14 things to remove (or change) for a smarter funnel
Your website has three tasks to perform. It needs to:
- attract people to visit,
- keep them there long enough to make a connection and
- encourage them to perform an action (make a purchase, sign up to a newsletter, grab a lead magnet, etc.)
Sometimes, website owners sabotage their own efforts to create a powerful sales funnel by including website features that detract from these three roles.
Following the adage, 'less is more,' here are 14 things to consider changing on your website.
1. Replace meaningless headlines
When a new prospect arrives at your landing page, you need to grab their attention immediately. Within 5 seconds, they should know enough about what you can offer them to decide whether to stick around or not.
Vague statements about your quality or experience are of little value and are best avoided. Many website owners include the pertinent information in their sub-heading. If you are one of them, consider using it as the main stand-alone headline and see if that looks better.
Here is a great example of a meaningless headline...
2. Hide unnecessary blog dates
Although blogs were originally created to be akin to an online journal, they have evolved to become a much more flexible content tool. As such, dating your posts is now optional. Ask yourself whether your blog benefits from dates. If it doesn't (e.g. you post very infrequently and your content isn't time-sensitive), feel free to remove the dates.
3. Move your social media icons
More than a quarter of the top marketing sites provide prominent links to their social media profiles from their website header. However, once your hard-won prospects have stepped through those little doorways there is no guarantee they will come back. In fact, since social media is built around audience engagement, you could easily lose their attention.
By placing subtle social media buttons on the footer of your website, perhaps activated when the cursor hovers on them, you will maximise the chances of visitors hanging around to read your content.
It is also best to only link to those social media platforms you are active on.
4. Turn off suggested YouTube videos
This tip is for those who embed YouTube videos in their website. Before you copy and paste the embed code, take a second to uncheck the 'show suggested videos when the video finishes' box. Then, when your clip finishes, you won't be tempting your customer away or, worse, giving a competitor some free advertising.
5. Go easy with stock photographs
Good quality stock photographs can be an asset to your website but don't overuse them and choose natural and appropriate images. If stock images look staged or cheesy (see below), they may devalue your brand. Consider booking a professional photographer for an afternoon for some unique alternatives.
6. Break up large blocks of text
Web visitors rarely want to wade through masses of text, particularly online. Introduce some space by chunking your copy into three or four sentence blocks. Sometimes, standing back from the screen can give you a better idea of how well-structured your text is.
Bullet points, numbered lists and images are more ways of avoiding the monotony of solid text.
7. Avoid PDFs and Word docs
Unless they are intended to print or to distribute offline, PDFs should be left off your website. They are difficult to share, update and track and they do less for search engine optimisation (SEO) than HTML pages.
Word documents are even worse since they distort very easily and can potentially carry viruses.
8. Release your press releases
Press releases are designed for print media and really have limited value on a website. For a start, some of the standard formatting found on a press release is redundant online. The release date, for instance, is used by print media to ensure they don't publish embargoed content too early. Since you are in control of when you publish your press release, this makes no sense online.
Likewise, an 'about the company' section is pointless if you already have an 'about us' section on your website as are contact details (especially a web address!)
Rather than spending the time editing the format, consider rewriting as a proper article.
9. Free your testimonials
Testimonials can increase trust and push up your conversion rates so don't restrict them to a single page which many people will probably never see.
Instead, sprinkle them liberally around your website. Where possible, link them to a relevant selling point. For example, where you explain about your competitive pricing structure, add a testimonial from a customer who was amazed at the value for money they received.
These testimonials can then act as little bursts of social proof rather than stale or staged soundbites.
10. Ban the banner ad
Banner blindness is a well-documented phenomenon with website visitors. Rather than wasting valuable space by uploading banners, consider creating text-based advertorials (adverts designed to look like an article).
11. Never the naked email
It is good practise to use a secure contact form rather than display your contact email address in plain text. These are often harvested by spammers and used to bombard you with messages.
Contact forms also deliver a host of other benefits. For example, messages can be tracked using analytics software, backed up on a database and routed depending on questions answered.
You can also continue a dialogue with the person contacting you using auto-responders and customised thank-you pages.
12. Simplify the sign-up process
We are now at the business end of the funnel where the magic of a sale or sign-up happens – or not!
Many marketers fall at the first hurdle by using their sign-up form to interrogate their prospects. There is a simple rule of thumb that says that the more information you ask for, the lower your conversion rate will be (unless you are offering a really high value reward for signing up!)
Limit your sign-up form to first name and email address and watch your list start to soar. You can always collect further information later on in your relationship.
13. Sweeten your sign-up button
Even the design of your sign-up button on your call-to-action (CTA) can have a significant effect on your conversion rate. Rather than a stale 'sign-up' or 'submit' button, add a benefit reminder.
For example, your button could say, 'sign-up and receive your three free e-book' or 'submit this form to receive your download link.'
14. Keep the momentum going
Once you've persuaded your prospect to become a customer, don't leave them stranded on a dead end 'thank-you' page. Instead, keep them engaged by offering them an up-sell, a cross-sell, a free bonus or some exclusive content to read.
At the very least, invite them to sign-up to your newsletter or mailing list.
Implement as many of the above strategies as you can and see what happens to your conversion rates. Please feel free to let us know how you get on by leaving a comment below.