Is ClickFunnels a pyramid scheme? After a lot of research I can confirm Clickfunnels is not a pyramid scheme. However, it does use very aggressive marketing tactics and might not be the best solution for a lot of online entrepreneurs.
The reason people are driven to ask is Clickfunnels a pyramid scheme is because of its generous affiliate program – a recurring 40% commission.
What’s more is Clickfunnels is actually its own click funnel – once you sign up you enter into their own highly-refined sales funnel offering upsells like courses and ebooks. Everyone who uses Clickfunnels also automatically becomes an affiliate and can earn commission when other users sign up to Clickfunnels through the badge on their landing pages.
This is all ethically dubious and so we have conducted some intensive research to find out is Clickfunnels a pyramid scheme. From our own perspective, we obviously want to promote the hell out of Clickfunnels and benefit from that generous referral commisson ourselves.
However, all good businesses have to be built on ethical foundations. We will never promote a product we would not willingly use ourselves. It is for that reason that we set out to investigate once and for all is Clickfunnels a pyramid scheme and just how much value lies behind that aggressive marketing.
Is Clickfunnels Right For You?
Once you cut through the noise of fake reviews and gurus, it is clear that a lot of entrepreneurs have found success with Clickfunnels – read on for some examples we found with just a quick search.
For instance, Authority Hacker’s affiliate marketing courses were first launched on Clickfunnels. They have since moved on to a different platform that is better-suited to their extensive library of videos and blueprints but they have reflected that Clickfunnels was a great start for them that allowed them to validate their idea quickly.
For me that is certainly the biggest selling point of Clickfunnels – getting a product online and selling as quickly as possible. You can do that with the 14-day free trial and then move onto the paid plan.
Many a false step was made by standing still. Many aspiring entrepreneurs don’t know where to start. The One Funnel Away challenge is packed with 30 days of coaching to get your online business off the ground.
Generally as an experienced digital marketer I would rather build my own site and sales funnel from scratch using WordPress. But I know all too well the number of issues this can create early on and it has taken me years to reach my current level of knowledge.
Doing that requires all sorts tinkering with SSL certificates, hosting, page speed and setting up a payment gateway along with other required plugins. Then I like to design my sites with Elementor which again is very powerful but adds more time to the build.
With my experience I can do that in a relatively short amount of time – but issues still happen and I find myself contacting my hosting support sending emails back and forth in a number of new sites. The joy of WordPress is how open and customizable it is but each extra adds another potential breakpoint.
I can totally see the appeal of Clickfunnels to set up a site and sales funnels in minutes with an easy drag and drop editor and prebuilt templates ready to tweak to suit you.
If I were not a marketer and instead a teacher or similar product designer, Clickfunnels would let me get to market as fast as possible. Then if the sales don’t come in I could quickly change my product or my strategy until they do. Building your own site could easily be a massive distraction from this.
But let’s not forget the most fundamental point about Clickfunnels – your sales funnel is only as good as your product. It is very unlikely you will be able to take a mediocre product and generate massive returns just by selling it through Clickfunnels. Clickfunnels is certainly powerful and well-designed, but without a compelling offer people actually want to buy its like driving a Ferrari with no gas.
So is ClickFunnels a pyramid scheme? No. But don’t expect it to be a magic bullet either. ClickFunnels can seem like a pyramid scheme because of its whirlwind network of affiliates pressuring you into buying. If your product isn’t a winner then your sales funnel won’t do anything. That said, with ClickFunnels you can test and learn quickly and efficiently in order to improve your product.
Is ClickFunnels a Pyramid Scheme – Pricing
ClickFunnels is pretty expensive in the grand scheme of things. While domains and hosting can seem a bit of an upfront cost when starting a website, in reality you can get these for about $20 for your first month. The domain is about $10 per year but hosting with a good provider like WPX or Kinsta is a recurring monthly fee.
But with ClickFunnels as a closed-system you have to pay $97 and keep paying that every month.
The flipside is that time saving. When it comes to valuing your time I also like to remember the advice of Silicon Valley VC Naval Ravikant. He advises that as an entrepreneur, your time becomes more valuable. You’re no longer working for a fixed salary but for the future earnings of your business.
