The One Thing (Probably) Holding Your Marketing Funnels Back

So. You want more leads.

You’ve spent a few months writing blog posts to boost your organic traffic and have spent money on advertising with Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

You worked hard to create a smashing opt in — an assessment that’s tailored carefully to your dream audience.

But… something isn’t working. People are coming to your site organically; some are even clicking on your ads. But they’re not converting.

If this sounds like you, there’s a good chance the problem is a common one: failing to customize your users’ experiences to match their expectations.

The truth is where someone is coming from and how they find you is critically important. It gives you valuable information about the headspace your visitors are in when they “meet” you for the first time.

And the content they find should reflect that.

Cold traffic and organic traffic act differently. What works for one kind of person shouldn’t be expected to work for the other. So you need to create funnels strategically tailored to each.

However — it’s not as much extra work as you might think.

But what is cold traffic? What is organic traffic? And (more importantly) what does that mean for you?

Cold Traffic vs. Organic Traffic: Two Different Funnels

Let’s start with cold traffic first.

Cold traffic is traffic that comes to your site because you’ve paid to get them there. Examples include Google Adwords search ads, and ads on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

These visitors have no idea who you are or why they should trust you when they land on your website.

But, because you’re paying for that traffic, you get to decide every detail of your funnel, which will usually  include designing the ad itself, a landing page, an opt-in or piece of content, and the nurture sequence they receive after opting in.

Organic traffic, by contrast, is traffic that comes to your site from search — which means they may have a similar mindset to someone who clicks on a search ad. But unlike someone who clicks on an ad, they’re not going to land on your landing page.

Instead, they’re going to land on a piece of content.

For example, they may land on a blog post. That content begins to build trust, and turn even a first time visitor into a slightly warmer lead. But you need to know what step you want that visitor to take from there.

Rather than ad copy, now your funnel will be your blog post (or other piece of content), with a call to action at the end.

No ads, no landing pages…

And you can often reuse the same opt ins you’re using for other traffic sources.

However, keep in mind that you’ll want your opt-ins to be as closely aligned to the blog post content as possible. So if your post is on the top 3 hiring trends for startups this year, then your download could be a full report, research data, or a checklist on hiring for startups — something that gives the reader more information on a topic they’ve already shown they’re interested in.

Search: What are they looking for?

It’s not just your funnels, however, that should be different. A user coming to your site from Facebook is not the same as one coming from organic search… nor are they the same as someone coming from a search Ad.

Psychologically, they’re each in a very different place.

When someone goes to a search engine it’s… well… because they’re searching for something.

They’re actively in questioning mode and they’re searching for a solution. They have a problem that they need solved. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “3AM Search Term,” that’s what we’re talking about here. The thing (whatever it may be) that has your audience up at 3AM, after they’ve stumbled out of bed because they can’t sleep.

These problems are immediate.

They are terms like, “Why does my leg hurt?” or “Is my spouse cheating?” And they want a quick answer. They’re going to click around until they find that answer.

This is where organic traffic has an advantage over paid, cold traffic.

Blog posts and other content pieces, by their nature, often provide visitors with potential solutions to the problem they’re facing. However, ranking well in search engines can be hard.

By contract, ads appear at the top of the search engine results page.

But if they click on your ad and your landing page doesn’t give them an immediate answer — if you’re not giving them something tangential — they’re going to bounce. This is not the time to point them to a webinar you’re going to offer next week.

They have a burning need right now. That means checklists, quizzes… things that they can look at right away. Then, if after you give them some great information you want to get them to opt in and pitch them on a webinar, that might work — but first you have to answer their question.

Facebook Advertising: Make them curious.

By comparison, people don’t go to Facebook looking for answers… they’re not in an analytic or business frame of mind while on Twitter or Facebook.

Usually, they’re on the john. They’re eating dinner. They’re reading first thing in the morning or last thing at night.

It’s a downtime activity. And they’re looking to be entertained.

That means question-based ads and question-based landing pages will be much more successful than the solution-focused headlines we need for visitors from search.

We want to pique their curiosity.

So while the search ad and associated landing page may ultimately lead your visitor to the same opt in magnet, getting them there via an ad on Social Media requires doing it in a more entertaining way.

For example, instead of “The top cause of leg pain,” which might do really well for someone coming from a Google search, a social media ad might tease — “Could your microbiome be causing you pain?” or “Microbiomes vs. Macrobiomes: What’s in your gut?”

Double the Work… Except not really.

Yes, that means creating two different ads and two different landing pages — one for each source of traffic. But it’s worth it, because when you have content on the page that is tailored for what a specific user is looking for in that moment it is infinitely more successful.

And really, ads and landing pages are fairly easy to put together. The hard bits are usually the opt in magnets and longer form pieces of content… which, with a little bit of planning, you can reuse.

For example, let’s say we’re trying to sell a digital thermometer.

We may have a blog post about cooking the perfect steak, with a call to action at the bottom; a search ad that starts out, “How to cook the perfect steak,” and then takes them to a landing page; and a social media ad teasing “How good of a cook are you really?” that takes them to a second landing page.

Each of those traffic sources can then funnel the visitor to a quiz on the user’s cooking habits, asking them about how often they cook and what tools they use — and of course, asks them to opt in to our weekly recipes (all of that information will be invaluable when we want to market to them later).

Immediately upon completing the quiz, then they get one of three results, with a brief “profile” of what their results mean.

  • You’re an amateur. Time to go back to cooking school.
  • You Cook like Grandma!
  • Wow! You’re practically a celebrity chef.

Quizzes work exceptionally well because people are naturally curious about themselves, but a good checklist or other strategically chosen piece of content can also be effectively reused.

Now that you know the differences between organic, paid search, and social traffic how can you rework your funnels to make them more effective? Let us know in the comments!

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

How SegMetrics Fed Dr. Axe Insights for A Healthier Product Development Roadmap

SUMMARY

The Client
Axe Wellness (draxe.com) is one of the most successful health blogs around. They offer a ton of actionable advice. They have well-tested and high-converting lead magnets that deliver their users high-impact content on fitness, natural remedies, diet and overall health. The problem is their team had no way to measure lead value… just lead volume.

So while they knew how many people were downloading each lead magnet, they couldn’t tell which leads were actually most likely to result in sales.

How They Used SegMetrics
Axe Wellness integrated SegMetrics with their existing InfusionSoft account to determine the value of each of their lead magnets. This not only provided insight into where existing revenue came from, it also provided unprecedented insight into which categories might be ripe for new product development.

The Results
With just a few reports in SegMetrics the Dr. Axe team was able to finally evaluate which segments of their user base were most profitable. This led them to discover that lead magnets which had previously been overlooked, because they brought in few leads, were actually bringing in the most revenue. That, in turn, led to strategic changes in their new product roadmap to better take advantage of market opportunities.


The team of marketers at Axe Wellness know their stuff — they’ve successfully and strategically created an automated marketing machine, offering 4 key ebook downloads for their audience.

When a new lead downloaded a specific ebook, they would then be tagged within the company’s InfusionSoft account with a corresponding tag and receive a drip email marketing campaign.

For example, if a lead choose to download the company’s ebook on Essential Oils, they would then be entered into a drip campaign with additional content about essential oils, then would be pitched on a paid product also related to essential oils.

Each time they introduced a new lead magnet, they saw a corresponding rise in their bottom line… but they were unclear on which lead magnets were actually generating the most revenue.

That led Axe Wellness to SegMetrics.

Within minutes they were able to unlock key data that would fundamentally change how they tracked their business — and how they planned to run it.

A Look at the Axe Wellness Marketing Strategy

DrAxe.com uses a traditional content-based marketing funnel, sharing useful articles for free on the site and then encouraging readers to download additional information in exchange for their email address.

After receiving their free download, readers are then tagged within their InfusionSoft system as being interested in content on that topic, then entered into a related email marketing drip sequence that ends with a pitch for a paid product.

