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The Secret To Building a Profitable Sales Funnel With Ecommerce Expert, Ezra Firestone

sales funnel

Knowing how to create and iterate on a sales funnel is one of the most profitable concepts an entrepreneur can master. In fact, virtually every business on the planet that has success at scale uses some type of sales funnel. 

Turning a consumer into a customer requires a logical series of steps. 

First, a consumer in your target market sees your ad and becomes a prospect. Then, they land on your website and become a lead. Finally, they make a purchase and become a buyer. 

A sales funnel is a curated series of relationship-building experiences that help turn prospects into buyers. Research also shows that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured prospects.

In this article, you’ll learn how to build a one-page ecommerce sales funnel with leading ecommerce expert and founder of Smart Marketer Ezra Firestone

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How sales funnels work

A sales funnel is a visualization of the path customers take to purchase. It represents the marketing strategy that turns cold prospects into paying customers by moving them through various stages. The “funnel” involves taking large groups of people and turning them into high-value customers. 

According to Salesforce, a full 68% of companies have not identified or attempted to measure a sales funnel, and the same survey showed that a whopping 79% of marketing leads are never converted into sales.

The goal is to map the route to conversion and automate sales. A sales funnel shows you what to do to influence potential buyers at a specific stage. It starts the moment they become aware of your brand, and continues until they purchase a product and become an advocate. 

Say you see an Instagram ad for a new pair of running shoes. They intrigue you, so you go and check out the shoes on the company’s website. You’re now a prospect. 

On the site you take a quiz, check out a blog post, look at other pairs of shoes, and maybe even sign up for an email marketing list. Now you’re a lead.

Eventually you receive an email with a discount off your favorite running shoes. You buy them, maybe even some recommended shorts too, and you’re a happy customer. You’ve come to like the brand’s products, so you promote them online.

This cycle then continues with one of your friends or family members. That’s how sales funnels work in action. They are pre-planned stages a company brings you through until purchase that also include retention tactics to keep you happy and promoting the brand’s products. 

At a high-level view, sales funnels consist of three parts:

  1. Top of the funnel (ToFu): your target audience
  2. Middle of the funnel (MoFu): your potential customers
  3. Bottom of the funnel (BoFu): new and existing customers 

Sales teams or small business owners can create sales funnels for one product, an entire category, or specific target audiences. If you don’t have as many resources, you can create one for your bestsellers. Regardless, sales funnels work when they’re built correctly and provide relevant content for buyers. 

87% of consumers choose to do business with companies that provide valuable content at all stages of the customer journey.

The sales funnel helps you know what customers do at each stage of their journey. They allow you to understand which marketing activities work, and which don’t, so you can invest in the right channel and realize a higher return. 

Sales funnel stages: the AIDA framework

The AIDA framework, which stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action, is a funnel model that represents the consumer thought process at each funnel stage. Many ecommerce brands apply this purchasing funnel because it’s effective and easy to comprehend. 

The AIDA framework helps you identify what buyers need at each stage of the funnel and support them until purchase.

Let’s look at the different stages of the sales funnel, with examples of how you can apply them to your online business. 

Awareness

The awareness stage is where you catch a potential customer’s attention. It can be an ad, a YouTube video, an Instagram post, a friend’s recommendation, or any other affiliation with your brand or products. 

In this first phase, focus on three things:

  • Making buyers aware of products and services
  • Developing a marketing and outreach strategy
  • Creating messaging that resonates with target audience

Your goal is to persuade the prospect to return to your side and engage with your brand. People lingering in the top of your funnel aren’t interested in product information right away. They are often casually browsing and stumble upon your brand.

Content is critical here: 95% of buyers choose businesses that provide them with sufficient content, which helps them navigate each step of the buying process. 

You want to create non-promotional lead generation content in this stage, such as:

  • Informational videos
  • TikTok videos
  • Instagram Stories, Reels, and feed posts 
  • Google shopping, Instagram, or Facebook ads 
  • Podcasts
  • Influencer collaborations
  • An effective About Us page
  • Blog posts 

Take Digest by Great Jones, for example. The brand Great Jones makes cookware for home chefs. It’s mission is to empower people on their culinary journey. 

top funnel blog example

The shop offers Dutch ovens in bright colors, retro-inspired baking dishes, and ceramic-coating frying pans. It’s blog, called Digest, is one of four main categories in its ecommerce store’s navigation. Digest is home to delicious recipes, interviews with different chefs, and the Great Jones items you can use to make the dish. 

