Sales Funnel

What is it?

The sales funnel (or eCommerce conversion funnel) is a visualisation of the route that the customers take from the time they first hear about your product to making a purchase or becoming a repeat customer.

It also includes customer retention, upselling, cross selling or subscription models.

The sales funnel will vary for businesses from different industries and conversion rates can fluctuate significantly. There is no one size fits all conversion rate. Every company and even different products within the same company may have a sales funnel and conversion rates which are unique to them.

Stages of the Sales funnel

In an e-commerce funnel a customer would go through the similar stages of the sales process as in the classic sales funnel. Classic interpretation of the sales funnel suggests that there are four key stages in the journey.

Stage 1 - Awareness

During the awareness stage consumers become aware of the brand and realise that it can help to solve their problem or  satisfy their need. They may have seen an add online, picked up a leaflet or seen a social media post, vlog or blog. Targeted content on the website and remarketing ads are useful tools to employ at this stage.

Stage 2 - Interest

This time a potential customer is interested in the product, they may browse multiple pages and keep returning to your website. At this stage the aim is to retain the audience and keep it engaged. To keep the momentum going it is worth highlighting the offers, related content such as blogs or endorsements. Making it easier to search for products and information on the site is a great strategy too.  

Stage 3 - Desire

At the desire stage it is worth putting forward customer testimonials, reviews, unique selling points, and benefits of using the product.

At the same time urgency messaging and social proofing can be useful tools to reinforce visitor’s interest and convert them into customers.  

Stage 4 - Action

The action is the final stage of the process. In commerce terms it is a checkout process, which usually contains steps that visitors need to take before closing the sale. This is usually the area where companies focus their conversion rate optimisation programmes.

A multi-directional path

Though the classical sales funnel model describes the funnel as a linear path when customers move from one stage to another, in real life this movement is multi-directional, the customers may move backwards and forwards between the stages, drop off right at the point of converting, they are most likely to be influenced by reviews, competitors and social media.

For example, the Interest and Desire stages may be interlinked. However, at all the stages communication with the customers is vital, but the tone may vary depending on where in the sales funnel the customer finds themselves.

Finally, the sales process does not end with the purchase, post-sales marketing communication is crucial in order to avoid buyer’s remorse and increase the rate of repeat sales.

Optimise the sales funnel to increase conversion rates

Optimisation can help to improve conversion rate at all stages of the sales funnel. Optimise the beginning of the funnel by testing landing pages, welcome pages, product pages, product listing pages, search results pages as well as the bottom of the funnel and have checkout and payment pages tested. Urgency messaging and social proof are great tools to improve the overall conversion rate. 

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