Do you have your online store up and running, but sales are not living up to your expectations? There is a big chance that your eCommerce sales funnel is leaky.
With more than 79% of leads never converting into sales, you have to pay close attention to each and every single prospect that could become a paying customer. Analyzing your sales funnel, from the moment your customer-to-be lands on your website for the first time, to the moment he or she clicks “buy”, can help you understand how to improve your process.
Truth is, there might be plenty of reasons why your funnel isn’t bringing you the results you are looking for. In this article, I will analyze a bunch of them and suggest fixes you can implement right away to make a fortune with your online store in 2020.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
You attract poor quality traffic
It’s common to see eCommerce businesses that get tons of traffic coming to their stores thanks to SEO or paid advertising, but the conversion level is next to nothing. There are plenty of possible explanations for this situation and the first one to explore is the poor quality of traffic brought to your page.
What does it mean?
Simply, people coming to your website do not fit your buyer persona criteria and they land on your page without real intention to buy anything from you. For example, it’s possible that your article will organically rank for keywords that you did not intend to rank it for, and which would not help you convert.
Take a look at the article titled The Best Innovative Chatbot Examples by Industry written by Tidio Live Chat and two organic keywords that it started ranking for: “adult chatbot” and “adult chatbots”.
As Tidio offers chatbots to be installed on websites (such as eCommerce stores) to help automate the sales process and improve customer service, everyone coming to the blog after searching for “adult chatbot” is probably not someone with a potential of becoming a lead.
That is an example of bringing to your page poor quality traffic with little chances of converting. If your website or a blog is attracting new visitors that aren’t qualified and interested in your product or service, that means that your content marketing and SEO strategy might be at fault.
How to fix it:
Improve your content marketing and SEO
The most important step you can take in order to start bringing relevant traffic to your online shop, is to start producing SEO-optimized and useful content. This can range from starting a company blog to improving your meta titles and descriptions of your products. Here’s where you should start.
- Invest in a company blog
Having a company blog with content around your brand and your products is a powerful way to educate your users about what you have to offer. For example, take a look at how BestSelf – an eCommerce business selling journals and planners that also runs a blog related to their products.
The content on their blog is heavily focused around their products which is very helpful for their SEO efforts. Moreover it’s also very educational which helps in building trust and authority.
Once you’ve started your company’s blog, you can use free tools such as AnswerThePublic in order to find new content ideas for your company’s blog. For example, let’s say you are selling yoga mats. To generate ideas for your articles, you can simply write “yoga mat” and check the most popular searches for this query.
- Implement user-generated content
Engaging your customers to share content relevant to your brand is a great way to start bringing new traffic to your online shop. A popular way to do this is via social media channels. For example, it’s common to run giveaways, contests, as well as hashtag campaigns where your followers publish their own content and use the specified hashtags in order to enter the competition.
Take a look at how Frank Body has approached this and keep in mind that they have achieved $20M in annual sales in 2017 by investing in content marketing.
- Level up your SEO game
The topic of SEO for eCommerce businesses is a complex one and it includes both: on-page and off-page SEO related to your landing pages as well as your content. A good place to start would be to run a technical SEO audit and improve technical issues such as:
- Title tags, meta descriptions
- Image alt text
- Page speed
After that, it’s time to ensure that your website’s content is optimized. I won’t go into details of the whole process for SEO content optimization, but the key here lies in keyword research. And here’s a great guide that can help you design your SEO-optimized content strategy.
Focus on link-building
Once you’ve created SEO-optimized content, you should move on to start building links to your content. I won’t go into details explaining each strategy, but backlinks will help you rank your content (and your online shop) higher on search engines and, as a result, bring more organic, high-quality traffic.
For example, BestSelf started building links for one of their most popular products – a Self Journal. This has helped them to start bringing in 3.5k of organic (free) traffic on a regular basis.
The faster you master building links to your products and your content, the faster you will see qualified traffic coming to your store.
Experiment with product promotion and content distribution
Organic traffic is one thing, but there are also other ways that can help you bring qualified traffic to your website.
- Social media
Social media should be a key component in your eCommerce marketing strategy. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, and soon probably also TikTok are powerful channels for bringing tons of traffic to your store. You can either try to attract traffic with your organic social media reach or invest in PPC advertising.
