Long-term success in ecommerce relies heavily on a robust sales funnel.
Effectively building that funnel means you’ll be able to turn the “just browsing” folks who show up on your website into loyal customers and brand advocates.
What is a Sales Funnel and Why is it Important?
A sales funnel is the mechanism by which you move shoppers along in their customer journey. An effective sales funnel encourages shoppers to become customers and customers to become repeat, long-term customers.
The easiest way to understand a sales funnel is to think of it as, quite literally, a funnel. The top part, at its widest, is where prospective shoppers are poking around and looking at your offerings. They either got there by chance or because you’ve attracted them through marketing, blogs, and/or ads. Once they’ve entered the funnel, your goal as a business owner is to move them to the narrowest part of the funnel and convert them into customers.
Sales funnels differ in each company, however they have four key stages.
The Four Sales Funnel Stages
The four sales funnel stages are awareness, interest, decision, and action.
Let’s review each of them in detail.
The first, and perhaps most important, sales funnel stage is awareness. Without prospective shoppers being aware of your company, you have no one in your sales funnel. Therefore, actually getting people onto your website is a major accomplishment early on in ecommerce.
So how do you build awareness for your site?
Awareness can happen in several ways. The first is by organically ranking on search engines, though this often takes time and diligence as well as at least an intermediate knowledge of SEO practices.
You can also build awareness through targeted marketing and ads campaigns.
Content marketing efforts like starting a blog are also extremely effective at building awareness of your products or services.
The point is, you want to attract people to the widest part of your funnel, even just so they can peek in and see what you offer – then you can begin to move them down the funnel.
This is important, so listen closely. Building interest is more of a marathon, not a sprint.
Interest is typically built by implementing a steady flow of communications or touch-points with your website visitors. You can start this by collecting emails at the awareness stage. Then slowly introduce yourself, your company, your mission, and your offerings.
This builds trust while f directly marketing your products and services to people who are already aware of your business. Over time, a prospective customer’s interests may be piqued andhe or she will slide further down the sales funnel toward a conversion.
Once a customer is both aware and interested in your product or service, he or she is faced with a decision.
This is aptly called the decision sales funnel stage. It’s the moment when a customer is sold on what you’re offering and basically needs to decide if it’s worth the value. If you haven’t done so in the previous funnel stage, this is also a good time to include the solution your product or service provides in communications you have with these prospective customers.
This is where your website and credibility can work for you, putting these customers over the edge.
Customer reviews have been proven to push prospective customers along the sales funnel toward a decision. 90% of online shoppers say that customer reviews are the most important aspect of their final purchase decision.
The final sales funnel stage is the action phase.
This is the narrowest part of the funnel, right before a customer converts.
If you get a shopper to the action phase of your sales funnel, it means a high likelihood that the shopper is going to convert to a customer. Now your job is to hook that customer so she becomes a repeat or loyal customer.
Do this by offering first-time shopper discounts and collecting emails for your marketing campaigns to provide them notifications on upcoming sales and discounts.
Customizing Your Sales Funnel
The success of your store’s sales funnel is greatly impacted by how you customize your customer experience.
First and foremost, this requires you to know who your prospective customers are.
Then, successfully building a relationship with them can continuously attract them back to your sales funnel. You can do this by developing a regular (but not spammy!) email marketing cadence.
All of your communications with your audience should be designed to build trust and credibility for you and your brand.
Optimizing Your Sales Funnel
One of the main benefits of funnel building is that your customer conversion process becomes less vague. To that end, optimizing the process becomes more straightforward.
Do so by focusing on the areas between each sales funnel stage, this is where you will fill in the gaps. .
If you’re attracting shoppers and garnering their interest, but losing them between the interest and decision phase, consider the reasons why. Ask yourself: what is happening between each stage that either advances your shoppers along the sales funnel or deters them from proceeding?
Another way to optimize your sales funnel is by using effective advertising.
Ensure that you’re marketing your products on several platforms and that your products are getting seen by the right audience. Google Smart Shopping powered by Kliken is built for exactly this.
Finally, track the results of the funnel-building efforts that you implement. Robust analytics and tracking will ensure that you both fill in the gaps and market effectively to generate the right kind of interest.
Michael is a freelancer from New York City. When he isn’t writing about how Kliken unleashes the marketing, you can find him reading, writing for pleasure, or traveling the globe.
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