So you’ve found some hot products to sell. Your e-commerce store is ready to launch and you have some money for advertising.
Maybe you’re thinking your work here is done and you’re ready to sit back and start making sales. Maybe you’re thinking your work here is done and you’re ready to sit back and start making sales.? I hate to be the one to break to you, but…
Finding winning products, building an e-commerce store, and throwing some cash at Facebook ads is a good start. But it’s just that — a start.
The hard task — and the part that most aspiring entrepreneurs struggle with — is constantly generating profitable sales from your e-commerce store.
Having large numbers of web visitors isn’t a guarantee either. What matters is, are they converting?
Conversion and profitable sales are what matter. Is your traffic converting to profitable sales? What’s the average customer value? Is advertising worth it?
That’s where an Ecommerce Sales Funnel comes in.
An e-commerce sales funnel helps you increase the conversion rate of your store and generates consistent sales for your store on autopilot.
Besides that, there are a lot of benefits involved.
In this post, I crack the code for building an e-commerce sales funnel and show you the best practices for getting the most out of your funnel.
Let’s dive in.
An e-commerce sales funnel is a system that lays out the stages prospects must go through to become customers.
It is characterized by having pre-designed stages and working autopilot.
Interestingly, most businesses have a sales funnel. But a broken one. Because you probably don’t know what it is or how to track its effectiveness.
Besides, such sales funnels aren’t intentional. They’re just a combination of random practices to attract leads.
In the end, you don’t have control over it and there are no metrics to track.
Sales funnels that work are built with the end in mind. They are intentional and you have metrics to monitor.
Absolutely. If you are running an e-commerce or dropshipping store, you need a sales funnel to drive qualified leads to your website and make consistent sales.
A sales funnel isn’t just for an e-commerce business. Other forms of businesses like SaaS, knowledge-based businesses, affiliate marketing, agencies, etc. also use sales funnels.
But in this post, I’m focussing on sales funnels for e-commerce and dropshipping stores.
Without even looking at your store or knowing what you sell, I can tell you that a sales funnel would make a big difference in your online business.
The sales funnel guides your prospects from the stage of finding your product to becoming a customer.
Best of all, the sales funnel offers an organized purchasing experience. Instead of serving your customers and prospects the same content, a sales funnel serves them the right content at the right time.
A helpful side effect is that it helps you identify possible leaks in your marketing strategy.
With an organized process, you’ll identify where you are losing customers and opportunities to capture more of them.
If you aren’t sold on these benefits, how about the irresistible benefit of increasing your revenue?
No one’s going to argue with making more money, right?
So, you must be wondering how it works!
Similar to liquid funnels, a sales funnel has stages. For a typical real-world funnel (the kind you pour liquid through), it’s wide at the top and narrow at the bottom.
A sales funnel processes a large number of prospects at the top of the funnel streamlining them into actual customers.
Unless you’re some kind of wizard, there will be fewer people at the bottom of the funnel than at the top.
But that’s to be expected. The prospects that make it all the way to the bottom of the funnel are the ones that become your customers. Customers convert into sales. And sales is the lifeblood of every business.
A typical sales funnel has three basic stages (top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and the bottom of the funnel).
The top of the funnel is the first stage of the sales funnel and its purpose is to generate awareness, either for your product, brand, or prospects’ problems.
The top of the funnel is characterized by everything you do to drive traffic to your sales page.
Everything you do to generate awareness for your product and brand fits into the top of the funnel.
It includes content marketing, Facebook advertising, Youtube ads, Google ads, SEO, Instagram ads, influencer marketing, etc.
In other words, the awareness stage is your first point of contact or the start of a conversation with your prospects.
At this stage, your prospects are yet to hear about you and your products. Another possibility is that they don’t even know they have problems that need to be solved.
Your job is to educate them.
The middle of the funnel is the stage where your prospects start evaluating and considering possible solutions or product alternatives.
For an e-commerce store, this is the stage where your customers are looking into which product is best for them.
And in the case where your prospects already have a specific product in mind, the question would be, which e-commerce store has the best offer?
In the second stage, your prospects start considering the best product for them and the best offer.
Which is cheaper? Which is the best quality? What’s their customer rating? What are their returns and refund policies?
When prospects are weighing up offers, they look into benefits and features, quality, shipping (cost and speed), customer service, return and refund policies, and more.
This is the stage where your prospects make a decision. Either to buy or not to buy.
The relationship they have with your brand or product, from the top of the funnel to the bottom, plays a big role in influencing their decisions.
The decision stage is where you get to see the result of your efforts.
A way of influencing them to take the purchasing action is to attract them with interesting offers like discounts, free shipping, and risk-free returns.
But it’s also essential to make sure the key pages on your store - product pages, checkout etc - are optimized for sales, guiding prospects through the final step to making a purchase.
Some customers' journeys could be shorter. And some could be longer. Just like in the real world, it takes constant persuasion to get some prospects to buy from you.
The journey of each customer isn’t rigid. It depends on them. And that’s why a sales funnel works. It personalizes the experience for each prospect.
