Marketers become more effective when they understand the path that customers take as they progress from interested website visitors to paying customers. If marketers do not take care to analyze each stage of this customer journey, there will be a significant number of leads that fall out of the funnel, never to return. The best way to take advantage of all leads that are initially engaged is to optimize your conversion funnel.
Before we discuss ways to optimize your conversion funnel, let’s consider the components of the conversion funnel. The standard stages of the conversion funnel are documented below, along with a brief summary of the marketing team goals and the perspective of the prospective audience.
Conversion funnel stages
At this stage, the goal of the marketer is to help prospects identify the problem they are experiencing and make them aware that solutions exist. At this point, your audience is conducting internet research and asking their peers about insights on specific problems that they are encountering.
During this stage, the marketer’s objective is to generate interest in pursuing relevant solutions. This is the stage where prospects are actively educating themselves on solutions to understand which approach would be the best path forward. Prospects are beginning to understand fit, and will be narrowing down their solution choices based on criteria such as cost, implementation time, and other dynamics.
At this stage in the process, leads are most likely engaged by sales teams who have a significant chance of converting them into paying customers. At this stage, prospects are likely convincing buying teams, negotiating contracts, and learning about implementation steps. The prospect knows which vendors will be chosen, and there are likely only one or two solution providers remaining in the buying team’s evaluation process.
At this stage, the prospect takes the necessary action to become a customer, and an account manager or customer success rep will be responsible for managing on-boarding processes. Upon conversion, customers are focused on benefiting from the value of the product or service that they just purchased. They will expect clear documentation as to implementation or other next steps and will often prefer a dedicated point of contact to answer account and technical questions.
It is important to continue ongoing engagement of all prospects, even those who decided to move forward with a competitor or otherwise not sign up for your service. At this stage, you most likely have a lot of information about most prospects. Whether it is budget size, buying group intel, or details on how a particular account makes decisions, use all available information to send timely content and keep the conversation going.
Tips to optimize
Analyze your funnel
Take a look at your entire funnel and find areas for improvement. Some questions to ask: Where do leads drop out of the funnel? What stages of the conversion funnel are lacking content? What metrics are missing? How does my performance compare to industry best practices?
Answering questions like these will help guide your steps toward conversion funnel optimization. Conducting a thorough evaluation of your existing approach will highlight the areas that need attention. Perhaps you need better audience segmentation or specialized content. Only an analysis that seeks to find key metrics can give you the insight you need to make these determinations.
It may be overwhelming to consider your entire funnel and find significant areas for improvement. You may see so many areas for improvement that you try to fix everything at once. Instead of taking this approach, it makes more sense to focus on one area at a time. Identify the stage where you need the most help and test new content, processes, and tools to learn how this stage can be improved.
Test and re-test
As you see areas for improvement, create structured tests to measure your progress and the effectiveness of the new content or processes that you decide to implement. Start with a hypothesis that states the desired outcome of your test and decide a time frame that you will use to gauge the results. Once you have experience successfully testing and implementing improvements for one area of your conversion funnel, repeat this process for the other stages of your conversion funnel.
The process of optimizing your conversion funnel is one of trial and error and continuous testing. Use tools like Google Analytics to assist with your testing efforts. These tools will give you clear data and help you make decisions as you test different components of your conversion effectiveness. While it is very important to achieve your desired results while optimizing your conversion funnel, it is even more important to realize that this is an ongoing effort. By continuously seeking areas for improvement and finding ways to increase conversion, you will have a better understanding of your audience, and the process of testing and implementing new conversion methods will become second nature.
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