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Six key factors to succeed with full-funnel marketing

This post goes through six factors that are critical today for a CMO to succeed with full-funnel marketing.
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“Full funnel marketing” is not a new concept. It was actually developed as early as 1898, by ad agency executive Elias St. Elmo Lewis and was formerly referred to as Attention, Interest, Desire & Action – “AIDA”. And later, even “AIDAS” with S for Satisfaction. However, this model has evolved somewhat even though the foundation behind the concept is still the same. For instance, Google’s version of it: See, Think, Do and sometimes Care.

There are many things to consider, but we see six factors as critical today in order for a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) to work successfully with optimising media investments and ensuring a relevant customer experience. From the first interaction with a new customer, to the point where they continue the dialogue throughout the customer’s entire life cycle, it’s essential to get the following six key factors right to succeed with full-funnel marketing.

1. Determine the role of the marketing department
Is it a supporting organ or a driver to business? Regardless of what you decide, it must be aligned with the company’s overall business objectives and KPIs.

2. Clear targets and KPIs
This means clarifying how each department should contribute to the overall business goals. E.g making sure KPIs for IT-, marketing- and sales department are not contradicting each other and by that making it difficult to cooperate between departments. Furthermore, it’s important to align the branding department’s and performance department’s goals and KPIs.

3. Ways of working and processes
These must be unified across teams and departments. It’s key to set up agile cross-functional teams to enable quick responses and to provide clarity in terms of expectations and responsibilities.

4. Systems that enable a connected user journey
There are three factors included here. Firstly, it means ensuring that you’re using all the existing systems or tools within the company to improve the customer experience. Secondly, it means ensuring that all departments interpret data in the same way – provided that you look at the same data. Thirdly, it means making sure that you are sharing all the data from different sources in a consolidated platform rather than of spreading it out. (Post about CDPs and DMPs here)

5. Leverage the customer’s perspective
So what does this mean? It’s simple. Analyse the customer base to get a good understanding of what they expect. To get an even better understanding – take a good look at all the different touchpoints in the customer journey. Then make sure to communicate these insights to the product department.

6. Circular funnel
The process that your customer goes through before making a purchasing decision isn’t linear – it’s a continuous circle. Basically, it means that your customer may have several interactions occurring with your business in the process of making a purchase decision. That’s why you need to have a 360 view to know where in the journey your customers are.

If that’s all you need to know, feel free to stop reading. However, if you’d like to read about these six factors in great detail, keep going. Let’s get granular.

1. Determine the marketing department’s role in the business as a whole

Goals and KPIs must align with overall business goals

By agreeing on an overall KPI framework in the organisation, you also need to agree internally with other departments on what KPIs are owned or co-owned by the marketing department. This helps you understand the role of your marketing department and where you have possible overlaps and what departments you need to have close collaborations with. It also helps with managing expectations internally.

Align with other business units

This usually results in cross-functional teams that work together to drive your overall business goal with defined KPIs that are being monitored and worked on within the daily operations. A common and possible setup when working cross-functionally with your customer journeys is a combination of representation from:

  • Marketing
  • CRM
  • BI
  • Sales
  • Martech
  • IT

To create a modern marketing department with clear objectives, goals and KPIs, where everyone in the team and outside the team understands the marketing department’s role in delivering on overall business goals, strong change management skills are needed. To deliver on all the steps we have taken you through, it requires a lot of patience, willingness and ability to collaborate with other stakeholders and departments.

2. Set clear targets and KPIs which are broken down in the organisation

Clarify how each department should contribute to the overall business goal 

We often see that business goals are communicated across departments and they usually involve sales. Setting business goals is fairly straight forward but often they are not broken down and communicated well throughout the different departments in the organisation. In order to fully understand how each activity and what role each department has in achieving the overall business goals, it’s critical that it’s clear what KPIs each department needs to be evaluating in their daily operations and how this is contributing to the business as a whole. Providing clarity in how you’re measuring success means everyone is accountable and understands when to take action. 

“It’s critical that it’s clear what KPIs each department needs to be evaluating in their daily operations and how this is contributing to the business as a whole”

The exercise here could be a mutual KPI framework that includes:

  1. Main mutual objective (e.g. Increase revenue, marketing effectiveness and customer experience)
  2. Level 1 KPI’s (e.g. Growth, Profitability and Customer Experience)
  3. Dividing the customer journey into different phases/stages and agree on the objective per phase
  4. Level 2 KPI’s (Any KPI’s from you daily operations that support Level 1 KPI’s – e.g. Brand awareness, Leads, Conversions)
  5. Level 3 PI’s (Any PI’s that support level 2 KPI’s – e.g. Brand preference, site load time, opening rate for email etc.)

We strongly recommend to include all team members in the creation of such a document, or at least agree as a group what your KPI’s and PI’s are and how they support the Level 1 KPI’s and overall business goal.

Align brand and performance goals and KPIs

Despite organisations trying to ensure these two are aligned, we still often see branding and performance departments working in silos. They have their own budgets, plan, and evaluate the campaign success with their own KPIs and goals. Efforts are made to plan activations simultaneously, however, the overall success of the two combined is rarely aligned or measured. By clearly defining the overall outcome per activity (both from a branding and performance perspective) and how you are going to measure it, you’ll be able to determine whether or not what you are doing is working towards the overall goal. It’s important to keep in mind that branding activities which are generally evaluated on a more long term basis will aid the performance of more short term performance-based activities.

Please note that the above must be included in your marketing strategy – both external and internal.

