Conversion rates are a driving factor within ecommerce, a force with very finite boundaries in which the smallest change can make a world of difference. With the average ecommerce conversion rate hovering between 2.5-3%, a shift in a few decimal points can transform an organization.
One way to better find where positive changes can be made is with an ecommerce conversion funnel. A conversion funnel in ecommerce can track each path of the customer journey to illustrate where customers are making purchase, what motivates them and what your business can do to increase conversion rates
Don’t be intimidated by the term conversion funnel. If you’re selling a product or service online, you already have a conversion funnel — you just need to optimize that funnel for maximum results.
Building an effective conversion funnel and converting customers will take time to master. It’s something you’ll work to analyze and fine-tune for the lifetime of your online business.
Elements of a Traditional Marketing Funnel
The elements of a traditional marketing funnel are generally universal across businesses. It tracks each stage of the customer journey and how marketers can best reach them at every step of the road.
The awareness stage of the funnel is where you’re working on attracting potential shoppers to your site.
The first step is to look at how you attracted these shoppers, whether through social media, search results, PPC, blog, etc. Lead gen can include inbound marketing strategies, outbound efforts or referrals — every possible way someone can become aware of your brand, product and offerings. Review your click-through rates and other awareness metrics to understand what words, thoughts and messages resonate with your target audience.
The second step is to make sure you’re targeting the right audience. If you’re attracting the wrong type of shoppers, you’re wasting time, ecommerce marketing dollars and impacting your store’s overall conversion rate.
During this phase of the conversion funnel, you’re working to pique shoppers’ interest in your product or service.
Here you want to form a closer relationship with customers, and an excellent way to do this is through your ecommerce website and content, as well as email marketing campaigns. Opt-in forms, email lists and newsletters are great ways to go about this.
To increase your opt-in rate, focus on polishing attention-grabbing aspects like headlines, carousel images and banners. Write compelling copy and have a well-executed layout for entry points, including blog posts, your site homepage and product pages.
In this phase, you want to make the potential customers want what you’re offering by building on the interest phase now that you have a shopper’s attention.
Use higher-level, more attention-grabbing elements that focus on the details. A logical place to start is by providing outstanding product photos, tantalizing product descriptions, great product options and vivid product videos.
As you make sales, work on gaining some great product reviews. This is the consideration phase for a customer, and you want to provide all the necessary information to help them make informed decisions and solve their pain points.
This phase is when shoppers take their desired action.
Focus on your product pages here to ensure you’re removing friction and doing all you can to encourage shoppers to place items in their carts. From there, examine your checkout flow by including relevant information and answering common questions.
Improving your checkout to reduce cart abandonment rates is a no-brainer here, where simple checkout adjustments can make all the difference.
This final stage is extremely important for ecommerce businesses. After someone has taken the desired action and converted on your ecommerce site, you’ll want to pull these highly targeted customers back in the funnel and encourage them to become repeat buyers, as retention is crucial to growing an online store.
To encourage repeat customers and purchases, invite them to sign up for your social media channels or email newsletter so you can market to them later. You can also send them a coupon or promotion via email.
By including retargeting or loyalty materials in their shipment — as well as expanding your product line or services — you can encourage them to return and ensure they understand how much you value their business.
Stages of an Ecommerce Conversion Funnel
The stages of an ecommerce conversion funnel may look different than the traditional marketing funnel, but they share a primary goal. Both look to track and guide customers through their journey, from initial interest to checkout and beyond.
The main difference between the two is the specificity of the stages. For the ecommerce funnel, they proceed as follows:
The first stage — and the first place that your customers are likely to visit on your website — is the homepage. Make sure to optimize your homepage with copy and images that will capture attention, as well as items such as testimonials or customer reviews.
The homepage will be where your business's first impression is often made and can dictate how successful the start of the customer journey will be.
From the home page, customers interested in a product will use various methods to find what they are looking for — it is your job to see that the process is as smooth as possible.
To make the journey successful, review your navigation, search bars and recommendation engine to ensure that they are easily visible, easy to navigate and point customers in the right direction.
Once they have successfully found a product they want to purchase, the next step is to place the item into the shopping cart. The cart must be visible and simple to review for customers — if they get lost, you could lose a valuable prospect.
From here, the customer can either return to search for additional products — an additional upselling and cross-selling opportunity for businesses — or proceed to the next step.
The checkout process will be the last step before conversion, where customers enter information to actually pay for the product.
However, just because they’ve made it to the checkout page does not mean the sale will be completed. With poor UX or limited payment options, you could lose the customer right before the finish line.
Make sure that your checkout page is as capable and easy to use as possible.
Order processing and delivery.
After the customer checks out, orders must be processed and shipped.
Although the sales process is completed, the journey is still ongoing for your business or the customer. Whether it’s your products running out of stock or a customer canceling the order, events can still occur that can end the sales experience.
It is in your best interest to make sure that this process goes smoothly and that your stock reserves are full and ready to go. An issue with processing and shipping can not only end a single sale but alienate a customer enough so that they never return.
The final stage of conversion funnel optimization entails what occurs after the purchase and once a product is delivered. There are generally two modes of thought on how to proceed: further acquisition and customer loyalty.
With an acquisition mindset, businesses should focus on generating referrals and customer recommendations to expand sales by word of mouth and positive customer feedback. The better the sales process, the more likely a customer will tell his friends about it.
Secondly, businesses should look to retain the customers that have already purchased from them. By focusing on these customers, you can use the familiarity built to send items such as product discounts and loyalty program offers.
Identify and Plug the Leaks in Your Funnel
At different stages of the funnel, there will invariably be leaks that can lead to diminishing returns. It is your responsibility to find and plug these leaks before they significantly impact your business.
