The way people build websites has rapidly evolved over the years. And it's not just the “how” that has evolved, but the “what” as well. Static websites, dynamic websites, and subcategories of both came to life, like websites built entirely based on “funnels”. Tools dedicated to building specific types of websites emerged, and in this blog post, we'll compare two of the most popular ones: Clickfunnels vs. Instapage.
The Value of Page Builders
This doesn't just apply to ClickFunnels and Instapage, but most visual landing page software out there. Back in the old days, you needed a web developer/designer to create a simple website, then tools that made life a little bit easier, such as Microsoft's Frontpage were born. These tools still required a bit of technical knowledge as well as the skills to organize and upload the pages created to a web host, and manage things from there.
When page builders emerged, they massively reduced the barrier to entry. Most offer cloud hosting accounts that support your own domain name, which means building a website is practically as easy as signing up for a Facebook account and customizing your profile.
ClickFunnels vs Instapage vs. General Purpose
There are many “general purpose” website builders out there, such as wix.com. Wix helps you create an online presence for your brand. ClickFunnels and Instapage, however, were created to fulfill a specific purpose: create better PPC landers (Instapage), and creating a fully functional, high-converting funnel from A-Z including checkout (ClickFunnels).
If you just want basic online presence for your brand, meaning: a homepage, about page, team page…etc just to serve the purpose of “existing” online or educating the public about your brand, then you might want to go with something like Wix.com or WordPress (more advanced, if you need more control).
If you're just looking to drive traffic to landing pages to encourage visitors to perform specific actions, then you should consider ClickFunnels and Instapage. It's also worth noting that if you're thinking of building a whole website that is mainly dependent on SEO for traffic, Click Funnels and IP may not be your best bet. For that, I'd recommend WordPress.
If you're doing that but also need the power of landing pages and will drive paid traffic to them, then you should consider combining WordPress with IP or CF, or a plugin such as Thrive Architect.
At the end of this blog post, I'll provide specific tool recommendations based on your needs and specific usage scenarios. For now, let's start comparing ClickFunnels and InstaPage head to head.Start a Trial of ClickFunnels
orStart a Trial of Instapage
Main Use Case
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of this section, there's one thing to get out of the way first. Theoretically, you can get both tools to do the exact same thing. However, depending on your use case and the tool of choice, you might have to “glue” a lot of things together, jump through a few hoops and implement a few workarounds to get the tool to work as you want it to.
These “hacks” can cause instability, and despite all the effort you invested in them, they make things more likely to break. It's, therefore, a better approach, in my opinion, to choose the tool that “has you” and your specific use case in mind.
For instance, you can build a funnel in Instapage, but things would be more hectic than in ClickFunnels. You also can build single page landers in ClickFunnels, but that would kind of defeat the purpose of the software, plus, their page builder although very fluid and easy to use, is not as advanced as Instapage's.
It's okay, though. I understand that in many circumstances, you'd want both. You want the PPC landers functionality as well as the full-fledged funnels. If that's your situation, then it's really a matter of asking yourself which one do you need more? If that's a hard question to answer then ask yourself: which one brings more value to your business? Which tool would help you do what you do right now better and drive you more business?
As mentioned earlier, these tools target fundamentally different segments of the market, and you can see this very clearly on their website. Instapage basically positions themselves as a landing page tool for PPC advertisers, while ClickFunnels' positioning is more geared towards people looking for an all-in-one platform to “market, sell and deliver your products and services online”.
To shed more light on the focus areas for each of the tools and help you make a more informed decision, let's dive into a little product tour to compare them. This won't be a tutorial on how to use both because you can easily find support on their respective websites. Instead, this will focus more on the differences between the two.
So the first impression, the dashboards. I'll add both right after each other for easy comparison. Here's what I see once I log in to ClickFunnels:
And this is the Instapage dashboard:
The first thing you notice is probably the first thing I noticed as well. The ClickFunnels dashboard is pretty crowded compared to Instapage's. Now to be fair, ClickFunnels' “all-in-one” approach versus Instapage's focused approach would naturally mean that the ClickFunnels interface has to do a lot more.
The problem is, however, as you can see, the ClickFunnels dashboard isn't really crowded because it's “stuffed” with functionality, but rather because “ads” are taking up most of the screen real estate. The red arrows show two “ads” and then you can see helpful notifications in between.
