Getting a user to convert is much easier when you put them on the right path. A conversion path is a form of inbound marketing with the goal of turning a user into a lead.
What is a Conversion Path and Why is It Important?
Put simply, a conversion path is the process of turning an unknown web user into a lead. If you’ve ever studied inbound methodology, then you’re probably familiar with conversion paths. They are an integral part of the convert phase.
Some marketers use an even simpler definition for a conversion path. It’s the steps a user takes before they convert. Every action they take becomes part of the path, not just the page that’s viewed.
No matter which definition you adhere to, the importance of conversion paths is pretty straightforward – businesses need leads in order to stay in business. Clearly defined and optimized conversion paths help facilitate that process by focusing the user’s attention on becoming a lead. When conversion paths are set up correctly they can also set the stage for encouraging a lead to become a customer or even an influencer.
Conversion Path vs Sales Funnel
Conversion paths and sales funnels are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are a few key differences between the two.
The biggest difference to remember is that a conversion path is a part of a sales funnel. And a sales funnel can have multiple conversion paths. Since the goal of a conversion path is to turn users into leads, conversion paths are found at the top of the funnel. By the time people make it to the middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel, they are already a qualified lead.
Another distinction is that conversion paths can begin before a lead reaches the sales funnel if you consider conversion paths to simply be the steps that are taken before converting.
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Parts of a Conversion Path
Inbound methodology specifies distinct parts for a conversion path. They are:
Users need to have a reason to become a lead. That’s your offer. It’s something of value that your business provides in exchange for the user’s information.
Call to Action
The call to action gives users a directive on how to take advantage of the offer. It should compel them to stay on the path to becoming a lead.
Once the user clicks on the call to action they should be taken to a landing page. A landing page is designed with an express purpose of allowing users to exchange their information for the offer.
Thank You/Verification/Welcome Follow Up Page
Now that the user has converted into a lead you don’t want to leave them hanging. You can get the relationship off to a good start by thanking them for providing their information, verifying that the process is complete and what steps to take next or welcoming them to your community. The follow up all depends on the offer, but what’s really important is taking that extra step to build rapport and keep the lead engaged.
Conversion Path Optimization Strategies
Once a conversion path is established leads might start coming in, but the work has just begun. Just because you created a conversion path that doesn’t mean all of your visitors will follow it. And many won’t see it through to the end.
Conversion path optimization is needed to figure out what paths visitors do take and how to convince them to complete the journey.
Tightly Focus the Content on What You Have to Offer
A conversion path has a singular focus – get the user to exchange their information for a particular offer. All of the content along the way should be related to this goal.
Another aspect of tightly focused content is to keep the ideal lead in mind. Speak to them and you’re more likely to get a conversion. What are the problems they are facing? What needs do they have that you can fulfill? What concerns do they have? Address those questions and you are well on your way to increasing your leads.
Tailor Content to Where Users Are in the Buyer Journey
The more you can tailor the content to not only the appropriate buyer personas but also where they are in the buyer journey the easier it will be to get them to the end of the conversion path. At this stage, most users are in the discovery phase. They are beginning to explore the problem/need they have and the solution for it.
At the top of the funnel users most likely aren’t sure of who your business is and what it has to offer. Your job is to understand where they are coming from and the value you have to offer them.
Test Out Different Offers
Will a downloadable case study garner more leads than signing up for a monthly newsletter? Is a free trial more enticing than a discount? Knowing what to offer is a must for conversion paths. It’s the whole reason a visitor is willing to share their information and become a lead.
While it may seem like the offer that’s in place is a winner, the only way to know for sure is to test it. A multivariate test can help you figure out which offer works best within a particular conversion path.
Add Another Call to Action on the Follow Up Page
Once the lead has provided their information it’s much easier to get them to complete more actions – as long as they know what to do. The follow up page is the perfect opportunity to add another call to action.
But you don’t want the new lead to feel like they’re being bombarded or “sold” after the fact. The trick is to make the new offer related to the action the lead just took.
For example, if a lead just downloaded a white paper on the business costs of employees using social media in the office they may be interested in learning more about tools that block social media sites on work computers. If you have another white paper examining how well those tools work or you have a tool to offer the follow up page is a great place for that offer.
Use Analytics to Examine Conversion Paths
Did users follow the conversion path you laid down? Where on the conversion path did the most users fall off? What action do new leads take after the follow up page?
All of these questions and much more are answered via behavioral analytics. It tells you about the actual customer buying journey that was taken and whether or not it conforms with your conversion path. This information can be used to optimize conversion paths so that they seem more natural to users and send the right messages.
A conversion path helps guide users toward becoming a lead, but that doesn’t mean all users will stay on the path. Marketers must understand who users are, where they are in the buyer journey and what they need to create a conversion path that does its job. Optimization and analytics are also necessary to ensure your conversion paths are performing as expected.
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