A Simple, Effective, Ecommerce Paid Funnel

This guest post was written by Pete Boyle, a conversion optimisation specialist and content manager for Recart, one of the top paid apps on Shopify that’s already helped its users recapture over $46,000,000 in lost revenue.


You’ve read case studies explaining their incredible marketing prowess, blog posts detailing their unbelievable revenue gains, and social updates hinting at their astounding success.

The web’s full of this stuff. Marketing “gurus” who allude to greatness and offer vague tips dressed up as a strategy.

Within ecommerce, there are often stores like yours who doubled/tripled/quadrupled revenue with a simple, paid ad campaign. They tell you how they managed to increase traffic, and through some conversion magic, increased onsite conversions as well.

Scroll through Facebook and it won’t be long before some brand’s targeting picks you out and serves you an ad similar to the one below.

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Sometimes (and I’m sure this is the case with Sumo) that little guide or nugget of wisdom is all you’ll need to see meaningful gains. Yet often, the advice you get is detailed enough to pique interest but just vague enough that you have to hire or pay to get anything actionable.

It’s a frustrating but a common aspect of modern marketing. And in an attempt to break the cycle, today I’m going to run you through an actionable guide to a paid funnel anyone can set up and profit from.

Funnels Don’t Need to be Complicated

Your store needs a solid funnel, but you needn’t confuse yourself by overcomplicating matters from the get-go.

Funnels come in all shapes and sizes, and in my experience, it’s often the simple funnels that bring the greatest gains. When you focus on providing value to the user, you see them taking the action you want. Get too caught up in all the minutia, and it clouds your judgement and goal.

Start small, focus on a simple action and goal, and grow from there.

This article is going to run you through a tried and tested paid funnel which not only drives relevant traffic, but works to convert that traffic and recapture those who don’t convert on their first visit.

The funnel I’m going to walk through is only for those at the end stage of the purchase journey. Why? Because I’m a firm believer all optimization campaigns start at the same place. Closest to the money.

The whole funnel I’m outlining is for those who are at the purchase stage. Those who have done the legwork and are now looking for the best deal. Which brings us to…

Your Paid Ads Campaigns

Targeting those at the end of the purchase journey is what we’re after here.

We want those who are ready to purchase, not those who are still in the decision and research phases. Here’s a great image from the guys at Practical ecommerce detailing a basic customer journey.

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Notice how paid search is right before the decision phase? It’s there because driving targeted traffic to your landing pages is a huge conversion opportunity. They’re ready to buy and you can simply snap them up at that last stage.

To attract these users, you have two ad potentials. I’ll start with the least profitable, but most easily rolled out. Expanded text ads.

If you’re using AdWords regular expanded text ads you want to make sure you’re targeting the right people. Let’s put it into practice and imagine the product we’re selling is a pair of Adidas Samba OG sneakers.

Search keywords like the below are not what we want to target as they represent people too early in the purchase journey.

  • Best sneakers for [activity]
  • Most stylish sneakers
  • Adidas vs Nike sneakers

All of these denote people conducting research or comparing products. We don’t want them. We want to first focus on those who are considering the purchase. The below terms are examples of searches made by people whoa res ready to buy.

  • Buy Adidas OG sneakers
  • Best deal on Adidas OG sneakers
  • Cheap Adidas OG sneakers

Once you’ve got your targeting down, you’ll want to build out expanded text ads which focus heavily on the benefit of purchasing. The Webrunnermedia team have a great example of utilizing these expanded text ads explaining how they took a brand new store to over $139,000 in sales in 21 days.

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The short version of how they optimized these ads was to focus on the benefit, experiment with FOMO elements like countdowns, and to run ads at off-peak times to keep costs low.

A well optimized expanded text campaign can drive positive results, however, stats have shown that there’s a growing trend for advertisers to prefer Google’s shopping ads.

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If you’re not sure what these are, they’re the ones that show up like the below.

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With shopping ads you don’t bid on keywords the same way as text ads. Instead, Google pulls the data and decides what they think are relevant searches. To get the highest visibility at the lowest cost, you need to be doing the below with your shopping ads.

