eCommerce Basics: Your Ideal Customer & The Sales Funnel

In the previous blog post here, we discussed how to create a customer persona for your eCommerce business. In today’s post, we will be connecting the persona you created, with a funnel.

But first lets define a sales funnel. Obviously, you understand that we are not talking about an oil funnel πŸ™‚

The sales funnel we are talking about is a sales model which analyses the procedure on how a person turns from a complete stranger to a customer – and sometimes more than that (think repeat customer – its a stage – or a brand ambassador – we will explain on later posts).

Here is how a Sales Funnel looks like:

Ok, I admit the Sales Funnel above looks like the oil funnel – hence the name probably.

So this marketing funnel may look like something that you have no clue about what it represents but bear with me.,.

To understand a marketing funnel lets take YOU as an example. Let me know if the following sound familiar:

  • You see an article (like this one) and you decide to click one of the links that tells you to learn more or visit another article that looks interesting.
  • You read the article (thanks!) and then you type another URL in the browser and leave. Or your phone rings and you need to check your email. Or your significant other screams from the other room that you need to go on an errand. Or whatever. The point is – you close the browser, or you leave the site you are reading and forget all about it.
  • In just a few minutes (or hours or days) you start seeing banners from that site – email on your Gmail! These banners ask you to come back, they offer your special deals, coupons, discounts free ebooks anything to get you to visit the site back again – and not just any page – a specific sales page.

Depending on your current state of being/mind you do one of the following:

  • You get annoyed
  • You simply pay no attention to them until they are gone
  • Or you decide to click one more time and visit the site.

Congratulations, you just entered a sales funnel!

So, any chance you now relate to the the diagram shown above? (not the photo!)

Lets be a bit more clear and map each stage of your funnel to the ideal customer you just created.

The Awareness Stage (or, Top Of The Funnel)

So lets say that – to continue the example of the previous post) your ideal customer is looking to buy fitness equipment for home. Lets call her Amy, and she is a managerial assistant to the President of a manufacturing company in Germany.

Amy is not happy with her body. Her husband made some remarks about her appearance a few days ago (ok, he meant well) and she started thinking about doing some exercise – not just for her husband but for herself as well. With the pandemic, she was forced to stay at home for longer hours, and whilst she spends more time with her family she didn’t feel the need to go outside and exercise – and as all gyms are currently closed, buying a cost-effective, frictionless home gym equipment seems like the best option.

Armed with her wants and needs, but clueless to what’s in the market, she just types “home gym equiment”.

And voila! Amy is now on the Awareness Stage. The awareness stage simply means that when someone is looking for information, without knowing what they are looking for (or just browsing) your website or ad or social media post or video that talks about a general topic) your piece of content has more chances to appear in the search results and the user IS NOT READY to buy yet. They are just looking.

This is where most people that place ads fail. They try to get everyone to buy from the first stage which essentially means “Hey, look at this hot gal/guy, I will ask her/him to marry me”. And you get a slap in the face.

So what can you do to stand out and appeal to the mass people on the Awareness Stage?

Well ,to stand out – I do not know, it depends on your business. But to appeal to people who are generally lookin gfor information and then move them to the second Stage you could do tone or all of the following:

  1. Create and optimise content (blog posts, social media, video, infographics, images, audio) for the search terms you want people to find this content. So if you sell home gym equipment you must include these keywords in the content.
  2. Create ads on Facebook that “sell” the content you just created. More people will see it and you will be rewarded later by pixeling them (which means retargeting them). If you advertise on Facebook, this is even better because Facebook can give you some crazy CPC of as low as 0.01 per click (I know that because we do it al the time for clients)
  3. Create cross-promotions with bloggers, influencers and other businesses that may need your items.
  4. Try to get news coverage by focusing on specific benefits of your products

The Engagement Stage

The Engagement Stage is the next step for Amy to take. Simply put, since Amy was looking for general information and found a few sites that resonate with her, so she saved some on her bookmarks, and asked some questions on Facebook groups or forums, liked some pages and social accounts/posts to get updates from them.

This is the easiest stage in her journey down to purchase. In order to get the like, a business that wants to transform Amy from a passive visitor to a customer needs to create engaging content, provide lots for valuable information, and help the customers do the next logical thing:

Enter The Discovery Phase (or Middle of Funnel)

This is the stage AFTER Amy expressed her interest to some Facebook pages, blog posts, Instagram profiles, and clicked the Like, Follow or save buttons for later.

