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Optimising Your Conversion Funnel (With Steps and Examples)

With SEO and PPC you've been able to drive audiences towards your website using brilliant digital strategies. Yet, visitors that arrive just don’t seem to make that essential final leap from click to customer. What’s missing? Find out how to find the holes and improve your funnel with this proven no-fluff guide.

In the digital world, your business lives and dies with your conversion funnel.

Your conversion funnel is the key to unlocking more qualified leads, more customers, and more revenue. A solid funnel guides users seamlessly from awareness to consideration, conversion, and beyond.

A funnel with holes, on the other hand, will quickly drain your resources — causing you to lose out on sales that could have been yours, and leaving your business with a less-than-ideal ROI.

Optimising your conversion funnel is ESSENTIAL if you're looking to improve your marketing efforts based on objective data and evidence.

However, this can be challenging, particularly if you have NO idea where to start. That’s why we’re going to break down, step by step, exactly how to build, visualise, analyse, and optimise your marketing funnel.

Ready to skyrocket your traffic, leads and sales?

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What is a good conversion rate?

The first step to optimising your conversion funnel is having a concrete benchmark of WHAT a good conversion rate is.

This gives you an idea of how your current funnel stacks up, and provides you with a goal to work towards.

So, what exactly is a good rate?

Let’s start with overall conversion rates across all industries. This graph plots the conversion rates for a group of Google Ads accounts over three months:

 

Image source: Wordstream

As we can see, the median sits at around 2.35%. However, the top 25% of all websites are achieving conversion rates that are more than DOUBLE the median — and the same goes for the top 10%.

The same trend applies for different industries:

Image source: Wordstream

The takeaway? 

Doubling your conversions through conversion rate optimisation (CRO) might seem like a daunting task. However, if you’re sitting at the average for your industry, this should be the very LEAST you’re aiming for.

 

How to visualise and analyse your conversion funnel 

Next, you need to "find the holes", so to speak. 

1. Create your goals in Google Analytics (GA)

Google Analytics is THE most fundamental tool that all businesses need for CRO.

Within GA, you can easily set up visualisations of conversion funnels, which show the series of pages leading up to your goal URL.

In practice, a typical eCommerce funnel might look like this:

Homepage > product pages > shopping cart > checkout > thank you page

You can have as many steps as you’d like, but it’s best to have at least one goal for every stage of the funnel. You can also set up different funnels for micro-conversions on your site, or for each product or service.

So how do you set these up?

Easy. In the back end of GA, you simply need to create a new goal:

From here, you can either set up a goal from one of GA's existing templates or set up one of your own:

 

Image source: Neil Patel

Last but not least, keep in mind that a user doesn’t need to visit each page of your funnel in order for you to track their movement — and their movements don’t need to occur in order. The most important thing to have is your goals and your goal URLs set up.

2. Pinpoint the drivers bringing people to your site

During your funnel analysis, there are three things you need to take into account to optimise efficiently:

  • The DRIVERS that bring people to your website in the awareness stage (such as social media, referrals, blog posts or content marketing)

  • The BARRIERS that might stop a potential customer from buying your product or taking an action

  • The HOOKS that persuade them to convert the bottom of the funnel

First things first, the drivers at the top of the funnel stage. If you want to convert traffic, you first need to understand:

  1. WHO your customers are;

  2. HOW potential customers are getting to your site; and 

  3. WHY they’re coming to your website

They may have come through organic search with no previous knowledge about your products and services, seen some of your blog posts from social media, OR they may have hopped onto your site for the first time after a referral from a friend.

Each of these types of customers has very different needs. Tailoring the buying process to those needs is KEY if you want to funnel a conversion and improve your lead nurturing.

How do you do this?

It all goes back to the customer persona.

Customer personas are fictional ‘characters’ that embody your target audience. 

You can either create a set of 2-3 customer personas using this template from Hubspot, or email a quick survey to your existing customers with questions such as:

  • Demographic-related questions, such as age and location

  • How did you find out about our site?  Was it through a blog post, email marketing, social content, or another platform?

  • What’s the main reason for your visit today?

Use these answers to list out the different types of things that people want to accomplish on your site. From here, you can work backwards to figure out what might be causing them to leave.

3. Identify where people leave your website

Once you understand the drivers bringing people to your website, it’s time to understand the barriers that block a potential customer from taking the desired action.

Like before, the best way to visualise your funnel is to use GA. There are two ways you can do this.

The first is to do it as a funnel attached to the goals that you have manually defined. It looks like this:

The second is the built-in checkout behaviour funnel that’s SPECIFICALLY made for eCommerce websites. The Checkout Behaviour Analysis tool is handy because it shows every desired action as a graph, so you can better visualise how many people drop off at each step:

 

Regardless of which tool you use, this visualisation already gives you a sense of how each step in your conversion funnel is performing, and identify any high-exit pages along the way.

A final word: you won’t get a granular overview of user behaviour on each page with GA. What you WILL get, however, is an overview of what’s working with your customers and what’s not. Once you know which part of your website is lagging behind, focus your efforts on these areas first to reap maximum gains.

Tip: If you want more funnel insights, you can combine GA with another analytics tool like Mixpanel or Heap.

4. Dive even deeper into problematic sections with heatmaps

You’ve used an analytics tool, and you’ve found a landing page or product page that’s underperforming.

Now what?

