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The integrated purchase funnel: Focusing specific digital tactics to improve overall marketing ROI

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December 30, 2015 -  While marketing budgets are expected to remain relatively flat in 2016, most analysts are projecting digital marketing levels to increase to an average of 30% of total marketing spend. Consumer product marketers, particularly those with comparatively long consumer purchase cycles, are increasingly deploying integrated media and promotion activities to specifically align to the key dimensions of the purchase funnel: Awareness, Consideration, Activation, and Adoption.

Recent studies conducted by Genpact across a variety of product categories show that paid digital marketing vehicles are more productive when deployed specifically to drive changes in consideration and activation.

  • Traditional, broad-reach media (television and print) remains a powerful factor in driving awareness, and communicating key brand attributes, in a short time frame to large audiences.
  • Digital media has a significant role in extending the reach of messaging to more segmented audiences, providing continuity of messaging, and providing consumers with direct opportunities to seek additional information and make fast comparisons with competitive offerings.
  • The challenge for marketers is how best to balance the need to drive awareness and messaging for longer term brand benefit, with the need to drive short-term activation/sales.

There are an almost infinite variety of paid digital media vehicles, platforms, and apps with which to target consumers, but most can be aggregated into three general categories: paid digital/online media (includes display, online video, mobile, etc.), paid search (utilizing keyword placement on multiple platforms), and paid social media (message delivery via Facebook, Twitter, others).

In our recent findings, summarized in the chart below, paid search stands out as one of the most effective (sales activations per million impressions) means of driving sales impact among paid digital tactics. This chart shows the effectiveness of various tactics as indexed against the lowest-performing option—Paid social media.

Marketing effectiveness (sales impact per million impressions) vs. paid social media
Paid search consistently outperformed the other digital tactics included in the study, across both consumer hard goods (categories A&B) and fast moving consumer goods (category C).

  • Paid search is anywhere from 10.5 to 21.4 times more effective at driving sales than paid social media
  • Paid digital media is 1.9 to 4.6 times more effective at driving sales than paid social media

Marketers seeking to optimize their use of paid search within the total mix of activities need to consider the following when building and optimizing plans.

  • The level of weekly scheduling is important to driving overall effectiveness. While more activity is generally better, our findings for clients identify minimum and maximum levels of weekly scheduling. Using these results, Genpact clients have optimized plans and redeployed high levels of activity to more effective levels, increasing the number of weeks of coverage and total volume impact.
  • Paid search has important links to other media and promotion drivers. Contribution from search is a function of support from other major media drivers (television, print, out of home, and cinema). Scheduling of search to coordinate with other major media drivers will increase effectiveness and volume impact.

While the options for digital marketing are ever increasing (we'll have more on online video and personalized content in future posts), paid search continues to be a consistent workhorse for integrated marketing programs. Developing a robust and effective paid search strategy is central to bridging the investment in long-term brand building via increased awareness and messaging, with short-term activation and sales impact. Continuous marketing effectiveness ROI analysis of all promotional and media tactics, including paid search, helps the marketer understand what is truly driving each stage of the integrated purchase funnel and is now table-stakes in today's interconnected marketing game.

Author: Robert Myers - Vice President, Genpact Analytics & Research