Whether you are a novice digital marketer or an expert, building a marketing funnel is difficult. Is the initial task of advertising, finding out what’s the potential market we’re dealing with and how we’re reaching them?

In our 4th Master Class, we reveal how our agency tackles the most common funnel mistakes. If you missed what we covered in our 3rd Master Class, click here.


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A Bachelorette walks into a Californian Mansion and introduces herself to 25 single, available and eligible bachelors. In order to advance, each of these 25 prospects needs to qualify themselves by making it past each week’s Rose Ceremony ultimately leaving the Bachelorette with the best of the best to marry. 

If your online advertising is suffering because you’re requiring cold audiences to Marry your Brand at first sight, then maybe you can use a little help from a Rose Ceremony or two. I’m Adam Sugihto and this is Intentional Advertising.

Mistake #1: Overlooking the potential

As we covered in our last video, one of the most common mistakes when it comes to Digital Advertising is focussing too tightly on ROAS or Return on Ad Spend. What this would typically do is force you to tighten the top of your marketing funnel and it will also distract you from some other pretty important numbers like how many people are your advertising actually reaching and give your target market does this even actually make sense?

Let’s take a leaf out of the Bachelorette. Rather than focussing on the tiny portion of people who would be prepared to Marry your brand at First Sight as in buy from you today, far better to start with a much larger pool of potential prospects who can get to know you better over time and who can pre-qualify themselves as their interest in your brand grows.  

For example, let’s say your target market is mums in Australia. Your current activity may be giving you a very high ROAS, but how many people are you actually reaching? For example, let’s say you’re reaching half a million mums. That sounds like a lot! However, the last census in Australia revealed that there are actually 6 million mums in Australia. So as impressive as 500,000 sounds, there’s actually 10x more market available than you are currently reaching. 

Analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik, would describe this 6 million mums number as the Largest Addressable Qualified Audience. So the first takeaway for today is to figure out for your brand: What is the Largest Addressable Qualified Audience? What’s the potential that you’re dealing with online? And do your current activities line up with the full potential that’s available online? 

Mistake #2: Not clearly defining success metrics

Now that we’re open to starting with the largest potential pool possible, where do we go from here? Well, let’s take another leaf out of the Bachelorette’s playbook. 

Each week, the Bachelorette must make a clear decision that either qualifies a prospect as someone she would like to keep investing in or eliminates a prospect as someone that she should no longer waste any more time with. Here, the successful prospects need to earn a Rose at each week’s Rose Ceremony. 

So what’s the digital equivalent of a Rose Ceremony for your Brand? What are the clear success metrics that’ll tell you when one of your prospects is beginning to take more and more of an active interest in what it is you are offering? How do you know who the people are who you should be investing more of your time and more of your resources into and just as importantly who are the people you should stop spending any time and resources in simply because they’re just not ready.        

If you’re reading between the lines, we’re now talking about Marketing Funnels. There are many models of the Marketing Funnel with differing numbers and names of stages but to keep things simple for this session, let’s use a simple 3 tiers or 3 stage marketing funnel – but the same principles apply regardless of which model you’re using. So in this Masterclass, we’ll use a three-tier or three-stage marketing funnel that we call ACD or Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. 

Starting at the top of the marketing funnel our Awareness tier is basically the coldest audience that we are reaching and they’re the ones who are the furthest away from a buying decision. One level down is the Consideration tier, here are people who are slightly warmer yet not ready to buy but they may be in researching mode and the last tier is the Decision tier and these are our hottest prospects and the ones who are closest to a buying decision.

Now that we have established our three tiers, we now need to set up a success metric for each tier so that we know when someone has progressed through to the next level. Essentially, our digital rose ceremony.

Let’s take our first Tier, Awareness, and use that as an example. Here we’re wanting to target our large pool of potentials and take as many of them from being Unaware of our Brand to be Aware. How will we know when someone has transitioned from being unaware to aware? We need some kind of digital trigger. What you decide this trigger to be is up to you, but we’re after is the lowest level of commitment possible. Here, we are not after purchase – all we’re wanting to do is know when someone has gone from being unaware of our brand to be aware That’s it. 

In our Agency, for a number of different reasons, we like to use Video Views as our trigger for awareness. In this particular case, all we are asking of people is to watch a video from start to finish – if they do that without skipping, then at least we can know that maybe they were unaware of our brand before but now they are Aware. After watching a video, they may or may not want to buy from us, but at least we know they at least know who we are.

Similarly, let’s say someone is Aware that you exist, never cared in the past, but now all of a sudden is starting to show more interest. They have just moved from Awareness to Consideration. What are the digital triggers that tell you that someone just made this shift? In the Consideration tier, there are many possibilities – they could be something as simple as this person started coming to your website, maybe they’ve signed up to your newsletter, or maybe they even Added an Item to Cart.

We call this a Micro Conversion and micro conversions vary from Brand to Brand and industry to industry and a lot of this will depend on what kind of digital activities you’re running and also the volume of traffic that you’re getting to your website.