As such he says to estimate an hourly rate for yourself. If it is cheaper to get someone else to do something instead of using your time then you should outsource.
That can be applied to all sorts of things like household chores (get a cleaner) and cooking (order more regularly). It is your time, energy and skill that will make your business a success and so you must not be held back.
The way I see ClickFunnels is yes, you could set up a WordPress website with the same capabilities for much less money and you won’t be tied into a subscription. However, if its going to take you days to learn how to do that when you should just be getting your product up and running, then outsourcing the creation of your website to ClickFunnels’ out of the box system is worthwhile.
How Does The ClickFunnels Affiliate Program Work?
Is ClickFunnels a pyramid scheme? It helps if you understand how affiliate marketing works.
Affiliate marketing powers a huge number of websites. It is a form of performance-based digital advertising. Publishers with websites can promote products with a trackable link and then get a commission of any sales.
Amazon Associates is perhaps the biggest and most well-known affiliate marketing network in the world. If you’ve ever searched something like “best gaming laptop” and been given a list of Amazon products, it is likely that website is part of the Associates network and is making money from product recommendations.
Obviously that raises the question of integrity and the law has been quick to ensure some degree of transparency with affiliate marketing.
Publishers are required to disclose that they make a commission from products they recommend.
Overall affiliate marketing is fairly clean and legitimate as an industry. Websites are always competing to get traffic and while plenty will take short cuts the internet is quite self-cleansing, especially with Google always aiming to show only the best quality websites top. Consumers are also increasingly aware about how fake reviews work. Meanwhile a recurring commission might be generous but it does offer affiliates an incentive to make sure their reviews are accurate and that the sales funnels builder is matched to the right customer. Otherwise users will never get past the free trial for which there is no payout to the affiliate.
The Clickfunnels affiliate program might be generous but it is a genuine system of advertising. Affiliates are required to adhere to strict standards – disclosing the commission and not making any false statements.
As such while Clickfunnels may feel like a pyramid scheme there are systems in place to help ensure this is not the case. But again, it does feel that with such powerful advertising, too many people fall into the trap of thinking Clickfunnels is going to make them rich quickly.
Clickfunnels is simply the platform. It is effective, quick and efficient, but affiliates need to stop suggesting that every person with a product should use Clickfunnels. Similarly, you’ll often find Bluehost recommended by a lot of blogs when in reality they probably aren’t the best in the market but have the highest commission.
For instance, if you want to try dropshipping or a print on demand t-shirt line, these don’t really suit Clickfunnels if you have a variety of products.
Shopify is a great out-of-the-box solution more appropriate to these situations – although again I would probably build my own site with WordPress, Woocommerce and Elementor if I had time and the knowledge.
Online courses are a pretty good case for Clickfunnels, but again consider more specialized systems like Thinkific and Teachable.
Ironically ClickFunnels is a popular choice for affiliate marketers promoting other products (and indeed ClickFunnels itself) A typical example of this would be offering a free ebook as a lead magnet to solve a particular problem and then following up with recommended products to solve that problem.
Does ClickFunnels Really Work?
This is the exact question many aspiring marketers come to when asking is ClickFunnels a pyramid scheme. The real question is how do you define “work”.
If you have a good product then ClickFunnels will deliver. You can quickly and easily build compelling sales funnels complete with upsells, integrations and payment gateways. It does exactly what it says and provides you with a wide variety of templates to steal and improve upon.
In that sense, ClickFunnels does work.
But if you are expecting ClickFunnels to sell a poor quality product magically to thousands with no work, you are probably going to be disappointed.
In particular with ClickFunnels – and indeed any ecommerce platform – I always find myself coming back to the most important question of traffic and how you intend to get it.
The typical sales funnel generally starts with a Facebook ad. You target your perfect customer, offer them a tripwire of a low-price or even free product and then offer them other products to make money. It’s much easier to sell to an existing customer who knows and trusts you.
But Facebook ads can get expensive. It is afterall a market with a huge number of bidders for each ad place on a potential customer’s newsfeed.
Generally ClickFunnels is designed for this kind of direct paid traffic and converting it to sell big-ticket products. Of course if you already have a large email list you don’t need to worry about this so much.
