: They read the whole content and pace themselves during the decision process.
  • Skip jumpers: They sit somewhere between skimmers and readers and dive into paragraphs that catch their attention without reading the full copy.

Your letter needs to be clear, engaging, and helpful to all these different types of visitors, which is why you need to dedicate a lot of attention to creating the right content for the right target. Creating eye-catching sales letter copies is a mixture of useful marketing content templates.

Measuring the Performance of Your Sales Letter Funnels

Your sales letter funnel is a conversion path. As such, you need to apply the main conversion tracking KPIs that are relevant to the sales:

  • Value of the carts vs. value of the increased carts
  • Best selling products or services
  • Cost of your acquisition methods (advertising) vs. profit from the sales funnel

Additionally, the funnel builder dashboard can also provide valuable information about:

  • The number of visitors to each sales letter funnel
  • The source of the traffic at the start of the first funnel interaction
  • The source of your leads when they navigate through funnels
  • The most successful OTO pages
  • Abandoned baskets or purchases that didn’t happen by tracking where leads left the funnel/li>

Using the information, you can continuously improve the performance of your sales funnels through content generation and A/B experiments. Testing the best sales letter content or sales letter format can make a huge difference!

Hopefully, this overview can help you understand sales letter funnels better and design high performing funnels that boost your sales. Sales letter funnels are only one of the conversion-boosting funnels described by Russell Brunson. There are many more sales funnels that can help grow your sales.