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Customers don’t land in your online store out of the blue and buy products. No, far from it.
There’s a series of steps that they go through, without even knowing that you’re at the other end of the string, reeling them in.
Of course, some will get lost along the way, each stage claiming potential customers. This goes on until you reach the final step where people actually put items in their carts and clear them.
What we’ve loosely described is known as an eCommerce sales funnel. It starts at the point where a customer comes to know of your brand to the final stage where they buy a product and return to buy more.
Like a funnel with sieves, potential customers trickle down, becoming fewer and fewer at each subsequent stage, until you get the final number that buys products and becomes repeat customers.
On average, online stores only convert at a rate of just over 2 percent. Let’s put that into perspective. If you had 50 potential customers at the top of the funnel, you’d only convert one of them into a buyer.
So, just like the physical funnel, you want to collect as many customers and lead them down to the final stage. Of course, this is easier said than done.
However, in this article, we’ll show you the different ways you can optimize and manage your eCommerce sales funnel.
But before getting into all this, we believe it makes more sense to first take you through the different stages of an effective eCommerce sales funnel.
To ensure that you lead as many potential customers to the final stage of your eCommerce sales funnel, you need to have an online store that’s well-optimized to convert as many visitors as possible into sales. Download the top converting free Shopify theme Debutify now to make your sales funnel effective.
How To Make The Different Stages Of An Ecommerce Sales Funnel Work For You
As we’ve already hinted at earlier, an effective eCommerce sales funnel involves transforming visitors to your site into paying customers. In other words, it is the set of different stages your customers go through before they buy your product.
Your online brand needs excellent sales to funnel because you don’t want to end up losing potential customers along the way. You need to retain as many of them as possible if you’re going to stay several steps ahead of your competition.
After all, in the online shopping world, your potential customers can easily find several distractions in the short period between clicking on your ad and clearing their cart.
In simpler terms, you don’t want a leaky funnel. Therefore, you need to pay attention to your approach every step of the way.
But we digress.
Here are the four major stages of a funnel, and how to optimize them to grow your Shopify store.
1.The Awareness Stage
The awareness stage is just that, making your customers aware of your online store brand. This stage is at the top of the funnel, and it is where your customer first interacts with your brand.
Your potential customer comes to your brand because they have a specific problem that your brand can solve.
It’s important to draw as many visitors to your store as you can. Keep in mind that these visitors need to be targeted. In other words, you’re not trying to draw in everybody and anybody; you’re trying to draw in people who are interested in the products you’re selling.
For instance, your brand sells interior design items. You want to appeal to people who are looking for table lamps, throws, cushions and gilded wall mountings.
You don’t want to be wasting your marketing efforts on people looking for home garden tools. Otherwise, you’ll have a hard time converting them into paying customers.
At this point, you’re trying to get potential customers through the door, most are not fully convinced yet, so you will need to persuade them further down the funnel.
Here are the different ways you can grab and hold your target market’s attention.
Make Use Of Social Media
Social media ads are a great way of raising awareness of your brand. Social media platforms house many people, containing the different demographics your brand might be targeting.
Facebook alone has more than 2.5 billion active users as of 2020. Following closely behind is Instagram with a billion users.
Your competitors are also scouring these platforms looking for consumers to send to their online stores. Therefore, you need to carry out significant market research to find out the platforms where most of your target audience hangs out.
Both platforms have millions of potential customers that you can add to the top of your funnel.
Create Engaging Content
Your goal in the awareness stage is to get your brand name out there. Above, we’ve talked about causing waves on social media platforms.
However, you can also capture the audience's attention by creating engaging content. This is particularly effective when the content provides solutions to your target audience.
Blogging is one of the best ways of providing content. Write material about your product range. Go a step further and craft content about other subjects in your niche and industry. This gives potential customers the impression that you really know your stuff and aren’t just pushing your products.
