A conversion funnel, also known as a sales or marketing funnel, describes the process you create to attract potential buyers to your website and guide them to take some desired action. The actions can range from signing up for your email list to buying your products and services.
Creating an effective conversion funnel is the foundation for implementing successful inbound marketing strategies. Buyers want to research their options before making a purchase and the quality of your conversion funnel can help them make that decision quicker.
If you find yourself driving people to your website but few are converting into leads, then you most likely have an ineffective conversion funnel. There are many reasons that your conversion rate is low, but let’s start with understanding the basics.
The conversion funnel process
A simple conversion funnel process is made up of four main steps:
- Create awareness for your products and services
- Build interest in what you have to offer
- Increase desire by educating them on how you can help solve their problem
- Take the desired action for their stage of the buying process
This process is then repeated, moving the visitor through the buyer’s journey until the person leaves the funnel or makes the purchase.
Sounds easy, right?
In order to maximize your conversion rate, a well-designed and effective conversion funnel takes planning, review and optimization.
The conversion funnel strategy
Conversion funnels, although similar in nature, may result in different outcomes.
Are you looking to convert:
- Visitors to leads
- Leads into customers or
- Customers into repeat customers?
Knowing which goal you are after will dictate the conversion funnel strategy you need. Each conversion funnel needs to focus on one goal and one call to action. If you give visitors too many options, most will leave without taking any action.
Understand your ideal target customer
Visitors that come to your website are at different stages in the buying process. Not all visitors will take the same action and many will not take any action. You need to guide them in the appropriate direction.
First you need to attract the right visitor and guide them into the right conversion funnel for their needs. Then you need to entice them so that they are less likely to leave before completing the desired action.
You must help them:
- Learn about what you have to offer
- Understand how you can help them solve a problem
- Get to know you so they are more likely to do business with you rather than someone else.
Only then will you be able to convert them into the logical next step in the process.
Dissecting the 4 Levels of the Conversion Funnel
Level 1 – Awareness
Before you can implement a conversion funnel, you need a steady stream of qualified visitors to your website. Making people aware of your brand can be done through many different online channels, but most small businesses naturally gravitate to content marketing.
Content marketing enables you to gain visibility in the search engines by creating and optimizing content that caters to those who are doing research in order to buy something. The more you understand how your business can help eliminate the pain or fulfill the desire of your target audience, the more you can create content that will feed their research needs.
Content can be delivered as blog posts and videos to attract the visitor. At the awareness stage, you need to give enough free information so that the visitor feels educated rather than sold. Make sure you have your offer visible so if the visitor is truly interested in you, they won’t hesitate to move to the next stage.
Level 2 – Interest
Once you’ve attracted your ideal target customer, you now need to increase their interest in your product or service. This is where your website and content are critical.
If you notice that you are attracting visitors but they are leaving quickly, there could be several problems:
- Your website doesn’t contain the content they are looking for
- The website makes it difficult to find what they need
- You overwhelm them with too many options
- They don’t know what you want them to do (i.e. no clear call-to-action)
Many small businesses who build their websites themselves make many website design mistakes that hurt conversions.
Your content needs to encourage visitors to learn more, dive deeper and get to know you. If you are providing visitor attracting blog posts, include a call-to-action for more in-depth content that requires them to join your email list to get.
This content, whether it is a whitepaper, guide, ebook, checklist or template, becomes your lead magnet, a tool that encourages them to trade their email address for your offer.
Level 3 – Desire
Once you have your visitor’s interest, now you must convince them they need to take the next step. (Remember the next step could be converting the visitor into a lead or the lead into a customer).
For turning visitors into leads, your conversion funnel strategy expands from creating and sharing awareness building content to content that demonstrates why your brand is better than the competition. Reviews, testimonials and case studies work well. Webinars showcasing your expertise or product demonstrations are also valuable.
For nurturing leads and turning them into customers, you can begin sending your email series or offers to join a private Facebook group. Many qualified leads are still not ready to buy. Providing interesting emails or a community for those who have shown interest in your offerings can move them from prospect to customer.
Level 4 – Action
If everything you’ve done up until now works, this is where the visitor takes some action. And depending on the goal of the conversion funnel, the visitor becomes a qualified lead or a lead becomes a customer.
But your process isn’t just one conversion. This is an ongoing, repeatable process that creates different opportunities to provide offers that may interest your visitors. For example:
- If the visitor became a qualified lead, move them to the next step where you increase their desire for your products and services.
- If the lead converted into a customer, introduce them to other products or services and begin the process again. Even service businesses can up-sell customers to other types of services.
Should you implement a conversion funnel for your business?
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.