Kayla Wainwright

Site Optimization: 2 strategies to consider when trying to increase conversion

November 30th, 2015

Online shopping is a favorite hobby of mine, mainly due to the convenience factor.

Recently, I was shopping online for a new coffee table and found myself with a dilemma. I found a website that had a great assortment of coffee tables: different sizes, shapes and every color you could think of. They had it all. After navigating through the website for a few minutes, I realized finding the right one was going to be difficult. I was having trouble sorting through the different styles and began to feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

I had great tables laid out on the page in front of me with no way to organize them how I wanted. Not only was I having trouble with the layout of the page, but there was also a pop-up continuously asking me to sign up for the newsletter and for my personal information.

I quickly became annoyed and overwhelmed, and I left the page.

This made me think of a concept that we teach at MarketingExperiments’ parent company MECLABS: the inverted funnel.


The inverted funnel

Marketers usually use the funnel as an analogy for customers moving through the sales process. What many marketers don’t realize, though, is that their customers are not falling into the funnel — they are falling out. Our Managing Director and CEO at MECLABS, Flint McGlaughlin, has instilled in our company a customer-centric logic. With this logic, we realize that the funnel must be inverted.

By flipping the funnel to illustrate customers climbing up the sides of it, we change the way marketers think about the funnel. Marketers need to realize that their customers are being powered up by decision; if the funnel is not inverted, it is uncontrolled. There is a sequence of micro-yes(s) that a customer must make in their journey up the funnel that will, in the end, lead to conversion.

Personally, I was a customer that fell out of a funnel when looking for the right coffee table. I was having a hard time finding the style I was looking for. After hitting too much friction on the page, I instead found myself making my purchase from a different website. The website I purchased from had everything laid out on the page clear and concise. I was able to sort through the different tables by size, color, brand, etc. This made it easier for me to find exactly what I was looking for with less anxiety.

Today, we’re examining two strategies to consider when trying to increase conversion and power your customers up the funnel.


Strategy #1. Fight the friction

The first concept to look at when trying to power customers up the sides of the funnel is the friction on the page.  At MarketingExperiments and MECLABS, we define friction as the psychological resistance that interferes with a customer making a purchase.

Friction is psychological; it does not exist on your webpages but rather in the mind of your customer.

The website I was shopping on could have easily avoided losing me as a customer if its website had been simplified a little. I continuously ran into walls when trying to find the right coffee table. A marketer should always put themselves in the mind of the customer.

From our research here at MECLABS, we have learned that “difficulty friction” can weigh heavily on a customer’s cognitive conclusions about a purchase.

One factor we as marketers need to focus on is the eye path on a page. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where will your customers look first?
  • What are they looking for?

Getting to know your customers and being able to provide a page that shows them exactly what they are looking for is an easy way to decrease friction and help push a customer up the funnel.


Strategy #2. Alleviate anxiety

The second concept to look at when trying to prevent customers from falling out of your funnel is their anxiety. At MECLABS, we have found that anxiety — a psychological concern that interferes with a sale — also weighs heavily on a customer’s decision to make a purchase.

In my own personal example, I began to experience anxiety with the pop-up. It continuously asked me to give them my personal information for their newsletter. Not only did I not want the newsletter, but I also didn’t want to provide my personal information.

It is necessary to think about the customer when you decide to place something on your webpage. Ask yourself, what will make them feel safe? You can add certain cybersecurity features to make them feel secure in giving you their information, such as security seals, credibility indicators and testimonials.

Being able to decrease the anxiety of the customer is another way to increase conversion and move customers up the sides of the funnel.


We have now reviewed two strategies to consider when you are trying to prevent someone from falling out of your funnel. Once you have controlled the friction and eased the anxiety of a customer, it becomes easier to push them up the sides of your funnel, thereby increasing conversion.

As a customer shopping for furniture, I encountered a lot of friction on the website, unable to sort through to find the furniture. Most marketers forget they should focus on the customer’s eye path and thought sequence to try to create a fluid flow on the page.

We also discussed how anxiety can cause a customer to fall out of your funnel. For me, this happened with a pop-up. I was already frustrated from the layout of the page, and on top of that, I was experiencing concern with a pop-up that continuously asked me for my personal information so that I could receive a newsletter.

When marketers begin to use customer-centric logic, they will more clearly see when an ad or pop-up or even a question evokes anxiety from their customers. As we discussed, imputing certain features to help reduce customer anxiety will in the end increase conversion. From our research, we have found that when we focus on the customer and how they make choices, we can increase conversion and move customers up the sides of the funnel.


You might also like

MarketingSherpa Summit 2016 — At the Bellagio in Las Vegas, February 22-24

Customer Anxiety: One element of the MECLABS Conversion Heuristic explained

Ecommerce: How parent brands can reduce user friction and anxiety

The Marketer as Philosopher: 40 Brief Reflections on the Power of Your Value Proposition [From MECLABS]

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