The E-Commerce Sales Funnel: 4 Stages of Success

Published by Darick Dunaway

On June 28, 2018

E-Commerce is the lifeblood for the majority of B2B and B2C companies. It’s not enough to just have an E-Commerce site, you have to constantly be looking for ways to improve your site to keep a competitive advantage. There are a lot of formulas and equations to consider when evaluating the strength of an E-Commerce company’s business model.  I am going to look at a simple sales funnel that involves 4 main points: Attract, Convert, Close, and Retain. The E-Commerce Sales Funnel (Simplified).

1. Attract – Get People to Your Website

The first goal of your e-commerce site is to get people to visit your store. There are many ways to accomplish this:

  • Content Marketing – You can write valuable articles about your industry and products. This content not only helps your search ranking but it also gives you content to post on social media and in newsletters. The content can be about the products themselves, the producers of the products, about the company, or the industry you serve. Example: If you are selling fitness wear, you can write articles about the top fitness trends or the 10 most popular fitness outfits for 2018. Anything that would be of interest to your target demographic is fair game!
  • Digital Advertising –Today, there are no shortages of ways to spend advertising dollars online. You can use Google AdWords and target searches related to your product. You can run Facebook ads and target your demographic and people who like similar products. You can run YouTube ads and display ads. The best thing to do in the beginning is to test platforms with different messages and target audiences. Once you find the platform, message, and target demo combination that present the highest conversion rate, double down on what works. Stop any campaign that is not generating positive returns.
  • Affiliate Partnerships – You can find bloggers and influencers online that have an audience that would be interested in purchasing your products. You can reach out to these people and try and work out an affiliate deal. They can either write an article about your products/shop or they can include ads on their website directing people to your website. Finding audiences that will be most receptive to your product offering is the key.
  • Social Media – Producing content and posting on social media is a great way to get exposure. If you consistently do this, you will have a handful of articles or posts that might get shared out and reach a large number of people. When posting on social media, you want to make sure you mix it up and you are not just posting other people’s content. You want to post your own original content that directs people to your website. Once there, make sure you have clear call to actions to get people to buy or shop around.

2. Convert – Get People to Want to buy

Once someone comes to your website, the next step is to get them to make a purchase. This is the biggest step, finding out what percentage of your customers end up making a purchase.

  • Trust – This a huge aspect of e-commerce that is often overlooked. If your website looks outdated and you don’t have information about your company on the site, people will not trust you enough to put down their card and make a purchase. You have to design your site so people will not think twice about putting down their card. If someone goes to your site and the layout is outdated with a bunch of links/options, you have low-res photos, and there isn’t an about us section, you will lose people who will not feel safe shopping on your site.
  • Split Testing – You have spent a lot of time and money to get people to your website, make sure that you are showing the right messages and the right products to generate the best conversion rates. Slightly changing a message, a featured product, the layout, etc. can have a big impact on your conversion rate. You can use software like Optimizely to setup different A/B test on your site. Run these tests, see which one performs best, and repeat. Something as simple as changing your call to action can have a huge impact on your sites conversions.
  • Search and Filter Functionality – If a potential buyer cannot find the products they are looking for, they will never be able to make a purchase. Make sure that it is easy to navigate through your products. Tag products and let your visitors filter by these tags. Look at similar sites and see how they are filtering their products.

3. Close – Get Them to Complete the Checkout Process

Once someone goes to checkout, this is where you need to absolutely make sure you don’t lose them. Abandoned carts and bouncing at checkout is common but there are ways to combat this.

  • Re-Targeted Ads – Yeah, your potential buyer left your site but this doesn’t mean you’ve lost them for good. Setup retargeted ads to run if someone goes to checkout but then leaves the page. They might have been interested but weren’t ready to make the purchase. Follow them around with ads and you will stay top of mind.
  • No hidden Fees or Outrageous Shipping Amounts – When I ordered business cards, I was ready to checkout and pay. At the very end, I finally was able to see the different fees and high shipping price. If I would have known about the high fees in the beginning, I would have been more comfortable with them at the end. Showing hidden fees and large shipping cost at the last second is a great way to lose a potential buyer. Be transparent about pricing up front.
  • Up-Sell Opportunities – When someone is checking out, make it easy to add additional items to their cart before checkout. This could be a popular item or an item that other people buy when they purchase a particular item. You don’t want to mess with a simple, easy checkout process. Focus on adding value by making it easy to add an item they might be interested in to the checkout. This is also a great way to increase your average purchase amount.

4. Retain – Get Them to Come Back and Buy More

You got someone to go to your website, put down a credit card, and pay you money. This is huge. This person likes your products and trusted your site enough to buy. The email address alone is a huge asset to your company. Treat it like gold. The goal is to get somebody to come back and buy again or tell their friends.

  • Valuable Emails – Make sure you are sending valuable emails. Don’t send emails just to send them. You want to give your customer good content, interesting articles, discounts, and important announcements about new products. Keep the subject lines short and direct. Have clear call to actions inside of the email. Overall, make sure you have a clear goal for why you are sending this email. You can use email marketing software and setup a chain of emails to go out automatically after a purchase is made.
  • Offers – A customer that has already bought from you is a great prospect to drive repeat purchase behavior. Give them a discount or an offer to bring them back. Make sure to put a deadline on the offer to drive home a sense of urgency. Also, make sure that the discounts are trackable so you can easily measure campaign effectiveness.
  • Absolutely No Spamming – This is the best way to get someone to unsubscribe. If you are sending daily emails telling someone to buy more product, they are going to unsubscribe. Send periodic emails that show value to your subscriber. They like your site and your products, don’t blow it by spamming them.
  • Feedback – This one’s easy to do and can give you a lot of valuable feedback on how to improve your ecommerce business. Once a customer’s order has been received, send an email requesting feedback. You can use software like SurveyMonkey to get this feedback. Once the order has been received by the customer, trigger an email to go out requesting feedback. Keep the survey short and make sure you are collecting relevant data. You will get a percentage of people that will answer this email and give you the feedback.

Look at the 4 points of your e-commerce sales funnel and try to think of ways to improve each stage. You know where your site is struggling. If you need more traffic or you think you should do a better job at engaging customers after a sale, focus in on that stage of the funnel and come up with ways to improve it. If your company is running SAP and you want me to take a look at your e-commerce site and give feedback or if you need a better e-commerce solution, send me a note.

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