The Facebook Funnel

How To Use The Facebook Funnel To Grow Your Business (And Pick Up Strangers In A Bar)

When you’re on the lookout for a new boyfriend or girlfriend, do you walk into a bar and up to the first hottie you see and yell, “Hey, go on a date with me! I’m awesome and I’ll pay for dinner!”

I’m pretty sure you don’t do this (if you do we need to talk), but this is the exact strategy used by 90% of new online “entrepreneurs” to get customers.

Here’s an unpleasant fact: the vast majority of new online business owners burn through hundreds or thousands of dollars in online advertising without getting any sales, and usually without even beginning to understand what they’re doing wrong.

They don’t realize that they’re acting like 19-year-old boys going out to “pick up girls” for the first time, and they get frustrated when their advances are inevitably rejected.

The one thing that great businesses have in common is they have great sales processes. This is the system that turns strangers into leads, leads into customers, and customers into repeat customers and brand ambassadors. They are not walking into the bar and shouting, “Look at me!”

So what are they doing differently?

Mistake #1: Moving Too Fast

The first mistake that most people mistake is trying to skip steps, thinking they can turn strangers directly into customers. In almost every case, this doesn’t work and leads to lost money and frustration.

If you get nothing else out of this article remember this: Don’t pay for ads that send strangers (cold traffic) straight to your main offer, and don’t ask strangers out on dates.

A much better strategy (both for sales and for finding a date) is to follow a process that nudges people along your funnel one step at a time, slowly warming them up, and doesn’t turn them off with a big ask at the wrong moment.

In this article I’m going to teach you one such process that works really well.

It’s called the “Facebook Funnel” and it might just change your life…

The Classic Sales Funnel


A typical sales funnel.

Let’s start with a basic sales funnel. All the variations out there share essentially the same structure, although the terms may vary.

Each phase of the funnel has a specific objective. In the first phase we want to introduce the prospect to our business. We also want to make a good impressions as a trustworthy source of information.

In the next phase we want our prospects to become leads by agreeing to evaluate us (this can take many forms, and I’ll get more specific farther down). In this phase we want to collect emails and continue to build our authority and trust.

At the bottom of the funnel our goal is conversions, where we turn leads into customers. This is the basic sales funnel, and you’ll see that the Facebook Funnel is essentially the same, with some added benefits.

Who Goes Into The Funnel?

Outside our funnel we have complete strangers (about 7.3 billion of them total), going about their lives, browsing the net (3.3 billion of them online), completely oblivious to our little online business.

Your first (and most important) job, before you start pushing any of these people into your funnel, is to identify the small segment of all those billions of people out there who are likely to be interested in your product or service, and who can be effectively reached.

Ideally, your initial audience size should be between 500,000 and 1.5 million people.

Why this size?

Because if you go bigger, you’ll be targeting a group with more broad or general interests, which will result in less engagement and less sales. You’ll be spending your money talking to people who just kinda maybe might be interested in what you have to say, when you should be focusing on people who really really need what you have to offer.

On the other hand, if you go too small you’ll max out. Your ads will end up getting seen over and over by the same people, which will also be a waste of your money.

So shoot for the “Goldilocks” zone: not too big, not too small…just right.

Mistake #2: Not Spending Enough Time On Interest Targeting

In the Facebook Funnel, the way that we narrow down on this “just right” group is through interest targeting. This is the unique advantage of using Facebook as the engine for your sales funnel. You can find people who have shown (through their online activities) that they are interested in a huge range of topics…these can include products, books, people, sports, pretty much anything you can imagine.

So if you want to find 25-34 year old male sports car enthusiasts in the US who are shopping for a new car, you can. If it’s Spanish-speaking females that are into Zen meditation you’re after, you can find them too.

Using Interest Targeting To Create Our Audience.

The first thing you should do is write down a profile of your dream date…I mean your ideal customer. This is called a customer avatar. Include the basic demographics if they’re relevant (age, location, gender, etc) but more importantly you need to understand their interests.

Specifically try to find the things that they are interested in but everybody else is not interested in. That means if you’re targeting survivalists, you wouldn’t want to use “camping” as an interest because it’s too broad (my mom might list camping as an interest and she’s not a survivalist).

The term “bug-out bag” though is perfect…it’s something that a survival enthusiast would be interested in, but anyone outside that niche wouldn’t.


If you’re having trouble, try using the following questions to create a list of potential interest keywords:

1. Where do they hang out? This can be websites, forums, physical locations, etc and should be specific to your audience.

2. Who do they follow? Who are the thought leaders in their tribe, the authors they read, the bloggers they follow, the personalities they follow on Twitter…

3. What are their favorite brands? This can include your competitors, but it doesn’t necessarily have to.

This should get you to the point where you can create an audience in the Goldilocks zone of 500k-1.5 million people, composed of your ideal customers. You may need to play around with adding and subtracting interest keywords to get an audience that’s the right size.

