Turning a browser into a buyer is a beautiful thing. It means that you not only attracted the right shopper to your site, at the right time, but presented your products in a way that made them want to buy from you. And that’s no small task.
There are times, however, when shoppers simply do not convert—even when it seems you’ve exhausted all of your efforts. In these instances, you may be asking yourself, “What happened?” There are lots of answers to that. Perhaps they were just window shopping, or maybe something happened (or didn’t happen) during their shopping journey that prevented them from buying.
The path browsers take to complete a purchase is referred to as the conversion funnel. What exactly is this, and more importantly, how can you get your customers to see it all the way through? We’ve got all the answers right here—including how personalization can smoothly funnel more shoppers through your site and into the conversion container below. Let’s get started!
Understanding the Conversion Funnel
A conversion funnel is an e-commerce term that describes the different stages in a buyer’s journey leading up to a purchase. As shown below, the funnel metaphor illustrates how potential customers are guided down the path to conversion.
Conversion funnels can help you understand how customers are using your product and help you pinpoint (and solve) shopper pain points so you can improve the overall efficiency of your website. Many conversion funnels are divided into an upper, middle, and lower funnel that can help you determine which e-commerce marketing tactics you should focus on to guide your site visitors to the next phase of their journey.
Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
No, it’s not a vegan’s favorite stir-fry add-in, but rather the first phase of the funnel. Often referred to as the awareness stage, this is when potential customers are just discovering and starting to research your products and brand. At this point, they’re still unsure whether they want to commit and might visit a few different brands to see which one meets their needs best.
TOFU is the broadest part of the funnel because the greatest number of people are in this phase. During this stage, online retailers may use tactics such as search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), online advertising, and social media marketing to increase awareness.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
This is the consideration stage of the funnel, where potential customers are evaluating their options and deciding which product or brand to choose. For e-tail marketers, ensuring that product detail pages (PDPs) have high-quality content, easily accessible FAQs, and interactive features, if possible, will go a long way. Strategies like email marketing, recommendations, and retargeting ads can also be strategically deployed to persuade shoppers to move to the purchase phase.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
The final stage is all about conversions. It’s here that a shopper will either convert into a paying customer or make a swift, empty-handed exit. This also happens to be the narrowest part of the funnel–because the fewest number of shoppers are actively in this phase. For e-commerce brands, this is where urgency messaging, incentives, and an easy checkout process can make all the difference.
The Basics of Funnel Optimization
Conversion funnels mark the specific milestones that must be reached in a shopper’s journey to completing a purchase. By tracking the percentage of shoppers who reach each stage of your conversion funnel and analyzing their behavior, you can optimize for transition rates from one stage to the next. To achieve this, you’ll need to understand how funnel optimization works.
Step 1: Evaluate your e-commerce site’s strengths and weaknesses.
First, locate the points where most shoppers proceed to the next stage, as well as where they fall off the buying path. This information will help you focus your optimization efforts on stages that require the most improvement or optimizations that will have the largest impact on your conversion rate.
For instance, your product description pages might be really good at getting visitors to add items to their cart. This tells you that many shoppers are interested in your products, which is a big win. However, you also discover that a substantial number of these users leave your site before making it to the checkout page.
Step 2: Determine the obstacle preventing potential customers from buying.
Now that you’ve identified the point(s) that shoppers are most likely to exit the funnel, you’ll need to figure out why. An effective approach is to launch an A/B or multivariate test to explore your theories and potential solutions.
Here are some common examples:
Theory: The call-to-action (CTA) button to check out is not prominent enough
Test: Alternate CTA styles and messaging
Theory: Shoppers continue to browse other products, but lose interest and forget there are items in their cart
Test: On-screen reminders not to forget the items in their cart
Theory: Shoppers leave, with intentions to return later, but forget and/or are intercepted by another retailer
Test: Variate methods to increase the shopper’s sense of urgency to check out immediately
Theory: Shoppers aren’t ready to commit to the cost of items
Test: Different incentives to win the sale
Step 3: Acknowledge the challenges of optimizing for each individual.
