How do you get a new customer?
Do you prefer the obsolete and uncertain technique of cold calling or the modern strategy of taking your potential customers through various trackable levels of conviction until they eventually choose to purchase from you?
It may seem like a simple question, but the answer may be more complex than you think.
Sure, you’ve got various advertising campaigns, and you’re generating sales.
A reasonable assumption would be that your marketing promotions are creating sales. While this may be partially true, it’s not a full answer.
One of the keys to running a successful business is to understand the customer buying process. Just because you’re selling something a consumer wants or needs doesn’t mean you are automatically in a position to make a sale.
But, leveraging the basic concepts of the customer conversion funnel will make it easier for you to guide the consumer through the buying process.
This puts you in a position to maximize your conversion rates and ultimately generate more profits for your company.
There is a ton of information on the Internet about the customer conversion funnel. The funnel may look a little bit different, depending on whom you ask.
But, while the terminology may vary slightly, (conversion funnel, sales funnel, marketing funnel, etc.) a proper conversion funnel should ordinarily look like this:
How many articles have you read recently about the “conversion funnel”?
Probably a lot.
If you regularly read marketing blogs, it can sometimes feel like you’re hearing, seeing, and having the term “conversion funnel” shoved in front of your eyeballs constantly.
I personally come across conversion funnel information multiple times per day when I facilitate our digital marketing training at our facility here in Lagos. It seems like every marketer in existence wants to be sure I don’t forget about this part of my strategy.
So why is this?
The short answer is that an optimized conversion funnel is critical to your online marketing success.
You might be thinking, “I don’t have one, but I’m doing pretty well.”
But if you run a sales-focused website, you do have a conversion funnel in place, whether you were intentional about creating it or not. Maybe it’s not optimized, but it’s there.
If your goal is to get your visitor to take action — any action — you have a conversion funnel template. This is true even if your only goal is something simple, like getting visitors to sign up for an email list.
When you think about it this way, almost every site in existence has a conversion funnel of some sort.
But according to E-consultancy, only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.
This means that most of us have a lot of work to do to get our sites to where we want them to be. And developing a strong marketing conversion funnel is an excellent place to start.
Before we get into the full definition, we’ll start by defining what a “funnel” is. Let’s look at the most common definition.
The noun form listed here is a solid visual of the shape you should picture when creating your funnel.
But the verb form is closer to what funnels help you accomplish. When you do a conversion funnel optimization, your funnel should guide your leads towards converting.
So essentially, a conversion funnel is an idea or a way to visualize and comprehend the flow and conversion of potential customers (assuming the visitors are targeted) into paying customers.
If you can understand and analyze the process, then you can take actions to improve that flow.
Here’s a simple diagram with a simple breakdown of how this process works in marketing:
This is a very simple visualization showing the main four steps in the process:
Now, let’s break it down and look at exactly what’s involved in each of these steps.
To have a conversion funnel, you have to pull (not pour) prospects into your funnel. You do this by making people aware of your company and willing to do business with you.
This part of your marketing strategy includes anything that helps your brand reach a new audience.
You have tons of options for making this happen, but there are a few channels that tend to be particularly effective for this stage:
There are many ways to reach users in this stage, but the most important thing is to attract qualified traffic.
Focus on quality over quantity.
Unqualified leads are much less likely to make it to the next step in your funnel (let alone to the bottom of your funnel), so targeting your top-of-funnel (ToFu) strategies to the right audience is a much better use of your time and budget.
Figure out what users need to know about your industry, services, and products. Determine what questions and needs they have.
And their pain-points? Identify and solve these pain-points, and see how their interest in your brand will skyrocket.
Then, craft content that addresses those needs and positions your brand as an authority on the subject.
Write blog posts, offer helpful resources, and publish in-depth, informative guides that help your audience get a better understanding of what, exactly, you’re offering.
Content that keeps visitors interested and engaged is essential for helping your target audience get to know, like, and trust you.
A good content marketing and copywriting skill can be invaluable for this step.
For this, you should check out our content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) curriculum as part of our full stack digital marketing course so that you can learn how to write killer and rankable content that sells your products and services.
Next, you need to work towards making your leads even more interested in your product or service. Show them why they NEED what your company is offering.
An email autoresponder series or drip campaign is perfect for this. It helps you to build the relationship between your company and your potential customers.
If you continue reading, you’ll find some ideas to get your potential customers to desire your offerings when they visit your website, but first, you need to highlight the specific problem you solve and focus on how your solution is different from the solutions other companies are offering.
Make your potential customers desire your company’s solution. Once you accomplish this, getting them to convert will become a much easier process.
Again, a good copywriter can be invaluable for turning interests into desire, and desires into action, as we would soon see.
The last — and arguably most important — step to your funnel is action. This is your ultimate goal, the big action you want your prospect to take.
Yes, they may have taken smaller actions already, like downloading a resource and engaging with your email content.
But you want a bigger action…
You want them to buy!
