Tag Archive | "Funnel"

Ask MarketingSherpa: Mapping the prospect conclusion funnel [includes free PDF example]

Is it wise to invest time in creating a funnel for all industries, including offline businesses? Read on to find out.
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Marketing 101: What is funnel creation?

For each step customers take through the funnel, you must make sure to express the value of your offering relative to their place in the buyer’s journey. Read on to learn more.
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SEO Above the Funnel: Getting More Traffic When You Can’t Rank Any Higher

Posted by Tom.Capper

Normally, as SEOs, we follow a deceptively simple process. We identify how people are searching for our product, then we build or optimize pages or websites to match searcher intent, we make sure Google can find, understand, and trust it, and we wait for the waves of delicious traffic to roll in.

It’s not always that simple, though. What if we have the right pages, but just can’t rank any higher? What if we’re already satisfying all of the search volume that’s relevant to our product, but the business demands growth? What if there is no search volume relevant to our product?

What would you do, for example, if you were asked to increase organic traffic to the books section on Amazon? Or property search traffic to Rightmove (UK) or Zillow (US)? Or Netflix, before anyone knew that true online streaming services existed?

In this post, I’m going to briefly outline four simple tactics for building your relevant organic traffic by increasing the overall size of the market, rather than by trying to rank higher. And none of them require building a single link, or making any changes to your existing pages.

1. Conquer neighboring territories

This is a business tactic as well as an SEO one, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for reasonably uncompetitive verticals adjacent to your own. You have an advantage in these, because you already have a brand, a strong domain, a website to build upon, and so forth. New startups trying to make headway in these spaces will struggle to compete with a fairly low-effort execution on your part, if you judge it well.

Start by ideating related products. For example, if you’re a property listings site, you might look at:

  • Home insurance
  • Home valuation
  • Flat-sharing listings
  • Area guides

Once you’ve outlined your list (it’s probably longer than my example), you can do your basic keyword research, and take a look at the existing ranking pages. This is a bit like identifying keyword opportunities, except you’re looking at the core landing pages of a whole vertical — look at their Domain Authorities, their branded search volumes, the quality of their landing pages, the extent to which they’ve done basic SEO, and ask whether you could do better.

In the example above, you might find that home insurance is well served by fairly strong financial services or comparison sites, but flat-sharing is a weak vertical dominated by a few fairly young and poorly executed sites. That’s your opportunity.

To minimize your risk, you can start with a minimal viable version — perhaps just a single landing page or a white-labeled product. If it does well, you know it merits further investment.

You’ve already established a trusted brand, with a strong website, which users are already engaging in — if you can extend your services and provide good user experiences in other areas, you can beat other, smaller brands in those spaces.

2. Welcome the intimidated

Depending on your vertical, there may be an untapped opportunity among potential customers who don’t understand or feel comfortable with the product. For example, if you sell laptops, many potential customers may be wary of buying a laptop online or without professional advice. This might cause them not to buy, or to buy a cheaper product to reduce the riskiness.

A “best laptops under £500,” or “lightest laptops,” or “best laptops for gaming” page could encourage people to spend more, or to buy online when they might otherwise have bought in a store. Pages like this can be simple feature comparisons, or semi-editorial, but it’s important that they don’t feel like a sales or up-sell function (even though that’s what the “expert” in the store would be!).

This is even more pertinent the more potentially research intensive the purchase is. For example, Crucial have done amazingly for years with their “system scanner,” linked to prominently on their homepage, which identifies potential upgrades and gives less savvy users confidence in their purchase.

Guaranteed compatible!

If this seems like too much effort, the outdoor retailer Snow and Rock don’t have the best website in the world, but they have taken a simpler approach in linking to buying guides from certain product pages — for example, this guide on how to pick a pair of walking boots.

Can you spot scenarios where users abandon in your funnels because of fear or complexity, or where they shift their spend to offline competitors? If you can make them feel safe and supported, you might be able to change their buying behavior.

3. Whip up some fervor

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have enthusiasts who know your vertical like the back of their hand, but could be incited to treat themselves a little more. I’ve been really impressed recently by a couple of American automotive listings sites doing this really well.

The first is Autotrader.com, who have hired well-known automotive columnist Doug Demuro from Jalopnik.com to produce videos and articles for their enthusiast news section. These articles and videos talk about the nerdy quirks of some of the most obscure and interesting used cars that have been listed on the site, and it’s not uncommon for videos on Doug’s YouTube channel — which mention Autotrader.com and feature cars you could buy on Autotrader.com — to get well into 7-figure viewing counts.

These are essentially adverts for Autotrader.com’s products, but I and hundreds of thousands of others watch them religiously. What’s more, the resulting videos and articles stand to rank for the types of queries that curious enthusiasts may search for, turning informational queries into buying intent, as well as building brand awareness. I actually think Autotrader.com could do even better at this with a little SEO 101 (editorial titles don’t need to be your actual title tag, guys), but it’s already a great tactic.

Another similar site doing this really well is Bringatrailer.com. Their approach is really simple — whenever they get a particularly rare or interesting car listed, they post it on Facebook.

