If you run an online business, you need to be aware of the eCommerce conversion funnel and how it affects your bottom line. Today, there is a ton of competition when it comes to eCommerce. Even established brands cannot afford to ignore the importance of eCommerce conversion funnel optimization. Understanding what your eCommerce funnel looks like and how it performs requires a detailed understanding of your customer journey, the User Interface, and User Experience design aspects of your website.
Do you feel like you’re doing everything you can to try and increase sales on your website, but nothing seems to work? Have you taken the time to study your eCommerce conversion funnel? eCommerce funnel analysis can provide you with valuable insights into your business and your customer journey. If you’re confused about what an eCommerce funnel is, don’t worry, we’re going to explain the concept of the eCommerce funnel in-depth and look at ways that you can optimize your conversion funnel.
What is an eCommerce Funnel?
Don’t be intimidated by the concept of the eCommerce sales funnel. In reality, this concept is very straightforward and easy to understand. The funnel is just an easy way to visualize the eCommerce customer journey from first contact to final sale. The eCommerce funnel is the path your customers take online when making a purchase from your eBusiness. If you are unfamiliar with the shape of a funnel, you can imagine an upside-down triangle, the largest portion is on top, and it gradually gets smaller until you reach the final point.
A typical eCommerce sales funnel includes five steps. Each successive step in the funnel gets smaller as you get closer to a final sale. The eCommerce funnel looks something like this:
Why should each step of this eCommerce customer journey get smaller as you get closer to a final sale? At various points in this process, users will drop out of the funnel or stop using your website before making a purchase. This is only natural. You will never make a sale to every single user that visits your website or mobile app. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t optimize your conversion funnel to make each step of your eCommerce customer journey larger in the metaphor of the funnel and ultimately increase the number of final sales you are making.
Understanding Your Conversion Funnel
Before you can begin to optimize your eCommerce funnel, you need to understand how your current sales funnel operates and the way your current customers and users are interacting with your store. One of the best ways to go about understanding your eCommerce customer journey is to work back from the end of the funnel or the final sale. After all, a sale is the final goal of your retail business. Below are some things to look at and questions to ask when doing an eCommerce funnel analysis back from the end of the funnel:
- Actions taken by users right before they complete the checkout process
- What elements or parts of the website are aiding/hindering sales efforts?
- Techniques used to drive user engagement with store and products
- How do users find the products they are looking for?
- Techniques used to encourage users to spend more time on your website
- How do users find your website?
In order to get good information to answer the questions above, you will need to use an analytics program to analyze user behavior and website data. The most popular and common analytics platform is Google Analytics. However, Google Analytics is not the only solution available, and you may find your needs are better met by another service. There are many eCommerce funnel specific analytic software options available on the market, including:
If your eCommerce website is built with Shopify, you will have access to the analytics dashboard offered on the Shopify platform. Shopify offers valuable insights into the way users are interacting with your products and making purchase decisions. You can also choose to partner with a certified Shopify Plus Partner to help you create and implement additional analytic tools to give you more insights into your eCommerce conversion funnel. A Shopify Plus Partner can also help you improve design elements that could be leading to eCommerce funnel leaks.
Optimizing Your Conversion Funnel
Now that you have an understanding of your customer journey and your eCommerce funnel, you need to think about the ways you can optimize your conversion funnel and minimize funnel leaks or lost users. There is real debate amongst eCommerce marketers when it comes to the starting point for eCommerce funnel optimization.
Many professionals argue that you need to start your optimization process at the top of the funnel. The argument here is that increasing the total number of incoming users is likely to increase sales, and more users equals more data which can lead to better funnel optimizations in the future.
The other side of the argument says that you should optimize the end of your eCommerce funnel first so that any visitors who come to your store have a greater chance of making a purchase. There are merits to both strategies, and we are not going to debate the issue in-depth. Interestingly, almost no one suggests that you optimize the middle of your eCommerce conversion funnel first. While it can be easy to get lost in the vast amount of information available, you should start your eCommerce conversion funnel optimization in the place where you think you will have the greatest impact, which could very well be the middle in your case.
We’ll go over some important optimization strategies for all three areas of the eCommerce funnel, so no matter where you are in your eCommerce funnel optimization process, there will be information and strategies that could help you reduce funnel leaks and increase sales.
Top of the Funnel Optimization Hacks
The top of the eCommerce funnel is all about attracting users to your website. There are many ways to go about bringing in more users to your website, including:
- Paid advertising
- Organic social media posting
- Influencer marketing
Ideally, you’ll combine all or most of these traffic generation methods to increase your users and optimize the top of your funnel. Your marketing budget and resources will also affect how you approach these different methods of traffic generation. Let’s take a brief look at each one of these methods in turn.
