Marketing

21 Tips for Building a High-Converting eCommerce Funnel

Do you know which metrics to track in your eCommerce funnel to boost sales? 30 marketers weigh in with their top tips for increasing conversions.

Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik on September 17, 2020 (last modified on September 11, 2020) • 18 minute read

Did you know that eCommerce sales are projected to top $709.78 billion by the end of 2020?

That’s an 18% lift over 2019.

As the COVID-19 pandemic forced more brick and mortar retail businesses to move their sales online, the eCommerce competition significantly increased.

The best way to stand out as a seller is to better understand who your ideal customers are and create an elaborate, data-driven plan for attaining them.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at five key stages in your eCommerce funnel and then dive deeper into the strategies for making it convert better. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What are the Different Stages of an eCommerce Funnel?

In B2B marketing, you often hear the marketing funnel divided into three phases:

  • Top of Funnel (TOFU) – brand awareness 
  • Middle of Funnel (MOFU) – interest 
  • Bottom of Funnel (BOFU) – consideration  

While the general principles behind this also hold up for eCommerce, in my experience, eCommerce funnels have five key stages instead of three: 

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Intent 
  • Purchase 
  • Retention 

Awareness 

This is the first stage of an eCommerce funnel. It is all about reaching people through different media, educating them about your brand, and ultimately getting them on your website. 

For example, if you sell home fitness gear, you might share helpful workout exercise videos on YouTube and Instagram.

Interest

This is the window shopping phase. At this point, they know about your brand and have likely visited a few product pages.

Going back to our home fitness store example, if you see someone looking at several kettlebells, you may want to configure an on-site notification linking to your comparison guide of the top 10 kettlebells for your home gym. 

Intent

So, when does interest turn into intent?

This happens when someone adds an item to their shopping cart regardless of whether they follow through on the purchase.  

One of the best marketing tactics to use here is abandoned cart notifications and emails. So, you could send them an automated email a few hours later with a 10% discount or a note asking if they had any questions.

Purchase

This stage is fairly self-explanatory. 🙂 

However, many eCommerce marketers think they can stop here since the customer made a purchase. That’s not the case.

Retention

Savvy marketers know that real victory (and a lot of work) lies in retention.

How do you turn that one-time purchase into 3 or more purchases?

Through a mix of upsells, cross-sells, personalization, and solid customer experience, you can turn customers into repeat, loyal buyers who will write raving customer reviews, talk about you unprompted on social media, and champion your brand to their friends and family. 

Related: 26 Ways for Improving Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate

What are the Most Important eCommerce Funnel Metrics?

Taking this a step further, here are some key metrics to track at every stage in the funnel. 

Awareness

At the awareness stage, it is all about top-of-funnel metrics. Some great metrics to monitor include: 

  • Site Visitors  
  • % of site visitors who are first-timers
  • Bounce Rate 
  • Exit Page
  • Site Speed 
  • % of traffic from organic search
  • % of traffic from social media channels 

Interest

At this stage, you are looking at top of funnel metrics that indicate someone is “window shopping.” Some great metrics to track at this point are: 

  • Number of visitors to product pages 
  • % of total visitors who viewed a product page
  • Time on site
  • Number of live-chats 
  • Chat response time
  • % of repeat visitors 

Intent


Here it is all about tracking metrics that show some level of buying intent, such as: 

  • Number of Add to Carts 
  • Add to Cart Rate 
  • Number of Abandoned Carts 
  • Cart Abandonment Rate 

Purchase

This is where all the revenue metrics come into play, such as: 

  • Revenue 
  • Revenue by product 
  • Revenue by visitor 
  • Total transactions 
  • Transactions per user 
  • Gross Margins 
  • Average order value 
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) 
  • Blended CAC 
  • ROAS (for paid ad campaigns)
  • CAC by channel 
  • Conversion Rate 
  • Assisted Conversions 
  • % of new vs. repeat buyers 
  • Refund Rate 

Retention

Since it is considerably cheaper to keep an existing customer than acquire a new one, here are some great metrics to track.  

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) 
  • Number of customer reviews
  • % of customer reviews that are positive 
  • NPS Score 
  • Upsells 
  • Repeat purchases 

eCommerce Funnel Templates 

With so many metrics to track, it can be helpful to visualize the full funnel through dashboards. Here are some of our favorite free templates. 

If you are looking to visualize the full eCommerce funnel, this dashboard can help you see how all of your marketing and advertising initiatives impact the bottom line.  

Databox dashboard

When you are looking to dive into the weeds, this Shopify dashboard gives you an overview of all your sales metrics, including gross sales, new customers, average order value, most popular products, abandoned carts, and more.  

