What Is a Tripwire Funnel And How To Make It Work? Break the Barriers & Let Customers In

What Is a Tripwire Funnel And How To Make It Work? Break the Barriers & Let Customers In

19 September 2022 4 days ago ~ 13 min read 2531 views
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Claspo Blog What Is a Tripwire Funnel And How To Make It Work? Break the Barriers & Let Customers In

The tripwire funnel is designed to make the price of a product so low that no one can reject the offer. Imagine, habitually, you do not spend too much on clothing or accessories but see a proposal from a luxury brand with a 90% discount on certain items. Of course, you will buy one of them, at least just to see what all the fuss is about. With the price of a regular product, you will not regret spending money on it in case it disappoints you.

The concept sounds easy, right? But there is more to it. You need to keep reading if you want to learn what to do to prevent your proposal from looking sketchy or what additional tactics can create a synergetic effect and boost your performance. 

Table of Contents

  1. Get Your Vocabulary Straight: Tripwire Funnel vs. Other Sales Tactics
  2. Traits That Make Tripwire Funnel a Powerful Tool
  3. The Most Practical Tripwire Sequences & Pairings
  4. Final Thoughts

Get Your Vocabulary Straight: Tripwire Funnel vs. Other Sales Tactics

A tripwire funnel is a specific form of a sales funnel that tempts shoppers to purchase one of your products or services at a price they cannot look away from. There are two major rules that you need to keep in mind to design your offer correctly:

  1. The price should be insanely low. The essence of this concept is to make this offer irresistible by advertising your goods at a price that cannot be found anywhere else because it is lower than the product’s prime cost.
  2. Although you lure people in with candy, there should be no ill intentions behind this offer. Brutally murdering consumers’ trust from the beginning undermines the sole purpose of this proposal, which is designed to give people a chance to endear your product and motivate them to make a full-price purchase. Therefore, deliver what you promised with no small catches or fine prints.   

Let’s illustrate it with a practical example. PeopleSmart offers its clients to supply them with new leads from their contact base, but not for free. It has 3 pricing plans: Basic, Professional, and Business. Naturally, each of them has a specific set of functions and targets a particular type of customer. Yet, you can try any of them for 7 days if you buy a $1 trial.

Retrieved from PeopleSmart

So, what makes this deal a good incentive? 

  1. $1 is not a price that can cause any damage to your pocket, regardless of your budget. Plus, take a look at the Basic plan. If you choose it, you will be paying 0.78 cents per contact. Imagine how many contacts you can gather in a week, and you will see how lucrative this proposal is. 
  2. Free trials might seem a more effective option. However, this scheme grants you universal access to a product. Meanwhile, you might not intend to purchase the largest set of features because you simply will not need that much. With a tripwire offer, you get to test the version you actually plan to obtain with all its perks and limitations before you decide.
  3. It comes with a bonus. Google extension does not ruin the concept of getting an authentic experience of the version you consider buying, instead, it adds a nice, helpful touch to it.         

Of course, tripwire is not the only tool in your marketing shed, and the same as distinguishing self-tapping screw and cap screw can be confusing for inexperienced craftsmen, many marketing or sales specialists tend to accidentally misuse it or call it the wrong name. Let’s explore what other icebreakers and attention-grabbers can be used to stimulate potential clients to make a move.    

Lead Magnets

Do not get misled, this instrument has a different purpose. Tripwire is aimed at tempting shoppers to purchase and get a taste of your product and become hungry for more, whereas lead magnets are built to generate leads, not convert them. 

Naturally, tripwire can help you gather contact info or other data which can become a foundation for future interactions. Yet, they are designed with an entirely different mission in mind. Lead magnets, on the other hand, are destined to provide inducements to viewers in exchange for an email address, name, or other personal info.

The key factor here is that you have to promise your leads a present that will not hurt your budget. It can be anything:

  • Intangible incentives like white paper, article, statistical data, sample feature or service, etc. Take a look at these examples from Claspo, Clearbit, & LeadGenius, and you will get the idea.

image5.pngRetrieved from Claspo

image8.pngimage7.jpgRetrieved from Clearbit

image10.pngRetrieved from LeadGenius

  • Intangible motivators, such as discounts. It does not have to be a big one, but it ought to be distinct. For instance, Killstar decided that a 20% discount will be sufficient to make visitors opt for leaving a phone number instead of an email address.  

image6.pngRetrieved from Killstar     

  • A combination of both. When you buy a subscription from Liquor Loot, you get a free 10-part email series and a $10 discount on your first month. Technically, it is not a lead magnet, but the scheme itself is rather effective. Consumers subscribe to your newsletter. As a ‘thank you’ note, you send them an informative article or a relevant webinar and present a small welcome coupon that might stimulate them to be more decisive about making their first purchase.

image4.pngRetrieved from Liquor Loot    



Offering a discount as your lead magnet is incredibly effective. ‘Money off’ promise appeals to everyone, regardless of age, especially in these turbulent economic situations. In addition, you can combine tripwire and lead magnet to magnify their effect. 

