The Conversion Funnel and Social Media

Don't let your marketing get stuck on one channel.
Don’t let your marketing get stuck on one channel (or two).

One of the topics that always seems to come up with clients when talking about social media is conversions. How do you convert more visitors from social advertising and organic social media. What clients may be missing is the big picture and the conversion funnel.

Digital marketing channels don’t live in a vacuum and cannot be evaluated independently without some consideration. Make sure when you’re planning your 2015 budget and strategy to consider all channels. Each channel has its purpose in driving leads and sales to your website.

Let’s take a looks at a few recent surveys that try to determine which channel is most effective. These studies can be misleading but also provide insight into where people are putting their marketing dollars.

Social Media Outperforming SEO and PPC?

Based on an Extole and Gigaom digital marketing survey (PDF Download), a vast majority of 300 respondents found email, social, and display as the top converting sources. What I find very surprising is that social media ranked so high relative to paid search and organic search.


Content marketing and paid search at the bottom doesn’t make any sense to me, how about you? Depending on what a marketer considers a conversion (White Paper Download, Newsletter Subscription, click to view a video, etc.) these numbers can vary greatly. If you run an e-commerce website, having your products visible in search engines is likely the primary way you drive sales. Downloading a white paper or watching a video doesn’t compare to the impact a channel like search can have on your bottom line. A B2B company, on the other hand, may be more interested in lead lead nurturing. Lead nurturing can start with a free download from social media, then an email follow-up, then a call to a sales rep. That first touchpoint in the sales process may be the most important step in B2B to help fill the sales funnel.

SEO and PPC Outperforming Social Media?

What I have seen through personal experience and what most research has shown is that organic and paid search outperform social media in most cases. SEO and PPC is second only to email marketing as the highest converting source of digital marketing leads/sales.


All of this data has got me thinking about where all these channels should live in the marketing mix. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you can focus on one or two marketing channels for all of your sales and leads. Finding out which one is the best, then putting all money and effort behind that channel is a big mistake!

SEO True Story

I have one client who was “all in” in organic search before we started working with them. They were seeing great results from a small investment in SEO with another agency. This agency failed to convince them to diversify their lead sources. When Google Penguin and Panda hit in 2012-2013, they were left with less than half of the organic traffic they once enjoyed. It took us about a year to clean up their website to best practices and get them going in the right direction again. In the second half of 2014, they have outperformed those lofty numbers once reached by way of spamming Google. Diversity is key!

The Conversion Funnel and Social Media

Going back to the original reason for this post, social and conversions, we started working on a graphic that can help explain where each tactic fits in the digital marketing mix. For example, if you’re not getting enough visitors from non-brand paid search, your brand search can dip or your total leads can suffer as a result of less exposure.


Social media and social advertising is all about growing your brand awareness and exposure. Companies that can invest in brand exposure and not be as concerned with relying on social to drive sales, can see rewards further down the funnel. Let me know your thoughts and feedback on Twitter or Google+.

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