Databox Shopify Dashboard

Alternatively, this free WooCommerce dashboard provides a similar level of insight into total sales, best-selling products, and coupons redeemed. 

free WooCommerce dashboard

As we alluded to earlier in this post, the funnel doesn’t end when you make a sale. You want to monitor brand loyalty and repeat purchases. This free conversion and loyalty dashboard offers sales insights around returning customers. 

conversion and loyalty dashboard

21 Tips for Building a High-Converting eCommerce Funnel

Now that you have a better understanding of each stage of the eCommerce funnel and what metrics to track, here are 21 tips from 30 marketing experts to help you move people through your funnel and generate more sales:

1. Map out the customer journey
2. Incorporate an omnichannel strategy
3. Simplify your checkout process
4. Focus on user experience
5. Personalize key customer touchpoints
6. Prioritize BOFU keywords
7. Run retargeting campaigns
8. Create helpful content
9. Add live chat on your site
10. Use CRO tools to understand how visitors interact with your site
11. Create a compelling social media strategy
12. Record professional product videos
13. Segment and optimize your main acquisition channels
14. Write clear and compelling CTAs
15. Appeal to your buyer’s emotions
16. Use exit-intent triggers to recover more revenue
17. Send abandoned cart notifications and emails
18. Craft compelling product descriptions
19. Offer bulk discounts
20. Use a countdown clock
21. Optimize for repeat customers

1. Map Out the Customer Journey 

“First, identify your customer’s journey,” says Jitesh Keswani of e-Intelligence. “Create a plan for ushering consumers through your sales funnel as per their journey stage. List the types of content you want to serve up at each stage. Plan to nurture the leads to make the visitors into customers.”

Related: The 6 Most Effective Lead Nurturing Strategies of 2019

Melissa Hughes of Foundation Marketing says: “Really think about how much validation your customer needs to go through before purchasing. Many times the excitement of buying something new can diminish quickly when you have to go through purchasing policies, shipping options, account set-ups, extra up-sell, or a form that is not user-friendly from your phone.

REALLY think about how many fields your customers absolutely need to fill-in. What can be automated? How simple can your shipping and return policies be? How creative can the written descriptions be throughout the process to keep the excitement of that new purchase?”

Adriene Raynott of Cogneesol adds: “You can check the user flow through Google Analytics, such as:

● When visitors first come to your website, and how they behave.
● What referring domains bring in the most traffic.
● How many touchpoints the average customer makes before purchasing.

Know all your answers that define the customer journey throughout your website.”

2. Incorporate an Omnichannel Strategy 

Meet customers where they are,” says Leigh Sevin of Endear. “Let them buy how they want to buy. Nowadays, that means omnichannel execution. Not only can you increase your funnel conversion rate by implementing things like social commerce, but you can increase your overall net of customer acquisition by thinking beyond the website (for instance, SMS, triggered emails, targeted social ads, etc.).” 

3. Simplify Your Checkout Process 

“The shorter the customer journey towards a goal, the higher the conversion rate,” says David Sanchez of Digitalis Medical. “People who usually go for online shopping tend to get bored with a lot of website clicks, they just want to shop. Shorten your customer journey and go straight to the ‘add cart’, ‘buy now’ and ‘checkout’. That’s the best way to achieve a high-converting sales funnel.” 

Tiffanie Hartenstein of ORACLE Lighting adds: “Making your checkout process as simple as you can is one of the most important ways to turn a click into a conversion. Much cart abandonment is due to additional steps that sidetrack the customer from the act of purchasing.”

“We use Shopify for our eCommerce platform, which allows customers to only provide the required information for the transaction, with a quick pay option powered by PayPal to speed up the process. Simple, one-click transactions can help increase your conversion rate.”

“Another strategy for driving conversions,” Hartenstein says, “is to have a robust content plan, so that no customer question goes unanswered. At ORACLE Lighting, we post regularly to a blog and our YouTube channel and have an extensive set of FAQs and product guides on our website to help answer any queries.” 

4. Focus on User Experience 

“I think that my best tip would be to make sure that you’ve put as much time and effort into the design as possible,” says Charlie Worrall of Imaginaire.

“You could have a perfect funnel that, in theory, will convert really well, but if the design of the pages and the funnel aren’t up to scratch, you’ll miss out on so many conversions. You’ll see that your abandonment rate increases rapidly and you’ll be left wondering what went wrong.” 

Tyler Brooks of Jam Paper says: “Constantly be on the lookout for ways to make your site cleaner, faster, and easier to use. Simply changing your ‘add-to-cart’ button color can increase your conversion a large amount, as can adding a guest checkout option.”

“Make sure you’re keeping up with other websites when it comes to usability. You need to be careful, though. Sometimes what isn’t broken isn’t worth fixing. Make sure you test a new layout, color, or design before making a permanent change. Also, the tiniest technical issue can cripple your conversion rate, so you need to have trust in your web development staff when making these changes.

