Three Reasons Your Sales Pipeline is Important (and How to Look for Them)
Whether it’s acknowledged or not, whether it’s documented or not, your brand has a sales pipeline – here’s why you should take it seriously
The sales pipeline can seem like so much jargon – the realm of the ABC salesman, but in actual fact it can be a useful analytical tool. The standard pipeline diagram features four stages – attract, nurture, convert and retain – by using these as points in an analytic study of the process, you can develop your brand at each stage.
1. Boosting your user numbers
This falls in to the first stage of the pipeline – the attract stage. This stage relies upon you making your brand appealing – through one of a number of methods, be it organic or paid search, or social media marketing or any other promotional style. This relies on analysis of your inbound traffic to see what’s working and what can be improved.
You can do this using Google Analytics – beginning at the ‘Channels’ report – under the ‘Acquisition’ menu. This provides you with a bird’s eye view of how your strategy is performing – you know how much you’re spending on each channel, you need to see results that reflect this spending.
You can drill down on each of these channels, then, to see which pieces of content have performed on which channels – allowing you, therefore, to determine the best performing content per platform. A lot of brands will take an all channels approach to their content – they produce an asset, and that asset becomes a focal point for their work on all channels.
This can be counterproductive. The money saved and the time saved on producing one piece of content for all channels can be quite easily lost by that content being the wrong type for the platform on which it will live. For that reason, it can be better to produce different pieces (even hub and spoke if the main content allows for it) which are specifically tailored to the platform in order to maximise traffic to the site.
2. Convincing those users
Once we have the users on our site, it’s the responsibility of the site to convince the user that your brand is the best choice for the purchase or contract that they wish to make. For that reason, we need to examine how that site has performed – to assist with this we can again use Google Analytics, this time the ‘User Flow’ visualisation which lays out where your users are entering and where they leave your site.
You can again drill down on each channel and explore each step by clicking on it and selecting ‘Group details’ which gives you a list of the pages visited and the numbers that enter and drop off from each of them.
Again, this offers you some insight in to the content that is performing as it should – but also reveals where you can make improvements and where to look for potential optimisations you can make to bump up that retention from one step to the next.
3. Retain those users
Research from Bain & Company along with the Harvard business school suggests that a small uplift of 5% in customer retention can lead to a 25% increase in profitability. Knowing your sales pipeline is vital to this stage – you need to be able to reengage your consumers, whether for additional contact through your standard channels (paid search, display, email etc.) or through upsell on a contract. Having this ability to reach out is just the first step in the process however, contact is just a way to seeking retention.
One of the ways you can look to measure is via a CRM (customer relationship management) platform such as Salesforce – through which you can monitor consumer interactions on the site, another is using the ‘New vs. Returning’ report in Google Analytics which you can find under Audience>Behaviour>New vs. Returning.
Obviously, this depends on how long you have set your tracking for and opt-in to basic cookie deployment, but this report shows you what each segment is actually delivering for your brand. Again, drilling down to the next level allows you to make better judgement – you can add landing pages to see what those that returned visited first, you can see what devices they were using.
Treat it analytically – try to build a picture of what has worked and what hasn’t for the two segments and see if there are ways you can increase the number that features in the ‘Returning’ columns.