How to use conversion data to enhance top-of-funnel marketing

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Leveraging marketing data is key to continual optimization and driving growth. This article explains how feeding bottom-of-funnel analytics back into top-of-funnel activities boosts acquisition and reduces costs over time.

Using bottom-of-funnel data as input to top-of-funnel activities

I’ve written about how growth loops can be more helpful than funnels as they allow the loop’s output to be used back into the loop. Data flows throughout the growth loop so the bottom-of-funnel data (i.e., conversions) can be retrofitted into the top-of-funnel activities to help marketers:

  • Decrease costs of acquisition or conversion.
  • Increase customer engagement.
  • Understand marketing attribution.

While growth loops are great for guiding marketers and bringing teams together for common goals, it’s important to use the concept of funnels to grasp how data is captured and flows. So, I’ll use top- and bottom-of-the-funnel approaches here. I’ll also only reference customer data.

To make this retrofitting happen, we need to use data from the output of the loop to improve its input. Bottom-of-funnel data will stand for the output, while top-of-funnel activities will receive this output as an input.

Although more technical colleagues will be heavily involved, marketers benefit the most. We should have working knowledge of how this flow of data works and be involved in these conversations to better assess how this impacts both overall customer experience and their day-to-day activities.

Dig deeper: Data plus analytics is the route to the truth

How data flows from bottom-of-funnel output back into top-of-funnel as an input

Growth loops are tools originally designed by growth teams to foster multi-team communication and prioritization. However, we will also use it to show marketers how the data from “bottom-of-funnel” should be used as input back into “top-of-funnel” activities.

Below is an example of a growth loop — note the flow of customer data throughout it:

Growth loop as it relates to customer data

1. New/returning customers

For new customers, the first attributes and behavior data points captured via acquisition channels, such as websites, app registrations or form submissions, are sent to the customer database we see at the center.

For returning customers, their existing data is already in the customer database. Also, this is where the first touch data is collected for attribution purposes via UTM campaign tracking tag.

2. Customer data enrichment

For new customers, this means ensuring you have collected the minimum data set for activation (email address, phone number, marketing opt-in consent). Through activation, such as email communications, data can start being enriched.

For returning customers, this means collecting additional information about customers, which will be used to further personalize communications with them moving forward. This data is collected via different digital channels used to engage with customers (email, website, social presence, etc).

“Middle-of-the-funnel” attribution data is also collected via UTM tracking tags. All data should make its way back to the customer database at the center.

3. Customer conversion data

Conversion data can take many forms, depending on things such as business models. It can include sales (online and offline), qualified leads generated, quality time spent on the app, form sign-ups, etc. Non-conversion data will also be collected here (cart or journey abandonments).

This data can come from different sources, including those outside the channels used in previous steps of the loop). This also means conversion data can lag in time. In these cases, you can use a proxy at this step (until you get the actual conversion data), so data moves through the loop into the next step.

4. Inputs for ‘top-of-funnel’ activities (or even to help move customers through the loop)

We can use conversion data to create a more segmented audience for campaigns to acquire new customers and help push customers through the loop (retargeting for cart abandonment, for instance). It can even create predictive proprietary algorithms that help identify which customers are more likely to convert in which channel, etc.

Why is fueling the growth loop important?

Ensuring bottom-of-funnel data is used as input into top-of-funnel activities helps marketers significantly.

Decrease the cost per acquisition/action

You can use top-of-funnel activities to help you segment a new campaign. For instance, create lookalike audiences based on data of customers who have converted instead of starting with a broader, not yet qualified audience. You can also use this same data to create exclusion lists, thus avoiding spending marketing dollars with customers who have already converted.

More targeted, customized top-of-funnel approach in campaigns

Use different messaging for those who have already converted versus those who have started the process but have yet to convert (like shopping cart abandonment in an ecommerce use case). This makes it easier to meet the customer where they are in their purchase process, including taking action for non-conversion (such as journey or cart abandonment, disengagement, etc).

More insights into attribution

This approach can help you better understand marketing attribution as the first and last touches are captured — plus everything in between. Since attribution data comes from UTM tracking tags, marketers can help in this area. Attribution data can be valuable when defining which role each of your channels plays throughout the customer journey or buying cycle and pointing out where the customer experience may be broken.

Improving marketing ROI through data-driven growth loops

Depending on your martech stack, using bottom-of-funnel metrics as an input into top-of-funnel activities can happen automatically. Data can be periodically passed from one platform to another.

For instance, from your customer database to the paid media publisher, done with security and privacy for the customer data. This way, your top-of-funnel activities will always have updated data without recurring manual work, which is the optimal setup. 

If your martech stack does not allow for this type of automated data connection, marketers can still make this connectivity happen. By working with the appropriate stakeholders, establish the best processes to periodically send data from one platform to another — so long as these processes are also done safely and securely when it comes to customer data.

Dig deeper: The success elements of marketing-driven growth

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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About the author

Ana Mourão

Ana Mourão is an Experimental Marketer with experience in helping large, complex B2B2C companies make CRM and Digital Marketing decisions with incomplete data using an experimentation framework. She is currently Senior Manager for Global Customer Journey at Stanley Black & Decker.


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