“Conversion funnel” has become a popular phrase in the online marketing industry.
It derives from the simple observation that people almost always drop off the more they interact with a website or online property, thus narrowing the pool of people who continue to the next step and resembling a physical funnel that starts wide at the top and narrows toward the bottom.
The job of online marketers is to:
1) Get more people into the top of the funnel
2) Reduce the number of people who drop out of the funnel.
The very concept of a funnel, however, can be misleading.
The reality is that while, yes, users need to go through a certain series of steps to check out on a website, just looking at the website activity missed a much larger and richer picture.
Today, the customer journey encompasses Google research, website navigation, phone interaction, chat interaction, reading reviews, social conversation, talking to friends, email, text messages, etc. Often, marketers try to gloss over this complexity by focusing on a particular channel (e.g. let’s rank better on this KW in organic search or tweet three more times per day). Sometimes these activities produce isolated results (e.g. higher open rates or lower cost per click) but just as frequently the results are difficult to decipher.
I am not arguing that companies should stop optimizing. I do believe, however, that all too often companies optimize specific channels but lack a comprehensive analytics basis for understanding their business and making changes that would have a more meaningful global effect.
Nowhere is this clearer than with telephone conversations.
The great promise of CRM has been to digitize phone conversation details so that they are comparable to and understood alongside web and email metrics.
The challenge is that this “digitization” requires individual sales reps to reliably record and translate the results of their conversations. Some organizations have gotten this process to be scientific, but the majority of organizations fall short.
Even within the higher functioning programs, there are quality discrepancies among reps. One of the reasons I think Conversation Analytics is an important marketing tool is because it starts to eliminate the need for sales reps to translate their subjective take on the sales experience and introduces a more rigorous methodology for evaluating calls and making them actionable.
Phone is one example.
What about connecting brand touches to an identified lead? Or connecting one customer’s journey to a social referral and the journey of that referral to your business?
How about integrating “acquisition” metrics with “retention”? How about just a simple dashboard that accurately tracks first touch all the way through phone, email, web, social and mobile to a repeat purchase?
The good news is that the new breed of web analytics companies such as Mixpanel are making this easier to accomplish on the back-end, but marketers are still thinking about these analytics with siloed channel glasses.
Solving the technical problem is only half the battle.
We need to start thinking about our businesses holistically. If Google’s Penguin and Panda updates taught us anything it’s that gaming the system is a short-term strategy.
Long-term success comes from developing and then expressing a value proposition clearly and to the right audience. It requires consistently prioritizing the user’s experience and developing a rigorous testing regimen across the entire marketing footprint to understand in-depth what makes customers the most frustrated and happy and then constantly optimizing for happy.