These are super low-effort posts about used cars, but if you take a step back, Bring a Trailer are doing something outrageous. They’re posting links to their product pages on Facebook a dozen or more times a day, and getting 3-figure reaction counts. Some of the lesson here is “have great product pages,” or “exist in an enthusiast-rich vertical,” and I realize that this tactic isn’t strictly SEO. But it is doing a lot of things that we as SEOs try to do (build awareness, search volume, links…), and it’s doing so by successfully matching informational or entertainment intents with transactional pages.

When consumers engage with a brand emotionally or even socially, then you’re more likely to be top-of-mind when they’re ready to purchase — but they’re also more likely to purchase if they’re seeing and thinking about your products, services, and sector in their feed.

4. Tell people your vertical exists

I won’t cover this one in too much detail, because there’s already an excellent Whiteboard Friday on the subject. The key point, however, is that sometimes it’s not just that customers are intimidated by your product. They may never have heard of it. In these cases, you need to appear where they’re looking using demographic targeting, carefully researched editorial sections, or branded content.

What about you, though?

How do you go about drumming up demand in your vertical? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

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How to Build a Facebook Funnel That Converts – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by ryanwashere

How are you using remarketing on Facebook? If you’ve ever felt frustrated about the ROI on FB ads, it just may be time to give them another chance. In today’s guest-hosted Whiteboard Friday, Ryan Stewart outlines his process for using remarketing and targeted content creation to get more conversions out of your Facebook ad spend.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hello, Moz fans. My name is Ryan Stewart. I own digital consultancy agency WEBRIS, and I am ecstatic to be doing this week’s version of Whiteboard Friday.

Now, as a marketing consultant I get the pleasure of talking to fellow marketers and business owners all the time, and one of the first questions I ask them is what they’re doing on Facebook, because I firmly believe there’s no better way to spend your money online right now. Nine times out of ten, what they tell me is this. “Hey, look Ryan, we spent some money, we got some fans, we got some video views, we got a lot of clicks, but ultimately that return on investment wasn’t quite there, so we stopped.” So I’m going to show you a framework today that’s going to help you get more return on investment from your Facebook ad spend.

Common key mistakes when it comes to Facebook ads

Before we get into that framework, there are a couple of key things that I want to just check off right off the bat that might help you. These are key mistakes that I see people making all the time.

  1. The misuse of Facebook technology. What that means is not having the pixel installed, not using custom conversions, not using a tag management solution to help you out, and not really understanding and using custom audiences the right way, because those are ultimately what make remarketing and really what make this whole funnel thing really drive through. We need to understand and use custom audiences the right way, and I’m going to talk about that in here.
  2. We need between six to nine brand touchpoints. Another thing, and I kind of call this the SEO mentality, we think that just because somebody is interested or searching for red shoes that means they want to buy it. It’s not the case. Especially on Facebook, there’s a completely different mentality on Facebook, and we need to understand that. There’s a lot of studies that show that we need between six to nine brand touchpoints before somebody is an interested sales prospect or lead, and…
  3. We need to build that value, that relationship and really build that purchase intent. We do that through content, which I’m going to talk about in depth over here as well.
  4. The lack of trust in Facebook. Again, the SEO mentality that we’re constantly working against Google, Facebook is a complete opposite. They have done an amazing job optimizing their platform. All you have to do is tell it what you want it to do and it will go out and it will find the right audiences. Just have faith in the process. Trust that Facebook will get it done for you, and then you can focus on what really matters.

The Facebook marketing funnel framework

This is the framework that I have drawn up over here. It looks like your traditional marketing funnel. It’s got your awareness, interest, consideration, and purchase. But what’s in it is specific to this process and Facebook ads in particular.

Now I’m going to start actually not at the top. I’m going to run you through the whole thing, but I’m going to start here with interest, because this is where most people start. They build a landing page, a squeeze page that says, “Hey, opt in for our free e-book,” and they just start promoting it. They push it to fans. They push it to audiences that they think are interested in it. Unless you’re a huge brand that has all of these touchpoints and awareness taken care of, it’s very tough because people don’t know who you are and they’re not just going to start giving you their information and start buying just because you put up a nice landing page.

1. Build your content — whatever form works best for you.

So what we need to do is build the content on top of that. That’s what I have right here. So you can I’ve got different types of content that you can use — videos, blog posts, webinars, e-books. Whatever it is, it doesn’t really matter.

Create something that you’re comfortable with. But what you need to focus on is really two things.

  1. Making sure that it’s on your website, because then we can retarget people and get them down that funnel.
  2. Creating and building value for the people that you’re targeting. So again, if you’re Moz and you sell a bunch of different products — you’ve got your local solutions, you’ve got your keyword research, you’ve got link building solutions — we don’t want to just create one piece of content. We want to create specific pieces of content that are engaging to those little sub-niches of the audience and relevant to the product, and that’s key because it allows us to expand and scale this out.

2. Gather insights from people that are already aware to inform your lookalike audiences.

Now once you’ve got that content built, what I like to start doing is promoting it to what I call warm audience. These are people that are already aware. These are your Facebook fans, your website retargeting list, your customer list, all of these people. You start by promoting the content to them, and you start analyzing the data and see what’s performing best.

Understand the audience segments that are driving the most engagement, driving the most purchases right off the bat, because what we can do is create lookalike audiences based on these and we can pivot into promoting this to cold audiences. Again, this is really where you can start to scale, because this is only going to take you so far. Unless you’re a massive brand, it’s not going to take you very far. This is really mostly for data analysis and getting some initial people into the funnel.

