We’ve been working with sales platforms for many years, and we have a lot of experience with different products. Choosing the platform that’s ultimately right for your specific business can be a minefield. So we’ve put together a few guides and comparison articles that we hope will help.
Over the next few minutes, we’ll talk through some of the free alternatives to ClickFunnels, and also show you what we used when we were starting out. We’re going to start with some useful background but, if you want, you can jump straight to our list.
Before you read any further, we want to be upfront and honest with you: we use ClickFunnels. We’re also part of the ClickFunnels Affiliate Program and a few other similar referral programs. It’s not our main revenue stream, but we make a nice passive income every time someone subscribes to ClickFunnels through one of our articles. (We have a guide that shows you how to make money with Clickfunnels if you’re looking for a passive revenue stream.)
ClickFunnels is Too Expensive
Without doubt, when it comes to building a digital marketing platform, ClickFunnels is one of the best out there. If you take the time to study their training courses and learn from their case studies, their product will help you create an extremely successful sales funnel. And it will absolutely maximise your ROI, and absolutely convert prospects to sales.
But when we started out, we were operating on a shoe-string budget. The same as every other start-up, and probably the same as you. All those multi-featured sales funnel builders looked great, but back then the price was way out of our league. We saw the advantages of using an all-in-one solution like ClickFunnels, but even the cheapest subscription would’ve been too expensive. So we started to look at a cheaper way to achieve the same thing. And by ‘cheaper’, we meant free.
Is There a Way to Get ClickFunnels for Free?
Yes, and no (but mainly no). ClickFunnels offers a free 14-day trial, which is heavily promoted on many sales and marketing sites. (We sometimes promote it as well, and you can use our link to see full details.) The trial gives you use of all the funnel building features, including the massive catalogue of templates, landing pages, sales pages, follow-up funnels and ‘how-to’ training videos. But, of course, once the trial is finished the subscription expires, and any work you’ve completed can no longer be accessed.
A better alternative is to sign up for their One Funnel Away (OFA) Challenge, which guides you step-by-step as you design and implement your first funnel. It does require a payment of $100, but if you decide you don’t want to stay with ClickFunnels for any reason, there’s a full, no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee. (So effectively, it’s cost you nothing). ClickFunnels are supremely confident (perhaps even over-confident) of their reputation as the best sales funnel platform, and by showing you how easy it is to make money online, they’re hoping you’ll stay with them. Many people do, and they have few regrets. (We started with ClickFunnels using the OFA Challenge, and we’re still reaping the benefits.)
But we promised you that this guide was about genuinely free alternatives, and so we’d like to show you how we solved the same problem you’re facing now. For free.
How We Built a Free Sales Funnel
Back then, there weren’t as many options as there are for you now. But the tools we used are still available, and they still do the job. The process may not be as intuitive as the drag-and-drop interface that features in many of the paid subscription platforms, but it worked perfectly well for us when we were starting out.
We’re going to show you the steps we took to build a very simple, no-frills sales funnel with a landing page, an opt-in page, a VSL (Video Sales Letter) and a payment gateway. It’s a totally free method, using freeware that doesn’t stop working after a trial period. We’ve prepared a more detailed guide elsewhere, but these are the basics.
First, you’ll need to sign up for the following free subscriptions (we’ll assume that you’ve already set up your webhosting).
Create a free account. The free plan lets you send up to 10,000 emails a month to 2,000 subscribers, and it comes with a basic but usable CRM system. The autoresponder is not really much use, but when you’re starting up you won’t have time to deal with all the extra traffic that comes with an email autoresponder.
Wave’s platform is free, and it was our choice when we were starting out. It handles recurring monthly payments which is great for subscriptions, and it produces very professional invoicing. Wave handles all the SSL certification, which is one less headache to deal with when you’re starting up. Admittedly they charge a small fee for every transaction, but then so does everybody else. Another option is to use a ‘PayPal.me’ button from PayPal (but in our opinion Wave looks a little bit better).
Here’s how we created our funnel.
And there it is. It certainly won’t be the prettiest website in the world, but it’s a fully-functional sales funnel and it will work well enough. Once you start generating sales you can fine-tune the landing page and move to a subscription that allows A/B testing, so you can see which approach works best.
Of course, there are many other free software combinations that will do the same job. Many people start out with a blog and then look for ways to monetise the views they get, so in that case you could look at the sales platform plugins for WordPress, such as the free Elementor page builder or CartFlows (free for limited use).
What are Free Starter Subscriptions?
Funnel building platforms have moved on a lot since we started our online marketing business, and there are now a lot of eCommerce platforms competing for clients. As a result, many companies have introduced free ‘starter’ subscriptions. These plans are free-for-life and do not incur any start-up costs. They are not the same as 14- or 30-day subscriptions. They’re free.
These plans are useful to a point, but most are severely limited, with many of the most-wanted features ‘greyed out’. This means you might have to make some compromises when starting out, forgoing some of the genuinely useful features which advanced marketers use to make money online. Of course, once the money starts rolling in you can upgrade your subscription, or port your business to an industry-standard such as ClickFunnels or Kartra – the ‘new kid on the block’ that’s stealing a lot of thunder at the moment.