This is where things can get tricky. While some of your site’s visitors complete their buyer journey in your current e-commerce experience, others veer off because of the reasons you’ve identified. And to complicate it even more, some shoppers leave for reasons yet to be discovered.
On top of this, online consumers, and their preferences, are changing all the time. This means that what worked well for Shopper A two months ago might not be as successful this time around—making it even more confusing to deliver the e-commerce experience they want. And if there’s anything we know by now, it’s that customers do not like being treated like everyone else, which is where personalized solutions come in…but more on that later!
Step 4: Make use of all of your conversion funnel data.
If that last part left you feeling a bit stressed, this should bring a sigh of relief: Digital shoppers generate TONS of valuable data every time they browse your website (or app). With the right tools, you can capture, evaluate, and utilize this information to develop and improve your conversion strategies. The key is learning to ‘listen’ to what they are saying by making sense of the behavioral data they produce.
Advanced AI and machine learning, like Granify, can analyze both anonymous shopper and known customer behavior while they’re on your site, then make real-time predictions on the best way to convert each individual shopper. This is achieved through tailored content that is delivered at optimal times in a shopper’s journey. So, Shopper A may receive an incentivized drop-down to guide them to their cart, while Shopper B could be informed of how much money they’ll save if they act now.
Harnessing the Power of Personalization
Because every customer has different wants, tastes, and digital body language, a one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t work. That's why using machine-learning tools to guide your personalization efforts is critical. Because these personalization engines analyze real-time data, you’ll be able to curate tailored experiences as each person is shopping. This doesn’t mean that historical data is a wash—it just provides you with greater opportunities to delight your visitors while they’re on your site.
Where your site’s visitors are in the sales funnel can often determine the best type of personalization to provide, which of course, can be guided by your reliable AI software (hint hint). What are the heavy hitters? Here are our top onsite VIPs (P as in ‘Personalization), in the order of the funnel:
Dynamic Homepage Content
Custom content, such as a dynamic homepage that can be customized based on the viewer's history (or lack thereof), is a great way to engage a shopper from the moment they land on your site.
Discounts and Promotions
Personalized discounts and promotions are one of the easiest and most efficient ways to convert a browser into a buyer–81% of consumers want (and appreciate) them.
Tailored product recommendations based on items in a shopper’s cart can increase conversion rates by up to 8% (Source: Monetate).
Adding relevant reviews, testimonials, and other forms of social proof on the cart page is a great way to reinforce the quality and credibility of your products and brand.
Go for gold, but keep it smart (and secure).
First-party data provides a bounty of valuable insights you can use to convert more shoppers, but ensuring any personally identifiable information (PII) is handled both ethically and in compliance with data protection laws should always take precedence.
Conversion Funnel Wrap-Up
Understanding and optimizing the e-commerce conversion funnel is crucial for any online business wanting to stay ahead of the curve. From awareness to conversion, each stage of a shopper’s journey plays a vital role in the success of your online store and requires its own unique set of strategies to keep potential customers engaged and interested.
By continually analyzing data, testing strategies, staying attuned to customer preferences, and tailoring messages to each individual shopper’s unique needs, you’ll be able to increase conversion rates and provide an exceptional shopping experience for every visitor, no matter where they find themselves on the path to purchase. As you work to fine-tune your conversion funnel, remember, personalization isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a powerful tool to supercharge your e-commerce efforts so you can attain awareness, consideration, and conversion success for many years to come.
Turn your sales funnel into a conversion tornado!
Granify’s AI-driven platform is pivotal in increasing CRO within the conversion funnel. By recognizing when a visitor is most likely to make a purchase, it can personalize the shopping experience in real-time, fine-tuning product recommendations, messaging, and even the timing of offers. To learn how we can make sure your conversions are pouring in, reach out to us today!
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