Great post about the benefits of using AJAX to shrink a conversion funnel here.
Recently, we were working on a workflow within our site and and spent a bunch of time taking a 6-page funnel down to a pretty AJAXed 3-page funnel. Got it all tested, put it in production!, and …no effect on fallout in the funnel… But, wait, everyone knows that “making a workflow short and snappy will decrease fallout”, right?
The explanation we came up with when thinking about the lack of improvement was that we’d neglected to consider our user’s motivations & incentives when thinking about our funnel.
The funnel we were working on was a Submit A Review type funnel. We’re unusual in that we collect a lot of data from members in that funnel. We get big, comprehensive reviews from members. It takes 2-3 minutes to fill out our review form. Which is awesome for our other members because, when they’re trying to figure out with whom to spend $75,000 adding a room to their house, they get serious data on the possible contractors.
That said, it’s kinda hard on the member that’s submitting the data and the member knows that’s it’s going to be hard, so they only enter the funnel if they’re serious about completing it. The hard work we did on simplifying the funnel made things easier on the highly-motivated members who were going to submit reports anyway. Great for the member; not so great for us (ROI ~= 0%).
Why are these members so highly motivated? Our guess is because their incentive to post a review is altruism. They had a great experience with a service provider or a horrible experience with a service provider and they want to let the other members know. Posting a review gets them a bit of personal satisfaction.
Naturally, the number of members who are driven by altruism is pretty low. So if we want to get review submissions up, we need to add other incentives. The incentive hierarchy probably looks something like: altruism … reminder/call-to-action … community/reputation … chance-to-win-a-prize … $$$. As we use other incentives to drive review submissions, the shorter, snapper funnel will help keep fallout low. So our work wasn’t for nought… Just maybe not for much right now…