Regardless of the product on offer, a customer must go through several stages before making the purchase – the more valuable the product, the longer the process. How often do you pick out the first thing you see when buying things for yourself? Your customer is no different.
This buying process creates something called the sales funnel or the conversion funnel. For every business, more people will start the buying process, weeding themselves out according to their pain-points and preferences until you have fewer serious buyers at the bottom – hence the funnel.
To maximize your returns, it's critical to understand the customer’s needs at each point – from learning about your business and products, to weighing suitability of a specific product or service. You want the customer to not only choose you once but also to return and even spread the word to their networks about you.
Optimizing your conversion funnel is critical to ensure you have the highest possible number of people at the bottom. In this article, you’ll learn the different stages of the buying process, and what you can do to ensure youget the highest number of customers and brand ambassadors moving down the funnel.
This ultimate guide to webs conversion funnel optimization is definitely something to read, reread, bookmark, and pin!
What Is A Conversion Funnel?
The conversion funnel is simply a visualization tool to help you map out the flow of potential customers from website visitors to paying customers. They come from different sources or search engines through SEO, SEM, PPC, content marketing, or cold pitching.
If you’re able to understand the flow of their needs, thoughts, and eventually actions, you can improve your outcomes, i.e. the number of paying customers you have by the end.
You may also want to check out this post which gives a breakdown of website funnels.
The following illustration shows the simple breakdown of a conversion funnel from the moment visitors come into your website to when they make a purchase.
There are four distinct stages in the buying process for most consumers:
- The potential customer is made aware of your brand/offering
- You create interest in the product – not everyone will be interested. This is also the consideration stage
- You initiate desire/preference for your product/service – even fewer people will prefer your product over others
- You ask for action e.g. making a purchase or making an inquiry
Each of these steps attracts bring a unique set of challenges for you.Depending on their stage, there are various aspects you must optimize for the best effect i.e. to have the highest number of people moving down the funnel. Below is a breakdown of each stage:
Awareness pulls potential customers into your funnel, and it mostly includes your marketing efforts and any outreach programs to reach new audiences. Some strategies for building awareness include:
- PPC campaigns – paid ads targeting search engine visitors looking for specific products/services
- Organic SEO – high rankings on search results pages to get the highest number of visitors
- Social media – targeted social media ads or campaigns can invite interested consumers to the site
Remember to attract qualified/relevant traffic, focusing on quality over quantity. Unqualified leads are unlikely to move beyond awareness. Develop campaigns with your target audience in mind to make sure you attract people most likely to convert from the very start.
Your website content and marketing for products or services determines whether or not you’ll build interest in potential customers. Explain what users should know about the industry, products, and services, and answer their questions. Craft content to address their needs and position yourself as an authority.
Creating a downloadable resource is a great way to get emails from qualified leads. You can use email to provide more value and move them along the buying process. This is also the stage where customers consider whether your offering suits their needs, so you must illustrate your value or competitive edge.
In this stage, you want to show customers why they should buy what you offer. Most people are looking for a solution to a problem, and therefore, you should highlight the problem you solve, and how your solution is different from other companies’ solutions. Getting a conversion after stoking desire becomes much easier. The services of a professional copywriter will be invaluable for this stage.
Getting the customer to actually take the final action is the most important stage in the funnel. Until now, they have been making smaller actions, but you want the ultimate action, the one that affects your bottom line. Only 2-5% of all website visitors make it to this level, but you can increase your conversions by maximizing the number of leads moving down the funnel.
Even after the purchase, you have the job of turning one-time buyers into loyal customers. The ultimate goal is for every conversion to become a regular customer and brand ambassador – bring you more qualified leads through referrals.
Learn how you can nurture your leads at the different stages below:
Step 1: Create Google Analytics Funnels
The first step to optimizing your website conversion funnel is setting up your funnel visualization in Google Analytics. GA will help you collect data revealing where your users and coming from, and where they’re abandoning the conversion funnel. To set up, you need to:
- Give Goal Name – give an easy name so that you can recognize it immediately from your data reports
- Define Your Funnel – in GA, you can add up to 10 pages in your conversion funnel. You will clearly see where prospective drop off before reaching the goal; ensure your path is accurate
- Assign Goal Value – before you can calculate ROI and other GA metrics, you must figure out the monetary value of a completed goal. For instance, if 20 percent of people who download your PDF spend $300, the value of a single download will be $60.
Once you have these details set, you can discover when and where your users are leaving. This points to the pages that you need to optimize better. For example, if you have drop-offs in your landing page, you may want to check whether your copy is compelling enough, or your CTA is strong enough. If they’re dropping off at checkout in an e-commerce site, how easy/difficult your checkout process is.
Step 2: Optimize Your Awareness Stage
At the awareness stage, your goal is two-fold: to encourage prospects to move to your product pages, and to raise awareness and trust about your brand. This is the stage to establish your brand authority and create trust in your business. Awareness optimization tactics include the following:
Every website should have an active blog, where you write about anything related to your industry or offerings – even loosely related subjects. You can write about your customers’ pain points, things related to your product vertical, and things people interested in your vertical would also be interested in.
