Even in the best of times, competition among e-commerce brands can be fierce. After all, many companies carry similar products or provide comparable services. And when these competing companies advertise, it can be difficult for one of them to stand out above the crowd. For many old-fashioned brick-and-mortar retailers, this phenomenon resulted in a race to the bottom, first for price and then for customer service. No wonder physical locations are in so much trouble.
Fortunately, e-commerce brands lack many of the cost structures of their local competitors. However, the challenge remains to gain and keep a brand voice that’s compelling enough for people to buy products and services from your company whenever possible.
This article will break down different techniques which can help you optimize results from your e-commerce sales funnel. We will talk about building brand awareness, creating demand, turning leads into customers, and customer retention. Finally, we’ll finish off with a discussion of results tracking and how this can help you further optimize.
How to Increase Awareness for Your eCommerce Brand
To even start people down your ecommerce funnel, you need to make sure that they are aware of your brand. Otherwise, you can’t reach them with any more branded messages. Even if they saw your logo somewhere, without brand awareness, they wouldn’t associate it with anything important. Therefore, you should leverage these techniques to create and enhance brand awareness.
1. Use SEO to rank higher on search engines
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the process of making your website highly visible on search engine results pages (SERPs). To accomplish this goal, an SEO specialist will use various techniques to make it easy for Google’s algorithms to read the content and then rank it for the right keywords. Ideally, you want each page to how up on the first page of results because these pages get the most organic traffic from search engines.
There are several techniques that SEO practitioners use. For instance, the most important technique is the use of keywords. For this article, the target keyword is “ecommerce funnel” because that’s the ultimate subject of our discussion. Obviously, you want to use an appropriate keyword for your article, and you might use more than one.
To use keywords, you must do keyword research. This helps you find the best keywords, both to accurately represent your content and to be competitive for the highest rankings. Other techniques include content optimization and link building. Both of those techniques help to give your content the best chance of success. Link building also boosts the credibility of the content.
If this sounds overwhelming, there’s plenty of help available. Developers have created many popular SEO tools and similar resources. Some of them are free, such as Google Analytics and free Hubspot tools. You can also try others, like Moz and Ahrefs, for a fee. Many tools also come in a freemium model, so you can try the basics before buying anything.
2. Leverage social media platforms to reach your target audience
Social media marketing is one of the most valuable ways to build your ecommerce funnel. People spend time online, follow their favorite influencers, and learn about the latest products and services. This last point is what you need to consider for marketing purposes. Not only do people talk about these things organically, but there are also advertisements and influencer marketing. Over time, many of these branded messages go viral and reach new audiences.
This possibility is part of all major social media platforms. In particular, TikTok and Instagram are very popular for influencer marketing. Buying ads on Facebook and Twitter is popular, along with Pinterest Pins. Depending on your audience, you can choose a few different networks to concentrate your efforts on. For instance, brands that focus on Generation Z should consider TikTok or Snapchat. Business-oriented brands should focus on LinkedIn.
Once you have a presence on your chosen networks, build a community. Have forums on Facebook. Host IGTV events. Solicit comments from your followers and viewers. These all help to expand your reach and build community. Additionally, it’s important to create and maintain a consistent brand voice. This way, everyone will associate your branding with your company.
3. Create compelling content that attracts and educates your potential customers
Another major way to boost your ecommerce funnel is through content marketing. This is the process of reaching your audience through articles and other forms of content, such as videos, podcasts, and e-books. Your content not only helps make your brand top-of-mind, but it also helps establish your brand as an expert. From that vantage point, people will learn to trust your brand and then buy your products and services when needed.
Effective content marketing requires careful strategy. First, you need a content calendar that says what you’ll create and when. Then, make your content user-friendly with great visuals, compelling headlines, and effective calls to action (CTAs).
Finally, be sure to promote your content effectively. There are several ways to do this, including by advertising the content on other social networks. A classic example is posting the link in one of your Tweets, though you can do this one way or another on many other networks.
How to Generate Interest and Desire for Your eCommerce Products
As your audience moves down the sales funnel, your next step is to make people interested in buying your products. Your approach to doing this is going to vary based on your audience and the types of products that you sell. For instance, you’ll approach ecommerce funnel maximization differently between consumer and business-focused brands.
4. Use email marketing to nurture your leads and build trust
Email marketing is one of the best ways to maximize and build your ecommerce funnel because it sends marketing messages directly into your subscriber’s inboxes. This method of marketing a business is one of the most effective and, even better, achieves an excellent ROI.
