How to Increase Conversions by Optimizing your Ecommerce Sales Funnel

Shanif Dhanani
Shanif Dhanani
Co-Founder and CEO, Apteo

Shopping isn’t simple, especially online. Because customers aren’t able to handle a product before they buy it, they rely on a more complex decision making process when they make purchases online.

Ecommerce stores benefit from visualizing and understanding how customers make their decisions and what actions they take throughout the shopping process. A sales funnel, also known as a conversion funnel, is a handy illustration that makes this process clearer.

In this post, you will learn what a conversion funnel is, how to build and measure your funnel’s effectiveness, and learn strategies to improve your sales funnel so you can see your online store’s revenue grow.

What is a Conversion Funnel in Ecommerce?

In ecommerce, a conversion funnel, also known as a sales funnel or marketing funnel, is a detailed illustration of how audiences become customers. The conversion funnel is a visualization of the customer journey that includes the rates of how many people move on to the next stage of the buyer’s journey.

There are four primary stages to the conversion funnel (which will be discussed in detail in the next section): Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Loyalty. Each stage is characterized by actions taken by users on your ecommerce site. Understanding your business’s unique sales funnel will help you troubleshoot when and why individuals drop out of the purchase process.

SmartInsights shares a great example of an ecommerce sales funnel with triggers that pertain to each stage and industry averages for how many users convert to the next stage. Across the stores that they studied, they observed the following stats:

  • In 43.8% of sessions, visitors view a product page
  • In 14.5% of sessions, visitors add an item to their cart
  • In 3.3% of sessions, visitors complete a transaction by making a purchase

These benchmarks will come in handy when you begin structuring your unique sales funnel and monitoring the data from your own ecommerce store.

The Four Stages of the Ecommerce Sales Funnel

Awareness

In the awareness stage, the audience first learns about your product as a potential solution to a need they have. This is the top of the funnel, and it has the broadest reach and requires a conversational approach to encourage audiences to move to the next stage of the funnel.

Making audiences aware of your ecommerce store can be a challenge, but there are a variety of tools, known as touchpoints, that can be used to get their intention. These touchpoints include:

  • Word-of-mouth
  • Traditional advertising methods
  • Social media presence and advertising
  • Search engine optimization
  • Media coverage

During the awareness stage, a content marketing strategy is also necessary to inform your broadest audience about how your products can satisfy their needs and what sets your brand apart from competition. If they see that your product is a good fit, they will move on to the consideration stage of the funnel.

Consideration

Once the audience expresses interest in how your product can help them, they have reached the consideration stage of the conversion funnel. As potential customers consider their options, you will want to target your messaging to coordinate with the questions and challenges your audience is facing.

To target your messaging to audiences in the consideration stage, include social proof on your website and social media. This can take the form of reviews, case studies, testimonials, and user-generated content.

During the consideration stage, you will begin to gather contact information from shoppers that will help you further target your messaging in later stages of the funnel. Use newsletter sign-ups, ebooks, or white paper downloads to acquire email addresses and mobile phone numbers. Offering special discounts for these actions will incentivize them to share their information and help you guide them to the next stage of the conversion funnel.

Decision

At the decision stage, the customer is ready to make a purchase. To expedite this, create a sense of urgency with limited-time offers for first-time buyers and people who abandon their carts. Remember that this stage is not the end of the sales funnel—this is where you have the opportunity to create loyal customers through an excellent shopping experience with touchpoints like:

  • Discount codes
  • Account creation
  • Secure checkout process and payment methods
  • Flexible shipping options
  • Installment payment options like Klarna or Afterpay
  • Confirmation and receipt communications

Loyalty

The loyalty stage is the final part of the conversion funnel and is invaluable to ecommerce businesses. According to the Adobe Digital Economy Index, 41% of revenue for ecommerce stores is generated by 8% of customers, and those customers are customers who make repeat purchases.

Encouraging retention is tricky, but there are a number of strategies to achieve this goal. Personalized email updates, a consistent content schedule, and loyalty programs are tried-and-true ways to generate happy customers who are likely to return to your ecommerce store.

5 KPIs for Measuring the Success of Your Ecommerce Sales Funnel

Like any digital marketing undertaking, data is important to both set goals and measure success. Here are 5 KPIs to help you determine how well your ecommerce sales funnel is working for you:

Site Traffic

Site traffic refers to the total number of sessions that occur on your ecommerce website and can be found on analytics platforms like the Shopify Overview Dashboard or Google Analytics. Site traffic is a broad metric that is helpful because it shows you the top of your funnel: Potential customers who make up the audience in the awareness stage of the sales funnel.

Details about site traffic can be specific, measuring metrics like session duration and how visitors arrived at your store. Pay attention to these details so that you can hone in on how to broaden your audiences. For example, if a large portion of your traffic comes from search engines, keep investing in SEO and creating content.

Bounce Rate

A website’s bounce rate refers to how many site visitors leave after visiting a single page. These are users who drop out of your funnel almost immediately, so improving bounce rate is a great way to optimize your store’s funnel. 

To reduce your store’s bounce rate, encourage users to visit other pages with links containing engaging copy and excellent CTAs. The longer a potential customer sticks around, the more likely they are to move on in the conversion funnel and ultimately make a purchase.

