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If you’ve spent any time learning about marketing analytics, you’ve probably come across the term “funnels.” What exactly are marketing funnels and why do they matter?
Marketing funnels are a useful tool to help you visualize the path customers take from first finding out about your brand to converting. Understanding them provides useful insight into why some customers convert — and some don’t.
A marketing funnel is a visual representation of the steps a visitor takes from first finding out about your brand until they convert. The most common type of marketing funnel is four steps:
The action can vary based on customer and industry — maybe you want them to make a purchase, sign up, or fill out a form. When someone does something you want them to do, it’s known as a conversion. The visitor converts from browsing to taking the action you want them to take.
Think about the Amazon purchase funnel. There are several steps a visitor has to go through before they can purchase a product. Here’s how it looks:
There are additional steps/actions that can be taken in between each of these steps, but they don’t matter in the marketing funnel unless they contribute to the final action. For example, a visitor may view Amazon’s Careers page, but we don’t need to count these in the funnel because they aren’t necessary steps.
Why is the set of steps to conversion called a “funnel”? Because at the beginning of the process, there are a lot of people who take the first step.
As the people continue along and take the next steps, some of them drop out, and the size of the crowd thins or narrows. (Even further along in the process, your sales team gets involved to help close the deal.)
Losing customers might sound like a bad thing — but it’s not. The truth is, not everyone in your funnel will convert. The top of the funnel is where everyone goes in (visiting your site or viewing a marketing campaign). Only the most interested buyers will move further down your funnel.
So when you hear people say “widen the funnel,” you now know what they are referring to.
They want to cast a larger net by advertising to new audiences, increasing their brand awareness, or adding inbound marketing to drive more people to their site, thus widening their funnel. The more people there are in a funnel, the wider it is.
In this article, we’re focusing on marketing funnels, that is funnels that start with some sort of marketing campaign. That might be a PPC ad, content marketing campaign, white paper download, video ad, social media ad, or even an IRL ad. The point is the first step in the funnel is a marketing campaign of some sort.
Other types of funnels you might hear about include:
Despite the different names, these all track the same exact thing — the steps a prospective customer takes to conversion. (Sometimes they are even called conversion funnels!)
You aren’t limited to using a marketing funnel strictly for signing up and/or purchasing. You can put funnels all over your website to see how visitors move through a specific website flow.
You may want to track newsletter signup (Viewing newsletter signup form > Submitting form > Confirming email) or a simple page conversion (Viewing a signup page > Submitting signup).
Figure out what your goals are and what you want visitors to do on your site, and you can create a funnel for it.
Once you have the data, you’ll be able to see where roadblocks are and optimize your funnel. Let’s dig a little deeper into that.
Marketing funnels provide access to data, called a marketing funnel report, which lets you can see where you are losing customers. This is sometimes called a “leaky” funnel because it allows customers you want to keep to escape the funnel.
Let’s take your average SaaS business as an example. Here’s how a funnel may look for them:
Do people have to use the product before paying? They don’t, but it’s a good idea to track it so you can see if it’s a roadblock.
For example, if you are losing a lot of conversions after the trial stage, you might need to update your onboarding process so people understand how to use the tool or even adjust the top of your funnel so you aren’t attracting people outside of your target audience.
Let’s look at a funnel process for a retail store and see the corresponding steps in an e-commerce store. We’ll be tracking a purchase funnel.
The e-commerce store has the fortune of being able to see a funnel because they can track clicks, time on page, and other metrics. Their marketing would look something like this:
Okay, so now we have an understanding of what a funnel is and why it helps. Let’s take a look at a product that offers funnels – Google Analytics.
Google Analytics offers funnels, and I’ve written extensively about it in the past. This is an incredibly simple way to track the path prospects take before they convert. Sign in, then head to Admin > Goals > +New Goal > Choose a Goal to create a Google Analytics goal.
Here are a couple of things you’ll need to know when creating funnels in Google Analytics:
Overall, if you are just getting started with marketing funnels, Google Analytics is a solid place to start. Learn how to set up a conversion funnel in Google Analytics.
A marketing funnel is a visual representation of the steps a visitor takes from first finding out about your brand until they convert.
Video marketing funnels
Lead magnet funnels
Home page funnels
Marketing funnels provide access to data, called a marketing funnel report, which lets you can see where you are losing customers.
Visited site > Signed up for a trial > Used product > Upgraded to paying customers
Sign in, then head to Admin > Goals > +New Goal > Choose a Goal to create a Google Analytics goal.
We’ve covered just about everything you need to know about marketing funnels. Here’s a quick recap:
Have you created a marketing funnel in Google Analytics? What did you learn?
The age of the smartphone opened up a whole new window for businesses to connect with their customers in an interactive way using apps.
Because apps allow customers to interact with businesses from anywhere at any time, apps quickly became popular.
Unfortunately, apps are not as exciting to consumers as they were in their early days. This has resulted in app retention rates declining rapidly and, for some brands, their revenue has declined with them.
That’s why progressive web apps are becoming increasingly popular.
Progressive web apps (PWAs) are regular web applications/pages designed to look and function like native mobile applications. PWAs use features of web browsers and advanced enhancement strategies to give users a native app-like experience on any device.
In short, a progressive web app fuses the look, feel, and ease of use of an app but with the easy coding of a website.
What’s the difference between native, hybrid, and progressive web apps?
Despite being limited in tapping into a device’s native capabilities, are there any advantages of using progressive web apps?
There certainly are. Here are some of the most prominent:
Another significant advantage of PWAs is users can save them on their home screens without the hassle of downloading. This allows the PWA to load faster the next time it’s used.
One reason users love apps is they generally offer better experiences than web applications. However, developing and maintaining native apps is a lot of work, not to mention the expenses involved.
If your users use different platforms (Android, iOS, etc.), you have to code your app for each platform.
PWAs, however, don’t require you to code for each platform. They were designed with the philosophy of “code once, use everywhere.” Once you code your PWA, it can be used in-browser (as a website or web app), on desktops, and on mobile devices.
This often results in better performance, improved retention rates, and, ultimately, an affordable application offering your users a positive user experience (UX).
One reason brands develop native apps is to cater to users who return to their websites to perform specific actions frequently. Apps make it easier for these functions to be performed without going to the brand’s website. They also have characteristics that make them fun to use.
You can use progressive apps in the same situations native apps are used—for applications you expect your visitors to visit frequently.
Other times you should consider using a progressive web app are when:
If you meet any of the criteria above, chances are you need a progressive app.
Now that you know what a progressive web app is, let’s look at some examples.
Uber, the ride-hailing company, saw an opportunity to expand their customer base by creating a progressive web app to make it easier and faster to request rides. The PWA works well regardless of location, network speed, or device.
For people who love keeping abreast of news and trends across the globe, Flipboard is a must-have. To increase their reach and enable users to have access to their favorite online magazine, Flipboard developed a PWA.
Reduced data usage enables users to enjoy a fast, sleek experience even in places with poor network coverage.
In a bid to drive more online orders, Starbucks invested in a progressive web app. Even when offline, customers can browse the menu and add items to their carts. Once back online, they can then place their orders.
Any industry can use progressive web apps. If you can serve your customers via a website or an app, you can also serve them using a PWA.
Thanks to the many advantages that PWAs offer, there are myriad reasons why you should use one. Let’s look at nine of the most common ones.
Because progressive web apps are easy and cheaper to develop than typical apps, you could have yours running in no time. If you’re starting from scratch, you’re probably better off starting with a progressive web app as it will get to market faster.
Since it has most of your website’s core functionalities, you’ll still be able to offer your customers good service and a positive user experience.
One of the main reasons for high bounce rates is a sluggish website or app. Users don’t want to wait long for a page to load.
That’s another great reason to use progressive web apps.
Progressive web apps help reduce bounce rates as they offer users a fast and seamless experience. Take, for example, Superbalist. By implementing a progressive web app, they reduced their bounce rate by a whopping 21 percent.
If you want to increase the time users spend on your pages, a progressive web app is one way you can do that.
Users will often abandon your page if it loads slowly. Because a progressive web app is lightweight and doesn’t put a lot of demand on a device’s resources, it loads pages fast.
Transitioning to another page is also seamless.
This can result in users spending more time on your pages. For example, Pinterest invested in a progressive web app for mobile experiences, which resulted in time spent on page increasing by 40 percent.
Because of the lack of heavy coding and service workers’ use, progressive web apps can load information faster than traditional websites. Since fast loading times can be the difference between a conversion and a drop-off, offering users a quick way to interact with your brand is essential.
Apart from speed, PWAs are generally more reliable than both traditional websites and apps. By design, there are fewer things that could go wrong. Because they’re network-independent and platform agnostic, they should work every time on any platform.
One of the main drivers of conversions in today’s highly competitive landscape is UX. Progressive web apps rank highly among platforms that offer the best UX.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the main pillars of digital marketing. Every marketer is always looking for strategies to make their brand more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive organic traffic to their website.
This is one area in which progressive web apps outshine native apps.
Native apps, because they’re hosted on the users’ devices, aren’t discoverable online. However, because progressive apps are essentially websites, they’re seen by search engines.