If at the bottom of your funnel, your prospects did not take your desired action, you can always retarget them.
Retargeting your prospects with relevant content and ads gives you another opportunity to persuade them, walking them through the process again.
But this time, the journey might be shorter compared to your first conversation with the prospect.
There’s also a magical stage you can reach where your customers start feeding new prospects into the top of the funnel for you.
Usually, these are highly-satisfied repeat customers who are willing to refer others to your store. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways of getting people into your funnel.
By now you’re probably wondering how to install a sales funnel in your e-commerce business.
With the knowledge of the stages of a funnel and the framework below you’ll be able to set up one for your business.
I split the steps into two phases.
The first phase is about putting your store in order (think: sales funnel building blocks). Your store must be able to effectively convert your web visitors.
And the second phase is about driving traffic (feeding the funnel) to your sales funnel and also measuring your results.
Similar to many other marketing and sales processes, it starts with discovering your ideal audience.
Who’s your target market? What is their demographic? Where do they engage? What’s the problem they have? Discovering and understanding your ideal prospect is the first stage in building a powerful sales funnel.
Without understanding who your ideal prospects are, effective ads targeting will be difficult.
Better put, getting tangible results from your advertising budget or any other marketing strategy you are employing will be tough.
Identifying your ideal prospect will inform your decisions on which marketing strategies to employ.
For instance, if your ideal audience is young women between the ages of 25 to 35, you’ll know where to find them; Instagram, Facebook, etc.
And thanks to the advanced ads targeting features on these apps, there are filters to customize your ideal target audience.
That said, always keep in mind that selling the same product as your competitors doesn’t mean you should have the same target prospects.
You could target different people. Your competitors can sell their hair products to women while you sell yours to men.
The same product doesn’t mean the same target audience. Choose wisely.
Creating a sales funnel looks like a complex problem that’s hard to crack. But it isn’t. The key is to begin with the end in mind.
A sales funnel is a combination of organized webpages working together to increase your conversion rates.
Building a sales funnel doesn’t mean throwing away your store and building a new one. And it also doesn’t mean neglecting your current software or tools.
It has everything to do with reworking your store for an improved conversion rate. And this is the rarely said truth.
You might have been expecting advice around which is the best e-commerce sales funnel builder to use. Funnel builders are powerful software created especially for building sales funnels.
However, irrespective of the e-commerce store builder you are using (Shopify, WooCommerce, etc), you can construct a sales funnel out of it.
You don’t need any fancy new tools or software.
Here are the essential things to work on:
This is an underrated characteristic of a sales funnel. A sales funnel makes it easy for prospects to navigate around and find their next course of action.
If you have ever landed on a page and don’t know where to get the information or product you are looking for, then you have been the victim of a broken sales funnel.
Remember I said, you already have a sales funnel. But the only problem is, it's a broken one.
And it's broken because it's not organized. An essential step in building your sales funnel is fixing your navigation.
Next-point of action is reworking your landing pages.
As said earlier, our goal is to build connected landing pages.
For instance, here's what most eCommerce landing pages look like:
Displaying an array of products
And the problem with this is that it rarely motivates your customers to buy. And that's because it isn't targeting their problem or needs.
Here's what your Hyper-Targeted Landing Pages should look like:
This shows the problem prospects have and the required action to take.
However, having just one landing page isn't an appropriate strategy. You need many other landing pages.
Businesses that have more than 30 landing pages get 7 times more leads than those with fewer landing pages.
So, if you have multiple products, you can take advantage of this to create multiple landing pages - one for each.
However, if you run a single product store or a niche store (including dropshipping), you can set-up various offers.
Because with many offers and landing pages, you'll be able to track which one is working and also appeal to different prospects.
Another characteristic of an effective sales funnel is the clear CTAs. A sales funnel is built to do the work of a virtual salesperson.
As part of its work, it has to guide the prospects through various stages (think: pages) to become customers.
A call-to-action tells prospects what to do next - click here, add to cart, buy now, subscribe, confirm purchase.
You may think that people already know what to do next, but it’s the job of your sales funnel to make it as obvious as possible.
Every second a prospect has to spend trying to figure it out for themself is a second you could lose them from your funnel.
This is the very last step in putting your store in shape. Automation is what makes a sales funnel effective.
Starting from the beginning, you need an email automation tool. Depending on your e-commerce software, some offer built-in email automation.
Essential automation features your e-commerce store should have are:
At this point, your sales funnel framework is made. You already have the funnel. And now you need to drive traffic to it.
The idea is to generate traffic (prospects) to your sales funnel, while the funnel does its work.
Based on your ideal audience, your next step is to decide on your promotional strategies. How do you plan to generate traffic to your sales funnel?
Is it Facebook ads? Instagram ads? Organic traffic? Let’s dive into that.
Paid ads are awesome if you have a considerable budget. With paid ads, you can generate quick results.
Of all the paid ads options, Facebook ads and Google ads are the best.
Facebook has a large number of users and at the same time offers advanced tools to target your audience via ads.