To accomplish this, consider the following:
Track users at each stage of the funnel.
The first step to plugging leaks in the sales funnel is finding where users drop out at each stage.
Are you losing them with your homepage? Are they making it all the way through to the checkout stage and then leaving?
By tracking users at each stage of the journey, you can find where your business is flourishing and where improvements can be made.
Use heatmap tracking.
A way to optimize your ecommerce sales funnel to enhance the customer experience to review your web pages with heatmap tracking.
Heatmaps highlight sections of your pages that are beneficial and detrimental to your business. You can view where customers are clicking, where they go on pages and the places they avoid.
By analyzing your heatmaps, you can find ways to improve the user experience and drive customers where you want them to go.
A/B test new CRO ideas.
One way to test conversion rate optimization (CRO) and call-to-action (CTA) ideas is to A/B test your web pages.
Create two variations of the pages with different methodologies and test them against each other to see which generated more conversions and clicks. With the data in front of you, select the more successful option.
A/B testing is a process that should be continual and performed periodically.
Proven Ecommerce CRO Ideas
Improving ecommerce CRO is a must for ecommerce businesses that rely on their landing pages for success. Several ideas that can help raise your performance include the following:
Use high-quality product images.
With product images, quality matters as they help a new customer ascertain the quality and details of a product better than any description.
Because your photos will gain so much attention, they need to be as high-quality as you can make them. From the camera itself to the angles, you must show off a large selection to help customers understand how the products work and ensure they can picture themselves using it.
Include product reviews on product pages.
Each and every product page should display product reviews.
Many customers will look to reviews as social proof of the capability and quality of your products. If they have to search for it, it could leave a bad taste in their mouth and prevent them from converting.
Add product videos.
Product videos are another way to leverage the capabilities of your product by giving a short-form demonstration of your products. While images can be helpful, some customers prefer to see the products in action.
Additionally, businesses should offer the ability for customers to add user product videos to their reviews. It adds another layer of familiarity and can help customers see what the finished product looks like and how it forms outside of how the company presents it.
Write clear CTA copy.
Calls-to-action (CTAs) are a fantastic way to guide your customers through the customer funnel, from the homepage to the checkout process.
Businesses must be creative and clear with their CTAs. If each page uses the same generic text, you’re unlikely to establish any authority and will not be able to guide them.
Through the use of examples such as text bots, Buy buttons or even creative blurbs, you can guide the customer’s eye to your CTAs and give them even more reasons to follow your lead.
Offer a discount.
Offering discounts and promotional opportunities to customers is a fantastic way to ingratiate yourself with them and improve retention rates.
Discounts can be offered anywhere along the sales funnel, whether for customers just entering your homepage to pre-exit deals convincing them to stay. The broad range of discount opportunities makes them highly receptive to personalization.
Personalized product recommendations.
Personalizing your content marketing efforts for each customer can go a long way towards ensuring they feel comfortable and product recommendations are no different.
Oftentimes, a customer will not even know that there are products available that match well with what they’ve already purchased until you tell them. With a personalized recommendation delivered through email or a tab on the checkout screen, you may be able to sway them toward making an additional purchase.
Add a live chat feature to your website.
A live chat feature is one of the best ways to build customer engagement and trust, with the highest satisfaction rate of any form of customer communication — higher than both email and phone support.
The ability of your customers to speak with representatives or responsive chatbots can help make them feel as if they are listened to and that their queries will be answered sooner rather than later.
Optimize for mobile responsiveness.
By 2025, mobile commerce sales will make up more than 10% of all U.S. retail sales. As mobile sales continue to grow, ecommerce companies must ensure that their pages are optimized for mobile responsiveness or they risk missing out on a significant opportunity.
This optimization process includes ensuring that your website is navigable on all devices — including tablets — that scrolling is smooth and that there is a UX system in place specifically designed for mobile.
Use an exit popup.
Exit popups are a user-friendly way to communicate messages with your website visitors, from discounts to promotional offers. They should refrain from interrupting your paying customers while browsing and present themselves right before they leave your website.
A well-crafted exit intent popup can help businesses with more than just discounts, helping them save the bounce rates of anywhere from 10-15% of visitors.
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The Final Word
There are many things businesses can do to help streamline your conversion optimization, whether small or expensive. The most minor changes can make a world of difference, and optimizing for processes like mobile is not only necessary, it’s essential to ecommerce success.
Always make sure to think in terms of your target audience: what does the buyer’s journey look like for them, and how can you provide the information that will ease their concerns and excite them about your products?
By making each stage of the ecommerce conversion funnel more navigable, you'll set yourself up for more tremendous success.
FAQs About Ecommerce Conversion Funnel
What ecommerce KPIs should I track?
There are many ecommerce key performance indicators (KPIs) out there that can help you. The following are likely to be the most important metrics for you to run a successful ecommerce store:
Search engine optimization (SEO).
Cost per acquisition (CPA).
Organic acquisition traffic.
Social media engagement.
Micro-to-macro conversion rates.
Average order value (AOV).
Sales conversion rates.
Customer Retention rate.
Customer lifetime value (CLV).
Repeat customer rate.
Refund and return rate.
Ecommerce churn rate.
Net promoter score (NPS).
Program participation rate.
What’s the difference between a sales and a marketing funnel?
The primary difference between a sales and marketing funnel is your relationship with a prospective customer and where it takes place. A marketing funnel is the process of converting a prospect into a customer. This is accomplished through the five stages listed above:
A sales funnel works to guide the prospective customer from the marketing stage to conversion, which takes place from the moment a salesperson contacts the lead to they point of them becoming a loyal customer. This has a three-stage journey:
Top of the Funnel.
Middle of the Funnel.
Bottom of the Funnel.