Design creative content, but always find ways to double back to your main offerings. Look for opportunities to guest blog and share content on social media. Publishing content for a wide range of topics helps you to be more visible in search engines.
Social Media And Networking
Today’s consumers spend an average of 144 minutes on social media every day, an increase of over 62 percent since 2012. Prospects also rely on their social networks for referrals, advice and reviews about products or services they wish to buy.
They want to be able to find a business page on the main social networks (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram), with enough information(contact details, reviews, about, products, etc.) Doing this creates social proof, which increases trust and builds conversions. Social networks also give you a platform to build engagement with interested consumers who are not purchase-ready.
Be sure to cross-promote your social handles on your blog and website.You can add a popup to your site inviting readers to like or follow your business pages. Some tools have referral features to cross-promote, i.e. show Twitter referrals an option to like on Facebook and vice versa.
Pay-per-click campaigns allow you to pay websites for sharing your ads– could be Google, or any other websites or search engines. You pay when someone clicks on the ad, or by impressions made on consumers. PPC campaigns should drive traffic to your landing pages, where you drive relevant actions.
Use page-level targeting to increase conversions by providing email opt-ins that will only appear to visitors from PPC campaigns. Targeted optins will boost the efficacy of your ad campaigns.
Old-School Public Relations
Even traditional PR has its place when raising brand awareness. If you can afford to, leverage print advertisements, TV commercials, direct mail, live events, and other channels of advertising to bring your brand before new audiences.
Combined with text marketing, you can use the opportunity to induce immediate action, thanks to smartphones. You can also leverage social media advertising if you have a limited budget. Social advertising allows better audience targeting and ads for a fraction of the cost.
Step 3: Optimize Your Consideration/Interest Stage
Once a prospect is familiar with your business and shows interest in your offerings, you need to engage them. This is the process of encouraging to make small commitments to your business before they’re ready to make their purchase.
Giving a lead magnet, such as a downloadable resource that solves their most pressing problem, gives you their email address. Small commitments build up to larger commitments. Use these tools to optimize for conversion in the consideration stage:
Optimize Your Landing Pages
The landing page is by far the most important optimization aspect in the consideration stage. This is where your qualified prospects should dock when coming from external targeted sources, and this is where other pages inyour site should lead to. In your landing page, you have one chance to make the ultimate impression to elicit a certain action.
You should have several landing pages to increase your conversion rate, each depending on what you’re offering prospects looking for different things. Now, your landing page should NOT be your website homepage, although itcan be. Landing pages focus solely on eliciting action from your consumer. It must be specific and relevant to your visitor’s needs.
Below are the desirable elements of landing pages:
- Headline – split test different headlines to see the ones that attract/convert more leads
- Copy – should be filled with benefits for the reader, starting with the most compelling. Use the PAS writing formula to create compelling sales copy
- Color – split-test background and text colors to see which leads to more conversions
- Font size – split-test font sizes and styles for different sections to see which convert more
- Purchase path – elements on the landing page should be leading to your CTA
Qualities Of Landing Pages
A perfect landing page should have the following qualities:
- The headline is clear and catchy and complements the ad copy text. Secondary headlines break up content to sections for easy skimming
- Headlines should be captivating and bold, but concise. They’re your attention gripper
- Impeccable grammar in the copy. Grammar issues reduce trust and throw off the reader
- Clearly-displayed trust indicators – testimonials, third-party security/trust certification (like BBB), press mentions, celebrity endorsements, guarantee seals, etc.
- Strong call-to-action – easy to follow, compelling, and clearly stands out on the page. Identify keywords prospects in your industry respond to, and carry out split tests
- Few links – only put links that lead the consumer to the next purchase-orient edaction; avoid leading consumers away from the landing page except towards a purchase
- Images and video related to the copy should be included
- Above the fold – keep it short and sweet to ensure your CTA is above the fold. The more the scrolling, the less the chance of closing/converting
- More information – put anything else you need to close in the more information section
- You should always be testing different elements – fonts, colors, copy, headlines – until you find the most compelling landing pages. Limit the distractions by eliminating anything that isn’t related to your focus for the page.
Calls To Action
Each page on your site should encourage a visitor to do something. Decide what your CTA is and add it multiple times to the landing page, and at least once in every other page.
Content upgrades and related content allow you to have several CTAs on a single page without the multiple opt-in forms. Invite readers to sign up to get exclusive bonus content or other compelling upgrades.
Contact or comment forms are easy ways to get email subscribers and encourage small actions from prospects. On every page, you can have a CTA for your email newsletter or specific content depending on the page. For product pages, forms can be used to submit inquiries.
Ensure the form includes few text boxes, and test different headlines,question phrases, and placement for perfect conversions. Check completion rates– if low, reduce the number of fields. Then, ensure the captchas aren’t too difficult or your conversions will drop.