The next step is to dive even deeper and gain more quantitative insights with a heatmap tool like HotJar, Smartlook or Crazy Egg.

Heatmaps aggregate the number of clicks, scrolls, and movement on a page. In other words: it makes it really easy to see exactly WHERE people are going on your page — and where they aren’t.

This is incredibly useful because it helps you isolate which parts of a webpage are driving user behaviour, and pinpoint any problem areas.

Let’s look at this in practice with an example.

Let’s say you have a video on your homepage that talks about your product. However, one quick glance at your heatmap reveals that practically nobody is watching this video:

If this video contains vital content that isn’t housed anywhere else on your site, it could be a clear reason why visitors are dropping off on a specific place.

Here’s another example.

You might be wondering why qualified leads aren’t adding their email address to your email newsletter sign-up form, which you’ve placed at the bottom of your homepage.

After you take a look at your scroll heatmap, you might see that only 44% of visitors reach this part of your site:

Once you have this information, you could then choose to A/B test moving your email newsletter sign-up form above the fold or including it as a pop-up, then seeing the impact on your traffic, leads and sales.

5. View user recordings

What if you could see EXACTLY what a user was doing on your webpage, and where they gave up in the funnel?

Recordings are another powerful CRO tool to help you visualise exactly that. 

Marketing tools like HotJar, Crazy Egg and Smartlook all include a recording feature, where you can see how a user moves through your webpage and which content they see.

Set up this feature and wait until you amass a solid amount of recordings from your website visitors. This can take anywhere from a week to two weeks, or even up to a month if traffic is slow. 

Once you’ve collected enough data, filter through your recordings based on sessions that ended at a certain stage in the funnel.

Watch the recordings and keep an eye out for tell-tale issues, such as:

  • Hesitation before clicking on a button or another key action

  • Any loading issues or bugs

  • Content or formatting issues on desktop/mobile

  • What information they hover over before dropping off

Now do the same for those visitors who did complete the action to see what does work, and what it is that convinces customers to make it through the conversion funnel on those pages.

Analyse this qualitative and quantitative data, then list out the top reasons for drop-offs on each stage of your funnel conversion.

These will form the skeleton of the next part...

 

How to optimise your conversion funnel in 4 steps

You know when users are dropping off. 

You know WHY they’re dropping off.

Now, it’s time to get to work tackling the issue and optimising your marketing funnel for traffic, leads and sales.

This three-step process will help you optimise your conversion funnel and make evidence-based changes that will deliver a real difference on your bottom line.

1. Decide what changes should be tested

Once you’ve identified any blockers a potential customer is experiencing, you can decide what changes should be tested in your funnel.

It can be tempting to do all the changes at once, but this is a surefire way to create more problems than it’s worth.

Why?

If you find your product sales suddenly drop, you have no idea of figuring out which change caused it, and vice versa.

Instead, you need to make sure to focus on testing one change at a time, observing the results, then updating accordingly.

Make a list of the changes that you want to implement, then categorise them in order of priority.

For example, a change at the checkout stage will probably have more impact on your bottom line than a change to your email newsletter sign-up form or a new piece of content.

Focus on the low-hanging fruit first, then work backwards from there.

2. Form your hypothesis

Remember science class? 

Every science experiment started with a hypothesis — a statement of what the change is, the outcome you believe it will generate, and why you believe this outcome will occur.

A good example might be:

I believe that adding case studies to my product or service webpage will increase conversions by 10%, because it adds social proof during the decision-making stage.

After you’ve created your hypothesis, it’s time to start experimenting.

3. Set up your test

There are three common types of CRO tests: A/B testing, split testing, and multivariate testing. Each comes with its own set of pros and cons, and the most popular A/B testing marketing platforms (such as VWO or Google Optimise) will allow you to set up each type of test.

A/B testing

A/B testing is the process of creating two variations of a webpage, then testing each version on your users to see which delivers the best results.

Split testing

Split testing involves setting up two different URLs and directing a percentage of users to each version. This is ideal if you want to test a completely different design, want to test different pricing formats, or want to test pages that already exist on different URLs.

Multivariate testing

Multivariate testing is used if you want to make multiple changes on the same page and separately test each combination. This is a great way to test different headline and image combinations to see which one delivers the best results with potential customers:

4. Review, optimise, and repeat

This is the part where you review the results, decide where to take action, and use any learnings to develop future content or marketing campaigns.

If you get the results you expected, simple: make the change, note down any takeaways, and move on to the next test.

If not, don’t panic — remember that CRO is a process.

Go back to your hypothesis, review your conversion funnel analysis, and look for any issues. Your change might not have been in line with the main drivers you identified for your visitors, or you may simply need to test again. 

Above all else, remember to review, analyse, experiment, optimise, and repeat. This process will keep your conversion funnel humming along at its best, while steadily churning out even more customers and more revenue for your website.

 

Skyrocket your sales with conversion funnel optimisation

When you take the time to understand your audience and learn what they need at every stage of the conversion journey, you can improve funnel conversions and maximise the number of visitors that ultimately make a purchase.

But make no mistake: conversion funnel optimisation IS a science.

It takes an evidence-based approach, experimentation, and rigorous testing to elevate your conversion rate to double or triple the average.

At Online Marketing Gurus, we help you unlock the formula for a winning marketing funnel. Best of all, it's FREE to get started.

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