But discoverability is not the only advantage PWAs have over native apps. Other advantages include that progressive web apps are:
If you want to boost your SEO while giving your users a native app-like experience, a progressive web app may be the solution.
Research shows that mobile devices drive 65 percent of all e-commerce traffic. If you’re in an industry that relies heavily on mobile traffic, you’ll undoubtedly want to leverage progressive web apps.
Because your users don’t have to download an app, you could enjoy better retention and engagement rates.
While progressive web apps work on any platform, they’re notably useful on mobile devices. Mobile devices have less ability to load large websites or heavy apps, which results in slow load speeds and poor UX.
Progressive web apps solve this problem by offering users the same experience without demanding their device’s resources.
App abandonment results in a huge waste of time and resources for the developers and businesses sponsoring those apps’ development.
Again, this is where progressive web apps can save the day.
A few reasons why progressive web apps help retain users more are:
Progressive web apps are an excellent way of keeping your customers engaged with your brand.
One of the most significant limitations of native apps is that Google or Apple must process all in-app financial transactions. No third parties are allowed. For some businesses, this arrangement can be limiting.
With progressive web apps, on the other hand, you’re not bound by such regulations. You can choose any payment processor of your choice, just as you would on your website. You’re also able to monetize your PWA in any way you wish.
Progressive web apps are the future of web browsing. More than that, they could be the future of customer experience in the e-commerce world.
That’s why you must invest in developing one for your businesses.
With many advantages ranging from ease of development to improved SEO to creating exceptional user experiences, investing in a progressive web app may be worth the time.
Have you developed a progressive web app for your business?
Conversion rate optimization isn’t an easy game to play, especially if you’re the new kid on the block. One of the best ways to improve CRO is by A/B testing features on your website.
The real challenge with CRO is in knowing how to start and what to test. This post covers the latter.
There is one thing to keep in mind: testing every random aspect of your website can be counter-productive. You can blow time and money on software, workers, and consultants, testing things that won’t increase your website revenue enough to justify the tests.
So before you dive in, make sure to think about what your goals are.
Then, take a look at the following tests and see which ones make sense for your specific business. If so, ahead and run it. If not, try another one.
Typography is proven to affect conversions in a major way, but casually testing each Google font won’t get you anywhere. There are a few aspects of typography you need to test first before getting specific with typefaces.
Serif typefaces are accented with various widths for each line in a character and contain flourishes (for example, Times New Roman). Sans serif typefaces are just the opposite, plain with a consistent width (like Arial).
I suggest using sans serif, but interestingly, Georgia (a serif typeface) is by far the most popular typeface on the web.
Try both varieties to see which works best for your website.
As per a WDD infographic, sans serifs are best for the web, and serifs for print.
For your blog, your long-form copy, and most of the text on your website, always go with black (dark) text on a white (light) background. It’s a traditional color scheme our eyes are accustomed to.
For your calls to action and other smaller, more impactful text elements, however, test each of the basic eight colors (or whatever colors fit with your design). Always remember this principle: what stands out gets clicked.
Tahoma tends to be the most legible at 10 px, Verdana and Courier at 12, and Arial at 14 px.
Whatever typeface you choose, make sure that you test the differences in user engagement and click-throughs according to the size of the font. These days, as mobile traffic increases, larger tends to work better — but not always.
Finally, we get to the most tedious typography test – typefaces. Take this one with a grain of salt. Don’t test each of the 700+ Google fonts available. Doing so would be very counter-productive. Only test a few of the major ones that harmonize with your design.
When testing these, you’ll also want to go with an A/B/C/D/etc. test. This will let you test multiple typefaces at a time.
Your call to action (CTA) is the most influential element on your landing page. Period.
As such, it requires a substantial amount of experimentation. Here are a few of the main call to action “ingredients” you need to test.
Too often, web designers put the call to action button in the middle of the landing page above the fold, and just leave it there, because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do.
But did you know that locating your CTA below the fold could increase your conversion rate by 304 percent? Don’t take anything for granted: test above the fold, below the fold, in the middle/left/right of the page, and relationship to text elements.
Color is a biggie in most CRO tests. Many have read this post on HubSpot about how a red CTA button beat a green one with a 21 percent increase in conversions. But a similar test in the Content Verve post (linked to in test #5 above) detailed how a green “add to cart” button got 35.81 percent more sales for an e-commerce store than a blue one.
A contrasting color that is distinct and stands out from the other elements on the page seems to work best. Experiment to see what works for your CTA. Don’t rely on other people’s tests to pick a color.