Muhammad Ammar of Angel jackets adds: “Follow these few tips to improve the product pages:

  • Use your own (product) HD pictures
  • Mention the bullet specs first and description content last
  • Integrate chatbots for assistance
  • Provide a phone number, email address, mailing address
  • Be active on Omnichannel simultaneously
  • Check the size info. If there’s any, make it simpler and more convenient
  • Check the mobile interface and try to shorten the page length
  • Share reviews below the product
  • If there are certain conditions, write them concisely on the product page, not on the checkout
  • Use FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)” 

5. Personalize Key Customer Touchpoints 

“The ideal way to build out a high converting funnel is to personalize as much as possible throughout every touchpoint to cater to the browsing habits, budget, and likes of the potential customer,” says Slisha Kankariya of With Clarity.

“Weave together data to ensure that you’re getting to the core of what the person wants to purchase or are ensuring that the touchpoints are clearing up the doubts a person may have about your company.”

For example, Olivia Tsang of SuperMoney says, “Engage your customers through email with similar product recommendations.”

6. Prioritize BOFU Keywords 

“Separate broad search queries from specific search queries,” says Greg Trahan of Digital Marketing Agency Atlanta. “This will allow you to isolate low-funnel searchers into their own budget group, allowing you to maximize your return on users who are closest to making a purchase.” 

7. Run Retargeting Campaigns 

“Retarget, retarget, retarget,” says Dan Young of Loud Digital. “If you want a funnel that converts highly, then you need to interact with your audiences numerous times. Nurture each touchpoint along the customer journey with the right messaging.” 

8. Create Helpful Content 

“Don’t ask the customer to buy right away,” says Jason Boyd of Monesk. “Warm your leads up with informational offerings of substantial value, then remarket to them using pixels and tracking cookies.” 

Finn Cardiff of Beachgoer adds: “At the Consideration stage, always offer a lead magnet, which helps solve their problems in exchange for their email address. In this way, you can sustain your eCommerce funnel activities and make it more personalized.”

Related: How to Generate Leads & Sales from Your Blog

9. Add Live Chat on Your Site 

“Knowing where your customer is coming from and directing them via timely messaging is key to a higher conversion rate,” says Chris Towt of VineSpring.

“If at all possible, personalize the experience by welcoming them back to the site (if they have been there before) or engage with them through a live chat application (Drift, Intercom, Freshchat, etc.).”   

Chat is a great way to answer questions and guide the customer to the purchase of the product they want. It also gets them to stay on the site longer than they might otherwise and allows you to create a personal connection with them.” 

Derric Haynie of Ecommercetech.io adds: “Customers have all sorts of objections – when will I get it? Will it fit me? What if I need to send it back? Is this company even legit?… If you have a live chat tool with real people ready to respond to customers in real-time, you will be able to answer these pressing questions as they come in, alleviate the unknown and the stress from the customers’ minds, and sell more products.”

“I highly recommend a live chat sales team, integrated with customer service, but focused on before the sale, which will help guide the customer on their journey, strengthen the brand relationship, and increase average order value and conversion rate.” 

Related: Live Chat vs. Chatbots: How to Start Effective Conversations (According to 26 Marketers)

10. Use CRO Tools to Understand How Visitors Interact with Your Site  

“I recommend investing in a tool that can record click behavior, like Crazy Egg,” says Aalap Shah of 1o8. “That way you can see how users are interacting with your online store” 

11. Create a Compelling Social Media Strategy 

“The best way to build an eCommerce funnel is by constantly engaging with your potential audience on social media,” says Olusola David of Torchbankz. “Running a social media ad places your products in front of billions of people that are ready to buy your product on impulse.”

With the help of lead magnet ideas like coupon codes, free shipping, social media giveaways, etc. it’s easy to drive traffic down your funnel and convert them into buyers.” 

CJ Xia of Booster Biological Technology agrees: “Social media marketing has several advantages like helping you grow brand awareness, generate more inbound traffic, improve brand loyalty, and boost conversion rate. Facebook Ads are a great way to reach millions of people within a low cost, and it is good to set up effective tactics that will bring Facebook users to your site.” 

Related: The Best Facebook Ad Content for Driving Awareness & Sales

12. Record Professional Product Videos 

“A product video is one of the absolute best ways to increase conversion rates,” says Ryder Meehan of Upgrow. “Product video increases the user’s understanding of the product, is a better medium for selling, and incorporates more emotion.” 

13. Segment and Optimize Your Main Acquisition Channels 

“To build a high-converting eCommerce funnel, you want to work on each acquisition channel individually and not as a whole,” says Jonathan Aufray of Growth Hackers Services.

You want to track data of your advertising campaigns, your emails, your website, your landing pages, your sales pages, etc. and optimize all these channels.

“For instance, if your RoaS (Return on ad Spend) is 300%, implement creative strategies to improve it. If your landing page conversion is 40%, apply tactics to improve it. If your website takes 3 seconds to load, optimize the load time. And so on.” 