Now I don't know about you, but I don't really appreciate cramming a paid product with ads/upsells, especially one that costs $297/month. Instead, either give the whole screen real estate to stats, or have this area contain only helpful notifications, like the “Let's create your first funnel” one.
This has always been Russell Brunson's approach. I really love his stuff, he's one hell of a marketer and salesperson, but his “pushy”, overly “salesly” approach is not always my cup of tea. When I log in to a paid tool that helps me with my business, I want to see information about how my business is doing, front and center. While that, in a way, is still included, it's taking “minimal” screen real estate on the right-hand side as compared to the “upsells” taking all the spotlight in the middle.
On the other hand, the Instapage dashboard is what you expect it to be. It's very clean and focused. Since Instapage focuses on PPC landers, the dashboard displays a list of all your landers which gives you an idea about their raw conversion numbers as well as conversion rates with a quick glance. You can also organize them into “Groups”, a functionality similar to folders.
On the left-hand side, you have the main navigation providing quick access to all the major product features. The navigation bar in the upper menu has options like account settings, billing settings, help and support, and notifications.
So first, the Instapage builder. From the dashboard, when you click “Create New Page”, you're presented with three options: Standard page, AMP page, and Upload page. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages and is a Google-friendly way of creating pages that load very fast. It's only available on their enterprise plans, though. The “Upload” feature allows you to upload a previously downloaded/exported Instapage lander.
Finally, the standard page is the typical Instapage functionality without any bells and whistles. Once I selected “standard”, I was then asked to choose a page template or start from scratch (blank page). Landing page template categories included: Lead Generation, Two Step, Click-Through, Thank You, Webinar, eBook, Event and App. They cover a wide range of different use cases and give you a good starting point to get your creative juices flowing. This is helpful if you don't have a solid idea of how you want your page to look like yet. Once you choose a template, the page builder now loads:
One thing I noticed right away was that I was completely free to grab and move any elements on the page anyway I pleased. The elements aren't “trapped” inside columns. I can freely move them around or even place them on top of each other. While this may seem like an obvious feature every page builder should have, a lot of builders lack it, including ClickFunnels'.
The first building block in Instapages is called the “Instablock”. The instablock is basically just a new blank section on your page. Once you create a section, you can then add any of the available elements to it with a click of a button, and drag that element around wherever you please. The “dragging around” process is extremely fluid and responsive.
Available elements to insert on the page include: headline, paragraph, image, video, button, forms, shapes, social, timer and custom HTML. Each of the elements is fully customizable using a very convenient inline editor.
Now it's time for the ClickFunnels builder.
When you choose to create a new funnel with CF, you'll be presented with the above. The “Classic Funnel Builder”, is just as described, their basic builder. It asks you to choose one of three objectives for your funnel: Collect Emails, Sell Product and Host Webinar. It then asks you a few questions and off you go to building your funnel.
As mentioned earlier, CF is “funnel-focused” which means every “funnel” you build is usually a series of pages, not just a single page as is the case with Instapage. The second, and particularly interesting way of building funnels, is using the “Cookbook”.
The cookbook contains a variety of “funnel recipes” which are basically “done-for-you” funnels that you buy (or get for free) and just edit to suit your needs. These funnels are usually built for a specific purpose and are available to “copy” to your account with a click of a button, including all the funnel “steps” (landing page templates and pages). To test their builder, I chose the cookbook route along with the “Lead Magnet” funnel. The “recipe” was then copied to my account and as you can see below, included two steps: the lead capture page containing the opt-in forms as well as the “thank you” page.
Once you're in the editor, you can tell straight away that it isn't as fluid as Instapage's. To add content to your page, you need to add a “section” and then add “rows”. The structure of the page is generally pretty rigid compared to Instapage.
You can't freely move elements around, elements need to be inserted and locked into sections, rows and columns. To move any element around, you'd need to modify the structure of these “building blocks” which isn't as smooth as Instapage's. “Fluidity” may seem like a luxurious term but when you're building landers and funnels at scale, speed is a really important factor and “fluidity” helps you get things done a lot faster. The IP builder just feels a lot more intuitive.
