How does your brand go from, nice to meet you! to will you marry me?
It takes time and effort to map out the customer journey. They need to become aware of your brand, engage with your content and products, and finally, make the decision to purchase what you offer.
Similarly, a conversion funnel for eCommerce (also known as a sales funnel) follows the same rule as the customer journey—however, it also contains elements specific to your industry. DTC Shopify merchants who want to grow their eCommerce business need to understand this process, and design a funnel to help customers along their way.
Simply put, the customer journey takes a person from unaware your brand even exists, all the way to a loyal customer who promotes your products. For a customer to progress in this way, you need to create a funnel which makes the next step clear, desirable, and easy.
A funnel starts wide and narrows as you move down. Your conversion funnel should do the same. The goal is to capture a high quantity of people at the beginning of your conversion funnel, qualify them to become part of your eCommerce customer base, then move them down the funnel toward products. This is best done by giving them steps which align your brand with their own personal brand.
Funnels can be structured in a number of ways, but one of the most popular is to distinguish them into three main segments: the top, the middle, and the bottom, which we will cover more in depth below. Each eCommerce funnel section has its own characteristics and strategies to maximize conversion from one section to the next. Plus, each one ends with a specific call to action, bringing the customer further along on the journey.
One might think a funnel ends when the customer buys an item from you. That’s not the case. Depending on their experience with your product, and the nature of it, they should get cycled back up to somewhere earlier in the funnel—usually the bottom, but sometimes the middle.
Maximizing the middle and especially bottom of your funnel leads to repeat business, higher average order value (AOV), and greater lifetime value per customer. This also allows you to use existing customers as elements of your top of funnel, by encouraging them to spread the word about your brand on their social media and real-life conversations.
Every Shopify merchant has a slightly different customer journey, but the major building blocks remain consistent. Here’s a guide to mapping out your brand’s customer journey. Use it, so you can figure out the areas of your funnel to focus on first!
Each step of the customer journey requires creativity. People are moved to action primarily through their emotions. The best way to evoke an emotion is through a gripping, creative story. Creative Cockpit, for instance, allows you to determine the performance of your brand’s creative and see how it relates to your customer journey map.
What does an effective sales funnel for eCommerce look like?
At the top of your funnel, the customer goes from unaware of your brand to curious about it. Often, they begin as someone not knowing about your brand at all. Here, the DTC business should make the customer aware of the brand’s existence in a way that resonates. Often, this means solving a problem or answering a felt need they have.
There are multiple ways to accomplish this, but one of the most common is through lead magnets and paid advertising campaigns (known as PPC or CPC campaigns) on social media and search engines. Both of these elements involve using quality copy, this should be the writing which goes into advertisements to tell a story and provoke action from the audience.
A strong TOFU could look like well-managed PPC ads on the social media platform your target customer uses the most, like Instagram or Facebook. It could also look like competitive ads on search engines like Google for the keywords your prospective customers search for most frequently.
A longer term play that also creates customer loyalty is a lead magnet. These come in many shapes and sizes, but bottom line, they offer something for free that interests the customer—in exchange for some information. A lead magnet may ask for an email address, or involve a webpage which captures their data. Lead magnets often come in the form of edutainment, like a PDF explaining your brand, or a content marketing platform like YouTube videos. It could also come from giveaways and sweepstakes. Plus, all of these can be paired with paid ad campaigns to generate a higher number of people engaging at the top of the funnel.
To maximize the results you get from paid ads, you need visibility beyond what platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Google give you. It takes a dashboard which reveals better data, enabling you to make the most effective decisions regarding your campaigns. Triple Pixel can give you this confidence.
Through a combination of paid ads and lead magnets, the customer becomes aware of your brand and begins to seek information about it. This is the official move from the top of the funnel to the middle.
Here, the customer becomes curious about your brand and what you have to offer. In this stage, beyond thinking about getting more sales, a wise Shopify merchant should begin building a relationship. This could look like creating engaging blog content, an email list, and active social media pages (where you engage directly with your audience). Through all this, your customers learn what your brand is about, and how your brand aligns with their personal identity.
At some point in the MOFU, the customer will start looking at your product pages. This could come from a variety of sources, such as clicking an ad, seeing your social posts, or clicking on an email about a promotion you’re running. Make sure your product pages display plenty of social proof. To improve your conversion rate, show shoppers the ways people just like them buy and enjoy the product. Make sure they see people they want to emulate using and enjoying the product through reviews, ratings, and testimonials.
This is also a place where you can contract with influencers (or as we like to call them, affluencers), to increase your brand exposure and social proof. To get the most ROI from your brand’s affluencer partners, consider using Affluencer Hub. It centralizes data from your influencers and affiliates to ensure your relationships lead to customer growth.
After they’ve satisfied their curiosity and got affirmation that your brand enhances their personal identity, a customer moves from the middle of the funnel to the bottom. They are now ready to buy one of your products.
At the bottom of the funnel, the customer goes from curiosity and consideration to a desire to buy. Because of this, the BOFU becomes about maximizing the transaction in terms of order value (cart size) and consistency (repeat buys). Here, the Shopify brand should work to increase average order value (AOV) and lifetime value of the customer.
Ideally, your product and branding is attractive to the customer, they make large purchases, repeat purchases, and recommend you to their network. DTC brands accomplish this by fine-tuning their product and checkout pages to offer irresistible upsells and cross-sells. For example, offer items related to the ones in their cart, with limited-time discounts. Additionally, include a “frequently bought together” section.
Your eCommerce business should then begin effective email campaigns which influence current and potential customers to make a purchase. For example, craft a four-part email campaign for your promotions and product launches which goes out to everyone in your audience (remember, you’ve gathered contact information through previous sales and your lead magnets). You can also make an introductory drip campaign for anyone who joins your list, and a sequence that targets users with an abandoned cart.
To round out your BOFU efforts, encourage customers to share about your DTC brand. For instance, make it easy for them to leave a review and rating for your products. You could also create a giveaway or contest asking people to make a social media post featuring your product. And through all of this, your customer service should be top-notch, so customers enjoy their experience with your shop and organically recommend you to others.
Take the time to familiarize yourself with each section of the funnel, and determine which areas need the most attention. This could mean running highly-targeted ad campaigns, partnering with influencers in your domain, or optimizing your product and checkout pages. Make sure that in the journey from “unaware” to “repeat customer,” nobody falls through the cracks. And, don’t let your funnel get stagnant. High revenue companies continually innovate in their funnel; you should too.
You have an ally to help you with all of this. Triple Whale helps Shopify business owners (and marketers) visualize and optimize their performance across the entire funnel. And as your success grows, you can keep track of your finances with FinHub, a finance platform custom-built to help DTC brands operate smarter and maximize their growth. But don’t just take it from us—here’s a story from Chris Meade, successful inventor and eCommerce expert.
Take it one step at a time, and build out your funnel. Soon, your eCommerce business will bring high quality customers right to your door!
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