Finally, to the easiest part, what’s the success metric for your Decision tier? You probably already know this because you’re likely already doing it – whether that’s a purchase for e-commerce Or a Lead Generation Sign Up, whatever it is you’re using as a successful decision we would call that a Macro-conversion.

So now you should have a clear idea of your Marketing Funnel. You should have a clear understanding of what your tiers are, and a clear understanding of what the success metrics are for each of your tiers. As we discussed so far, where we consider success for:

  • Awareness to be a View View 
  • Consideration to be a Micro-Conversion 
  • The decision to be a Macro-Conversion 

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Mistake #3: Co-mingling audiences

Now that you’ve set up your tiers correctly. The last part is joining all the tiers together so that people who are progressing through your funnel are flowing nicely from Awareness through to Consideration, through to Decision. 

The Bachelorette just wouldn’t work if candidates she rejected in Week 1 all of a sudden reappeared for no reason and replaced legitimate prospects halfway through the show.

To stop this from happening, the key that ties your entire Funnel together is Saved otherwise known as Custom Audiences. For your funnel to work, the output of one Tier must become the input to the next tier. Only those who are progressing further down your funnel should be marketed to further. Without the proper use of Saved or Custom audiences, you actually don’t have a Funnel, you have targeting but people aren’t clearly progressing from one tier to the next. In fact, you’re probably mingling people who have been rejected with people who are progressing legitimately – therefore you’re confusing the algorithms and you’re probably wasting a lot of time and money.

So let’s see how all the pieces fit together in a hypothetical example:

  • Let’s say we’re targeting Aussie Mums. We might start with an awareness tier campaign that runs an R&F buy to reach our  Largest Addressable Qualified Audience of (say) the 6 million mums we mentioned earlier. To ensure we’re reaching only mums who are Unaware of our brand, we’re sure to exclude anyone who’s on our email list, anyone who’s following us on social, anyone who’s been to our website and anyone who might have watched any prior video. To this audience of now mums that we know to be unaware of our brand we then show a branding ad or a video ad, and so many mums who watch the entire ad to the end and don’t skip, we place in a video views audience.  
  • In the Consideration Tier, we then retarget this Video Views audience to find out which of these Mums who have now watched our videos would be prepared to complete a MicroConversion on our website. Those who then complete this Micro-Conversion we place in a Consideration Audience.
  • Finally, in our Decision Tier, we then retarget this Consideration Audience to find out of these people, how many would be prepared to then go and macro-convert: that’s either Purchase from our e-commerce store or do a lead generation Sign up of some kind. As an option, we also might want to place these micro converters into yet another decision audience that we can then further retarget down the track if we want to do some kind of retention campaign.  

In this way, we’re both reaching our Largest Addressable Qualified Audience and at the same time, we’re qualifying them as they work their way through the funnel. The most important part about all this though, is that this is how we work well with the algorithms. What I mean by that is that in each stage of the tier the call to action or the success metric we are asking of each person in each stage matches their level of relationship with the Brand. The algorithms can see this and they reward this – and if we don’t do this if we go too hard too soon trying to get a purchase too quickly; we work against the algorithms and therefore get penalized.  

Next steps

We’ve learned that:

  • Firstly, the initial task of advertising is to find out what is the potential market that we’re dealing with here? What is the Largest Addressable Qualified Audience and are we reaching them? 
  • Secondly, once we know we are reaching the right pool of potentials, how can we set up success metrics and triggers so that we know when they are progressing down the funnel? Essentially, how can we focus all of our time and resources on those who are progressing through and how do we stop wasting time and money on those who are simply just not ready. 
  • Thirdly, are we making good use of Saved or Custom Audiences so that we know our Funnel is flowing cleanly? Or do we have a leaky or comingled Funnel that is working against the algorithms and therefore penalizing us? 

At the end of the day if we’re do all of these things right, we can now easily find out:

  • How many people we are reaching
  • How many people are in each tier of our marketing funnel
  • How effective are we at moving people from one tier to the next

We have covered a lot of ground. Your homework for this video is to now go into your own ad accounts and have a look at your own marketing funnel.

First of all, have a look at your reach, is your reach in line with your largest addressable qualified audience? Your second task is to have a look at your own marketing funnel. Is it clear to you how many people you have in awareness, how many people you have in consideration and how many people you have indecision? Finally, double-check your audiences: are your audiences truly linking your awareness campaigns to your consideration campaigns, and your consideration campaigns to your decision campaigns. Is there a clean flow of people from one through to the other?

To end our 4th Master class, did you find any holes in your marketing funnel? We hope you have gained some new insights , and if you did we only ask you to share this with a friend or colleague who can benefit from it as well.

Advertising in the time of Coronavirus can be a huge obstacle, and without help or guidance – it can be much more difficult. Chris and Adam discuss their latest insights and advice for brands during these hard times in our next discussion, click here to find out what they had to say.

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