What is a Sales Funnel? Definition & Optimization Strategies for Mobile Apps

Myroslav Protsan

Without a sales funnel, your app marketing will be all clicks, random installs, and no conversions. For over 50 years, savvy businesses have been setting flexible plans for landing prospects and eventually converting them into paying customers. But, it’s not as easy as pie.

Every good sales funnel targets the right audience with the right messages at the right time. So, if your marketing dollars are going nowhere, you need a winning sales funnel strategy, pronto. 

This guide will take you thousands of feet above the ground and give you a bird eye’s view of funnel stages and how to optimize the sales funnel for actual humans and not robots. 

But first, let’s start by answering the question, “what is a sales funnel?”

What is a Sales Funnel?

A typical sales funnel is a visual representation of your customer’s journey, from awareness to purchase research. Like fish farmers, you cast a wide net to your target audience and slowly squeeze potential prospects down the funnel until you get to the bottom – where you make your all-important sale and also build brand loyalty. 

Like we mentioned earlier, there’s no umbrella sales funnel model for every company. The stages, steps, and actual number depend on your company’s sales model and what conversion means to you. A tight sales funnel with no gaps is personalized, has zero friction, and converts prospects to buyers. 

A good strategy is using an omnichannel approach to keep the prospect engaged throughout the sales funnel process. Depending on how they interact, the prospect receives lead nurturing marketing strategies that will likely nudge them to return to the app to browse through relevant products and special offerings, check out an abandoned cart, and possibly make a purchase. 

It’s important to note that while sales funnel has picked many monikers such as purchase funnel, marketing funnel, and conversion funnel, sales funnel is different from a flywheel – jargon that involves aligning your business strategy around good customer experience.

Why Sales Funnel is a Must?

Sales funnel is a non-negotiable for today’s marketing success because it gives a clear picture of where each prospect stands in the purchase journey. Reinforced with data, this guide lets you decide the best personalized marketing practices to follow at every sales funnel stage. That’s because, let’s face it, no matter how robust your marketing spend is, if your marketing plan is not tailored and optimized for every customer, your customers will hang by a thin thread. And then what? — Leads get lost. 

A well-built sales funnel strategy also helps marketers to track and adjust the funnel to reach their marketing goals. Plus, it generates a solid referral system that spurs customers to recommend their friends. 

6 Sales Funnel Stages in Ecommerce

The 6 stages of the ecommerce marketing funnel for online stores and mobile apps take the shape of an inverted pyramid. The awareness stage, which has numerous potential customers, continuously gets narrowed towards the bottom. This way, only qualified leads make it to the next stage, giving you a smaller number of paying customers. Here are the six stages of sales funnel explained: 

Stage 1 : Awareness Stage (App Discovery Stage)

This stage is considered top of the funnel, or ToFu. As the name suggests, people in the awareness stage are new, skeptical, recently aware that they have a problem, and actively looking for a solution. They are also wondering if your online store or App Store addresses their issue.

Your goal in the awareness stage of the e-commerce marketing funnel is to build a community of potential customers, show them your key offerings, and gather prospects. Remember, you need to grab their attention fast, because their patience is short-lived. 

The sales funnel optimization process in this stage should include data-driven consumer research and personalized marketing campaigns via paid advertising, trade shows, viral campaigns, blog, events, ebooks, socials, direct mail, webinar, online search, and word of mouth. 

Stage 2 : Interest Stage (App Download Stage)

Consumers in this stage have shown “interest” in your product or services, although they aren’t considering purchase yet. They are deepening their research on you by checking out your products, ratings, and reviews. If leads encounter friction at any point in the interest stage, they’ll drop off without much of a blink. 

Overcome this stage by determining your prospect’s pain points, interests, and motivations. Then, create content solutions that keep hitting those pain hot buttons six ways to Sunday. You can do this via your optimized ecommerce blog, email campaigns, downloadables, personalized product recommendations, and more.  

Stage 3 : Consideration Stage (App Onboarding and Exploration Stage)

Now, your prospects are considering buying your ecommerce product. But, they need to be sure it’s a good buy, so they’ll compare your product pricing with close competitors and also check out what sets your product apart. 

In the consideration stage of the ecommerce funnel, your goal is to highlight your product specials, case studies, stellar reviews, free trials, competitor comparisons, and other marketing assets. 

Stage 4 : Conversion Stage (App Monetization Stage)

This stage is popularly called the action stage, so called because the consumer drops their “prospect” tag and makes a purchase or subscribes to your service. Your goal is to provide product demos, sales add-ons, nurture stream, and a simple cart and check-out design. 

Stage 5 : Re-engagement Stage (App Reuse Stage)

The sales stage is not the end of the ecommerce conversion funnel. Instead, the re-engagement stage exists to maintain a constant relationship with your paying customers for future re-purchase and renewals. This increases the customer lifetime value (CLV) of your consumers. For apps, this stage is also known as the app reuse stage.

Stage 6 : Loyalty Stage

The loyalty stage is the last and final stage of the sales funnel. It’s a good retention strategy where customers start to develop a strong preference for your brand. They buy, not because of your reminders and marketing campaigns, but because they genuinely like your product.  

8 Strategies to Optimize Your Mobile Sales Funnel

Get familiar with these useful tips on how to optimize sales funnel.

1. Group and Segment Your Audience into User Personas

It’s crucial to group and segment your audience into user personas based on their age, location, interests, occupation, social preferences, and data from Google Analytics and other data modeling tools.

Buyer persona gives a useful insight into who your customers are, including how they think, their preferences, and motivations. They can help you target leads at the ToFu, reduce drop-offs, and increase your ecommerce online and app conversions.  

