Recognizing Valuable Performance Higher in the Funnel – By Rachel Honoway

by Sara Szado on April 29, 2016

As performance marketers, we have attribution and conversion tracking down to a science. We know how much customers are spending, which channels they touch, and what they did on our sites before completing the sale. We know if it’s their first or a repeat purchase. If there is anything we don’t know, we find a way to track it, predict it and optimize it.

We *own* the end of the sales funnel.

But, with our intense focus on conversions, who is manning the rest of the funnel, ensuring it grows and continues sending sales into our perfectly tracked and precisely optimized system?

Like a farmer harvesting crops, we know exactly when to pick the fruit from the vine for the best yield. But what about the efforts that lead up to that perfectly ripened fruit?

It took someone to plant the seeds, fertilize the soil, and water the plant. Unlike the harvest, it’s harder to determine how each detail of these earlier steps affects the final fruit, but that doesn’t mean that the steps aren’t valuable. If time and effort aren’t placed on those steps, there will be less fruit to pick over time.

Like the farmer, we need someone to plant the seeds and maintain the plant, so that our systems can have the greatest effect. Of course, the farmer could do it all from seed to harvest. But, what if he had a team of people focusing their strengths on specific steps along the way? He would have more opportunities to harvest fruit. He needs those people, and so do we.

We need people to start conversations about our products and services. We need people who are passionate about their niche to understand and talk about our offerings. We need real people with great reputations to tell others about us. We need influencers.

Though it may pain us, we won’t always be able to connect every seed they plant to a resulting sale. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t performing. Every time consumers hear your message is another opportunity for them to get to know you, trust you, and be receptive to your promotions.

While you’re focused on optimizing conversions, bloggers and social media influencers can keep the funnel filled with consumers who have heard good things about you, and are ready to respond to the high-converting content you distribute through your affiliate channel.

The next time a blogger asks you for a product to review, or a payment for a sponsored post, think twice about saying “no” just because you can’t attach that spend directly to a conversion. Think about the entire funnel.

I truly believe that the more we say “yes”, the more we’ll learn about the value of the performance activities happening higher up in the funnel, and in no time, we’ll figure out how to track those activities, predict their outcomes, and optimize the path down the funnel to the final conversion.

Rachel is CEO of FMTC and Fresh Press Media, providing tools for affiliates and influencers.

This article appeared in issue 34 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in April 2016.

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