Full-Funnel Optimization: Cultivating Success

When businesses evaluate their sales funnel, they often aren’t getting the full story.

Today’s marketing and sales environment is growing increasingly complex as consumers become active on an increasing number of channels and data becomes the north star guiding campaign success. Now, organizations need to take a closer look at the impact each marketing action has on the customer journey.

Instead of examining their funnel from a sales or marketing-focused perspective, marketing and sales need to work together to examine how both of their activities contribute to conversions. This perspective, called full-funnel optimization, is essential to maximizing your business’s revenue.

What is Full-Funnel Optimization?

The typical sales funnel breaks the customer journey into three primary categories:

  • Top of funnel (TOFU) activities are designed to spark awareness or address a problem. For example: A customer learns of your brand while watching television.
  • Middle of funnel (MOFU) activities position your product or service as the solution. For example: A customer visits your website after seeing a television ad.
  • Bottom of funnel (BOFU) activities encourage your customers to make a decision. For example: A customer signs up for a free trial of your service after visiting your website.

As consumers move through the funnel, some attrition will naturally occur. Some marketers combat this by finding more leads, ensuring more customers make it through the funnel. Others will try to make points of conversion as tempting as possible to ensure BOFU consumers convert. However, smart marketers look at the entire funnel in a practice called full-funnel optimization.

Full-funnel optimization keeps customers in your marketing and sales funnel by examining each step of the funnel in an incremental, data-driven way with an understanding that each touchpoint is connected. This gradual approach to marketing measurement will help you better understand how awareness and consideration-based marketing tactics lead to a purchase. From there, you can choose to invest more in activities at any stage of the funnel, depending on your organization’s unique needs.

Let’s take a closer look at how your team can start engaging in full-funnel optimization.

Break Down Data Silos

Sales and marketing work together closely to produce revenue, but many organizations don’t have processes in place to facilitate data sharing between these teams. Naturally, this fragments your funnel and makes full funnel optimization incredibly difficult – if not impossible.

While marketing primarily focuses on TOFU and MOFU activities, and sales primarily takes ownership over BOFU activities, it’s rare for all activities to fall neatly into a box. Make sure you have dedicated processes and technology in place to centralize and analyze data from all of your teams. Without this crucial step, full funnel optimization will be an arduous if not impossible task.

Define and Choose Your Target Audience

Before you dig into optimization, it’s important to know exactly who you’re planning to target and ensure your messaging aligns with their needs and preferences. It’s best to choose your highest-value personas for your first round of optimization.

However, keep an eye on other influential segments. You don’t want a 5% increase in conversions for your high-value segments to turn into a 20% decrease for all others. When you begin testing your updated campaigns, keep a close eye on how these segments react to changes in spend or the removal of certain touchpoints.

Create Measurable Goals

Goals are essential to any good campaign. Ensuring your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound will help you keep a constant pulse on goal completion. For example, instead of striving to “increase conversions,” set a goal to improve them by 3% by the end of the quarter.

To make sure your leads are high quality, prop up these goals with multiple holistic, leading indicators that can predict the success of your full funnel. For example, consider using the following indicators:

  • Brand awareness – Does the customer know about your brand? How are certain brand touchpoints contributing to purchase intent?
  • Brand loyalty – Will the customer purchase from you again, and how did your branded activities influence their loyalty?
  • Marketing ROI – For every dollar spent across marketing and sales, how much money was made? What is the connection between top-of-funnel brand activities and sales?

You don’t only need to choose one of these indicators – ideally, marketers should have the technology necessary to optimize multiple KPIs in tandem. All of these metrics, whether they are brand or sales-focused, should work together to move customers down the funnel and closer to a purchase.

Test and Measure Your Progress

Once you have leading indicators in place, you can start testing and measuring any adjustments in your TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU activities. This should be an incremental process to ensure your team is enduring any undue losses as a result of experimentation.

During this testing process, gain as much visibility over each touchpoint as possible to ensure you’re accurately measuring all phases of the funnel across multiple devices and multiple channels. If you have existing multi-touch attribution processes in place, use those.

Final Thoughts

A full-funnel optimization strategy may seem intimidating, especially if your marketing and sales teams have limited control over their data. However, by equipping your teams with the knowledge, technology and skills needed to gain complete control over their data-driven campaigns, examining your funnel holistically will become second nature. This will bring a wealth of benefits, including an improved brand image, more customers, and a better balance between marketing and sales.

Mark Aronoff is Senior Vice President Global Sales and Growth of Marketing Evolution