2. Do a Competitor Analysis to Find Gaps and Opportunities

Competitor analysis is a strategic tactic that identifies and evaluates the SWOT—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your market rivals. It helps you find ways to improve your products, services, marketing strategies, and avoid pitfalls. To conduct a competitor analysis of your e-commerce website and app, do the following: 

  • Select the most relevant competitors that offer substitute or similar products to your target demographic;
  • Use customer review aggregate platforms to see how you measure up against your competitors;
  • Identify and prioritize gaps across customer needs, value proposition, user onboarding, unique selling proposition, expectations, competitive advantage, marketing assets, growth potentials, etc.;
  • Develop and implement action plans.

3. Capture and Nurture Leads at Different Funnel Stages Using Omnichannel Marketing Tools

Grabbing customer attention at the awareness stage is not the finish line. You also need to pique their interest in your products and nudge them to the next ecommerce sales funnel optimization stage. A tried and true method of doing that is with omnichannel marketing tools such as email marketing, text messages, in-app messages, push notifications, and other channels. 

Let's look at some stats: 64 percent of small businesses reach customers via email messages. According to research, an average smartphone user receives about 40 app push notifications per day. However, only about 18% are relevant and personalized.

To capture and nurture leads, reaching prospects via data-driven and highly personalized messaging is key. 

4. Optimize Your Call-to-Actions (CTAs)

Every page on your website or app should have a positioned, clear, concise, and compelling CTA that motivates your customers to enter the next step in your sales journey. Commonly used CTAs include:

  • Awareness stage: Sign up for a free trial, shop now, and grab it today;
  • Consideration and Conversion Stages: Grab your exclusive offer, check out now, etc.

5. Leverage App Personalization Strategies

App personalization is arguably one of the most important sales tactics in the app marketing world. This is because it’s a customer-centric approach based on what customers are telling you directly when you ask them for data, and indirectly when you track their behavior. Make your customers feel understood, special, and enticed for more by personalizing your marketing strategies. Best practices include – segment user data, leverage geotargeting, address prospects by their names, optimize app install ads, use dynamic content, send triggered messages, create FOMO, gamify customer experience. 

6. Create Content Marketing and App Optimization Strategies

Hard truth about building a sales funnel: no matter how much traffic your store pulls, if your copy is emotionless and poorly written, it won’t convert. Creating a winning sales funnel marketing strategy includes having great content marketing and app optimization strategies that can’t be ignored. Craft compelling copy that reminds prospects of your products and how it works. Also, optimize your landing page and app to give prospects a personalized customer experience

7. Always Incorporate Social Proof and Trust Signals

Social proofs and trust signals such as testimonials, reviews, awards, certifications, and case studies are surefire ways of lending authority, credibility, and value to your products. They are so powerful that they can propel prospects to jump stages of the sales funnel. Make sure to incorporate only relevant and authentic social proof by using real human photos, names, and videos of customers. 

8. Minimize Purchase Friction at the Bottom of the Funnel

Take your e-commerce app funnel optimization to the next level by reducing purchase friction to the barest minimum. To do this:

  • Leverage native payments;
  • Streamline checkout flows;
  • Don’t make user logins compulsory;
  • Delight users with discounts and special offers before important conversions. 

3 Sales Funnel Examples for Your Inspiration

Here are some of the best sales funnel examples used by big ecommerce brands: 

1. Netflix

Netflix targets tech-savvy users across diverse age groups and demographics. It has built a brand by deploying valuable propositions and delivering the best customer experience. At the awareness and interest stage, new signups get a 30-day free trial with cancellation options. Take a look at some of their basic sales funnel optimization process:

2. Amazon

Amazon is an ecommerce giant popular for utilizing personalized product recommendations at its full length and breadth. Plus, socials, pop-ups, omnichannel marketing, special offers, and discounts are their go-to digital sales funnel optimization strategies. 

3. Prom

Prom.ua is a leading e-commerce brand in Europe, with over 100 million products on their webstore and app. They utilize all of our automated sales funnel optimization best practices. These include hyper-personalized AI product recommendations, customer segmentation, event-triggered campaigns, and pop-ups. They use relevant emails to nurture warm leads and move them to the next conversion funnel stage. 

Prom also uses multiple CTAs and clever landing page optimization in their e-commerce sales funnel management.

How to Improve Sales Funnel with Reteno

If you are not making in-app and online sales despite robust marketing spend, your sales funnel is leaking. To create a sales funnel that actually converts, you need to link shields with an ally like Reteno. Armed with data, we’ll review your target audience, user persona, and marketing opportunities to identify and tighten gaps in your funnel. 

We are known for using well-planned sales funnel optimization strategies that turn prospects into buyers. Plus, we understand that businesses should have different sales and mobile funnels. So, we create customized sales models for every client, and this explains why we have a long list of success stories. Prom.ua is one out of many happy clients. Get onboard!

Final Thoughts

A perfect sales funnel definition is that it’s a non-negotiable to sales marketing success. Many experts believe it’s a marketing bullet. But, even a bullet, no matter how special, is useless until it’s fired. The point of a sales funnel is to create a winning strategy that converts. 

But, it’s important to avoid having a tunnel vision where sales is the only conversion your company recognizes. Other ToFu and MoFu (middle-of-funnel) conversion actions like email signups, downloadable offers, and other assets may not put money in your account immediately, but they are a great step in the right direction. 

Natalya Ustymenko


February 16, 2023

Vladyslav Pobyva


October 24, 2022

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