What is a Conversion Funnel

Narrative IndustriesGlossary of Web Terms

A conversion is when someone, e.g. a visitor to your website, does something you want them to, e.g. signs up to your newsletter, makes an enquiry, buys a product etc).

A conversion funnel is just a way of describing the individual stages that a person goes through to “convert” from one state to another – this could be converting a visitor to your site into a newsletter subscriber, or a newsletter subscriber or a customer, or a twitter follower into a someone who has made an enquiry… It’s a journey, a decision making process, that the individual goes through and, by mapping it out, marketers can better understand & sort their potential customers according to where they are in the cycle.

There are numerous models and versions of conversion funnel with assorted acronyms but they generally all follow the same formula. The same process applies to downloading a PDF as it does to buying a car.

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest / Consideration
  3. Decision / Preference
  4. Action / Purchase
  5. Retention

Despite it being common knowledge that your existing and previous customers are a major asset in marketing, Number 5 is, sadly, often forgotten.

Knowing where a potential customer is in the funnel can help provide you understand where to focus your efforts and provide insight into why people might drop out (fail to convert) or what might be the most appropriate way to speak to them. This can inform personalisation on a website, offering returning visitors or those that have downloaded something from you (at the “interest” or “decision”stage) different content to a first-time visitor (at the “awareness” stage).

In fact, it’s useful for understanding and breaking down all kinds of sales & marketing situations.

Conversion funnels are not unique to the online world but, due to the nature of digital marketing, we can track & monitor many elements of user- behaviour and analyse which stages are failing or under-performing. Recent developments in integrated inbound marketing have increased the emphasis on understand where potential leads are in the conversion funnel.

Personalisation, Optimised user-journeys, optimised landing pages, targeted content, inbound marketing, content marketing and numerous other marketing devices are all built around moving through each stage of the process illustrated by the conversion funnel.