Has ClickFunnels nailed the strategy game?

By
Elsie Bernaiche
,
Account Executive at ThoughtLeaders
May 14, 2020

ClickFunnels is a website and sales funnel builder for entrepreneurs. ClickFunnels was created so that entrepreneurs who aren't programmers and who don't know how to code can easily build pages inside of a sales funnel to grow company e-commerce traffic and revenues. They offer structures and functions that prevent customer loss, maximize sales per customer, and drive repeat purchases and customer loyalty. 




Breakdown of formats, mentions, and cat trends

YouTube 2348 mentions from 126 Thought Leaders

Podcast 1637 mentions from 144 Thought Leaders

Newsletter/blog: 137 mentions from 20 Thought Leaders


We can see ClickFunnels leveraging content creators in the Technology category, more so than Marketing, Business, or Entrepreneur content categories. That is because they are heavily targeting “website builder” as a keyword, and the topic of “website builder” on YouTube or podcast appears in Technology 10x as frequently as any other category. We found 128 “website builder” episodes/videos sponsored by ClickFunnels from 17 influencers, all but 1 who are in the Technology space! 


ClickFunnels made their debut appearance on sponsored content in March 2014 on Marketing Secrets Podcast. 


They continued this partnership in 2015 with 33 sponsorships, continuing this relationship until 2017. ClickFunnels made a content category pivot from 2016-2018 - they heavily targeted Marketing and Lifestyle publications up until mid-2017, where we start to see more Technology content appearing. 


We find their first “Tech” appearance at the end of 2016 on the YouTube channel Miles Beckler (who they sponsored a total of 39 times through May 2020). In fact, most of the Tech content ClickFunnels appears in or sponsors is showing to be on YouTube. Any of their Business, Entrepreneur, or Marketing content is dominantly on podcast. 


ClickFunnels has steadily ramped up their podcast sponsorship over time, whereas their YouTube testing has pulled back in recent years. Of YouTube channels mentioning ClickFunnels in the past month, 8 of 26 channels are new and have been sponsored less than 3 times. Compare that to 2016-2018, when ClickFunnels was testing 15+ new channels per quarter. 


They’ve clearly segmented their YouTube and podcasts because they have found success in the unique combination of certain content and formats. Tech tutorials serve them well, so YouTube is the dominant platform for their tech influencer partnerships. It should be noted that they’re cross-sponsoring on other channels hosted by the same influencer - we’re finding YouTube channels that are owned and operated by the same hosts as key marketing podcasts, for example. In fact, some of the influencers like John Lee Dumas have a YouTube, podcast, and newsletter trifecta for brands like ClickFunnels to take advantage of. 



The strategy





ClickFunnels is using 2 main strategies in their sponsorships to drive results:

  1. Offering free trial to audience members PLUS access to the template funnel that the business/technology/marketing influencer used to generate business of their own through ClickFunnels. 
  2. One Funnel Away Challenge: offering a $100 discounted fee to join the “challenge”, or a 30-day virtual resource program that guarantees all the necessary learning and materials to launch a sales funnel using ClickFunnels in under 30 days. 


Within these promotions they are focusing on education around their product and promoting the concept of peer-led learning and resource sharing. The free trial as a promotional offering on YouTube videos works especially well when the video is an instructional of how to generate leads or convert more email opens to sales with ClickFunnels, for example. 


How do they compare to their competitors?


Leadpages is a key competitor of ClickFunnels but has clearly taken a different approach to their online presence and influencer partnerships. Unlike Clickfunnels, who has steadily ramped up sponsorship over time, Leadpages had a huge spike in 2016, relating to the funding they received summer 2015 and also their acquisition of Drip, a CRM solution. Leadpages is appearing in marketing and entrepreneur-related content. Leadpages appears more within content discussing marketing strategy - they have double the mentions of things like “landing pages” compared to ClickFunnels, but half the content discussing “sales funnels” that ClickFunnels is sponsoring. 



Conclusion

ClickFunnels is championing both YouTube and podcast, which is somewhat of a rarity for brands in influencer marketing spaces. Not all products can find relevant audiences or relevant content in multiple formats to the level of success that ClickFunnels has built. 


They frame their product not just as a tool that you can download, plug in, and run with, but more as an ongoing learning process that leverages a network of industry experts. One of their main sells is the One Funnel Away Challenge, which is essentially a 30-day learning program led by entrepreneur-experts that emphasizes long-term business success as a key value of the resources they provide in the package. Normally we see brands leading with free trials or % off discounts, but ClickFunnels sponsors influencers that actually teach viewers how to use the product and how it’s benefited their business models, making for some of the most engaging content a brand could hope to get from influencer marketing efforts. That’s why they can lead with a less gimmicky promotion and still see results. Their long-term partnerships highlight how effective this strategy is in driving initial sales. They’ve sponsored the same 25 influencers 20+ times over a span of at least 2-5 years, which in the influencer world is several lifetimes for a solid sponsorship relationship. Kudos to ClickFunnels for finding what works, and check back with us to see how they continue to scale up this success.