Spring is here, and for many people around the country, that means one thing: the baseball season is approaching. Fans are traveling to places like Florida and Arizona to take in Spring Training games, players are refining/rediscovering their skills, and coaches are trying to determine where all the various players will fit during the 162-game season.
One of the most important aspects to building a baseball team is constructing a pitching staff. Some pitchers are built for stamina, others provide dominating power, and a few pitchers craft a unique delivery style that is meant to deceive and confuse hitters during key points of the game. Here’s a quick recap of the types of pitchers one might see during a game.
Starters: A starting pitcher will begin the game and attempt to survive as many innings as possible without giving up too many hits or runs. Some starters can go the full 9 innings, but they are usually asked to let another pitcher take over later in the game.
Middle Relief: If the starter gets into trouble, middle relief pitchers are ready to step in and burn through hitters. You won’t see middle relief pitchers in every game, only when the starter needs help early.
Setup Men: These pitchers provide a bridge from the starters (and middle relief pitchers) to the closers. Setup men do not start and rarely finish the game, and they don’t always get the credit they deserve.
Closers: When you need a pitcher to shut the game down and retire the last few batters, call on the closer. A great closer will ensure victory and rarely let a win slip away.
Knowing which pitchers fit into the different roles is not easy, and the ability to do so justifies the big dollars many baseball managers and pitching coaches command. This skill translates very well to marketing managers. Some tactics and channels work better to start the sales process with potential customers, while others are more effective at closing the deal. Using Assisted Conversions within Google Analytics, we can rely on previous conversion paths to define channel roles and win more often.
Finding Common Paths
To find out what role each marketing channel plays in the conversion process, navigate to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths. Here you’ll find a list of the most common paths to a sale.
To translate with our pitching lineup analogy, here’s how you can read the data.
At this point, you’ll want to begin to understand how each of your channels fit in the existing marketing mix.
In the example above, we can see that both Referral and Paid Search channels would be considered “starters.” Both sit at the beginning of the conversion path, but visitors tend to convert with another channel. The Direct channel looks like a “closer.” In this sampling of conversions, Direct was always at the tail end of the path, closing out the conversion. Meanwhile Organic Search looks like a bit of a wild card; it started and closed conversions. We can likely dig deeper into Organic Search behavior to determine if there is a particular keyword or type of keywords that are more likely to be starters vs. closers.
Analyzing Your Paths & Applying Filters
There are two ways to get a closer look at how your paths are performing.
1. Use the standard filter search located just above the reporting table (see arrow below).
2. Apply conversion segments to isolate views of a specific channel or path type.
In the image below you can see there are default segments, but you can also create your own as I have done on the right. Conversion segments provide a way to view and compare numbers for different channels. You can also use segments to evaluate positions within the path for the same channel (i.e. determine if a channel is more likely to be a “starter” or a “closer”).
Answering Common Questions
Here are just a few questions that you can answer when reviewing your assisted conversion data.
Which of my channels start the conversion path with customers and which close the sale?
Translation: What does my marketing mix really look like when it delivers sales and/or conversions?
Which channel(s) can stand alone and which need help to close the game?
In Other Words: Are there channels that can go the distance without any help (i.e. get the sale in a single visit)? Which channels are more likely to work with others as a team to complete a conversion?
How should my message and call to action differ for each channel based on its position in the conversion path?
For Instance: If I know paid search consistently performs as a starter, perhaps my message should change from “buy now” to a softer “sign up to learn more.”
Which channels are currently undervalued?
Example: So often we discredit social media and other new media tactics for their lack of impact on sales. Traditionally, if the channel is not a “closer”, it has not received any accolades. Use assisted conversion analysis to show the true value of tactics that start and prolong conversations with valuable prospects.
Other Starter & Closer Considerations
For “starter” segments in which a channel begins the conversion path, place emphasis on soft calls to action that will set us up for an eventual conversion.
- Consider a retargeting campaign to generate repeat traffic or returning visits.
- Develop content “hooks” (e.g. informative downloads, ebooks, in-person event or webinar invitations, etc.) that provide value to the visitor while requiring prospect contact information in return.
- Encourage subscriptions to email newsletter programs or social media channels that allow us to develop a meaningful relationship with the visitor.
For “closer” segments (i.e. those most commonly found at the tail end of conversion paths), focus on getting the sale now.
- Ensure the post-click experience includes a strong and clear call to action.
- Conduct landing page testing to determine what sales-oriented call to action will generate a higher conversion rate.
With careful analysis of the post-click experience, we can begin to create a clearer picture of our customers, their intent and preferred buying process. Hopefully adoption of this kind of evaluation will eradicate mystery and help us to understand “what will encourage my audience to act.” Rely on analytics to build your marketing channel team, and WIN more often.