Businesses need paying customers, or they won’t stay in business for long. However, not all businesses know exactly where those paying customers actually come from. Every customer has to go through several stages before they make a purchase. To understand that journey, you need to know about conversion funnels.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what conversion funnel marketing is, how to set one up, and how to optimize it for better results.
What is a conversion funnel?
A conversion funnel describes the different stages your prospective customers go through leading up to conversion—most commonly buying your product or service.
Very few customers who land on your site will be instantly ready to make a purchase. If you’re selling an expensive product or a complex solution for the B2B market, it may take months before the customer is ready to buy. While it’s easy to focus on the sale, understanding the customer’s journey up to that point means you can help them through the different stages.
The process is illustrated as a narrowing funnel, with the number of people in each stage dropping off throughout their journey. No matter how good your product or service is, you’re not going to sell to every single lead who visits your website, so there will always be prospects who leave your funnel without making a purchase.
Whether you know it or not, you already have a conversion funnel in place. Your job is to understand the different stages of that funnel and ensure it’s optimized for your prospective customers.
The different stages of a conversion funnel
Whether you’re selling sweaters or a SaaS product, every customer will go through the following stages in your conversion funnel before they’re ready to purchase:
Awareness. Before a prospect can buy, they have to know who you are. This can be achieved by paid ads for your company, organic search results, social media posts, or some other similar marketing strategy.
Interest. Is the person interested in what you’re selling? Is it relevant to them and the problems they’re trying to solve? Prospects at this stage aren’t ready for any big commitment, but they can see enough potential that they’re willing to invest some time to find out more.
Desire (also known as the consideration stage). Your prospective customer has now seen enough to know that your product or service can help them, but they need more information to make the decision themselves (or convince others that it’s the right decision). At this stage they’re also likely to evaluate you against your competitors.
Action. This is the moment of conversion. They take the step and commit to their decision, whether that’s clicking the buy button or signing the contract.
Bonus: Re-engage. The funnel doesn’t have to come to an end once they’ve made a purchase. If you’re a SaaS business, you’ll want customers to stick around, increasing your customer lifetime value (CLTV)—the total amount of revenue generated by a customer over their lifetime. For e-commerce stores, your customers will ideally make more than just one purchase. You’ll also want to encourage referrals and attract more potential customers into the funnel.
How to build a website conversion funnel
You might already be selling without having intentionally put together a SaaS or e-commerce conversion funnel. However, once you’ve understood the stages, you can create a conversion funnel that’s tailored to your business and your customer that increases sales.
There are four basic steps you’ll need to follow in order to build an effective website funnel.
Step 1: Map out your existing buying process. Take some time to discover your customers’ current journey, from the moment of awareness to making a purchasing decision. This might involve diving into your site analytics and checking what pages a prospect visits before buying, or interviewing current customers to identify how and why they made their decision.
Bear in mind, there will almost certainly be more than one path your customers take, so focus on the most common route and/or the route your most valuable customers take.
Once you understand how your customers are already buying from you, it’s likely you’ll quickly see ways that the process could be improved.
Step 2: Work out how people will enter your funnel. A funnel can only function if there is a consistent stream of new leads entering it. Take another look at your current process and see where your customers are coming from. Typical routes include paid ads, organic search results, and social media.
What’s working well for you? What could work better? You might see that you’re pumping a lot of money into ads for little return, while your content marketing is bringing in lots of inbound leads (or vice versa).
Either way, look for ways you can bring more people into your website funnel, whether that’s by doubling down on high ROI activities or replacing ineffective strategies.
Step 3: Develop resources that match the customer journey. For each stage of the customer journey, provide the materials and content they need to progress. That might mean writing ads or social media posts that drive awareness, landing pages that build interest, and in-depth guides that increase desire.
Step 4: Nurture your prospects through the funnel. When it comes to navigating the conversion funnel, you shouldn’t expect your prospects to figure it out for themselves.
Guide them through the process. For many companies, this will mean a drip campaign, increasing their awareness of you and your solution via email and other channels. You should also ensure they can easily find the answers to any questions they have, e.g. including an FAQ section on the website or providing online chat.
Analyzing and optimizing your conversion funnel
Having a conversion funnel tailored to your audience will give you an advantage, but to get the best out of it you’ll have to analyze your results and make changes where necessary. This starts with tracking your funnel conversion rate.
Your conversion rate = Total number of conversions ÷ Total number of people who entered the funnel × 100.
So if 10,000 people entered your funnel and 200 people converted, your conversion rate is 2%.
Knowing your overall funnel conversion rate is helpful for measuring the general effectiveness of your funnel. However, carrying out conversion funnel analysis on the exact stages of the process allows you to pinpoint where changes are needed and enables even greater conversion funnel optimization.
If your funnel analysis reveals a particular stage that’s struggling, it’s generally down to one of two reasons:
Either your prospects don’t want to take the next step, in which case you should make sure you’re targeting the right people and the messaging outlines the most relevant benefits.
Alternatively, they don’t know how to take the next step. In this case, it’s your job to eliminate as much friction from the process as possible. Are your calls to action sufficiently clear throughout the web funnel? Is your nurture campaign delivering the right information at the right time?
An easy way to boost your funnel conversion rate is by ensuring prospective customers who are ready to convert have all the information they need. For example, by adding a click-to-call button on pages visited by your prospects, your sales team can quickly answer any questions they have and guide them to the next stage of the funnel. Additionally, by being able to have a conversation with a real person and hearing an actual voice, prospects will be reassured and have greater confidence in the company. This further reduces friction and increases the chances of a prospect converting.
Voice chat can also help with the re-engagement of existing customers. By empowering your customer success team to speedily resolve any issues that might crop up, your customers are more likely to stick around and refer other people your way, further improving your conversion rate.
Every business has a conversion funnel, a series of stages a prospective goes through before making a purchase.
To increase your conversions, the first step is understanding that customer journey. With that knowledge, you can optimize your funnel by nurturing your prospects through the process and ensuring they have all the information they need. By carrying out conversion funnel optimization, such as making it easy for people to reach out to your sales and customer success teams and get their most pressing questions answered, you can create a stronger funnel and boost your conversion rate.
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