Conversion Funnel (© PureSolution / Fotolia.com)
Conversion Funnel (© PureSolution / Fotolia.com)

A conversion funnel is one of the most popular and highly effective tools/strategies for increasing sales and profits for a company or individual seller. This helps to increase trust and engagement for any new lead and get them ready to place an order.

Conversion funnel is another term for sales funnel. This is a series of interactions designed to encourage a new visitor to a website to go from being a first-time customer to someone who will potentially buy. The objective here is to slowly increase engagement and trust via this series of interactions, and to ultimately that way convince a new visitor to buy something from you that they would not have otherwise.

I often liken this to trying to get someone’s number in a bar. You would not immediately ask someone for their number upon meeting them and expect to be successful. Rather, you would spend significant time first talking to them and getting them to know you. This way, you build a certain amount of trust and you demonstrate that you have something to offer. Only then will they part with their number.

But even then, it takes several text messages, perhaps a phone call and more before you go on a date. And it takes more dates to get them back to your place. Consider this a funnel in that it takes them from a relatively narrow start – the thin end of the wedge – which is just to say hello. But from that point onwards, they then gradually increase their engagement and their trust more and more until you have their number and they are conversing with you. Eventually, they are going to be meeting you in person regularly and it’s at that point they are much more likely to be willing to take your relationship further.

This is the same way that internet marketing works. You can’t ask a cold lead to buy a big ticket (expensive) item from you, as this will likely just offend them and cause them to leave very quickly. But if you ask for an email after someone has visited your site a few times and been impressed with it, then you are far more likely to be successful.

Elements of a Conversion Funnel

With that in mind, a conversion funnel might look something like this:

  • A PPC network to bring people to your blog
  • A blog filled with free content
  • An ‘incentive’ such as a free ebook or report that will encourage people to hand over their email address
  • A mailing list that will allow you to communicate directly with your audience
  • A free course or seminar that users can attend
  • A low priced product sold at the end of the seminar
  • A big ticket item sold right at the end

This gradually takes the visitor from being someone who has never seen your site before but who clicked on an interesting looking ad, all the way to being someone who now knows and likes your brand enough to consider spending a large amount of money on a big ticket item.

Ultimately, the funnel’s success will be determined by what is known as the conversion rate. This is the percentage of visitors that end up buying from you. The more people who buy from you, the more you can afford to spend on your PPC, thereby bringing even more people to the site and thereby increasing your profits further.

Each of these stages can be highly effective in increasing your chances of making money from visitors. For instance, one of the most important elements of all this is the cheap item that you sell. When you sell an item to a visitor, this will help to demonstrate not only that you are capable of selling high quality products, but also that you are trustworthy and that you are good to your word.

Consider that most sales are made 99% on the basis of impulse. People make impulse purchases when they are wowed by the promise and your sales patter. But no one enters their payment details on impulse, or goes through the process of buying for the first time when they are nervous of the seller on impulse. But if they have previously bought something from you and if their card details are already stored in the system, they will be far more likely to impulsively make a purchase.

The danger of the sales funnel though is that it can become too large, such that it loses momentum. Another risk is that the sales funnel can end up having the opposite effect to the one desired: if your free gifts and your cheap products aren’t high quality, or if they give away too much, then this can reduce the likelihood of someone buying the full big ticket item from you. And this is where conversion optimization comes in.

Website Considerations for Designing Funnels

The Direction

Someone once asked me when looking at my website what I wanted the first thing that my visitors did to be. In other words, when someone landed on my site, where did I want them to look? If you pause when answering this question, then clearly your site isn't as effective as it could be of making use of that traffic. Give your site an aim then, whether that's to collect e-mail addresses or to sell a specific item, and then gear your entire site towards this singular goal so that visitors feel almost that they have no other option but to click where you want them to click.

Usually, at the start of your first interaction with a visitor, your objective will be to get them to pass over their email address. This way, you are now able to communicate with them further in future and by securing that, you can now move on to the next stage in the funnel.

Impression

At the same time though, you also need to make sure that the first time someone lands on your site, they will get the best possible impression. You will accomplish this by designing your site in such a way that it will impress the visitor with a bold and well-put-together look and high quality content right on the homepage.

This is another reason not to try and sell right away but instead to focus on establishing yourself in the mind of the visitor.

The Sales Pitch

If you want to sell your items, then you are going to need to persuade your visitors that they are worth buying. This isn't a matter of design so much as the way you pitch your product or service. Make sure then that you right away get to the point about what you're offering and why your visitors need it. Likewise, ensure that this sales pitch is placed in a prominent position and that it begs for your readers to scroll down through it. Long, narrow blocks of text work particularly well in this capacity because your readers will feel committed by the time they get to the bottom.

Very often, this sales pitch will go on a separate page, that being your ‘sales page’. This is the end destination for your visitors, but you usually don’t want to send them there until they have been through the rest of the funnel.

Avoid Distractions

What's also important is to avoid distractions that take away from what you're trying to sell. If you have a page where people can buy your product then, don't link out from this page whether it's to other pages on your site or to other sites. Likewise, if you have decided where you want your visitors to look, then avoid distractions around that area that will distract them. The use of white space in web design is incredibly important and particularly when you're trying to make one particular part of a page stand out.

Likewise though, even for your other pages, you also need to consider the role of having distractions on your site. Make sure that you don’t include AdSense for instance if you are trying to build your relationship with the visitor – this only takes them away from your site and your brand!



         



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