This up here, the cold audiences, is where you really start to make your money. So again, lookalike audiences are a tremendous thing. You need to trust in Facebook that what you tell it to do, it’s going to go out and find the right people. But there’s other stuff you can do as well. Again, because we’re not taking a landing page, we can actually go out and do some form of outreach to get more eyeballs on the page. We can go to Facebook groups. We can go to other Facebook Pages. We can say, “Hey, I’ve got this really great guide, ’19 Things To Do to Build Links for Local SEO.” We can start to do some exchanges. All we need to do is start getting people to here, getting people to this content, because once they’re on this content, they’re in our funnel. So let me show you how this works, and this is where the Facebook ads really start to pick up and retargeting really starts to come into play.

3. Remarket with an initial offer to move your audience from aware to interested.

What we want to do is we want to set parameters that tell Facebook, “Hey, anytime somebody’s been to this blog post but hasn’t been to our landing page, show them this ad.” I love to use video in this case, again because video is a great way to build the brand, to hack those touchpoints, to get your face out there, and to start getting some recognition. So I like to use a video that says, “Hey, thank you for checking out our blog posts, our webinar. We really appreciate it. But we left some things out, and those things are included on this page.” That’s how you can start to introduce your offer and get people to your landing page, your squeeze page, or your product page.

4. Use another remarketing ad to move them from the interested stage to consideration.

We’re not done there, because there are some other things that we can do on Facebook to start really building this thing up and driving a lot more conversions.

Once we get people to the landing page, not everyone is going to convert. So what we can do is we can set up another remarketing ad that’s says, “Hey Facebook, anytime that somebody has been to our landing page but hasn’t been to the next page, which is our trial page, our thank you page, whatever that may be, we want to run this ad.” Again, I like to use video again, and we can say, “Hey, thank you for checking out our landing page, but you didn’t opt in. Did you know that we have a free trial? Did you know that we offer a discount? Did you know we have a free e-book?”

Whatever it is that you’re offering to get people to opt in, run that. What happens is then you get your people in your email sequence, your traditional marketing sequence. You run that on the side, but again we’re not done. Because we found these people on Facebook, they’re still on Facebook. There’s still more that we can do.

5. Build trust with ads that share benefits, testimonials, etc.

If you’ve got a free trial that you’re giving away, a free consultation, whatever it is, a discount for your products, we want to tell people about it. We want to make sure that they’re taking advantage of it, because again you know once you get somebody on email, you might have a 20% open rate, you’re cutting off 80% of people. But we know they’re on Facebook, so what we can do is run another remarketing ad that says, “Hey Facebook, anytime that somebody has been to our free trial page but hasn’t actually purchased, let’s drive people to use it.” You can start talking about the benefits of your product, start showing testimonials from people. Whatever it is that you can drive people to use your product and really build trust in your product, you want to take advantage of that.

6. Use your final remarketing ad to sweeten the pot and ask for the hard sell.

Finally, we’re still not done, because we still haven’t asked for that hard sell. This is where we use our final ad that says, “Hey Facebook, anytime that somebody has used our trial but hasn’t been to our ultimate checkout page, we want to run this final ad.” What I did, I have a course that I use that I sold using Facebook ads. What I did, I ran a very personalized video ad that said, “Hey, thank you for checking out my content. Thank you for attending my webinar. Thank you for checking out the free trial. Look it, there’s something that’s holding you up from purchasing. I am willing to jump on a call with you and answer any questions that you may have.” Obviously, that’s not going to apply to every business. But figure out a final piece of value that you can add to those people to really drive them to purchase and ask for that hard sell.

Again, this is kind of a quick overview of this process, but the key point here is that this part from down here’s automated. All you have to focus on now is building more content and building more traffic to that content, because once you get traffic to this content — and you know tons of ways to do that, you can even rank it in organic search and get people in your funnel that way — all you have to do is focus on getting people in here. This whole funnel is automated, and it’s a beautiful thing. When you do this, it takes patience. You’re not going to get as many email conversions upfront, but it works.

I’m telling you, if you just have faith in this process and use this to your advantage, use remarketing with everything that you can do, it will work.

Again guys, my name is Ryan Stewart. Hopefully you enjoyed this presentation. For more information, again there’s a ton of stuff on Moz. I have some stuff on my blog. I appreciate your time. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Plug the Holes in Your Content Funnel That Are Costing You Money

image of a woman with short hair and quote Hi, I'm your customer, remember be?

Content is not king.

Yep, I said it. (This guy did, too.)

In the realm of content marketing, the customer is ruler of our domain.

Without falling deep into a series of Game of Thrones allusions, let’s agree that all content must be created with the customer’s needs in mind. Otherwise we are wasting time and resources as marketers.

I’ve already written much on personas and their usages across digital marketing, but it’s tying those personas to user journeys and content that yields remarkable increases in conversion.

Using different exercises to identify content gaps helps you plug the holes in your funnel and get more out of your content.

How to use personas and user journeys for qualitative content auditing

When developing personas we get a detailed picture of who the members of our audience are and what makes them tick.

