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Last updated Mon May 20 2024

Your Guide to an Effective Website Conversion Funnel

Customers who find your website start a journey through your conversion funnel.

A website conversion funnel is a particular set of pages on your website that you want visitors to pass through as they transition into customers. Sometimes, their experience is cut short when they leave so you must set up your funnel so that it’s easy for customers to convert.

That’s exactly what we’ll talk about in this post.

Read on to learn:

Move leads down the funnel faster with AI wishlist and personalized shopping experiences

What is a website conversion funnel?

A website conversion funnel is a way to visualize the path your website visitors take before they become paying customers. You want to break up that journey into sections to find opportunities for improvement in the flow and increase the chances of conversions.

The website conversion funnel has four stages: awareness, interest, desire, and action.

website conversion funnel four stages

Let’s break down each stage: 

  • Awareness: Here, your potential customer visits your website for the first time. Businesses use PPC ads, content marketing, SEO, and social media marketing to get people to visit.

  • Interest: Once you’ve attracted traffic, you want to build interest in your product or service. Your goal should be to engage them with website popups, content, products, marketing videos, etc.

  • Desire: At this stage, you want your prospect to want your product or service. You can achieve that by highlighting the problem your product solves and the ways it differs from others.

  • Action. This is when a conversion happens—for example, a customer makes a purchase or subscribes to receive your emails.

Now, you’re probably wondering if a lot of people reach the “action” stage.

Well, only a share of your prospects does (in fact, the average website conversion rate is less than 4%). But if you optimize your funnel well, you can maximize that share and even go higher.

How do successful Shopify stores engage customers?

The State of Visitor Engagement on Shopify [an original study of 500 top stores]

How to optimize your website conversion funnel

Steps to create an effective conversion funnel for your website:

  • Draft a customer journey map

  • Set conversion goals

  • Create customer-focused content

  • Encourage to convert

  • Qualify leads with signup forms

  • Find leaks in your funnel

  • Monitor your performance

1. Draft a customer journey map

First things first—

Let’s understand how your visitors actually behave on your website.

For that, we need a customer journey map—it shows the ways people access and engage with your website.

A typical customer journey map reveals:

  • Pathways or pages customers visit on a site

  • What they do on these pages

  • How a website makes them feel

  • Challenges they encounter at each stage of the buying process

  • Possible solutions to these problems


Here’s a customer journey map for someone who wants to buy a new car 👇 As you can see, the customer may take any steps before arriving at the decision to buy.

customer journey map example

The logic behind customer journey maps is simple: shoppers do not take a direct path through your website.

Mapping this journey allows you to learn their behavior and the elements to improve on to create a solid website conversion funnel.

For example:

For this car buyer journey above, we can enhance their experience by: 

  • Creating a wishlist feature

  • Making a user account feature

  • Ensuring the search works well to find relevant car options

Tip 💡
Making sure your customers love their experience is a critical B2C and B2B web design best practice. Consider the map when creating your website, too, to make easy and simple journeys.

2. Set conversion goals

Having a conversion goal helps you determine where you want your site users to go and how to help them get there. When you have a clear goal, it gets easier to create a website that can improve your conversion path. 

Your website conversion goals should align with the type of business you operate. 

For instance, 

Some may want to sell more, like SurfStitch, a clothing retailer ​​👇

See all those sales promotions and buttons to product categories?

website design for conversions

Examples of goals for online stores like Surfstitch:

  • Get sales

  • Build an email list

  • Get customer loyalty program sign ups


Other websites aim to build their email lists with signup forms.

Like Brian Dean and his Backlinko blog—one of the best out there for those who want to learn ecommerce SEO. As you can see, the homepage is basically one big sign up form that allows him to get email subscribers easily:


Others encourage leads to try their software product. Like we do here, inviting people to try our popup builder for free:

wisepops popup builder

The task of developing a website becomes simpler when you have a clear and realistic website conversion goal.

If you sell software, you would have these goals:

  • Get free trial signups

  • Get paid account subscriptions

  • Build an email list

If you'd like some inspiration, check out these 30+ ecommerce website design examples with takeaways.

3. Create customer-focused content

Videos, blog posts, ecommerce case studies, product reviews…

This content enriches your website and boosts your customers’ interest in your product.

For example:

Beardbrand, one of the Shopify success stories, shares tips on everything related to growing and taking care of beards. By doing this, they can give prospects more exposure to their products.

example of content created for helping users

This blog content piece aligns with the goal of creating product interest and desire in an organic way. For example, readers find actionable tips on how to take care of their beards by using high-quality products Beardbrand sells.

Like here, the post recommends two products to soften beard hair.

product promotion in content

The most effective content at the interest stage is content that converts visitors.

Beardbrand has an awesome example of such content: the “What type of Beardsman are you?” quiz. Visitors answer questions about their beard style preferences to get personalized advice on products and more.