These people are going to love what you’re selling, they just don’t know it yet…

The Cold Traffic Campaign

OK now that we have identified our audience, we send them all ads with links to our awesome product, right? No! Go take a cold shower…

While some of them might buy at first sight the vast majority won’t and you’ll waste most of our money. This is because we haven’t warmed them up yet.

On average, people will need to visit your site 3-4 times (we call these “touchpoints“) before they place an order. The purpose of the Facebook Funnel is to control each of those touchpoints and make sure each touchpoint brings our potential customer a little further towards the sale.

Why don’t you walk into the bar and ask for the number of the first hottie you see? Because it feels pushy, creepy, and impersonal…you’re asking for too much too fast. They’re likely to have a lot of fears and doubts that you haven’t addressed yet.

So you start off slow with an introduction…a nice smile and a handshake, some small talk to show off your personality and build rapport and trust. Then you ask for a tiny commitment: “Can I buy you a drink?”

One step at a time, overcoming fears and objections, displaying value and credibility in each phase. If you skip a step and move too fast…gone! You’ve creeped them out and lost the sale…I mean the guy/girl. See how it works?

The goal of this phase is to turn cold traffic warm…in other words, make the people in our target segment aware of our business and let them know that we’re the authority in our domain. At this point we’re not asking for any commitment more than a click.

Cold Traffic Offer

We do this by creating a piece of content, normally a blog post but it could be a video, a quiz, or some other type of “un-gated” (meaning they don’t have to opt in) content. It’s totally free.

The key to this part of the funnel is the content needs to be really good. It should provide real value to the people in our interest target group. It should be good enough that they’ll want to share it with their friends, comment, or click your call to action (you should have a call to action at the end of your content, but it shouldn’t feel like a sales letter trying to get them to opt in).

Mistake #3: Not Spending Enough Time On Good Content

If your content isn’t getting positive interaction (either call-to-action clicks or shares), either the content isn’t good enough or your targeting is off.


Here is a cold traffic blog post (right) and ad creative (left) I used for this very business (yes this a business and yes I use this process in my business). I used interest targeting to find an audience of people interested in starting an online business.

[SUPER SECRET PRO TIP] Did you notice how the above example has way more text in the ad creative than is normally allowed in a Facebook ad? If you use Facebook’s Power Editor, you can put more text in your headline and text areas.

Since you’ve given away this content with no opt-in required and no obvious selling or manipulation, your target should feel great about it. They will learn something valuable (or get some kind of real benefit), perhaps click around your website or opt in (or perhaps not), but either way you have achieved 4 goals:

1. They are now aware you exist.
2. They now see you as an authority in your niche.
3. They will now be more receptive to other interactions with you.
4. You have pixeled them (more on this below).

In other words, they’re no longer cold traffic. They’ve been warmed up, just a little. We’ve been introduced and now we can move onto the next step in the relationship…we offer to buy them a drink.

By this of course I mean we ask them for some small sign of interest…not a commitment, not a sale, just a little more.

The Warm Traffic Campaign

This brings us to the middle phase of our Facebook Funnel, the evaluation phase, where we ask our prospect to take a serious look at what we have to offer, and we ask for a little something in return…normally their email.

Let’s take a step back for a second and talk about the logistics of this. In the first phase, we use interest targeting to show our promoted content to people who should be interested in our offer. When we set up our ad, we select people who are interested in matcha tea, Zen meditation, golf shirts, or whatever makes sense.

In the warm traffic campaign we use Facebook Custom Audiences to show our ads only to warm traffic…people who have viewed our free content, read our blog post, etc. We do this by “pixeling” them.

This means that we set up a tracking pixel (like a browser cookie) on our website so that we can create custom audiences of people who have visited specific pages on our site. This way we can make sure we’re showing our ads to only the right people.

We create a specific custom Facebook audience made of people who have viewed our cold traffic content but haven’t yet opted in to our warm traffic offer.

Click here watch a video showing you exactly how to set up your Facebook tracking pixel.

So we begin by sending cold traffic to our free, high-value content and pixeling them. Once they’ve become warm traffic we can proceed to the next step of the relationship. What we want from them now is to become a “lead” by showing some interest.

We do this by giving them another high-value free offer, called a “lead magnet”. Many times this is a high-value ebook, course, or free trial that requires them to sign up with their email. This shows that they’re interested in hearing more from us and that they trust us enough to give us their email.

Notice I stress the words “high-value”. If at any time you under-deliver or give them something shoddy, even if it’s a free blog post, their trust in you will be damaged and the relationship will most likely be lost.

