Conversion Funnel Optimization: How to Maximize Conversions in 12 Steps

Table of Contents

So you created a sales funnel but are noticing a decline in your conversion rates. To make things worse, your user drop-offs have tripled. What’s next? If conversion funnel optimization is on your mind—then you’re on the right track.

Optimizing your conversion funnel helps you create value for your customers and supports you in making data-driven decisions.

Together, these improvements will boost your overall marketing performance, resulting in a higher return on investment from your current customers, as well as an increased website performance, and more visitors converting to paying customers.

But what does it take to get this process right? Well, that depends on who you ask. Jason Smit, CEO of Contellect has this to say:

“Optimizing our conversion funnels is a little bit of art and a sprinkling of good old-fashioned science. You need to find the right blend of creativity and data to turn your visitors into delighted customers.”

Key Takeaways

In this article, we’ll explore 12 tried-and-tested funnel optimization strategies to help you maximize conversions. You’ll learn how to:

  1. Analyze your landing pages based on user data
  2. Create buyer personas
  3. Create keyword-optimized content
  4. Create brand value
  5. Map your existing customer journey based on real data
  6. Automate your marketing funnel
  7. Create compelling calls to action (CTAs)
  8. A/B test problem areas on your website
  9. Analyze your sign-up forms
  10. Streamline user processes to reduce funnel friction
  11. Optimize for mobile users
  12. Build trust with social proof
Before diving in, here’s a quick refresher on the different stages in the conversion funnel and insights into the significance of each stage.

1. The awareness stage: In this stage, prospects have just entered the top of the funnel (TOFU). They are aware of a problem or have a need they’re looking to address. They become aware of your brand, and educational content shows them what makes your product or service unique and how you can help solve their issue.

2. The consideration stage: This is the middle of the funnel (MOFU) stage, where your potential customer has shortlisted solutions and is slowly gearing towards a purchase. You’re looking to gain their trust and convince them you’re the right choice. You can use customer success stories, case studies, and email nurturing campaigns to help guide their decision-making.

3. The purchase stage: Your potential customers are now bottom of the funnel (BOFU), marketing-qualified leads. That means they’re just looking for a final nudge before making their purchase. You may want to offer them a one-on-one product walkthrough or a personalized sales presentation. Other options are special offers, in-depth product guides to help them make the most of your solution, or customer testimonials to provide social proof.

What do you need before you optimize a conversion funnel?

To effectively optimize your conversion funnel, you need to put in a ton of groundwork. So ensure you have these handy before embarking on your funnel optimization journey.

  • A clear conversion goal: Begin by establishing a conversion goal. For example, you could aim to increase newsletter sign-ups, get more product demo bookings, or boost mobile app downloads.

  • User personas: You can’t optimize effectively if you don’t know who you’re targetting. Ensure you have a detailed understanding and documentation of your latest user personas.

  • User feedback: Seek out feedback to understand the user’s perspective. For example, collect insights on how they found their online shopping experience, or ask them how they feel about using your software.

  • Funnel performance data: Ensure you have up-to-date data about your current marketing funnel’s performance, so you can set effective goals, and measure improvements accurately. Some metrics to consider are website traffic, user drop-off points, and click-through rates.

  • A content audit: Vet content at each stage of the customer journey so you’re clear on what you’re working with and how it’s currently performing. Take a look at landing pages, email campaigns, ads, educational resources, and other marketing material.
Need a headstart to funnel optimization? Funnel visualization software like Funnelytics helps you eliminate guesswork. Instead, clearly map out your conversion funnel so you can uncover and address any roadblocks your users face.

Start your free trial of Funnelytics Performance

Unleash the full potential of Funnelytics with a free 14-day trial and get access to the platform that will help you plan, measure and optimize your customer journeys.

How to identify issues in a conversion funnel

No matter how meticulous your design process is, conversion funnels are prone to glitches. By remaining vigilant, you can get ahead of any issues.

Common landing page issues

Slow loading times, poorly designed pages, ineffective copy, and complicated forms that take ages to fill out; these are common issues that create a subpar experience for your users.

The solution: Perform thorough user acceptance testing (UAT) and collect user feedback. For example, you may find unoptimized images are slowing down your landing page.

Finding outliers in existing data

Data outliers are inaccurate data points that can skew your funnel metrics. Examples of outliers could be unusual website or app traffic, abnormally high user drop-offs, or users taking too long to convert.

The solution: Be proactive. Keep an eye on your metrics using frequent data visualization and analysis. Monitor metrics like engagement rate, click-through rate, page views, cart abandonment rate, conversion rate, and average order value. Do this regularly.