Once each funnel is created, the entire process is completely automated.

This enabled Axe Wellness to see how many people were downloading each lead magnet, but they couldn’t tell how much those leads were actually worth — or easily track how many would convert into sales.

Further complicating the issue, different products are offered at different price points making it even trickier to determine lead value.

Seeing The Value of Lead Magnets for the First Time

After signing up for their Free Trial of SegMetrics, the Dr. Axe team was able to see the value of their lead magnets for the first time — and, because SegMetrics pulls in data from existing tags, it’s able to leverage data from before it was installed.

The results?

The Axe Wellness team could now tell which downloads were generating the most revenue and which leads were most valuable at a glance.

New Insights for a More Strategic Product Development Roadmap

After looking at the data above, the Axe Wellness team noticed something interesting.

During the given timeframe, 20,720 New Leads were tagged with “Essential Oils”. Of those 20,720 New Leads, 1,282 were Buyers; that means that the conversion rate from Lead to Buyer is 2.88%.

Those 20,720 new leads generated $263,794 in revenue. That gives them a average lead value for leads who download the Essential Oils ebook of $12.73.

If we compare those numbers to their other segments we see that “Health” generated 12,687 new leads, with a Lead Value of $11.72 and “Fitness” generated 4,136 new leads at a lead value of $18.82.

Finally, “Recipes” generated 9,055 new leads at the highest average value per lead, with an average value of $19.26! This means that each “Recipes” lead is worth 64% more, on average, than each “Health” lead despite the “Recipes” category generating 3,632 fewer leads.

By clicking on each of these tags we can begin to see why this is the case.

A look at “Essential Oils” leads shows that they are most likely to buy the “Essential Oil Transformation Program,” which is a $47 product.

However, sales from the “Health” and “Recipes” segments come from the “Healing Leaky Gut Program,” which is a $147 price point. So while the “Health” and “Recipes” lead magnets don’t necessarily convert more people to sales, they convert people to the sale of a product that is worth three times as much — thus the higher Lead Values.

The Axe Wellness team would never have noticed this without SegMetrics — and data like this is why it’s important to look beyond leads growth when measuring the success of your marketing automation.

As in this case, it’s possible for one lead magnet to bring in more leads, while another actually generates higher value leads.

“Mind. Blown,” said Evan Tardy, President of Axe Wellness, after seeing this data. “This will definitely impact our product development.”


Next Steps: From Data And Insights To Real Action

Using these new data points, Axe Wellness is better prepared to make strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Looking at the data they’ve gained from SegMetrics, they can now develop a premium product for their Essential Oils marketing funnel, and track whether that leads to a boost in lead value.

Because Essential Oils generates the most New Leads, boosting the Lead Values could have a massive impact on the bottom line.

And in the meantime, while they develop the new product, they can focus on bringing in more leads for Recipes and Health. Because these segments have the highest average lead value, new leads in those categories have the potential to generate a significant amount of new revenue, without any chances to their product offering.

This is our end-goal at SegMetrics. We provide the data and insights that allow Infusionsoft companies such as Axe Wellness to make game-changing business decisions.

Interested in finding out the true value of your leads and getting the real data on how your products marketing is doing?

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

How to Build an Advertising Sales Funnel: The $200K Case Study

If you’re a longtime reader, you know the power of a good email nurture sequence and you even know how to create one using the hero’s journey to build a highly effective marketing funnel.

Those articles have lots of detail about how you can take a cold lead, who hasn’t heard of you before, and turn them into a paying customer.

But there’s one thing those articles don’t talk about. They don’t tell you how to get those emails in the first place.

Those strategies require you to have the user’s email address in order to market them. But what if you could create a nurture sequence BEFORE people gave you their email address.

So, how do you do that?

Today I want to talk about how you can use the latest digital advertising strategies to build a pre-nurture sales funnel — using the same nurture strategies from a Direct Mailing while completely skipping the inbox.

And how one company used the strategy I’m going to share to make $212,400 from a $4,133 investment (that’s a 51x ROI, if you’re counting).

Your Ad Options For Building an Advertising Sales Funnel: A Quick Refresher

In this post we talked about the state of digital advertising — but what you need to know for our conversation today is that there are three types of ads.

  • “Traditional” ads — you provide Google or Facebook with demographic data or keywords and they show your ad to people who match that information.
  • Lookalike Audiences / Customer Match ads — you provide Google or Facebook with a list of existing customers and they market either to that list of customers or to other customers that they identify that are just like those customers using the data they have that you do not.
  • Retargeting ads — you add code to allow Google and/or Facebook to track user behavior on your website and then the platforms show those users ads based on those behaviors.

Now we’re going to talk about pulling those pieces (plus one more missing piece) together to build an advertising sales funnel.

The 7 Step Digital Advertising Sales Funnel

I’m going to show you how to create a 7-step nurture sequence that you can use to market to people before you ever get their email address.

This combines the effectiveness of direct-marketing nurture sequences, with the pervasiveness of standard digital advertising.

This strategy has been pioneered by companies like SingleGrain, Neil Patel, Vantage, CartHook and more. I’ll walk you through the overall strategy, as well as a specific (NDA’d) case study.

RealSuccess (not their real name) built a 7-step ad funnel, and was able to turn $4,133.71 on Facebook ads into an extra $212,400 in annual recurring revenue (ARR).

The secret? Pairing Facebook ads with content marketing.

Let me explain.

RealSuccess created a series of blog posts, an ebook, and a webinar, which they promoted using Facebook ads. This created a 7-step sales funnel that pushed users to buy their product.

By using Retargeting ads they were able to move people through the funnel depending on what ads they clicked (or didn’t click), and if they engaged with the content. The fact that they were only using Retargeting ads also lowered their ad-spend significantly, since Retargeting ads are a fraction of the price of standard ads.

Here’s what the 7-step ad funnel looked like:

1. The Attention Post

The advertising sales funnel began with an “attention post.” This post’s sole job was to capture a Facebook user’s attention as they scrolled through their news feed and make them click.

They paid to promote it on facebook using “traditional” ads.

2. The Trends Post

Next they created a post with trends those users would be interested in. This post was meant to build credibility with those users who had seen the previous post. This time they used a mix of traditional advertising and retargeting.

Users who clicked on the first ad but did not sign up for a free trial were then excluded from seeing that ad, and began to see this one instead. Users who fit into the “traditional” ad audience but hadn’t clicked on the first ad began to see this ad after a week of seeing but not clicking on the first ad.

3. The Help Post

Again, the focus of this third post was to build credibility — and RealSuccess used a mix of traditional advertising and retargeting to promote it. This post focused on future trends.

Again, users who had clicked on the previous post immediately began to see this one instead; all other users were moved along to this ad after a week of seeing the previous one.

4. The Product Focus Post

This time, the RealSuccess team choose to focus on their product itself, writing a post about optimizing the checkout experience of a Shopify website.

They continued their mix of traditional and retargeted ads. That means at this point people seeing this ad had either been seeing the company’s ads for 3 weeks (and therefore the brand name would no longer be a complete unknown) or they had clicked on one of the previous three ads.

5. The Killer Feature Post

Their fifth post focused on one killer product feature — in their case, the art of upsells, which their product would help shopify users with. They again continued their strategy of traditional and retargeting ads.

6. The Ebook

Now that they had 5 posts on a related topic, they repurposed that content into an ebook, The Advanced Guide to eCommerce Funnels: How ecommerce is set to change and what you need to do to stay ahead. Then they used additional traditional and retargeted ads to promote this new piece of content.

At this point, the company had already seen a significant return on investment.

This process, of writing and promoting these 5 posts on Facebook, had net them:

  • 1000+ new email contacts
  • 127 free trial sign ups
  • 38 new customers
  • $11,400 in new recurring monthly revenue (that’s $136,800 in annual recurring revenue)

But since they had those 1,000 new email addresses they decided to take it one step further… with a webinar.