Warm Traffic Offers

If you’re not sure what type of lead magnet will work, here are some tried-and-true ideas:

Selling a course? Try offering a limited time trial, a sample module from your course (or a starter course), an ebook full of case studies or a lesson in something useful.

Selling a food product? Try giving away a PDF recipe book or a free sample.

Selling a service? Give away a free 15-minute consultation, a limited trial of your coaching services, or an ebook describing a method for solving part of their problem.

Selling a Saas product? Give away a limited time free trial, a website audit, a limited version of the software, or a free lesson series educating them on a problem they have that needs solving.

Have an e-commerce business? Figure out what information people often need related to your problem, and create an ebook or guide answering those questions and showing how other customers have solved their problems.


Here’s my warm traffic offer for the same campaign, giving my warm prospects the opportunity to take my free course in exchange for their email.

The sky is the limit, but make sure whatever you’re giving them has some real value…a 1-page PDF e-book that you made in 15 minutes is not going to cut it.

The Hot Traffic Campaign Part 1: Tripwires

At this point some of our warm traffic has become hot traffic…the people who read our blog post and downloaded our ebook (or free trial, etc), and we’ve displayed our value at every phase so now we can now ask them to buy without scaring them off.

But before you dive in head first with the big offer, let’s go back to our dating analogy for a second…

You’ve warmed up your “prospect” with some witty banter and a free drink, spent a lovely evening wooing them with a nice dinner (showing off your impressive knowledge of fine wines and french food), walked them back to their front door, and now it’s decision time…

Emotions are running high, the air is electric, and your date is looking at you with puppy dog eyes. You know what’s next…

At this point some people may be tempted to let their excitement get the best of them and present their prospect directly with their “core offer” (so to speak). Sometimes this will be well-received and result in a “big sale” but often it will be too much too fast and “bang”, the door will slam in your face.

Now before I get my metaphores mixed up, let me clarify. At this point in the funnel your prospect (I’m talking about marketing now, not dating) is ready to become a customer, but they likely still have some lingering doubts, so asking them to buy your high-dollar core offer might be too big of a commitment.

This is where we use what marketers call a “tripwire”. This is a low-price offer (often a loss leader) that is designed to turn your prospect into a customer while not scaring them away with your high-dollar core offer.

For those outside the sales and marketing world, this might seem like a waste. After all, they’re warmed up and ready to go, why not go for the big sale? Once you’ve seen the power of the tripwire at work, you will understand.

Here is the beauty of the tripwire: when a person takes out their wallet and hands over their money in exchange for your offer (even if it’s a low-dollar offer), a fundamental psychological shift takes place (read Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and the principal of consistency to understand why). Once they take that step, the chances that they will respond positively to your core offer go way up. They’ve crossed a psychological threshold and decided that they trust you. The relationship has moved to a completely different level.

It is not uncommon for core offer conversion rates to double when a tripwire offer is used.

Personally I don’t like the term “tripwire” because it sounds kind of tricky or manipulative. But that’s the industry standard so I’ll stick with it. But keep in mind, the “high-value” caveat applies here as well…your tripwire offer should be great, leaving your new customer with a warm feeling of satisfaction.



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Tripwire Offers

What constitutes a tripwire? Normally it’s a low-dollar purchase between $5 and $50 (this will vary based on your niche and core offer) that allows your customer to evaluate the benefits of your core offer and cross that threshold to “customerhood” without spending too much money.

If you’re selling a $297 online course, a $17 book is a great tripwire. If you’re selling premium coffee, a $7 sampler might be an option. It doesn’t require much from your customer to commit to $7 or $17, but it gives them a taste of the benefits your core offer will deliver, and is an easy sell to convert them into a customer.


This is the tripwire I used for my campaign. Notice 2 things…first, the image is very similar to that used in the warm traffic campaign. Second, the image and style elements are very similar in the ad creative and the landing page.

Back to the dating analogy. Think of the tripwire as the goodnight kiss. If you do it right and leave, your “new customer” (this metaphor is starting to get a bit weird) will be left with a warm satisfied feeling, craving more and anxious for the next interaction.

But if you let your greed get the better of you and you go for the “big sale” on the first night (you know what I’m talking about), you risk ruining everything and leaving your date feeling used and regretful. The chances for a fruitful long-term relationship go way down.

And that’s what we’re trying to build here…a long-term relationship. We now have an audience of new customers who have purchased our tripwire and are now much more ready to take the big step and purchase our core offer.

But I don’t have a tripwire offer!

OK there are some rare cases where you won’t really have a viable tripwire offer. Maybe you’re an e-commerce business selling only one type of product or you’re just trying to sell a book. In this case, it is permissible to go straight to your core offer.

To make this work, you can offer them a special discount or other incentive that lowers their barrier to becoming a customer.


