March 25, 2014

Marketing Research Chart: Critical website conversion path elements

SUMMARY: Sometimes less is more. But which elements of your sales or lead generation path are critical for conversion? Which ones are just getting in the way?

"We learned that we were trying to include too much. When we took elements out, our lead conversion dramatically improved," a Benchmark Report survey response stated.

In this MarketingSherpa Chart of the Week, we'll take a look at data from the Website Optimization Benchmark Report survey to help optimize your website's funnel.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

Removing and changing key elements of your sales or lead funnel may provide surprising results and can have a significant impact on marketing performance. But time, budget and resources are limited, so you can't realistically focus on everything all of the time.

So where should you start?

To help answer that question, in the Website Optimization Benchmark Report survey, we asked marketers to:

Please rate the importance of the following page elements that are included in your website's primary conversion path.

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Click here to see a larger, printable version of this chart

Landing pages are the most important element of website conversion path

Landing pages were ranked as very important by 84% of marketers and not important by just 1% of marketers.

Landing pages are so critical because they are often the main place on your website where customers land with a specific intent to act.

While homepages may receive more overall traffic, they are often the page people hit when they only have general motivation to learn about your company. This is especially true for multi-product or multi-service companies.

To use a car lot colloquialism, some of these people are likely tire kickers, or even job seekers, competitors conducting research and others who don't necessarily fit in your conversion path.

But traffic to a landing page usually involves interest in a specific product, perhaps even for a specific reason, such as an offer. Also, these pages are often so impactful because it is where companies spend time and marketing budgets driving traffic to — everything from the call-to-action in a print ad to the link from a search marketing pay-per-click ad.

This is why landing page optimization (LPO) is so valuable to marketers.

LPO is the process of continual improvement, usually involving behavioral testing of some sort, to achieve the best return on investment — all that traffic you've paid to send to these pages — by increasing conversion of that traffic.

As one marketer replied in the Benchmark Report survey, "We have a relatively low-traffic site, but A/B split testing of key page elements, combined with implementation of best-practice advice from MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa, produced significant lift in landing page conversion."

Final conversion points also very impactful website funnel elements

It would make sense that the two most important elements of a process are the beginning and the end — when people decide to enter the process and when they make the final decision.

As I said above, landing pages are often the beginning of the conversion process on a website.

Three elements that are often the end or final conversion point — shopping carts, payment pages and demo download pages — were all considered "not important" by a big fat zero percent of marketers.

When seeking to improve performance of the final conversion point, it's important to carry the initial value promised by the landing page, and even the channel that initially sent prospects to the landing page, all the way through the process to the final point of conversion.

When prospective customers are asked to do the most painful thing, such as pay money or fill out a lead form, make sure the value for that action is readily apparent. As an ethical marketer, that value should be carried into steps after the conversion as well.

One respondent advised marketers, "If you don't test, how do you know what works and what doesn't? Test your guarantees in red on your payment page."

Category pages among the least important elements of website funnel

While category pages are often considered an SEO tactic, its value in the conversion path and the time, resources and budget you should dedicate to them, is questionable. Only 42% of marketers considered category pages very important — even less than the "thank you" page.

Whatever you do decide to change in your sales funnel, keep this important point in mind from a survey respondent:

"We made a wholesale change to an important page without testing and then observed a significant drop in transactions. NEVER make a change without testing."

Related Resources

Web Optimization Summit 2014 — May 21-23, New York City

Landing Page Optimization: Simple, value-infused page increases leads 8% in 24-hour test

Landing Page Optimization: 3 keys to increasing conversion rates

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