Conversion Rate Optimization for Sales Funnel


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 purchases, 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 stages of a traditional marketing funnel are as follows:

1. Awareness

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.

2. Interest

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.

3. Desire

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.

4. Conversion

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.

5. Re-engage

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 into 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 from 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:

1. Homepage

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.

2. Product Page

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.

3. Shopping Cart

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.

4. Checkout Page

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.

5. 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.

6. Post-purchase

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 their 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.

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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:

  1. Track users at each stage of the funnel.
  2. Use heatmap tracking.
  3. A/B test new CRO ideas.

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:

  1. Use high-quality product images.
  2. Include product reviews on product pages.
  3. Add product videos.
  4. Write clear CTA copy.
  5. Offer a discount.
  6. Personalized product recommendations.
  7. Add a live chat feature to your website.
  8. Optimize for mobile responsiveness.
  9. Use an exit popup.

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.

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