The term “conversion funnel” comes from online marketing and describes the steps that a user goes through from the first contact with a website to a conclusion. This is referred to as a “funnel”, as more and more potential customers are usually lost in the course of the conversion. The conversion thus “narrows” towards the conclusion, so that the steps can be well represented as a funnel.
When optimizing a website, the conversion funnel plays a very important role, because commercially operated sites in particular usually have the goal of getting visitors to take a certain action, i.e. to achieve a conversion. The conversion funnel can be used to determine how successful the website is in this respect, at which steps users drop out and where optimization should start.
The goal: turning leads into conversions
Anyone who operates a commercial website usually wants to generate a lot of traffic, i.e. attract as many visitors as possible to their site. This is where optimization for search engines such as Google comes in – the better the website is optimized for certain keywords, the higher it will appear in Google’s search results – and the more traffic it will generally generate. But a lot of traffic does not mean a lot of success, because not every visitor becomes a customer.
This is exactly where the conversion funnel comes in. It should help to turn leads into conversions. Once a user has made it to a landing page, he still has to be guided to the conclusion. It is quite natural that potential customers are lost along the way – perhaps the product was too expensive for the user, or he was simply curious and just wanted to take a look. However, it is also possible that the design of the website has tested the user’s patience and he or she has left in frustration. Or perhaps the landing page is overloaded with content and simply too confusing for the user. There are many reasons why potential customers drop out. That’s why the task of the conversion funnel is not only to determine the individual steps leading up to conversion, but also to identify weaknesses and opportunities for improvement based on an analysis.
First, the conversion – i.e. the conversion of leads into deals – must be broken down into its individual elements. Already here, a first opportunity for optimization may arise, because a lengthy closing with numerous steps almost always leads to more visitors “bouncing”. In order for the conversion funnel to be efficient, the user must be able to get from the landing page to the conclusion without any major detours.
How many elements the funnel has is not fundamentally fixed and can vary from website to website. In most cases, however, the user’s path can be divided into at least four phases:
- The user arrives at the landing page through an external link.
- The user clicks on the “Buy” button or something corresponding.
- The user provides any personal data necessary for completion.
- The user completes the purchase/action.
In principle, the conversion can of course consist of further steps, but as mentioned above, it usually makes sense to keep the effort for the customer as low as possible. Once the individual processes of the funnel have been defined, the actual analysis can begin. Analysis tools such as Google Analytics are very helpful here. Google’s tool allows you to define conversion funnels, including all phases, for your own website. After the analysis, you can see in which phase how many people disappear – and where. While Google Analytics can’t determine the exact page a user goes to when they “break out” of the funnel, it can reveal whether the user goes to another subpage of the website or leaves it completely.
This makes it possible to determine at which point in the process a particularly large number of potential customers are lost and where they disappear to. For example, if many visitors leave the website when they reach the order form, this may indicate that the form is too complicated. On the other hand, if many users wander off to the home page, the “Buy” button may just be inconveniently placed and people are landing on the home page by mistake. So Google Analytics isn’t a “magic bullet” that immediately reveals where potential errors lie. Rather, it is a tool that helps to analyze and optimize the conversion funnel – but the owner of the website must come to the right conclusions himself.
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