7. The Webinar

They choose to do a webinar with one of their clients, sharing how that client had built million dollar sales funnels using their product. This they also advertised on Facebook — both via retargeting and based on lookalike audiences, further boosting its reach.

The webinar had 360 people register and brought in an additional 68 free trial signups. Those led to 21 new customers, for an additional $6,300 in monthly recurring revenue ($75,600 in ARR).

The Final Results

The final results of this digital advertising sales funnel were pretty impressive.

  • $4,133.71 spent in ad dollars
  • $17,700 in new monthly recurring revenue
  • $212,400 in new annual recurring revenue

How to Create Your Own Digital Advertising Sales Funnel

To summarize that all for you, here are the steps again:

  1. How can you get attention in your market?
    Write a blog post on it. Then promote on Facebook using traditional ads.
  2. How can you help your customers succeed in the market?
    Talk about trends you’re seeing to build credibility. Then promote it on Facebook with retargeting and traditional ads.
  3. How can you help your target market succeed?
    Write a post on that — again, we want to build credibility. You want to be positioned as a trusted resource! And, again, promote it using retargeting and traditional ads via Facebook.
  4. What does your product do in the context of what’s happening in the market?
    This post should focus more on your product — sharing how it helps your target customers succeed. What part of their process does it make better? Continue using your mixed Facebook advertising strategy.
  5. What is your differentiating factor? 
    Share a killer feature of your product, and how it helps your target audience. Again, promote it using our ongoing Facebook advertising strategy.
  6. Repurpose to an Ebook
    Combine the posts you’ve created to write an ebook on the same general topic, and promote that too, using our ongoing ad strategy.
  7. Show real results from someone using your product in a webinar.
    Finally, use retargeting to capture some of the folks who have shown interest but have yet to take the plunge with a free trial or product purchase by advertising a free webinar. You can further boost your numbers here by using lookalike audiences to find new potential leads that might also be interested in attending.

Beyond An Advertising Sales Funnel: How to Integrate Advertising Into Your Email Nurtures

This is really just one strategy – and just the tip of the iceberg with what you can do with custom audiences.

What if instead of stopping the ads at that point, you continued to integrate them into your email nurture sequence?

This would allow you to create an automated email marketing sequence, with a “live environment” feel. Your customers would be receiving highly tailored content in an automated series specific to where they were in your nurture sequence… but to them, it would all feel like a product launch — a big event, they were participating in!

We’ll talk more about how we can use custom audiences and retargeting in nurture sequences next time!

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

The Lead Gen Tool You Can Learn from Seventeen Magazine

Picture this… You launch a new marketing tool that your prospects are so excited about that it gets shared with all their friends.

This new tool goes way beyond the classic lead form — prospects aren’t just willing to share a name and email address, they happily tell you what they ate for breakfast, their favorite color, and how many hours of sleep they got last night.

They share details about their life, their preferences, and their biggest fears.

What kind of marketing tool am I talking about?

The “Self Assessment” or “online quiz.”

From High School to Lead Gen Tool…

They’ve become incredibly popular in recent years, with sites like Buzzfeed publishing 15 or more such tests in a 24 hour period.

But the truth is this idea is anything but new.

Personality quizzes have been in circulation since at least 1936, when Meet Yourself, a 336-page home-psychoanalysis test was published. And magazines like Seventeen, Esquire, and Men’s Health have included headlines like, “Which Backstreet boy is your perfect match?” or “What fad diet is right for your body type?” on their covers to help convince shoppers to add a little reading material to their carts for ages.

Then along came the internet.

And, like it has for so many things, it revolutionized these self assessments. Not only has it done away with the need for “manually tabulating” what your responses are worth, to figure out your results, it has also made assessments a powerful tool for online businesses.

Why?

Two reasons:

  1. First, people love them.
  2. Second, they are valuable tools for businesses with something to sell.

Let’s look at each of those a bit more closely.

Why People Love Online Quizzes

Studies show that hands down, our favorite thing to talk about is ourselves. Talking about ourselves lights up the same areas of the brain that light up when eating good food, taking drugs, and even having sex.

This inherent interest in ourselves extends to learning more about who we are and where we fit in the world.

Quizzes offer us a chance to satisfy both of those desires simultaneously… they tell us something about ourselves, and help us meet our need to feel that we “belong” to a group.

And, because we love to talk about ourselves, when we take a quiz that tells us which sandwich we are, what Harry Potter house we’d fall into, or what state we should live in, we instinctively seem to want to share the results with our peers.

So, if you create a quiz, those who take it are likely to share it organically with their friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, and any other favorite social media platforms they may have.

So that’s what’s in it for those taking these quizzes; but what’s in it for those creating them?

Why Businesses Love Online Quizzes Too

When a business creates an online quiz, the primary goal is usually to get new leads. Because people enjoy taking them so much, offering people a little insight into themselves is a great incentive for convincing them to hand over their contact information.

In fact, they often get a 50-60% opt in rate — do you have anything else that converts like that? My guess is probably not… and if you do, I definitely want to hear about it.

Because they’re a series of questions, which closely align with Google search terms, and they often gain a lot of backlinks and social shares, quizzes are also good for SEO.

Furthermore, by creating a quiz that’s on topic or relevant to the business, the company gains leads who are also demonstrating that they’re interested in what the organization has to offer. The quiz provides that business with the same insight it’s providing to the quiz-taker, plus all the extra information the person provides during the course of the quiz itself.

“The 2AM Google Search.”

That brings us to what is probably the most common question I get about using quizzes as a lead gen tool — how do you choose a topic?

At the risk of overstating the obvious, your assessment should be on a topic that’s related to your business. It should also help answer a key question ideal prospects are wondering about themselves, or a question they should be wondering, that perhaps they haven’t thought of yet.

It should address that key thing they are searching for at 2am — the thing literally keeping them up at night. Think things like “How do I make more sales?” or “Why can’t I lose weight? ”

But you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. One assessment that I found took the DSM-IV diagnostic assessment and turned it into a medical assessment tool for clients with clinical depression.

While for obvious reasons it didn’t include social sharing tools on that one (after all, who wants to tell their friends that they’re depressed?), the tool still performed incredibly well, helping not only capture new leads but also helping “segment” them appropriately.

Bonus: Want to learn how to use quizzes to build your list? Check out my new Free Ultimate Guide to Building Quizzes that Convert.

Let your quiz qualify your leads for you.

As I mentioned earlier, quizzes provide you with a ton of valuable information on the leads it brings in.

That, in turn, lets you determine which type of marketing follow up is most appropriate for that person; this process of breaking out marketing leads into buckets and then marketing to them appropriately is called customer segmentation or lead segmentation.

The idea is that you want to know the most important thing that you can give your lead, the thing that’s going to convert them to a customer, and target them with that content or messaging.

For example, if we return to the anti-anxiety product I mentioned above, a quiz on how anxiety affects you or whether you are overly anxious would be perfect.

Not only does it appeal to the ideal customer, but during the assessment the quiz gives the company information about the person opting into their marketing funnel, so they can suggest an appropriate next step.

Maybe the person taking the quiz has no anxiety whatsoever — in which case they can be sent to an educational course, or something light. They’re not going to become a customer. Maybe their answers are unclear — their responses don’t indicate whether they have anxiety or not; then the company might share some educational information that can help them gain a better understanding of their needs.

Or, maybe the person has crippling anxiety and my client should get on a call with them right now.

In each of these cases, the answers the lead provided during the quiz actually helps the company determine the appropriate level and type of follow up. Not only does doing this create a better experience for the user, it pre-qualifies the leads for the company, so they can focus the most time and energy where it’s likely to be most productive — allowing them to make more money and be more effective in their field.

Thinking about creating a quiz for your business? Download my list of best practices to get the Do’s and Don’ts you should be sure to follow.

