Whether or not an eCommerce store will be successful is largely dependent on how well it can optimize its sales funnel. A good sales funnel will not only yield revenue but also help you orient your business efforts. A poor sales funnel will not only lose you customers but also give you a poor idea of what’s your customers’ buying experience like. So, let's outline how to design a decent sales funnel and why using web and in-app stories to guide shoppers through the sales funnel might be the right call when it comes to a modern audience.
Specific Usage of Web and In-App Stories for Guiding Shoppers Through the Sales Funnel
A sales funnel, also known as a marketing funnel, is a model that represents the stages a potential customer goes through before making a purchase. It's a useful framework for understanding and optimizing the customer journey. Depending on what type of store you run and how you organize your marketing, the sales funnel can consist of different stages. And, fortunately, well-made web and in-app stories can enhance each of these stages if used properly. So, here is what a typical panels funnel looks like:
Stage 1: Awareness
This is the top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) stage. At this stage, potential customers become aware of your brand, product, or service. Awareness can be created through various marketing channels, such as social media, content marketing, advertising, or search engine optimization (SEO). The goal is to grab the attention of a wide audience and generate initial interest. This stage is arguably the easiest for web and in-app story implementation. Namely, among all the different content types, you'll have a hard time finding one that is more attention-grabbing than stories. The stories’s innate engaging nature makes them ideal for the awareness stage.
Stage 2: Interest
The second stage is interest. After becoming aware, some individuals, and ideally most of them, will develop an interest in what you offer. They may start exploring your website, app, social media profiles, or other content to learn more. In this instance, stories might not be your only go-to choice. While they can support more robust content, they are best used for short, bite-sized pieces. Therefore, if you can satisfy the interest of your customers with a relatively short web or in-app story, go for it. An information-packed, bite-sized video can be a good choice. Despite blog posts, mid-sized videos, and webinars being the content you will opt for in this case; do not forget the power web and in-app stories hold nowadays. The longer content has the necessary room to go more in-depth and to nurture the customer's interest, but stories are the content format that will get them hooked and lead them to those, mostly written, formats. Ideally, you will use the latter to provide valuable information and prepare them for the next stage.
Stage 3: Consideration
In the consideration stage, potential customers are actively researching and comparing options. They may be evaluating your products or services against competitors. Content such as product comparisons, customer reviews, and case studies can be influential here. Here, web and in-app stories can be quite useful. Keep in mind that they are dynamic content. This means that you can optimize what the person will view based on certain parameters. As such, it should be fairly easy to post the right review, product info, or case study at the right time. You might even consider alternative products from your store that might better suit customer needs. A well-placed web or in-app story can reduce their uncertainty and assure them that doing business with your brand is the right call.
Stage 4: Intent
At this stage, potential customers are showing a clear intent to make a purchase. They might add items to their shopping cart, sign up for a free trial, or request a quote. It's essential to facilitate their journey by making the decision process easy and frictionless. If their journey naturally led them to the area of your app, store, or website where they can fulfill their intent — great. But, if not, you need to find a way to quickly and smoothly lead them to where they need to be. This bridging between different aspects of your online presence can be made easy with proper use of web or in-app stories. After all, it is quite easy for them to host hyperlinks, in the form of CTA buttons and swipe-ups, that lead customers' intent to the right address.
Stage 5: Evaluation
This stage involves a deeper evaluation of the product or service. Potential customers may want to speak with a sales representative or have specific questions addressed. Providing excellent customer support and addressing concerns is critical to moving them toward a decision. Now, depending on how you've organized your company, customer support can mean a lot of things. Some companies are able to predict the common questions asked by the interested customer and showcase them in this part of the journey. Others believe that potential customers value interactions, which is why they either opt for chatbots or live support.
Whatever the case may be, you need to be able to not only answer customer questions but also give them answers to questions that never even crossed their mind. Again, mobile-native formats such as web and in-app stories will certainly do the magic. It is easy and familiar! Moreover, it is the closest to a live, face-to-face interaction which would be the best solution here but isn’t always, and mostly ever, possible. Therefore, a well-placed story is most definitely the best solution. But, it is vital that you have a clear idea of what needs to be said and what exact form to use i.e. image, video, etc.
Stage 6: Purchase
This is the point of conversion. The prospect becomes a customer by making a purchase. The purchase could be a one-time transaction, a subscription, or a contract, depending on your business model. Whatever the case may be, your goal is to ensure a smooth and straightforward checkout process.
This is a great step for using mobile-native story formats. Shoppable videos are a new trend in e-commerce that allows consumers to make purchases directly from the video. That gives customers a new purchasing experience, and an enjoyable one at that. These are proven to simplify the shopping process for your customers, to be effective, and they enhance product understanding. However, this is not the only way in which you can use web or in-app stories at this stage.
