When was the last time you subscribed to your website?
No that’s not a typo… I want to know when you subscribed to your own website for the last time.
For the conversion optimization before/after article, we randomly looked at opt-in forms and landing pages that you, our readers, sent us to optimize.
We took it beyond the landing page. We looked at the opt-in form, subscribed to the list, waited for the first email to arrive and looked at the confirmation, thank you and download pages.
Let me tell you, it wasn’t always pretty…
Many of the funnels left us confused and disappointed. That's why we decided to write this article, to make sure you can avoid the most common mistakes in your funnels.
Is Your Funnel Leaking?
For a random visitor to become an engaged subscriber, he has to go through a number of steps in the lead generation funnel.
If one of the steps is broken, you’re losing out on your end goal: engaged subscribers.
Your opt-in form is only the very first step in the funnel.
Improving the opt-in form will help to get more subscribers but if the rest of the funnel is broken you’re pouring water in a leaking bucket.
Repairing the bucket first will improve your end results.
Fixing your funnel should be done before trying to optimize your opt-in form because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If new subscribers were disappointed or confused, they will never come back.
Now, it is hard to quantify how many people you’re actually “losing” on the different steps of your funnel, but there are some indicators that you could do better:
- Incongruent subscriber numbers. If you are using a double opt-in process and the number of subscribers reported in Thrive Leads is much higher than the “actual” subscribers your email service reports there is a problem. This indicates a big loss in leads between the moment your visitor subscribes and the moment they have to go to their inbox and confirm their address.
- The open rate on your first email is low. The first email you send to your subscribers is one of the most opened email. Aim for at least 60% open rate. If you get lower open rates on this email, something is seriously wrong.
- Insufficient visits to the download page. If the visits to your download page are much lower than the number of leads you get, something is wrong with the delivery of your downloadable.
- Low sales. If you’re making an immediate offer to subscribers, low (or no) sales indicate that something is not working in your funnel.
- Overall unsubscribes are high. This indicates unengaged or confused subscribers. Your unsubscribe rate per email should not be higher than 1%.
It’s a Numbers Game
One of the reasons I love online marketing is that everything is quantifiable. And depending on what number you increase or decrease in your funnel you can immediately anticipate the end results.
Let me show you what I mean...
Imagine you have a lead generation funnel with a free guide, a confirmed opt-in process and a thank you/download page.
- 2500 people visit your website.
- 100 people sign up through your opt-in form on your website.
- 60 people confirm their email address.
- 45 people go on to visit the download page.
You went from 100 signups to 45 engaged subscribers.
Now imagine that through testing you improve your opt-in rate from 4% to 4.8%
You would end up with 54 engaged subscribers.
Now imagine you concentrate on the other funnel steps FIRST.
Without increasing any signups, you could end up with 76 engaged subscribers simply by fixing your funnel.
If you then concentrate on improving your opt-in forms, you’ll get exponential results.
Increasing signups AFTER improving the complete funnel would result in 91 new engaged subscribers.
Now let’s take a look at the most common mistakes we discovered and how to fix them.
The 7 Most Common Mistakes in a Lead Generation Funnel
The first important step in the subscription process is what happens right after somebody subscribes to your newsletter, the second they click that subscribe button. As the website owner, you’re 100% in control to guide the experience.
You want to give positive feedback and acknowledge the action your visitor just took.
Your new subscriber should have zero questions about what’s going to happen next and feel good about what he just did.
Unfortunately that is not always the case...
Funnel Mistake 1: Reloading the Page
Imagine you ring your neighbour’s doorbell. He opens, greets you and asks if you want to come in for a cup of coffee.
“Sure, thanks!” you answer.
Now, he looks you straight in the eyes and without saying a word he slams the door in your face.
How would that make you feel?
Confused? Frustrated? Angry? Disappointed?
This is exactly what happens when you reload a page after your visitor opts-in. You leave him wondering: What just happened?
