A Comprehensive Guide to Measuring Lower- and Upper-Funnel Media
July 5, 2023
The conversion funnel (or sales, marketing funnel) visualizes critical stages in a buyer’s journey. Optimizing the funnel requires understanding how stages of the funnel all work together to create the most effective conversion strategy to guide your approach at each stage.
The upper funnel is where leads are developed, and ad awareness (positive perception and top-of-mind recall) turns into interest to entice consumers to move forward. Its where good leads are separated from dead ends and simple changes can be made to the media strategy to get significant results. The lower funnel is the closing point where we convert intent to action, changing the consumer into a customer (increasing market share).
And while a strong media strategy is developed to deliver on the balance of upper and lower funnel metrics, often optimization and reporting functions can be focused exclusively on lower-funnel metrics (immediate customer conversion or sales). To ensure this is not the case in your efforts, the following is a comprehensive guide to measuring lower and upper funnel media.
SETTING THE KPIS TO MEASURE
When managing upper and lower-funnel media, it’s important to identify or develop the right metrics based on key performance indicators (KPIs) to ensure efforts are operating most efficiently through every sales funnel stage. The following five KPIs must be included when looking at metrics to understand best where sales funnel and media efforts stand.
- Lead Generation: How many leads are generated for every media strategy you implement? Lead Generation is more of a big-picture metric, but it can help get you on the right path with measuring and monitoring upper and lower-funnel media strategies.
- Time to Conversion: How long does it take to convert someone? Minutes, Hours, or Days? We measure the amount of time (and sometimes the page count or navigation efforts) that someone spends between awareness and purchasing learnings on how media strategies can be amended to speed up the conversion process.
- Bounce Rates: High bounce rates indicate something needs to be fixed with your efforts. It is essential to understand where and when the ‘bounces’ occur and implement the necessary changes.
- Lead Attrition: It’s not just about the leads you get, but what those leads do next. Lead attrition will help you track things at various levels of the sales and marketing funnel, including why people are leaving. Lead Attrition identifies what isn’t working and allows you to refine your approach and reduce attrition.
- Customer Lifetime Value: understanding the lifetime return on investment you can achieve from a single customer helps to determine what you spend on acquiring that customer and set a target cost-per-acquisition (CPA) and cost-per-lead (CPL).
MEASURING UPPER-FUNNEL MEDIA
Media and marketing efforts are more generalized at the upper end of the funnel. While targeted at a specific audience, they are broad reaching compared to the ultra-personalized tactics used at the lower end of the funnel. However, it is important to note ‘Generalized’ is not 'Mass.’ Upper funnel media strategies should focus on the quality of the generated traffic to minimize waste and optimize potential leads.
There are four core areas to monitor, modify, and measure to target the ‘right’ potential buyer at the earliest stages of their journey.
Ensure keywords are optimized with the most recent keyword data, including those used for display ads, paid search, and social media ads. Performing keyword research regularly, and making changes as necessary, ensures upper funnel media is the most efficient.
Identify the most likely to have a need/want through vast demographic, psychographic, and behavioral data sources. The personas developed are assigned unique IDs allowing us to best match them with the media they consume. It’s vital to consistently revisit and recalibrate (as needed) targeting to ensure the funnel always draws in the right buyers.
Having a content marketing strategy at every stage of the funnel is beneficial, but make sure you have one at the start of a buyer’s journey, where it is crucial. Google is no longer satisfied with brands that know how to put a keyword on a page. They promote and boost reputable and valuable businesses to provide useful information to the world at no cost to anyone. Having keyword-optimized content available, including blogs, guides, how-to tutorials, eBooks, infographics, videos, whitepapers, articles, etc., will help to ensure success.
Building a social media platform will include engagement, information sharing, and other elements to maximize lead generation and nurture existing customers. As the primary platform for most consumers, they expect brands they buy to be in this space and to be aligned to their personal preferences (e.g., environment).
Effectiveness at this stage is measured by:
- Reach: How many consumers are being reached by each aspect of the media plan?
- Frequency: How frequently do consumers see the messaging?
- CPC: What is the cost-per-click by unit? Is it efficient?
- Sentiment: How is the consumer responding to the brand, product, or service (positive or negative)?
- CTR/Engagement: How many consumers click on an ad to get more information?
- Brand Mentions: How often is your brand organically in the advertising media selected?
The above will ensure your efforts at the top of the funnel are optimized against awareness and messaging.
MEASURING LOWER-FUNNEL MEDIA
You’ve captured their interest and placed your brand in the consideration set. Now, you must utilize all the customer data we’ve collected to pull users into the final stages of conversion and ultimately purchase.
In the lower funnel, marketing efforts become more direct, utilizing our deeper understanding of the consumer through continuing data acquisition. We approach this part of the journey with two goals: achieving a conversion and turning that buyer into a repeat purchaser.
With a 5X cost to acquire new customers, retention is critical. An increase in retention, as little as 5%, increases profits from 25% to 35%. When properly monitored and managed in the lower funnel, retention becomes a byproduct of the acquisition efforts.
The media and metrics utilized in the lower funnel are often like those in the upper funnel but on a more focused scale. Three elements to consider are:
Promo codes and discount offers are highly effective at the bottom of the funnel. Have a transparent, focused pricing page and provide detailed testimonials for the best results. Potential consumers are ready to buy; sometimes, they just need an incentive to make that final move.
You’ll want to measure engagement, repeat visits, and the number of pages/products visited on-site to ensure that lower-funnel leads stay consistent. User impressions and feedback surveys from leads and customers can assist in finalizing and perfecting media marketing efforts.
People abandon carts all the time for several reasons. Some may browse, while others might compare carts from different retailers (side-by-side) in separate tabs. When they decide they like one brand better, they navigate away from the other, not bothering to empty their cart. However, an abounded cart does not equal a missed sale. It’s an opportunity for remarketing and retargeting, even to just say, “Hey, did you forget about this?”
At this point in the consumer journey, media is a reassurance that your brand is the best choice for their need. It helps them continue along the purchase process, even if they may have taken a slight detour. Measures that aid in final conversion include:
- Bounce Rates: How many people reach landing or product pages and then leave?
- Cart Abandonment Rates: How many consumers didn't finalize the sale?
- Sales: Has there been a change in sales?
Conversions: What was the number of people who took actions at each step (e.g., email signup, product reservation, service request) of conversion?
THE BOTTOM LINE
There are a multitude of metrics we can track; however, some will be more valuable than others. To ensure media strategies are performing, you can use the approaches shared in this thought piece to determine the following:
- How many leads are generated from each media effort?
- How many leads continue to move forward in the funnel after the initial connection?
- Are campaigns resulting in cart abandonment and high bounce rates?
- How many people is the media bringing into the funnel?
- How many people are moving further along in the funnel because of the media?
When the measurement is done right, lower-funnel media will be informed by upper-funnel media strategies. When lower-funnel media is underperforming, it is important to note that this doesn’t always mean the upper-funnel media is following suit – it could still produce positive results and vice versa.
While less emphasis is placed on the middle of the funnel, it’s still essential to have strategies that keep potential customers moving through the funnel. Please contact us for insights into the middle funnel.
And remember, even though this guide has given you a crash course in media strategies and funnel metrics, you don’t have to do it alone.
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