The blog creates a sense of community for readers, making it feel like they’re in a home kitchen versus reading a blog. They can learn about different cultures, recipes, or stories, and get inspiration for their next big dish. It’s a great top-of-funnel asset for Great Jones that attracts the right customers, builds trust, and subtly kicks off the sales process.

Interest

In the interest stage, prospects are doing reach and comparing your products to other brands. You’ll want to begin forming a relationship with them and learning about their problems and goals. 

Areas to focus on when building this stage are:

  • How to gain prospects’ interest
  • Creating a content strategy that supports prospects
  • Showing social proof and testimonials
  • Making information easy to find and read through text and video

Your goal here is to help shoppers make informed decisions, offer help, and establish yourself as experts in the field. The content you create here should be more in-depth. Why? Because you’re proving that you are the better solution for customers. 

Businesses that nurture leads produce 50% more sales at 33% lower costs.

Some lead magnet style content you can provide are:

  • Interactive content like quizzes and calculators 
  • Educational videos
  • Downloadables like checklists or ebooks
  • Customer case studies
  • Webinars or live streaming events on social media
  • Comparison pages

Beardbrand does an excellent job of sparking interest through its interactive quiz. Right on its homepage, website visitors can find out what types of beardsmen they are. 

beardbrand quiz

The quiz asks a series of questions related to the visitor’s lifestyle and needs, such as “Which activity do you prefer to do the most?” and “What style of facial hair do you want?” To receive your quiz results, Beardbrand asks the customer for their email address, which also signs you up for its marketing emails.

email list sign up

Once your email address is in, you’re guided to a landing page where you’ll find a description of your Beardsman style with relevant products to match it. 

Beardbrand quiz results

Desire

People are ready to buy in this third stage of the funnel. They know there’s a problem that needs solving and are actively looking for the best solution. 

Ask yourself the following questions when planning this stage:

  1. What makes my product desirable? 
  2. How will I follow up with qualified leads?
  3. How can I build an emotional connection with prospects (website chat, email, SMS, tips and advice)?

Here’s where you promote your best offers, be it free shipping, discount codes, or free gifts. Your goal is to make your products so desirable that leads cannot turn them down. 

Action

The final stage is where a prospect decides whether or not to purchase your product. Consider where your calls to action are and where to place them on your product pages. Make it easy for potential customers to get in touch with you if they have any hesitations or questions.

Whether you’re in ecommerce or B2B sales, the sales pipeline is something we all have to build. It doesn’t stop here though. Once a customer acts, you’ll need to focus on retaining them (i.e., keeping them happy and engaged) so they return to buy again and again. 

How to create a dangerously effective ecommerce sales funnel

Brands drive traffic from advertisements and emails directly to their product offer pages as the core way of generating sales. Some brands also include collection pages, pre-sell articles and other stops along the way. But the almighty funnel that rules them all is the one-page funnel. 

For that reason, if the goal is to build a dangerously effective sales funnel, it all starts with optimizing the product offer page.

You’re about to learn an effective 10-step process you can follow to design an ecommerce product page that engages and converts.

Step 1: Decide on a layout

The first step in designing an ecommerce product page that converts and engages is to decide what the overall layout of your page will be. You have three basic layouts to choose from:

  • Traditional ecommerce product page
  • Long-form ecommerce product page
  • Product mini-site

This step is fairly straightforward. And if you don’t already know which layout you want, there’s a simple litmus test you can use to figure it out. Ask yourself: Is there a lot to say about this product?

If the answer is no, there isn’t much to say, then you’ll probably want to go with a traditional product page. This is the case for a lot of products that are easily understood or very visual, like clothes or sunglasses, such as the Hawkers example below. 

hawkers sales funnel

But if the answer is yes, and there’s a lot to say about this product, then you’ll want to use a long-form product page or a mini-site. This is usually the case when you have stories to tell, technology to explain, benefits to reveal, objections to overcome, and so on.