Did I just opt-in? Will I receive the free report that was promised? Do I have to confirm my email address?
It’s rude and confusing!
Don’t slam the door into your subscriber’s face, don’t reload a page without any further indications.
Funnel Mistake 2: Using the Default Email Provider Page
Let’s be honest, these pages are just plain ugly.
The message is boring, the layout is bad and as a cherry on top, the most visible element on the page is a link to your email provider.
On this page, there is no incentive to confirm your email address...
This is bad practice and will most likely hurt your conversions.
Funnel Mistake 3: Linking to the PDF
Reloading the page or sending subscribers off to the default confirmation page are definite no-no’s.
Having your subscribe button link directly to the PDF could be acceptable if done right.
Unfortunately most of the time it isn’t.
Linking to the PDF after signup might seem like a good idea because you give your new subscribers immediately what they were promised.
But think about it.
Does the PDF do the best job in:
- Thanking your new subscriber?
- Welcoming them?
- Introducing your brand?
Probably not. Most free guides don’t. They give good information but do a poor job in building the relationship.
Funnel Mistake 4: Redirecting to an Upsell Page
There is a thin line between being efficient and being scammy.
Redirecting to a sales page when somebody clicks on the subscribe button can very quickly come over as scammy when done wrong.
I’m sure you’ve often read that you should make an offer immediately after someone signs up to your list.
Arguments are that this will help you make more sales.
You have your reader's attention and they showed interest. If you make them an irresistible offer right after they signup, they will buy, right?
Only when you do it the right way.
Bluntly redirecting to a sales page will confuse your visitor about what just happened.
Will they get the free guide they were promised? Was the acclaimed free guide actually something they need to pay for?
You should never redirect new leads to a sales page without acknowledging they signed up.
Funnel Mistake 5: Default Welcome Email
Default welcome emails are bad.
They emphasize on the wrong things.
Just take a quick look at the MailChimp example above, there are two things that stand out:
- The unsubscribe button
- The MailChimp logo
Not really what you want, right?
You want new subscribers to feel welcome. You want to start building a relationship. You want them to look forward to your next email.
Default welcome emails do a very bad job at that!
We know it can be tricky to get the default email look good, but it is worth the time.
Done wrong the first email might be the only one your subscriber will ever open...
Funnel Mistake 6: No Welcome Message at All
Imagine you’re browsing around looking for information about Facebook ads. You arrive on this website that offers a free guide “10 Costly Mistakes to Avoid With Your Facebook Ads”. That’s exactly what you’re looking for, you subscribe and are redirected to the PDF.
You read the 10 mistakes and learn something new about retargeting. You jot down some notes, close the tab with the PDF and continue browsing.
Days later you receive an email from Bryan Johnson: “A 30-day Plan to Gain Instagram Followers”.
You’ve never heard of this Bryan guy, so you hit the SPAM button.
Here’s the harsh truth, most people will subscribe because you offer them something valuable. They will not remember your website URL, let alone your name.
The longer the time between subscribing and receiving the first email, the bigger the risk that your subscriber forgot about ever signing up in the first place.
He’ll ignore your messages, unsubscribe or worse hit the SPAM button.
Don’t be Bryan Johnson, introduce yourself properly in a welcome email and you’ll get better open and delivery rates for all future emails.
Funnel Mistake 7: Confusing Links in the Email
When you receive a welcome email, what’s the first thing you do?
You look for a blue text with an underline: a link to click on.
If the first link you click on leads you back to the blog instead of giving you access to the free guide, you’re confused and frustrated.
Your subscribers are no different!
They are scanning and your emails should be scan friendly.
Go Incognito to Follow in Your Visitor’s Footsteps
Now it’s your turn, open your website in an incognito window and subscribe to the first opt-in form you find.
Imagine you know nothing about you or your business and observe the different steps in your lead generation funnel.
Are you offering the best experience possible for new subscribers or is it time to fix that leaking funnel?
Let me know in the comments below!