For my Timber Bamboo website, I didn’t have a good idea for a tripwire, so I sent people directly to a sales page using a flash sale, requiring them to opt in to receive a discount code. This broke my own rule, but since it was shown to warm traffic, conversion rates were still good.

Hot Traffic Campaign Part 2: The Core Offer

So once again we can use the power of our Facebook custom audience capabilities to present our core offer to exactly the right audience…this time to our new burning hot tripwire customers.

We’ve proved our integrity, overcome their objections, and there is nothing left between them and the benefits of the core offer. You can now naturally offer it to them, and a large percentage will take you up on the offer.

If your core offer is a high-ticket item, even your hot traffic may have trouble committing. You can benefit from utilizing additional persuasion tactics like the following:

Scarcity: Make your offer only available for a limited time. Your ad creatives can remind them that time is running out. (Don’t fake this, nothing kills credibility like a fake countdown or an every-other-week “special sale”.)

Social Proof: Make sure your ad creatives, emails, and other marketing material is full of legitimate, high-quality testimonials from customers that are similar to your prospect.

Consistency: Email them and ask for a testimonial or feedback on the tripwire offer. If their feedback is really good, they will feel a strong urge to continue the relationship rather than seem “inconsistent”.

How Email Marketing Fits In

Of course you should be using email marketing and autoresponders to move people through your funnel. What that means is that the Facebook Funnel, from the warm traffic campaign down, is primarily used for retargeting.

We should be offering our tripwire and core offer via email, and we can set up custom audiences and Facebook ads to gently remind our prospects about the next step.

After You Close The Deal

Once we’ve sealed the deal, should we just move on to the next prospect? Not if we want to build a long-lasting relationship that continues to deliver value to our business and our customer.

At this point we can offer up-sells and cross-sells (what the industry calls “profit maximizers“, request referrals, and all those valuable things that profitable businesses do. Now that you understand how to build custom audiences in Facebook, you can see how you can craft custom ads and offers for every stage of your funnel, show specific offers to specific customers, and more.

But the key to getting the most out of this whole system is to treat your customers like gold. You can do this by giving them special discounts and benefits and making it easy for them to share their good experience with the world (and share their complaints with you).

If done correctly, your customers will be your best spokespeople, pulling their friends along the funnel, and your results will grow exponentially.

Breaking Even

Your principal goal when setting up your Facebook Funnel should be to get to breakeven. This will likely not happen immediately and will require you to follow a systematic approach to get there.

Here are 3 things that you must do to make this work:

1. Know your numbers. You’d be surprised how many people I’ve come across who don’t really know if their marketing is profitable or not.

Here are the metrics that you need to pay attention to for each campaign:

1. Cold traffic: cost per click
2. Warm traffic: cost per lead
3. Hot traffic: cost per acquisition (tripwire)
4. Core offer: cost per acquisition
5. Average sale

The reason it’s important to monitor these metrics is so that you can identify leaks in your funnel and fix them. It also allows you to segment your sales process and concentrate on improving one segment at a time.

Think about it. If you can reduce your cost per click on your cold traffic campaign by 50%, you can double the amount of people entering your funnel. All other things being equal, you’ve just doubled your profit.

If your monthly profit is $10,000 and you can improve your average sale by 10% (by offering an up-sell, raising prices, packaging products, etc) your profit just went up by $1,000.

In this way, gains at any stage of the funnel result in direct gains in your bottom line.

2. Test and iterate. The only way to improve is through testing, and you should constantly be testing every stage of your funnel.

Instead of creating one ad for your your cold traffic campaign, create 12 ads. Create one ad set that is exactly the same and use 6 different images. Copy this ad set and change just the headline. You now have 12 variants, and over time you’ll see clear winners emerge.

The caveat here is to follow good conversion rate optimization practices. This means you’ll need significant volume to really be able to make good decisions. You need to let it run for a while before you start turning off the lower performers.

Do the same for each element in your funnel. Test headlines, call to actions, landing pages, prices…over time you will incrementally improve every stage until you have a money-making machine.

3. Start with a good offer. This entire process relies on a big assumption, and that is that you have a good product to start with. You can’t use this process with a bad product or a poorly crafted offer and expect to succeed.

My strong advice is to validate your product before you full-on launch your business to ensure that you have a product that will sell and a market that you can tap into.

That being said, if you have a good offer and you’re willing to spend the time to set up, test, tweak, and optimize, the Facebook Funnel is an extremely effective way to create an evergreen stream of leads and sales, while building your email list and a several custom audiences of interested prospects, leads, and customers.

And that’s how great businesses are built.



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About The Author

Matt Coughlin

Matt started out as an engineer. After quitting his job to travel the world while building two successful online businesses (Custom Game Source and North South Promo Products) and an engineering consulting firm (Mfg Business Overhaul), he founded My Product Launch as a way to teach other beginning online entrepreneurs how to launch online businesses the right way.



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