Conversion funnel optimization: A guide to optimizing funnels for conversion
What is a conversion funnel?
A digital conversion funnel outlines each step a visitor takes on your website or mobile app to a conversion. Each action along the path is designed to influence the person to move to the next action in the conversion process. It could be multiple steps that lead to a purchase or a few to sign up for a newsletter.
Examples of conversion funnels
There are a variety of conversion funnels designed for websites and apps, but they all share the common goal of getting the user to convert to the specified goal, such as purchase, trial, content download, etc.
Here’s a sampling of different types of digital conversion funnels:
E-commerce store conversion funnel
Purchase cycle of a financial product conversion funnel
Content download conversion funnel
Charitable donation conversion funnel
Benefits of conversion funnel optimization
Conversion funnel optimization offers several benefits for businesses. Here are the top six:
1. Increased conversion rates
Boosting conversions is good for business. You’re acquiring new buyers and attracting returning customers to nurture for more sales and loyalty. Optimizing conversion funnels through consistent and data-driven analysis enhances user engagement while reducing churn. You can build a set of best practices to pull from for other conversion funnels and conduct experiments and A/B testing.
2. Improved ROI
Increasing your conversion optimization rate means more visitors are converting with the same amount of traffic to your website or app–so you’re getting more bang for your buck. You can learn where your highest converting customers come from, along with which funnel optimizations are performing best and other helpful insights. Even better, your customer acquisition cost (CAC) goes down over time, and customer lifetime value (CLV) goes up.
3. Enhanced user experience
Understanding the customer journey through the conversion funnel optimization lens helps you gain insight into how users interact with your digital channels. Analyzing customer behavior through each step lets you identify pain points and understand preferences and UX elements that improve or detract from UX. This analysis can guide decision-making around design changes, content refinements and feature enhancements.
4. Better targeting and segmenting
Analyzing the conversion funnel through segmentation can elicit powerful insight to market to identified personas, digital channels and specific audience demographics based on their conversion behavior. You can learn who the highest-converting customers are and create conversion funnels for specific job titles or other demographics. This type of targeting can inform new strategies to close more deals and learn why other users aren’t converting.
5. Data-driven decision making
Relying on real user experiences rather than hunches, assumptions or industry trends means you’re taking a data-driven approach to conversion funnel optimization efforts. This provides the right foundation for stakeholder teams to prioritize, resolve and implement changes. These insights also inform conversion funnel testing, experimentation and optimization tactics.
6. Continuous Improvement
Analyzing and refining the conversion funnel is a journey that doesn’t stop at an “end.” It’s an iterative, continual process to monitor, measure and improve the conversion funnel over time. Also, consider that your products, target customers or marketing tactics may evolve, so you’ll need to continue to measure and enhance UX to boost conversions.
The importance of analyzing and optimizing conversion funnels
Analyzing and optimizing the digital conversion funnel has many benefits for customer success, but it’s also a core part of doing business online. Here are three main reasons:
1. Streamline the funnel
A potential customer making their way through the conversion funnel wants to go from one action to the next without delays or distractions. Analyzing each step a customer takes in the funnel (or doesn’t take) can help to reveal ways to streamline the path for a higher conversion rate. For example, you may want to display fewer pop-ups along the way, cut an unnecessary navigation step or other optimizations based on analytics.
2. Pinpoint behavioral frustrations
It’s critical to know why potential customers are struggling during the conversion funnel, leading to actions such as hitting the back button or leaving your site or app altogether. For instance, if you’re getting a big drop-off at the last step of a conversion, you'll want to determine the cause. Is the purchase button broken? Are they being directed to the wrong page? Is your total cost not displayed? Uncovering the data, getting answers and taking action are key.
3. Get stakeholder team efforts in sync
Data analysis technology delivers deep insights needed for conversion funnel optimization, but it’s the teams and their actions with those rich insights that make the difference. For example, engineering can build better products, marketing can craft higher-impact promotions and CX teams can develop new customer service processes based on feedback. Strong cross-collaboration also helps build a better digital customer experience overall.
Primary causes of abandonment within conversion funnels
Let’s take a look into some of the primary causes of user abandonment: errors, struggles and missed expectations.
Identifying and eliminating errors can often be one of the easiest ways to optimize the funnel and prevent users from abandoning a purchase or conversion.
Often, users who encounter an error will often try again, either right away or at another time. But if the error persists, or if they have to invest a lot of time in each attempt, they may not be so forgiving.
Depending on the nature, severity and frequency of the error, some of these users may still attempt one of your organization’s other channels, but even with this option, there are extra costs involved and increased potential that you may lose this opportunity.
In prioritizing which errors to resolve first, consider:
How often do they occur?
How many users are impacted?
How critical is it to the process?
What is the potential revenue that could be achieved if this error wasn’t a roadblock?
What resource challenges will you face getting it resolved?
Even if users don’t encounter “show-stopping” errors, they’re still an abandonment risk if they’re having difficulty. The more users are struggling at a specific step in the process, the more likely they will abandon your site or app.
For example, if users don’t understand what the next step is supposed to be or are confused by the options presented, they may still make a few attempts, but they’re likely going to abandon at some point during the process due to frustration.
To gain a deeper understanding of these challenges, it’s important to identify the patterns of struggles first. Behaviors that will elicit the context behind struggles include exhibiting signs of frustration like rage clicking a button, reloading pages, frequently referring back to your in-line “tips” or help pages and entering the wrong values into fields, or skipping fields altogether, to name some struggle symptoms.
Analyzing these user actions will help you determine and prioritize which struggles you will want to eliminate. This is also a good opportunity to experiment with alternative design options in an A/B testing and optimization program to monitor and measure for improvements.
