THE CONSUMER JOURNEY + PHOTOGRAPHY
As a seasoned + self confessed online shopper, I could certainly offer some of my own tips for improvement on your online stores from a customer perspective, but I thought I would call in the experts when it comes to the in-depth knowledge about the consumer journey, e-commerce funnels and purchase paths. So I've enlisted the help of eCommerce Specialist and self confessed champagne hippy from Unstoppable eCommerce, Megan Winter, to run us through some of the ins and outs.
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If you have an online store you will know that not everyone who visits your home page becomes a purchaser. In fact the average conversion rate for eCommerce sites is 1-3%. You will also know that not everyone who adds to cart, completes their purchase. The average abandon cart rate sits at 68% for online stores.
WHAT IS AN ECOMMERCE FUNNEL?
The reason for this is that potential customers need to progress through a journey to go from not knowing you exist, to purchasing from you, purchasing again, and then telling their friends. Think of this journey as a funnel. People need to start at the top and progress through. They can’t skip a step and not everyone makes it to the next phase of the funnel so the number of people in each phase gets smaller and smaller. The eCommerce Funnel is not dissimilar to romantic relationships. You have to progress through a process of getting to know the person, exchanging numbers, dating and then making a commitment - or breaking up. Just like you don’t marry everyone you meet, not everyone who becomes aware of your brand will buy from you. And just like you don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date, you need to nurture someone through the funnel to make a purchase.
THE STAGES OF THE ECOMMERCE FUNNEL
This is where people get to know you exist. They could enter this step by hearing about you from a friend, seeing a Facebook ad, by seeing you at a pop-up shop or market stall seeing you on social media. This is where you need a strong brand value proposition, and super clear messaging as to what you sell, who it’s for and why it will add value to their lives.
MANDY'S TIP FOR PHOTOS ~ In order to get their awareness, your imagery needs to be eye catching and relatable. You need to be eye catching enough to get them to stop scrolling through an infinite Instagram feed, and then keep their attention by showing them something they can relate to. There's two styles I suggest for this - styled lifestyle photography and stock product photography.
Next is where they show interest and get curious as to what you sell. This is where they browse your categories and look at a product page. Your images need to clearly represent what you sell. If it’s not clear, people will be confused and confusion is the enemy.
Education is where people want to learn more about your product to see if it is right for them, or not. This is where people will look for more detail such as features, ingredients, fabric composition, how to use the product, etc. People want to see your product from all angles and they also what to see any features highlighted. They also what to see how it will look in use so it’s a good idea to include a range of product and lifestyle images. If it’s earrings, wear it. If it’s a candle, light it. If it’s protein powder, make the drink.
MANDY'S TIP FOR PHOTOS ~ Each product on your website should have: an infinite white background shot to clearly show what it is, a close up shot to highlight any special details, a styled shot to create an emotional connection and a demonstration shot, showing your product being used.
People will then make a decision. This is where they will decide it’s for them, or not and they will add to cart or leave. Now, making a decision takes brain power. It actually burns calories so we want to make it really easy for people to make a decision. A “no” decision is just as good as a “yes” decision, because we can’t be everything to everyone. And if we try, we will be nothing to noone.
MANDY'S TIP FOR PHOTOS ~ Once they know what you sell, the best way to encourage a positive purchase decision is to create a strong emotional connection between your brand and your customer. The best way to achieve this is storytelling.
From here people will take action and they will purchase, or not. Remember, the average abandon-cart rate is 68%, so we expect people to abandon cart. Life can get in the way sometimes and the phone will ring or their kids will need their attention so it’s only natural. But we can encourage them to come back and complete their purchase with retargeted paid advertising such as Facebook and Instagram ads.
Once people have purchased we want them to become a loyal customer. Loyal customers are so important because they can be worth 5-10x more to us then their first purchase. We communicate to people post-purchase via email and retargeted ads with the intention of enticing them to come back and buy again.
MANDY'S TIP FOR PHOTOS ~ Continue to tell the stories. Your brand story is never over!
Loyal customers become your raving fans and tell their friends which starts the cycle all over again.
USING THE FUNNEL FOR YOUR ONLINE STORE
If you have an impulse buy product people could progress through the funnel almost instantly whereas if you have a more considered purchase people will most likely take longer to make their way through. Regardless of how long it takes them to progress through they can’t skip a step so take the time to nurture people through. I find the best way to know exactly how to communicate to your customers at each step of the funnel is test, test, test. Until you test, it’s a guess. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong. Your website is not a tattoo. It can, and should, be tweaked and changed regularly based on you testing and measuring. So, use this as a guide to optimise each element of your funnel to make it easy for customers to go from not knowing you exist, to giving you money, and then telling their friends how wonderful you are!
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Thanks to Megan for this step by step guide of a customer journey from awareness through to advocacy.
You can check out more great ecommerce insights from Megan and her team here and follow along here.
If you need some help getting your products displayed beautifully online, check out my Product Photography packages.