There are a number of different paid advertising avenues online. However, the two most prominent channels are Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Facebook Ads tend to be a little cheaper than Google Ads, but they can both end up costing you a good amount of money depending on how you set your campaigns. That being said, you can use Google and Facebook Ads to target specific audiences and keywords so that your brand is seen by the people most likely to buy your products. You can also run ads on SnapChat, Instagram, TikTok, and more. Determine where your target audience likely is, and pay for advertising on that channel in order to quickly increase the traffic to your eCommerce website. Saving ads can be a useful way to revisit products or services that caught your interest at a later time. When you save ads, you create a personalized collection of products or services that caught your attention, allowing you to revisit and consider them at your own pace without the pressure of making an immediate decision, which can be a helpful tool when making purchase decisions.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search Engine Optimization is not going to bring in the same volume of traffic as paid ads will right off the bat. SEO is a long-term strategy, but it is the backbone of any solid traffic generation strategy. First, the majority of people find what they are looking for via search. Second, SEO does not cost you money for every click, ad, impression, etc. While SEO takes more time, it is a more sustainable avenue of generating traffic for your eCommerce funnel.
Organic Social Media Posting
Much like SEO, organic social media posts will take time to drive large amounts of traffic. You need to build an audience. However, this channel gives you the ability to connect with your target audience in an intimate way. You can share valuable resources, products, and industry information, and you can communicate directly with the people who are interested in or follow your brand. Social media gives you a unique opportunity to establish your brand identity and attract new customers.
This is another type of paid ad, but it is different, so we decided to talk about it separately. If your target audience is heavily on social media channels, you might want to consider paying an influencer to market your products. This is an effective strategy on platforms like Instagram, Youtube, and TikTok which are highly visual. Basically, you pay influencers to take pictures and videos with your product and add links to their posts. Influencers have a lot of Facebook followers, and this could generate a ton of traffic for your funnel. However, you will have to pay, and it is not as sustainable as organic search and social posts.
Middle of the Funnel Optimization Hacks
The middle stages of the eCommerce funnel are all about keeping users interested in your products and ensuring they make it to checkout and the final sale. There are a couple of things to consider in the middle. The first is, how do you communicate quality, trust, and expertise to your users to ensure that they are comfortable with making a purchase? The second is, how do you re-attract users who may have left your website and abandoned their carts?
The first concern can easily be addressed. Let’s imagine that you have an eTail business. If you want to communicate trust, quality, and expertise to your potential customers, you need to include trust elements, customer reviews, and live chat features. Consumers want to see what other consumers think of your products. Consumers are also more likely to feel comfortable entering their payment information on a website that has trust elements like seals from the BBB and other trusted organizations. At the end of the day, users want to see websites that look legitimate, have clean, clear content, and offer customer reviews.
If you want to re-attract users that have left your website without making a purchase, you will need to run retargeting ad campaigns. Both Facebook and Google offer powerful retargeting tools that can help you recapture a user’s attention and close that final sale. Let’s face it, there are a ton of distractions. Just because a customer left your website does not mean they won’t make a purchase. Retargeting ads can help you plug the leaks in the middle of your eCommerce conversion funnel and increase final sales.
End of the Funnel Optimization Hacks
Once you have your users at the end of the eCommerce conversion funnel, you need to close the deal. Arguably, this is the most important aspect of your funnel, and luckily, one of the easiest parts to optimize too. When you have customers at the end of the eCommerce funnel, they are on the precipice of completing checkout, and there are only a few things that will likely stop them from making a purchase. Murky shipping costs and policies are one major factor that could drive users away at the last minute, and lack of payment options is another.
Be clear about your shipping costs upfront. Better yet, find a way to add shipping costs to the total cost of your products so when customers reach the end of your eCommerce conversion funnel, they get free shipping. Consumers are more likely to buy products with free shipping, even if free shipping is really just an illusion. Finally, make sure that users have a lot of payment options. For example, if you don’t accept credit or debit card payments, you will lose a lot of potential sales. Adding additional payment methods like PayPal can also help increase sales as users will have more options to complete checkout.
There is a lot of information to process when it comes to the eCommerce funnel. Understanding how your customers complete purchases on your eCommerce store is crucial for long-term success. If you need assistance understanding the eCommerce conversion funnel or ways that you can optimize your funnel to reduce leaks, speak with an app development partner. A dedicated development partner can help you identify leaks and make the appropriate UI design changes to plug them.