For example, Boosted Boards clearly has a lot to say about its product in this long-form ecommerce product page:

boosted boards one page sales funnel

The only real difference between a long-form page and a mini-site is how the content is laid out.

With the long-form layout, everything goes on one long page. With a mini-site, that same content is presented over several smaller pages. Both layouts can be highly effective, so you really can’t go wrong.

ACTION ITEM: Decide on a layout for your ecommerce product page design.

Step 2: Style your header

Your header is an incredibly important element of any ecommerce product page design. So while we’re on the topic of your navigation links, let’s chat about it for a minute.

The header is simply the top part of your website. It’s where you typically have your logo, your menu, your shopping cart, and any other important links or information that you want to have present on every page. When you’re styling your website’s header, here are a few tips to help improve your conversion rate optimization:

1. Keep it slender

While your header is important, it should never overwhelm the content on the page. You should try to keep your header as small as possible to allow for the biggest viewing area.

On your desktop site, try to make sure your header takes up no more than 20% of the website’s height. Like Harry’s does here:

harrys header sales page

And on mobile, because screen space is even more limited, try to make sure your header takes up no more than 10% of the height. Again, Harry’s does a great job of this:

harry's sales page on mobile

2. Always have a link to the shopping cart

Every ecommerce store that has a shopping cart page should link to it in its header—always. This applies to desktop and mobile. People are used to it. They expect it. And if you don’t include this in your header, there’s a chance they might get frustrated trying to find their shopping cart and leave without completing their purchase.

If you want to add a nice touch, give a notification when there’s a product in the cart, like M.Gemi does here:

M Gemi sales page

3. Include your logo

The header is a prime place to display your brand logo. Anytime someone lands on your website, you want them to see that logo and instantly know they’re in the right place.

You’ll want this on your mobile site, too:

hims sales page

hims mobile

4. Include your brand’s tagline on desktop

A good tagline can really help reinforce your brand identity. So if you have one, go ahead and put it in your desktop header. Here’s an example from BOOM! by Cindy Joseph:

boom tagline in header

But on mobile, you’re better off skipping the tagline. The screen space is too limited and valuable.

5. Include a call to action for an email opt-in or a purchase

Because your header is such a visible part of your site, it’s also a great place to put some kind of offer for a purchase or email opt-in.

In this example, Keeps uses a header bar to call out a special offer:

Keeps header deal

BOOM! includes an opt-in button in its header:

Boom! CTA

MVMT has one too—a sticky Add to Cart button along the bottom of the screen on mobile:

sticky CTA by MVMT

Now the downside to what MVMT is doing here is that between a sticky header, another sticky bar calling out free shipping, and a sticky Add to Cart button, it’s taking up quite a bit of space.

Another option is to put your mobile email opt-in inside the flyout menu, like BOOM! does here:

sticky CTA example

When this brand added a call to action to its header, it saw a 30% increase in email sign-ups. Definitely a worthwhile thing to add to your ecommerce product page design!

6. Make your links easy to read

A 2016 eye-tracking study found fonts sized 18 points or higher to be optimal for online readers. Make sure you use a big font that’s easy to read, in a color that contrasts the background and really stands out.

Pay particular attention to your mobile menu. A lot of companies ignore this part of their site, and as a result they miss out on the opportunity to convey value and make additional calls to action.

Notice how Hawkers has all kinds of wasted space underneath its menu:

hawkers menu example

Compare that to the company Hims, which does a great job of making its links bigger and including additional links to its social media profiles at the bottom:

hims mobile menu

Big links are especially important on mobile, where it can be easy to mis-click and end up on the wrong page. Keeping your links big, with space between them, helps to minimize this frustrating experience.

7. Make your header “sticky”

A “sticky” header is one that sticks to the top of the page. So when you scroll down, that header is always right there at the top

Here’s an example from Purple Mattress:

purple mattress sticky header

Its mobile page has it, too:

sticky header mobile

Sticky headers work really well, especially on long product pages (like Purple Mattress’). This is because you can keep a call to action on the screen at all times.

Notice that on Purple Mattress’ sticky header, for example, the only clickable link is Shop Now.