Most importantly we understand what it is that they need within the context of what our business offers.

Meet Dinky Danny, a persona I created for custom itinerary travel agency Trip.Me.

Click to enlarge image in a new window.

One of the key insights from this persona is that the user wants to feel like an expert before they make their travel decision. He or she is not necessarily just looking for the best deal in price, but the perfect deal … and will likely need content that speaks to every stage of their trip.

But what are the stages of their trip?

Naturally, the next step is a journey-mapping exercise with the goal of understanding the series of needs or activities that a user goes through within her path to purchase and beyond.

Journey mapping is an art and a science that requires identifying user needs and developing them into stages — some of which align directly with business transactional touch points, and some that can only align with content.

Here is an example of the process:

Click to enlarge in a new window.

Alternatively, you can map it to the funnel and align it with the segments you identify in keyword research. I prefer to use that in combination with the ethnographic approach I’ve detailed in the past.

For example, this is the user journey for Trip.Me.

Click to enlarge in a new window.

Through a series of ethnographic research activities, I’ve identified these phases of user activity and what those users are hoping to accomplish. Giving these phases names allows me to then review the content through the eyes of the target segments and see who is accounted for and what need states the content fulfills.

This is a large part of what is done in the qualitative auditing by either a research analyst or a content strategist. Ultimately, this is where content and audience come together.

How to perform a Qualitative Content Audit

Start this process with a crawl using Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider, which automates the collection of some of the required data points, most importantly the list of pages. (Of course, you’ll have to physically review each page as well and keep notes as patterns start to emerge.)

After you’ve seen every page type several times, you’ll start to notice that you can just glance at certain page types without having to spend too much time reading every single word. I’m not saying to perform a lazy content audit; but, for example, a product page is a product page, and once you understand how they have been laid out you’ll have a general understanding of what they are and how they can be improved.

And if a site is too large, then you can perform this with a representative sample of pages.

For each page you’ll want to collect the following data points:

Content ID

This is just an identifier for each page that can be referenced across deliverables as you’re building out your content strategy. These are typically decimal numbers that reflect the site’s structure.

The homepage may be represented as either 0.0 or 1.0, while a first-level sub-page of main category could be 2.10 and its child page could be 2.11.

You can use whatever schema you’d like, just be sure to remain consistent.

Actual page title

This is the title of the page as defined in its metadata.

If these have been written correctly, they can act as a way to jog your memory as to what the page is about. If they aren’t … well then you have your first suggestion of what can be improved.

This can be easily obtained from Screaming Frog. You could also grab the meta description if you like, but in my experience most sites that I’ve worked on don’t have good meta descriptions when we’re in this phase, so I usually skip it.


Where does this content live on the web? Screaming Frog provides this.


What format is this content in: HTML, PDF, infographic, image, video?

This can be parsed from the Content field that Screaming Frog provides, however it is worth double checking by using other fields because sometimes what is identified in the header “text/html” is not.

What is it?

Give a short description of what the content is in your own words. This, in context with the page title, should give you a refresher or flashback of the page.

Target segments

Based on the persona’s user story and needs, you are making a qualitative judgment call as to whether this content will resonate with them. This field can feature one or more personas, or none at all.

This is how we determine from a people perspective whether this content is worth keeping.

Target need state

Based on the user journey, what stage does this content fall into?

Again, you’re making a qualitative judgment call to determine whether the content fulfills a specific need. This time, however, it is somewhat irrespective of who the content is specifically for.

Is it link-worthy?

Would anyone link to this content? This is a “Yes/No” field.

This is also a judgment call based on what you know of the web and what type of content attracts links. A boring product page is not likely to be link-worthy while an infographic or entertaining video is.

Is it share-worthy?

Would anyone share this content on social media? This is also a “Yes/No” field.

What is share-worthy is often what is link-worthy. However, in some cases the converse is true. For example, while you may link to a white paper in an article, you might not share that white paper to your social network.

Is it unique, redundant, or outdated?

Understanding whether content serves a unique purpose or is up to date is incredibly important in developing singular paths throughout the site, as well as trimming the fat.

With this field you make the call as to whether the content is unique, redundant or outdated.


In your professional opinion what are some options for this content? Can we update it, delete it, or repurpose it? Are there typos and grammar mistakes?

Anything you think that should be done with it should be noted here.

The end result of the Qualitative Content Audit is a document that looks like this.

Throughout the review process you’ll begin to get a sense of what you have, what you don’t, and who it serves. For example, I can now filter for Dinky Danny and quickly identify which of her need states are met.

It should be noted that by no means are these data points exhaustive; you can review for whatever qualitative features you deem fit. The aforementioned fields are just those that are most often helpful to my clients and their use cases.

How to choose the right data for a Quantitative Content Audit

Additionally, you will want to pull data so you can support what is working and what isn’t based on quantifiable metrics.

After all, we are digital marketers. For us it’s not just about feelings and empathy for the user, but about hard facts and figures on their behavior.

Quantitatively, you can review whatever metrics are relevant to the business goals. In the case of Trip.Me I’ve used:

  • Content ID
  • URL
  • Organic Revenue
  • Request Conversion Rate
  • Overall Conversion Rate
  • Organic Search Traffic
  • Social Traffic
  • All Traffic
  • Tweet Count
  • Like Count
  • +1 Count
  • Inbound Links
  • Bounce Rate
  • Time on Site

All of these metrics should be self-explanatory and are not exhaustive. The quantitative data points should be chosen based on what matters most to the measurement plan of the website.