Within this technique, there are several variations. Perhaps the most obvious is the transactional email, which confirms any transaction in your store. You can also send welcome emails when people sign up for promotional emails and cart abandonment emails if someone puts items in their carts and chooses not to purchase them. Often, customers will end up buying those items after they get a reminder.
Maximizing your ecommerce funnel with email marketing also involves flexibility in your email text. For instance, you should segment your emails so that the email text or offers match the audience members that you’re speaking to. A quality e-mail marketing suite should include these functions.
5. Use retargeting ads to remind your visitors about your products or offers
It’s a well-known maxim that it takes several marketing touches to turn prospects into customers. This is true regardless of marketing type. One of the best ways to provide more touches is through retargeting ads. A retargeted ad is an ad that results from someone visiting your website or performing other tasks as a result of exposure to your brand. You can also retarget based on brand interactions through social media.
There are several ways to make retargeting effective for your ecommerce funnel. For starters, make sure you set clear KPIs and then track them with analytics. Boosting your chance of success should include audience segmentation, A/B testing, and other techniques. In other words, don’t blindly serve ads. Instead, give yourself the best possible chance of success with sound practices.
Further Reading: How To Build An Ecommerce Website: A Step-by-Step Guide
6. Use landing pages to showcase your products or offers in detail
Landing pages are a great way to amplify your ecommerce funnel. A landing page is a special page on your website that people visit from other websites. These pages can collect lead information, encourage email signups, take a giveaway entry, or persuade people to buy your products. For creative marketers, the possibilities are almost endless.
Each element of your landing page should be optimized for success. In particular, carefully craft your headings and subheadings, media, and CTAs. This way, you can maximize your chances of achieving your goals.
Speaking of goals, be sure not to overload your landing pages. Each of them should have one purpose and should clearly present the case for why a visitor should perform the desired action. Be sure to boost your chances of success by carefully analyzing each page and its performance using Google Analytics, CRM data, and other tools. Then, you can create new pages or change older ones to maximize your results.
Further Reading: The Ultimate Guide to SEO for eCommerce Websites
How to Convert Your Interested Visitors into Paying Customers
Even if you have significant site traffic, turning your e-commerce funnel into gold requires careful planning. After all, most people will visit several websites before they make a purchase, especially in the consumer goods categories. And for B2B or high-dollar consumer brands, the customers will usually do a lot of market research before buying. Here are some tips on edging out the competition.
7. Use product pages to highlight your product features and benefits
Product pages are among the most important on your e-commerce website because they feature your products. Generally, each product page will have a series of photographs, a price, and a product description. Depending on what kind of products you sell, there might be other information too. For example, a clothing site will often have size charts.
These pages are one of the most important factors in what people buy. While blog posts and content marketing help, customers often need to see pictures of a specific product. In addition, with pricing and other information in one place, clicking “add to cart” is much more compelling.
Want more bang for your buck? Try some more advanced features for product pages, like videos, reviews, and model comparisons. If there’s a discount, be sure it’s easy to spot because people love bargains. Ideally, your content will also include customer education, such as a comparison of similar products and reviews. These will help the customer choose the right product and reduce returns.
Further Reading: 15 Important Ecommerce Tools You Need to Know in 2024
8. Use trust signals to reduce anxiety and increase confidence
Especially with new companies and expensive products, people need to feel confident about their purchases. Trust signals help people see that your company and its brands are worthy of their business, both because your products are the right value and you are an ethical company.
For example, people are unlikely to buy if your site isn’t secure. They’ll also shy away from companies that have a difficult return policy or that won’t stand by their products. On the other hand, having a friendly return policy, a warranty, and social proof for your brand boosts your chance of success.
9. Use urgency and scarcity tactics to create a sense of FOMO (fear of missing out)
One of the best ways to boost your ecommerce funnel is by creating FOMO. Many e-commerce brands are masters at this technique. In fact, I’d argue that Black Friday is one of the best examples of this technique: if you don’t buy something at the crack of dawn, you may not get it at all. Plus, stores offer incredible discounts that day. This is really effective in bringing crowds to stores, and Cyber Monday is similar for e-commerce brands. Either way, everyone thinks they’re getting a great deal.
With that said, it’s critical that you’re honest with customers. Certain tactics, such as bait and switch, will make people angry and might attract the wrong kind of government attention. You should also employ visual cues, such as countdown timers and graphics that indicate a sale or limited offer.