Too much friction

Do your users need to take too many steps to reach the final stage of your funnel? Remember, the longer your marketing funnel, the greater the chances of friction and drop-offs.

The solution: Cut down the steps your users need to take to reach the purchase stage. Make it easy for them to navigate an offer with a streamlined funnel. For example, e-commerce businesses can combine the “Review cart and checkout” and “Payment and shipping details” pages into one.

You could also use customer journey analytics software for real-time insights into the causes of funnel friction.

Not using funnel tracking and visualization software

The process of building a high-performing conversion funnel is difficult. And with scattered performance data—and no visualization tool to show you how your data ties together—it becomes even harder.

The solution: Use funnel tracking and visualization software. It’ll help you to visually map out customer journeys and track high-impact funnel metrics so you can:
  • Pinpoint the leakiest parts of your conversion funnel
  • Fix bottlenecks
  • Optimize for continuous growth
  • Use real-time customer journey analytics for data-driven decision-making

Start your free trial of Funnelytics Performance

Unleash the full potential of Funnelytics with a free 14-day trial and get access to the platform that will help you plan, measure and optimize your customer journeys.

12 conversion funnel optimization strategies for a fulfilling customer journey

It’s time to refresh your funnels and multiply your conversions using our 12 conversion funnel optimization strategies.

1. Analyze your landing pages based on user data

Stage of the funnel: TOFU

Your landing pages are one of the most important spaces for potential customers to get a sense of your products or services. So, your first round of analysis should always focus on your landing pages.

“Landing pages are your canvas to paint that engaging experience and speak to your customer’s innermost wants. Conversion is about crafting journeys that cater to human nature, not algorithms,” says Jason Smit, of Contentellect.

You’ll start by collecting five essential user metrics to compare your results: bounce rate, landing page conversion rate, time on page, scroll depth, and click-through rate. Keep an eye on these numbers to gauge the impact of your efforts.

Next, conduct tests to identify landing page elements that need optimization. For example:
  • Headlines: A/B test different headlines to see which gets more traction.
  • Page length: Test various page lengths and analyze scroll depth.
  • Copy: Pinpoint keywords and phrases that will draw in the right kind of viewers. For example, seek out keywords with a medium to high search volume, analyze competitors’ best-performing content, and find keywords that match user intent.
  • Font style and size: Try different fonts and sizes to analyze how this impacts the time users spend on each page.
  • Purchase path: Test every purchase route to reduce the steps users take to finish a sale, book a demo, or dial customer support.
Magee Clegg, CEO of Cleartail Marketing, echoes the impact of this tactic: “For analyzing landing pages, we use A/B testing to identify the most effective headlines, call-to-actions, and layouts. We also utilize tools like Sharpspring for in-depth lead distribution and retargeting display ads.”

Landing page testing is not a one-time process, but an ongoing one. Keep on tracking the metrics mentioned above, and implement any lessons learned.

2. Create buyer personas

Stage of the funnel: TOFU

Customer behavior changes over time. To make sure you’re working with accurate and up-to-date information, regularly refresh your buyer personas (the representation of your ideal customers).

By maintaining up-to-date buyer personas, you’re equipped to optimize your website content, messaging, and other assets your customers engage with. Using customer data, ensure you have at least two buyer personas. That way, you’re ready to address the diverse needs and preferences of your target audience. And don’t forget to refine them, so you keep your conversion rates high and consistent.

But Jason Smit, CEO of Contentellect, recommends taking this one step further: “Data can only reveal so much. Surveys and customer conversations will give you those golden qualitative insights into their real-life motivations and pain points.”

3. Create keyword-optimized content

Stage of the funnel: TOFU

Now that you’re clear on who your customers are and what they’re interested in, it’s time to create content that’ll tick all of their boxes.

Start optimizing your content by researching keywords that are relevant and of interest to your target audience—so they’re more likely to find it and be motivated actually to click through to read your content. Try SEO tools like Semrush, Moz, and Ahrefs.

You could also look through the queries your audience searches for the most. Google’s “People also ask” section is a great starting point.

Then use these insights to create educational content like blog posts, eBooks, guides, videos, and infographics based on relevant keywords. This helps you boost your page rankings and ensure traffic is coming in from the right audience.

4. Create value

Stage of the funnel: TOFU/MOFU

Focus on creating value for your audience. Why? This cultivates a sense of security and trust and strengthens your brand reputation.

“When optimizing each stage of the conversion funnel, we focus on providing value and building trust. This involves creating engaging content tailored to the specific needs and interests of our audience at each stage,” says Magee Clegg, CEO of Cleartail Marketing.

