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Boost Conversions Step 2: Revisit Your Conversion Funnel

In this, the second part of our short series on boosting conversions on your blog, it’s time to look at your conversion funnel.

Yesterday, the Blog Tyrant showed us how to review our offer of a paid or free product or service. Through that analysis, you should be able to pull together some detailed and valuable information about your product. That’s great, but the other aspect that the Tyrant touched on was your conversion funnel.

I want to take those ideas a step further today.

Understanding your conversion funnel

We’re talking in this series about conversions for any product or offer—so that could be a product or service you’re selling, or it could be a free subscription you offer on your site.

Whether it’s free or sold for a price, your offer has a conversion funnel. The Web Marketing Ninja showed us this one in his article, How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel for Success:

Sales funnel

The key is that at each point in your conversion funnel, you’ll lose potential customers.

As the Blog Tyrant explained yesterday, you can use your blog stats package to review where, exactly, those losses are occurring.

And as the Web Marketing Ninja explains in How to Optimize Your Sales Funnel, the best thing to do is put measures on each point in the funnel so that you can understand what, exactly, is happening at each point in the conversion process. He says that looks at as much data on each point in the sales process as he can—and that includes bounce rates, time on page, entries and exits through the page, traffic sources, and so on.

So the conversion funnel review process might look something like this:

  1. Go through your site, and map each step in your conversion funnel.
  2. Look at your analytics work out what you’ll measure at each point in the funnel.
  3. Put numbers against the metrics you’ve decided to measure at each step.

Understanding the data

Once you work through this process, you’ll find yourself armed with a lot of data. How you interpret that data will go a long way toward boosting your conversions.

For example, finding that you have a high exit rate from a page in your funnel means people are leaving it—you’re losing potential conversions at this point. That’s good to know, but that information alone doesn’t tell you what you can do about it.

In working out implications of that information you may need to also look at bounce rates for the page, and where the traffic it receives is coming from, for example. This information can be a big help in making the right choices when it comes to tweaking the funnel.

For example, let’s imagine that we’re analysing the About page for ProBlogger the Book. Now this page is the second in my sales funnel—the default page is at http://probloggerbook.com/.

Most visitors go straight from that default page to Amazon or B&N. But let’s imagine that a significant percentage click through to the About page … and then exit without clicking on one of the Buy buttons, or subscribing.

If I look at the data, and all I see is that this page has a high bounce rate, I might be tempted to try a range of different strategies to fix that. But what if I look at the traffic sources and notice that a large percentage of users are arriving at the About the Book page through search engines?

The About page doesn’t have any Buy buttons above the fold, so if users are coming from a search engine, where they’ll likely also see an Amazon or B&N link in the results, they may immediately think, “Oh, this is just marketing information. I’ll click back and look at the details on Amazon—I know I can buy the book there.”

In this case, my strategy for tweaking the sales funnel will differ from the ideas I had when all I noticed was the high bounce rate. My efforts might also include improving the search rank of the default sales page for the book, if it’s appearing below the About page in the SERPs, but converting better.

As you can see, understanding the data as a whole is very important if you’re to make decisions that will have the best likelihood of positively affecting your conversion rates.

Focus on key points of loss

As you review your funnel, you’ll also need to consider where to focus your efforts to improve it.

While the data may reveal a number of areas for improvement, you’ll likely find that some will produce a much bigger bang for your buck—as the Ninja explained in this recent post. If your time is limited—and whose isn’t?—you’d be best to focus on these pages, if not exclusively, at least initially.

As you’re looking at those pages, don’t limit yourself to considering one or two factors. Often, we can become fixated on things like button size or placement, and forget about other considerations that might be negatively impacting conversions. These could include:

  • headlines, sub-heads, and scannability of the content
  • how we’re using images and where they’re placed
  • whether the language on the page resonates with users
  • the strength of your calls to action
  • links to other content, including navigation links
  • use of testimonials
  • offers of samples
  • the page’s purpose in the conversion process, and whether it meets that from a fundamental, usability standpoint.

These are just a few ideas, but consider them broadly. For example, reviewing the strength of your calls to action is on that list—but that doesn’t just mean the calls to action to buy your product.

The ProBlogger Book sales page includes subscription box. Should that remain on a low-performing page? Should it be removed? Is it likely to be diffusing the strength of my call to action or is it providing a valuable mechanism by which I’m capturing new subscribers who may not be ProBlogger regulars?

My analysis of the data, coupled with my strategy for the page and goals for the conversion funnel, should help me determine the answers here.

Match the changes to your users

A quick final point: you’re not in the dark when it comes to trying to work out what tweaks you’ll make. In a later part of this series, we’ll find out how to conduct split tests that will help you to test various incremental changes so that you can see which ones work best, and use those.

But even before you get that far, the audience research that the Blog Tyrant was talking about yesterday should give you some insight into how you can alter points in your conversion funnel to match the needs, characteristics, and expectations of the audience you’re seeking.

He mentioned, for example, that video can be useful for certain audiences—perhaps that’s something I should consider adding to my book’s About page? I know from my other data and reader feedback that my regulars love video content, so it seems like it could be a good idea…

Ready to act?

Once you’ve finished reviewing your sales funnel, you’ll have a pretty clear idea of the possibilities before you for boosting conversions. It’s time to act.

Tomorrow, Tommy Walker will step us through the changes he actually made to his own website in an effort to improve conversions, so that we can get a first-hand account of how all this research feeds into practical alterations to things like page layouts, calls to action, images, and more.

But in the meantime, I’d love to hear your tips or extra advice for reviewing conversion funnels—whether for a paid or free offer. Have you ever done it? What secrets can you share from your experiences? Let us know in the comments.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Hey Darren,

    This series could not have come at a better time! I’m just wrote my first eBook on real estate investing and will be offering it free to subscribers later today. Honestly – I have no idea what I’m doing with this “giveaway” blog marketing but all the big guys seem to do it. This series is excellent thus far, and I’m looking forward to the next few days.

    Question – I have nothing to actually “sell” yet, so should I set up my conversion funnel in any special way, or is collecting email addresses enough so when I eventually do sell a product I can start capitalizing?

    Thanks for the awesome site. I’m hooked.

  2. Ehsan says:

    Thanks Darren for the article and for sharing the Tyrant’s article. Waiting for Tommy Walker’s step!

  3. Hi Darren,

    Super detailed breakdown here.

    Lots of thinking going on during this process. No rush. Do your due diligence, test and prosper.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan

  4. WOW! Great article Darren. I always promote these strategies to clients however very few actually take the time to do this analysis. Now I have a blog post I can point them to for practical examples.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Ayaz says:

    Hi Darren,

    This Series has great learning points and we were looking to find out something like this and you have produced a great article for some one who are suffering to boost their conversion rate through there websites.

    I certainly got to know new things which I might need to work on. Thanks for sharing very informative post!

  6. Chetan says:

    Great article Darren…You have explained the sales funnel very well…

  7. How about adding a link from the overview to step 1, and from there to step 2, etc. I want to bookmark these for reference as we’re setting up pages for a new product and it would be nice to just go from one to another . . . i.e., a link at the bottom of each going to the next.

    Thanks! (BTW, great series . . . that’s why I want to re-read it in a couple weeks right as I’m doing a project!)

  8. Fantastic second post Darren! Really love the detail here.