At the end of the day, there are many people who will buy when the price is right but hesitate to pay full price. While you will make less money on them initially, you never know when giving those customers a break will turn them into regulars. Often, they’ll even pay full price for top-quality products that they enjoy.
How to Retain Your Existing Customers and Turn Them into Advocates
Of course, it’s one thing to move people down the e-commerce funnel far enough to buy your products and another to have them come back over and over again. Hardest of all, especially in highly-competitive niches, is seeing your customers become brand advocates.
Being a brand advocate has many implications for a consumer. In particular, they lend their credibility to a brand whenever they recommend something to friends and family. Not only that but people may come to think of your brand whenever the individual comes to mind. While this is great for your brand, it isn’t so great if your company later lets the advocate or their followers down. Therefore, consumers think twice before recommending anything to friends. This is especially true with smaller e-commerce brands.
If you can convert customers into advocates, however, they are typically very loyal. And over time, if these people have a significant social media following, you may have the opportunity to collaborate with them for influencer marketing.
10. Use post-purchase emails to thank your customers and encourage repeat purchases
Post-purchase emails are a great marketing tool. These are emails that are sent after purchases and can include order, shipping, and delivery confirmations. You can also send feedback requests or market further purchases, such as a product that’ll work well with the first purchase. These emails help build loyalty and encourage further purchases.
With that said, you don’t want to send the same form letter to everyone. Rather, you should customize your post-purchase emails just as much as other kinds of marketing emails. In addition, you can use this opportunity to give customers some tips on how to use a product, offer incentives, or otherwise encourage further engagement.
Sometimes even a thank-you can mean a lot.
11. Use loyalty programs to reward your customers for their actions
Loyalty programs offer customers a reward in exchange for different interactions with your brand. The primary action is usually a purchase, but you can also reward people for making referrals, signing up for emails, leaving reviews, and more. Each of these actions helps build loyalty and expand your ecommerce funnel. That’s especially true because people love to get perks.
Speaking of perks, there are several options. One of the most common options is awarding points like you see in the transportation and hospitality industries. E-commerce brands also use points as an easy way to assign a different value to different actions. Similarly, you can offer a tiered program, wherein people get some base perks, then more perks after they complete more desired actions or spend more money. And finally, some brands have a referral program that gives people a small reward for referrals. Often, the referral target gets something too.
No matter what reward you choose, make sure that the reward matches your company’s values. A common option for personal care and cosmetic companies is offering a product sample in exchange for points. This lets people try before they buy or share a favorite with a friend. Also, be sure to provide some perks or rewards with a higher value so that there’s an incentive to keep earning.
12. Use social media to engage with your customers and amplify their voice
Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach and engage with customers. Not only can people learn about your products, but many companies do customer service tasks through social, too. This technique lets people get help quickly, often much faster than phone support.
You can do this on any of the major social networks, especially if it supports direct messaging. With the decline of Twitter as a commercial forum, Facebook Messenger is one of the best options for customer support. Even without customer support functions, social media marketing helps to build community among your brand followers. I have a complete guide to social media marketing elsewhere on my site.
Further Reading: 10 Ways to Leverage Social Media in eCommerce
How to Measure and Optimize Your Ecommerce Funnel Performance
Even the best marketing efforts won’t be as successful without analytics and statistics. As a site owner, you need to be sure that each program you run is not only profitable but has the best return on investment possible. Over time, you’ll be able to find your best opportunities and eliminate ineffective techniques. This way, you won’t waste money on things that don’t work.
13. Use analytics tools to track and analyze your funnel metrics
There are no two ways about it: analytics are your best friend. Whether you use free or paid tools, or a mixture of both, you’ll get a lot of numbers that can help you make wise decisions.
Analytics tools track different metrics that indicate the performance of everything on your website – and everything off of it, so long as the tool can analyze it. For instance, Google Analytics analyzes your website traffic and advertising performance. You can also get a social media dashboard like Agorapulse that looks at your social media marketing and other efforts. Done right, you’ll even get conversion rates and other data.
With that said, you need to know how to use these tools properly if you want to maximize the benefits. For instance, the best technique is having specific, quantifiable goals. It isn’t enough to say, “let’s raise brand awareness,” or “increase conversion rates.” Instead, you need to know how much you want to increase those metrics. This way, you can demonstrate whether or not your efforts are meeting expectations. And at the same time, you’ll know if something is working especially well.