14. Write Clear and Compelling CTAs

“No matter the medium – whether paid social, paid search, SEO, or anything else you do to bring customers into your eCommerce funnel – the number one key to increasing conversions is to be clear about the conversion you want,” says Maia Wells of ClearPivot. “A high-converting eCommerce funnel relies on clear, concise CTAs at every level.” 

Related: SEO for a New Website: Here’s Everything You Need to Know to Start Ranking

15. Appeal to Your Buyer’s Emotions 

“Fill the top of your funnel by appealing to the emotion created when your product solves your customer’s problem,” adds Whitney Norton of Portent. “There’s lots of good science to indicate that we make decisions based on emotion and then justify them with logic. Hook folks by their hearts, and they’ll be well on their way to converting.” 

16. Use Exit-Intent Triggers to Recover more Revenue 

“One of the most effective tips is introducing exit-intent triggers in the shopping cart stage,” says Srish Agrawal of A1 Future Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

“It’s a known fact that too many shopping carts get abandoned, thus lowering the conversion rate. Thankfully, now you can leverage the exit-intent pop-up messages to make one last effort to convert the visitors.”

“This hack can amplify your conversion rate more than it is now without the triggers. Improving the eCommerce conversion funnel is an ongoing task, but is certainly worth your time and effort. Implement this strategy today and do not waste any more of your marketing dollars.” 

17. Send Abandoned Cart Notifications and Emails 

Another way to recover lost sales is through abandoned cart workflows. 

“Consumers now engage with a company online and via mobile so if a customer has put something into a cart, but hasn’t yet purchased, use your content to reference that intent,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn of Mavens & Moguls.

“People use multiple devices during a single transaction process. Make sure that you are able to listen and respond to these interactions. E-commerce retailers should preserve items in a shopping cart across devices, so if you add an item to your mobile shopping cart, it should still be in your shopping cart when you access the site on your desktop, too, for example.”

“If you recently bought a pair of pants, they can recommend a great shirt or sweater to go with it. The goal is to provide better service to your customers, which should drive more sales.”

Related: 26 Marketers on the Things That Work for Reducing Cart Abandonment

18. Craft Compelling Product Descriptions 

“Investing resources to get unique write-ups for all products is a great way to improve your eCommerce funnel,” says Noman Nalkhande of WP Adventure.

“They inundate consumers today with multiple ads for the same products by multiple vendors. Many of these vendors take the simpler route by sticking the same product description as provided by the manufacturer. When customers land on the product page, they are quick to notice an almost identical description on most of the websites they visit.”

“Make yours stand out by completely rewriting the product description to make it extremely unique to your store. If you are able to provide a highly compelling product description that could be tied to the overall story of your brand, you’re making yourself exclusive and paving the way for a high converting funnel.”

19. Offer Bulk Discounts

“Quantity breaks pricing has always been my favorite tip or strategy for building an effective eCommerce funnel,” says Andre Oentoro of Breadnbeyond.

“So, after you succeed convincing buyers to buy your product, you offer them a discount when they purchase more of the same items that they’ve just bought. It means the more they buy, the more they save. This strategy works because everybody is looking for a deal, especially when they purchase a larger quantity of any product – that’s why stores like Costco are so popular.” 

20. Use a Countdown Clock 

“Using a countdown clock on my landing page caused an 11% increase in conversions,” says Samiksha S Rawool of Yummy Tummy Recipes. “This creates a sense of urgency and hence it motivates customers to take valuable actions on the website.” 

21. Optimize for Repeat Customers  

“There are only three ways to grow your business: sell things more often to your existing customers (frequency), sell more things to your existing customers (breadth), and acquire new customers,” says Spencer Smith of The LDN Center.

“The last is by far the hardest. To help convert more often within an eCommerce funnel, use existing customer data to understand what they want. Then send those customers content reaffirming they made a good decision to buy from you (reviews, social proof, publicity).”

“Oftentimes, we think that our customers – since they already bought from us – are thinking about us as we’re thinking about them. They’re not. Reactivate your base of existing customers to increase your conversions.”

In sum, when you understand what your potential customers want, you’ll be able to map out key touchpoints that should help you acquire and retain them. Make sure you use all the “tricks” in the book to refine your messaging and customer experience to improve sales.

Wrap Up

Improving your e-commerce conversion funnel is not easy. It’s an on-going process, but also one that will certainly be worth your time and yield positive results with the right approach.

What is your favorite strategy? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below.

About the author
Jessica Malnik
Jessica Malnik Jessica Malnik is a content strategist and copywriter for SaaS and productized service businesses. Her writing has appeared on The Next Web, Social Media Examiner, SEMRush, CMX, Help Scout, Convince & Convert, and many other sites.
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