Monthly Archives: August 2015

Marketing Funnels! What’s That?

What is a Marketing Funnel & How Can it Help my Business?

If you’ve spent time learning about marketing analytics, you’ve probably come across the term “funnels.” If you’re curious about what they are and how they can help, this post is for you.

You undoubtedly want visitors on your website to take certain actions. Maybe you want them to make a purchase, sign up, or fill out a form. When someone does something you want them to do, it’s known as a conversion. The visitor converts from browsing to taking the action you want them to take.

A funnel is the set of steps a visitor needs to go through BEFORE they can reach the conversion.

So a marketing funnel is a

Think about the Amazon purchase funnel. There are a few steps a visitor has to go through before they can purchase a product. Here’s how it looks:

  • They have to visit Amazon.com
  • They have to view a product
  • They have to add a product to the cart
  • They have to purchase

There are additional steps/actions that can be taken in between each of these steps, but they do not matter in the purchase funnel. For example, a visitor may view Amazon’s About page, Contact page, and Careers page, but we don’t need to count these in the funnel because they aren’t necessary steps.

Why is the set of steps to conversion called a “funnel”? Because at the beginning of the process, there are a lot of people who take the first step. Then, as the people continue along and take the next steps, some of them drop out, and the size of the crowd thins or narrows. (And even further along in the process, your sales team gets involved to help close the deal.)

The top of the funnel is where everyone goes in (visiting your site). Only the most interested buyers will move further down your funnel.

So when you hear people say “widen the funnel,” you now know what they are referring to. They want to cast a larger net by advertising to new audiences, increasing their brand awareness, adding inbound marketing, etc. in order to drive more people to their site, thus widening their funnel. The more people there are in a funnel, the wider it is.

You aren’t limited to using your funnel strictly for signing up and/or purchasing. You can put funnels all over your website to see how visitors move through a specific website flow.

You may want to track newsletter signup (Viewing newsletter signup form > Submitting form > Confirming email) or a simple page conversion (Viewing a signup page > Submitting signup). Figure out what your goals are and what you want visitors to do on your site, and you can create a funnel for it.

Once you have the data, you’ll be able to see where roadblocks are and optimize your funnel. Let’s dig a little deeper into that.

Why Funnels Are Beneficial

With a funnel report, you can see where you are losing customers.

Let’s take your average SaaS business as an example. Here’s how a funnel may look for them:

  • Visited site
  • Signed up for a trial
  • Used product
  • Upgraded to paying

Do people have to use the product before paying? They don’t, but it’s a good idea to track it so you can see if it’s a roadblock for them.

Here’s how that funnel would look in the Kissmetrics Funnel Report:

In this example, the business manages to get 165 people to use the product, but only 13 people convert to Billed. There are opportunities for improvement at every step of the funnel, but it’s important to first work on the areas that need the most attention. The more people they can convert to Billed, the more revenue they’ll have. This should be the first area of the funnel to optimize.

A Funnel in Real Life

Funnels occur everyday with consumers. Let’s look at the funnel process for a retail store and see the corresponding steps in an ecommerce store. We’ll be tracking a purchase funnel.

The Ecommerce store has the fortune of being able to see a funnel. If they use Kissmetrics, they’ll see the exact number of people that move through the funnel, and where and when they drop off in the purchase process.

Okay, so now we have an understanding of what a funnel is and why it helps. Let’s take a look at two products that offer funnels – Google Analytics and Kissmetrics.

How Google Analytics Funnels Work

Google Analytics offers funnels, and we’ve written extensively about it in the past. There are a few things you’ll need to know when creating funnels in Google Analytics:

  • It’s a pretty basic funnel. If you don’t want to dive deep into the data and optimize, you can go with this.
  • You cannot go back and retroactively view data. Once you create your funnel, you’ll only be able to the funnel going forward as the data comes in.

Click here to learn how to set up a conversion funnel in Google Analytics.