Step 3: Select a feature testimonial

Next up, it’s time to choose a featured testimonial. This is different from your reviews. You still want a Reviews section with lots and lots of people saying how much they love your product.

But what we’re talking about here is a single testimonial you put inside your buy box. This will be a highly visible customer quote, so make sure it’s a good one.

Why do you want to add a featured testimonial to your product? Because it improves your conversions.

BOOM! tested this. It took its original buy box, which looked like this:

boom product title

And tested it against this version:

Boom featured testimonial as product title

The only difference is that one version has the product name at the top, while the other uses a featured testimonial.

Adding the testimonial increased its conversion rate by 5.25% and its average revenue per user by $1.25. BOOM! repeated this test many times over, and the testimonial won every time.

This is a testament to just how important it is to leverage social proof on your product page.

When you’re choosing a featured testimonial, here are three tips:

1. Choose a testimonial that enthusiastically endorses the product

It sounds obvious, but it bears repeating. You want this to be one of the best quotes you can find about your product.

2. Keep it short

Because if it’s too long, people will skip over it. Here’s a great example of a concise and effective testimonial:

testimonial example

3. Choose a testimonial from your biggest customer demographic

If your buyers are 75% female and 25% male, use a testimonial from a woman. You can’t rotate this featured testimonial, so make the most of it by having it represent your most common buyer.

ACTION ITEM: Select your featured testimonial for your ecommerce product page.

Step 4: Select product carousel photos

Now it’s time to add product pictures to your ecommerce landing page design.

Here’s an example of a typical product image carousel:

image carousel

On an ecommerce site, having a good selection of high-quality product images is very important. Remember, people online aren’t able to pick your product up and inspect it for themselves. They have to rely on your pictures to give them a good idea of what the product is really like.

To put it another way, your images represent your product’s perceived value and quality.

A recent survey revealed that 90% of consumers consider images to be essential when making a purchasing decision online.

So it’s not surprising that product page pictures get a lot of engagement. Here’s a sample heatmap to prove it:

heatmap example

The same thing is true on mobile, even when that button is pushed below the fold:

mobile heatmap

Because your photos get so much attention, they need to be as good as you can possibly make them.

Generally speaking, there are only two main kinds of product photos:

1. Pure product pictures

This kind of photo just shows the product itself against a pure white background (or a background of another color). For example:

product image example of shoe

2. In-context/lifestyle images

These photos show your product being used in its intended environment. Basically, they show the product in use. For example:

lifestyle image

You need both kinds of images on your product page. You also need multiple photos for shoppers to browse. The minimum is six to eight, but you can always add more.

Here are some tips for creating your product image carousel:

  • Quality matters. Your images absolutely need to look as good as possible. This is not to say that you need a $5,000 camera. You can do this on an iPhone if you want.
  • Show your product in as many forms and positions as you can.
  • If your product opens and closes, show it opened and closed. If it comes with a case, show it in the case and out of the case. If it folds up, show it folded and unfolded.
  • The more varied your images, the better people will be able to picture it in their minds.
  • Show the product in use.

You want to show people actually using the product. And when you do this, make sure it looks like they’re enjoying it—they should look happy and excited, like they’re having a good time.

Boosted Boards does a great job of that here:

Boosted Boards lifestyle image

Also show how the product is made and/or what it’s made of. Another effective picture type is one that shows people what your product is made from.

BOOM! does this by highlighting certain ingredients, like this facial scrub that’s made with oats:

BOOM product shot

Boosted Boards uses animated photography to give you a close-up of some of it products’ most important components:

boosted boards product shot

A third way to do this is to give a visual overview of all the parts that come together to make your product. See how nice this image from Purple Mattress looks?

Purple mattress detail shot

The last pointer is to optimize images for quick loading. This helps improve your SEO ranking and create a good shopping experience. Yes, you want the best possible images you can get.

But no, you don’t want those images to slow down your website so it loads at a crawl.

The best course of action is to get the best images you can find, and then have your developer optimize them to load as quickly as possible.

ACTION ITEM: Decide on four ideas for showing off your product in its intended context.