Namely, stories, even if placed as ads, can be highly contextual and non-disruptive to the viewer’s experience. That way stories can be used in the beginning stages of the funnel but also in the purchasing stage since there’s no need to leave the story for shopping. Customers can easily make a purchase by tapping on a CTA button which will then lead them to the cart or check-out, according to what button you have placed there.
You can do the same or come up with a process similar to that when it comes to contracts and subscriptions. Keep in mind that it is paramount that you ensure the data safety of your customers and that the process of inputting data (or re-inputing if necessary) is as easy as possible.
Stage 7: Post-Purchase (Loyalty and Advocacy):
Contrary to popular belief, the customer journey doesn't end with a purchase; it continues after the sale. If you wish to further develop your brand you need to encourage customer loyalty and advocacy by providing exceptional post-purchase support, asking for reviews and referrals, and offering rewards or loyalty programs. Keep in mind that satisfied customers can become your brand's advocates. But it is up to you to outline how they can do so and why doing so is important. With web and in-app stories, you can have them share their impression on your platforms. That’s when user-generated content (UGC) comes in as it is a great resource for feedback but can also help you build a community among your customers or users. So, you can have them rate your app or take a quick video as a review. Lastly, you can also outline the benefits of your loyalty program and hopefully have them do business with you again.
Stage 8: Upsell and cross-sell:
A crafty salesperson knows that, after the initial purchase, you should look for opportunities to upsell or cross-sell additional products or services. Instead of simply selling shoes, try to also offer matching socks or shoe polish. Instead of offering moving service, look to offer packing and unpacking. Doing so can not only increase the customer's lifetime value but also improve overall customer satisfaction. But, to make this possible, it is important that you have dynamic content that can adapt to the ongoing customer's purchase. As we mentioned, web and in-app stories are precisely such content. With platforms like StorifyMe, it is quite easy to enable them to adapt to whatever the customer is already doing. The key here is that you, as the business owner, have a good understanding of which products naturally go with one another in order to give reasonable recommendations for upsells and cross-sells.
Stage 9: Retention:
People rarely recognize the fact that it is the seemingly small details that will have your customer return to you. Yes, of course, you do have to offer a decent product/service. But, after the sale has been made, you will need to focus on retaining existing customers. The way that you do this is by maintaining a positive relationship. Politeness is your starting point and that is always widely appreciated. A simple thank you after a purchase, or a positive note can be all you need to radically boost your retention rates. Keep in mind that the cost of retaining a customer is often lower than acquiring a new one. Therefore, even if you have to invest in it, customer retention is a cost-effective strategy.
What Makes Web and In-App Stories So Useful?
Seeing that we've written extensively about web and in-app stories, we won't go into much depth here. Instead, we will give you the key aspects that make web and in-app stories, and mobile-native formats generally, suitable for various stages of the sales funnel.
- Visual appeal: Stories are highly visual and designed to be engaging. Almost all of them use a combination of images, videos, animations, and concise text to capture and retain viewers' attention. This visual appeal is particularly effective in the early stages of the sales funnel (awareness and interest).
- Mobile-friendly: Obviously, web and in-app stories are designed for mobile consumption, which is crucial as a significant portion of online traffic comes from mobile devices. This is regardless of who your target audience is.
- Concise and focused: Stories have a limited duration, typically lasting only a few and up to 15 seconds. This constraint forces content creators to be concise and focused. It's an advantage because it keeps the message clear and prevents information overload.
- Storytelling: Web and in-app stories lend themselves well to storytelling. This makes using them to guide shoppers through the sales funnel a great idea. Especially if you know how to use a narrative structure to guide users through the various stages of the sales funnel. Doing so almost always creates a more immersive and memorable experience.
- Interactive Elements: In-app and web stories support interactive elements like polls, quizzes, and call-to-action buttons. These elements can encourage users to engage with the content and take specific actions, such as signing up for a newsletter, requesting more information, or making a purchase.
- Scalability: Stories are relatively easy to produce and share across multiple platforms. Especially if you get a hang of tools and platforms like StorifyMe. This scalability allows you to reach a broader audience and guide them through the sales funnel efficiently.
With what we've written so far, it should be fairly obvious that using web and in-app stories to guide shoppers through the sales funnel can be a great solution. The only question is how well you do understand stories as a tool, and how acquainted you are with the common customer's journey through your online presence. If you get a hang of both you will have no trouble with creating an effective sales funnel. But, doing so will require a fair bit of experimentation and research.