You busted your butt to build your shop. You have Instagram followers and Facebook fans. You’re getting traffic. But there’s one problem.
You’re not making sales.
And you don’t know what to do next.
A lot of people make it seem like Shopify success boils down to
- Build a site.
- Get some traffic.
- Sit back and count your money.
For most shops, it doesn’t work like that. What they don’t always tell you about is the all-nighters, the struggle to turn that Facebook traffic into sales, and the continual improvement it takes to run a successful business.
You have a lot of work ahead of you, but you can do it.
You need some basic knowledge about the framework common to all sales businesses and willingness to put in the work.
Introducing your sales funnel
Every successful business; Amazon, Ikea, Starbucks, puts a lot of effort into understanding and optimizing their sales funnel. Why? Because it’s how they make sales.
Let’s give you the same analytical superpowers.
A sales funnel is a simple way to break your sales process into steps. We use it so you can look at each step and figure out the changes that will be most effective in increasing your sales.
When someone sees your shop for the first time, your funnel starts. It ends when they buy something. There are a lot more people who see your shop than purchase from you, leaving you with something - wait for it - funnel shaped.
Here’s an example with made up, but standard numbers.
The standard numbers used here might surprise you. 5,000 people saw your ad and 1 person bought?. That’s a healthy sales funnel for an e-commerce store. The percentage in parentheses represents the conversion rate. It’s the percentage of people who did not drop off at the previous step. Keep in mind that for even a healthy funnel, most people will drop off at every step
Every shop and set of products is unique, but you generally want to aim for 1-3 sales for every 100 visits to your shop.
Arts and crafts time.
Grab a sheet of paper and draw your funnel. Think about every step a user needs to take buy from your shop. Start with where your traffic is coming from. If you’re sending different traffic to different landing pages, or users can take very different paths, draw all of your possible funnels.
Why am I asking you to do this? Because if you understand your sales funnel, you will know where you’re losing customers and can start figuring out what to do about it.
When you have a clear picture of the steps in your sales funnel, we need to make sure you’re tracking it.
Tracking your sales funnel
This is worth repeating: most people will drop off at every step of your sales funnel. Your goal then is to reduce the number of people who drop off at each step. To understand your goal, you need a baseline.
Think of your sales funnel as your report card. Improve your grades here and you will make more money.
If you want to understand your sales funnel, you need to measure it. We can do this with a combination of Shopify’s built in tools and Google Analytics.
Shopify’s reporting will get you most of the way. The area we’re interested in is the reporting dashboard, which you can find in your Shopify admin by going to Reports and clicking Dashboards
From this page you can see
- Number of visitors and sources
- Add to carts
- And a lot more.
If you’re playing along (hint: you should be), fill in your numbers in the sales funnel you drew up in the last section. For more info about how ot use the Shopify reports and dashboards, check out the Shopify documentation.
For some reason, product page views are not available in the Shopify reports (if I’m wrong and they are available somewhere, please let me know!). Luckily, we can still get to product page views through Google Analytics. Shopify has instructions on setting up Google Analytics available here.
Your marketing efforts should be trackable on the platforms you’re advertising or through Google Analytics.
Once you’re sure you have all tracking in place and data is flowing, gather at least a week’s worth of data for your funnel analysis. Now compare your funnel with the funnel above. Some of your numbers might look very wonky. This is good news. We know where to start.
Coming up with a plan
Enough drawing, time for action! By now, you should have a funnel specific to your shop drawn and filled in with your own numbers. So let’s figure out where to take action.
The first thing you want to do is a basic gut check of your marketing and shop based on the steps in your funnel. At each step, look at that piece of your shop and ask yourself if there’s anything that would keep you from reaching the next step?
Here’s an example, lots of people use modals on their homepage to try to get users to sign up for a mailing list or newsletter. Does that modal help your visitor get to a product page? No. Does it keep your visitor from getting to a product page? Maybe. Might be worth testing to see if your conversions increase without it.
Try reaching out to your friends and family, or even better, your customers. Heck, shoot us an email at email@example.com, we like to help. Gather some feedback and ideas about things you could try to optimize each step of your funnel. The Shopify Feedback On My Store forum is another great place to get some feedback from fellow shop owners.