But if you are considering a more content-based approach of gaining free traffic through SEO then you’re looking for a different system entirely. Clickfunnels is quick and powerful. But SEO is slow and meticulous. You need a system for managing hundreds of pages of content – and WordPress is best for that, although Shopify also has some good options. You should then consider some powerful tools like Surfer and SEMRush so you can target keywords that people are searching for and then write lots of content to rank for those terms. This whole process takes many months and you won’t get results for a good six months or so on a new domain. But once it pays off, it pays off big.
But that’s assuming you have a good product worth investing time and money in for the long term.
I say again that perhaps ClickFunnels’ biggest strength is idea-validation. Startups use the term “Minimum Viable Product” to mean the very earliest prototype of a concept to test if it could grow. And the idea is to test as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
Build your landing page in minutes using ready made landing page templates and then use the prebuilt funnel templates to give your product the very best chance to sell.
If you do feel that your product is worth investing in then ClickFunnels also has a huge amount of content designed to help you grow. Many of these are paid courses – which again does rather recall the idea that the only people who made money in the gold rush were those selling the shovels. Heck, they go further than that and offer the Affiliate Bootcamp – training for their affiliates to make more money!
Again as with most products associated with making money online, the key is to take your time. Don’t get swallowed up and buy every course from every guru. Just start small with your MVP. Establish product-market fit and then consider your options for expanding.
Is ClickFunnels a Pyramid Scheme – Searching For Case Studies
It’s quite difficult to find successful case studies for ClickFunnels that aren’t provided by ClickFunnels itself. It’s also more common to see use cases that have found success with the affiliate commissions from recommending ClickFunnels rather than selling their own product. This rather reinforces the idea that ClickFunnels is a pyramid scheme rather than a legitimate product people actually use for the long-term.
With SEO tools analyzing Google search volumes I can see that thousands of people use ClickFunnels and enquire about it – and often ask quite advanced questions about integration as opposed to purely prospective-buyer queries – but I’m frustrated by the lack of data out there about how many verified, independent people use ClickFunnels successfully. While you can find plenty of ClickFunnels use cases its difficult to validate if these are real sustainable businesses or just case studies created by affiliates.
I started with my own inbox and quickly found an offer for the Affiliate Lab by Matt Diggity. Diggity is a legendary SEO expert whose work has helped me a lot. He is also an investor in Surfer and has helped them build such a powerful data-driven tool for gaining SEO traffic.
He’s no fake guru and gives a lot of information away for free. In short, I trust him a lot. He’s a former engineer and so is one of the few gurus out there who lays out their experiments and measures the results.
He has his own course called the Affiliate Lab that teaches people how to make money with affiliate marketing. His own company the Search Initiative has a great system for buying, improving and selling affiliate websites.
Straight away the site feels like ClickFunnels. I view page source in Chrome and there it is – Matt Diggity uses Clickfunnels for his course sales funnels. That’s pretty incredible for such an advanced marketer.
After my inbox I went to Facebook and did a rare thing – ignored my friends and scrolled purely looking for ads.
It is intriguing that these pages performed poorly on Google’s Pagespeed insights. Even Matt Diggity’s Affiliate Lab came in at a poor 15/100. PageSpeed is one of those little factors that separates the amateurs from the pros. On WordPress I know after some years of experience that I can simply install a plugin like WPRocket or Nitropack and blow PageSpeed Insights out of the water.
On the other hand the fact that these sites score so poorly suggest ClickFunnels is limited in this regard. However, speed really matters more for SEO matters – especially when you get to the minutae of Google’s core web vitals. You need your Largest Contentful Paint to be under 2.5 seconds – whatever that means. With every site I start I just plug in Nitropack and don’t have to worry about it.
For ClickFunnels this is not so important as it is not designed for organic traffic – rather paid traffic or leads from an email list. That said PageSpeed is exactly one of those things you have to consider with is ClickFunnels a pyramid scheme because it is a limitation of the sales funnels platform you are unlikely to change.
So while setting up a site on ClickFunnels may be quick and easy the quality of the website you get may be less than you think. Indeed, this is paired with a reputation for frequent downtime which has given it the nickname “GlitchFunnels”.