How to perform a Quantitative Content Audit

If you’ve started from the qualitative side you can simply copy and paste the Content ID and URL into this sheet as well. If not, then you start from Screaming Frog as shown above.

You can use Social Crawlytics or Neils Bosma’s SEO tools for Excel plugin to pull the share data and SEOGadget has an Excel Plugin for pulling data from a variety of other SEO-related sources such as Ahrefs, OpenSiteExplorer, Grepwords, and more.

I prefer to use SocialCrawlytics and pull the CSVs from the data providers and just use the VLOOKUP function, as it is often faster than direct data pulls within Excel. However, the tradeoff is that I lose the ability for automatic updates to these metrics at a later time.

I love Excel’s conditional formatting for this part of the process. It very quickly makes clear what pieces of content are the winners (see what I mean here).

Between these two sets of analysis, you can now figure out fairly quickly what performs, what the sticking points are, and what is missing entirely with regard to the user journey.

Now … finding the gaps

In my review of Trip.Me’s content I quickly noticed that most of it falls into two distinct buckets that are very early in their user journey: Explore and Book.

Click to enlarge in a new window.

This makes complete sense as they are an early-stage startup, so for them it’s all about getting transactions.

The transactional phase front loads Trip.Me’s journey, but Dinky Danny specifically wants to feel like an expert. So even if she’s interested in Trip.Me’s tours, or if she happens across their fun Country Comparison tool, she doesn’t have enough information to make her feel comfortable with her purchasing decision. Thus, Dinky Danny will likely head back to the search results and do more research on other travel agency sites and blogs.

While she may ultimately come back to book with Trip.Me, there’s also the possibility that she may end up booking somewhere else that caught her eye during her research process. Therefore, Trip.Me must plug those gaps in order to get better at converting Dinky Danny from viewer to customer.

This is not limited to the travel context.

Here’s a customer journey for a company called Sunrun that offers solar power installations.

Click to enlarge in a new window.

From what I gather, solar panels and power are complicated products to consider and buy, so there is a pretty long sales cycle.

While I don’t know anything about their market segments, I imagine that if Sunrun had no content about installation on their site, the process would feel daunting and few people would signup. But Sunrun is aware of this. They have identified this as a key phase and make it an objective to speak about installation in their messaging, with an entire section of the site dedicated to it.

Click to enlarge in a new window.

Suffice to say, if you don’t have a piece of content or touch point for each relevant phase in the user journey, then you’re missing out on opportunities.

You’re losing out in search because your competitors may have content for this phase covered, with the opportunity to shape how the experience should be. And you’re missing out in social media because entertaining or educational content for each phase can be shared and used for brand awareness.

Identify action items from your content audit

Your content audit should yield a series of improvements you want to take action on.

You should look for the stages in the user journey for which the existing content is inadequate or non-existent. These are the holes in your funnel.

You should also look for things that can be repurposed — like white papers — that can become data visualization, or blog posts that can be updated and turned into evergreen guides that reinforce a user’s need state.

You should look for what content is serving no one in your audience … and prune it.

Finally, you should be looking at what performs best, and at which stages, and create more of it.

In the case of Trip.Me, it made us realize that we should be building more content for the rest of the user’s needs to help with brand awareness and encourage confidence, which ultimately encourages booking. For example, we realized that there were opportunities for honeymoon-specific content that would speak to the Dinky Danny persona.

So this idea …


Became this post …


And has started popping up in many of the site’s assisted conversion paths.

Mind the gap on exit

Once the business goals and the target audience have been determined, every content marketing campaign should begin here.

Content marketing campaigns can otherwise fly blind and miss the mark for users who may have been entertained or mildly educated, but not thoroughly satisfied.

Remember the consumer is king, while content is a jester in his court.

If content auditing and journey mapping are new concepts to you, then you may enjoy these parting gifts that will help you on your way.

And finally, Steve Floyd over at AXZM has prepared the Super Awesome Content Strategy Worksheet, which features the content audit I developed and outlined in this post. It’s yours to download for free!

Thanks to the Copyblogger team for having me.

Before I go, I’d love to hear from you.

  • What are some of the issues you’ve been having with your content marketing efforts?
  • Have you already done a content audit?
  • Have there been any shocking insights?
  • How have you leveraged them to get results?

Send me a tweet (@iPullRank) or join the discussion at LinkedIn.

Did you find this article useful?

Then we recommend that you read this article next: Who’s the Hero in Your Business?

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Tom Ellefsen. Banner with text added.

About the Author: Mike King is a Digital Marketing Consultant at iPullRank. He leads teams and offers services covering consumer insights, content, social strategy, and SEO for enterprise brands and startups. Get more from Mike on Twitter.

The post How to Plug the Holes in Your Content Funnel That Are Costing You Money appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Building Your Marketing Funnel with Google Analytics

Posted by dohertyjf

Do you have an idea of the path a user typically takes to convert on your website? Or, are you simply building traffic from one channel (probably organic) and wondering why it’s not converting better? As I’ve grown up as a marketer, I’ve begun to really appreciate the insights that data can provide us on how users interact with our sites, and more importantly, on how they convert and where the experience can be improved to increase our conversion rates, and thereby our top-line revenue from online channels.