Nowadays, it’s quite tricky to build a huge audience on social media platforms from scratch, as the market is overfilled with companies that have been doing this forever. In this case, using paid, targeted ads might be the way to go.
For example, here’s how ConvertKit runs their Facebook ads using their customers’ testimonials to come across as more trustworthy.
- Influencer marketing
Instagram influencer marketing continues to be a big thing in 2020, and it’s a tactic you should leverage. It works like this: A customer sees a post shared by their favorite IG influencer, who – for example – is raving about a brand new lip balm. The post ends with ‘link in bio.’ The customer then clicks the link and is directed to the eCommerce store where they can buy the lip balm or – at the very least – opt-in to the sign-up form.
Influencer marketing is successful because, while new customers might not trust you yet because they don’t really know who you are, they DO trust their favorite influencers. It’s literally the best endorsement you can get.
To make influencer marketing work, you need to find influencers who’ve got the same target audience as you.
- Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing connects you to marketers who use their content creation and promotion skills to a) raise awareness of your products and b) direct traffic to your store.
It’s an excellent strategy because it takes a load off your plate. Instead of you working tirelessly to qualify all leads, affiliate marketers do some of the job for you (for a fee, of course).
All you need to do is find expert independent marketers in your niche (you could create an affiliate program, which is what Amazon and many others do) and they will then write about your products on their blog, and even create videos about them. They’ll also include a little link in their content to your store.
You don’t have a clearly defined target audience
Another issue that might be contributing to your low conversion rate is the fact that your target audience isn’t clearly defined. If you don’t really know who you are marketing to, it’s hard to get people to buy your products or services. Having a clear picture of the needs and wants of your customers-to-be is what will help you deliver the solutions they are looking for.
How to fix it:
Analyze your product and the market
To understand who could benefit from using your product, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- What needs and gaps does my product fulfill?
- What features and benefits does my product have and what problems does it solve?
- What group of people would benefit the most from using my product?
Ideally, you should do that for each and every one of your products in order to understand their core benefits and how they can help solve problems of people considering buying them.
While researching the target market, you should collect information related to:
- Most used device
- And so on.
It’s also a great idea to take a look at your existing customer group and their behavior. You can use basic analytics tools such as Google Analytics or more advanced ones, such as Finteza to get accurate insights into your target audience and their behavior.
For example, with Finteza you could start tracking the efficiency of your funnels as well as set up some goals. This tool offers a detailed funnel visualization where you could see how exactly users landed on your site and what kind of further activities they did. This data even includes how many users click or not clicked on a particular button or even downloaded some gated content.
Conduct competitor analysis
Another way to understand and define your target audience is to spy on your competitors. Performing a competitor analysis can help you better understand their customers and where they are coming from.
In this way, you’d be able to design a strategy that could allow you to “steal” your competitors’ customers or simply attract a similar audience to your own store. One way you could analyze how your competitors bring traffic and what channels work best for them is to use a tool called BuzzSumo.
With BuzzSumo, you can check the top-performing content of your competitors and get ideas on how to produce your own. For example, let’s say you are running an online t-shirt shop for skaters and you want to create content about creative t-shirt designs ideas. All you have to do is type “t-shirt design ideas”:
Now you can see what kind of content produced by your competitors gets the most engagement and through which channels. This should give you a good idea of how to create your own.
Design a buyer persona
After collecting enough data about your target audience, it’s time to start designing your buyer persona. You could do that from scratch or use one of the ready-to-use buyer persona templates available online.
Here’s an example of how such a persona could look for your eCommerce business.
Your store’s landing page isn’t optimized
Depending on the eCommerce platform on which you run your online store, your landing page could be at fault when it comes to keeping your conversion rate (and therefore, sales) down.
Here are some of the most common landing pages mistakes:
- Poor design
- Difficult navigation
- Complex language
- No clear call-to-action (CTA)
- The discrepancy between the ad copy and page copy
The landing page of your eCommerce store is like a shop window in a regular retail shop. It’s important to have it as appealing to your visitors as possible. In order to gently push your audience down the sales funnel and convert them, their customer experience on your store’s page should be seamless. There are a few landing page best practices that you can implement in order to optimize it.