That being said, there's an important question to ask here: Do you NEED this level of flexibility? In many, many cases, I think your answer will be no. If you don't need this level of flexibility and don't need to build hundreds or thousands of landers, then CF would serve you well.
The rest of the features are almost on par but I noticed CF offers quite a bit more elements to insert on your page including shopping cart options (which makes sense since they're an “all-in-one” solution), FAQ sections, progress bars, navigation options, surveys and more.
Split Testing and Analytics
Clickfunnels allows you to split test 1 variation of each step against a control version, for a total of two variations for each step. You can choose to distribute the traffic among the variations evenly or at any percentage you desire.
As for stats and analytics, CF assumes you'll be using their various integrations (like Google Analytics) for advanced analytics, so their dashboard provides limited (but helpful) data. Page views, number of leads/sales…etc and conversion rates. Many people would find this way too simple, but it's actually sufficient for a lot of CF users, especially if they depend on third-party analytics software.
Instapage, on the other hand, is a lot more robust when it comes to analytics and split testing. Within the editor, I was able to instantly create 8 variants of my current page for split testing. I created those 8 and didn't hit any limits, so it appears you can create more.
I don't know if they have a hard limit on the number of A/B testing variations. I tried to search for that in their help center but came up with nothing. In any case, most people will only be running 2-3 variations at a time, so I think it's safe to say that 8 concurrent variations are more than enough for the majority of users.
As you can see above, IP also provides more data on A/B tests than the simplistic approach taken by CF. In addition to raw numbers and conversion rates, you also get to see the % improvement over the control variation as well as the cost per visitor and the cost per lead/sale (need to connect to an advertising platform for that).
One minor issue that isn't really problematic but I found pretty annoying, was the ability to determine the traffic share for each variation is available inside the analytics reports. This made no sense to me at all as I feel it would be much better to allow me to do this inside the editor itself.
The analytics section, in my opinion, should be exclusively reserved for viewing data and interacting/filtering different reports, but not adjusting important settings like this. In any case, I could've easily omitted this part but I found the placement of the feature very weird so I just had to comment on it.
Graphs, Reports and Heatmaps
IP doesn't only beat CF in A/B testing capabilities, but it also offers much more comprehensive built-in reporting. IP hooks directly to major advertising platforms such as Facebook Ads and Google Ads. It's then able to pull traffic costs directly from the platforms and display stats such as the cost per lead/per purchase, this could be invaluable and is non-existent in ClickFunnels.
You also get performance and cost charts that plot data like raw traffic and conversion numbers, conversion rates and cost per conversion (if traffic source is linked). You can also see a visual comparison of this data plotted on a separate chart for your different split test variations. You can also filter data to show unique visitors only, or all visitors.
A very neat feature IP also provides is heatmaps. Many third-party tools provide that functionality such as Crazy Egg, Hotjar and Lucky Orange. These tools can be rather expensive, especially if you're getting a lot of traffic. Having the functionality built-in IP is a treat, especially because heatmaps can be a great inspiration for split testing ideas. With Instapage, you can do it all in one place.
IP supports Click, scroll and mouse movement heatmaps. The image below shows what heatmaps in IP look like, credits for the image go to this help center article of theirs.
Instapage integrates with a large suite of tools and services including advertising and analytics, email marketing automation, webinar hosting, live chat support, CRM and others. As for ClickFunnels, the only public page I found listing its integrations was this, but it's dated December 2016 so a lot may have changed since then.
It would appear Instapage natively supports more integrations, though. But both platforms support zapier which lets you connect to over 1000 different apps, tools, and services.
ClickFunnels has a massive Facebook group, it's almost 200,000 members at the time of writing this post and growing rapidly. I'm honestly not a member of the group so I can't attest to the quality of the posts and how helpful members are with each other, but it's safe to say it's a pretty active group.
As for the official support, they seem to offer email support Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM EST.
Instapage doesn't have a massive group on Facebook but they do have a “community” forum on their website at which you can ask questions. The “community” does appear, however, seem to only include their staff members and people asking publicly. So it's more of a “public support ticket system” rather than an actual community. If you'd rather contact them privately, you can always open a private support ticket as well.