How Kissmetrics Funnels Work

Kissmetrics funnels, on the other hand, are simpler. You just create your events and then set up the report. Events are various actions people take on your website. These may include signing up, downloading something, clicking on something, viewing a page, using a feature, etc. Once you have these set up, you can create funnels. There are a few benefits to Kissmetrics funnels:

  • You can go back and retroactively view data. Want to create a funnel that views your performance 3 months ago? No problem. As long as you were tracking data during that time, you can go back and view your performance. If you weren’t tracking data during that time, there are ways to import data into Kissmetrics.
  • It doesn’t matter if people leave your funnel and then return to it and convert. In other words, they don’t have to follow a strict path. In the example funnel above, a visitor can go on other pages of your site before signing up. They don’t have to go to your homepage and then straight to signing up. If they go to your homepage, then your About page, your Contact page, and your Pricing page, and then enter signup, they’ll still be counted.
  • It doesn’t matter if the conversion takes a long time to happen. As long as it’s within your date range, you can track it. Do you have people who visit your site one day and sign up 20 days later? If it’s within your date range, Kissmetrics will register the signup conversion.
  • You can segment your traffic to see your most valuable segments. This can come in especially useful if you’re tracking traffic or UTM segments. Tracking these can help you find your highest converting sources. Once you know what they are, you can put more effort into getting more traffic from those sources. We covered this in this blog post on increasing conversions.
  • We don’t track pageviews. Our technology tracks every person on your site. This means you can see each person in every step of your funnel. Take, for instance, the example funnel above. With the Kissmetrics funnel, you can see the people who did not convert to “Billed.” You can then email them to gather feedback and find out why they decided not to convert to paying. You can then take this information back into your product development and marketing.

Recap

We’ve gone through a fair amount, here’s a recap:

  • When someone on your website does something you want them to do (i.e., sign up, make a purchase, fill out a form, etc.), it is known as a conversion.
  • A funnel is used to track the steps that lead up to that conversion. For example, Ecommerce companies want people to purchase products on their website. Their funnel may have these steps – visited site > viewed product > placed product in cart > purchased.
  • Using a funnel report you can see where people are dropping off in the path to conversion.
  • Both Google Analytics and Kissmetrics provide funnels. Each have their unique use cases. Kissmetrics provides additional reports in addition to the Funnel Report.

How Much Content is Too Much Content?

Jan Mai

I have had this discussion many times with my partner, "Quality or Quantity? How often should I post? Post too much and some of your post gets lost in the mix, post too little and you lose traffic. Just where is the sweet spot?

B2B Marketing Insider
Michael Brenner on Content Marketing, Strategy and Social

Sometimes More Is Better – Hubspot Research Shows Impact Of Volume On Reach And Conversion

Whenever I speak to an audience and I ask the question:

What is more important? Quality or Quantity?

100% of the time, 100% of the audience says “quality!”

But we all get the answer wrong. And here’s why. If an amazing piece of content falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, it does not make an impact.

Of course this is what we call a “false choice.” The real answer is:

Quality or Quantity? You Have To Do Both!

But how often should you publish new content for your business? How many pieces of content do you need to publish to meet your traffic and lead gen goals?

I always start by saying that publishers publish every day.

CNN doesn’t wake up one morning, decide that there’s not too much going on in Europe, and not publish news articles about Europe that day. No! They publish articles every single day about every topic they cover.

But if you’re looking for more solid proof, we can look to the annual study by Hubspot on article volume and frequency. As you can see from the chart, the bottom line of the study:

More Frequent Blogging = Higher Traffic and Leads

Based on blogging data of their 13,500+ customers, Hubspot found that companies who published more than 16 blog posts every month got almost 3.5x more traffic than those who only published between 0-4 posts. Both B2C and B2B companies saw more inbound traffic to their websites the more blog content they published.

Companies who published more than 16 posts a month also saw a 4.5x increase in their leads than those who published between 0-4 posts. For B2C companies, those who blogged more than 11 times a month got more than 4x leads than those who blogged less than 5 times a month. For B2B companies, they saw a 1.75x and 3.75x increase in leads compared to those who blogged between 6-10 times and 0-3 times per month, respectively.

One of the main benefits of blogging is that your posts will continue to generate traffic and leads for you even when they become old content over time. In their study, Hubspot found that 90% of their leads came from old blog posts.

