When marketers discuss the customer journey they often refer to a ‘marketing funnel’. Although there’s no standard funnel (or customer journey!), each has largely the same purpose – To acquire leads at the top of the funnel and move them vertically towards an eventual sale. A poor marketing funnel would see leads ‘drop-out’ of the funnel, not converting into a sale. Some funnels also include post-conversion stages for repeat business and customer support.
When you break down even the most complex marketing funnels, they are fundamentally made up of three to four key principles:
- Awareness – Acquiring audience interest through inbound marketing such as social, search and content marketing
- Consideration – Demonstrating the advantages of the offering through content such as white papers and case studies
- Conversion – Lead converts into a customer, perhaps through an effective email campaign or promotional social offer
- Retention – Post-conversion support and cross-selling through mainly outbound marketing
Whilst some marketing funnel concepts may be slightly different or more complex, the general process remains the same. It is this framework that forms the basis for many digital marketing strategies in both B2B and B2C organisations.
So a well-structured marketing funnel, customer journey and digital strategy go hand-in-hand – And measuring the performance of these is crucial.
Why measuring success is important
All marketing leaders need to measure their marketing efforts. Fact. Measuring the successes and failures of the marketing funnel allows marketers to identify parts of the marketing funnel with a high dropout rate, which is perhaps due to an underperforming campaign or content piece. Analysis will also show content and campaigns that are performing well which can potentially replace poorly performing areas – Although consideration should be taken when moving between marketing funnel segments.
For example, if a case study is doing a great job of converting opportunities (consideration) into customers (conversion) but a white paper isn’t making much impact on the audience (awareness to consideration) then it may be worth replacing the white paper with a case study. However it should be considered that case studies at the awareness stage might be too early in the customer journey to have any real impact on conversions.
Identifying the customer journey
The first step in measuring the customer journey is to map the customer journey to the marketing funnel and highlight different sections of the digital strategy at each stage. Using the framework demonstrated above it is possible to identify which parts of the strategy will be used at each stage.
Here’s a simple example for a digital camera e-commerce business:
- Awareness – Social Media marketing: Promotion of new digital camera range using the hashtag #NextGenImages
- Consideration – Content marketing: Case study demonstrating improved images using new camera range
- Conversion – Email Marketing: 10% discount on all new cameras brought before midnight (with a ‘buy now’ call-to-action)
- Retention – Remarketing: Banner ads targeted at customers promoting two-day photography course
In reality there will be multiple digital channels per funnel segment, but by annotating each step of the funnel with relevant digital channels and campaigns it starts to build up a picture of the overall customer journey. Through several iterations of this process you’ll also begin to learn how many ‘touch-points’ the average conversion takes, and take this into consideration when defining the channels and campaigns that you’ll be using.
Mapping metrics to marketing funnels
So now we know the strategies that each segment of the funnel will adopt, and can use this information to make informed decisions about how to measure them. Based on the position within the marketing funnel, we can make certain assumptions about the type of metrics that we’re trying to measure for each channel.
As we move down the funnel the focus shifts from audience orientated numbers (such as number of followers, re-tweets and downloads) towards sales figures (for example number of sales per channel, cost per sale and repeat conversions). By identifying first what sort of metrics are important to each segment of the funnel and then comparing against which metrics are available for each channel.
A couple of example metrics to consider at each stage of the marketing funnel (As noted by this infographic on measuring content marketing) are:
- Awareness – News article views, Social sentiment/strength/reach, organic search traffic, Newsletter subscriptions, first time visits
- Consideration – Case study or premium content downloads, video engagements, number of comments or questions
- Conversion – Number of conversions per channel/medium/source/campaign, ROI per channel/medium/source/campaign
- Retention – Number of post-conversion repeat visitors, Number of conversions per customer, Number of post-conversion leads/opportunities
Measuring marketing funnel success
Now that we have our metrics listed we can start to measure them. There are tons of tools out there that will allow you to measure these, but I find ever-trusty Google Analytics to be about the most useful. This article on the Moz Blog details a great method for building a marketing funnel using Google Analytics, and discussed in depth how to measure the conversion path for each conversion.
Once the figures have been recorded, don’t just forget about them, but instead use them to analyse the digital strategy and customer journey on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. If there’s holes in the marketing funnel you’ll learn about it relatively quickly, and analysing past data is the best way to keep leads inside of the funnel.
Finally, sit through the customer journey. Experience what a lead, opportunity and customer experiences – It’s much easier to relate to that 50% dropout rate when you’re confronted with the problem source, rather than by simply looking at the numbers presented to you.
By measuring the metrics associated with each stage of the marketing funnel and breaking down digital strategy into its component parts it is possible to get a feel for the customer journey, the pain points and most compelling content pieces. And it is this iterative process that makes some companies excel at customer satisfaction whilst others struggle to understand why customers are not engaging with their brand accordingly.