Step 5: Create a short-form product demo or GIF

Video consumption is the most popular internet activity worldwide. The number of digital video viewers is projected to reach over 3.1 billion by 2023, spending over 100 minutes per day watching videos on their devices.

If you aren’t leveraging video on your ecommerce product page, you’re missing out on one of the most effective conversion assets out there. Now, if you already have a high-quality product video—maybe something with interviews, testimonials, and product shots, and so on—that’s great. Keep it.

But a lot of savvy ecommerce stores are also finding it really useful to have a short-form product demonstration video. This can even come in the form of a GIF.

This is a short and simple video that shows the product in use. It’s a really useful video because you can add it to your product carousel, share it on Facebook and Instagram, use it for video ads, and more.

 

You should ideally keep your video under 30 seconds. This video doesn’t even have sound—although some short-form videos play catchy music in the background. You’re just looking for a simple, clean, and elegant product demonstration.

ACTION ITEM: Create your short-form product demonstration video or GIF.

Step 6: Add buy box content 

Here’s an example of a buy box from M.Gemi:

buy box example

The goal of your buy box is to get the visitor to click that Add to Cart button. And to accomplish that, it needs to remind people of the most important reason why they should buy now.

In other words, your buy box needs to quickly summarize the main benefits of your product. Unfortunately, many ecommerce companies miss out on this opportunity by not using any copy. 

As a result, their buy box doesn’t effectively communicate why the visitor should buy. In this example, MVMT does a great job demonstrating social proof by showing its reviews near the top, but it misses out on an opportunity to include some really important ecommerce copywriting.

mobile buy box

Compare that to BOOM!, which takes full advantage of the buy box to repeat the product’s main benefit along with additional social proof, upsells, reviews, and more:

product description example

If you want to use a framework, your buy box should follow these steps:

  1. Open with a featured testimonial.
  2. Provide a one-sentence ownership benefit.
  3. Add a two- to three-sentence product description.

When you’re thinking about that one-sentence ownership benefit, the trick is to ask yourself questions like:

  • What is the primary reason for someone to buy this product?
  • What is the main benefit they’ll get from using the product?
  • What will they get/have/obtain/become/feel after using the product?
  • How will other people perceive the customer or think about the customer differently after using the product?

Put the answer in your buy box in a succinct and compelling sentence. Remember, this is perhaps the most critical part of your ecommerce product page. So take advantage of the opportunity to remind people why they should buy. It could mean the difference between winning a sale or losing one.

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ACTION ITEM: Write your buy box content.

Step 7: Choose a call-to-action (CTA) text

Now let’s narrow in on the single most important element within your buy box: The Buy button.

call to action example

A lot of websites get creative with the CTA text on their buttons. Netflix, for example, uses Get Started.

netflix cta

This may work really well in some situations. But it’s generally not a good idea for ecommerce.

For ecommerce, you should be using one of these common CTAs:

  • Buy Now
  • Add to Cart
  • Checkout Now
  • Add to Bag

What’s so magical about these CTAs?

In a word, they’re clear. People have been shopping online for years now, and they’re used to seeing a button that says one of these things. If you break with that tradition and do something different, some people are liable to get confused and wonder if your website works differently.

So, for your own good, don’t try to get too creative here. Most ecommerce stores should just stick with Add to Cart and move on. (Unless you’re in Europe, where Add to Bag seems to be more popular.)

ACTION ITEM: Choose your CTA text.

Step 8: Decide on USPs and create USP images 

USP stands for a unique selling proposition” In a nutshell, USPs are things that make you different; the things that set you apart from your competition. They’re reasons why people should buy from you instead of somebody else.

Now, it’s always good to mention these USPs in your product page copy. But it’s also a great idea to take your USPs and turn them into USP images. This is a really effective technique that a lot of ecommerce stores are doing. Like Puravida:

USP example

Now it’s time for you to figure out your USPs and put them into an image format. If you already know your USPs, great. But if you’re still working on that, here are some ideas for USPs for your business:

  • What makes you cool?
  • Do you offer guarantees or special financing?
  • Do you provide fast and/or free shipping?
  • Where do you go above & beyond to make your product special?
  • Do you have any relevant certifications?
  • Do your products use some special technology?
  • Is your product made in the USA, cruelty-free, organic, or 100% natural?
  • Is there any other reason people should buy from you instead of your competitors?

