Seven Clever Ways to Test Your Sales Funnel for Success

Ruthie Careyby Ruthie Carey

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Looking at eCommerce conversion rate data, VWO reports:

“The average eCommerce conversion rate ranges between 1 percent and 4 percent, with global figures standing at 2.58 percent across devices (as of Q2, 2019). But, considering all plausible variables and nuances, significant conversion rate disparities exist between sectors, countries, devices, seasons, marketing strategies, and the like… Where the US eCommerce sector hovers around the global average at 1.4 percent, the United Kingdom pens down an average conversion rate of 1.8 percent.”

What this kind of data details is that merchants are most likely not going to convert a customer on their first visits.

However, that doesn’t mean that sellers cannot pull folks into their eCommerce sales funnel and begin the process of converting them from leads to customers. The key to achieving this lies in sales funnel optimization.

By learning how to optimize the sales funnel, retailers can drive substantial amounts of revenue growth by successfully guiding a higher percentage of prospective buyers through each stage.

Moreover, the better merchants understand how to optimize the sales funnel–alongside what it is and how it works–the easier it will be to find and improve the quality of eCommerce leads and convert them into paying customers.

To help retailers achieve this aim, today, we will be taking a look at seven sales funnel optimization strategies for converting a larger number of leads into profitable customers.

Let’s get started.

What Is a Sales Funnel?

A sales funnel, sometimes referred to as a purchase funnel or conversion funnel, illustrates the path a customer takes from first becoming aware of a brand’s existence to completing a purchase.

Each company is likely to have a different sales funnel, built around the specifics of how consumers navigate and interact with their business. This means that sales funnels can be simple or complex and might incorporate upselling, cross-selling, customer retention tactics and the like.

That said, a typical eCommerce sales funnel consists of four stages. During each stage, consumers will make decisions based on their perception of the brand, its products, and competition.

Sales funnel optimization is all about ensuring that potential buyers don’t fall out of the funnel.

The primary four stages of a sales funnel are:

Stage One: Awareness

At this stage, consumers realize that they have a problem and are seeking solutions. As a result, they become aware of a brand’s existence and what the company offers.

However, the company is likely one of many that the shopper becomes cognizant of at this point. Therefore, the awareness stage is critical.

At this point, it is vital for merchants to provide high-value educational content. Given how vital the awareness stage is, retailers must demonstrate not only their knowledge and authority within the niche but also their generosity as well. This can be achieved by supplying prospects with free, top-tier information in the form of blogs, guides, reports, white papers, webinars, and other types of content.

Stage Two: Interest

Now that the consumer has been “hooked,” so to speak, it is imperative for retailers to continue serving up entertaining and educational information to keep prospects interested.

This might look like sharing brand-centric memes on social media, running retargeting ads that help to pull the consumer to the next stage of the funnel, or personalized email marketing campaigns.

Stage Three: Decision

At the decision stage, the customer is ready to make a purchase. Here, the buyer is likely still debating between two or three potential options.

Because there are only a few brands left in the mix, merchants must do their best to stand out from the competition. Therefore, it is wise to make some sort of offer, be it free shipping, a discount code, bonus product, or something else that incentivizes the customer.

No matter which route a merchant takes, the aim here is to make the offer tempting enough to essentially make the prospect’s decision for them.

Stage Four: Action

This is where the deal gets closed.

It is here that consumers will add a product to their cart, type in their payment information and click the “Buy Now” button.

However, as mentioned in the introduction to this piece, only between one and four percent of consumers will actually complete their purchase. Therefore, it is critical for merchants to streamline their checkout flow to increase conversions.

This is where sales funnel optimization starts to come into the picture.

However, before getting into the details, let’s take a moment to examine the metrics that merchants should measure to ensure their sales funnel optimization efforts are a success.

Sales Funnel Optimization KPIs to Follow

While learning how to optimize the sales funnel is all well and good, if retailers don’t know how to measure their sales funnel performance, then little progress is likely to be made.

Therefore, it is imperative that retailers establish the proper key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine how well (or not) their sales funnel optimization tactics are generating the intended results.

