A conversion funnel is the path a prospective buyer takes to ultimately become a lead for your business. It’s described as a funnel because the group of prospective buyers narrows from the whole target market potential to only those who engage with your company and convert into a lead.
This guide to conversion funnel optimization covers how to effectively think about and improve your current funnel and generate more leads through your website for your sales team.
The 4 stages of conversion funnel optimization
There are four stages to the conversion funnel to drive ideal members of your target market into the pipeline for your Sales team. Successful conversion funnel optimization analyzes each of these stages to identify ways to keep the right prospective buyers engaged and moving them forward.
The first stage in the conversion funnel is meant to pull potential customers in. Your goal at this stage is to raise awareness for your company and what you do. Identify where most of your business is coming from to determine which avenues are most effective and where you can improve. Use targeted advertising, social media content, and search engine optimization to reach your intended audience and attract them to your website.
Now, your prospective buyer has landed on your website. The next stage is building interest in your products or services. Use effective web copy, imagery, and other content to communicate how your business is unique and can address each prospect’s needs and pain points or intrigue them with a new opportunity.
Now, your prospect has become familiar with your products or services and is starting to communicate their research with their team, and they may be comparing you to competitor sites too. You need to build trust, reinforce your value proposition, and build desire for your products so that your prospect stays engaged. Retarget the prospect with ads that deliver personalized content based on what the prospect has already consumed on your website or where they left off. For instance, show them an ad with a free trial offer if they had previously come to your free trial page but didn’t submit their email address. Your goal is to drive them back to your website to convert.
The final stage is where prospective buyers take the plunge – they convert on your website per your defined conversion goal and become a viable lead for your Sales team. This conversion could be a demo request, a free trial submission, a newsletter sign-up, a content download, or whichever goal is important to your business.
Common challenges of the conversion funnel
In all of these stages, businesses can face challenges that cause leaks in the funnel. Here are some to consider:
Defining your audience precisely enough
Reaching the right audience is critical to generating new quality leads. If you try to appeal to everyone in your marketing, this could backfire because potential buyers may not find you relevant to their needs, pain points, and use cases. It’s better to identify your niche – which type of companies does your solution work really well for – and then develop and implement strategies and tactics to attract them to engage with you on various channels (ads, social media, etc.) and then flow to your website. If you focus on gaining awareness among your niche audience, you’ll likely set yourself up for higher conversion funnel metrics (see metrics section below).
Positioning yourself among the competition
It’s easier than ever for prospective buyers to compare products or services prior to converting. Just look at G2 or other review sites. You need to demonstrate how your solution outperforms competitors’ solutions. But, and maybe even more importantly, you must highlight the well-known and high-growth brands that are finding success with your solution. Put this front & center on your site. Word of mouth is powerful and buyers want to buy solutions that others who they want to emulate are raving about and finding success with. These buyers will more likely go straight to your site and will be fast-tracked to conversion.
Prioritizing your website at all times
Your website is a primary channel for moving more prospective buyers down the conversion funnel. Just think – pretty much all of your other channels have programs and campaigns running with the purpose of driving more people to your web pages. So it goes without saying that you should prioritize optimizing for this influx of traffic at all times. First and foremost, ensure that you have processes in place to immediately address any technical issues that arise. Further, consider implementing regular testing of your site to ensure there is zero friction for the visitor in regards to your calls to action and forms (more on this below). You never want to lose a potential lead who was close to converting, that you worked so hard to get.
Analyzing your current conversion funnel – metrics to track
The journey from generating awareness for your brand and solution all the way to generating leads through your website is complicated and multifaceted.
Analyzing your current conversion funnel is important because it helps you identify stages of the customer journey on your website that are strong and areas that need fine-tuning. To identify these strengths and weaknesses, you can look at funnel metrics and compare them to your goals.
