What is a Conversion? Tips for Mapping Out Marketing Conversions

By Lucy Mazalon

Marketing is overloaded with buzzwords – and other words that have been said so many times that they begin to lose their meaning. One word (for me, at least) is ‘conversion’.

What is a conversion? A conversion, in marketing terms, is the moment a prospect (or customer) takes the action you intended when you planned your marketing activities (your marketing ‘flow’, from point to point). The most common example is conversions your website, how anonymous visitors convert into known leads (prospect, in Pardot) by submitting a webform. These pivot points are the most significant in your customer journey; when prospects pass each point, they should be transfer into different marketing segments (eg. recategorized from unqualified lead, to qualified lead).

There is a science/art to conversions, called ‘conversion rate optimization’. It’s a serious game – get it wrong and miss out on opportunities to get more mileage out of your marketing infrastructure.

I’m sure you’re beginning to see that ‘conversions’ is a topic that could easily balloon into a vast reaching conversation. The definition of ‘marketing conversion’ is open to interpretation, in other words, it could mean several different things depending on the context of your particular organisation, industry, and/or business structure (eg. e-commerce differs from B2B).

While it is open to interpretation, let’s not blinker ourselves. Marketing is no longer focused on the top of the funnel only, our job isn’t just to get people ‘in the door’ and ‘throw them over the fence’ to the sales team.

This guide is for anyone that may be new to digital marketing with Salesforce, or has just joined a new organization and feeling overwhelmed – or for anyone who feels they are generally not influencing beyond the top of the funnel.

Customer Journey Conversions

I wanted to frame the multiple conversions in a typical (B2B) customer journey, get it ‘all on the table’. These are some definitions I thought of, mapped out using Salesforce terminology:

Scan your eyes from left to right. It’s likely you’ll use some of these terms in your team, however, some of you will use more than others depending on the complexity of your sales process, or how strict you qualify prospects before an Opportunity is raised.

You may have these conversion checkpoints, but refer to them with different names – or even arranged in a different order.

I would argue that every point pinned on the diagram is a conversion. Beyond the initial sale (‘Closed Won’ Opportunity), converting into another sales opportunity (up-sell/cross-sell), and beyond, converting into an advocate for your brand (bringing more potential revenue inbound with referrals).

Let’s remind ourselves that marketing is expected to do more. Companies have higher expectations from marketing teams, looking to get more mileage from the marketing team and the investment into the marketing budget.

There’s a growing pressure for marketing to show how marketing activities are having a direct, tangible impact across the board, particularly in the Opportunity pipeline.

Driving Conversions with Email Marketing

Email marketing is a timeless, effective communication channel for driving conversions.

59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI (Emma) — another source found emails generate $38 for every $1 spent on average.

But it’s only possible by understanding data. It’s ironic, we’ve gone from fighting to accumulate data – paying fortunes to enrich our databases, to store it (Salesforce storage is expensive!) and the leg work involved in processing it – to now having the opposite problem, picking out the right data points.

As a marketer, you should aim to understand:

a) Your Salesforce data model (how the Opportunity object is used, any custom objects that are key to the whole lifecycle),

b) The CRM data you need to sync with your email marketing platform (Pardot, Campaign Monitor etc.) to trigger email automation

c) The email engagement data you need to sync to Salesforce that will become intel for sales to be smarter about contacting prospects.

Finally, you need to link email engagement with sales opportunities. Think of each touchpoint as a step on the journey. Recording lead/contact engagement with each specific campaign is the way to build a picture of the journey your prospects and customers have gone through over time.

In Salesforce speak, you’ll hear this referred to as Campaign Influence – in simple terms, showing how campaigns are linked to sales Opportunities in Salesforce. This validates the value of marketing’s campaigns in driving Opportunity pipeline (and revenue!) – however, it’s often easier said than done. The first step is ensuring your email marketing is hooked into your CRM to build that picture, step by step of each prospect’s journey.

Tips for Mapping Your Marketing Conversions

Science or art, there are some things you can investigate to start optimizing your marketing conversions. Here are some tips that came to mind:

  • Current marketing coverage: when looking at the diagram above, where do you currently have coverage with your marketing? Where would your involvement be welcome to support the lead/opportunity lifecycle?
  • What happens on the Salesforce side: find out what needs to happen in order for each record to progress to the next level. For instance, what do the BDRs need to ask and complete for each lead record before changing their status? The same goes for Opportunities. Aside from asking, both Validation Rules, and ‘Path’ (with ‘Key Fields’ and ‘Guidance for Success) are great sources for this information.

  • Opportunity Trends report: pull this report to see where the bottlenecks are in the pipeline.
  • Lead Unqualified/Opportunity Lost reason: hopefully you have these fields enforced in Salesforce. Always an interesting exercise to look at these reasons people didn’t convert.
  • Blended Scoring and Grading: while these are Pardot features, take inspiration from how to quantify ‘sales readiness’ and increase the number of conversions.
  • Score decay: if you have some scoring/rating in place you may have a feeling you need to reset them to the appropriate level that represents reality (especially if there’s been a lack of governance/multiple users controlling it). Again, easier said than done; check out this score decay advice (while the terminology is Pardot specific, the concepts are applicable to anyone running a scoring framework as part of their marketing/business development). Alternatively, investigate Einstein Behavior Score.
  • Take control of lifecycle reporting: this tutorial shows you how to add custom date stamps in Salesforce for your definition of conversion points.
  • Read up on Campaign influence: more specifically, know what ‘first touch’ and ‘last touch’ means in the reporting to understand which campaigns are the driving forces between key customer journey points (First touch = from unknown visitor to known lead; Last touch = from open opportunity to ‘Closed Won’ opportunity.

Over to you

Do you think this advice is useful? Have I been misguided, or does this reflect reality? Would love to hear from you in the comments below.

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.

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