Conversion Flow: a user’s journey on your website
Previously, we talked about the Conversion Narrative and the importance of having the right storytelling and messaging across your website. But this is only one side of the coin when it comes to improving a website’s conversion rate. The other key dimension is the Conversion Flow that your visitors are following.
What the Conversion Flow is
Just like the Conversion Narrative, the Conversion Flow always starts offline. It represents the journey a visitor undertakes from the moment they decide to visit your website to the moment they end up converting. Any visitor landing on your website has a primary driver for visiting and a primary need they want to achieve onsite. The Conversion Flow corresponds to the path followed to achieve that need, represented in an overall diagram that spans from the initial traffic source to the final step of the conversion funnel. To build this diagram, start by looking at your top traffic sources and mapping out where their visitors land on your site. From there, follow these visitors’ path throughout the site.
What the Conversion Flow isn’t
Now we’ve defined what the Conversion Flow is and visualised it, let’s talk about what it is NOT:
- A sitemap: the Conversion Flow diagram does not need to map out every single nook and cranny of your website. It’s only meant to show the most meaningful pages and interactions in the conversion journey (by meaningful, we mean ‘attracting the most traffic’).
- The same for everyone: not all visitors have the same intent when visiting your website. This will be reflected by the complexity of the overall Conversion Flow diagram, which often results in a need to break it down into simpler and more granular versions that align with various visitor profiles.
- Made up of pages only: as you may have already noticed from the diagram above, the Conversion Flow is not only about what pages are encountered, but also about the interactions needed to get there.
- Wishful thinking: if I asked you to map out your Conversion Flow and you started drawing it off the top of your head, I would probably tell you to stop and look at your Google Analytics data first. The Conversion Flow is not about the ideal journey you think your visitors likely make, it’s about the actual journey they do make. Beware, it might not always correspond to what you had in mind at first.
- Linear: the Conversion Flow visitors follow is not always linear, especially before they hit the funnel stage of the journey. Sideways steps often turn out to be the most telling elements in Conversion Flow diagrams, because they shed a light on what distracted visitors from the paved-up path, or what they actually missed during their journey.
If you want to achieve a healthy conversion rate, you need to do everything in your power to facilitate visitor progression within your website. This entails understanding the traffic sources your visitors come from, what their likely needs are and whether the progression to and within your conversion funnel is seamless enough. Put yourself in your visitor’s shoes, basically!
If you get your Conversion Flow wrong (e.g.: long, repetitive, disjointed), it’s likely to result in high abandonment rates at key stages of the user journey. If you have offline sales support, visitors might turn to that and still convert offline, but in most cases, visitors will be lost for good.
The Visitor-Led View
The first thing you need to understand is who your visitors are. Please note that although based on factual data, this exercise is in part intuitive. To try and work out visitor profiles, start with your Conversion Flow diagram and your Google Analytics reports. Can you pinpoint a difference in visitor profile according to specific criteria? For example, someone accessing your website from a Mobile Social Media source is unlikely to belong to the same visitor profile as someone who visits your website from a Desktop Direct traffic source. Here’s two potential types of visitors identified right there! Add further dimensions to this initial assessment (e.g.: landing page, new vs. returning…) and you could refine your visitor profiles even further.
You might remember earlier on we talked about the fact visitors have a primary driver and need to visit your website. Let’s unpack this further through a construct we call the Visitor-Led View. It is divided into 4 main sections:
Here’s an example of the Visitor-Led View in action:
Once you have identified the top visitor profiles on your website, you can then break down the overall Conversion Flow by visitor profile.
For example here, with a Paid Search traffic profile:
How do I action my Conversion Flow?
Ask yourself a few questions…
- Can you see from your Google Analytics reports whether your top traffic sources convert well? Particularly if that is not the case, can you identify the potential pain points in the Conversion Flow for these sources?
- Is the place where your top visitor profiles land likely to match their expectations from what they would have seen offsite?
- Is it easy for them to proceed to likely places of interest from there?
- Do visitors have ways to come back to the main Conversion Flow if they take a sideways step?
- Could the Flow be made shorter, particularly in the funnel area?
- Once you have established granular Conversion Flows for your various visitor profiles, can you see problematic areas impeding the achievement of their specific primary needs?
- Are you able to make changes to combat these blockers? Bear in mind you can never totally personalise your website for one visitor profile only, so you will have to find compromises that fit as many visitor profiles as possible.
How do I know I’ve succeeded?
The whole point of understanding your Conversion Flow is efficiency: you need to help visitors achieve what they want on your website fast and pain-free. If you’re successful, this should translate into:
- A reduction in abandonment at various key stages of the Conversion Flow.
- Improved clickthrough rates, particularly in the funnel area.
- Ultimately, an improved conversion rate.