It’s important to note that only a small percentage of prospects will make it to this level.
It can be frustrating to know you would be lucky to have 10% of your total top-of-funnel visitors will eventually end up buying your product or service.
But when you take steps to improve your funnel, you can maximize the number of leads that move forward from each step.
The answer is yes, even if it is a simple one.
If you market your business using your website, you should have a well-defined conversion funnel, even if it is to simply grow your email list.
Understand the buyer’s journey, what appeals to them and how you can ultimately help them.
Learning about what your target audience needs and creating content that fulfills that need, you can help your visitors and start to build a helpful relationship with them.
Now, to the meat of today’s post…
You see, building an effective conversion funnel takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.
But if you want to maximize your sales and revenue, it’s time to start working on your funnel.
The following eight steps will help you turn more of your visitors into leads, and more of your leads into customers.
Every successful conversion funnel rests on a well-defined set of conversion goals.
While it may take more time to develop your initial funnel, monitoring these goals will give you more insight into how users move through your site.
Then, you can use this information to maximize the number of prospects that arrive at the “purchase” level of the funnel.
So as you start to develop your conversion funnel, think about how visitors move from their first interaction with your site to becoming a customer.
For starters, if you do have a website, visitors arrive on your site, check out product or service pages, add a product to their cart, and complete the checkout process.
But then, it’s also important to note that not all of your visitors will take the same path through your site.
In fact, unless you have an extremely small site with only a handful of visitors, there are several likely paths they’ll take towards conversion.
If you’re not sure what these paths look like, you can start by working backwards. What are the most important goals on your site?
For most site owners, the answer to this question is either sales conversion or lead form submissions.
Place that action at the bottom of your funnel.
Then, determine which other actions a user needs to take first in order to be ready to complete that step.
Some of these actions will also be conversion centred, like downloading a resource or signing up for a downloadable guide. These are some of the most important sub-actions a user can take, aside from your main goals.
After you’ve determined what you want your funnel to look like, you need to have a way to measure how users are actually moving through your site.
The best way to do this is by setting up conversion goals in Google Analytics.
Analytics is one of the best and free ways to measure your site’s performance, and the information you provide on what you’re trying to accomplish, the more helpful it will be in giving you an idea of your success.
If you already have a few goals set up in Analytics, this is a great start. But in order to get an accurate idea of how your conversion funnel is performing, you’ll need to set up goals at each stage of the funnel.
It’s up to you to decide how many you want to add, but at the very least, you should set up at least one goal for each stage, all leading to your main goal.
You should also set up goals for all major conversions, like purchases, form submissions, email list signups, and resource downloads.
Fortunately, adding conversion goals is a relatively easy process.
You can read on to identify the steps below or register for our digital marketing training where you will learn the practical steps involved in setting p and optimizing a conversion funnel in our Google Analytics class.
Once you’ve finished adding goals to your site, give your site some time to accumulate user data.
Then, you’ll be able to use your results to improve your funnel.
Your site content is essential for driving leads from one step in your conversion funnel to the next.
In order to turn your visitors into leads, you need to help them learn about your industry, address their needs and pain-points, and show them what sets your company apart from your competitors.
Site content, whether textual, visual or audio-visual, is the only way to make this happen.
And as you come up with topic and type ideas and create new content for your site, make sure that you’re developing content for each stage and each set goal.
Each type of content serves a different purpose in your funnel.
Top-of-funnel content (ToFu), like blog posts, tip sheets, infographics, video tutorials, online courses, ebooks and articles, should provide helpful information that’s relevant to your audience’s needs and goals. It shouldn’t be overly “salesy,” and should focus primarily on education.
This type of content has the most room for creativity, because it’s not focused on immediately converting visitors into leads.
You can also “gate” that content by requiring that users enter an email address in order to access it. This way, the user gets a valuable resource for free — and you get to add them to your email list, so you can stay in touch even after they leave your site.
Middle-of-funnel content (MoFu), like customer testimonials and case studies, should show your audience what sets your company apart from your competitors.
In this stage, you’ll want to start including clear information about your products and services. And unlike your first tier of content, it’s okay to be a bit more directly promotional.
Bottom-of-funnel content (BoFu), like pricing pages, demos and form submissions, should give your visitors the final encouragement they need to take action.
Let’s take a second to go back to how we visualize a sales funnel.
In a way, this process isn’t actually a funnel.
While it should guide your visitors towards conversion, it isn’t as effective as a physical funnel in guiding all of your visitors towards a desired action.
Think about it: What happens when you take a real funnel and pour liquid into it?
All of the liquid — 100% of it — will be forced through the small hole in the bottom of the funnel. It has to go somewhere. Call it the destination.
But on the reverse, try pouring the same amount of liquid into the same funnel with punctured holes. You’d be lucky if you had up to 10% of the liquid reaching the destination.
Now, think of how your potential customers move through your site’s funnel. What happens when your advertising campaigns and strategies on other channels “pour” new potential customers into that funnel?
