In the ever cluttered space of digital marketing, it’s more critical than ever to know your customer’s path to conversion. Whether you measure sales, emails gathered, webinars attended or whitepapers downloaded, establishing and confirming the steps that your consumers take can make the difference between marketing success and failure. But tracking this path can be difficult and many marketers don’t know where to start mapping the digital conversion funnel – so what’s the best way to get started without getting lost? Our own Jeff Gasior recently talked to the Search Talk Live podcast about the four questions that can help any business kick off building a digital conversion funnel.
How are people finding their way to my website and into my preferred conversion process?
The answer to this question will be found in taking a look at your product and your industry space. If you’re a type of business or service that hasn’t been on the market before or are in a little known market space, you’ll mostly likely have to spend a lot of time building awareness with your potential consumers before they’ll feel like they have enough information to visit your website – generally the first step in a conversion funnel. Consumers starting at the top of the funnel often move through 3-5 more stages before converting, which you’ll need to know to anticipate conversion time and messaging to keep users flowing through the funnel.
If you’re in a more recognizable industry or have a product with familiar components, your conversion path could look vastly different. You may not need to invest as much in the awareness stage, as it’s easier to inform a new entrant into an already known space than it is to educate on something entirely unknown/new. Consumers may feel comfortable enough with their knowledge of your market space to already be in other stages of the digital funnel, such as considering an actual product for purchase (vs. the pure research phase of awareness) or skipping right to the conversion step.
Start with figuring out your potential customer’s path to your website (and thereby into your digital conversion funnel) and you’ll be able to tailor your messaging and digital campaigns to your customers specifically, ensuring you have both effective and efficient marketing efforts.
What are the top referring sources to my website?
A digital conversion funnel isn’t only influenced by digital channels – it’s impacted by all marketing efforts you deploy. By examining the traffic sources to your website – whether they come from stories secured via public relations efforts, social media content that has been shared or digital advertising campaigns, you gain insight into the methods that potential customers are finding your brand. This gives you both the how consumers are finding you and the why they’re searching for what you’re offering.
There’s one critical component to ensure you can gather these insights – you must first establish that you are tracking all of your efforts, whether they’re through online or offline channels. Without the data you get from tracking, you won’t have enough information to determine top referring sources to your website. A great tool for tracking online efforts is through Google Analytics.
If you have Google Analytics tracking on your website, you should be able to click into referring website sources with, well… the click of a button. Based on what you find there, you may see that more people are coming to your website from places traditionally associated with brand awareness, like online articles or display ads. Or you may find that paid search efforts are bringing in a majority of site visitors, indicating customers are ready to purchase and you don’t need to invest as much in awareness efforts. The clues that are found in your top referring sites will help you further refine your marketing efforts, both confirming what is working and potentially alerting you to any anomalies or junk traffic coming to your site.
What is a customer’s path through your website?
What actions your potential customers take on your website are just as important as how they get to you in the first place. Just as consumers take a journey to your website, they also take one on the site itself – and how they feel about that path can ultimately determine if they want to take your desired conversion action.
This is another area where Google Analytics can provide invaluable insights. By showing you how metrics like how many pages are visited during a session, how long people were on each page and how much they bounced from each page, a path through your website can start to be uncovered. However, ensure you are looking at this information with a critical eye – a high bounce rate could mean you either aren’t driving the right audience to visit your website or you’re bringing in the right people and providing them with the ability to purchase/download quickly and they don’t need to read for further information. Conversely, a long time on site could either mean you’re providing a lot of great information that potential customers want to read through or that you aren’t providing them what they need to convert, and they’re looking around the site trying for more.
By determining how customers move through your website, you can establish how it impacts the possibility of conversion, as well as inform other areas of your strategy that may need tweaking to make the process go more smoothly, including website content, mobile experience, etc.
What’s the time lapse from awareness to conversion?
Different types of purchases take different lengths of time for different customers – and knowing this information is critical to marketing success. We all have assumptions – most people don’t buy a car on their first visit to a dealership and many don’t spend weeks shopping around for cellphone chargers. So while you may have some of your own thoughts about the time it takes for people to purchase your product, you’ll want to confirm this with your old friend – data. This includes both Google Analytics data and any transactional data you might have. By diving into your data, you will not only see how many days it takes from a first visit to your site until purchase, but how many touch points each potential customer had before they either purchased or left the site.
Both pieces are important: Knowing how many days it takes from visit to purchase will help you set better marketing goals as well as confirm what marketing efforts are or are not working. This, along with the touch points data, will also enable you to determine if remarketing is an effort to engage in – if you have a large group of people visiting your website but not making a purchase, is there another message you can send to push them towards conversion? From the touch points data, you can infer what marketing tactics you need to deploy for each stage of a customer journey. If it takes at least six touch points with your marketing messages before a conversion, you may need to change ad copy or utilize a landing page to make the process go faster.
By answering the above four questions, your initial digital conversion funnel will start to take shape. It’s crucial that as a marketer you don’t establish one conversion funnel and never revisit it. Digital behavior and customers change continuously, meaning that digital conversion funnels are more fluid than static. By regularly revisiting the whys and hows of your customer’s journey to conversion, you’ll be able to make smart adjustments to your marketing.
Want to learn more about digital conversion funnels? Check out Jeff’s full Search Talk Live podcast.