How to analyze (and optimize) conversion funnels like a pro

Sep 30, 2021

Published by: Sean McCarthy
how to optimize conversion funnels

The importance of conversion funnels

Every minute you spend working on your business impacts at least one stage of the marketing funnel. Whether you’re improving paid media distribution (awareness stage) or refining with onboarding emails (advocacy stage), you’re improving the path for a visitor to learn about your brand, consider your offer and make a purchase. 

Which numbers to track 

Once you’ve laid out your funnel and defined which marketing actions happen at each stage, you can select metrics to track. Ideally, you have one conversion metric for each conversion funnel stage. This will help keep your efforts organized toward a singular goal for each point in the journey.  

For example, a conversion metric could be a website visit resulting in tagging visitors with cookies. Once the visitor completes this action, this may be enough to move them into the next stage. In other instances, you may need a combination of an email form signup plus an email open to indicate that increased intent. 

  • Which actions do your visitors take to progress through your conversion funnel? Email signup? Adding products to a cart? Signing up for a demo call? Logging in to the customer portal?

  • These milestones should be tracked as indicators moving the visitor to the bottom of the funnel. Once you determine these actions, you can spot places where increasing conversions may be simpler than others.

Watch out for confounding variables

One issue you may run into in this pursuit is confounding variables. This is an unexpected variable that is throwing off your ability to correctly analyze data sets. A few examples of this are a sales team changing their calling process, new lead distribution patterns, additional compliance measures or website downtime. 

Most of these can be mitigated through strengthened communication channels. Even if you’re a team of one, confounding variables like an unexpected shipping cost change can throw off your reporting. Always be willing to question initial data insights to ensure you’re spotting any confounding variables. 

Lucky Orange Conversion Funnels

It’s one thing to track high-level metrics across your funnel, it’s another to watch individual visitors as they move through that process.

Lucky Orange’s Conversion Funnels tool allows you to set up funnels, monitor performance, and see individual visitor recordings to determine where they’re taking the desired action and where you have room to improve. 

CRO tools in general must have a place in your martech stack.

Conversion funnel optimization examples

E-commerce traffic up, sales not increasing

Your new Shopify store continues to see month-over-month increases in traffic across all sources, but sales are not increasing at the rate you’d expect based on market size. You’re likely hitting the mark in generating awareness for your brand but may be falling flat during the consideration stage where visitors are comparing your products to competitors and reading reviews about your business.

Analyze this: 

  • Are you using a third-party ad network? If so, your ad targeting may be resulting in lower-quality traffic that’s less likely to convert. Be sure your budget is serving ads to your target market.

  • Do your ads match your landing pages? Sometimes marketers get super creative with advertising calls to action that drive clicks but don’t align with the actual offer being made in their store. Consider making adjustments on both sides of the equation or developing a custom landing page for top-performing campaigns.

  • Are you having website issues such as slow load speed, mobile rendering issues or missing images? Though these may seem like small problems, they are just enough reason for a visitor to leave your store behind and move along.

Customer retention numbers in decline

Your SaaS retention numbers are taking a dive after customers use your platform for six months. However, you’re receiving great feedback from NPS surveys, your social media community seems to be truly engaged with your blog posts and case studies and you’re following everything provided in your market research.

Analyze this:

  • Is there a particular segment of your customer base churning at an abnormally high rate? It’s possible you’re alienating a demographic segment with your messaging. Are there specific needs within that demographic that are going unmet? Are you missing out on key emotional drivers for that group?

  • Are all your marketing and customer service activities working together? Sometimes there can be a disconnect between departments, resulting in poorly timed phone calls and emails that can even contradict one another. Using increased business intelligence to map actions out in a customer behavior journey can be extremely beneficial.

  • How are you communicating renewals and upgrades? While price sensitivity plays a larger role in some businesses than others, nobody likes to be caught off guard. Being open and honest about your pricing, renewals and upgrade opportunities is a great way to win long-term customer satisfaction. Don’t immediately go in for an upgrade after the first purchase and avoid mystery charges whenever possible. 

Trial to paid conversion rates are lower than expected

Your free trial or freemium offering is generating a lot of attention and signups but you feel like you’re unable to convert as many potential customers to paid plans as you’d like. Furthermore, you know customers love your product once they’re on the paid plan based on years of feedback and product optimization. 

Analyze this:

  • This is still the consideration stage. It’s very possible your trial customers are going through trials of other, similar products. What can you do to differentiate your product at this point? Consider an enhanced educational email marketing series or a webinar specifically designed for trial customers.

  • Can you encourage more interaction with your platform? Getting a customer to log in more than once is a huge win. Consider adding a to-do list within your tool for the first days/weeks of the trial and even a reward upon completion.

  • How can you use customers in the advocacy stage of your funnel to assist trial customers? Is there a way to provide social proof that the tool functions well and is better than the competition? Are you doing enough to collect reviews and highlight them within your website?


Analyzing a conversion funnel isn’t (always) about machine learning algorithms and advanced data science.

As a UX designer, marketer or business owner it’s your job to spot issues, ask questions and find the relevant types of data needed to plan your next step. Determine KPIs for each stage of your funnel, start tracking and optimize away. 

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