As you build out your marketing campaigns and how they integrate into your customer lifecycle flow, one of the first things you’ll do is lose people along the way to achieving your preferred end goal. Face it, you’re going to have fall-off, but not all those people who fall off should be lost. Take a look at your conversion rate. Somewhere in the single digits, right? Yeah, that’s a lot of people then who aren’t converting, and while a good chunk of those people may not have intent to purchase and may actually be people who aren’t worth even trying to sell to, there are a lot who are good potential leads, but they’re getting lost along the way.
Think of it like this: All the people who come to your site go into a bucket. That bucket has a funnel at the bottom and at the end of that funnel is a conversion. Ideally your funnel wouldn’t be funnel-shaped at all, but instead a pipe just as wide as the top, and everyone would flow through quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case. Along the sides of the bucket, as well as within the funnel itself, you’ll find a lot of little holes. These holes are where customers leave you. And once they’re gone, once they’re out of your bucket, they fall off into the nether. These are the leaks in your bucket and funnel.
Your job is to find out where your bucket has leaks, and how you can plug those holes. Or, at the very least, you have to redirect the flow from those holes into a whole new bucket with its own funnel, or pump the lost customers right back up into the bucket and give them another chance to convert (make it through the funnel).
This is where pathing diagrams (aka flowcharts) can come in extremely handy. Explained simply, a pathing diagram is a flowchart of how you want users to go through your experience, from any specific starting point you can define (A), through any specific “success metric” that’s important to you (B). Your goal is to figure out how the customers go from A to B, mapping out all the ways they might not make it from A to B, and then look for ways to redirect those unsuccessful paths back into a new opportunity to succeed. Each of these unsuccessful paths signifies a leak, and it’s up to you to find a way to capture and recycle as much of what’s leaking as you can.
For example, if a customer lands on your product page, your goal is probably to get them to add to cart, then to go from the cart into checkout and then complete the order.
Of course the customer doesn’t always do that. In many instances the customer is going to just bounce from your site. But you’ve identified that customer as someone potentially interested in what you’re selling, so you try to recapture some of those shopper “leaks” by introducing an email signup so you can reach out to them later with other offers, or you could set up retargeting ads to show that product to the customers as they browse other websites, trying to lure them back. Each of these presents new pathing options for you to design, such as what happens when a customer signs up for an email. Maybe you give them a discount, or maybe you explain your product/service better. Then you try again to get them to convert.
As you draw out your paths and you look at all the potential fall-off points, you’ll likely be overwhelmed with all the possibilities of what a customer could do. My recommendation is to only look at the ones that seem most likely – and you can get a good idea of people’s actual behavior by looking at your web analytics or simply watching some people use your site or app.
The point is this: Until you start really looking at and drawing out all the potential paths customers could take, you’re going to miss some opportunities. If you don’t see those opportunities, you’re never going to address them. It’s easy for us to build out a preferred path for how we want our customers to act, and even to continually optimize to make those paths easier to follow. What you can’t forget though is that not everyone is going to go down your predesigned paths, and unless you want them to wander off, you need to find other ways to help them still arrive at your preferred destination.