Surprising, isn’t it?

Additionally, the study found no diminishing return.

Layman’s terms: the more you post, the more traffic you will see averaged out per post. This means the rate of growth increases. Now I’m sure there is a point of diminishing return.

But based on the study, posting content a few times a day is a great idea, if you like traffic and leads.

Relevant, Valuable Content = More Short and Long-term Traffic

While quantity is important, quality still matters. To grow your blog, you need to publish relevant, valuable content your readers will enjoy reading. When you do so, even over time new visitors will find your old content on social media, in search engines, or through other websites, and they may convert into leads for you.

Earlier this year Hubspot ran an experiment to compare two content marketing strategies – publishing blog posts with more intensive research and at a lower frequency, versus publishing less comprehensive posts and at a higher volume.

They found that there’s only so much content your readers can read. Anything more than 35 posts a weekappeared to be too much for most readers. You can’t replace relevance with frequency, particularly when it comes to short-term traffic.

While Hubspot found that publishing less comprehensive blog posts at a higher volume generated more leads, they also saw a higher number of unsubscribes to their email list. Publishing more research-intensive posts at a lower frequency, on the other hand, saw a drop in traffic and leads, and the lower unsubscribe number wasn’t enough to make up for the dip.

Hubspot concluded that their current editorial strategy of posting 23 blogs per week was most effective, and they would focus on publishing “high return” content that would drive more traffic and leads.

“High-return” Content You Should Be Publishing

In their experiment, Hubspot found the following types of content generate the most traffic:

  • Top of the Funnel (TOFU): These blog posts are usually related to latest internet trends, business topics, and are lighter in nature with very few takeaways or lessons learned.
  • Deep Tactical: These posts are in-depth blogs, usually over 1,500 words, which teach people how to do something or inform them about specific marketing topics. These blogs often include current data and stats, original quotes, and relevant examples.
  • Infographic/SlideShare: These content pieces usually feature a few short paragraphs to introduce the infographic or SlideShare content, and not much else.

For lead generation, the content pieces that generated the most leads were Promo blogs, which are very short pieces with a gated offer to materials like ebook or webinar, and Tactical posts, which are higher level coverage of Deep Tactical posts, with lessons learned and recommendations for readers to implement.

Hubspot’s key takeaway here was that there isn’t a type of content piece that would be a silver bullet for both website traffic and lead gen. So you would need a mixture of different content types to reach your traffic and lead gen goals. Another interesting finding was that if a blog post did well in traffic or lead gen in its first month of publication, it will continue to perform well over time.

What about traffic sources?

Which channels should you focus on for each post type?

Hubspot found that certain types of posts performed better on certain platforms. With emails, TOFU posts received the most traffic, followed by Deep Tactical and Infographic/SlideShare posts. However, almost all traffic went away after the first month.

Similarly, social traffic for all post types spiked in the first month and diminished afterwards. With social, the content types that performed best were TOFU, Promo, Infographic/SlideShare, and Deep Tactical posts.

Direct also drove most traffic to all post types in the first month, primarily for Deep Tactical and TOFU posts. Referral traffic, on the other hand, drove very little traffic for all posts. The first month also saw the most traffic for all post types, with Infographic/SlideShare and Deep Tactical posts receiving the most traffic.

TOFU posts received more traffic over time than any other post types in terms of organic traffic. The other post types received similar level of traffic over time. What’s noteworthy here is the only traffic source that really drives long-term traffic is organic, which goes to show how important your content marketing efforts are in lead gen. You don’t get the same kind of traffic and ROI anywhere else.

Quality Content Drives More Leads and Sales

Content marketing helps your business attract visitors and convert them into leads. Every time you publish a piece of relevant, valuable content, you create an opportunity to connect and engage with potential customers, to be found in search engines and shared on social media.

It’s crucial your business commits to a content marketing strategy now. Publishing quality content regularly drives traffic, leads, and ultimately sales for your business.

I try to do both, keep my content interesting, and blog at a rate that suits my company. I guess you have to see what works for you. But most importantly as stated above; write-publish, connect and engage.