Where exactly does the sales funnel process start?
We’ve recently been working with a client to implement e-commerce tracking as they wanted to understand the effectiveness of their online store. As part of the process, we defined the funnel process to establish a conversion rate and help them identify any problems with their checkout.
This got me thinking about how a customer’s funnel process starts much earlier than the checkout and what you can do to ensure that your site works effectively every step of the way.
- Your customers kick off the funnel process as soon as they search on Google. Since first page results account for over 67% of traffic, it’s essential that your site is ranked there. Put yourself in the minds of your customers, conduct keyword research and name your products as your customers would search for them. Ensure that your product descriptions are keyword-rich and make sure you write relevant page titles and descriptions. Good on-page SEO, regular social media updates and an ongoing programme of quality link building will all contribute to positive rankings.
- When your users arrive on your homepage, first impressions really do count. An impressive web page design engenders trust. Be careful not to ‘over design’ your site. Your products should be the stars of the show. Keep the design efficient and clean. Every design decision you make should be to improve the usability of your site. Ensure you have multiple large and clear product images per product, all shot in a similar fashion. Price points should be obvious and your homepage should lead with a large banner image containing your latest offers.
- Once customers have judged the design of your site, it’s on to the functionality. I could write a dedicated blog post outlining every piece of functionality customers expect to be included on modern e-commerce websites. So I think it will suffice to say that we’ve become so savvy as online shoppers, if your site doesn’t have user reviews, up-sells, cross-sells, a mega menu, popular products, online chat, account area and a blog as a minimum, it’s not going to be up-to-scratch. To contend with the big players in your industry, you’re going to have to offer these tools to be taken seriously from the outset.
- So your customers have fallen in love with your site design and find it a pleasure to shop there. They now need to know they’re shopping in a safe environment and that you’re a reputable, caring retailer. This can be accomplished by ensuring you have the small details covered. Make sure that you prominently display delivery information and your returns policy. Describe your products in detail and ensure users can zoom on your product images. To give visitors confidence, prominently display the logos of the payment cards you support and provide details of your SSL certificate. It’s also a good idea to employ the services of an independent review service such as TrustPilot to add an extra level of credibility.
- Once a customer has gone to the trouble of adding a product to the shopping basket and proceeding to check-out, it’s essential that you keep them there. Analysis of your Google Analytics stats will show that a high percentage of shoppers drop out during this final phase so you have to do everything you can to stop them getting distracted. The first thing to do is to remove the navigation and leave only the most essential elements on the page. Show visitors that the checkout process is only a short number of steps by including a progress bar. Make sure your ‘proceed to next step’ buttons are more prominent than your ‘keep shopping’ buttons to guide visitors in the right direction.
Whilst I haven’t covered everything here for the sake of brevity, I hope this blog provides an overview of the factors effecting the customer sale funnel process which I believe begins a long way from the checkout.