Conversion funnels are present in many sites. These are the last steps to be overcome before conversion, making a purchase, a booking, registering for an event or taking out a subscription. These final steps are crucial and the slightest doubt or question in the Internet users’ mind may put them off completing the funnel.
The aim of this document is to make you ask the right questions to discover potential problems associated with your conversion funnels. To help you, we will focus on 5 photos of real-life tunnels which represent customer journeys to conversion. The characteristics of each tunnel will help you identify the weaknesses associated with your conversion forms.
Whenever we are the manager of a site, we tend to forget one important piece of information: visitors to our sites do not have the same knowledge about our sites as we do.
They don’t know what awaits them at the other end of the tunnel, they don’t know what they are going to get.
Put yourself in the Internet users’ shoes. Whenever they have reached the first step, what do they see? What information is available so that they can think about what they will get at the end?
Internet users have to rely on the clues and indications given on the site. With this information at hand, Internet users can then imagine what they will get: these are the perceived gains of filling out the form.
Whenever an Internet user decides to fill out a form, they ask themselves the following question: “Why should I bother filling out this form?”
The Internet user will weigh up the effort required to fill out the form with the benefits to be obtained at the end.
Filling out a form means devoting time, making the effort to fill out the different fields, creating a password, taking the risk to transmit personal information to a company, paying for a product without being able to take advantage of it immediately.
It also represents a form of risk-taking; it is possible to lose money, to make mistakes, to be cheated or ripped off, to receive spam. Is this really worth it?
What counterbalances the efforts and risk-taking? The perceived gains that an Internet user will obtain after having filled out the form.
Internet users need to be helped, guided, reassured or even carried, attracted or seduced by your form.
To have a better understanding of what to do and when to do it, what follows is a selection of 5 photos of real-life tunnels which represent customer journeys to conversion.
We will study their characteristics and qualities, apply them to the digital world and think about what needs to be done.
So let’s go, here is the first photo.
1. A difficult but necessary tunnel
In this photo we can see a mountaineer climb an ice tunnel. This requires a lot of effort and suitable equipment.
The mountaineer makes slow progress, and sees the light at the end of the tunnel knowing that the end is not far. In any case, the mountaineer has to go through the tunnel in order to go home.
Even if the mountaineer makes considerable efforts and progress is slow, the perceived gains outweigh the obstacles because to avoid spending the night in the ice the mountaineer must make it to the end of the tunnel.
In this example considerable effort is required but the gains largely outweigh the obstacles: the Internet user fills out the form!
This case applies to long forms with several steps that require lots of information that Internet users do not necessarily have at hand when filling out the form. However, these forms are compulsory or necessary for paying taxes or taking out a life-insurance policy.
Adjustments to be made to these forms include simplifying everything to a maximum. This involves providing Internet users with information, giving them the impression that the form is not very difficult to fill out as well as giving them the impression that they are making slight progress.
Another method which can be used to simplify filling out online forms is to use automatic help boxes which appear when Internet users fill out the different fields of a form to prevent them from making mistakes when entering information.
2. A worrying tunnel
The tunnel in the photo appears to be poorly lit, not very welcome and even dangerous. Anyone walking will feel that the tunnel is long and that they do not see the end of it.
Nevertheless, it’s not difficult to walk through the tunnel, in fact it is easy to make progress through it.
Even if it is easy to make progress through the tunnel, the gains associated with walking through the tunnel are too tenuous to motivate walkers to continue.
In this example there are not too many obstacles to be overcome but the gains are very low: the Internet user will abandon the form!
In order to counteract the obstacles which prevent Internet users from filling out forms, you will sometimes need to intervene to reassure Internet users and entice them to continue.
One of the reasons for abandonment is the fear of not getting what is promised. One question that Internet users ask is “Can I give my credit/debit card number online without being at risk?”. Companies need to provide Internet users with information, and proof that they are reliable and serious when it comes to tackling Internet user fears.
You also need to provide items to encourage Internet users to go further and fill out the form. Incentives include highlighting the advantages of filling out a form.
3. A bend which raises doubt
In this photo it seems quite easy to advance through the ice tunnel. However, the bend prevents walkers from knowing if the end of the tunnel is close or not.
It is impossible to know what there is after. Walkers begin to think of meeting an unpleasant surprise at the other end.
Even if the efforts required to progress through the tunnel are minimum, the gains are unknown and the fear of an unpleasant surprise makes walkers flee.
In this example the obstacles outweigh the gains. The Internet user abandons the form!
The obstacle highlighted in this example is the lack of clarity. A lack of clarity creates confusion in the mind of the Internet user.
The Internet user will ask themselves the following question: “What exactly am I going to get?” If there is any doubt in the mind of the Internet user relating to the proposed offer, the Internet user will give up what they were doing.
Here you need to clarify what Internet users will get by clearly explaining the items that will be obtained, in what circumstances and in how much time.
Faced with a request for particular information, Internet users will ask the question: “Why am I being asked for this information?” Companies need to explain why Internet users are asked for certain information and how it will be used.
4. An unattractive tunnel but easy to go through
For this tunnel all you need to do is let the boat travel quietly through to the other side. Nothing is present to obstruct the boat’s passage through the tunnel.
On the other side of the tunnel, the landscape seems very similar to the one that the boat is currenty travelling through, which doesn’t really encourage people to go through it. However, other boats have gone through the tunnel meaning that there are no risks about going to the other side.
Even if the gains by going to the other side are somewhat reduced, the effort required is so low that even the amateur yachtsman can let his boat travel quietly to the other side.
In this example the obstacles are so few and are largely outweighed by the gains: the Internet user fills out the form!
Even if filling out a form does not require much effort, for example subscribing to a newsletter, it is crucial to highlight the importance and advantages of filling out the form. Internet users will ask themselves the following question: “Will this really solve my problem?”
If you do not mention how what you provide on your site can help Internet users, then it is likely that the Internet user will not continue through to the end of the tunnel. You need to entice Internet users and increase their motivation to continue through your site’s conversion funnel.
5. An inviting tunnel with no error possible
In this photo the light at the other side of the tunnel is a motivating factor to continue through it.
The rails guide the passage through the tunnel and prevent mistakes from being made and trains from getting lost. To arrive safely at the other end of the tunnel all that needs to be done is to follow the rails.
The gains strongly outweigh the obstacles, and progress is directed towards the other end of the tunnel. The train continues its journey through the tunnel.
In this example the obstacles are very weak and the gains are very significant: the Internet user fills out the form!
Now your turn!
The real-life tunnels used in this presentation make it easier to understand the possible reasons as to why Internet users abandon filling out forms. Which type of tunnel shown in the 5 photos does your conversion funnel resemble the most?
You need to carry out the following 3 actions as of now:
#1: Audit the funnel as if you were a potential Internet user.
#2: Study the conversion funnel analyses to confirm your initial feelings.
#3: Test your ideas and apply them if they are conclusive!
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