Here are conversion funnel metrics for you to consider:
- The number of people in your target audience
- The number of people who you’ve engaged on channels outside of your website
- How much traffic you’ve driven to your website
- How many website visitors convert into leads, i.e. what is your website conversion rate? (According to Lusha, the average lead conversion rate for B2B websites is 2.4%)
- The amount of time it takes to convert a first-time visitor into a lead
Pinpointing areas for conversion funnel improvement
After you’ve identified these metrics, you know your starting point. There’s nowhere to go but up!
The next step is to pinpoint areas for conversion funnel improvement on your website. Dig deep using your analytics and/or heat map tool and ask yourself these questions:
- Which sources are driving visitors to your website most frequently? This could be email, search or display ads, social media sites, third-party sites, or other sources.
- What is the most typical path (next step) a visitor takes once they’ve landed on the homepage (or another key page)? You’ve done something right to achieve that click-through. You want to identify what that is and replicate elsewhere.
- How quickly are visitors bouncing from pages where there’s a key CTA? Perhaps the messaging, images, or content on these pages is lacking value, clarity, or relevancy.
- Are return visitors converting? They felt compelled to come back, but did they find what they needed this time around?
Now that you understand how your visitors are flowing through your website, and where they are/are not converting, you can devise your plan to test and implement changes to support your conversion funnel. Consider the following:
- Identify visitors for who they are: If the visitor came from an ad, mirror the messaging, imagery, and/or promotion in the ad to what they see when they land on your site. If it’s a return visitor, serve them a “welcome back” message and direct them to the part of your site where they left off (maybe they were on the pricing page!). Further, identify the firmographics and demographics of your visitor and only show them content, e.g. case studies, use cases, and other resources, that are relevant to them.
- CTAs: Test multiple locations and styles of your key CTA, as well as the copy and imagery around it. Further, try keeping the CTA sticky on the page upon scroll and/or moving it away from other distractions such as other less important CTAs.
- Forms: Try testing a fewer number of fields, or allow the user to leave some fields blank, i.e. don’t make them “required.” Or, test prepopulating or hiding fields, and enrich the rest of the data you need on the backend. Further, test a pop-up form instead of driving visitors to a new page after clicking on a CTA button.
Putting conversion funnel optimization into practice –leveraging machine learning-based tools
Once a prospective buyer has landed on your site, it’s go time. Now’s your chance to optimize every stage of their journey so you can achieve that coveted conversion. Overall, you want to provide a relevant experience that meets their needs and interests. If done right, they’ll keep clicking through and staying on the site until they ultimately convert.
By leveraging machine learning-based website optimization tools, you can easily make this a reality. Machine learning-based tools can help automatically optimize your site for each individual visitor and drive more conversions as a result. (Conversion funnel optimization done right!).
Machine learning-based solutions can automatically identify your visitor based on firmographic and demographic data like their industry and persona and infer their interests like case studies and intended use cases. Further, they can also consider the source of where they came from before landing on your website (e.g. an ad), and mirror any messages or promotions that had originally caught their interest. Even more, for returning visitors, they can capture previous behaviors performed on your site and direct them back to where they left off. Here, machine learning-based solutions will always show the page experience that is most likely to get a particular visitor to convert.
All of this taken into consideration, machine learning-based website optimization tools can ensure that your visitor – your prospective buyer – is always receiving a personalized, relevant experience that works to keep them on site and move down the funnel to conversion.
Other B2B organizations like Drift and Okta have optimized their websites for conversions using machine learning and driven amazing results – 322% lift in leads in 2 quarters (Drift) and 1,500 additional leads in 90 days (Okta).
Recommended resources for conversion funnel optimization
Optimizing your conversion funnel requires analysis and fine-tuning. Much of the focus comes to the website and ensuring you’re doing everything you can to optimize the experience for each prospective buyer and move them through to conversion. Machine learning can help tremendously to automate and optimize this effort.
Here are additional resources that can serve as a guide and inspiration to using machine learning-based tools for conversion funnel optimization: