One of the most important aspects of any business is their sales funnel. Regardless of the objective of a business, there is always a predetermined endpoint. For most, the optimisation of a funnel can dramatically change their business, for others, it might have a negative impact. A small amount of finesse is required when it comes to crunching the stats and visualising the user experience to translate changes into something that is beneficial. In this article we’ll be discussing a few ways to maximise conversions for forms, first though, let’s take a look at the traditional sales funnel:
Awareness – the first stage in the funnel is filled with potential customers who have become aware of your business while searching for a solution to whatever problem they have. Typically this is the result of marketing: anything from content marketing, through to traditional, advertising, online advertising, direct marketing, and even social media marketing.
Interest – by the second stage the number of prospects will have decreased. But the potential for converting these prospects into actual customers increases. They are interested in what they have seen so far, and will start engaging with you, either by asking questions or requesting more information.
Decision – the remaining prospects are almost ready to take action. Their questions would have been answered, and they would have enough information now to make make a decision. They are either considering your sales offer, the different options presented by you, or they are weighing you up against a competitor.
Action – the final stage of the funnel, where prospects become customers.
The secondary stages are important stages for online businesses, and businesses that depend on their website to generate leads. By optimising the ways in which you convert prospects and website visitors into leads and customers, you not only improve the efficiency of your awareness marketing efforts, but also your return on investment (ROI). Simply stated, conversion optimisation allows you to open up extra revenue opportunities, without spending more time or money on generating awareness.
There are a number of steps you can take to improve conversions, but some are so simple that they can be implemented by any business in a single afternoon.
Trim the Length of Your Forms
A common method for prospects to indicate interest is through the use of calls-to-action (CTAs). These include “Schedule a Demo”, “Learn More”, or similar, and clicking on the CTA usually opens an online form to complete.
Now while it is true that the more information you collect from prospects the easier it is to personalise follow-on marketing and sales pitches, asking for too much information can also chase prospects away. Especially when you consider that more than half of them are probably viewing your website on a mobile device.
Try putting the forms on your website on a diet; trim them down to asking for the bare minimum information that you need. – business name, contact’s name, and contact details. You can collect more information from the prospect as you gently move them further down the sales funnel. And doing this also opens you up to being able to display the form on specific pages of your website, instead of tucked away behind a CTA button.
Experiment With Form Placement
Following on from the previous point, the visibility of your form or CTA does influence conversions. Do visitors to your site have to scroll through large blocks of text and other content before encountering your CTA or form? Or is your CTA or form clearly visible to all visitors at all times?
There is no shortage of best practices to follow when it comes to conversion optimisation, but most come with a caveat: what works for one business doesn’t always apply to other businesses. So you will see some suggestions for forms to always appear above the fold, while other recommendations will say below the content.
The best advice anyone can offer? Experiment.
Conversion optimisation is essential a never-ending cycle of A/B tests. As soon as you have identified what converts best, you will implement it, and begin the next test. Part of the reason for the varying effectiveness of conversion best practices is that it isn’t only the layout and content of websites that differ tremendously, but also the target audience.
Refresh Your Call to Action
As with form placement, you will see wildly differing advice regarding your call-to-action. And as before, your A/B tests should pit each bit of advice against another to see what works best for your site and your audience.
Certain sections of your site – and indeed even the content – will target different users, so the message of the CTA should be tailored to drive the intended action. And although it is quite okay to have more than one CTA on a page, there is still a fine line between strategic use of CTAs and annoying.
Finally, don’t only pay attention to shifting trends in CTAs overall, but also within specific demographics. Clair Belmonte recently published a thoughtful examination of how personalising CTAs can make them more appealing to millennials. If you’re tired of seeing the same CTAs used endlessly, just imagine how your audience must feel?
Measure Performance Through Data
The steps discussed here should all be followed as part of your general A/B testing strategy. And that means that every decision you make is guided by data – go with your gut when it comes to deciding what to test, but use data when establishing which variant performed better. And while there are many wonderful tools available for A/B testing, there’s nothing wrong with using Google Analytics for conversion tracking.
Setting up Goals in Google Analytics will make it easy for you to track form conversions, and to measure the impact of any changes you make. But before you start implementing any changes and test, you need to know what your current conversion rate is, and this too can be done using Google Analytics.
Wrapping it up
I started off this article by mentioning that the steps outlined here could be completed in a single afternoon. And they can, but seeing the results will take a bit longer. And maintaining or improving those results will take more effort. But when you consider the benefits in the form of better lead generation, and a healthier ROI on your marketing efforts, it is worth it. Especially if you’re a small business owner.