As an eCommerce store owner, you can either run ads to a particular product, to your brand, or informational content.
Using ScentBird as an example, here’s a current Facebook ad:
This is top-0f-the-funnel ads that generate awareness for the brand.
The other way of feeding your sales funnel is by going the organic way without paying for ads.
And on this note, you need more optimized content to generate traffic to your funnel.
Without paid ads, here are some viable options left:
These are five possible ways to go if you are not running paid ads for your e-commerce store.
SEO is the best source of organic traffic. You want to ensure your product listings are ranking on search engines for commercial keywords.
That aside, you also want to ensure you are ranking for top-of-funnel (awareness) keywords that are non-commercial.
To rank for non-commercial keywords, it could mean having a blog section on your e-commerce store. Or it could be having a youtube channel where you share informational content about your products and the problems they solve.
With SEO alone, ScentBird pulls in over 166K monthly traffic to their store.
Additionally, another viable method is building an audience on social media.
ScentBird also excels in this.
ScentBird has over 600K followers on its Facebook page. So, by equally publishing new content on their page, they drive traffic to their funnel.
Over 600K followers might be a dream for a new e-commerce brand, but you can jumpstart your followers or likes with some paid services.
To amass a big number of followers and engagement, here are some tips you can implement:
According to Gary Vaynerchuk, you are one piece of content away from breaking through.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know of 420Doggface208. A single video of him skateboarding to a Fleetwood Mac song launched him to social media stardom.
If you want to grow a healthy community, keep putting out content on your social media platforms.
Content is the bridge to your prospects’ hearts. If you don’t have the time, consider outsourcing your content to experts.
Finally, you should also leverage influencers to drive traffic to your sales funnel. Influencers are powerful enough to influence your prospects’ buying decisions.
However, finding an influencer to promote your offer could be a pain in the neck. Instagram influencers are on the rise. But the problem is that some buy fake engagement.
But you have to find the best fit for your brand.
There are influencers of different sizes. The price of getting an influencer to promote your brand isn’t set in stone.
Some could do it for you for free by just testing out the product. You just need to find the right fit for your product and business.
Besides Instagram influencers, you can also look into YouTubers and other content creators to promote your brand.
ScentBird also does this excellently. Besides reaching out to influencers to promote their brand, ScentBird also offers two forms of collaboration with influencers (Blogger Program and Affiliate Program).
The blogger program allows bloggers to get a free sample to review on their blog. This is affordable for Scentbird as a brand. Because they don’t just get a free review, they also get links that boost their search appearance.
For their affiliate program, ScentBird has been able to work with other influencers to promote their products while getting a commission per sale made.
So far, they have popular Youtubers like Ashley Elizabeth and Sande to promote their brand.
My point is, there’s no price tag on how much an influencer campaign would cost you. Similarly, there’s no limit on the effect it can have on your store.
Building and feeding your sales funnel isn’t the end.
You need to keep testing out different approaches and tweaking your funnel for optimum conversion.
Here are some things to split test and keep tweaking for optimum conversion:
By split testing, you’ll arrive at the best system to keep generating sales on your e-commerce store.
Keep in mind, there’s no perfect system. When you think you have discovered what works for you, testing and tweaking may bring you even better results.
There’s no marketing without analytics to understand the performance of your activities.
This is as crucial as every other step on this list. You need to measure the performance of your sales funnel to know how you are faring and what to improve.
Here’s a breakdown of the KPIs to track:
Conversion rate: This is the most essential KPI to track. A sales funnel’s job is to improve the conversion rate of the visitors that land on your store.
A sales funnel doesn’t increase the web visitors to your store, instead, it processes whatever enters the funnel. It's your job to widen the funnel at the top (send more traffic).
Average Order Value (AOV): Another metric you shouldn’t miss. As expected, with a sales funnel, the average amount your customers spend on your store should increase.
In other words, the average order value or cart value should increase. And that’s because of the upsells and order bumps that are present in your store.
You need to verify if there’s a difference in the AOV, before and after the sales funnel. This will inform you of the performance of your upsells and order bumps.
Bounce Rate: How’s your bounce rate? With sales funnels, the attractive offers and exit-intent popups should drop the bounce rate.
But you wouldn’t know if it's working or not. A lower bounce rate means that your web visitors love what they are seeing. And that means your landing page is appealing
Cart Abandonment: Some of your prospects will add items to the cart, but will end up leaving without finishing their purchase.
If all is fine except for an increase in the cart abandonment, then the best guess is that your order page isn’t well optimized.
You can reduce cart abandonment by making the check out process as simple as possible - not asking for unnecessary details, providing free or cheap shipping, and not adding on extra fees. By measuring this, you can improve your sales funnel system.
Finally, building a sales funnel for your e-commerce store isn’t as hard as you thought. It doesn’t require disposing of your store. It only needs some modifications.
Moving forward, here are some things to keep in mind:
You should be pretty confident about, building a sales funnel now.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section. Do you have experience in building a sales funnel? Do you have any questions about the advice in this article? Drop a comment below.