Additionally, great content improves your standing with search engines. When Google notices that its users find your content useful, it’ll recommend it to other users. As a result, more people become aware of your brand.
You can also use video content on your website or social media. Not only does this provide more engagement, but it also helps with search engine result page ranking.
The Debutify theme is well-optimized to technically handle all video formats you want to embed into your online store website.
Run Paid Ad Campaigns
Getting enough organic traffic can take a long time. Therefore, you should support your organic SEO content marketing strategy with paid ad campaigns.
These are usually in the form of pay-per-click campaigns. When you create a campaign, websites like Google add your ad on their pages. Potential customers always see these spots above the organic rankings.
Therefore, you have to optimize the ad to attract potential customers to your landing and product pages.
All this makes more people aware of your brand, increasing your chances of leading them down the eCommerce sales funnel.
Once you’ve generated enough buzz and awareness of your brand, you can move on to the next stage of the sales funnel
2.The Consideration Stage
Now that your customers are aware of your brand and are interested in your products, you have entered the consideration stage of your funnel. This is the point where your customers are considering buying your product but may not have fully committed to it.
At this point, you’re trying to remove any doubts your customer might have and move them down the funnel to make a purchase.
You have to find a way to keep your brand in the audience’s mind. If your brand comes to mind whenever they have a problem in that niche, then they’re more likely to seek solutions - and consequently products - from your online store.
Therefore, you should use different ways to capture leads. Leads are the potential customers’ email addresses.
These help you initiate your email marketing strategy, leading potential customers to add items to their carts.
Here’s how you can capture leads for an effective eCommerce sales funnel.
Craft Killer Landing Pages
A landing page is a clean, decluttered page on your website that only serves one purpose. Therefore, it should have a clear and compelling call-to-action that prompts visitors to go through with the desired action.
For this stage of the eCommerce sales funnel, the CTA should prompt users to leave their email address.
Of course, people won’t willingly give up their contact information. Therefore, you need to sweeten the pie.
Offer a weekly newsletter, discounts or free resources like eBooks in exchange for email addresses.
Write Compelling Calls To Action
Before you craft a landing page for the sake of making one, you need to take a beat and think about what you want that page to do.
Everything on that page should point towards that purpose. The CTA brings it all together, getting the customers to perform the action.
Therefore, you need to use compelling calls to action that engage the customer, encouraging them to click.
For example, instead of “Register”, you can say “Get Your Free Gift Now”.
Additionally, you need to make the CTA button stand out from all other features on the page to catch the reader’s attention. When they click the CTA, they can enter their email address to claim the gift.
Read more to "How To Create Powerful Calls To Action (CTAs) That Can Boost Your Ecommerce Conversions" and increase your ecommerce conversion.
Use Powerful Emails
Now that you’ve built an email list, you need to engage your subscribers, building a relationship between them and your brand.
Your customer might take a while to be sold on your product, but you can still hook them with a powerful email marketing strategy.
This can include newsletters, a curated list of best-selling products from your store, new upcoming products and any discounts and offers.
The point here is not to be too salesy in your emails. That can be very annoying, and you might risk several customers unsubscribing from your email list.
3.The Decision Stage
So, you've finally managed to convince several customers to put products into their shopping cart or their wish list.
You might kick back, thinking you’ve got the job done and that there is nothing else you need to do. Unfortunately, there’s still work to be done. You need to see the process through to the very end.
Earlier, we talked about the abundant distractions in the online shopping world. It isn’t uncommon for customers to abandon their online shopping for something else. 7 in 10 shopping carts remain uncleared in online stores.
Therefore, just because you have several promising leads doesn’t mean they will always convert into sales. You need to keep your customer engaged, ensuring that they clear their carts and complete the transaction.
Here’s how you can influence the customer’s decision-making process to better manage your eCommerce sales funnel.
Use Analytics To Help Customers’ Decision-Making Process
You can gather information about your customers’ activity on your site. When customers visit your eCommerce store, they leave a mark.
