Grow your entire funnel with improved online marketing
You’re almost certainly aware of sales funnels. You recognise that at every level you’ll lose an amount of potential customers.
If you end up with 7% of leads purchasing your service, and you need 50 purchases a month, a bit of simple math tells you that you must generate 715 leads in order to keep your business afloat.
If you notice a large percentage dropoff at a point in the sales funnel, you can focus on that and try different methods to increase the conversion rate.
But too often people forget that a sales funnel starts much earlier than the lead landing on your desk. It begins all the way into the areas controlled by Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), User Experience and Conversion Rate Optimisation (UX & CRO).
(And also onto your social media … which I won’t be covering.)
Dropoff on Google – SEO
Every search on Google starts with some kind of need. Whether a user is looking for information or to purchase a product or service, there is a need behind that search. This is often called the search intent and it’s driven by psychology.
At every stage through to your company’s sale, there is a dropoff.
Traffic generator, or loss minimiser?
SEO’s often think of themselves as traffic generators, but I see my SEO efforts more like another stage of the funnel where I’m aiming to minimise the dropoff.
This mindset change helps me to focus on the entire funnel and ensure continuity of the message to the user, which helps to minimise the dropoff throughout the entire funnel too. I don’t just see my SEO efforts in isolation.
However, whether you see this as traffic generation or loss minimisation, it’s clear that we’re aiming to ensure as many relevant users click on your listing.
Click Through Rate vs. ranking position (c) Advanced Web Ranking
What position you rank at
If 1,000 people search for “London lawyers”, where you rank for that term will significantly dictate the amount of visitors which choose to click onto your site. It’s well known that first place on Google achieves around twice as many clicks as position 2, and if you’re only in position 20 you’re lucky to receive 0.5% of the clicks in most cases!
This is called the Click Through Rate, or CTR for short. Looking at it the other way around, it’s really just a dropoff. If you have a 17% CTR, you really have an 83% dropoff when Google shows your listing.
So the first huge dropoff point is … what position you rank in. Improving your ranking is an SEO task. If you’re not ranking highly enough, there is a huge opportunity to regain a larger percentage of lost visitors.
This is why typically I start most funnel optimisation with SEO, unless there is already significant traffic arriving at the same.
Page titles, URL and meta descriptions
But what else affects the CTR? The details that the user sees in the search engine itself – the page title, URL and meta description.
These can have a surprisingly large impact on the amount of people who choose to click a particular listing. Visitors can be particularly turned off if the page title really doesn’t match the intent of their search. So the next stage of visitor loss minimisation is in carefully choosing these.
Dropoff on initial journey – UX
Digital marketers have strict definitions for the difference between User Experience (UX) and Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO), but for the sake of simplicity, I’m defining the loss of visitors due to poor UX as happening before the loss due to poor CRO, but it really doesn’t matter too much because they are sister subjects and the boundary between them is a little grey.
Here are a few of the key UX elements to consider.
The worst type of visitor is someone who immediately bounces off your site. This can send a negative signal back to Google which can hurt your rankings further down the line.
So how can UX help here? Well, some people are just browsing, and some people just won’t like the colour of your site, and any number of other matters. However, there will be a portion of users who arrive and are just unsure of how to achieve the task that they came here for.
Be really, really clear
Let’s take the example again of a “London lawyer”. Maybe the visitor was looking for an immigration lawyer and you don’t make it clear quickly that you can handle that. Instead you have some incredibly well crafted text which explains how good you are at your job, rather than starting with exactly what jobs you can handle first.
So, be helpful and consider how and why they really arrived at your site, and what do they really want? Make it plain that you can deliver. Consider their fears and anxieties and treat them well.
Confused user journey
So, the next serious issue for UX is the user journey. If they want to find a red training shoe, and you have lots of colours on your landing page, give them a button that says “red”. Don’t make them think and don’t make them work or it!
I’ve quipped in the past that users are stupid and lazy. I absolutely do not mean this literally, but a site should be designed with this mindset since businesses believe too often that users know all about what they offer and care about the business. In reality, neither is true.
