Paving the Path to Sales: The Conversion Funnel Explored

by 4 06/14/2013

As a marketer, you’ve likely heard the term conversion funnel to describe your business’s path to ROI. But when was the last time you took a close look at this concept?

When users visit your website, they may not  be ready to make an immediate purchase.

That’s why your job exists as a marketer —  you compel prospects to do business with your company. In other words, it’s your job to pave the path to sales, to move users through the conversion funnel.

What Is the Conversion Funnel?

It’s as simple as the steps that your prospects take to become first-time customers. Paths can be long, short, convoluted, or extremely direct.

What Prestige Marketing points out is that all conversion funnels have the same three components:

Prestige Marketing - Conversion Funnel

1. Brand Awareness – Prospects  discover your company and visit your site for the first time.

2. Consideration - Prospects evaluate your brand and product to determine fit and need potential.

3. Conversion - Prospects decide to work or shop with your brand for the first time. Some become repeat buyers

Visualize It

It’s mission-critical that you map out your prospects’ paths to sales.

As this infographic (above) from Dom Lane points out, you start attracting customers by casting your net wide — with freebies like e-books and resourceful blog posts. Tell your story to sell your brand via PR, social media, and ads.

The next step is to transform those inbound clicks into leads — a small proportion of whom will become paying customers. Profits are a by-product of this extensive process and funnel through the customer acquisition and relationship-building process.

Keep Steps Small

Marketers can minimize user drop-off at every stage of the conversion funnel. Fine-tune your steps into clearly segmented states to zero-in on strategies that promote engagement, retention, and sales.

The following infographic from Ion explains the precise steps that your brand should take to make your marketing more effective.

ion_Path_to_Conversion

Focus on delivering a stellar, up-front user experience that builds a brand connection through content that’s focused to your audience.

Follow through on your efforts by delivering a strong conversion optimization strategy once users are on your website. Facilitate targeted conversations so that your prospects are in the right place at the right time.

Test your forms, headlines, layouts, and color schemes to ensure that you’re maximizing your sales opportunities. Learn from your results to inform your post-conversion strategy.

Select the Right Metrics

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all success metric for your conversion funnel. As the following infographic from Smart Insights points out, marketers need to evaluate different data points at each stage of the process.

inbound-marketing-funnel

A few tips

  • When evaluating the success of your brand’s alignment to your prospects’ exploration stage, pay attention to new fan acquisition, website visitors, and inbound links generated.
  • For the decision-making stage, pay attention to time spent on site, shares/comments/likes, and leads generated.
  • When measuring the success of your buyers’ purchase stage, evaluate orders, revenue, and average order value (AOV).
  • Finally, evaluate the customer advocacy stage by monitoring repeat purchases, lifetime customer value, and referrals.

In short, align your strategy with your business model — no need to rely on a cookie cutter approach.

What are your favorite conversion optimization strategies? Is there a particular stage of the funnel that you’re having trouble optimizing? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About 

Ritika Puri is a San Francisco-based blogger who writes about trends in business, internet culture, and marketing. She’s inspired by the intersection between technology, entrepreneurship, and sociology. By day, she works for a large online media company, and after-hours, she runs her writing consulting business, UserGrasp.

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4 COMMENTS

Samuel

One of my favorite conversion optimization techiniques I like to do is directly ask the customer or a fellow viewer his opinion on what he saw on the landing page or the posted article.

I am wondering through all of the steps from the infographics, which one is the most important to define at the start or right away?

I know you mentioned there are no specific castes or cookie cutter for a conversion strategy to be fully optimized, but there are some obvious results accrued from other examples a marketer can learn from.

I changed my landing page design a second time for my blog, and it seems to do much better in the conversion. Thanks to a few suggestions from visitors.

Keep up the good work Ritika!

Samuel from internetdreams.com

June 16, 2013 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Great question, Samuel. When I sit down to write a landing page, I like to start with my objective for the page… in other words, what one action do I want people to take. Then I try to understand what visitors need so they’ll take that action. But you need to take a similar approach with your sales funnel. This is a high-level view of how people arrive at your website, what they’re looking for and how you can lead them to take the actions you want them to take. There’s a lot that goes into it, of course, but for me, it starts with objectives, both yours and your visitors’.

    June 24, 2013 Reply


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