Funnel Automation: Customer Conversion at Warp Speed

  |  April 9, 2012   |  Comments

Funnel automation tools offer a practical, programmatic approach that can make the customer's trip from front door to cash register quicker and more frequent.

By now the digital marketing community has widely accepted the paradigm of online conversion consistently referred to as "the funnel."

  1. Reach. Via campaigns and (these days) rich content, bring prospects into contact with your digital properties.
  2. Engage. Get them to move beyond the landing page and into your offerings.
  3. Convert. They buy, call, download, or spend time liking your brand.
  4. Retain. Keep them involved after the initial sale and sell more good stuff, advertising, or services.

For the purposes of this column, let's assume the entire global reach of that engagement engine called "social media" is not more than a constituent of part one: reach. Social media is a campaign.

Not everyone uses the same nomenclature, but largely the above sequence seems well-known and accepted. So well-accepted that today, there are several offerings in the marketplace that go some distance toward automating the process. Companies like HubSpot, Marketo, and Eloqua, while differing in nuance and target customer, all embrace and service the funnel optimization segment.

Many readers may be thinking: "I thought my website was already automating that!" And to a large extent it's true. But consider how much we're already taking for granted: the constant "on" of the site - and global availability. Plus all the functionality that is, by itself, responsible for almost all of our GDP's productivity gains over the past decade! The ubiquity of web achievement tends to level the terrain - making it harder to stand out simply by relying on the astonishing basics of the web itself.

Now consider digital analytics as the next level of automation: measuring and managing. What better way to know who's standing in front of what shelf of goods than to have that process automated? While architecting actionable analytics correctly requires notable effort, the bevy of benefits it can provide for marketing decision-makers is practically unprecedented. The keyword here is "actionable." And that's where funnel automation comes in.

Funnel automation takes advantage of tools like HubSpot, Marketo, or Eloqua and gives the marketer more pinpoint control over each part of the digital conversion funnel. The focused technology and trained effort can result in superior, not to say exponential increases in conversion rates.

Here are some of the key features of funnel conversion tools:

  • Focused analytics. Acknowledging that page view counts are of some use, especially in scaling your expectations, funnel conversion tools assume you need to go well beyond that. They focus on helping you understand much more closely who is going through your key conversion stages and how they are doing it. Sometimes it's referred to as "lead nurturing."
  • Content automation. Funnel conversion tools allow the marketer to create landing pages that look like the target website (fully "indexable" by Google and other search engines); emphasizing the placement of calls-to-action.
  • Lead-based dashboards. They tend to group prospect interaction into groups based on what level of engagement that lead is. This gives you the ability to understand the potential of each prospect or group of prospects, and how to nurture them through the conversion process.
  • Campaign measurement. Especially with email, these tools offer analytics focused on the behavior of individual visitors to the website, especially to its conversion pages. The marketer can gain an understanding that goes well beyond typical analytics trending data. For instance, these tools can tell the marketer whether a visitor that came via a prior campaign has revisited - and exactly what they have looked at on their subsequent visit. This becomes truly valuable to companies that rely in some fashion on one-to-one marketing.

There's also coaching available for the marketer who wants to deploy these tools. Rather than training you in how to use the tool, the focus tends to be on results: coaching through the process of lead conversion that traditional analytics tools talk about. Funnel automation tools, focused on specific success benchmarks, help their customers through the process of conversion rather than just the data itself. The helpful advice and assistance can get as granular as "now do this." In a world where "what to do next" becomes a roadblock for so many marketers, this straightforward, result-oriented approach stands out as a next-generation approach to analytics.

The three companies I've mentioned do have some differences. HubSpot, for instance, tends to have the lowest basic price-point and targets small to mid-market companies (but certainly can work with larger efforts). Marketo and Eloqua tend more toward enterprise deployments and may require more technology expertise to make them functional.

We're not here to suggest ditching your SiteCatalyst dashboard. Funnel automation may work less impressively where the goal is to sell advertising or encourage brand awareness. But it more than makes up for that when the goal is either click-to-buy, or a sale with some lead-time attached to it.

The winning formula of funnel automation is based on pattern recognition. Where traditional analytics tools display data and allow for substantial insight into many levels of site interaction (with substantial customization), they don't specifically call out key sales funnel patterns. Seen in this light, the no-nonsense focus of funnel automation companies is invigorating.

If you're interested in finding out who checked out the new rack of shirts - and specifically how to work with them toward the card-swiper - then funnel automation tools offer a practical, programmatic approach that can make the customer's trip from front door to cash register quicker and more frequent.

Tags:

ClickZ Live San Francisco Revolutionize your digital marketing campaigns at ClickZ Live San Francisco! (August 10-12) Educating marketers for over 15 years, we return to San Francisco this August with our action-packed, educationally-focused agenda that will cover every aspect of digital marketing. Early Bird rates available through Friday, July 17 - save up to $300! Register today.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Edwards

Andrew V. Edwards is a digital marketing executive with 20 years of experience serving large organizations, and has been an operating executive and digital marketing consultant since the 1980s. Currently he is a partner at Efectyv Digital, a digital analytics consulting firm. Andrew combines extensive technical knowledge with a broad strategic understanding of digital marketing and especially digital measurement, plus hands-on creative in the form of writing and design.

In 2004 Edwards co-founded the Digital Analytics Association and is currently a director emeritus. He has designed analytics training curricula for business teams and has led seminars on digital marketing subjects.

Besides writing a regular column about analytics for ClickZ, Andrew wrote the groundbreaking "Dawn of Convergence Analytics" report, which was featured at the SES show in New York (2013).

His book Digital Is Destroying Everything, published by Rowman & Littlefield, will be released on June 15, 2015.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

Featured White Papers

US Consumer Device Preference Report

US Consumer Device Preference Report
Traditionally desktops have shown to convert better than mobile devices however, 2015 might be a tipping point for mobile conversions! Download this report to find why mobile users are more important then ever.

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle

E-Commerce Customer Lifecycle
Have you ever wondered what factors influence online spending or why shoppers abandon their cart? This data-rich infogram offers actionable insight into creating a more seamless online shopping experience across the multiple devices consumers are using.

WEBINARS

Jobs

  • Online Marketing Analyst
    Online Marketing Analyst (FULLBEAUTY Brands ) - New YorkINTRODUCTION: Are you interested in a unique career opportunity where you can represent...
  • Copy Editor
    Copy Editor (ClickZ / Search Engine Watch) - New YorkROLE OVERVIEW The role of the copy editor for ClickZ has many demands. Ultimately, the copy...
  • Editor
    Editor (Search Engine Watch) - New YorkRole Overview Search Engine Watch (SEW) provides tactical advice and information for businesses and site...