Conversion Rate

In general, a conversion rate is the percentage of users that perform a desired action on a website. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with purchase rate (which will be elaborated on next), but it can refer to other specific actions that signify that a user has moved on to the next stage in the sales funnel. Typically, these actions contain:

  • Total site traffic to measure those in the awareness stage in the sales funnel
  • How many visitors filled out contact pop-up forms to measure those in the consideration stage of the funnel
  • How many visitors added an item to their cart and/or made a purchase to measure those in the decision stage of the funnel
  • How many customers make a multiple purchases within a specific time frame to measure those in the loyalty stage of the conversion funnel

Of course, these are not the only KPIs that are used to track each stage, but they are a good start as you begin to optimize your sales funnel. As you learn more about your audience’s behavior, you will be able to add and rearrange conversion rates that make the most sense.

Purchase Rate

Overall purchase rate, or how many site visitors complete a transaction, is another broad KPI that can be broken down to provide valuable information about your funnel and your audience. Purchase rate is a metric that shows the general health of your ecommerce business, and it can be helpful to trace the most common paths customers take to make purchases or where they drop out of the purchase process. With this information, you can continue to optimize your customer journey and conversion funnel

It’s also important to track this rate over time—you want to see a general upward trend to signify stable growth for your ecommerce store.

Cart Abandonment Rate

Cart abandonment rate refers to the percentage of sessions in which a visitor puts an item in their shopping cart but does not complete the checkout process. A high cart abandonment rate indicates an issue with a store’s checkout process, so pay close attention to this metric.

To improve your store’s cart abandonment rate, improve the flow of your checkout process by:

  • Not requiring account creation to check out (Allow users to create one after the purchase is completed)
  • Using functional and aesthetically pleasing design throughout the checkout process
  • Offering flexible shipping options

Additionally, send abandoned cart emails to users who do not complete the purchase process. Invite users back within a day or so to encourage them to finalize their purchase and consider offering a small discount to incentivize them to do so.

How to Build Your Ecommerce Sales Funnel

Step 1: Map your typical customer journey.

Understanding how your audience moves through the research, decision making, and purchase process is imperative to building your ecommerce sales funnel. Mapping your customers’ typical journey will help you visualize the flow of interactions between your store and the customer.

To map the customer journey, use Shopify Analytics and/or Google Analytics to trace user behavior on your website, including how visitors arrive there. Apteo has a handy guide to customer journey mapping with specific steps and tips to help you complete this task.

Step 2: Translate your customer journey to funnel stages.

Once you have a comprehensive customer journey map, you will apply the phases of the journey to the correlating steps of the conversion funnel. Note that the customer journey has an additional step—advocacy—that does not translate to the sales funnel because it is only supported by your business by the other four steps.

Make sure you denote what types of touchpoints you use at each funnel stage, like blog posts, user guides, email marketing, social media, and so on.

Step 3: Apply triggers for each funnel stage.

Finally, determine which actions, or triggers, signify that a user has progressed to the next funnel stage. As previously mentioned, there are some basic KPIs that are a good start for doing so, but you may find that other metrics are a better fit for your unique funnel. Make sure these triggers are measurable so that you can track progress as you apply new digital marketing strategies.

4 Tips to Improve Your Ecommerce Sales Funnel

Analyze Page Performance with Hotjar

Hotjar is a heatmapping tool that visualizes how users move on your website. Heatmapping is helpful for improving your sales funnel because it shows you your audiences’ typical behavior, including where they’re dropping out of the purchase process. You’ll also see if important links are going unclicked so you can optimize your website’s design to facilitate visitors through the shopping process.

Perform A/B Testing on Forms and Checkout Pages

A/B testing is a must for almost every digital marketing strategy. Performing A/B testing on contact forms will show which copy and design results in more completions. Likewise, testing on checkout pages will make it clear how customers prefer to be guided through the checkout process. If possible, perform A/B testing for each trigger for your sales funnel—the result will be a fully optimized experience for customers.

Use Referral Marketing

Referral marketing works twofold: It increases your customer base and it encourages loyalty among existing customers. It uses one of the most powerful tools for marketing: word of mouth. Executing referral marketing requires offering an incentive to the referrer—and, if possible, the person being referred.

Send Behavior-Based Emails

Thanks to Shopify and Google Analytics, tracking user behavior is a breeze. Knowing how your customers behave on your website allows you to set up behavior-based and personalized emails that are automatically sent to customers when they perform a specific action on your store. 

Abandoned cart emails are a great example of behavior-based emails, as are reminders about certain products after the customer visits the product page a certain number of times or for a specified length of time. Services like Apteo will help you launch your behavior-based email campaign.

Apteo Optimizes Your Ecommerce Store’s Sales Funnel

The ecommerce conversion funnel revolves around buyer behavior, and Apteo focuses on behavioral segmentation, making these two a great match for a data-backed marketing approach.


Apteo integrates seamlessly with a number of ecommerce platforms and tools, including Shopify, Klaviyo, WooCommerce, and more. To experience how Apteo maximizes your store’s sales funnel by focusing on customer retention, start your free 2-week trial today.

~~~~~

Image by Mohamed Hasan on Pixabay

About the Author

Shanif Dhanani
Shanif Dhanani
Co-Founder and CEO, Apteo

Shanif Dhanani is the co-founder & CEO of Apteo. Prior to Apteo, Shanif was a data scientist and software engineer at Twitter, and prior to that he was the lead engineer and head of analytics at TapCommerce, a NYC-based ad tech startup acquired by Twitter. He has a passion for all things data and analytics, loves adventure traveling, and generally loves living in New York City.

More from our Blog

Increase Repeat Sales For Free

See how the best ecommerce stores are using Apteo to grow their business