1 – Optimise titles and descriptions

Words at the front of your product titles carry the most weight. Be sure to use the high traffic keywords often and early in both your product titles and descriptions.

2 – Include Negative Keywords

Including a good negative keyword list is super important when you’re optimizing for this final stage of the purchase journey. Be sure that for these ads you’re including any keywords that would highlight the user as earlier in the sales cycle or not relevant to you such as second hand, used, research, guide, etc.

3 – Be mindful of your return

I mentioned earlier how you can up the bids on these clicks as they’re closer to the conversion. However, don’t do this for low cost/profit items as it’ll just eat into your return. Always monitor and track your overall profit and optimize accordingly.

4 – Don’t get cute with the images

Google wants to keep the images across all results uniform. As much as I love experimenting with things like this, don’t get smart and try something too far out of the ordinary as Google will penalize you for it. A simple, high-quality image of the product is all you need.

That’s a basic list of the key actions you should take with your PPC ads. Once your customers have clicked on your newly optimized ads, they’re going to head to the next stage in the funnel. Your landing pages.

Landing Page Optimisation

You’re a smart store owner and have likely seen all of the best practices before, so all I’ll offer in this is a quick rundown of a handful of key points, a link to a more in-depth piece, and then I’ll move on to a few items that are often overlooked.

1 – Use high-quality product images or videos

The only area online retail fails is that it doesn’t provide a tangible shopping experience. You can’t pick up the product to feel its weight, or build quality. The next best thing to overcome this shortfall is by providing high-quality images and/or videos to give your users a real sense of what the product is and how it operates.

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Adidas is doing a great job of it by providing multiple angles and a product zoom feature to really give you a sense of the product.

2 – Build trust

You stand to directly gain from users purchasing your product, and so your claims to greatness are going to be met with skepticism. Your customers, however, don’t. And their word is going to carry far more weight with others.

According to this study, around 72% of users trust a business more when it has positive reviews. So be sure you’re displaying them prominently on your product pages.

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While you’re at it, I’d also recommend including third-party guarantee seals (like Payment secured by Paypal) and a large notification of your trial/return policy (30-day money back guarantee), or even privacy policy if you’re collecting emails to take the sting out of the purchase for users.

3 – Live Chat

Modern customers are impatient. If you delay in helping them, you’re very likely to lose their business.

Live chat is a great way to satisfy their immediate need for a response. A study by Maru into live chat discovered:

“Of the 2,000 consumers surveyed, almost a third (31%) are currently using live chat; 73% of which rated their satisfaction with the channel high, while 67% said that they found live chat easy to use.”

Of course, hiring someone to man your live chat all the time can be expensive. If you don’t have the resources to manage this, check out some of the bot services like ManyChat that integrate with Facebook chat and can provide triggered responses for you.

4 – Target the Point of Highest Purchase Intent

Purchase intent always sees drastic peaks and troughs. Today you desperately want that new pair of shoes, tomorrow you’ll question it, the day after you’ll be a step closer to making the purchase, only to ultimately decide they’re not for you.

This ebb and flow of intent can change from day-to-day, hour-to-hour, or minute-to-minute. If you can capitalize on a time when it’s at its peak, it could be the difference between an abandoned cart or profitable sale.  

At Recart, we thought highest purchase intent would be immediately after someone added an item to their cart, and if we served them with a specific incentive in exchange for their email address, we’d see higher results than the usual methods of chasing conversions.

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This change to focus on a time when users are at their most interested in the product led to us capturing the details of a whopping 62% of those who eventually abandoned their carts.

These are just a couple of elements you should be employing on your eCommerce website’s product landing pages. The article I linked above from Wordstream goes into detail and really explains the process I don’t have the space to cover.

You should always remember to test your pages though. Never settle for your current conversion rate and consistently look at how you could be improving upon it.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s move onto the final stages where user action splits.

Path 1 – Checkout

This is where your users are going to split. Some are going to head to the checkout, others are going to abandon their purchases. You need to optimize for both potential outcomes.

When it comes to the checkout page, optimization is pretty simple.

The overriding goal is two-fold; keep it simple, reinforce trust. Check out Ted Baker’s checkout page below as an example.