In most cases, only a handful of the customers who enter your funnel come out the bottom. In fact, the average conversion rate for lead submission forms for various industries ranges from 2.8% to 6%.
So: Where do all of these potential customers go? Why aren’t they all pushed through to the bottom of the funnel?
The truth is that your funnel has holes at each level.
Think of each step as filter. Each level of the funnel will filter out users who aren’t interested, and only the ones who qualify make it to the next level. The rest leave your funnel through the side.
Some marketers refer to these exits as “leaks” in your conversion funnel.
So, what are you supposed to do about this? Just let all of those leads go?
Of course not.
While some of these users may have left your funnel because they weren’t qualified leads, that’s likely not the case for all of them.
Sometimes, your site simply doesn’t do an effective job of moving them to the next step.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help you identify where your “leaks” are and take steps to minimize them.
If you’ve added funnels to your goals in Analytics, one of the best ways to identify funnel issues is by using the Funnel Visualization report.
Analyzing this report can help you learn more about how your visitors behave, right from the start. And if their actions aren’t in line with your conversion funnel, it can help you determine where you need to make changes.
After you’ve identified where you have issues in your conversion funnel, it’s time to take action to fix them.
If you read about conversion rate optimization here, you would learn that there are tons of changes you can test on your site with the goal of increasing conversions.
These changes range from different button colors, button texts, to new calls to action to updated forms to virtually anything else you might think of altering.
Many blog posts and articles like this recommend different “best practices” for site optimization.
You can start by focusing your efforts on pages that you’ve identified as leaks in your funnel. In many cases, these will be key conversion pages like your form submission or cart page.
So if you notice that a lot of your visitors are making it to their cart page, but not completing their purchases, this is a prime area to focus your conversion rate efforts.
But how can you know what you should change?
One of the best ways is by utilizing user testing tools, like heatmaps.
Before running any tests, try to learn as much as you can about the people who took action on your site and those who didn’t.
For example, in this heatmap, you can see a few glowing areas on the navigation bars, and one that’s particularly bright over the email opt-in form.
This shows that the majority of the clicks on the page are going to those areas, and that the signup field receives more clicks than any other element.
In this case, the heatmap shows that the page is effective in driving that conversion. So if that’s the most important goal for the page, it’s performing extremely well.
But what if it wasn’t?
What if the page was supposed to be driving clicks to a different page, or even on the button in the lower right corner?
In that case, this heatmap would show why users weren’t taking those actions.
Let’s say your heatmap looks like this example:
Here, the clicks aren’t focused on any one area, other than the navigation menu. This signifies that the page isn’t giving users a clear direction about what to do.
If any of the main pages in your conversion funnel look like this, you have an issue.
Your goal with each of these pages should be to guide the majority of your visitors to a specific action, so they should have clear glowing spots on the elements that represent those actions.
Even with low traffic numbers, your conversion-focused elements should stand out.
For example, on this page, it’s clear that a large percentage of clicks go to the signup button:
Your goal should be to create a page with similar results.
The more effective you are at addressing your audience’s concerns, and showing that your product meets all of their needs, the more effective you’ll be at generating conversions.
But as with every other part of your marketing strategy, you never want to guess how effective your changes are.
That’s why with every change you make, you should run A/B tests.
If you’re unfamiliar with A/B testing, it’s the process of creating two variations of a page (Variation A and Variation B), then testing both of them on users to see which generates the most conversions.
Running an A/B test requires using a testing platform that divides your traffic between your variations, so that you can collect data for both simultaneously.
Then, at the end of your test, you can determine which generated the most conversions. If one variation performed significantly better than the other, you can implement it permanently on your site.
Of course, this is a simplified explanation of the process, and there’s a lot more that goes into planning and carrying out an effective A/B test.
You can learn more about that process in our digital marketing course so that you can continuously find improved ways to test and improve your conversion funnel performance.
As you identify possible changes for your site, you should always test them before implementing them permanently.
When you increase the percentage of users who make it past the awareness stage by engaging with your content and learning about your business, you move more of those early visitors on to the next step.
So even though the actions you drive them to take might be as simple as watching a video about your company, that’s an action that can keep them in your funnel.
And the more users you move through each stage of your funnel, the more of them will ultimately become your customers.
As you can see, there are many things you can do that are small or inexpensive towards creating a conversion funnel that will 10x your business.
Chances are that you currently have a pre-determined customer journey map for your business, but chances also exist that this map and process is not optimised for success.
No doubt, you need to make changes to your customer journey map.
Also, know that the smallest changes can make the world of difference and optimizing for mobile is not only important, it’s essential to e-commerce success.
Always think in terms of your audience: what does the customer journey look like for them, and how you can provide the information that will ease their concerns and excite them about your products?
You should know at the back of your mind that developing an optimized conversion funnel can be challenging.
But when you take the time to understand your audience and learn what they need in order to become customers, you can optimize your funnel to maximize the number of visitors that ultimately become customers.