I’ve recently been very interested in building a full marketing funnel based on Google Analytics data. While it’s one thing to be able to identify where conversion discrepancies exist, such as low-converting types of visitors, it’s quite another to build a full and informed funnel from your site’s data. In order to do this and have an accurate view of where your conversions are actually coming from, you need to first have the following in place:

  • Email URL tracking: Check out Annie Cushing’s thoughts here in slides 11-14. (Actually, look at the whole deck.)
  • Social network tracking (tagging parameters and using a shortener to see clickthroughs by link)
  • Display tagging
  • Referral links tagged (or at least be aware of HTTPS sites linking to you, like Medium)
  • Paid search campaigns tagged
  • Tagging on affiliates (if applicable)

You can build your campaigns here using Google’s tool.

What’s a funnel?

Before we get too far into the meat of this post, I want to make sure we’re all talking about the same thing. I’m not referring to one of these. Rather, I’m referring to one of these:

The funnel is typically broken into three sections:

  • Top of funnel (TOFU)
  • Middle of funnel (MOFU)
  • Bottom of funnel (BOFU)

The goal of this post is going to walk you through how to identify the channels that are performing best for you in each of these areas. Once you know those, you know where to invest depending on your company’s needs or priorities. Also, knowing the different areas to which you can contribute will help endear you to the people running those channels, which will help you avoid being siloed as “the SEO.” Instead, you will start to be seen as part of the marketing team, which is what you are.

Another note: I’m not teaching you how to integrate into other marketing channels in this post. Stephanie Chang did a great job of it back in July when she wrote An Introduction to Integrated Marketing and SEO: How It Works and Why It Matters. Have a read there after you’re finished here.

Understanding attribution

You may already know this, but Google Analytics offers multi-channel attribution tools within the “Conversions” section:

In the “Assisted Conversions” section, you will see a number of columns. The ones to pay attention to are:

  • Assisted Conversions
  • Last Click/Direct Conversions

It’s important to understand the difference between assisted conversions and last click/direct conversions. According to Google’s own Answer Bin, a channel gets credit for an assisted conversion for any touch that they bring to the site where the interaction was not the one that led directly to a conversion. Google says:

This is the number (and monetary value) of sales and conversions the channel assisted. If a channel appears anywhere—except as the final interaction—on a conversion path, it is considered an assist for that conversion. The higher these numbers, the more important the assist role of the channel.

On the other side, a last click or direct conversion is a touch on the site that led directly to a sale. These are your closer, aka bottom-of-funnel channels. Google says:

This is the number (and monetary value) of sales and conversions the channel closed or completed. The final click or direct visit before a conversion gets Last Interaction credit for that conversion. The higher these numbers, the more important the channel’s role in driving completion of sales and conversions.

Make sense? Great. Let’s build a funnel.

Identifying channels based on funnel level

As I said above, we’re going to use Google Analytics to identify the channels in the different levels of your funnel. If you use a different Analytics platform, like Omniture or Piwik, write a guide using that and I’ll be happy to share it out.

Top of funnel

The top of your marketing funnel is where the first interactions with your brand take place. This is typically attributed to search or organic, but is that really the case for your website?

First, let’s identify the most common channels that people use to discover your site. To do this, go to Content > Site Content > Landing Pages. Set your secondary dimension to “Medium.” You’ll see something like this:

Now, export this data to Excel (I’ve provided a spreadsheet at the end that you can plug this data into) and pivot it to see which mediums are driving your best traffic. If you want to get super fancy, break it down by type of page as well.

Here’s how that pivot table is set up:

For the site shown in these screenshots it is indeed PPC and organic search. But just knowing the channel isn’t enough, so let’s take it a step further to see where the different channels are driving traffic. You’ll either need to manually classify your pages (if you have relatively few like in my example) or write an Excel script to do this automagically.

I now know that referral is the primary driver of traffic and that the majority goes to the homepage. One specific referral, which I tagged with a Medium of “Link,” sends the best traffic directly to conversion pages (which might not necessarily be the best place for people to land for their first interaction):

Middle of funnel

The middle of your funnel is the area where people are moving from a first brand interaction to an initial sale, or if they have already made a purchase, towards another sale. What we’re looking for in the data here is channels that are not necessarily our primary first- or last-touch drivers. Rather, these are the channels where the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-time visitors come from in order to interact with your content again.

We can figure out the most popular and most effective middle-of-funnel channels a couple of different ways. The first, and by far the easiest, is by comparing different types of attribution to discover which channels get more credit based on first click, linear (where each channel gets equal credit), and last-click. To learn what each of the different attribution models really means, check out the Google support page.

By sorting the Model Comparison Tool in Analytics by Linear (high to low), you can find the channels that perform best when given equal credit independent of where they are in the funnel.

But this doesn’t give us great insight into which channels perform best in the middle. Rather, it’s telling us which channels account for the most revenue overall (which is still important to know), and the place doesn’t matter. In the above example, for Distilled that’s Direct, then email, organic search, and referral, in that order.