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There’s a couple of things here they do really well.

First, they offer a multi-step checkout. I know many brands don’t appreciate this, but I feel it really is the best method of gaining conversions. Why? Because you’re not met with a huge, intimidating number of fields to fill out.

Each step is kept to the most minimal amount of information necessary before moving on.

On subsequent pages, they reinforce trust by reminding users of the free delivery. It may be small, but as a chief concern for abandoned carts, it’s very necessary.

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Throughout every page, I’m also fed an image of what I’m buying. Nothing like a little reminder of what I could lose if I don’t complete to keep me moving forward.

And again, another option that should be included (not visible in the above links, unfortunately) is a reminder of what sort of payment types you accept.

I could pull out examples all day long, but if you just want the short version, then keep your page as simple as possible and make it easy for the user to part with their cash.

Path 2 – Retargeting / Remarketing

Of course, not every user is going to convert. Some are going to add an item to their cart and then abandon, others will simply look at products or categories before exiting your site.

This isn’t lost revenue as much of it can be recaptured. There are two primary methods for recapturing potentially lost revenue. The first requires you to have captured the user’s contact details.

How to Recapture Revenue With User Contact Info

Cart abandonment costs eCommerce stores trillions of dollars in lost revenue every single year. Capturing a user’s email before they exit is key to rectifying this.

You have to do whatever you can to capture the user’s email address before they exit, then you can put in place a smart abandoned cart campaign to bring them back to your store.

The best methods of capturing these details I’ve listed below:

– An exit intent popup

Be sure that there’s a reason and incentive for handing over their email though. You need to give something to your visitors in exchange for their details. It could be a discount or a simple push to not lose their cart.

– An add-to-cart popup

As mentioned above, an add-to-cart popup triggers when purchase intent is highest. We’ve seen it generate a 62% conversion rate, far more than generic exit intent and we’d recommend you give it a whirl on your store. Here’s how an add-to-cart popup looks.

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– Push for a Messenger subscription

Abandoned cart emails are great for driving revenue. However, we’ve discovered that Facebook Messenger drives far better engagement and conversion rates. If you want to make the most out of your cart abandoners, Messenger might just be the best option for you.

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Once you’ve captured a user’s contact details, you’re free to follow up with them at your leisure. You can send them a number of follow up emails that not only bring them back on site but could also offer an up-sell or cross-sell product.

What if You’ve Not Captured their Details?

Even the most perfectly optimized popups and incentives can fail. But that doesn’t mean that sales is lost.

With a little PPC magic and accurate tracking, you can serve ads back to the same people who looked at specific store products.

For example, in an above example, I looked at a Ted Baker coat. Now, If I head to Reddit to procrastinate, what should I see?

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A wonderful display ad to take me back to the product landing page for the exact coat I added to my basket.

It’s yet another chance to remind me of what I’m missing and bring me back to site to complete the purchase.

This is also where I’d bring in Facebook ads as well. You don’t have the advanced targeting of AdWords to target specific stages of the funnel, but you can leverage Facebook really well to remarket to people who abandoned their purchase.

Of course, these ads then link straight back to the product page creating a loop of sorts for the final few stages of the funnel which drastically increases you revenue gain potential.

Further Growth of This Simple Funnel

So that’s the basic outline of how to set up a simple, but effective paid funnel for your store.

It’s PPC ad to an optimised landing page. A simple checkout, with abandonment chasers and paid remarketing to bring non-converters back on site.

Pretty simple, right?

But what’s next? I mean, you’re gonna want to grow past that stage of a simple funnel. And honestly, I can offer some pointers but it’s all gonna depend on how your audience is engaging with your store and ads.

You’re going to have to look at what’s happening and how people are engaging and optimise accordingly.

That’s a topic for another day as it’s pretty damn long and complicated in itself. Until I, or another member of the Recart team, can get around to the ins and outs of how to continually optimise your eCommerce funnels, I recommend this article from the KlientBoost team.

For now, though, start small, keep it simple, and establish that logical journey from paid ads to remarking to really grow your revenue.

If you’ve any questions or need anything clearing up, either drop a comment below or drop by and see what we’re doing at Recart.com.