Behind every E-commerce site, there is a conversion funnel. Every conversion funnel worth its salt does a bunch of things. Ideally it leads customers to actually purchase something (or convert), but beforehand, each step along the journey offers the customer an opportunity to opt out or engage further. In a conversion funnel, you never want the customer to feel stuck. Instead, they should feel as though they themselves are controlling their experience and deciding to proceed (or not, as the case may be). Sound abstract? The most basic marketing funnels begin with your website and end with a customer purchase. We’ll talk about the specific layers of a conversion funnel more, but for now, just know that it’s a very standard way to map out, and potentially enhance, any online customer/user experience.
The SEO funnel works in much the same way. What is it? It’s made up of the same layers, but it’s all contingent upon SEO, or the internet popularity contest that has everyone rushing to master Google Analytics. We all want to be prom queen, but do we have the right keywords? And if we don’t, how can we incorporate them into our content in a seemingly natural way? (Ah, the questions surrounding search engine optimization.) Basically, the SEO funnel is a conversion funnel that takes SEO into account every step of the way.
Layers: The Basic Conversion Funnel
There are four layers in every conversion funnel. The layers are strategically placed in order to move the customer or consumer through each in a way that seems organic to them, but is really very strategic to us (the marketing professionals). Each layer should be carefully mapped out with the user and the end goal in mind. When you think about it, everything hinges on the user, and whether or not they are having an easy, intuitive, efficient and delightful experience on your website. Let’s discuss each layer, and why it’s important.
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This is the first layer of the funnel. In order for a site to have a chance at being successful, it needs to be seen, it needs to be noticed — and both these things need to happen in a way that is intriguing and forward-moving. As in, the customer needs to be brought to the site somehow, and it’s up to you to figure out what’s motivating them. Enter tools like Google Analytics, and ideas like target audience and keywords. Without awareness, there is no tunnel.
Your customers have landed smack dab in the middle of your site — now what? Well, make them pay attention. Give them no choice but to be completely and totally drawn in by all of the amazing elements of your site. Create incredibly powerful and strategic content that keeps the user thinking that they are steering the ship, when in actuality, you are. Two words: copy and layout.
We’ve all experienced it: You’re out to dinner and your order is placed in front of you. Delicious! Your neighbor’s order is then placed in front of her. It’s a bright reddish-orange, whole lobster, surrounded by fresh green fiddleheads and a soupcon of cranberry reduction. It’s dazzling, it’s colorful, it’s fresh, and it’s exciting. Suddenly your flank steak with bernaise looks sort of — medieval — next to it. There’s something amazing about that lobster, and you want it. Moreover, it’s making what you previously thought you wanted look pale and ugly in comparison. It’s your job, as a business, to figure out what it is about the ‘lobsters’ of the e-commerce world that make them so damn interesting and desirable, and then to harness whatever that is and apply it to your brand. Up the ante, up the allure, up the stakes, so that the consumer no longer just wants, but needs to have your product, and yours alone.
This layer is when and where the actual purchase takes place. UX figures prominently in this layer, in particular. In other words, the jaunt from product page to shopping cart should be absolutely seamless and as quick as possible.
The SEO Funnel: Refined Layers
It’s pretty obvious how elements of good SEO can be built into a well-oiled conversion funnel — get brand awareness by using strategic SEO best practices (as an article from fishbat.com states: “a large part of your marketing strategy should be focused on ranking pages for maximum visibility in search results”) and incorporate research and consideration layers into the process. Start by initiating digital intercepts to understand more about what the consumer is trying to do.