They also say they offer Live Chat support but I could not see a button or link to reach it (even though it's not the weekend so maybe they stopped offering it). IP also states their support team is available Monday through Friday, but they do not specify hours or time zones.
Instapage has two plans. The core plan costs $99/month if paid annually and $129/month if paid monthly. It includes the most common features. The Enterprise plan seems to be quoted on a case by case basis and includes “Global Blocks”, “AMP Pages” and “Real-time collaboration” among a few other things such as a dedicated account manager.
I don't see any “killer” features in the enterprise plan that I wouldn't be able to live without, so I think the $99/month plan would suit most people. There's a “fine print” that wasn't very easy to spot, though, which is that the $99 plan is capped at 30,000 unique monthly visitors, 30 published pages, 5 subaccounts, and 5 team members. So even if you don't need the extra features, if you hit any of those limits you'll likely be forced to upgrade.
ClickFunnels, however, has two plans and do not advertise any “custom” plans. The plans cost $99 and $297 per month respectively and they don't appear to advertise discounts for annual subscriptions. The $99 ClickFunnels plan is capped at 20,000 monthly visitors and 20 funnels, but do take note that the 20 funnel limit will probably end up being a lot more than IG's 30-page limit because a single marketing funnel can contain many steps/page.
So for instance, say you want to create a landing page, that leads to another and then another, then finally to a “thank you” page. That's 4 pages in Instapage. In CF, however, that's just 1 funnel. In CF, you can create 20 of those, so that's 20×4 = 80 pages. To create 80 pages in IG, you'd need the enterprise plan.
The $300 plan offers two additional major “modules”. The “Actionetics” module and the “Backpack” module. Actionetics is basically a built-in e-mail service provider that aims to help you avoid paying for additional third party tools such as ActiveCampaign, MailChimp, GetResponse….etc. Backpack allows you to run your own affiliate program, again saving you from having to pay additional fees to use tools such as iDevAffiliate or others.
In any case, both platforms offer a free trial. IG's free trial can easily be activated with no credit card required while CF's requires a credit card to be entered.
I feel this review so far may have been a little biased against ClickFunnels because Instapage clearly excelled at most points of comparison. The “Backpack” and “Actionetics” modules in the CF higher-tier plan are really helpful, though, not just because they save you from paying for third-party tools, but because they help keep everything in one place. No messy integrations.
The drawback here, obviously, is that you don't get every expected feature under the sun from each of the modules. The only way you could get that is if you opt for a dedicated solution for each feature you require. The additional “gluing and stitching” involved with getting funnels to work properly with Instapage is a big turn off for me as well if I was to use the platform primarily for funnels.
You might've heard people mention that CF and IP are apples and oranges. I agree to an extent, and after reading this, you probably understand why. At the core, both tools allow you to build web pages using a visual drag and drop editor, but they're much more than that.
Ultimately, what you choose will depend on your needs. I know many people find this sentence annoying because it doesn't give enough pointers, so I'll go ahead and give you a few. Read the two groups of bullet points below, see which group better represents your needs (The group containing the most bullet points you agree with, that's my recommendation for you!), then decide.
Use ClickFunnels if:
- You're creating a full-fledged sales funnel for a product, service or webinar.
- You have a multi-step funnel with upsells, downsells…etc.
- You depend on third party tools for analytics or aren't much of a data nerd.
- You need a good page editor that gets the job done but don't require the most flexibility.
- “Selling” is a bIP factor here. If you're not selling something, many CF advantages are lost (upsells/downsells, payments, backpack…etc).
Use Instapage if:
- You need highly flexible landing pages for lead generation but most of your pages consist of just a squeeze page and a thank you page, or a buy page and thank you page (you don't need funnels).
- Being able to move every element on the page anywhere you please is an important feature.
- You need to split test more than 2 variations of a page at the same time.
- You want to connect your traffic platforms and see traffic cost combined with lander stats in one place.
- You see bIP value in better analytics and heatmaps consolidated in one platform.
orStart a Trial of Instapage
Well, that's about it! Hopefully, this puts you on the right path to choosing the platform that best suits your needs. If you're in doubt about what to choose for a specific scenario or use case, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll try to respond as soon as I can with a recommendation. Also if you have experience with one or both of these tools, feel free to share.