Why do Sales Platform Companies Offer Free Plans?
The basic logic behind this isn’t hard to work out, but there are a few benefits that aren’t immediately obvious. Here are all the reasons that we can think of:
The Best Free Alternatives to ClickFunnels in 2020
At the time of writing, all of the following companies offer genuine, fully-working sales funnel builders with nothing extra to pay. We’ve also included details of their next plan up, so you can make a feature comparison. Here’s the list.
Builderall is one of the better alternatives to ClickFunnels, and the two platforms share a lot of features. However, the target user is slightly different. ClickFunnels is squarely focussed on converting leads to sales, whereas Builderall is geared more towards building e-commerce websites.
If you want to build an online store to sell physical products, perhaps integrating with storefront software like Shopify, then Builderall is a great tool and you’ll find everything you need. If you want to run targeted email and social media campaigns, then ClickFunnels may work better for you since it has the ability to do upsells, downsells, and abandoned cart emails.
Free plan limitations:
- Needs your own domain and SSL certification
- Limited to 1GB Disk space
- Drag and Drop websites, but no funnel builder
- No A/B Split Testing
Next Plan up (‘Builder’ – $19.90 per month):
- 3 Domains included
- 2GB Disk space
- A/B Split Testing
- Live Chat Support
Follow this link for more details of Builderall’s free plan.
Leadsanity is a small US company who initially created their product for their own use. As such, certain sales funnel features are not included, but the essentials are all present. In their own words: “We have never claimed that we are better than ClickFunnels. Our mission is to provide the essentials of landing page building in a straightforward interface at a much cheaper price – even free.”
In reality, the two-page limitation of the free version makes it hard to build a sales funnel, but the next plan up removes that limit. The drag-and-drop interface can feel a little clunky, especially starting from scratch, but the templates are excellent starting points and very well thought out. If you decide you don’t need the extended features of a product like ClickFunnels, then Leadsanity may be a cheaper option.
Free Plan Limitations:
- Limit of 2 landing pages
- Maximum of 10,000 monthly visitors
- Only 10 templates
- No Autoresponder
Next Plan Up (‘Guru’ – $9.90 per month):
- Unlimited landing pages
- Unlimited visitors
- 100 templates
Follow this link for more details of Leadsanity’s free plan.
Freshmarketer is part of a large suite of sales and marketing tools from Freshworks, who started as a customer helpdesk company and launched their CRM software in 2016. In its restricted free version, Freshmarketer is primarily an email management tool. The ‘killer’ features of the product, such as a real-time click heatmap and the visual journey builder (ie the sales funnel builder) are only included with the paid plans.
Although we have no experience of this platform ourselves, the complete software suite looks to cover all aspects of marketing and sales automation in fairly exhaustive detail. Freshworks is certainly a company that’s worth investigating if you’re looking to build your sales platform in a modular fashion, and the pricing is very competitive.
Free Plan Limitations:
- Maximum of 500 contacts
- Fairly basic email builder
- No heatmap tracker
- NO A/B testing
Next Plan Up (‘Garden’ – $49.00 per month):
- Unlimited contacts
- Drag and drop autoresponder with templates
- ‘Visual Journey’ builder (sales funnel)
- Heatmap and A/B testing
Follow this link for more details of Freshmarketer’s free plan.
ConvertKit is an ESP (email service provider) created by Nathan Barry, a visual designer with a lot of web experience. Unlike many ‘one size fits all’ tools, ConvertKit is aimed exclusively at online creators and influencers, like bloggers, YouTubers and podcasters. It uses robust yet simple automations – based on triggers and actions – which are geared towards events hosting (such as webinars) and social media marketing. The email functionality is very comprehensive, although ConvertKit believes that that “fancy email templates don’t work”. So if your sites are promoted by a lot of static images, you might want to look elsewhere.
The interface is mainly quite intuitive although some features, like segments or reporting, are quite tricky to find. We’ve spoken with a highly-followed Youtuber who’s currently running a comparison trial of ConvertKit, and she’s been quite impressed with the results so far. If your business is content-heavy and your advertising is mainly on Facebook and Instagram, then ConvertKit could well be a good choice.
Free Plan Limitations:
- Maximum of 1000 subscribers
Next Plan Up (‘Complete’ – from $29.00 per month):
- Automated email sequences
- Visual automation funnels
- Subscriber tagging
- Free migration from another tool
Follow this link for more details of ConvertKit’s free plan.
Thank you for your time, and we hope you’ve found this guide useful. Even though we are a ClickFunnels Affiliate, we understand that start-up businesses need to make every penny count, and expensive subscription software is not always an attractive proposition. A lot of digital marketing companies try to steer users away from free alternatives (to ClickFunnels or other industry leaders), but we prefer to produce guides that people find useful, rather than just ones we want you to read. We’re genuinely happy to share our experience of online marketing techniques and we’re always happy to talk, so please contact us if you have any questions.