How to fix it:
Create separate landing pages for popular products and promotions
To start with, you should consider building several landing pages for your most popular products and current promotions in addition to your main website. This will increase your chances of bringing qualified traffic and potential leads to the products they are most interested in.
Here’s an example of a nicely done landing page for a specific product – window shades by Axis.
- Add social proof (testimonials)
Here’s the thing: A prospect might be very close to clicking this “buy” button but something is preventing them.
Often, that ‘something’ is a lack of social proof.
Think about it: If you stumbled upon a brand new online store’s website, would you be inclined to purchase something if you have a) never heard of this store before and b) it seems that no one else has yet bought anything from them?
According to statistics, which show that we read 40 online reviews before believing a store’s star rating is accurate, you probably wouldn’t, and for good reason.
If you stick a few pieces of social proof on your landing page, you could easily tip a dithering prospect into the conversion zone. For example, you could add a quote and image from your influencer, or add a few reviews from satisfied customers.
You could also ramp things up by adding a line such as, “don’t take our word for it, take the word of …”
Don’t be afraid of adding numbers, too. If you’ve already sold 20,000 products so far, let us know!
Here’s a great example of using social proof on an eCommerce landing page in practice:
- Improve your website’s performance and go mobile-friendly
A poorly performing website is a huge conversion barrier. Here are a few best practices for optimizing it:
- Take a look at your page speed. If it’s too slow, customers will get frustrated, and they will bailout. You can use PageSpeed Insights from Google to perform a test.
- Implement product zoom. It is really important especially for eCommerce businesses related to fashion, as it gives customers the chance to see your products in more detail.
- Implement intuitive UX design and easy navigation. If a customer can’t find their way through your store with ease, they won’t hang around for much longer.
- Consider adding a wish-list option as they are perfect for hesitant customers who are interested but want to save things for later. When they return to your site, their wish list reminds them of the things they wanted to buy. It also helps to improve the user experience and it’s becoming a feature that people expect to see in an online store.
- Make your store mobile-friendly. Not only do 59% of customers make purchases directly with their mobile devices these days, but you can target them with mobile-friendly ads, such as Facebook ads.
- A smooth checkout process is key to reducing cart abandonment. Make it short, easy, and remove any unnecessary distractions
- Have a clear CTA
Customers can be funny things. They have this feeling that there’s something they should be doing next, but they sometimes need you to give them a nudge.
If there’s something you want your customers to do – make a purchase, add something to a cart, opt-in to a newsletter – you need to show them very clearly how they can do it.
This is where the CTA comes in. A CTA needs to stand out on your page and it needs to tell your customers what they have to do in no uncertain teams. Be direct, concise, and action-packed with your language, and consider turning your CTA into a button. Make this button bright, optimize it with a catchy headline, and make sure you always deliver on your promises.
The way you optimize your CTA will, of course, depend on the purpose of your CTA. For example, if you’re raising awareness of a promotion, you can add the promo code in the header.
Lack of a lead nurturing process
It often happens that your website’s visitors are initially interested in your offer, but they aren’t ready to buy from you right at the moment when they land in your store. In order to convert them into customers, you need to first build trust and often also educate them about your products.
That’s where the lead nurturing process comes in. According to studies, a lack of lead nurturing sequences causes 79% of marketing leads to never convert into actual sales. That’s potentially a bunch of your customers-to-be left hanging and eventually forgetting about your business and your brand.
If you don’t have a solid lead nurturing process in place, it’s about time you think of creating one.
How to fix it:
Launch email marketing campaigns
When thinking of lead nurturing, you cannot forget emails. Running email marketing campaigns personalized for your leads is one of the most powerful ways of converting them into paying customers. The key word here is: Personalization.
In order to be effective in your email marketing campaigns, you have to personalize your message to each of your customer segments. Different subscriber groups (segments) should be receiving different emails, for example depending on their behavior.
That’s why segmenting your audience and collecting analytical data is so important. Here, for example, you can see an email sequence designed using Hubspot.
As you can see, different recipients receive different emails, and its content depends on the actions they took on your page in the past. With such personalized email campaigns, you are increasing your odds of converting your leads into customers. Your emails might be educational (familiarizing your leads with your product), promotional, or related to cart abandonment or other events.
