Marketing Funnel Optimization Strategy:

The marketing funnel is an early rendition of an infographic, bringing data visualization to the science of turning prospects into loyal customers. With only a fraction of today’s population and media, it’s no wonder it was so straight-forward in the 20th century.

Now fast-forward to 2018, where understanding the marketing funnel can be confusing in an era where media fragmentation has peaked, and the 80/20 rule has been flipped on its head. Some marketers wonder if the funnel should now be called a marketing pretzel, while others insist it’s still linear.

Trying to optimize this puzzle when you are still trying to get your head around the omnichannel marketing strategy and its impact on the marketing funnel is nothing short of frustrating. We believe the funnel model holds true to its linear form and are here to help with some clarifications and how-to instructions on leading your customer through their journey to loyalty.

Understand the Basics of Your Marketing Funnel

Regardless of the type of business you’re running, your marketing funnel has five core stages with which you should familiarize yourself. Each of these core stages has objectives and media strategies that align respectively. These include:

  1. Awareness: The highest level of the funnel where your prospect hears about you. Awareness is often noted in conversation by phrases such as “Guess what I found the other day…” or “Did you know that you can now…” Traditional media has always been associated with this marketing funnel level. But as of recent years, social media now has the same reach as television and radio.
  2. Consideration: At this stage in the funnel, the prospect has identified that this may be a product or service they are interested in. The prospect has provided contact information and are receiving email blasts, social media ads, real-time-bidding display ads and free trials.
  3. Evaluation: This is the final stage of a shopping / buying intent research process by your prospect. They are deciding if your brand product model is the best choice.
  4. Conversion: You did it! They did it! Your funnel nurturing worked! Congratulations, the long path of micro-goals and guided shopping has been rewarded with a conversion.
  5. Loyalty: Here is where you earn the most bang for your buck. You worked very hard to get that first purchase. Don’t stop now, because your sales force is now before you. Imagine if you could get your customers to place your brand sticker on their prized belongings; Apple did that. Ask for a review. Provide value with content. Be sure you continue to nurture your relationship with your customer by finding out what is important to them and responding to that. Honoring your customers with a loyalty program is another way to say “I like you and value you”. Think of the places you have frequented to chase the next point to reach the next bonus level.

Now that we have deciphered the modern funnel and aligned media tactics in the omnichannel strategy, let’s discuss how to measure and optimize the funnel. This will start with the development of a test matrix for each level of the funnel. For example, in each stage, you will want to test creative, audience selection, and messaging. You will need to select subjects and mediums that best relate to the stage the prospect is in. Once these are prepared, you will need to set up Google Analytics so you can measure and execute successful tests.

Google Analytics is Your Funnel Friend

If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Let’s be darned sure we can measure it! To do this, you’ll want to set up goals in Google Analytics so that you can better track events like leads, trial signups, account creations, etc. This will enable you to see which test is performing better. Did campaign A or campaign B deliver more top of funnel micro-goals? Set goals and evaluate to determine.

To do this, open your Google Analytics page and click Admin at the bottom of the left navigation pane. The next page will have Account, Property, and View columns. Click the Goals button in the View column. Choose one of the goal sets from the list, click + Goal and give your goal a name. Fill out the boxes on screen to better outline your goal and choose how you’re going to track it. You can use URL destination goals (meaning that you keep track of specific URLs for things like landing pages), goal types like visit duration or event (like newsletter signups) and more.

Setting Up Funnels in Google Analytics

Next, you’ll want to use Google Analytics to set up goal funnels – which will allow you to see how many people are moving from one stage of your marketing process to the other. Not only that, but you’ll know which steps are causing the most people to abandon your business – thus allowing you to optimize this portion of your guided customer journey.

During the process of setting up a goal, check the box at the bottom labeled Goal Funnel. This will allow you to input the URL and match type that will trigger a goal. Keep in mind that these funnels will only really work to your benefit if you require your visitors to move through a series of pages – like if you were trying to track how many people went from a product page to their shopping cart to the payment page. You’re limited to 10 steps for each funnel that you create.

Attribution Models in Google Analytics

Furthermore, optimizing your funnel can be done by understanding multi-attribution modeling in demand generation. Because prospects are inundated with media, it takes a lot more than one exposure, interaction, or visit to acquire a new customer. On average, it takes six targeted and curated media impressions to engage a prospect into the next stage.

To help evaluate which media element is really driving your conversion, or which symphony of media is providing the most effective acquisition chain, Google has developed 7 attribution models that enable you to view your data differently and identify the best fit model for your brand’s demand generation strategy.

  1. Last Interaction: This model credits 100% of the value of the conversion to the last interaction. It is a good fit for infomercial/direct response products that are intended to be sold based on a longer, single engagement.
  2. Last Non-Direct Click: The last engagement that your prospect had that did not lead to a website visit. This could be an online engagement with social media, email open without click, ad view without click, or a partner website visit.
  3. Last AdWords Click: This model gives 100% of the credit to the last ad words clicked. It is a model that often poses challenges for ad agencies when presenting omni-channel marketing strategies. Smaller organizations that are experts in their product and service niche, but lack formal marketing training, often believe that PPC is the only media you need since it’s the last place they clicked prior to buying. Though we all know it takes a symphony of marketing excellence to truly change behaviors.
  4. First Interaction: Giving 100% of the demand generation credit to the first engagement. This means all subsequent interactions receive no credit and therefore may not be viable channels if this model works for you.
  5. Linear: This breaks the cost and value contribution up evenly among all media interactions. The Linear model credits the first ad as a changing behavior and the rest of the journey was not as valuable as the need to get the customer started in the funnel.
  6. Time Decay: This model decays the value of historical media consumption as time goes on. More credit is given to more recent interactions.
  7. Position Based: A hybrid model that combines elements of Linear and First Interaction. It is a model that gives you more control on how you would like to weight the variables. A common break out on this model is to assign 40% to both the first and last interactions while evenly dispersing the rest of the 20% value across all the channels in between.

Based on your selections, attribution models can be a fantastic way to see which combinations of different digital and/or social media channels contributed to a sale, for example, so that you can see what is working and what isn’t. You can also see how long it takes for someone to go from their first interaction to a conversion, then doing what you can to get that number as low as possible.

We have covered a lot of topics including funnel definition, marketer’s opinions, measurement, analysis, and media mix optimization. Each explanation could be turned into its own white paper with the science and software available today. Please share with us your funnel optimization tips and we will update our blog semi-annually with new tips and technology for funnel optimization.


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