Free Trials/Versions

Essentially, the main difference here is that in this scenario, people do not pay you anything in exchange for your product or service. This strategy performs well as:

  • A free sample. You can test the waters before you decide to go all-in.


  • An advertisement. This particular client may not be willing to pay for a full set of features, but there is still a possibility of revenue in the future. The business might grow and require a software upgrade, or this person might recommend you to a friend who happens to be interested in your premium packages.

image1 (2).pngRetrieved from Datanyze

  • A ‘money-back’ guarantee. For instance, Casper is so confident in the quality of its goods that it offers you a 100-night risk-free trial. If the product does not satisfy you, you just give it back.   

image2.pngRetrieved from Casper



In most cases, tripwires and free trials/versions are mutually exclusive. You can apply them one at a time to determine which tactic suits your product or service best. However, there are possibilities of using them together. For example, you can give your new cupcake as a free sample to get feedback, and offer a pastry that was not sold during the day with a substantial 80% discount.   

Discount Offers

This one makes it easy to get mixed up because both instruments imply discounts. Yet, traditional discount offers still generate profits. People might not spend less money on a single item, but they compensate for it by buying more. In the case of tripwire, you sacrifice your profits to break the barriers on the client’s way to making a purchase. 

Of course, Casper’s 60% discount is substantial. However, let’s take a look at The New York Times special offer:

  • They demand less than a dollar for a week of having great articles at your disposal.
  • With this price ($0.50), you could obtain a month of quality reading at a price that would grant you only a week in regular circumstances.

Retrieved from Casper

image13.pngRetrieved from The New York Times        



Naturally, these two techniques substitute one another effectively and amplify each other’s effect immensely. You can change a discount on a particular product from a regular one to a tripwire. But you can also combine moderate discounts with tripwires during your major sales.   

Traits That Make Tripwire Funnel a Powerful Tool

This tactic is a feasible solution to turn to when your benchmarks & KPIs are feeling under the weather. Furthermore, it does not only generate immediate profits but also helps you establish trust and positively affects your customer's lifetime value. Let’s paint a more nuanced picture to get a comprehensive understanding of its impact:

  • Tripwire is designed to be irresistible. This is a deal where your potential clients do not lose anything but gain a lot. Therefore, they have no reason to reject it. If your goods manage to charm these people, a substantial part of them will be way more confident about spending more money in your store.
  • It helps to establish trust. It is not a revelation, researchers proved it years ago: trust and commitment are inherently intertwined. This means that when customers obtain tangible proof that your products or services are as good as you promised and can change their lives for the better, they become insurmountably more motivated to commit and stay loyal to your brand. 

Word of advice   

Keep in mind that excessive practice or misuse of tripwire can be detrimental to your budget. This technique usually couples smoothly with:

  • The goods that will not hit your pocket if you give them for a price that does not cover your expenses like publications, webinars, subscriptions, videos, event access, trial periods, or features. 
  • Products, the costs of which you can partially compensate by pairing them with something overpriced. For instance, when you come up with a combo meal for a fast-food restaurant, you can sell a sandwich for a price that does not cover its prime cost, but you put it together with beverages that are priced significantly higher than the sum you pay to your supplier.
  • A hook that is based on the scarcity principle. Your business cannot survive for long on tripwires. Yet, if this is a limited-time offer, it will not cause any significant harm to your budget. Moreover, a ticking clock will tickle the shoppers’ fear of missing out.
  • Things that should have been sold a long time ago. Naturally, people prefer the most fashionable and up-to-date things, but some still make provisions for a rainy day while the weather shows no sign of a cloud. Thus, you can check your inventory and find items that have served their purposes and now are occupying valuable storage space. Let’s say there are only a few products left from your summer collection, so why not turn the most scarce of them into tripwires and sell the rest of them with a substantial discount?    

Warning: Apply with Caution

Remember that no matter how lucrative your offer is, it will set shoppers off if it sounds like a mousetrap, and tripwires do spark thoughts like, “What’s the catch?”, in people’s brains. Hence, how can you take the consumers’ worries away? Here are some feasible suggestions:

  • Provide a money-back guarantee or declare a ‘no commitment’ policy.
  • Invest in crafting a user-friendly, functional, and elegantly looking website.
  • Publish reviews and testimonials from actual clients.
  • Show that you are real, and tell people about your team, company, and mission.
  • Make your major policies (e.g., shipping, refund, and return) transparent, simple, and coherent. 
  • Use secure delivery & payment methods. 
  • Respond promptly to incoming inquiries.  
  • Do not diminish the quality of the products or services you offer as a tripwire to compensate for your losses.    