As an aside, I’m considering starting a free Slack community for motivated shop owners to help each other. If you are interested in taking part, I’d like to hear from you!
If this gives you some ideas, great! Move on to the next section and learn how to start experimenting.
If you’re feeling a little stuck, keep in mind that, you’re making your best guess right now. To kickstart it, here’s a few ideas that can make for interesting tests on your Shopify shop.
- What would happen if you tested lowering your prices?
- How about if you raised them?
- Does your logo convey a professional image? If not, head over to Canva and create a new one and test that.
- What if you personalized your product descriptions, or told a funny story with them?
- Do longer or shorter product titles get more clicks to your product pages? What if you put brand names in your titles?
- You could try putting your shipping information in your product descriptions so customers know how much they’ll pay before they reach checkout.
- You know that thing that pops up in the corner every 10 seconds saying so and so bought some thing? Yeah, let’s see what happens if we turn that off.
- Do you have a carousel with a headline and call to action? Try some different images, headlines and calls to action.
- Do product images that show people with your product do better than without?
Come up with a big list, and then come up with a plan.
Did you know that every time you browse the web you’re being experimented on? The sites you use every day are running A/B tests so they can maximize their profits. You should be doing the same.
At its core, A/B testing just means that you show some visitors one thing, others something else, and see which version gets more visitors to take the action you want them to take.
The action you want your customer to take depends on where they are in your funnel. Basically, you want to get them to the next step. But, some changes can affect more than one step. For example, if you slash all your prices, your visitors may be more likely to view your product pages and purchase.
If you think of the guesses you made in the last section as questions, i.e. will more people view my products if I use different images, A/B testing is how you answer those questions. With A/B testing, you systematically test and refine your guesses to stop the leaks in your funnel and your sales will improve as a result.
You only need two things to run your tests, test subjects and the ability to measure the results.
Let’s look at an example. We have our product, and a theory that if we make the title and description a little more enticing, people might be more likely to buy it.
So we have two possible versions of our product:
The control version just means the version of your product as it exists in your shop today. The test version is the version with your changes applied.
You can run your experiment in one of a couple of different ways.
- You can let the test version run for a while and then compare your results to a period before you ran the test.
- You can use an A/B testing Shopify app to automatically switch between test variants and gather metrics.
Letting your test version run for a while and comparing to a previous period will work, but it is more error-prone and vulnerable to false positives. False positives just mean that the changes you’re seeing are not due to the changes you made, but by some external factor.
For example, if you’re testing one of your product titles, and a popular blog starts sending high quality traffic to your product page, your conversion rates might naturally be higher than the previous period and you could mistake your change for the driving force behind the increase.
Using an app can you get your more accurate results at the small cost of some initial setup. We’ll use NeatAB to run this test, which, if you can guess by the name of the blog, is our product.
After we run our fictional test for a few weeks, our results might look like this:
We measure the impact on every step of our funnel and determine which version is best. NeatAB does all the calculations for you, but of course, you can do these calculations yourself in Excel or with an online calculator.
When we find winning tests, we make the change permanent and move onto the next. This is a process you’ll be following for the lifetime of your shop. You will probably find some changes that have a large impact on your bottom line in the beginning.
Don’t worry if your tests fail either. if the numbers were reversed in the t-shirt test, we wouldn’t be worried. Expect many, or most, of your tests to fail. If you’re only hitting home-runs, you’re probably not testing enough.
You can learn just as much from failed tests though. Say the numbers in the t-shirt were reversed and the control version converted way better than the test version. I would test shorter titles and less grandiose descriptions on some of my other products and see if I see similar results.
it’s time to get moving on your list. Separate your list of ideas by funnel step. Then sort in order of the impact you think it could have. Don’t worry if you’re not sure. This is just to give your tests some sort of order.
For each item on your list, run a test for at least a week, measure the results and reject the hypotheses that your change will improve your conversion rate or accept it and make the change permanent based on your analytics.
When you understand your funnel and are testing regularly, you can easily see double digit increases in your conversions. It’s why the most successful businesses are A/B testing every day.
If you have questions, you’re still not sure where to start or need help analyzing your tests, you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re interested in A/B testing your Shopify product attributes, we’ve got you. Our new Shopify App, NeatAB, makes it easy and has a free 7 day trial. Just click the big button below to check it out on the Shopify App Store.