To find which channels are the most popular for your users to come back, we need to do some manipulation in Excel (my favorite tool) to clean out the first- and last-touch interactions in the Top Conversion Paths report.

What you want to do now is expand the number of rows in Analytics to account for as many of your paths as possible. For most sites the 5,000-row limit in Analytics will suffice.

Download all of your conversion paths into Excel. You’ll have one column with the complete paths, followed by the following columns:

  • Conversions
  • Conversion Value

To wrangle the data into the format we need, I also added the following columns:

  • Steps in Conversion Path
  • First Touch
  • All Middle
  • Last Touch
  • $ /Conversion
If you’re a visual person, this screenshot may help you out to see how the sheet is set up:
Note: the hardest part here is figuring out what your cutoff is for conversion amount. For Distilled, for example, I removed anything under $ 30, because we don’t do anything with the data underneath that. I also picked a minimum threshold for the number of conversions that channel brought.
In Distilled’s case, five seemed pertinent because it gives enough to get a decent idea of $ /conversion but also eliminates the very long (20+) conversion paths that we’re not going to optimize for anyways. However, also keep in mind that the length of the path matters. For example, Distilled’s median # of steps before a conversion is eight. With fewer than eight steps, our average per conversion is 30% higher than it is with eight+ steps in the funnel.
So, to clean up the data, I removed the following:
  • Paths with conversions < 5
  • Paths with conversion value < $ 30
  • Paths with (unavailable) in the path
  • Paths with more than 15 steps in the path
After you clean up the data, it will pull into the “Common Middle” sheet within the Excel workbook I link to below. Then, you can see pretty quickly which channels are driving the most middle conversions, and which middle paths give the best $ /conversion:

Here’s the setup for that pivot table:

Once again, this will automagically work for you in the Excel sheet.

Bottom of funnel

The bottom of the funnel is the last touch that occurs before someone buys. These channels are incredibly important to know about because you can then build your strategy around how to get people into those channels and convert them later.

This one is easy to find. It doesn’t take tricky Excel functions. It doesn’t involve crazy data analysis.
Assuming you have Analytics set up correctly, you can find this data in Conversion > Attribution > Model Comparison Tool. When you set the Model to Last Interaction, you’ll see something like this:

For Distilled, you can see that our highest last-touch channels are direct, then email, then organic search.

Applying the data

Remember this funnel from the beginning?

Based off the data, I now see that for Distilled, the sections of our funnel look this way:
  • Top
    • Direct
    • Organic Search
    • Social
  • Middle
    • Organic to Organic
    • Direct to Email
    • Direct to Organic
  • Bottom
    • Email
    • Organic
    • Direct

Now we can build out a marketing plan depending on our needs.

Excel sheet

I promised you an Excel sheet that I have put together for you. Note that it does not automatically clean out your very long conversion paths, but use the parameters given above to narrow down your data to make it actionable if that makes sense for your business.

That said, you can download the spreadsheet here.

Bonus Excel sheet to find profitability by # of touches

I mentioned above about finding the number of touches that perform best for you. Here is a quick and dirty spreadsheet that allows you to do just this. Basically, the sheet looks at the number of touches and averages the conversion amount for each bucket. You can see the results on the far right.

To use this sheet for yourself, download your Multi Channel Funnel groupings in Analytics (you need to have ecommerce enabled) and enter your data into the sheet.

Download this bonus spreadsheet here.

Example and conclusion

If we are trying to convert more people to DistilledU, through that goal I know that Organic converts best for us on the last touch. This means that we need to invest in content that drives people towards a conversion through organic, so either blog content with a call to action or larger content teaching people SEO. We know that email converts 4th best for DU, but it works well higher in the funnel to convert people eventually. Therefore, we need to get more people onto our DistilledU email list.

Direct traffic converts well, of course; people are coming to the site because they know about it. Therefore we need to get top-of-mind and convert them into email and RSS subscribers so that they become familiar with our content and eventually buy through email or search.

We’ve built our funnel. You should go and build yours. I’d love to hear what insights you have.

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Visualizing the Marketing Funnel – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

In this week's Whiteboard Friday, we will be talking about visualizing and measuring your marketing funnel. All too often basic web analytics can mislead marketers which can lead to investing in the wrong channels. Understanding what content drives people to your site and when will allow you to make much more informed decisions on where to invest your money.

Thanks for joining us and don't forget to leave your comments below. Enjoy!

The SEOmoz Inbound Marketing Funnel

Video Transcription

Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're talking about the inbound marketing funnel. Specifically, we're talking about why basic web analytics can often fail and mislead marketers in to investing in a lot of the wrong channels. What I have done today is try to illustrate that visually with this beautiful funnel. I know, I know, it looks a little complex. You're going to go, "Boy, that is really colorful and you must have taken a long time to draw those lines." I did.

But think about things this way. Let's imagine the flow of visitors to your website. What happens is there are some visitors who are coming to you for the first time. Never seen your site before, you're sort of capturing them early in the stage. Maybe they know very little about you. Maybe they've heard something about you through word of mouth. Maybe they saw someone tweet a link. Maybe they found you through a search. Maybe they found you through just typing in your web address directly or through an email someone sent them. Whatever the case might be, you can track all of those. You know where they come from. I've simplified this. Obviously, there are more channels and you could break these up into direct, search, social, RSS, your blog, and referring links. Referring links from sort of the blogosphere, the news world, forums, links on other corporate sites, whatever it is. There could be advertising things in here too, but I am going to ignore paid for the moment.