The Most Practical Tripwire Sequences & Pairings

You are already familiar with how lead magnets, discount offers, and freebies can cross paths or take turns at different stages of your sales funnel. However, you can incorporate upsell, cross-sell, and downsell tactics into your conversion scheme. You probably know what these terms stand for, still, let’s define them, so there is no confusion or misunderstanding:

  • Upselling. This method implies convincing customers that this new offer will require spending more now, but it benefits them more at the end of the day. For instance, you will be thankful to your past self for the AppleCare+ device repair coverage in case something dreadful happens to your Apple Watch.

Retrieved from Apple

  • Cross-selling. Think about all the things that are meant for each other, like coffee and donuts, gin and tonic, wine and cheese, pineapple and pizza…no, wait, the jury is still out on this one. Anyway, the point of this technique is to sell you a package because if you are buying one of these items, you will probably want or need another one. For example, when you are about to purchase headphones on Drop, it displays a headphone hanger and explains to you why you might want to spend an extra $30 to upgrade your deal.

Retrieved from Drop     

  • Downselling. If you cannot tempt the shoppers to go up, you can always suggest going in the opposite direction. Let’s illustrate it with an example. Apolis takes pride in letting its customers express themselves through customizable printing texts on the bags. But not everyone strives to deliver a message to the world. For these people, there is a special option that allows you to purchase the item with no text on it for a reduced price.

image3.pngRetrieved from Apolis     

As with every conversion funnel, tripwire maps a theoretical customer journey toward making a purchase. Hence, it undergoes several traditional stages, such as bringing in by-passers, generating awareness, giving them something to consider, waiting for their decision, and re-engaging them. You can synthesize a multitude of tripwire sales funnels using various combinations of tripwires, lead magnets, upsell, downsell, cross-sell, or discount offers, and retargeting. Here, only imagination is your limit, but let’s create an illustrative model, so you could take a grasp of the algorithm:

Create a lead magnet to gather contact info

Send tripwire offer to give them the taste of what to expect

Re-engage by proposing upselling, cross-selling, or downselling deals and stimulate to spend a substantial sum

Use email, pop-up, or retargeting to lure them back in by announcing a new product/upcoming sale or reminding them about products that they left in their shopping carts

Small tip


Indeed, the more inducements you use, the merrier. Yet, many companies cannot resist the temptation to cross the line and overdo it. Do not repeat that mistake, and be reasonable with the density and frequency of your proposals. Remember, coercing is not the same as coaxing, it violates consumers’ personal boundaries, which is unacceptable.  

Adjustments & Aftermath

So, you have designed your perfect tripwire funnel, how can you confirm that it is working properly? Naturally, there is a variety of analytical tools you can utilize and KPIs you can measure, such as:

  • conversion rates (for instance, with Claspo you can single out widgets that convert the most);
  • average cart value;
  • customer lifetime value;
  • NPS/CSI feedback forms (you can use Claspo to create these with a couple of clicks). 

Of course, to succeed in business (especially in the e-commerce sphere) you have to be adaptive because everything is ever-changing, including customer preferences and expectations, technologies, requirements, regulations, or essential toolkits. Luckily, there are many steps you can take when you sense that it is time to revise or adjust your scheme:

  • Experiment with the layout & design (make your offer visible, but not vexing). 
  • Try it with different products and services.
  • Combine tripwire with other marketing tactics.
  • Perform A/A (lift) or A/B (split) testings to determine the most successful versions. 
  • Check that both mobile & desktop versions of your proposal are displayed correctly.

A small suggestion

Essentially, emails are the most influential tool when it comes to consumers' purchase decisions. However, pop-ups can be quite effective too. Just look at the examples in this article - the majority of them deliver their offers via floating bars or lightboxes. They are incredibly functional. For instance, when you build pop-ups with Claspo, you can:

  • Adjust display settings and triggers (e.g., frequency, timed delay, scroll trigger, click activation, etc.) to avoid exacerbating viewers and show your proposals when they are most welcome.
  • Add timers to create a sense of urgency.
  • Approach both new and recurring visitors.
  • Deliver your message regardless of whether your recipients provided you with their contact info.    

Final Thoughts

Tripwire sales funnel is a complex, multidimensional, practical, and effective conversion model. All you need to do is come up with an offer that is impossible to refuse because paying the price will be more of a symbolic gesture rather than a real expense. Plus, you can multiply the positive effect by adding other proposals like discounts, upsells, or downsells. 

However, nothing is as effortless as it seems in modeling customer journeys. You have to be smart about it and brainstorm ways to ensure that this initiative is not detrimental to your budget, satisfies potential clients, and does not look like a scam.     

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