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

What We Learned Analyzing 43 Million Leads and $2.6 Billion in Sales

Here at SegMetrics, we help our customers understand their marketing funnels — where people come from, what they buy, and what turns leads into customers. This gives us unparalleled access to a treasure-trove of analytic data on what type of messaging people respond to, and how leads act in direct marketing email funnels.

With our analytics data spanning thousands of marketing funnels, and $2.6 Billion in direct-response revenue, we began to wonder:

What exactly DOES it take to turn a cold lead into a customer?

The Data

In order to protect the confidentiality of customer data and marketing strategies, the following information is taken in aggregate over 43 million leads. No email addresses, products purchased, nor any personally identifiable information were used in the analysis. All sales and marketing funnel data was combined for analytical purposes.

We then took our list of leads, and measured their Lead Value — the average amount of money that they’ve spent during any marketing campaign. We then correlated  that to the amount of time they’re on the list, the number of emails they received, and the number of campaigns they went through.

In this article, we’ll go through:

  • How much your leads should be worth
  • When is the best time to sell
  • Understanding refunds and delinquency issues
  • The optimal price points for preventing refunds
  • How long it takes leads to turn into customers
  • And the importance of repeat customers

Takeaway #1: How much should your leads be worth?

Your lead value is one of the most important metrics in your business, and should be the top KPI that you keep an eye on. Understanding your lead value helps you determine if your marketing campaigns are making money, especially in the case of paid advertising.

If you spend more to get a lead than they end of bringing in, then your business is losing money.

We lose money on every sale,
but make it up in volume.

For any business, as long as your lead value is higher than what you pay to get the lead, you’re in the clear. But it’s sometimes hard to see if your lead value is optimized enough, or if you’re leaving money on the table.

It doesn’t help that since every business has a different business model, comparing lead values can be like comparing apples and oranges. Many companies are low margin, and make up for that in quantity, while many are boutique-style products, that have smaller lists with more devoted (and valuable) followings.

So let’s look at the data in aggregate, and then look at how boutique-style products can heavily influence what we think of as “normal” for Lead Value.

Across the leads we analyzed, the value of a given lead is $94.33 when taken in aggregate over all available lists. However, on any given list, the average lead value is only $54.74. Which means that many of the boutique-style lists pull up the overall value of leads on more standard lists.

HOWEVER, as we said, the difference between a boutique style list and a standard consumer list can make huge differences in lead value.

In order to find a more relatable Lead Value, we need to look at the breakdown of what percentage of lists have certain lead values.

If we break down the Lead Value by account, we see that the majority of lists are in the sub $5 range.

Lead ValuePercentage
< $520.1%
$5 – $1421.1%
$15 – $2412.6%
$25 – $347.4%
$35 – $446.3%
$45 – $9919.3%
$100 – $2498.1%
$250+4.9%

It should be noted that the higher lead value lists don’t necessarily have higher revenue overall, just that they have a higher value per lead. For example, a list with 2400 leads on it with only $280,000 of sales would still have an extremely high Lead Value of $117.

So what should your Lead Value be?

As long as the cost to acquire a lead is lower than your lead value, you’re in the clear — the question then becomes, do you scale by increasing the number of leads, or by increasing the value of every lead that comes on to your list?

As a great example, on the Growth Lab blog, Brennan Dunn shared that for his email course he was able to get a lead value of $55.80 for his $2.50 Facebook ads.


Takeaway #2: Be mindful of other people’s sales calendar

Remember back to your school days, when your teachers would each give you an hours’ worth of homework, without considering that the other teachers were each giving you an hour as well.

While it might not be something that you often consider, the fact is that most people on your list are on other people’s lists as well. In fact, if your list is made of up of professionals, they may be on hundreds of lists, for every product they’ve ever signed up for.

In our dataset, we looked at 43,214,294 contact records spread over the accounts of multiple marketers. However, only a fraction of those contacts are unique. — according to our data, over 58% of all contacts belong to at least one other list, while many belong to up to 20 different lists. (One email address we found is on over 80% of our lists)

That means that for any launch marketing message that you’re sending out, other marketers are likely sending out mails at the same time. This can cause a serious dent in your predicted revenue if you launch at the same time as someone else in your space, or even just launch when people aren’t engaged with their inbox.

This is one reason why we promote evergreen sales as the way to go — enabling you to spread your revenue collection throughout the year instead of having to rely on the success of a single launch.

Sales over the year

Looking at our purchase data, we did an analysis of what days people purchased, and which timeframes were crowded, and which were fairly low-traffic, over the last 5 years.

This is a breakdown of the number of products sold during each day of the year.

As we can imagine, the worst sales weeks are the first and last weeks of the year. However, you’ll notice that the fourth week in January is a huge boost in sales, generally pushed by new-year-resolution purchases.

General sales tend to be lower in the summer and late fall months, with spikes created mainly through targeted sales efforts.

Sales by Day of Week

The day of the week also influences sales, with most sales being completed on Tuesday or Thursday. Sunday being the worst day for sales. This follows most launch style models, where we see that cart opens on Wednesday, Thursday is the major sales day, followed by friday when the cart closes.

Number of Sales by time of day

Interestingly, there is a heavy bias towards sales occurring at midnight to 5am Eastern Time, with a strong drop off after 6pm Eastern. Expiriring sales pages, often used in scarcity sales tactics, often expire at midnight Pacific time (3am Eastern), most likely accounting for the large blip in sales during midnight and 3am.

Recommendations

In our experience, even on Evergreen Funnels, following a solid date & time strategy can be key to increasing your sales. While the specifics change depending on your market, for most B2C products we see the following:

  • Summer is the worst time to sell (Especially Late June & July) as people are traveling and many have kids at home
  • Leading up to Christmas is good for physical products and gift-giving
  • 3rd week of January is great for any “improvement” products as they tie in to New Year Resolutions
  • Cart open on Wednesday, close on Friday at Midnight is a solid sales tactic that catches people as they’re winding down the week
  • Follow up the cart close with a one-day “Last Chance” offer on Monday.

Takeaway #3: Beware Delinquent Payments

One thing that comes from working with hundreds of marketing funnels and shopping carts is the understanding that a sale isn’t always a sale. Failed cards, delinquent payment plans and PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair) issues can turn a celebration into a disaster.

In this analysis, we saw that 18% of sales revenue is still outstanding from unpaid invoices. That’s $432 million dollars of uncollected revenue caused by declined credit cards, defaulting on payment plans, or shopping cart errors that will report on revenue that was never collected.

This problem is especially important when you’re dealing with payment plans and other “collect later” offers like subscription payments, $1 initial offers and trip-wires, you need to be aware of how often your customers are becoming delinquent on their payments.

This is why we talk about PIF (Paid in Full) value versus the amount actually paid. You need to know your PIF value to understand how well a sales funnel is performing, while the amount collected will help you schedule your business’ cash flow.

Luckily, the delinquency rate for payment plans is not nearly as painful as above, showing only a 4.7% delinquency rate across all payments plans.

In other words, 95.3% of people who make at least one payment on their payment plan will complete all their payments. That means that if you offer a payment plan, make sure that you provide a service charge, or some extra fee to offset that 4.7% revenue loss.

Recommendations

Payment plans have a much higher rate of purchase than up-front plans, and we usually see around a 27% uptick on sales for payment plans when compared to Paid in Full plans.

Additionally, the number of months included in the plan can have a huge impact both on the sales (cheaper price over more months increases sales) and delinquency (longer payment plans means more chances for the customer to become delinquent).

We generally see the sweet spot to be 3-6 months of payments, with the price being 10% greater than the PIF version, in order to offset the potential delinquency rates.


Takeaway #4: The Perfect Price  Point for Refunds

Like delinquent payments, refunds and their cousin chargebacks are the dirty little secrets of selling online that you usually don’t discover until it’s too late — and a quick way to turn a successful launch into a painful hole in your wallet.