When you create content that helps your customer address a problem they want to solve, be it via an ebook or educational guide, you add something to their lives. You’re demonstrating that your brand offers expertise or something else of value.

Since they are higher up in the conversion funnel, these people may not immediately make a purchase with you. But they will remember you. They may even recommend you to their peers, and revisit your brand when they’re ready to buy.

That’s because they’ll associate your brand with high-quality experiences, and will be likelier to stick with you. This helps them to naturally move along the conversion funnel.

5. Map your existing customer journey based on real data

Stage of the funnel: MOFU/BOFU

If you’re looking to pinpoint gaps in communication or other snags in your customer journey, you need to center the customer in your analysis.

And the best way to do this is by mapping your current customer journey: the various stages customers go through until making a purchase. A well-visualized customer journey map helps uncover gaps in communication, as well as other forms of friction that could cause customers to drop off.

Accurate customer journey maps are based on rigorous data, like your website analytics, sales data, customer support requests, customer surveys, and CRM data. Centralize this data using a mapping tool like Funnelytics so you can see exactly how your customers progress through each stage of your journey.

To access the highest gains, Elliot Brown of Cache Financials recommends zooming into your biggest dropoff points.

“When you can identify where most people are dropping off, you find the biggest opportunities for improvement. Often very small improvements in top-of-funnel metrics can have a huge impact down funnel, for example. Similarly, down funnel stages that perform worse often represent pinch points where you’re missing opportunities or failing to meet your audience’s expectations.”

Start your free trial of Funnelytics Performance

Unleash the full potential of Funnelytics with a free 14-day trial and get access to the platform that will help you plan, measure and optimize your customer journeys.

6. Automate your marketing funnel

Stage of the funnel: TOFU/MOFU/BOFU

Look out for opportunities to add automation to your funnel. This will free up your time to focus on other important tasks.

Some examples of tasks that can be easily automated are: segmenting email lists, running email campaigns, capturing lead information, and scheduling marketing content for social media.

In addition to saving you time that you can spend making other improvements, automating your marketing funnel ensures your customers have a consistent brand experience as they move through their interactions with you. It’s a win-win.

7. Create compelling calls to action (CTAs)

Stage of the funnel: TOFU/MOFU/BOFU

No matter where they are in your customer journey, your potential and current customers need clear communications and specific CTAs to guide them on their way.

You can test different CTAs for your users across the funnel stages. Depending on where they are and the action you’re looking to encourage, there are different tactics you can try.

  • Sell your trial: “Get started for free,” or “Try free today”
  • Use a benefit-driven phrase: “Become a management pro,” or “Double your sign-ups”
  • Create urgency: “Order before midnight,” or “Checkout in 10 minutes for 15% off”
  • Evoke curiosity: “Ready to start your journey?” or “Get exclusive access”

During your testing, try placing your CTAs in a few different locations, like above or below the fold, midpage, in the footer, or in a pop-up. Then measure to see if there’s an uptick in audience engagement.

Michael Aagaard, a conversion rate optimization (CRO) expert, recently experimented with CTAs and found that the CTA placement at the bottom of a long landing page increased its conversion rate by a massive 304% compared to above-the-fold.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as rewording a CTA or having fewer steps. Other times you would need to reimagine the whole flow to establish trust and value upfront before asking for a signup.”Jason Smit, CEO of Contentellect

8. A/B test problem areas on your website

Stage of the funnel: TOFU/MOFU/BOFU

Whether it’s a technical glitch, unappealing content, or massive images that take an age to load, there’s a reason why your page isn’t performing well. Use A/B or split testing to figure out what you need to change.

For example, you could test two different CTA buttons to see which results in more demo requests or test landing pages of varied lengths to see which ultimately results in more conversions.

Tip: Combine A/B testing with user surveys to understand what problems need prioritization.

“One of the most common issues I encounter when optimizing our funnel is isolating the variable(s) causing a conversion rate change. I’m in B2B where the buyer journey is relatively long with many touchpoints. There are usually many balls in the air at one time with marketing and sales initiatives and it can be hard to know which one(s) are causing change,” says Joe Kevens, Founder at B2B SaaS Reviews.

9. Analyze your sign-up forms

Stage of the funnel: TOFU

Sign-up forms are often your first point of contact with potential customers. So make sure you get these right. Start by testing these elements of your sign-up form:

  • Headlines: Trial different copy and lengths to test what your readers like best
  • Textbox placement: Analyze which text box placement gets the most traction
  • Total word count: Guage how much copy your readers need—so you provide enough context but don’t overwhelm or confuse them
  • Form design: Evaluate your form font size, colors, and layout
  • 10. Streamline user processes to reduce funnel friction

    Stage of the funnel: MOFU

    Funnel friction is when customers are delayed during the conversion funnel and stall from moving into consecutive stages.