The quiz also requests their emails before giving the results 👇

conversion form beardbrand

Apart from the blog content, Beardbrand also runs an awesome YouTube channel—a really cool resource for their target audience:

video channel

Just like that—

The business manages to get high-quality leads.

So, the bottom line is: as customers interact with the various types of content you put out, it becomes easier to nurture them. Optimize the content on your web pages with call-to-actions that guide customers through your sales process.

Also, If you manage a membership website and want to convert visitors from your YouTube into members (a bit like Beardbrand), you should set up a YouTube marketing funnel—a separate subfunnel.

Want to ask visitors what type of content they would love to read? Try surveys.
Here’s how to create a website survey.

4. Encourage to convert

Sometimes, your potential customers have enough brand exposure but have yet to make any purchases. So you’ll need to give them an extra nudge.

This is where discounts, free trial offers, consultations or guides, limited-time offers, free shipping, flash sales, and other incentives come in.

Let’s take discounts for example.

Discounts are strong lead magnets that encourage customers to take the next step: buy a product or sign up for a newsletter. That’s why online stores rely on discounts so much.

Blume, another popular online store, converts 5% of visitors by using this discount offer (here's the case study if you're interested):

discount offer to build an email list

If you’re running an online store, using a strategy like this can really help you save tons of time and capture emails quickly.

More info: How to create a popup with a discount

But If you’re running a SaaS company, it might be more feasible to offer a free trial of your product or consultations.

Hootsuite is a software company whose website conversion strategy also includes offering free trials with popups like this 👇

free trial offer to get emails

When you offer a free trial, you allow for one-on-one interactions with potential customers or a chance to demonstrate the real value of your product to them. Those interactions give you a better chance of conversions.

5. Qualify leads with signup forms

Qualified leads are those who are most likely to buy from you. 

After you have attracted prospects with your marketing, it becomes necessary to sort these leads and identify the most qualified ones.

One way to do that is to optimize your signup forms to collect the relevant data from your site visitors. Doing this will help you sort out the leads you acquired based on a criterion that’s specific to your brand offerings.

You can start by asking simple questions. 

Primal Pet Foods, for example, collects info about pets and their diet with this questionnaire/sign up form.

signup form example for qualifying leads

Other businesses may have to ask for more info.

If you’re providing services, like Lform (web design), then you can ask for stuff like service type and project details.

website contact form example

One more thing—

Ask specific questions through other marketing channels (like social media) you use so that you can identify major pain points your leads have. You can leverage these insights when making your sales pitches.

Case study: driving 4,000+ visitors to product pages from the homepage

6. Find leaks in your funnel

Sure, only a portion of your prospects come out from the bottom of your website conversion funnel. But that doesn’t mean you won’t do something to minimize these “funnel leaks” — places where some of your website visitors fall through.

So, how do you find these leaks?

There are tools you can use. For instance, if you’ve added funnel goals to your Google Analytics, you can check out the funnel visualization report.

Click on Conversions and then on Funnel Visualization

You’ll get something like this 👇 It’s a report showing the percentage of people who went on to purchase a product from an ecommerce website. Take a look and let me explain how it works after the image.

funnel visualization report

So, what does all this data mean?

Let’s zero in on the number 877 there. That just means that of the 877 who accessed the Cart Profile, 95 did not proceed to cart confirmation. To the right, you see specific information about where these 95 prospects went instead.

Here’s a takeaway from that report.

Notice that of the 95 prospects, 51 proceeded to exit the website. That just means the Cart Profile did not have what some website visitors are looking for. It could mean that the profile page was difficult to navigate. 

To help you better understand what happened, you can send these prospects an email survey, asking them why they didn’t push through with their purchase.

Getting insights like this can really help you find website conversion funnel leaks.

7. Monitor your performance

Monitoring your performance will help you determine if your sales funnel is hitting its goals. You can monitor your sales funnel with metrics like:

  • Traffic: store visits, website visits, or page views.

  • Goals conversions: product checkouts, email sign-ups, etc.

  • Conversation paths: page transitions.

  • Abandonment: cart abandonment or page bounce rate.

Google Analytics is an effective tool to help you access these website performance metrics. Just go to Aquisition. Click on Overview and you’ll get a dashboard that shows you general information on how your website is doing. 

Here’s how that dash looks.

google analytics dash

With a dashboard like that, you can check the sources of your site traffic and the conversion from each source. Countercheck these reports with your previous reports on website performance. 


Your website conversion funnel is an essential part of your marketing effort. While you work hard to capture leads for your business, the ultimate goal is that they convert to paying customers.

Apply these tips and get closer to achieving your marketing goals and to converting those prospective customers.

Ian Loew

Ian Loew is a web entrepreneur and inbound marketing expert and the Owner & Head of Business Development of Lform Design.

After four years of helping Fortune 500 companies with MGT Design, Ian embarked on his freelance career before establishing Lform Design in 2005. He leads a team of creative professionals to deliver inspired online experiences via modern, responsive websites that reflect his clients' core values.