Another useful technique is segmentation. It’s easy to say that you’re increasing sales, but how much of it is from your target audience? You might be overlooking an opportunity, especially if a particular demographic that you didn’t expect loves your stuff. Similarly, you can present different content and advertising for various groups. Pitches that work well for some people would fall flat with others.
Make sure your analytics information reflects all your different segments. Then, present the information in charts and graphs, so it’s easy to visualize. From here, you should be able to make strategic decisions that boost your overall effectiveness.
14. Use funnel metrics to identify and diagnose your funnel leaks
Anyone with an ecommerce funnel needs to know how efficiently it works. For instance, how long does each person spend going from one stage to the next? And how many people who come to the top of the funnel finish it?
We refer to these data points as funnel metrics. They are volume, velocity, and conversion rates. Volume is how many people come to the top of the funnel. Velocity refers to the time in each step of the funnel, and conversion rate is the percentage who buy something.
These metrics are important because they show you the strengths and weaknesses of your ecommerce funnel. For instance, you may find that people drop out at the awareness stage. In this case, you may not be making the case that they need your products, or they might be confused about how to use it. Your next campaign should probably cover that topic. Similarly, if you have a very high cart abandonment rate, you should consider if your pricing structure or shipping costs need adjustments.
Often, you can even find less obvious leaks in your sales funnel. For instance, you might discover that a lot of people on mobile devices are leaving your site before they buy something. Or, you might discover that your loyalty program doesn’t provide an effective value proposition. Even your choice of channels can influence the effectiveness of your funnel. From here, you can make the proper adjustments.
15. Use funnel optimization strategies to improve your funnel performance
Adjustments to your strategy based on analytics and funnel metrics are called funnel optimization. The idea is that you take the holes in your funnel and plug them. For instance, you might use better SEO to boost traffic. Once people check out your website, you can use upselling and special offers to increase the price of each order. This way, you get the most out of each sales lead.
Another thing to consider is best practices. It doesn’t usually work well to simply try harder at the same techniques. So, do some A/B testing that helps you identify the next best steps. Then, customize your offers to appeal to the most segments of your audience.
Finally, don’t be afraid to work with social media influencers. Not only can they provide some awesome user-generated content, but also important social proof. You can even do full-scale influencer marketing campaigns, which typically have a high ROI.
Further Reading: 7 Types of eCommerce Videos Your Website Needs to Increase Sales
Learning how to optimize your ecommerce funnel may sound complicated. After all, there are a lot of moving parts, loads of data points, and other considerations. However, it’s easy to master many of these techniques, and after a while, it’ll become second nature. In the meantime, the best tools will help you achieve the best results with less effort.
Ultimately, it’s a win-win.
Hero Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash
Ecommerce Funnel FAQs
An ecommerce funnel is a framework that outlines the journey that a potential customer takes from the moment they first discover your product to the point of conversion (when they make a purchase). By understanding the stages of an ecommerce funnel, businesses can tailor their marketing strategies and optimize their website to guide customers smoothly through each stage.
These are the 5 stages of the ecommerce funnel:
1. Awareness – involves reaching potential customers and introducing them to your brand.
2. Interest – where you present your product or service in a way that captures their attention.
3. Consideration – customers are weighing their options and comparing your brand to competitors.
4. Conversion – when a customer makes a purchase.
5. Retention – involves building loyalty and keeping customers coming back for more.
Follow these steps on how to create a funnel for your ecommerce website:
1. Understand your target audience and their buying habits. You need to analyze their preferences, behaviors, and pain points to create a tailor-made funnel that addresses their unique needs.
2. Create a landing page that immediately grabs their attention and entices them to take the desired action. Keep the page simple and easy to navigate, with only one call-to-action (CTA) to avoid overwhelming the visitors.
3. Optimize the checkout process to reduce cart abandonment rates and make the buying experience as seamless as possible.
Here are the 3 basic funnels for an ecommerce social campaign:
1. Traffic funnel – which involves using social media to attract potential customers to your website.
2. Conversion funnel – which focuses on turning those visitors into paying customers by guiding them through the purchasing process.
3. Retention funnel – which involves maintaining a strong relationship with your customers through continued engagement and incentives.
The purpose of a business funnel is to guide potential customers towards making a purchase. It is a step-by-step process designed to lead visitors from the first point of contact through to conversion. A well-designed business funnel includes various stages, each with a specific objective and strategy. It starts with generating awareness and interest, then moves to building trust, presenting offers, and finally closing the sale. By analyzing how customers interact with the funnel, businesses can make improvements to increase conversions and generate more revenue.