Refunds and chargebacks are especially difficult for online companies, as credit card companies side with the consumer 9 times out of 10 for digital products. Additionally, as per Visa’s guidelines, customers can file a chargeback up to 540 days after the initial transaction.

One customer that we consulted with through SegMetrics found out that they had a consistent 15% refund rate on all of their sales funnels — and that jumped to 23% from sales made during launches.

So it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure that customers are happy.

Luckily, refund rates are usually fairly low, and in the SegMetrics data set, we see that 3.95% of all purchases are eventually refunded, which applies to 4.12% of revenue.

Why the discrepancy in number of refunds versus their value?

Digging into the data, the price of a product has a huge impact on the refund rate. Cheaper products have an “oh well” factor that makes the hassle of asking for a refund more costly than the initial product, while products that are priced extremely ($2k or greater) are seldom bought on a whim, and have a lower refund rate.

Product PriceRefund Rate
< $502.8%
$50 – $995.3%
$100 – $4996.9%
$500 – $99910.1%
$1000 – $199910.2%
$2000+5.0%

Interestingly enough, at the sub $50 level, there is a high variance in refund rates, with the 30 to 39 dollar range being the most susceptible to refunds.

Product PriceRefund Rate
< $101.7%
$10 – $191.2%
$20 – $292.9%
$30 – $395.4%
$40 – $494.4%

Recommendations

The best way to prevent refunds and chargebacks is to provide a great product, and to undersell and overdeliver. While there are always people looking to get a free lunch, the majority of people will not ask for a refund if they are satisfied with the product.

That being said, there are a number of strategies that you can do to both increase sales and combat refunds and chargebacks:

  • Have a 365 day money-back guarantee. As we mentioned earlier, the time limit for a chargeback is over a year long. With a 365 day guarantee you’re providing assurance to potential customers, while not extending your refund period beyond that of a chargeback. Also, most people will not ask for a refund 12 months after they purchased something.
  • Provide Stipulations for the money-back guarantee. This strategy works well, especially for payment plans or online courses. The idea is to get a signed document (using HelloSign or other online system) that says that the person agrees that they have to complete the course, do the homework, etc before they can get the refund. This gives you two benefits: First, it increases the perceived value of your product because of the “professionality” of having homework & an automated signing system. Second, it gives you a legal document that identifies that the customer actually purchased the product, which is useful in combating frivolous chargebacks.

Takeaway #5: How long does it take people to purchase

Wouldn’t it be great if as soon as a new lead joined your list, they instantly purchased and fulfilled their full lead value right there on the spot?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and most leads require quite a bit of education and nurturing before they turn into a customer. This is especially important for cold leads that are joining your list from paid advertising.

This time to purchase is an important aspect of planning your marketing funnel. You want to optimize your funnels so that leads convert quickly, but also bring in the optimum amount of value for your funnel. If you can sell a $10 product in the first 5 days, but sell a $100 product in two weeks, it would be beneficial to push the sales messaging back to optimize revenue.

If you’re working with paid advertising, knowing how long it takes to turn a lead into a customer is key to understanding the effectiveness of your ads, especially since most ad-tracking systems only report on revenue generated within 30 days of clicking an ad.

From the data, we went through and measured the amount of time it took from a lead joining the list until they make their first purchase. We then analyzed what happened to the time to purchase for different price points.

NOTE: Because of the large number of contacts who are created when they first make a purchase, we’re ignoring contacts that were created from a purchase event, which made up 16.7% of all customers.

Days until first purchase, overall

This is the analysis of how long it takes a customer to purchase once they join the list. It not only gives us a great understanding of how long it takes people to buy, but also the setup of many people’s marketing funnels.

The jumps in “first purchase” happen on day 1, 15 and 30 — which would tie to the lists’ nurture campaigns, which are usually set in 2 and 4 week intervals. After the 30 day mark, sales tend to slow down, but do not drop off, decreasing only 20% even after 600 days on the funnel.

While immediate sales are always a feel-good stat, it’s important to remember that your long-tail leads are often your best source of long-term revenue. Over all price points, 57% of revenue came after day 30.

Price Point Analysis

The various price points ($50, $100, $1000) all have similar trajectories to the overall graph. However, two points are interesting on the higher price point items.

The first is the $50 to $100 timeframe, which has a similar initial purchase rate to the other data sets, but the 15-day and 30-day sales emails fully eclipse the first week sales.

From our experience with marketing campaigns in this price range, this is most likely caused by a stronger email marketing funnel that delays that initial product offer until the 2nd and 4th weeks, so that they can craft a stronger narrative and nurture leads into buying the higher-priced product.

Secondly, in the $1000+ timeline, as we expect, products that are more than $1000 need more lead time for the initial sale, and we see large spikes in sales around the 100, 200 and 300 day marks. This is interesting, because where the sub-thousand dollar products flatten out after day 100, the higher-value products are able to increase sales through nurture emails and sales offers over time.

Especially for larger dollar products, you should keep educational sales funnels continuing throughout the lifetime of the contact even leads who haven’t purchased previously.

Days until first purchase for products under $50

Days until first purchase for products $50 to $100

Days until first purchase for products $100 to $1000

Days until first purchase for products over $1000

 

Recommendation

Don’t trust your Facebook or Adwords Ad Pixels to give you the real lead value for your paid marketing campaigns. When doing direct marketing, it’s important that you understand how people respond to your emails and funnels weeks, months and years after they join the list — as a $5 lead can be worth thousands of dollars over the course of a year.

“The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is just 5-20%”
—Market Metrics

Takeaway #6: The importance of customer value

It is a beautiful fact of business that customer value only increases over time. The ability to understand how often your customers purchase, and how much they purchase is key to building a sales funnel that can continually generate revenue from your most valuable asset — your existing customers.

This idea of repeat customers is summed up in what’s called an RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary) Analysis. This is a marketing technique used to determine which customers are your most valuable by looking at how recently (recency) a customer has purchased, how often they purchased (frequency), and how much they spend (monetary).

Looking at the Lifetime Customer Value (Monetary) data from the leads, we see that the customer value languishes at the low end of the spectrum for the majority of customers. It’s only until the 50% mark when the Lifetime Customer Value hits $120, and only the top 10% of customers ever hit double-digit lifetime value.

List PercentileCustomer Value
90%$1010+
80%$460+
70%$260+
60%$170+
50%$120+
40%$80+
30%$60+
20%$40+
10%$20+

List PercentileNumber of Purchases
90%8+
80%4+
70%3+
60%2+
50%1+

 

The Frequency Report paints a similar picture — 50% of customers have only purchased one time. While we see that at the highest percentiles, some lists have repeating purchases hitting an average of 8+ purchases per customer, the majority of repeat customers is low.

Recommendations

“A 5% Increase in Customer Retention can mean a 30% increase in company profitability.”
—Bain & Company

Creating repeat customers can be one of the most challenging, but simultaneously rewarding, aspects of optimizing your sales funnel. However, in order for customers to become repeat buyers, they have to have something to buy, which means creating new products for them.

If you don’t have any products at the ready, here are a number of ideas to create additional content for existing customers:

  • Do an interview series with leaders in your field and package them as an add-on to your existing product
  • Turn your product into a monthly subscription package, and provide additional value for a monthly or annual fee
  • Collect existing articles and content into a “quick guide”

Closing Thoughts: Do Your Marketing a Favor

Go through the metrics we talked about above, and see how your marketing funnels are performing compared to the rest of the industry. Not sure how to get the numbers? Check out our free guide to determining lead value, or let SegMetrics calculate all these metrics in under 10 minutes.

You spend a lot of time and effort on your marketing funnels. Knowing how they perform, and the true value of your leads, is the key to growing your business.

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

The Secret Behind Star Wars & How it Can Improve Your Emails

Like many heroes at the beginning of their quests, our hero starts out as nothing special. He lives on a farm or under the stairs or in a hobbit hole.