Menus and finding content
If the information or content that someone wishes to engage with isn’t on the landing page, how can they easily find it? If that isn’t clear, users will very quickly return to Google and find another resource which can help them.
So, sensible and helpful navigation is extremely important to an effective user journey on your site, and therefore to improving the dropoff through the UX stage.
User journey: The steps a user must take to find what they’re looking for on your site.
Dropoff on conversion page – CRO
The final stage before we hit your internal sales process is the dropoff due to a poorly converting lead generation or purchase page.
Here are a few CRO mistakes which could be costing you leads or online purchases.
Actions don’t stand out
The first and most obvious CRO issue is typically that there is no clear action to take. Users are left in the dark wondering what button to press, or whether they should look at the menu. Certainly in the UK we can take a sales approach which is “don’t push too hard”, and I would agree that in British culture, this is important.
However, not having a clear action is like a car salesman showing you a car and not asking at the end if you’d like to buy it, or even worse saying goodbye and telling you the form to buy the car is “somewhere in here”.
There definitely is a sweet spot between leading someone to a goal and pushing their face right through it, so actions should at least stand out well without being overly pushy. All CRO testing on this point shows that big bold clear buttons with action based messages convert more effectively!
Poor button labels
In a recent test, we increased the amount of people clicking the action which we preferred by nearly 70% just by changing the name of the button.
Button labels frequently are a poorly thought out. Sites like ClickFunnels, which work on CRO over everything else, have a formula … and part of that is effective button labels.
But what is “effective”?
Typically, effective is when the button matches a user intent. It’s another reason why understanding at a deep level the real intent of users is so important. With the test mentioned above, we found that the next step users wanted wasn’t the one we were providing a button label for. After changing the label to match their real intent, we benefited significantly.
Which button would you click? Which meets your real intent on this site?
Expertise, authority & trust
Another key element in the minds of users is their trust in your site.
If you walk into a shop to buy some tomatoes, you can see the tomatoes, pick them up, pay for them and leave with them. That transaction is relatively simple from a trust perspective – not much can go wrong.
However, sites are often new to the user, and have their own processes, so they don’t have any trust signals that would make users more keen to purchase. A positive example for me related to a holiday company I’d never heard of. The only reason I bought from them is because of their high TrustPilot score which gave me some socially-based confidence.
In addition to trust, how about your expertise and authority?
Do you really sounds like an expert, or do you sound like you just picked up some facts from other sites? Users typically can tell the difference, even though site owners don’t always believe they will.
The emotional journey
When sales people talk about “objections handling”, they often mean some kind of emotional fear. Will I waste money on this? Will they not deliver the product? Is now the wrong time? Do I even need it or will it be a waste?
Objection handling is an important part of sales, and typically sales will discover ways to handle the objections which either nullify them or place enough doubt that the objection is real that they can move forward with the sale.
When you look at your website, how do you handle the major objections that customers might have?Could you improve this in order to reduce the dropoff even more?
Aligning user needs with messages
Throughout the process, all the way into your sales process, there should be one or two key needs and messages that hook the visitor and ensure they want to move onto the next stage in the funnel. People can’t cope well with more than a few messages.
At a business level, this means building the message based on visitor needs, and then distributing this to every part of your funnel, from SEO, to UX and design, to CRO and finally to your sales team.
If parts of your funnel are not aligned with your key messages, your visitors will become confused and lose faith.
If your site is generation leads, rather than online sales, you will now have to handle the lead. But as someone not trained in sales, I won’t try and teach you that bit!
As we’ve seen, from the Google search onwards is one huge funnel towards your own sales process.
In SEO we’re trying to minimise loss of footfall to your site. With UX we’re trying to ensure visitors remain on your site and find the content they want. And finally, CRO aims to ensure that visitors turn into (potential) customers.
Together with your sales process, that’s the full online SEO business funnel.
Throughout, consistency is key. Consistent alignment with user intent, consistent messages that meet that intent, consistent quality that suits your users and consistent trust signals.