How to hack and reverse engineer an eCommerce marketing funnel?

Ok, you are scrolling through Instagram one night and you get an ad in your feed. You tap it, and you are brought to a landing page. You watch the offer video and read the text. And in your head, you’re like “Holy Sh*t” this a great offer! Sign me up and take my money.

Recently I’ve been saving links on my iPhone of funnels I’d like to hack. But wait a moment what is funnel hacking? First of all, you don’t hack their funnel you hack their business.

Funnel hacking is a coin termed by Russel Brunson’s in his Book Dot Com Secrets. It’s a way to model the funnel. Copy it. Replicate it.

Another definition I found online. Funnel hacking is the process of purposely going through your competitor’s sales or marketing funnel to reverse engineer their process and duplicate it for your own business; the idea in doing so is to rapidly decrease the learning curve to create a successful sales/marketing funnel.

According to Russel, Funnel hacking is about the whole picture: Landing Pages, Email Sequences, Offers, Business… and most importantly the message.

Do your homework.

Here are things you may want to understand while funnel hacking.

What is the offer?

What language and copywriting do they use to support their offer thesis?

Who is the audience?

How is this funnel built technology used?

What products are they trying to sell us?

What phase are we in the funnel?

What are the steps of the funnel?

What information are they requesting?

Why am I being targeted based off of my digital interests?

How long has the ad been working?

Who’s their pricing strategy?

Who are the key players and why might their brand be an authority in the space?

What clues are there?

What books and resources?

How might we go to the events and experience the events?

That being said the word of the day is “Reverse Engineering”. To be successful, you should probably model what’s already working. If the ad has been running for a while, that probably means it’s bringing in business. It won’t hurt to research the funnel and model what’s working.

❗️Be careful of implementing strategies that work for your competitors from the get-go because they may not work for you.

1. Buy their product and go through their funnel (old school method).

Sign up to their email list with a burner email and subscribe. Try buying straight away. Try buying after some upsells. Buy everything. See where those funnels will take you.

There’s nothing as direct as going through your competition’s sales funnel and buy their product. Take note of how they present their pricing strategy, their popups (if available), their payment gateway, their forms and the number of fields in the form, their email campaign strategy and so on. That way, you’ll be given a first-hand experience of what a user goes through as they move along your competition’s sales funnel.

This is also a good chance for you to take note of their layout and design in terms of user experience. Determine if going through their sales funnel is a lot easier than yours and what you can glean from this experience to improve your sales funnel’s UX (user experience).

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is their sales copy compelling?
  • Are their marketing messages aligned to their sales goals?
  • Did you have an easy time going through their funnel?
  • How about the buying process? Were you able to complete transaction without a hitch?
  • How is their after-sales service? Do they check up on their customers for feedback?

From the answers above, see how your sales funnel compares.

2. Use tools

One of the many things you can do, and quite useful at that, is to research your competitor’s organic keywords and keywords from paid search.

Tools such as SemRushWhatRunsWhere or AdBeat are good examples of tools to use if you want to run a search for your competitor’s top organic and paid keywords, for example. Most of these tools are paid services so it’s always best to choose the one which fits your needs.

Most research tools can be used for site audit, competitor keyword (organic and paid) research, backlinks research, ad campaigns, audit traffic source, see display ads and more. Not only can you use them on your competitors, but you can also use such tools to audit and analyse your own website and marketing efforts. This is a great way for you to set up a chart and create comparisons especially if you are doing poorly on a particular element and would like to see what your competitor is doing right.

Here are a few tools I’ve been using in 2019

Funnel spy: I use this tool to look it works 70% of the time to see every funnel page available

Link to their landing page p.s I’m not an affiliate its just a cool product.

Pageflows: to spy on email sequences

Yes, you could also do the old school method joining someones email list or just subscribe to page flows. I do both, it’s a good way to supplement the funnel hacking process! Basically, the Emails sent during onboarding and other flows. They include nicely curated email sequences with helpful information like the timing of the sequences and screenshots.

Page Flows – user flow patterns

Similiarweb: How to see where traffic is coming from – Digital World Market Intelligence Platform

Intelligynce chrome extension: For hacking Ecommerce Stores

This is an excellent tool look at ecommerce stores bestsellers, to identify what Shopify Theme is being used and so on. These insights will definitely help you during your research process.

Wappalyzer chrome extension: to see what technology built this page

Download & Install

Ghostery: Scan what pixels are being used on the website

Ghostery – Privacy Ad Blocker

SEMrush: Spy on keywords

SEMrush – Online Visibility Management Platform

WhatRunsWhere: See what display ads are running

WhatRunsWhere | Display, Mobile & Native Ad Intelligence

Adbeat: Spy on your competitors ads strategies

Adbeat :: Competitive Intelligence For Display Advertisers

2. Document Their Price Points, Upsells, Downsells, Etc.

While you’re going through your competitor’s sales funnel, do take note of their price points and analyse them. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What makes their price packages effective?
  • What added value is apparent as the package tier goes up?
  • Do the upsells and down sells add more value to their existing pricing points?

Aside from the questions above, it would be best to document all of these to enable you to study it thoroughly. You’ll have to take note of the similarities in your price points, upsells, etc. and determine if how they present all of these is effective, engaging and effective in converting their visitors into buyers.

Rightmessage: Forecasting the funnel value

What Is My Funnel Value?

How to create a swipe file

I keep my notes in Notion and Miro. Copying and pasting links.

Miro: I use this to map out funnels for visual aid

Team collaboration software & online whiteboard for teams | Miro

Notion: For organizing my Funnel notes and links (My favorite app ever)

Notion – The all-in-one workspace for your notes, tasks, wikis, and databases.

Another point I’d like to make is collecting any physical sales brochures and direct response mail. Like the actual thing, you can hold in your hand. Really start to analyze that. It turns out that it explains a lot about a Businesses marketing strategy.

What’s Next?

Researching your competitors and knowing what works for them is no easy feat. After all, you’ll have to analyze your findings and device an optimization strategy from the insights gathered from your research. But daunting a task this may be, you’ll find that it is also rewarding in the long run.

❗️Be careful of implementing strategies that work for your competitors from the get-go because they may not work for you.

Always remember that it is important to improve on it and optimize it for your brand. Aligning your sales, marketing, and branding and making the strategy your own is always important. It’s not about knowing what works for your competitors and copying their strategies.

The point here is to know what your competition is doing and plan to be a step ahead of them.

Another thing to take note, when implementing your sales funnel optimization strategies, is to always test the steps in your sales funnels, especially if you have different variation for every step (i.e. landing page, sales page, order page, etc.) It always pays to test and determine which of the variation is the best choice to implement.

Because ClickFunnels is all about letting marketers experience a seamless marketing setup process. It lets you test your sales funnel step with ease. All you have to do is to Login to your ClickFunnels account > Choose the sales to funnel you want to test > Choose the sales to funnel step you want to test the variations of > Click Create Variation. Easy, right? You can test with up to 2 variations aside from the original.

This post is inspired by

Funnel hacking is about the whole business



Reverse Engineering a Marketing Funnel Live

A cool little ebook

Growth Tribe – How to Reverse Engineer a Marketing Funnel (1).pdf

Courses about Funnel hacking

Sales Conversion Funnel Hacking

Food for thought

How to Use Funnel Hacking to Growth Hack Your Business

The Ultimate Funnel Hacking Action Guide

Funnel Hacking Doesn’t Work- Here’s Why

Here’s a FREE eCom Checklist to boost your online sales. Click the green button👇

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