    Let’s consider someone in the TOFU stage who has just signed up for your newsletter. If you follow up with an unrelated email after signup, they may become frustrated. This could cause friction and lead them to unsubscribe, and ultimately abandon the conversion process.

    So once you’ve grabbed attention during the TOFU stage, be mindful of how you introduce next steps to your prospective customer. If you present them with a complicated process or too many steps in one go, they may become overwhelmed.

    Say you’re an e-commerce business that’s running a social media campaign. To present a frictionless process, you’d seek to eliminate any barriers between the customer who clicks on the social ad that’s caught their interest, and the checkout page for the item they’re considering buying.

    If your ad leads them to the exact product page, complete with checkout or an add-to-cart button, you’ll have a higher chance of conversion than if you take them to your website’s homepage. That would frustrate anyone, even a high-intent customer.

    For an even smoother process, incorporate elements that establish trust, like a secure checkout process, a privacy policy, or a money-back guarantee.

    11. Optimize for mobile users

    Stage of the funnel: TOFU/MOFU/BOFU

    Did you know about 60.66% of internet traffic is through mobile devices? Despite these figures, some businesses still neglect mobile optimization. That means they’ll deliver a sub-par experience for mobile users. Plus, since Google prioritizes mobile-optimized content when indexing content, their content will be far less discoverable.

    For your website to be effective on mobile, use a responsive layout that can display your content differently, regardless of screen size. This ensures your content is readable and easily navigable, and remains user-friendly across all devices.

    Other factors to consider when optimizing for mobile include the length of your copy (your readers don’t want to scroll endlessly), disabling popups (which can be cumbersome on mobile), and simplifying mobile forms.

    12. Build trust with social proof

    Stage of the funnel: MOFU/BOFU

    “Monitoring conversion rates throughout the customer journey is an effective first step. From there, you can hone in on the conversion points that have the most upside if optimized.

    There are many ways to optimize conversions. For example, adding social proof in the form of online reviews and testimonials can boost conversion rates anywhere from 1% up to 200%.”Joe Kevens, Founder at B2B SaaS Reviews

    Those are impressive figures. Why does social proof make such an impact? Because audiences trust their peers more than brands. And so customer testimonials, product reviews, case studies, and success stories will turn your claims into credibility.

    Social proof is such a valuable addition to any conversion funnel. By sprinkling social proof across your homepage, key landing pages, or other forms of communication with your prospects, you provide a nudge that might turn them into paying customers.

    If your website already has social proof, play around with their placement or try using video testimonials over written reviews. Then analyze the change in engagement.

    Create a seamless conversion funnel with Funnelytics

    As you can see, conversion funnel optimization is way more than just an afterthought. As a marketer, there’s a lot you can do to improve your conversion rates all along the stages of the conversion funnel—by analyzing problem areas, mapping customer journeys, and reducing friction wherever you can.

    By using the optimization strategies we’ve listed above, and incorporating a visualization and mapping tool like Funnelytics, you’ll be well on your way to creating a seamless conversion funnel.

    Monitor your performance in real-time, identify bottlenecks, and measure results—all in one platform. Try the 14-day free trial today!

    Conversion funnel FAQs

    1. What is a conversion funnel?

    A conversion funnel is the path a potential customer takes to purchase a product or a service. It’s made up of various stages, such as the top of the funnel (TOFU: awareness), the middle of the funnel (MOFU: consideration), and the bottom of the funnel (BOFU: purchase).

    2. How is the digital customer journey different?

    A digital customer journey is more customer-centric than a conversion funnel, which only focuses on sales. A customer journey is the sum of all customer interactions with a brand across all touchpoints and online channels: from initial brand discovery through to purchase, and beyond to customer loyalty and advocacy.

    3. What are the stages of the conversion funnel?

    The three stages of the conversion funnel are: the awareness or TOFU stage, the consideration or MOFU stage, and the purchase or BOFU stage.

    4. What is the AIDA model?

    The AIDA model stands for attention, interest, desire, and action, and it maps out the cognitive stages a customer goes through during their buying journey. The AIDA model helps marketers and salespeople understand the typical psychological progression of their target audience as they progress toward making a purchase. They use this model to tailor content, marketing strategies, and sales outreach approaches.


    Picture of Mikael Dia

    Mikael Dia

    Founder & CEO @ Funnelytics Inc.

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