As the most crucial copy on your landing page, your call-to-action button text needs to be tested heavily. Try out various lengths, pronouns, power words, and action verbs.
Back when the 2007 U.S. election campaigns were in progress, Obama raised an extra $60 million just by changing his CTA button text from “Sign Up” to “Learn More.”
Yes, that’s a 60 million dollar test.
Don’t miss out on those potential returns.
This section encompasses more than just what price you set for your product/software. You also have to think about free trials and money back guarantees.
To allow prospects to try products (and yes, product demos are important), vendors usually offer at least one of three models: a very basic freemium product with limited features that can be used forever, a time-sensitive free trial that allows users to experience all the bells and whistles, and a time-sensitive money back guarantee.
Changing from a freemium software model to a 14-day free trial increased Acuity Scheduling’s paid signups by over 268 percent. Try each model to see which works best for your business.
If a time-sensitive free trial is what works for your website, then how long should that free trial be? 7 days? 14, 21, 30? Test it!
This post on Sixteen Ventures mentions how shortening a 30-day free trial to 14 days proved to be a profitable choice for a SaaS company.
Depending on your particular niche, the results may vary. As you can see below, for Crazy Egg, a 14-day free trial is the sweet spot.
Don’t forget to experiment with your pricing plans. Not only should you try out different prices for plans (should your price be $x9 or $x7?), but you also should play around with the features of each to make your higher-ticket plans convert better.
Oh, and don’t forget: decoy pricing models are the bomb. By offering a much higher price before a mid-tier option, users are likely to spend more without realizing why.
The art of persuasion through words on a page – copywriting – is another essential part of a landing page. Great copywriting is never great on the very first draft; it requires careful testing to ensure maximum impact.
From a philosophical point of view, short-form copy should work better than its longer rival. After all, humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish, right?
Unfortunately, that isn’t a set-in-stone rule. For example, testing on Crazy Egg found that long-form copy produced 7.6 percent more leads (and better-quality ones as well). On the other side of the spectrum, a Scandinavian gym chain got 11 percent more conversions with shorter copy.
The takeaway? TEST to discover what works for your business.
Video copy is both difficult and expensive to create; hence, the general preference for text-based copywriting. But could you be missing out on potential conversions by failing to test video copy? Maybe so.
Depending on the size and capital of your business, you’ll have to decide whether a video sales page is worth it (and don’t forget text and video combinations).
This video landing page helped Six Pack Ab Exercises improve conversions by 46.15%. What could a video do for your business?
As with typefaces, testing hundreds of different versions of your text-based copy, each with only a small change from its predecessor, can be a fruitless waste of time and money.
So, while you should continually edit and experiment with your copy, remember to look at the bigger picture. Don’t get hung up on every other word.
The following are various A/B tests that don’t fit in any of the above categories. They fall under sales funnels, website design/structure, and more.
Multiple-column landing pages definitely look a whole lot cooler than those with single columns.
But in CRO, coolness doesn’t count.
In fact, a SaaS company increased its conversion rate by 680.6 percent when it changed its two-column pricing page to a single-column page.
Your landing page background (a solid color, pattern, or image) has a very consequential subliminal effect on your readers. If you haven’t tested different background varieties yet, you’re leaving money on the table.
Spreadshirt tested their homepage images and increased clicks by 606 percent and sales by 11 percent.
Your navigational menu’s presentation affects how and if you can get visitors to your money pages (your pricing page, contact form, etc.).
Test the number of links, the color of the menu, its position, etc.
Trying to get visitors to click links from your blog post to your money page? Test the link color.
The presentation of your internal links isn’t something that most people associate with CRO right off the bat. But when you think about it, internal link color really can have a huge impact on the number of visitors that get into your sales funnel.
Take Beamax, for example, which increased link CTR by 53.13 percent by changing their link color to red from the standard blue.
If your objective is to get contact/quote requests from your website, then the format of your contact form is critical to your conversion rate.
Test the number of fields (bare minimum is usually best) and the types of fields (checkbox vs. drop-down) to elicit more form submissions.
We changed the number of contact form fields from 4 to 3 for a 26% boost in conversions.
Case study after case study has proven that single-step checkouts will almost always convert significantly better than multi-page checkouts. If you’ve never considered a single-step checkout before, it’s time to test one.
Sometimes it’s not the most obvious A/B tests that drive the most growth. Instead, it can be the unconventional tests, the ones you would have never thought would make an impact, that prove to be the most valuable. Other times, doing less can actually drive more conversions than constantly testing.
The A/B tests above should serve as a starting point. Once you see what changes impact conversions, you’ll have a better understanding of what drives your audience.
Have you had success with A/B testing your website? What change made the most difference?