Show of hands: who here knows what a conversion path is on a website? Okay, since I can’t actually see your hands, I’m going to assume that a few of you might not know what I’m talking about when I say “website lead conversion path.”
What is a Conversion Path?
To keep things simple, I’m going to hijack a definition for website conversion path from our pals at HubSpot:
“A conversion path is the process by which an anonymous website visitor becomes a known lead.”
The trouble with this simplistic definition is that it can be incredibly vague. After all, there are a lot of ways to turn unknown website visitors into leads, and even different types of leads such as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).
Conversion paths can start on a blog, your homepage, or even in an email—if it’s a point of contact between you and a potential customer, it can be part of your strategy to convert website visitors to leads.
Optimizing conversion paths so that more of your website visitors turn into leads and, eventually, customers is a complicated process. I’m going to do my best here to provide some generally useful guidelines for optimizing your conversion paths—hopefully some of this will be useful for you:
Tip 1: Gather Information
Knowledge isn’t just power, it’s the most essential tool of any effective inbound marketing campaign. Modern online marketing strategies live or die by their ability to collect and leverage information.
Before you can start optimizing your conversion paths, you need to have some data to work with. Some pieces of information you’ll need include:
- A Thorough Catalog of Your Website’s Content. You’ll want to have a list of every blog post, site page, content offer, landing page, etc. on your website. Taking a look at each piece of content, which of your buyer personas it serves, and where those website visitors are in the buyer’s journey when they find the content is critical for optimizing your conversion paths.
- Current Customer Data. Speaking of customers, hopefully you already have a few that you can study. You’ll want to take a look at any current customers you have and find out as much as you can about their pain points and how they converted.
- Website Use Data. Do you know how people are using your website? What they’re clicking on and not? Heat mapping software such as HotJar lets you study how people actually use your website so you can alter the design bit by bit to improve conversion rates.
Gathering this information helps you get a sneak peek into the minds of your customers, find out what makes them tick, and identify the gaps in your existing conversion strategy.
Tip 2: Add Context-Appropriate Content for the Holes in Your Conversion Strategies
Now that you know who your customers are, the different ways they find your site, and even a bit about how your customers go from being strangers to being leads, it’s time to get out the old content spackle and fill in some gaps.
You see, having content that’s optimized for a specific customer persona is all well and good, but you also need to make sure that you have content for each persona at each step of the buyer’s journey.
For example, say you’re a custom aftermarket parts store and you have a “Gearhead Gary” persona. You’ll need content that speaks to Gary at every stage of the buyer’s journey from start to finish.
Some models may add extra phases to the journey, but this model works well enough for most. The challenge is designing content for every phase of the journey.
Customers who are still in the initial awareness phase may never have heard of your business before, and likely won’t be using search terms that mention your brand. This is why content made for the awareness stage is typically made to be a broader, high-level discussion of a topic that doesn’t involve strong branding.
An awareness-stage content piece for “Gearhead Gary” might be a how-to on installing a nitrous system in a car engine or a quick tip sheet for applying large decals to a vehicle.
Typically speaking, customers in the consideration have a specific want or problem, and are researching their options. Content designed for this stage of the buyer’s journey tends to be more promotional, highlighting the specific benefits of a particular solution or product for this problem.
A consideration-stage content piece for “Gearhead Gary” could be an infographic comparing the different nitrous system kits for specific vehicle types.
Customers in the decision stage have done their research and are just about ready to choose a solution. Content designed for this stage of the journey is usually heavily-branded, highlighting the benefits of using the content writer’s specific product/service.
An example of decision-stage content for “Gearhead Gary” might be an eBook about the benefits of using aftermarket parts made by XYZ parts or even a side by side comparison of part manufacturer warranties.
Create content for each of your personas at each step of the buyer’s journey until you have something for everyone at every stage of the journey.
If you already have something for each stage of the journey, then it may be time to check your sales funnel and see where you’re losing website visitors/leads (CRM and heat mapping software works wonders here) so you can rework or shore up your content for those stages of the journey.
Tip 3: Scrub Your Site for Common Deal-Breaking Errors
While content is king for conversions, simple mistakes can cost you dearly. You could have a perfect content offer on your site that would wow your customers, but it won’t generate any leads if people can’t find it.
Deal-breaking errors like forgetting to create links & calls-to-action (CTAs) for landing pages, broken navigation elements, and amateurish spelling/grammar mistakes can all cause a website visitor to lose interest in your brand—or just not realize that you have more to share.
Thankfully, finding these errors and correcting them is usually fairly simple, assuming you’ve done your homework as per Tip #1 of this post. If you have, you should have a full site map of your website and a list of your content at your fingertips that you can check to see if your navigation lets your website visitors access everything.
Really, you should test your website regularly for errors like broken links and formatting issues. However, I know this can be tedious and time-consuming. You don’t have to check your website obsessively—just once a month or after any major updates should be fine.
If you’re too busy with other tasks or aren’t sure how to fix your website, there are plenty of companies out there who can help you run your test & dev for your website.
Aside from fixing broken links, you may also want to check your landing pages to see if they follow a few basic best practices, such as removing distractions/temptations to click off the page, aren’t using poorly-optimized forms, and do a good job of promoting the offer to the right persona at the right stage of the buyer’s journey.
Want more tips and tricks for optimizing conversion rates on your website so that more of your web visitors become leads, and eventually customers? Check out some of our other inbound marketing resources today!