While there is a wealth of KPIs to choose from, the ones that will be most useful in the sales funnel optimization process include:

Traffic

An increase in traffic–organic or otherwise–means that sellers are doing a good job at generating awareness for the company and its products.

Website traffic can come from a variety of destinations such as search engines, social media business pages, paid search and paid social advertising campaigns and a multitude of other channels.

When it comes to obtaining new leads, growing traffic should be a top priority.

Moreover, wherever retailers find that the bulk of their traffic comes from, they should seek to bolster their digital marketing strategies on those channels.

For instance, if merchants see that social media is their site’s primary driver of traffic, then it would be wise to double down on social media marketing efforts. Alternatively, if the bulk of a merchant’s visitors come from search engines, then investing in SEO is the right course of action.

Bounce Rates

Bounce rates tell retailers how many of their site’s visitors are leaving immediately after landing on one of the brand’s pages.

By enhancing the user experience, retailers can effectively decrease bounces and increase the chances that a consumer makes it to the end of the sales funnel.

This can be achieved in a variety of ways, such as through implementing a robust internal linking strategy, developing compelling copy, placing CTAs correctly and the like.

Cart Abandonment Rates

Reducing cart abandonment rates is vital to eCommerce success, no matter if retailers are currently seeking sales funnel optimization strategies or not.

The reason for this is that cart abandonment rates are incredibly high. As data from the Baymard Institute reveals, industry-wide, cart abandonment rates hover at roughly 70 percent.

High abandonment rates imply that consumers have objected to the checkout process for one reason or another. As far as sales funnel optimization techniques are concerned, it is incumbent upon merchants to figure out why customers opted to ditch their cart and establish a means of fixing the issue.

Conversion Rates

When retailers see high conversion rates, it essentially means that their offers are resonating with consumers.

Keep in mind that conversions and sales aren’t necessarily the same thing. Conversions could be signing up for an email list or something similar.

Sales

Sales are the premier metric when speaking of sales funnel optimization strategies.

For merchants to see an uptick in sales, it is wise to focus on optimizing the middle and bottom parts of the funnel.

With that said, let’s take a look at some sales funnel optimization strategies retailers can implement to enhance their bottom line.

How to Optimize the Sales Funnel: Seven Strategies for Success

Let’s get down to brass tacks and talk strategy.

When it comes to sales funnel optimization tactics, there are a variety of strategies merchants can employ, such as:

1. Map Out the Customer Journey

Using Google Analytics, retailers can map out user flows and the customer journey to help establish where consumers are coming from to better optimize marketing efforts for generating awareness.

To better understand the buyer’s journey, merchants should figure out:

  • Referring domains driving the most traffic to their site
  • The average number of touchpoints made prior to purchase
  • Differences in consumer behavior when first landing on the site’s homepage versus product pages

This kind of information will tell merchants where to focus their efforts, how to build out marketing campaigns and which landing pages to use for their campaigns.

2. Ensure Intuitive Site Navigation

When consumers land on a seller’s site, they should have a clear path to follow. From the moment they become aware to the moment they convert, there should never be a question of how to proceed next.

Therefore, an excellent user experience is critical to sales funnel optimization. This means that merchants must present consumers with a website that is intuitive, easy to navigate and simple to get from point A to point B, no matter where they are on the site.

Some ways that retailers can achieve this aim include:

  • Implementing breadcrumbs to orient users to their on-site location
  • Create a clear separation between product categories while still not building out an overwhelming number of them
  • Utilize autosuggestions within the on-site search engine

3. Streamline Signup Forms

While generating awareness is good, a critical step in enhancing conversion rates is turning people into company leads. This is often achieved through signup forms for lead magnets, email lists or the like.

However, it is exceptionally likely that potential buyers will skip this step if sellers present them with bloated, extraneous forms. Therefore, it is necessary to keep forms as short as possible as this reduces friction.

When developing signup forms, only ask for the information that is absolutely necessary for getting customers through to the end of the sales funnel. In most cases, this will only be the consumer’s name and email address.