Until something changes.

Luke receives a message from Leia. Harry Potter receives his letter from Hogwarts. Bilbo has a wizard show up at his door.

Doubts surface, a mentor appears to guide them, and they cross the threshold…And so begins an epic tale, known as “The Hero’s Journey.”

The Hero’s Journey is a storytelling structure first described by Joseph Campbell in 1949, but it can be seen at work in everything from Toy Story to Star Wars and The Odyssey to The Wizard of Oz.

Campbell studied the world’s myths and literature and found many of them shared this common storytelling progression:

  1. The Hero is shown in their day-to-day life.
  2. Then there is a call to action — a reason to leave that life behind, and go on an adventure.
  3. They meet a mentor — like Obi Wan or Gandalf.
  4. The hero undergoes trials and tests.
  5. Finally, our hero returns, having accomplished some key feat or acquired some important truth about himself.

This story format works because we see ourselves in the Hero. We follow along with their pains and struggles, and rejoice when they succeed.

And the truth is, we can use this same structure in our email marketing nurtures.

This is Your Brain on Storytelling

As human beings, we love stories. In fact, we love them so much, that even watching a narrative on video consistently causes oxytocin synthesis. The amount of oxytocin (known as the “cuddle hormone”) released can even be used to predict how much people are willing to cooperate.

Paul J. Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomic Studies, a professor of economics, psychology, and management at Claremont Graduate University, and the author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies wrote about it for Harvard Business Review back in 2014.

So the ideas here are nothing new — and yet, these techniques are still often overlooked when developing marketing funnels… and email nurture campaigns, specifically.

We’ve talked about email nurture campaigns before, but essentially an email nurture is a series of emails aimed at getting people to understand who you are, and connect with you and your product on an emotional level.

It can help gain your potential customer’s trust, and show them how the thing you sell can make them a better person. This is the Pain / Dream / Fix strategy that we often mention.

Over a few weeks, we can walk them through a journey, by sharing the story of our product’s founder or a customer who has used what we’re trying to sell to achieve great results.

Creating an Email Sequence Using The Hero’s Journey

The most effective Nurture Sequences are usually two weeks of educational emails that work to create an emotional connection and provide great content without ever talking about a sale.

Then, after your lead has completed that sequence, they’ll receive a 3-4 day sales sequence with a hard sell, ending with an email that offers them one last chance to sign up and walks them through everything they need to know.

This is the flow that I discuss in detail in “Why No One is Buying Your Info Product.”

When launching a new product or existing product to an internal list, I take this idea one step further.

Not only do I use the Hero’s Journey format, I add a second “hero” to the journey, whose presence relates to a niche within the main target market that readers can relate to.

So, for example, if I’m working on a sequence for a new productivity course, I might introduce “Tim,” the company founder, who used it to get away from navel-gazing and actually get stuff done; but I’d also weave in Mary, an early customer, who gave it a try and saw great results.

That’s because people like people who remind them of themselves.

So a woman might be more likely to relate to Mary, while a man may relate better to Tim (not that those similarities have to be along gender lines, but that makes for an easy example).

The Hero’s Journey Email Nurture Template

But what should you actually put IN each of those emails?

Let’s break down email one by one.

DAY 1, EMAIL 1 – On the first day we have the story hook. This is the part of the story that introduces our main character and how terrible his life was before he found the solution we’re trying to sell. If ultimately we’ll be offering a productivity product, this is where we talk about how he used to sit and stare at the screen for hours without getting anything done.

One of the most powerful emails I’ve ever read like this is from SCDLifestyle, where Jordan shared the story of writing out his will at age 23, because he thought he was going to die.

We want out reader to think, “Wow! You have really gone through it all!”

After describing the worst moments of our hero’s life, we say, “But I was able to get over it, and for the next several emails, I’m going to show you how I went from this to the guy you know I am now.”

DAY 3, EMAIL 2 – Our next email talks a little more about the pain our hero was experiencing and then introduces our first helpful resource, to give them a jumpstart in solving their problems. Usually this is a worksheet that helps people take the very first step in overcoming their problem.

It may be a top five daily checklist, or something else that won’t take a lot of time, but that people can start using right away and that will provide a ton of value.

In your email, it’s positioned as being from your hero — something they really wish they’d had when starting out.

The worksheets and downloads throughout the nurture serve two purposes:

  1. They work to build trust in your ultimate solution.
  2. They measure engagement. Your email open rate tells you how good your subject line is, but your click through rate to your downloads tells you how good the content of that email actually is. If you don’t have anything for people to click in your emails, it’s difficult to measure real engagement.

DAY 4, EMAIL 3 – At this point it’s time to introduce our secondary hero. Here we talk about Mary’s story, share the problem she eventually overcame, and how she started down that road to success.

Again, at the end of this email, we give something away. Usually, for email 3, I choose a video testimonial from Mary, to help people connect with her, where she shares some helpful pieces of advice.

The important note about Mary is that she should be talking about a different aspect of the problem than our primary hero did, or a different niche that could benefit from the solution you’ll eventually provide… because no product only solves one problem.

That concludes the first week of our sequence.

DAY 8, EMAIL 4 –  To kick off the second week of our nurture sequence, this email will dive into how things always get in the way of our success; it’ll seek to explain why our reader hasn’t succeeded yet, even if they know what they need to do. It’ll address why they haven’t actually done it.

This email is about getting people over the initial hurdle of inaction. So we share the story of how Tim went from his initially crappy situation, overcame that first step, and began to work toward where he wanted to be.

Again, we offer a worksheet that’s all about taking action and how readers can move from a place of, “I’m in pain but I know what I want” to actually taking that first step and sticking to it.

DAY 9, EMAIL 5 – Our fifth email should focus on presenting a new idea — something different that no one has ever told readers before. I usually present this from Mary’s perspective. She shares something most people don’t know, that’s kind of a secret, but that we know as experts.

As an expert, you know something about your product and your field of expertise that 99% of the population does not — this is your chance to shine!

As our link to measure engagement for this email we share interviews with authority figures that back up our perspective. This might be a video or audio interview, or even just a written interview with someone who is an authority in your field. It provides social proof, and helps establish that you are an authority, too.

DAY 11, EMAIL 6 – Now it’s finally time to start talking about how our main hero, Tim, started to solve his problem. We’ve talked, so far, about the problem itself and the first steps he took to get over the inability to move, how he finally began to feel motivated to change.

This is where we share how he started putting all that into practice and how he used these tools, ultimately, to solve his problem. Essentially, this email says, “Hey, this is what I did. This is how it worked. My life is getting better now.”

DAY 15, EMAIL 7 – This email deviates from the stories of our heroes, and instead focuses on the story of someone famous who had the same issue as our heroes and our readers. I call this the “Dying with your music still in you” email; it takes a look at a famous person and shares how they struggled with these issues but overcame them to become successful.

We often forget that famous people have problems; they are just like us. So by attaching the problem we’re solving to someone people admire we show that it’s a solvable issue and they don’t have to be ashamed of it.

As a download with this email we’ll include a case study on either that famous person or another one who overcame their problems.

DAY 16, EMAIL 8 – This is the last email of our nurture sequence. In this email we share a story from Mary on “A solid strategy that works.” At this point we’ve shared how Tim started to solve his problem, how a famous person overcame their problems, and now we’re going to do the same for Mary — share how she started to fix her life and overcome her problems.

In the email, we’ll offer readers the option to download a student case study — the goal here is to show readers how this person, who is just like them, and was having a really tough time, overcame their problems successfully.

This serves to prime the pump for the sales emails you’ll be sending them the following week. We don’t want to talk about sales yet, but we can hint that something cool is coming… or maybe even mention something like, “X student took my course and she was able to do this.” But we want to be careful not to start selling yet; this is just the first time we’re mentioning the product.