Bricks and mortar businesses have an easier time proving trust, but online building trust is a tad more difficult. You’re trying to get people to give you money, which is why you want them to be sure you’re credible. Trust elements help you establish credibility.
You must have the following, at aminimum:
- Guarantee – money-back guarantee if they’re not satisfied 30/60 days is best, but you can test
- BBB Logo – sites can apply for a Better Businesses Bureau logo by joining the local BBB chapter and paying a membership fee. It puts prospects at ease
- Veri Sign Logo – an international symbol that shows online checkouts are secure and safe. This is huge for e-commerce stores
You can have a small banner displaying your trust elements, like this“Extreme guarantee” on every page of the Zappos website:
Depending on your business, having testimonials that can be tracked will help. You can fit your trust symbols in your website footer.
Step 4: Optimize For Your Desire Stage
You have their attention; your goal is to educate them about your product/service. They have questions that you must answer. You can prequalify your prospects by helping them decide whether your product fits their needs. Inthis stage, you can use:
Use email to educate prospects on your subscriber list about your business and build trust. Set up automated email strings to answer FAQs or highlight the solutions you offer. Always be testing:
- Subject lines – determine whether or not the email gets opened. Test open rates with different headlines
- Copy – test long and short copy as well as putting everything on email or clicking through to your site
- HTML vs. plaintext
- CTA – which CTAs drive more traffic to your site? Also, test CTA position vis-à-vis conversion
Drip marketing involves sending a pre-written set of emails to customers over time. Done properly, you can move your customer through the funnel and lead them directly into a purchase.
Sales Integration And CRM
If you have CRM software and sales teams, this is the point to onboard the sales team. CRM software makes it easy to track interactions with leads.You can identify where the leads are in the sales funnel, and hence which emails to send at what point to lead them along.
Step 5: Optimize For Your Purchase Stage
The average customer will be offered the sale seven times before they finally make a purchase. Therefore, provide many clear opportunities for your customers to purchase, and often. Make your checkout process flawless, and ensure your trust elements are clearly visible. Remind customers that their information is secure.
Make it simple for customers to find your products and services fro many page on your website, and optimize your checkout page using live chat,easy-to-follow prompts, and others. Offer free shipping, free returns, and customer service to set you apart from the competition.
Schedule email campaigns to coincide with holidays when customers are more purchase-ready. Keep giving prospects clear reminders and deals to purchase using CTAs and product placement. Use cross-promotion to get more of your products before consumers.
Targeted Email Campaigns
Most e-commerce platforms include email marketing integrations to allow you to promote discounts and offers using email to existing and potential customers. Set up automated emails to reach prospects at the end of a drip campaign. Offer free shipping to customers that abandon cart or discounts to customers viewing a certain product several times.
Step 6: Optimize The Loyalty/Advocacy Stage
Congratulations – you have made a sale!.
Now your goal is to increase the lifetime value of the consumer in two ways: they should make another purchase (brand loyalty) or tell their friends(brand advocacy). It is easier to sell to an existing customer, especially whenthey’re pleased with your services. Therefore, you can offer:
Cross-Aells, Upsells, And Re-sells
Reselling means offering customers the same product they purchased near the end of the usable period (e.g. after a month if it lasts that long). Up sells and cross-sells are offers for more expensive items, subscription packages, or add-ons related to the sale. You can either do this during the checkout process or follow up with an email after the purchase.
Set up automated reminders for important dates related to the products they purchased. For instance, if it’s going on sale at a certain date, or new stock comes in.
Thank You Page
Most businesses under utilize the potential of the thank you page. Use it to invite your prospects to take action and offer more opportunities to increase revenue. Use the thank you page after a subscriber opts-in to your email subscription list and after the purchase.
You can ask for referrals, offer a discount code for the next purchase, up sell or cross-sell, offer your most popular content, or even conduct a survey. A customer at this point will be more receptive to the little actions you nudge them into.
Offer your customer a discount code to invite friends to use your products and services. The discount code should give both the old and new customer a small discount (doesn’t have to be equal) – think about the referral program Uber and Airbnb runs.
The best way to nurture advocacy, though, is to offer such excellent user experience throughout the funnel that users can’t help but tell their friends. Ensure you offer prompt responses to inquiries and follow up to ask about their experience with your product (on email). If you make a customer feel good about their decisions, they’ll tell everyone they know!
Creating a well-optimized conversion funnel doesn’t happen in a single day. In this article, we have shared plenty of actionable tips to help improve the customer’s journey through the funnel. Optimizing takes time and plenty of testing and experimenting.
Don’t be afraid to create different offers, headlines, styles, and even copy, and observe the results over time. If you work patiently, no doubt you will see the high conversation rates that you’ve been aiming for.
Use insightful and compelling content to build trust at all levels of the funnel, as well as move prospects further down. You’ll notice that you have more leads and hence more conversions from your website.
May 18, 2021
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