Understanding the Linear Lifecycle to Highlight Social Media's Place in the Revenue Funnel
Does social media have a place in the revenue funnel? As surprising as it sounds in today's digital marketplace, it depends on who you ask and how you look at the data. If you ask me, and Digital Travel Connect did, so I attended an Oxford-style debate at The Palace of Versailles in November 2016 (and won), yes - social media absolutely has a place in revenue generation!
The number one issue today when looking at returns from channels such as social media is last touch attribution. Using this narrow lens, an injustice occurs to nearly every top-of-funnel channel, including social. A critical part of defining your digital success is correcting this issue.
Identifying Your Funnel
Draw your current sales funnel on a piece of paper. Fill in all your active channels as either top, middle or lower touch channels. Chances are, it will look similar to the one I've drawn below:
Unless your business is strictly mobile, app or social (Snapchat, Instagram, etc), you play in many of the channels highlighted - and given my background in travel I've included meta search.
Many senior level leaders allocate budgets strictly according to returns. I've heard too many times in my career, "Why should I put funds into social? I can get a much better return in PPC."
Google evangelist Avinash Kaushik stated that every consumer, regardless of the product or service, will fall into three buckets within your funnel: See, Think, Do - essentially top, middle or bottom. Simply explained, "See" is the largest addressable qualified audience, "Think" is they are considering an action, "Do" is they are ready to act.
A clever way to map this out is to look at what I call the "Linear Lifecycle" to see if in fact your funds are going where your guests are spending most of their time engaging with your brand.
Take the standard lifecycle and "buyer's journey" that we've all seen before:
Stretch out the lifecycle as a linear function, assigning weighting or resources against each step, making it look like a bar graph. You can use revenue, visits, time on site, any other engagement metric that is relevant to your business and your story:
The way to read this graph is to take the consumer's chronological touch points and interactions with your channels and associate your revenue streams against each respective channel in your funnel - "See" channels versus "Think" channels versus "Do" channels. I've also added in "Care" as there is post-purchase considerations to be made, especially when considering lifetime value and residual service. "Care" channels can be similar to "See" channels to nurture the buyer back into the top of your funnel again.
This layout highlights where you are spending most of your time and budget versus where your greatest impact is (or should be) for your guests (using "revenue" as the metric for this example but would also work for "visits", etc).
Some of you may correlate very well, some of you won't. For those who don't, consider better aligning your budget and efforts to do greater justice to your top-of-funnel channels, like social and you will find it has high downstream impact to bottom line revenue.
Develop a strategy for each stage of the buyer's journey and make sure you are speaking in a language that addresses where the consumer is at each respective stage of your funnel via your correlated marketing channels.