What's interesting is when you think about this, think about the people who come to you for the first time and how you capture them. Those channels might be entirely different from the people who way down here at the bottom of this funnel completed a transaction that was worth money. So these are people who made me directly dollars or Euros or whatever . . . Euros. Is that the Euros symbol? I don't know. Let's do the yen symbol. I know that one better. Made you cold hard cash. Excellent. Great.

But what happens? Marketers almost always, and particularly the higher up you go in a marketing organization, they look at what sent traffic here and that's where they assign the budget. Right? Because they're tracking actions down here and they go, "Oh, well, fantastic. You know, these people down here, look at this. Social in green sent no completed transactions, screw social. Stop wasting your time on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and Google+. Those are a waste of time, because look, they didn't send us any transactions." Oh yeah? How did all these people know to subscribe to your RSS feed? How did they know to come from referring links? How did they know to type in your web address directly? How did they know to search for you? Particularly if this is branded and unbranded search, if I break that our right here, I bet this is going to be 90%+ branded search, meaning people who searched for your brand name or items related to your brand name, not unbranded terms that they've never heard of before and aren't familiar with. Because of this, you attribute revenue and people and time to places that they shouldn't go, and this is a very, very dangerous thing.

So let's walk through the funnel. I think that everyone who has Google Analytics or something more advanced installed can build this out. In fact, I built this for SEOmoz's own website recently. I'll give Kenny a screenshot to put in the Whiteboard Friday of that specific image that I built. It's not very advanced, but it can give you a sense of what ours sort of looks like. So, you can take a count of the first-time visitors. So, it's like, oh, I've got a million first time visitors in the last 60 days, and maybe I have 750,000 returning visitors in the last 60 days. How many people made 4+ visits in the last 60 days? Well, that's interesting. You can segment. You can create a segment that's says, "Hey, only show me people who have visited 4 or more times in the last 60 days, and now show me the channels that they came through. Show me the referring sources of those individuals." Wow. Now I can start to see a pattern emerging. I can see, oh look at this. This was actually true for SEOmoz. RSS very little at first time, bigger at referring, and then a nice segment, a really nice segment, right down to completed transaction where people don't really come through RSS very much when they complete a transaction.

You can do this. Let's say there's 300,000 who came in the last 60 days 4 or more times, and maybe there's 100,000 who came 10+ times. Wow. These people are really interesting. Particularly these people are really interesting because they must really like what you have. They must like your content or your blog or something that you do on your site, some sort of tool, some sort of function that you provide to them. Yet, there's going to be a very different look at who sent these visitors, right, which of these sources sent these visitors versus which sent the people who made a conversion action, something like signed up for an email account, or signed up with their email address, or subscribed to your newsletter, or filled out a survey, or filled out a request for a white paper that gave you a lead versus actually completed a transaction, like went back to the site and signed up for the paid service or bought the product, or did whatever it is that makes you money. Knowing these source differences and building out this funnel, visualizing this funnel and being able to see these means that you will be able to do a bunch of things right.

So, I have some action items that I want you to take away from this inbound marketing funnel visualization.

Number one, please, if you can do nothing else, at least set up first touch attribution. So you may not be able to get the concrete segment that has made at least one visit from this source before converting somewhere in their funnel, because a lot of those people who convert down here are going to be in the 10+ or 4+ visit segment, and they're going to have come to you multiple times, and usually you're only doing last touch attribution, meaning you only see the source that sent them the last time. There are some more advanced analytics like Mixpanel or KISSmetrics that can help you see deeper into that multitouch funnel, but at least you can set up first touch attribution tracking in Google Analytics. There is a good blog post on how to do that Will Critchlow from Distilled wrote. We'll link you over to that.

Second step, segment the content that is driving people, so not just the visit sources, but the content that's driving people early on in your funnel and later in your funnel. Understanding that dichotomy will give you a sense of, hey, we can't just give up on the content that's bringing people in here or the content that's bringing people in the 4+, 10+, made a converting action. We need to focus on both of those, and here's how we should be distributing our time. Let's not spend, you know, be careful not to over assign value with resources of any kind, with dollars, with people, with time, to channels that are just getting you into the bottom of the funnel. It's really, really dangerous. It can mean that what happens over time is you increase conversion rate here, yeah, and things are going well, but as this dries up, your competitors are taking this traffic. They are getting it one way or another. Or you're not executing on it, which means no one is happy and finding what they need on the Web from you or whatever it is that you provide.

Finally, the other thing is track those actions that are likely to lead to transactions. So, if you know that a high percentage of people in a certain bucket, in a number of visits bucket, in a number of visits to specific content bucket, in a conversion-like action, say they did this thing like sign up for an email newsletter, track the percent and the number that are flowing down to actual dollar value transactions. If you do that, you'll have a great sense of where you can invest sort of in the middle of the funnel that will help to drive that action further down.

This is a complex fascinating process, and I know it's not easy to implement. But for those of you who do, the returns can be phenomenal.

Thanks very much, and I hope I'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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