Each time a company now posts an update, chances are that Amy gets it and reads it IF the title is interesting and resonates with her wants and needs.

After getting some of the updates, Amy decides to signup for a newsletter that also offers a 15% discount on the first purchase. She screenshots the discount code but also gets an email with it so she feels relieved, as she can now refer to her email to retrieve the code, should she need to.

She also signs up to another website that sells gym equipment for home but this time the incentive is to download an eBook and some video courses that explain how to help her tone her abs and lower butt. So she does this, and downloads the ebook – saves the location of the videos for later and takes a quick look at the ebook – she has other things to do and now, this is not so important.

She closes the eBook and goes to do other stuff.

And this, my dear Reader, is when Amy successfully entered the Discovery stage.

What kind of tactics can you use to hep your visitors enter the Discovery Stage?

● As mentioned above, you could offer additional, hidden content in exchange for an email address (aka the lead magnet)
● Consider doing some YouTube videos where you actually ask your viewers to subscribe to your newsletter or channel
● If your product allows it, you can offer it as a free trial – prospects signup, get the product for free and if it is a consumable, like a food or a supplement or something they can use over and over, you can put them on a recurring basis
● Sending email newsletters with amazing content to subscribers
● Create a Facebook/Google Ads/Bing remarketing campaign for visitors to your website

So now that a brand has successfully managed to drive a potential customer down to the next stage, how can they convince Amy to take the next stΞ΅p, which is to purchase?

The Purchase Stage

This is the most gruesome part of all. Asking a customer to take out her wallet and give you her hard-earned money is like asking someone to marry you (because essentially this is it). I mean, it takes time. You have to create, cultivate and grow a relationship. And when the buyer is ready to to give you their money, it means that they trust you that you will deliver.

It is easier said than done, but if you have done your job in delivering value via emails and content, being consistent on social media, answering the prospects questions and contributing to discussions, then chances are that you bring the potential customer closer to the purchase decision.

The Purchase Stage takes time. As mentioned above you need to build trust. You need to educate the customer on the benefits and choices they have to make. Some customers may feel that the options you give them are not enough or they are not a fit. And that’s ok. There are millions of other, similar customers to talk to, so do not get upset when customers leave your site – it means that it wasn’t for them.

So back to Amy’s journey: after a while, Amy has hopefully took the time to read the eBook, but obviously she can’t do the exercises without home equipment. She has decided that she absolutely has to get a home gym exercise, and she has the room to put it. So ideally, her choices are to buy either from the site that offers her a 15% discount or the site that offered her a course and the eBook. Each site sells a different machine with little price differentiation, so she focuses now more on what kind of value she can get out of both machines.

She decides to run a “versus” query on Google. She types “Machine A vs Machine B” and gets a ton of websites analysing why they prefer one or the other. She finally reads one of those review sites so she sits down and explores the differences according to someone who took the time to list all benefits and drawbacks of owning one machine versus the other.

Now Amy feels more confident. Since she started she:

Found tons of sites talking about home gym equipment

She liked, followed and bookmarked any site that reasonated with er

She subscribed to several newsletters

She got frequent updates from the sites she selected

She read reviews, eBooks, email newsletters and compared al lthe benefits for each machine.

She is now ready for the next step – the order.

What did she prefer?

It doesn’t matter because we do not really know the inner psyche of Amy. Whatever she chose, she chose because what she read reasonated with her. She puleld her credit card and bought.

Bam! She now is the proud owner of a home gym equipment – and she can’t wait to start her new life!

What kind of tactics would you use to convert Amy?

  • You could make the transaction as smooth as possible by making the checkout experience very interactive – guarantees, money back, multiple credit cards and payment options, free returns., live call centre – you name it
  • You could have a limited time offer for people that return to your site and with a countdown timer
  • You could also have bundles of products priced more competitively (the objective is to increase the average order size)
  • You could retarget your past visitors with offers, discounts, coupons, weekend offers, Monday offers, you name it
  • Finally, you could add reviews and testimonials to your website.

At this post we will not go into the topic of retention, as it is a large topic to deal with and we have reserved it for another post. For now, what you need to know is that, unless you do not have a clearly defined funnel, you will end up losing your hard-earned customers to your competitors.

It is easy to visualise what your ideal customer can do or not, and following the process above you can also clearly map her steps towards the purchase.

I hope you found it interesting – until next time!

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