Breaking Down The Funnel Stack

Matthew Stafford Nov 03, 2016

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Have you ever tried to duplicate someone’s successful funnel but you can’t make it work for yourself? Maybe someone gave you a clone of their funnel, yet for some reason you can’t make $124,941 per month from it like they can? Here is why.

It’s simply because it wasn’t the complete funnel.

Funnels have been a trending subject with online marketers however what makes up a complete funnel is rarely exposed. The term Funnels holds a common misconception that says a funnel consists only of X number of pages in a specific sequence, with suggested pricing and page style for each of the pages.

In reality, there is much more going on under the hood of a profitable funnel. A complete and profitable funnel actually consists of 3 core layers in what we’re calling The Funnel Stack. These 3 core layers are the Pages, Emails, and Ad Strategy layers.

The aim here is to show you the elements involved with each layer that make up a complete and profitable funnel so you can apply them in your funnels. This is the stuff others won’t share.


The surface layer is the Pages layer. This is the layer that is most analyzed and spoken about. It involves all the elements that most marketers consider to be an “entire” funnel. This includes the amount of pages in the funnel, the sequence in which they flow, the pricing strategy, sales copy/videos on the pages, and the overall style of the pages. 

This is the information that is most readily accessible if you are researching a competitors funnel. You can simply purchase your way through a funnel and save the links to the pages. Note: You might have to go through it several times depending on their funnel, i.e. if they have a down-sell.

In theory, duplicating the elements in just this layer from a profitable funnel is all that’s needed to produce the same profitable results. But it won’t. Not even close. In reality there is so much more to a truly profitable and complete funnel.

Let’s look under the hood at the 2nd and 3rd layer of a complete funnel.


The next layer is the Email layer.

The Email layer consists on any and all emails involved in a funnel. It can be the emails sending traffic to the beginning of the Pages layer, or from the welcome emails to the follow up emails that are sent based on certain actions the visitor takes. All emails involved in the funnel that are pre-set.Information that you can collect from the emails while researching a competitors funnel are: the sequence/order in which the emails are sent, how far apart from one another/the times they are sent, and based on what actions is an email sent. You can analyze the email copy (headlines and body of the email) and model off of that.

So if you are funnel hacking (researching funnels) it requires a bit more time to collect this information, however it’s the same process as the Pages layer in where you buy yourself through the funnel but you may have to wait several days to see the follow up sequence and purchase multiple times to see all the follow up emails. For example, there may be a follow up sequence if you opt in for free information on a funnel and are made an offer but you leave on the add to cart page and don’t purchase. Different scenarios will trigger different emails.

Emails play a vital role in determining how profitable a funnel will be.

Ad Strategy

Finally, the 3rd layer of a profitable and complete funnel is the Ad Strategy layer.

The ad strategy is everything that is involved with sending visitors to different areas of the Pages via your traffic network. This isn’t called the “Traffic Strategy” layer since emails can technically be used as a traffic source. This has to do with traffic being bought from a network like Facebook, Youtube, etc.

Every funnel needs traffic to be profitable or it won’t make any money. Having the Pages layer set up, and the Email layer set up won’t do you any good if there is no traffic. So this layer is crucial.

You need a stream of traffic that makes you more money from those visitors then you spent to get them there. Marketing 101 right?

The ad strategy consists of the traffic source, the ad images and copy, retargeting sequence, targeting, and the split testing strategy just to name a few. This I would say is the deepest layer and most difficult to copy from a competitor.  It’s their secret sauce so to say. It’s why marketers feel comfortable sharing their pages and even sometimes emails they use but leave this out when exposing their “complete” funnel.

You can use tools like What Runs Where, or Similar Web to look at the ads being used, and where the traffic is coming from. However some information like the retargeting strategy, split testing strategy, and targeting strategy to name just a few is information that is locked within their ad accounts and it’s where you as a marketer have to use your skills.

Don’t freak out though, that knowledge can be acquired and your funnels can become profitable or even more profitable.

I hope this shed some clarity on what’s really involved in a complete funnel and you can now focus on all 3 layers when either researching funnels or building your own.

If you this helped you understand funnels, or you have any questions or comments let me know below!

P.S. If you would like to see a complete funnel and all it’s elements exposed, we might consider sharing that with you, let us know down below!


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Matthew Stafford

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