For channels like paid search or social, there’s a point where we can say a campaign has done its job. We’ll set a goal that we can measure, and that metric will be defined as a conversion. For a lead generation campaign, that point will likely be a form submission or potentially a phone call. In truth, what we call a conversion is actually the start of another journey.
In this article we dig into closed loop digital marketing. We’ll look at how we go further with our measurement, how we can get a better picture of what happens to the leads we generate, and how we can use that information to make decisions about your digital marketing strategy.
Understanding the next step
Once we go past the conversion, we enter the world of the sales team. What happens here differs from organisation to organisation. The first step towards closed loop marketing is getting an understanding of that process.
There will likely be systems in place that track the performance of the leads managed by the sales team. Within that process, that lead should progress through stages of qualification before it becomes a closed piece of business.
Once you start looking into it, you may find this isn’t the case. This should open up questions about the maturity of the sales process and the reporting that’s happening within it.
Formally mapping out the sales funnel will enable everything that comes next.
Tech that joins the dots
From a technology standpoint, the first step is ensuring there is a system in place where the sales funnel is being tracked. The most well-known examples would be a system like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics.
One important factor here is that we are relying on a system (as much as possible) – the more we remove the potential for human error the better.
At a most basic level, being able to split where leads have come from will give you a top-level view of how website leads are performing. This is the minimum level of distinction you need.
For example, if you can’t see which leads are from the website and which are self-generated by the sales team, then building a report that gives you a view on digital performance becomes close to impossible.
Every layer of distinction we can add to the lead data beyond this point adds value. One key breakpoint is getting visibility of which channel drove which lead. Once you can attribute a lead to PPC or paid social, you can start getting a view of the cost efficiency of those channels (more on that later).
Beyond that, being able to see which campaign, creative, or keyword drove each lead just adds to the value you can pull out of the data – and the level of insight you can use to make future decisions about your digital marketing activity.
Why the sales funnel matters
It’s worth saying this isn’t always the easiest process. It can mean changes to systems that are sometimes difficult to work with (I’m looking at you, Salesforce), or changes to processes – and that’s just getting the data in order. Then you have to work out how to report on it and draw out the insights.
So, what’s the pay-off?
Imagine you have all your lead data, and you understand the attrition rate of those leads – that’s to say, how many drop out at each stage of the funnel.
Now break that down to a channel level. Let’s take PPC and display as an example. It’s likely, due to where those users are in their journey and how well they know your brand, that those leads are going to behave differently when they hit that funnel.
With your data, you can make an assessment about the quality of the leads from each of those channels. Let’s say you find that PPC leads are four times more efficient through the funnel than display leads – that’s a useful finding, but you can go further. Once you plug the spend of each of those channels in, you can then compare that based on how much those leads are costing you.
If our PPC leads are four times as efficient through the sales funnel but cost ten times as much as the display leads, then that significantly changes the calculations on which channel we should be focusing on.
Depending on the level of data we have, this can go further. For our PPC activity, we can assess which campaigns or keywords are more effective. Maybe some campaigns are way more cost-effective once we look at the sales funnel, and therefore there’s an argument for re-distributing the budget in a way that might help to close the gap between display and PPC when it comes to cost vs efficiency.
You can take this further via offline conversion importing in Google Ads – by uploading your lead data back into Google Ads, you can then optimise your paid search campaigns towards the kinds of conversions that tend to turn into qualified leads or sales.
Obviously, these are just hypotheticals. They serve to illustrate the kinds of assessments and decisions you can make once this kind of data and reporting is in place.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to how your leads will respond to the funnel based on which channel they came from. There might be some rules of thumb you can apply, but to make the most effective and efficient decisions about your marketing campaigns there’s no substitute for this kind of data.
At Coast, we’re always pushing to improve the data available to our clients and then using that data to make better decisions about their digital marketing. We’ve worked through this process of closing the loop with many clients and are having conversations about it with many more.
If you’d like to talk about how you can close the loop on your lead data, and how that could change the way you think about digital marketing, then let’s have a chat – get in touch with our experts today.