Remember, the goal here is to make the entirety of the process as smooth and simple as possible.

4. Optimize Category and Product Pages

There are three destinations on an eCommerce site that are arguably more important than any others:

  • Homepage
  • Category pages
  • Product pages

Given that all of these are likely to be used as landing pages for prospective customers, it is vital for merchants to optimize category pages, product pages and their site’s homepage.

Therefore, SEO is going to play a significant role in the process. This means that sellers will not only need to write product descriptions that sell, but they will also need to optimize title tags, meta descriptions, page headings and the like to help get the pages ranking well.

Moreover, retailers will also need to focus on building better product pages overall, meaning that these destinations are not cluttered, prominently display product reviews, feature short and readable paragraphs and the like.

5. Define Content Offerings for Different Stages of the Funnel

To successfully optimize a sales funnel means that sellers will need to define specific content offerings for each stage of the funnel.

The truth is that if retailers want to drive revenue with content, it is necessary to ensure that different types of content map onto the sales funnel and serve to guide consumers to the next stage.

Moreover, it is essential to remember that content doesn’t just mean blog posts, as email campaigns, retargeting ads, landing pages and the like all come into play under the “content” umbrella when discussing sales funnel optimization.

6. Develop a Lead Nurturing Strategy

Website visitors typically turn into leads once they subscribe to a merchant’s email list, thus handing over their contact information.

Once the consumer has reached this point, it is essential for the seller to begin a lead nurturing email campaign that will help to guide the individual to the next stage of the funnel.

An email nurturing strategy usually consists of merchants sending new subscribers content that is designed to cover the various stages of the sales funnel. Again, this is why it is important to plan out a content strategy ahead of time.

Through this content, sellers can educate consumers on the finer points of the brand and its products, eventually putting forth an enticing offer that is difficult to reject.

In addition to using email, it is likely that sellers will also want to reach consumers through eCommerce retargeting campaigns to present them with compelling offers.

Given that leads are likely to be in the interest and decision-making stages of the funnel, it is crucial for merchants to highlight the superior nature of their products and make enticing offers through various formats.

7. Optimize the Checkout Experience

As mentioned earlier, cart abandonment rates are incredibly high. This means that many consumers go through a company’s entire sales funnel, only to fall out at the very end.

Don’t let this happen.

For merchants to ensure that consumers complete their purchase, it is absolutely critical to optimize the site’s checkout process to be as quick and seamless as possible.

There are a number of ways that this could be achieved, including:

  • Implementing guest checkout options
  • Providing a panoply of payment choices
  • Minimizing form fields
  • Reducing the number of checkout pages

These are just a few of many checkout optimization tactics.

However, if retailers want to really find out what is wrong with their checkout process, then it is wise to survey customers about what they found to be problematic. Moreover, it is particularly advisable for sellers to reach out to those who have abandoned their carts in the past, possibly with an incentive for filling out the survey.

By approaching cart optimization in this way, sellers can tailor their solutions to fit the needs of their audience.

Final Thoughts

When considering how to optimize the sales funnel, it is essential to understand that, while it is not rocket science, merchants need to pay considerable attention to their specific circumstances. This means digging into the details about where their website visitors are coming from, which platforms they are using, the average number of touchpoints, the specific problems they are having on-site and at checkout and the like.

Just as we mentioned earlier that each company’s sales funnel is likely to look a little different, so too will their sales funnel optimization strategies and solutions.

However, by taking the time to understand the context that surrounds a brand’s sales process, it is entirely possible to optimize the sales funnel to elevate traffic, conversions and sales, thereby growing the company’s revenue.

That said, if your business is having trouble cultivating leads, the entire sales funnel optimization process could be an exercise in futility. If your brand wants to ensure that it is generating a significant number of high-quality leads who are likely to convert, then reach out to Visiture’s paid media specialists.

Our team of expert eCommerce paid media specialists can ensure that your brand’s ad campaigns are developed to reach and resonate with the more relevant consumers for your brand, thus putting them on the path to conversion.

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