Also, make sure to always monitor the email deliverability rate, open and click-through rates to be able to adjust your campaigns when needed.
Use conversational landing pages
Another way to build trust with your leads and prepare them for moving down the eCommerce sales funnel is to use conversational landing pages. It’s simply a dedicated landing page with a live chat or chatbot that can help you to connect with your leads one on one.
If your leads have any questions related to your products and don’t want to jump on a call, you can offer them a chat conversation in real-time, instead.
Conversational landing pages are great for nurturing your leads as they make them feel special and simply taken care of. Using such a dedicated page you can secure your sales with customers who are still hesitant about your brand and need confirmation that you are a trustworthy business. Additionally, it’s an awesome way of collecting direct feedback from the people you chat with.
Here’s an example of such a landing page:
Image Source: TopContent
Poor customer service and retention strategy
With 78% of customers having backed out of a purchase due to poor customer experience, it is clear that your customer support can make or break your eCommerce business. Your customer service reps are the ones answering your website visitors’ questions and assisting your customers-to-be along the sales funnel.
Unfortunately, it is still as common to see customer support done poorly as it is to see businesses completely ignoring their loyal customers. A solid customer retention strategy is an important part of fixing your leaky eCommerce sales funnel.
How to fix it:
Automate your customer support
In order to avoid an overfilled inbox as well as missing out on your customers’ emails, you can consider installing a live chat supported with chatbots on your website to improve your customer service.
Live chat will allow you to answer your customers’ queries in real-time and provide 24/7 support. Chatbots, on the other hand, can be used to automate the process and save your time and money. For example, you can create a FAQ chatbot answering the most popular questions automatically.
Another solution that you might want to consider is setting up a call center where you can communicate with your customers via phone. In order to make this work and avoid keeping your customers frustrated while waiting on the line, ensure the process is highly automated and you have enough operators to handle all queries in a timely manner.
Implement a cart abandonment strategy
There might be multiple reasons why your customers-to-be eventually decide to abandon their carts and not complete their purchase. Whatever it is, your job is to stop this from happening.
Implementing a solid cart abandonment strategy starts with running a thorough analysis of why your leads abandon their carts in the first place. Collecting this data will allow you to understand and address the issues they might be having on their journey.
The most common way for existing leads is to use email campaigns that are triggered and sent to them reminding them about the item left in a cart. This strategy can be effective if you’ve mastered your subject lines and prepared a really appealing email body. However, even that does not always work.
Another approach is rather about preventing your shoppers from abandoning their carts by making the checkout process as fast and easy as possible. It can entail adding Google Pay and PayPal payments, as well as installing chatbots assisting your website visitors in their journey.
Whatever strategy turns out to work best for you, you should keep in mind that reducing your cart abandonment rate is what can help fix your leaky eCommerce sales funnel and boost your conversions exponentially.
Reward your loyal customers
Did you know that in some industries, acquiring new customers costs five times as much as retaining an existing one?
That’s quite a lot, isn’t it?
That’s why having a healthy customer retention strategy in place is so crucial for your business. There are several ways you can reward your loyal customers. For example, you can offer them discounts, free shipping, gift cards, or… set up a referral or affiliate program for them to make a buck or two recommending your products.
Referral programs are truly a win-win situation, as you get free word-of-mouth and increased brand awareness, as well as new leads and customers while your existing customers get some cash.
The same is true for affiliate programs which are a great solution for those of your customers who have audiences of their own and a website.
Lastly, you can’t forget about regularly checking in with your customers and preparing them special deals, surprising them from time to time, or remembering about their birthdays. It’s all an investment that you won’t regret.
All eCommerce stores need a sales funnel. Without one, your chances of converting cold traffic into red-hot traffic that eventually turns into paying customers are low.
Use the tips in this article to fix your flagging eCommerce sales funnel. Generate leads, nurture them, and play the long game. In other words, build relationships with your customers that last for a very long time.
Guest author: Margo is a Growth Marketing Partner for tech companies. She creates content that converts website visitors into paying customers for B2B/SaaS companies with digital marketing funnels. Get in touch with Margo on her personal blog – Margo Leads or LinkedIn.