At this point we’ve shared how our two heroes started out their journey just like our readers, and then were faced with trials and tribulations. To round out our story, in our sales emails we’ll show how they then overcome those obstacles to accomplish a key feat, and return to their lives better than they were before.

Want my guidelines for writing your sales sequence? Just enter your name and email below and get access to my short guide to creating a week-long sales sequence.

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

How to Split Test Effectively, Even With Low Traffic

Some websites feel like magic.

You arrive at their homepage looking for something and within a few clicks you’ve found what you were looking for… and a little more besides.

They’ve gotten you to click on a few other links, or add a few other items to your cart, almost before you knew it had happened.

Then you sit down to work on your own site and you just know users aren’t having that same smooth experience. But you want them to.

Well, those websites didn’t get that way on accident. And today we’re going to dive into a practice that can make the difference.

Split testing allows you to test two versions of a page, element, or site to determine which leads more visitors to achieve a goal (usually tied to an increase in revenue).

Those two options — an “A” test and a “B” test — are randomly served up to visitors so that half of your visitors get one version, and half of your visitors get another. By measuring what they do after arriving on that page, you can figure out which version is most successful, and then make that your new default.

For example, maybe you’re trying to determine if a red button or a blue button will lead more people to buy a widget. You could run a split test, showing a red button to half your traffic and a blue button to the other half, to see which results in more sales.

But tests are limited to buttons — you can also test copy, page design, images, testimonials or, in the case of a helicopter tour company, an entire site (though that’s not an approach I’d recommend… but more on that in a minute).

Where Most People Go Wrong When Split Testing

There’s a lot of information out there about split testing; after all, if there’s one thing marketers like to do, it’s create marketing content.

But, as you may know if you’ve dabbled with it in the past, a lot of the “best practices” out there probably won’t work for you.

Why?

Because most of that content was written by companies that have a million uniques a month or more… Which is actually a pretty small percentage of the sites out there on the internet.

Even businesses that are making a few million dollars year often don’t see that many visitors, and that means most of those best practices simply aren’t relevant for most sites.

So today I’m going to distill down my experience from the last 9 years, during which I’ve been involved in countless split tests for countless companies, and share best practices that work for “the rest of us” — that is, those of us with sites that aren’t Amazon or Google.

What to Split Test: Make sure it’s just right

A few years ago a helicopter tour company decided it was time to redesign its website. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. Companies decide to redesign their sites all the time, after all.

The site hadn’t been updated in years and they wanted something more modern — something with a bit more flash and pizzazz. They hired a web design firm and spent the better part of a year and somewhere in the range of $20-30K hammering out the details for the new site’s design.

Finally the big day came, and they launched the site.

And, due to a mis-configuration (that is, totally on accident), half their traffic when to the old site and half their traffic was sent to the new site. Unfortunately, what they found was pretty tragic.

The new site didn’t convert nearly as well as the old site had. In fact, the old site was converting about 30% better.

It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

There’s an important lesson to be learned here. Test too much, and you run the risk of investing too much time and money in a solution that ultimately doesn’t bear out.

But, it’s important to note that the opposite is also true.

Change too little and, without significant time or traffic, you won’t be able to see a measurable difference based on those changes.

It’s a fine line — but you want to change enough so that user actions are measurably different, while also being able to iterate quickly on those tests so you can implement those that are successful and move on.

For most businesses this comes down to two versions of a single page — not just an element on that page, but also not more than one page. Most companies can spin up a new page in relatively little time, and A/B testing a page allows for enough of a difference in results that those results can actually be measured. Then, once you’ve determined which version performs better, you can iterate on that page, testing smaller elements, if you’d like, to see which part of the page’s design is actually leading to better conversions.

After all, once you discover that a change can improve your bottom line, you’ll want to get it in place as soon as possible, or you’re missing out (literally) on an increase in profits.

What to Measure: Looking at the Results of a Split Test

Ultimately, when it came down to deciding whether or not the new helicopter tour company’s website was a  success, it came down to looking at sales numbers.

And that’s important to recognize.

All too often when looking at split testing marketers fall into the habit of measuring clicks or views instead of dollars. But sometimes that’s misleading.

For example, imagine that we have 1,000 visitors come to a sales page. Half of those visitors see version A of the page; half see version B.

Of the 500 people who see version A, 300 of them click on a button at the top of the page that says “Learn more.”

Of the 500 people who see version B, only 100 click on a button at the top of the page that says, “Get your copy now.”

But of the 300 who clicked on version A, only 10 people wound up actually buying the widget, while all 100 of those who clicked on version B made it all the way through the sales process.

If we were just measuring clicks, version A would have seemed much more successful than version B — but when we look at dollars, it’s clear that version B is the winner.

What page of your website do you wish performed better? Share an idea for how you could use split testing to make it more successful in the comments.

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

Half of Your Marketing Is Wasted. Do You Know Which Half?

Let me guess…

You’ve been staring at your marketing numbers for hours — maybe even days. Your eyes have gone blurry and you can feel a headache coming on.

But you’re still no closer to knowing what you need to know.

You still aren’t sure which parts of your marketing are working… and which are just extra expenses. Worse still, you’re not sure how to tell which leads are the really valuable ones, and that’s leading to lots of effort spent on leads that never convert.

It’s like that old saying from John Wanamaker, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” And you’re in good company… research by IDG Connect found that 70% of marketers struggle with cost justification.

Except these days, with all the tools available to us, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Let’s Talk Numbers: Determining Lead Value

You’ve heard over and over and over — customers won’t buy the first time they see your stuff.

That’s why we create email nurtures, write blog posts, pay for ads, and use retargeting: so customers are exposed to what we have to offer again and again.

Because people learn best through repetition, imagery, and patterns.

I know that’s certainly true for me. It wasn’t until the fifth or sixth time that my car dealership emailed me this month that I remembered to call and schedule an appointment.

However, not all things are created equal. Different customers will interact with different marketing pieces along their journey; but some marketing pieces will perform better than others. Some will increase the chances that that lead will eventually pull out their wallet.

But what if you could tell by their actions how likely they are to convert? And better yet, what if you could use that same data to determine which marketing pieces are most effective?

To do that you need to determine your lead value.

A lead’s value is the amount that a single lead is worth on average across your list. So if I have 100 people who go through my list and they spend $1,000 total, that means that each lead is worth $10 in aggregate.

You can see why this would be useful — it helps me determine how many leads I need to bring in to make $1,000, all things being equal.

What Works & What Doesn’t: How to Identify Linchpins in Your Customer Journey

Now that we know our top level lead value, let’s take that one step further.

So lets say I have those same 100 people on my list. Of those 100 people, 10 of them attended a webinar and 90 of them didn’t attend the webinar. The 10 who attended the webinar are the ones who ultimately made a purchase — the other 90 didn’t buy anything.

Now, I can say the 10 people who attended the webinar have a lead value of $100, and that those who didn’t have a lead value of $0. And that tells me that the webinar was incredibly effective.

Of course in reality, we’re not just talking 100 people, and we’re not just talking one webinar. In any given funnel, we’re hopefully tracking dozens of marketing touchpoints, each of which are being seen by different customers as they go through their personal customer journey.

Tracking all the numbers and figuring out your lead value, then tracking that back to specific marketing materials… that’s hard work.

And that’s where the real value of your lead value comes in — by tracking your customers through their journey and evaluating which touchpoints are most valuable.

But it doesn’t stop there — we can take that same data and use it to help you determine which leads are most likely to buy… so you can focus your sales efforts more effectively.

Once you can measure your Lead Value, you can actually see as people go through your journey how much they are worth at each step.

So at step one they may be worth $20. Then at step 2, their value increases to $50… and people who don’t do step 2? Their value decreases to $5.

Tracking how each step of your funnel changes the chance to buy of each lead lets you understand how each marketing piece either increases or decreases your lead value.

