Marketing Insights for Tech Creators

Sales Funnel Optimization Checklist: How to Identify “Money Leaks” Fast

You have a working knowledge of what a sales funnel is supposed to do, and the steps needed in creating one; and the one you put in place is doing OK.

The problem is, OK isn’t good enough. Your funnel’s OK performance is in fact, far less than you planned for or anticipated.

There’s a reason for that, perhaps more than one. All you know is your sales funnel has sprung a leak or two and some of the money that was seemingly destined for your bank account has gone elsewhere.

There’s a simple way to locate and fix those leaks – right now!

Fixing a single one could be all that’s needed to get on the right track, but why not shoot for fixing them all. You have the tool to do so in the following checklist.

First, however, let’s review a few things about a sales funnel.

What is a Sales Funnel, and Why’s it so Important?

It may seem like we’re repeating everything you already know (i.e., preaching to the choir). But it can be helpful to briefly go over the basics since it’s so easy to make a few missteps or mistakes in each of the funnel’s stages, and those mistakes can result in costly “leaks”.

A well-planned and constructed sales funnel performs somewhat like the domino effect. As each domino falls, it causes the next one to fall, and so on.

Your sales funnel has 4 stages labeled “Awareness”, “Interest”, “Decision”, and “Action”. If each were a domino, and a lead tips the first one, the next three would fall, and you’d have a sale – every time.

It rarely works that way of course.

What seems to be happening in your case is the first domino doesn’t always get tipped or fall straight. It glances off the next domino which falls crooked, or not at all.

You’re starting to lose money.

Time to straighten out the dominos as best we can. It’s called optimizing.

If that last example was over-simplistic (simple-minded?), but you’re still with us, it’s probably a good time to dispense with the dominos and start optimizing to resolve your problem – one stage at a time.

If, however, you believe you could benefit from a detailed discussion on how a sales funnel works, you’ll find this article helpful.

Sales Funnel Optimization Checklist

First-stage Optimization: Awareness

This stage has two parts. It’s about your message being seen by the right people; your target audience or audiences or ideal users. And, it’s about attracting their attention.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you investing in ads on your ideal users’ favorite channels; the one or two where they tend to spend most of their time?
  • Are you using the same keywords your ideal audience will typically use in their searches?
  • Are you calling out to your ideal users? Is your message spelling out who it’s intended for – e.g. SaaS entrepreneurs or web design agencies?
  • Do you use the exact trigger-words that address the BIGGEST problem your ideal users could be facing right now; a problem your product or service can resolve?
  • Does your promo content clearly spell out the most sought-after benefit your product or service offers to your ideal users?

Second-stage Optimization: Interest

This stage addresses content relevance, the interest it generates, and its ability to earn your ideal users’ trust. If you can answer yes to each question, this stage of our sales funnel should be doing better than OK.

You should, however, take a second, hard look at each question and ask yourself where or whether improvement might be in order.

  • Are you publishing content in publications they read and trust the most?
  • Are you including factual data, stats, and expert quotes in your content to earn their trust?
  • Are you writing in-depth 3,000+ word articles on narrow, relevant topics to position yourself as an expert in your niche?
  • Are you publishing content on the hottest and most relevant topics your ideal users would be interested in at the moment?
  • When your readers finish your piece of content, have they learned something they can immediately put to good use?
  • Does your content catch the eye and show personality?
  • Does your content produce a sense of anticipation and growing excitement for the product or service you’re offering?
  • Does your content make the connection between your visitors’ perceived needs and desires and your product or service?
  • Do you give your readers useful information before introducing your offer? No one likes an aggressive hard sell or an in-your-face sales pitch. If you’re giving them useful information, a soft sell always works.

Third-stage Optimization: Decision

You’ve moved on from an ideal user to an interested visitor to a lead. To help your new leads arrive at your desired decision, you’ll want to convince them to opt in to your valuable free offer by spelling out the benefits they’ll receive.

  • Does your opt-in offer provide genuine, relevant value to your lead and/or solve a major problem that lead is experiencing?
  • Does your landing page match the ad or content that led the reader to it?

For example: Let’s say you run an ad that says, “FREE download in the next 48 hours”. The exact same message should appear at the top of your landing page, so your leads know they’re in the right place.

Or, if your advertorial promises the reader a solution to their time management problem, your landing page needs to reconfirm this message above the fold, so readers know their expectations for a solution will indeed be met.

  • Does your headline clearly state…
    • who your opt-in offer is for, and…
    • what major problem your solution can solve OR what major benefit your solution offers for your readers?
  • Does the landing page spell out the top benefits your reader will get if they opt in?
  • Do you have a big bold CTA button your reader can’t help but see?
  • Do you have at least 1 testimonial on the page? (preferably just above or just below the CTA button)
  • Does your opt-in form only ask for the essential info (no more than 4 fields); and is it as easy as possible to fill out?

Fourth-stage Optimization: Action

You’ve done a good job of nurturing ideal users this far. In this final sales funnel stage, there’s still more nurturing needed to convince them it’s time to take action.

The action might be to buy your product or sign up for your service immediately, to sign up for a free trial, to learn more, to look into further options, to contact you, and so on.

Have you taken these final nurturing steps?

  • Are you sending emails to your subscribers on a regular basis?
  • Are you providing them with useful information that relates to your industry?
  • Are your emails entertaining and fun to read? If they are, unsubscribes should be minimal or non-existent.
  • Is the content in every single email relevant and does it spark your subscriber’s interest? Here again, if the answer is yes, unsubscribes should be unheard of.
  • Do your subject lines spark curiosity and the need to open the email to find out more? In other words, avoid subject lines like “Monthly message #23”.
  • Do your subject lines stand out if they’re crammed together with dozens of other emails? Personalization can help; including using “Your” and “You” generously.
  • Does the content of your emails match the subject lines? Are you meeting the reader’s expectations? The reverse must be true as well, although a bit more difficult; do your readers know what to expect?
  • Are you showing them exactly what you want them to do?
  • Tell them where to click to buy your product
  • Tell them how to sign-up for a free trial
  • Tell them how to get a discount and when the offer expires
  • Tell them why they should upgrade right now and not later

Don’t make them have to think!


Now it’s time to go down the checklist item by item to see what, where, and how much optimization is needed.

Starting with:

Awareness – where you want your message to be seen by the right people, and where you attract them by addressing their interests, needs, or pain points.

Leading to:

Interest – where you publish factual, relevant content for the purpose of engaging new visitors and earning their trust.

Once that’s accomplished, it’s on to:

Decision – where you present your visitor-turned-lead with a valuable free offer with the ultimate intent of persuading that lead to take the desired:

Action – which involves keeping your leads engaged and showing them exactly what you want them to do.

You’ll likely find one or more things you failed to do, didn’t do well, or simply need a little tweaking.

And, as you progress you should see good things starting to happen and your sales funnel’s performance will graduate from OK to very good to awesome; hopefully in rapid increments.

If you’re still having issues, or you simply don’t have time to go through all the steps, answer all the questions, and make any needed fixes, give us a call.

We help people build sales funnels, and we also help them optimize their sales funnels all the way to “Awesome”… because “OK” is not in our lexicon.