If you own an online business, you may have heard of the term “conversion funnel” being tossed around—or perhaps more specifically, e-commerce conversion funnel optimization. While these terms may seem like some complicated algorithmic-oriented tech-y lingo, the concept behind conversion funnels is actually built on the concept of creating meaningful connections with your customers.
In this article, we’ll tell you what conversion funnels are in relation to the online marketplace, and how conversion funnel optimization can make or break your online store. Read on to learn how you can generate more traffic to your store, grow customer interest in your brand, recover abandoned shopping carts, and start boosting your online sales today.
What is a Conversion Funnel?
A conversion funnel is simply the path a customer takes from browsing the internet to eventually making a purchase from your online store. This path is referred to as a funnel because your job as an online business is to guide your customers from the infinite void that is the internet to the check-out button on your product page. In other words, you are “funneling” the customer to their ultimate destination.
Furthermore, conversion—as it relates to e-commerce—refers to various points of interaction where your customer fulfills the desired action. This includes opening an email from your store, accessing your webpage, and the holy grail of conversions: purchasing an item from your online store.
What is Funnel Optimization?
If you have an online store with products for sale, you technically already have a funnel. However, your funnel may not be optimized. Let’s illustrate: imagine a beautiful waterfall tucked away in the woods. An unoptimized e-commerce funnel would be analogous to a trail filled with many twists and turns and littered with fallen tree trunks all along the way.
An optimized e-commerce funnel would be a straight path, fully cleared of branches and tree trunks, with brightly colored signs leading hikers to the final leg of their journey. While both trails lead to the waterfall, the optimized one is much more likely to get the hikers (or shoppers in your case) to their end destination.
4 Stages of a Conversion Funnel
We can break down a conversion funnel into four main parts. These are:
Let’s break down what each of these terms mean in terms of conversion funnel optimization. In order to do so, we’ll continue the waterfall analogy, and then explain how it plays out with e-commerce.
In this first phase, your goal is to get people's attention and make them aware of your website and your brand.
Going back to our waterfall analogy, Awareness is the phase where the hiker first sees the trailhead on the map. They were unaware of the trail before they looked at the map. The hiker sees the waterfall at the end of the trail and is enticed to take a day trip because they happen to have an affinity for waterfalls.
In order to gain awareness of your e-commerce brand, you need to get your business or product on as many proverbial “maps” as possible. To do this, e-commerce sites use methods such as general advertising, social media marketing, and search engine optimization.
In this second phase, your goal is to nurture your potential customers’ interests further once they’ve arrived on your site.
At this point, the hiker has set off down the trail and is admiring all of the beautiful greenery and wildlife. A sense of exploration and discovery draws them farther and farther along the path.
Your website needs to include the e-commerce equivalents of this greenery and wildlife. This can appear in the form of enticing graphic design and engaging content, such as pop-up windows advertising sales and discounts. At this point, start gathering customer information such as emails or phone numbers. You can do this by offering newsletters or memberships with exclusive benefits.
In the third phase, you have to take your customers' mere interest in your product, and transform it into a need for that product.
The waterfall is now right around the corner, and the hiker can hear the rumbling of the current and feel the watery mist in their face. After coming all this way, it’s too late for them to turn around. They have to follow the trail through to the end.
On your website, provide your customers with more engaging content that will help them visualize themselves with your product. This includes high-quality product images, videos, and product reviews touting how happy your product has made other customers. Once a customer has gotten this far, having personalized ads and offers will help them decide to pull the trigger on a purchase.
This is the final part of the funnel, and if you are successful, the part where you convert a website visitor into a paying customer.
The hiker has arrived at the end of the trail and plunges into the crystal clear pool at the base of the majestic waterfall.
At this point in your customers’ journey, you have to remove all roadblocks that may prevent them from making the final plunge. This is where you combat all of the opposing forces that may drive your customer away, such as the high-priced items and paid shipping. Offering free shipping and discounts for email signups and having a quick and easy way to navigate the checkout system can be crucial to getting website visitors to become customers in need of your product.
Recovering Abandoned Carts
After the work of luring your customers in and guiding them through your website, and even filling their shopping carts, you still run the risk of having them leave your online store without checking out. This scenario is called an abandoned cart and is fairly common for most e-commerce businesses. In fact, nearly 70% of all online transactions end prematurely in the form of an abandoned cart.
Getting these customers to come back to your website and complete their purchases is essential to maximizing sales. LiveRecover is an e-commerce platform extension that takes care of this process for you.
LiveRecover sends text messages to your customers and guides them back to your online store by answering their questions and offering unique discount codes. This method is more effective than the traditional generic email campaign because it allows your customers to connect with real people, growing their trust and respect for your brand. In fact, 21% of all abandoned shopping carts are recovered with LiveRecover. Over time, these additional sales will increase profit for your business and retain loyal customers in the long term.
How Can I Optimize My Conversion Funnel?
Now that we’ve stressed the importance of optimizing your conversion funnel, let’s discuss some actionable steps you can take to get started.
Three key elements that will help your customers through the beginning, middle, and end of their commerce journey are:
- Search Engine Optimization
- Customer Analytics
Search Engine Optimization
While it’s great to have as many people as possible visiting your store, it’s helpful to target visitors that are most likely to make a purchase. Targeting a specific audience entails using certain keywords on your website so that people searching for the types of products you sell can find your store. Additionally, adding meta tags and image tags to the content on your website will help it show up in search engine results.
One way to help you optimize your website is to take the time to understand your customers—their identities, their habits, their wants and their needs. By tracking the analytics of who is visiting your site, it can help you know how to advertise your brand both internally and externally. This is particularly important in order to successfully market your brand on social media.
Tracking customer analytics will allow you to provide specific discounts and offers for your customers. The more personalized you can make your customer’s e-commerce experience, the more likely they are to form a relationship with your business and follow through with a transaction.
Once you get a customer to the bottom of your funnel, it’s time to keep them coming back for more. Existing customers already know and trust your brand, so all of the hard work is done. Send your customers additional discounts and promotions via email, or even better, via text marketing campaigns. Additionally, by targeting their ad space on social media sites, you can ensure that your customers never stray too far.
Optimization is Everything
You know that competition among e-commerce brands is fierce, due partly to the exploding popularity of online shopping. It’s a wasted opportunity not to use every tool at your disposal to keep your customers engaged, and hold their hand through checkout. By optimizing your conversion funnel, you can turn your website into your own personal salesperson that engages with customers and ensures that you aren’t missing out on any potential sales.
Now that we’ve gone over what an e-commerce conversion funnel is, as well as the process of optimization, the next step is up to you. Your competitors certainly aren’t holding off on expanding their customer base, so why should you? Start making your e-commerce service the best that it can be. Your customers, and your bank account, will thank you for it.