Driving Revenue: Split Test Your Customer Journey

Let’s take this process one step further, and use this information to actually help us create and test new marketing materials.

Let’s return to our webinar example. If we know webinars are successful with our 100 leads and led those who attended to make a purchase, we can then split test two different webinars. Is one more likely to increase lead value? More likely to lead to a sale?

This is where you can go from simply analyzing data to actually driving revenue.

Mini Case Study #1: Split Testing Webinars for a 23% Increase in Revenue

One recent split test we used when working with a client was a lot like what I’m describing above: they had a webinar that had been shown to have a high lead value.

So we decided to split test it.

We created four different versions of that webinar, each of which focused on different parts of their product and shared different pricing information. Further, they shared that pricing data at different points in the webinar itself.

In Infusionsoft we set up the split test to randomly allocate people to one of those four funnels and measured the results. We had a clear winner — people responded better to webinars that focused messaging on their gender and occupation. The government career woman trusted case studies and messaging from other women in the government sector, while men trusted male case studies and messaging.

After implementing it, we quickly saw a 23% increase in revenue.


By now, I hope you’ve seen how important knowing your lead value can be. Each step in your funnel has an influence on the chance of whether a lead will purchase or not, and by identifying the touchpoints that convert you can filter out the parts of your funnel that lose you money.

SegMetrics is designed to help you track your customers through their journey and evaluate which touchpoints are most valuable.

But it doesn’t stop there — it can take that same data and use it to help you determine which leads are most likely to buy… so you can focus your sales efforts more effectively.

In fact, if you set SegMetrics up correctly, you can actually line up the touchpoints in your customer journey and tell the system what you’d like it to measure.

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.

How Email Segmentation Could Boost Your Retention

How smart is your email strategy for your digital business?

As we’ve said before, getting people on your list is one thing, but it’s even more important what you do with them next.

Whether you’re a SaaS, an ecommerce business, or a seller of digital products and services, one thing every business wants is to successfully retain customers. After all, it tends to be cheaper and more cost effective to keep your current customers than to find new ones.

Email marketing works. In fact, the graph from Neil Patel below shows it far outdoing other methods in terms of ROI…

email-marketing-works

… but the key is that you have to have good strategy behind it to see results.

Email segmentation is important if you want to smart about your business email strategy. It’s also a good way to boost your chances of retaining those customers…

Why Are “Blanket” Emails A Bad Idea?

You hear the word “relevance” discussed regularly when it comes to any form of marketing. We want to publish “relevant” content, present “relevant” offers and target the right audience with those things.

Email is no different. If I purchase makeup from your online store, how likely is it that I’ll also be interested in men’s socks? Yet many online sellers work off the basis of blanket emailing everything they have to say to every person on their list.

By my second or third men’s sock sale email, I’ve been trained to believe that your emails are not relevant to me and I’ve stopped opening them. If I don’t open any of your emails, you may start to slip from my mind as being a business relevant to my needs, then how likely will I be to come back and shop again?

What emails should you send out for retention? Grab our free guide here.

Why Segmentation Works

We’ve covered segmentation previously so we won’t labor over the point, but in a nutshell, segmentation works because it allows you to be more targeted with your messaging so that relevant messages are put in front of the right people.

These statistics from Mailchimp show how segmented email campaigns do better than those which aren’t:

Mailchimp-segmentation-results

As Neil Patel puts it, email segmentation helps you to find untapped potential in your list and take advantage of it.

segmentation-potential

 

Source: Neil Patel

Avoid Spam Folders

The whole purpose of email marketing gets defeated if your emails end up on a quick trip to the spam folder. One way to avoid this is to do your best to get good open and action rates on your emails.

Email service providers note whether or not your emails are getting opened, links are getting clicked, or actions such as replying or flagging as important are taken. If you’re sending irrelevant, blanket emails which are ignored or deleted, expect to end up in spam boxes and have your task of retaining customers made even more difficult.

How To Segment

A major benefit of segmenting is that it allows you to respond appropriately to customer behavior and serve up relevant information to them. Previously, we looked at some basic tagging in Infusionsoft to help you create segments, but let’s look at a few slightly more advanced segmentation ideas:

Demographics

This is a basic way to create a segment, but look at what you can do with it. Simply knowing age, gender or job role can allow you to adjust your messaging for maximum engagement, even if it is essentially the same thing you are promoting.

Email Marketing On Acid provide a great example of this from Fit For Me.The message is exactly the same as they are sharing the same promotion, but the image on the left could be sent out to younger subscribers, while the one on the right is sent out to an older age group. This way they have elements that any of their subscribers can relate to.

email-demographic

Product Category Preferences

How does a 7000% increase in email marketing revenue sound? In this example from EmailMonday, Totes Isotoner Group noticed that many shoppers were only visiting a single product category: umbrellas, gloves, or boots.

When they segmented those consumers and sent targeted email offers based on that category, they saw more browsers becoming buyers and achieved that impressive 7000% statistic. See how relevance works? The company will also be more likely to keep those customers because they understand their preferences.

Your Best Customers

However you define “best customers”, creating a segment for them is a good idea. This way you can not only send them special offers, but encourage them to engage with your business.

For example, you may want to survey them and get their input on new products they’d like or any ideas they’d like to see implemented. You could also use this segment as a means to encourage referrals of new business, perhaps rewarding them for doing so.

The idea is that you want to keep nurturing those top customers. Make them feel special and you will be more likely to hang on to them.

Abandoned Tasks

This is a good one for any SaaS out there. Churn is always of high concern, so you want to make a move early to prevent it. Say your client abandons a task part way through in your software, it could be because they were busy with something else and decided to leave, but it could also be because they got confused or something went wrong.

If you can set up a system so that the abandoned task triggers a tag rule, you can send an email seeking to find out why they abandoned the task. You then have an opportunity to help the customer succeed and potentially intervene before they leave.

Survey Results

If you’re starting close to scratch and need a way to quickly understand what customer preferences are, surveys or quizzes can be a great way to do it. In fact, as Marketo shows, the evidence is in that people love taking quizzes.

For maximum effectiveness, you need to be quite thoughtful with the questions that you ask, so that you can generate useful results of preferences, ability or personality. You can then segment your customers based on the answers they gave you.

Look at Tru&Co for a perfect example. The online lingerie retailers offer a 10% discount to those who complete their quiz and use it as a means to recommend products which will suit the preferences of the customer. This is also a great way for them to send targeted email offers which make sense to the customer.

tru-and-co

Geographic Location

It goes without saying that sometimes an offer may be better suited to those in a certain geographic location more than others, but Email On Acid demonstrates how you could take this a step further…

If you know where someone is located, what else do you know about them? That’s right, you can understand the kinds of weather patterns they deal with and make offers accordingly (especially if you are an ecommerce seller).

Skymosity is a company set up to track weather patterns and help you to segment customers accordingly. To share the example given by Email On Acid, athletic company Brooks used this data to create multiple campaigns based upon weather conditions and temperature range. This is a powerful way to remain relevant!

brooks_weather_segmentation

What emails should you send out for retention? Grab our free guide here.

Final Thoughts

How does email segmentation boost retention? Simply by allowing you to remain relevant in the eyes of the customer, keeping you on their minds and ensuring that your emails get opened.

Segmentation is a powerful way to encourage engagement, promote repeat business and therefore retention of your customers.

Different email marketing platforms support segmentation in different ways, and it’s important to understand what are your most valuable segmentation cohorts when choosing the best marketing platform.

There are literally dozens of different ways you can segment your audience, but look to try some more advanced methods if you really want to increase your chances of keeping the customer.
If you can deliver high customer value and increased email engagement, then your retention figures should look good.

Keith Perhac

Keith is the Founder of SegMetrics, and has spent the last decade working on optimizing marketing funnels and nurture campaigns.

SegMetrics was born out of a frustration with how impossibly hard it is to pull trustworthy, complete and actionable data out of his client's marketing tools.