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  • Brian Dolan

Before Shutting Off Your Upper Funnel Tactics...

What do linemen, playmakers, and upper funnel marketing tactics all have in common? They don’t get enough credit for the team or program's success. We all love praising a great TD catch or a flashy goal, but what led up to those scores? There is a reason most sports tally up assists on the scoresheet. Everyone has a job to do, but not everyone’s job is to score. If you don’t invest in great linemen or great playmakers, your scorers are going to be a lot less successful. So how does this relate to marketing?


Just like in sports, you need to invest in areas that support your “scorers”. Your “scorers” are your brand campaigns, your retargeting efforts, and other lower funnel tactics. These types of campaigns will usually be your best performers, but eventually these wells are going to run dry. If you are not filling the upper funnel with new prospects, your brand searches will decline, and the size of your retargeting lists will shrink. You will not see the immediate returns with your upper funnel tactics as you would with your lower funnel ones, but that is okay. That’s not what these campaigns are designed for.


It can be hard to stomach running upper funnel tactics when you are not seeing a quick return on your investment, especially when you have a limited budget. Before shutting off these campaigns, consider the following.


Top Conversion Paths Report in Google Analytics


The Top Conversion Paths report gives you insight into the buyer’s journey. Here you can see how many site visits it took before a user converted and which channels they came from. This report will show you that it often takes multiple visits from different channels before someone converts. In the example below, the top conversion path for this account is Paid Search > Email. If you were to just look at a standard report, Paid Search might look very inefficient because Email is taking all the credit for the conversions. Email might have the better ROI, but it’s the combined effort of the two channels that’s diving performance. Shutting off Paid Search will limit the amount of new people that come to your site, which in turn limits the pool of people you can retarget via email. This will ultimately lead to a drop in orders.


Consider Other Attribution Models Other Than Last-Click


When you give all the conversion credit to the final click, you are missing everything that led up to it. Last-click still seems to be the most popular way to report on conversions, but that is something that should change. If that is your default attribution model, you should at least have secondary reporting that goes along with it. Try looking at a Position Based or Time Decay model. Position Based gives the majority of the credit to the first and last click, while also giving some credit to the clicks in between. The Time Decay model gives each click some credit, but the more recent clicks are weighted heavier.



Consider Different Goals For Different Tactics


You wouldn't judge a lineman on his ability to score touchdowns, so why would you judge your upper funnel tactics on their ability to lead to immediate conversions? Consider looking at impressions, clicks, and assisted conversions rather than purchases and leads for your awareness campaigns. Again, your upper funnel tactics have a different "job", so you should judge them that way. Work toward getting your CPCs lower in order to drive more traffic at the same cost. Test different audiences and content to increase engagement rates and post shares. Take a look at whether your direct and brand traffic increases over time due to your awareness push months before.


Give It Time


Upper funnel tactics are a long term investment. Too often businesses test upper funnel campaigns for a short period and then turn them off quickly after not seeing the returns they were hoping for. If you are going to put money toward these efforts, you must be in it for the long haul.




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