You can start with your email list, tracking customers who have clicked the link in the email, leading them to your store. This enables you to find out what products they like. Furthermore, you can also track who has made it to the add to cart page.
Debutify offers free premium add-ons that you can use to keep track of buyer activity on your site.
Use this information to create targeted messages, in the form of emails and call to actions, to the different groups of customers that visit your eCommerce store.
Keep in mind that all your customers are at different stages in their decision making. Some visit your store and buy something on their first visit.
On the other hand, some like your products but haven’t yet made a firm decision. Others might be browsing through the store; they like your products and might come back for them.
Personalize your messages so that they address these respective groups.
Display Pop-Up Notifications
As customers hover their carts and wishlists, wondering whether they really need your product, you need to remind them that they do. Use a pop-up call to action urging your customers to complete their purchase.
The notification can also offer customers a discount if they check the items out of their cart. Alternatively, you could entice them by covering their shipping and delivery costs.
In the U.S. alone, close to 8 in 10 shoppers say they would shop more if they always get free shipping from online brands.
You can also use this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Use the pop-up call to action to get customers to subscribe to your list to get the discount code sent to their email. Not only have you encouraged a potential customer to become a buyer, but you have also captured another lead.
This is particularly crucial because you need it for the final stage of an effective eCommerce sales funnel.
Offer Free Gifts And Offers
Online shoppers love free gifts and discount offers. 92 percent of online shoppers in the U.S. used coupons to get discounts on their items.
You can give customers the cheapest thing in your store when they buy more than five items. So a buy five get one free type of deal.
Your customer has now made the decision to buy your products. They’re at the checkout page, but they’re hesitating to complete the payment form.
Personal financial details are sensitive, and customers won’t give them over if they don’t trust your brand. After all, you’re just some online entity that they happened upon by chance.
Therefore, you need to assure them that all their private information is protected.
Display reputable security badges that vouch for the way you handle customer personal financial data.
When your potential buyers are satisfied, they’ll fill in the information and complete the sale.
You’ve reached your goal.
However, you need to remember that it’s harder to market to new potential customers than it is to those who have already dealt with your brand.
Therefore, you need to find a way to retain your clients’ business. If you nail this bit, you’ve managed to effectively manage your eCommerce sales funnel.
4.The Retention Stage
You now need to focus on customer retention to grow your eCommerce business. In other words, you want them to come back and buy products from you again.
You also want them to act as advocates for your brand. This means that they pass on the word about your brand and products to their family, friends, colleagues and even total strangers.
People trust a brand recommended by their friends or even people who have tried its products before.
Here’s what you need to optimize to complete this eCommerce sale funnel stage.
Create Loyalty And Referral Programs
After customers have clicked check out, give them a call to action to join your referral and loyalty program.
When they sign up, give them a unique code. Every person they refer uses this code. In return, depending on how many people used their code, give them discounts on their next purchase.
Alternatively, you can offer free gifts or early access to new products in the range.
Send Follow-Up Emails
When customers buy products, you usually display a thank-you page. You should also send them an email expressing gratitude. This makes them feel special, drawing them closer to your brand.
Additionally, you can keep them updated on the shipping situation regarding their items.
When you notice a drop in activity, send an email with an offer or a selection of new products they might like based on what they have selected in the past.
You don’t want your customers to forget about you. Send a weekly newsletter to keep your subscribers aware of what’s going on in your niche and industry.
To Wrap Up
Your customers will go through all the stages of the funnel, some faster than others. It is important to keep engaging with them every step of the way to increase your site’s conversion rate.
To manage your eCommerce sales funnel effectively, you need to optimize your online store to retain potential customers. Debutify offers several premium add-ons that you can use at any stage of the funnel. Download the top converting Shopify theme Debutify for free now!
Written by Ricky Hayes
Ricky Hayes is the Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Debutify - free Shopify theme, helping dropshippers build high-converting stores in minutes. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies and mentoring programs.
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