3. Ways of working and processes

Use cross-functional agile teams with clear micro-goals and deadlines

By setting up cross-functional, agile teams in your marketing department and across the organisation as a whole, you’re enabling quick responses in a rapidly changing environment in which the customer is adapting and evolving at an ever-faster pace. Having the right structure and clear WoW and processes in place will make this possible and also provide clarity in terms of areas of responsibility and expectations. Setting up micro goals and deadlines will allow teams to prioritise and improve the efficiency of their work towards a bigger goal. Having clear areas of responsibility and continuously evaluating teams across the organisation will allow the organisation to quickly identify gaps in potential competencies needed, and better understand development and training needs.

“Setting up micro goals and deadlines will allow teams to prioritise and improve the efficiency of their work towards a bigger goal”

4. Systems that enable a connected user journey

Fundamental system integrations that enable a data-driven WoW

By that, we mean ensuring that all the systems and tools that are used and connected to measure, evaluate and report on the activities you are running to elevate the customer experience. The purpose is to unify the customer’s interaction on-site, and across different devices and media platforms. This means working closely with various departments across the organisation, in a fully aligned manner to ensure optimal operations as well as a prioritized workflow. This sounds easy theoretically, but from our experience, this is one of the major challenges that transforming organisations have. To be successful, it requires tight collaboration between departments such as IT/Online channels/Marketing/CRM.

Ensure a mutual tracking framework

It’s important that an organisation works towards “one truth” (that we all share the same view on which numbers to view where) and even if it’s difficult to get the perfect set up, at least agree on what is the most “correct” truth. You need to compare “apples with apples” (even if one is red and one is green) and to do this you have to set up a process so that data is structured, easily accessible and analyzed. For example, setting a clear mutual framework with the same naming convention across all departments when tracking, and agreeing on how you’re going to interpret this data. This is both a practical exercise and a WoW (Way of Working) exercise.

“You need to compare apples with apples – even if one is red and one is green”

A unified customer view

Having connected systems and sharing data to enable proper measurement is key. This is not only to streamline your marketing investment but also to ensure that your customer truly gets the best possible experience. A happy customer is a returning customer. By sharing all the data from different sources in a consolidated platform, like a CDP (Customer Data Platform), you can ensure that customers are shown relevant promotions in the right place at the right time across different devices, and also protect them from being overexposed by ads in systems that work in silos. You’ll be a step ahead, knowing that if Customer A bought a dress, you’ll also know that she engaged with a promotion involving shoes. Upselling and cross-selling will become part of daily operations and you’ll save marketing investment by getting a unified picture of what touchpoints are involved in helping you derive at a purchase or an action. The long-run gain from this is of course a greater possibility to decrease churn and increase CLTV (Customer Lifetime Value).

5. Leverage the customer’s perspective

Analysing the existing customer base

Always start by looking at your existing customer to get valuable insights about what you are doing well and not so well. Make sure you fully understand what your customers actually want right now and might need in the future. Placing your customer first, understanding that your offering needs to be relevant and valuable to them, you can then start looking at how you’re going to provide them with this product or service and ensuring the process is smooth and frictionless. Customers today are quick to judge, and you may only get one chance to prove yourself, so providing a mediocre experience or product is not an option. They will go elsewhere and most likely not give you another chance. Getting as much information about your customer as possible is critical for you, to be at the forefront of providing them with what they need – not what you think your organisation should be selling to them. The exercise here could be to work with personas, A/B testing, targeted marketing research, analysing user behaviour, online questionnaires etc.

“Customers today are quick to judge, and you may only get one chance to prove yourself.”

Feedback these insights to the product/service department

We often experience that there is a disconnection in the feedback loop between departments managing different omnichannel touchpoints and product/service departments. For example, customer service may sit on valuable information regarding a specific campaign or product that just launched and either was communicated poorly or did not represent the customers’ perceived value upon purchasing it. It’s very common that the information does not reach other relevant touchpoints in the organisation, i.e. other managers.

Another example is when the creative department is not involved or linked to the overall goal and KPIs – either by excluding it from the process entirely or by believing that it doesn’t concern the daily operations of marketing a product or launching a campaign. If the creative department/individuals creating content in your communication material do not get feedback on how certain creatives are performing against KPIs, you can’t optimise your performance marketing fully. All sources of data relating to the customer should be collected and fed back to various parts of the organisation, especially marketing, but also design, as well as the purchasing department and business development. Using data insights to enhance your products and communication should reflect in your marketing strategy as well as your creative and brand communication strategy. This is a WoW exercise.

Gap analysis: Analyse the customer journey and touchpoints

To get an even better idea of what makes your customer engage, you need to take a closer look at all the different touchpoints throughout the customer journey. Just because your analytics platform claims the customer purchased because of a Google Search ad, it may not be the ONLY touchpoint where the customer came across your advertising and made them decide to purchase. It could very well be that the customer first paid attention to your brand or product through a TV or Instagram ad but due to lack of time they didn’t carry out the intended action or purchase then and there. Perhaps they visited the site and even placed the product in the basket but due to payment issues decided to abandon the purchase. To perfect the picture of what truly matters, you need to review the different steps a customer encounters throughout a series of activities.

“Just because your analytics platform claims the customer purchased because of a Google Search ad, it may not be the ONLY touchpoint where the customer came across your advertising.”

6. Circular funnel as opposed to linear

Take a 360 view: circular marketing activities towards the customer in all touchpoints

It’s important to remember that a customer will have many touchpoints in the process of making a purchase decision, and the challenge is knowing where in the customer journey the customer is at any specific time. However, it’s essential to understand that the process is not linear. It’s a continuous circle where you may engage with the customer with inspiring “branded” campaigns and eventually get them to purchase with more tactical communication. However, that same customer will be re-engaged by the same type of branded communication once again, allowing your brand and products/services to stay top of mind in a continuous loyalty loop.

By Miyako Soeda Thornton och Magdalena Lindquist
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