The e-commerce sales funnel is the key to boosting the website’s performance. Creating a funnel is the art of orchestration: you have to consider and handle all of the marketing instruments to create harmony.

Based on 10 years of managing multiple successful e-commerce marketing campaigns, I decided to share with you the basic question I’m asking whenever I have to configure, analyze or re-configure an e-commerce funnel.

The first thing in building an efficient funnel is focuings on designing it properly, as a whole.

Step 1: Get visitors to your website

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney

Objective: Getting yourself noticed

The upper part of the funnel involves traffic generation and acquisition. I am not a very big fan of paid traffic, but it is a must have in the early stages of an e-commerce website.


The most important questions you need to ask yourself are:

“What is the most attractive and cost-efficient way to generate traffic and awareness for my website?
“How can I persuade visitors to visit, talk and recommend my website without paying for traffic?”
“What makes my target curious enough to talk about my website?”

[Tweet “If you would have a $1000 marketing budget this month, how would you invest it?”]

Before spending money on traffic, please consider these facts:

Viral trafficlowVery good
Direct trafficlowBest
E-mail trafficlowGood
Organic trafficlowGood
Affiliate trafficmediumGood
Paid traffichighIt depends 🙂


I’ve learned that virality is the outcome of a well structured plan and targeted efforts. Besides having a brainstorm to squeeze the creativity out of your team member’s brains, you have to plan each action that needs to be done to get the results you want. The idea has to be creative, unique, innovative, but the most important is how you implement it.

Step2: Get subscribers

Objective: Transform visitors into subscribers

It’s a very difficult task to convince someone whose intention wasn’t to buy in the first place to do this from the first visit. The solution is focusing on achieving intermediate goals named micro-conversions. The goal is transforming window shoppers into subscribers. Email has great ROI, it’s cheaper than other marketing channels and allows having repeated visits to the website.

In this stage you can try different e-mail grabbing techniques such as exit surveys or pop ups and then create automated messages.

You should also know that in this stage people are not ready to buy and you have to build a relationship with them.  To grab their attention and convince them to give their email address, you should clearly answer to the question“What’s in it for me if I give you my email address?”.

The next step to having better results with the email marketing efforts is testing which subject line, send time and commercial offers are converting at the desired rate.

The Questions:

“What kind of information do I need to provide to my visitors to convince them subscribe?”
“How can I persuade them of the value of my offering?”
“Do I afford offering incentives to increase my opt-in rate ?”

Step 3: Persuade

“Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument”- Desmond Tutu

Objective: Convince visitors to ad items to their shopping carts

Besides the benefit-oriented copywriting, personalization, gamification and appealing images, you should definitely base your decisions on validated solutions with an A/B testing software.

The Questions:

“What should I do to make them act now?”
“How can I make them eager to go further in the buying process?”
“What stops them from buying?”

From my experience, the most effective way to have an answer to these questions is getting it directly from customers through surveys: satisfaction surveys addressed to particular segments of traffic: non-buyers or new-comers, returning and non-buyers, etc.

Step 4: Close the deal

“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars; I look for 1-foot bars that I can step over” – Warren Buffet

Objective: Turn shoppers into buyers

My favorite trick is the  under promise, over-deliver principle. Every time I used it I got positive results in sales. If you can overcome their expectations, just do it!

We know that the cart abandonment rate is a pain in the ass: 65% of online shoppers abandon their carts. Besides testing the design of the product pages to decrease the number of abandoned carts, you can also use exit pop ups to catch the undecided shoppers.

Sending follow-up SMS messages to eCommerce shoppers is a good way to encourage them to finish their purchases after some time has passed.

Satisfied customers who have no fear to buy from your website will become repetitive buyers.

The Questions:

“How can I overcome their expectations here?
“What makes them stop and abandon their carts?
“Is there a pattern that specific segments of visitors are following?”

Step 5: Long term profitability for your business

Objective: Transform customers into fans

NPS (Net Promoter Score) is one of the most important KPIs that Fred Reichheld came up with in 2003 and has been adopted by companies like Apple, Google or  Adobe.

The Questions:

“What should I do, how should I talk, how should I ask the current customers to get a recommendation?” And then…
“Is there anything under my control or influence that I can do to make every single customer become my evangelist?”

Asking these questions is a simple thing that takes no more than 20 minutes and could save you lots of money. Moreover, the answers are the foundation of your sales funnel, which determines the exact efforts that need to be done to achieve the desired goals.

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