While errors and struggles are clear issues for users, there’s a more subtle but just as important cause of abandonment: unmet expectations. When a potential customer isn’t getting the outcome they anticipated, they’re likely to leave your website or app–whether it’s in the beginning stage or the cart.
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These reasons can include the cost, terms, extra fees, availability and customer reviews just to name a few. Sometimes the customers’ needs simply aren’t met and they leave. For example, a potential customer won’t hang around filling out an insurance or a credit application after they’re informed it’s not available in their area.
👉🏻While we’re on the topic, check out these 10 insurance customer retention strategies for long-term success.
These types of mismatches can be headed off by providing early detection to inform the customer of this limitation so that they don't waste time. Or, it might be possible to route them to a partner or subsidiary for their needs and turn the abandonment into an alternative conversion event. These are often harder to detect (and correct) than some other reasons for abandonment, but the aggregated data may provide insight and identify helpful correlations.
For example, you may observe that users from certain regions are more likely to have a higher abandonment rate. Or perhaps you can compare the average purchase amounts for users who do convert to the average cart value of users who abandon and realize that it’s only high-end customers who are abandoning.
While these are some of the major causes of abandonment, they’re not the only ones. A better understanding of these elements will help you maximize conversions and deliver funnel optimization recommendations.
Abandonment, no matter what the cause, is a high-priority area in conversion funnel optimization. One very effective and efficient method of uncovering, analyzing and prioritizing errors is adopting a digital experience intelligence (DXI) platform. With features like session replay, interaction maps, struggle scores, journey analytics and other advanced capabilities, you can get to the cause, prioritize fixes based on the business impact and resolve problems faster.
6 steps to creating a funnel optimization program
Creating a well-structured funnel optimization program is a critical step for online success. Focusing on the customer journey through the various stages lets businesses systematically refine their digital pathways, ultimately leading to increased conversions and improved customer satisfaction. In this section, we’ll explore the essential steps and strategies for establishing an effective funnel optimization program that delivers tangible results.
First, start by defining your strategy and goals. Clearly define the objectives you want to achieve with your website or mobile app conversion funnel optimization program. Identify the key actions or conversions that align with your business objectives. For example, it could be completing a purchase, signing up for a newsletter or filling out a form. This will also be based on your industry, business KPIs, selling model and other unique factors.
Here are some common digital conversion funnel optimization questions to ask:
What do you want the person to do at the end of the conversion funnel? (purchase, get a trial, etc.)?
What funnel metrics are you tracking? (volume, churn, conversions, etc.)
Is it a B2B business to nurture for the long haul or a faster B2C conversion like an airline ticket purchase?
Which audience segment are you targeting in the funnel? (prospect, new customer, returning customer, multiple, etc.)
Below are the six steps to go through to create a funnel optimization program:
Map out your funnels: Identify the critical user funnels or flows that lead to your defined goals. Break down these journeys into stages or steps, starting from the initial interaction to the final conversion step. Each stage represents a milestone in the user's journey, such as a landing page visit, product selection or checkout process.
Set up tracking: Implement a robust analytics system to track user behavior at each stage of the funnel. Use event tracking, page view tracking or other relevant methods to capture user actions and interactions. Ensure that the tracking is accurately implemented and aligned with your defined goals and funnel stages.
Analyze user behavior: Collect and analyze data from your tracking system to gain insights into user behavior within the funnel. Examine the conversion rates at each stage, identify drop-off points and understand user flow throughout the journey. Look for patterns, trends and areas of improvement.
Identify bottlenecks and optimization opportunities: Based on your analysis, identify stages in the funnel where users are dropping off or experiencing difficulties. Investigate the potential causes, such as usability issues, confusing navigation or technical errors. Use this information to optimize those stages and improve overall conversion rates.
Iterate and test: Continuously monitor and analyze the performance of your funnels. Implement A/B testing, usability testing and user feedback to validate improvements and improve on your optimization efforts. Make data-driven decisions to enhance the user experience and maximize conversions.
Measure and refine: Regularly track and measure the performance of your funnels. Use key metrics such as conversion rates, drop-off rates and average time spent to evaluate the effectiveness of your optimizations. Refine your funnels based on the data and insights gathered, aiming for continuous improvement.
Advanced funnel analysis functions
With a digital experience intelligence platform, there are advanced funnel analysis functions to surface specific types of funnel insights, so you can prioritize and resolve issues faster.
Funnel alerts for conversion ratio changes
Accessing real-time data from customer journeys can be configured to alert you to bugs and issues before they become a major problem. Once identified, you can pinpoint where the problem is.
Funnel struggle insights
With features like session replay, you can get a video-like reconstruction of a user's journey on your website or app, uncovering causes of funnel abandonment, such as browser issues, errors and other struggles.
Leveraging voice of the customer and other feedback
Voice of the customer (VoC) and other surveys can be meaningful, but when you can integrate that feedback with session replays, it can offer invaluable insights. You’ll also know exactly where they were in the conversion funnel when feedback was obtained and why.
Retroactive analysis provides better context
Because an advanced DXI platform can capture 100% of events with tagless data capture, you can view historical data, and build ad-hoc funnels from prior data to visualize various outcomes.
In the digital landscape, where every click and interaction matters, the art of conversion funnel optimization becomes an indispensable asset. As we’ve explored in this blog, the path to higher conversion rates and enhanced UX is paved with advanced insights, data-driven decisions and continuous improvements. By harnessing the power of digital experience intelligence, businesses can uncover hidden opportunities, address customer pain points and create pathways that lead customers seamlessly toward conversion.