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Building Effective E-Commerce Sales Funnels

Written by: Drew Teeuwissen and Kathryn Keenan   |   May 31, 2024   |   Share this:  

Hey there, small business owners! Let’s talk about something crucial for any business’s success: the sales funnel. It might sound like marketing jargon, but understanding your sales funnel can affect how you approach your sales and marketing strategy.

What is the Sales Funnel?

Think of the sales funnel as a journey your potential customers take, from when they first hear about your business to when they make a purchase. It’s all about guiding them through each step of the process, ultimately turning curious browsers into loyal customers.

By designing a customized funnel, your business can tailor marketing efforts for each step in the funnel, sharing information and incentives at each stage to guide your customers toward the desired outcome, in most small business cases this outcome is a purchase or booking. This process can help increase sales and also help in building relationships with your customers, enhancing brand loyalty, and optimizing the overall marketing strategy.

So, let’s break it down into bite-sized pieces, shall we?

Sales Funnel Stages

While designing your sales funnel, it’s important to understand how each stage will align with your customer’s journey and ultimately lead your customer to complete your business’s goal or key conversion metric, such as increasing sales. As we walk through the sales funnel, let’s review the different strategies a local coffee shop may use while building each stage.

1. Awareness Stage – Someone lingers on your ad while scrolling through their favourite social media platform. Congratulations! You’ve just captured their attention. This is the top of the funnel, where people become aware of your brand. This is where customers first learn about your product or service. This stage is important because without capturing your customer's attention, and thereby building awareness, they may not know you exist, or about the depth of your product offering. Effective marketing and outreach strategies at this stage help capture attention and drive traffic to your business.

Example: The coffee shop runs an Instagram ad showcasing their new seasonal blend to reach coffee enthusiasts within a 2km radius of their shop. A nearby Instagram user sees the ad, clicks to map directions to the shop and considers stopping by on their morning commute.

2. Interest Stage – Now that you’ve piqued their interest, it’s time to reel them in. This is where you provide more information about your products or services, nurturing their curiosity and showing them why they should care. Providing valuable content and engaging with potential customers helps them see the benefits of your offerings. This step is key for moving people from passive awareness to actively considering your product.

Example: You could offer the potential customer a free e-book describing the different beverages your shop offers and a coupon to try them in exchange for their email address. This provides value to the potential customer and gives you a channel to stay in touch.

3. Consideration Stage – Here’s where things get serious. It’s crucial to show your customers why you’re the best choice. Potential customers are weighing their options and comparing your product to others. It’s crucial to provide detailed information, reviews, and comparisons to help them see why your product is the best choice. This step builds trust and helps them move closer to a decision.

Example: You could send this potential customer personalized emails highlighting customer reviews, showcasing your unique coffee blends, or offering a limited-time discount to incentivize them to purchase.

4. Decision Stage – At this stage, customers are demonstrating intent to buy from you. They might add items to their cart or request a quote. This is the moment of truth – the point where your potential customer decides whether to whip out their wallet or click away. Make it easy for customers to say yes by removing obstacles and addressing any last-minute concerns.

Example: You could offer a hassle-free checkout process for coffee pickup orders, secure payment options, and a satisfaction guarantee to give the customer peace of mind.

5. Retention Stage – Congratulations! You’ve successfully converted a customer. But your job isn’t done yet. Now, it’s all about keeping them coming back for more. After the purchase, keeping customers happy is key to turning one-time buyers into repeat customers. Follow-up communication, loyalty programs, and excellent support help maintain a strong relationship, encouraging them to buy again and refer others.

Example: You could start a loyalty program like ‘Buy 5 coffees and get your 6th free!’ send personalized recommendations of new blends or beverages based on their past purchases, or offer exclusive daily deals to reward their loyalty.

Calls To Action Through the Sales Funnel

Calls to action (CTAs) are key to guiding customers through their journey with your brand. Think of CTAs as little nudges that help potential customers take the next step and move through your sales funnel, whether it's signing up for a newsletter, making a purchase, or downloading something useful. You want to place these prompts at crucial points along the customer journey —from the moment they first hear about your business to the final decision to buy, and become a repeat customer. 

Early on, you might use CTAs to get people to learn more about what you offer or subscribe for updates. As they start considering your products or services, encourage them to download a helpful guide or join a webinar. When they're ready to make a decision, clear and direct CTAs like “Buy Now” or “Get Started” can seal the deal. 

Make sure your CTAs are appealing, concise, and match what the customer needs at each stage. By experimenting with different CTAs and keeping an eye on what works best, you can make the customer journey smoother and boost your chances of turning interest into action.


Remember, a sales funnel isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s more like a framework that you can tailor to fit your business’s desired outcomes. By understanding each stage of the funnel and crafting strategies to guide your customers through it, you’ll be well on your way to sales success.

Happy funneling!


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