These kinds of things make for great USPs. So take some time to think about it, and when you have your USPs ready, put them into an image format. Then stick those images somewhere on your product page.

ACTION ITEM: Decide on your USPs (pick at least three to four) and stick them somewhere on your product page.

Step 9: Decide on guarantees

Guarantees are another thing that can have a major impact on the effectiveness of your ecommerce product page. Think about it: Anytime you buy something online (especially if you’ve never bought from a company before), you’re taking a little bit of a gamble.

You can’t see the product in person, so you don’t really know for sure what it looks like. And while you can read reviews and see testimonials, you can’t always be certain that the product is going to work the way it should.

That’s why a guarantee can be so powerful. It’s just a way of telling your visitors, “If you don’t like this product, you can get your money back.” It reduces that feeling of risk and makes people more likely to click the Buy button.

You can offer all kinds of different guarantees:

  • Money-back guarantee
  • Satisfaction guarantee
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Buy-back guarantee
  • Happiness guarantee
  • Low-price guarantee

In general, nothing seems to ever beat a money-back guarantee. The most effective guarantee you can provide your shoppers is the promise that you’ll give them a refund if they change their mind.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t have multiple guarantees. You could offer a money-back guarantee and a product-specific guarantee, like Away Luggage’s “TSA-approved lock” guarantee:

benefits on product page example from AWAY

So next, take some time to think about guarantees you can offer. Your goal here is to minimize any feeling of risk and replace it with a sense of security in your shoppers.

ACTION ITEM: Decide on your guarantee(s).

Step 10: Select social proof images

Our final step in creating a high-converting ecommerce product page design is to add social proof images to your page. These are usually small images or logos—about the same size as your USP graphics—that lend credibility to your product or your company in some way.

If you’ve been featured in a magazine or on a website, for example, you can add their logo for a little extra social proof:

Purple mattress social proof example

Even more effective is to feature a quote along with the logo, like Frank Body does here:

elle testimonials

Purple Mattress follows the same formula:

purple mattress testimonial from business insider

Having a quote like this from a well-known media source is ideal. But if you don’t, you can always use quotes from current customers. The idea is to add more social proof to your product page.

Here are a few places you can look for quotes to turn into social proof images:

  • Reviews or testimonials from current customers
  • Celebrity endorsements (remember that a “celebrity” could be anyone who is well-known in your niche; this doesn’t have to be an international movie star)
  • Certification logos (if you’re certified with the USDA, certified organic, certified with PETA, etc.)
  • Quotes and/or logos from magazines or blogs
  • Expert reviews or recommendations (such as “9 out of 10 dentists recommend it”)

In short, you’re basically looking for anything from a third-party source that gives your product greater credibility. Then throw those credibility-boosting images onto your ecommerce product page.

ACTION ITEM: Select social proof images.

Shorten the sales cycle, improve bottom line metrics

Companies that create an easy buying process are 62% more likely to win a high-quality sale. A solid sales and marketing funnel, targeted at the right buyer personas, can help find new customers, move them through the decision stage, and turn them into paying customers. 

If you’ve been following along, you should have everything you need to finalize your high-converting ecommerce product page design. Just take the assets you created from each of the 10 steps and build them into a winning ecommerce product page. Going step by step will ensure you don’t forget any of these important conversion-boosting elements. You can also download a sales funnel template to skip the building process. 


Sales funnel FAQ

What is a sales funnel system?

A sales funnel is a series of pages that a prospect engages with on their way to becoming a customer. Depending on what kind of funnel you have set up, this could range from one page to many, with retargeting ads and retention schemes. The most common ecommerce sales funnel is actually the onepage funnel.

What are the stages of a sales funnel?

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action

What is a sales funnel example?

Say you run Instagram ads that drive traffic to a landing page. On that page, you ask a prospective customer to sign up for your email or SMS list in exchange for a lead magnet, like a discount. You now have new leads.

Next you send out content to educate, inspire, and help people solve their problems. At the end of the campaign, you send a 15% discount coupon of a subscriber’s first order. You then get a bunch of sales, add those new customers to another email list, and start the process over again.
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