The Importance of Marketing in Multiple Channels for Small Businesses

by Toby

June 2, 2014

marketing in multiple channels

I’ve mentioned this statistic in other posts, but did you know very few of your existing customers actually converted on their first visit to your website? The actual conversion percentage on a first visit varies greatly depending on the industry, but it’s generally single percentage points.

One software as a service company I know averages 7.5 website visits before a customer converts.

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Customers Are Not Linear In Their Purchase Behavior

Customers take multiple paths before becoming a customer. They shop you around by visiting your competitors, they read online reviews, and they use social media to ask their friends. And the timing of a conversion could be hours or weeks or months.

And not all your customers live in just Google or just Facebook.

I had one client not too long ago that all he wanted to do was focus on SEO and he was selling computers and accessories to consumers (B-to-C), and also B-to-B. He had an email database of tens of thousands of people, and yet he had never sent a single email cross-promoting any products, nor had he done any other online marketing other than Google PPC or SEO. What a tragedy! He was leaving thousands of dollars on the table!

What if a customer comes in on an organic search and doesn’t convert?

If you weren’t to them on Google or Facebook you might not ever bring them back to convert.

Imagine if our computer and electronics client just took all his customers that purchased printers and remarketed ink to them on Facebook or Google about the average time the cartridges would run dry?

This is why integrated marketing across multiple channels is so important. If you’re not marketing in other online channels you’re losing out.

Look at the table below for a retail brick-and-mortar client (pulled from Google Analytics). I’m only showing the top 8 conversion paths here (there are actually dozens more that include social media), but you can see the first path is a customer that arrived at the website via an organic search, didn’t convert, then later went directly to the website and converted (direct visit means they typed in the URL of your website).

Multiple Conversion Paths
Top Customer Conversion Paths

The next conversion path is two paid search visits (through Google), and that’s followed by two organic searches…perhaps the customer saw an ad and Googled your brand, checked you out, then a few days later after doing additional research Googled you again and then converted the second time on your website.

And remember, there’s a time lag on these paths too (i.e. your Sales Cycle). Someone may see an ad for you today and visit your website and then days later do a Google search for you and return to your site.

Consumer behavior is not linear

Be Careful of Last Click Analysis & Call Tracking

We have some clients that are very numbers-driven and that we do call tracking for. If you’re not familiar with call tracking it allows someone to attribute all the phone calls to a business from a particular source; for example, traffic coming from Google Adwords, or from organic search. But call tracking measures the last click that led to a conversion, it doesn’t provide all the insights into the steps that a customer took to convert.

What happens when a customer sees a post you did on Facebook or LinkedIn and then does a search for your brand name in Google and then converts? Call tracking would attribute the lead to Google, but social media played a key role in that conversion, but you’d never know that and wrongly assume that social media perhaps wasn’t working that well.

And what about traditional advertising, or banner ads online? The customer may have first learned about your company’s product or service from your postcard, your radio ad, or an online banner ad but that was the beginning of the customer’s path to conversion. If you don’t have a solid online presence and they search for you in Google after seeing a traditional media ad, you’ve just subsidized a lead to your competitor who is using Google PPC to go after those keywords.

Conclusion: What does this mean for you?

Think about which online channels are the most popular for your customers and make sure you have a plan to reach them. If you are business-to-consumer (B-to-C) it’s most likely Google, Facebook, and perhaps Twitter or Pinterest. If you’re selling business to business (B-to-B) it’s probably going to be Google, Linkedin, and Facebook. Or perhaps your products or services lend themselves well to educational videos and YouTube is also an important channel.

The bottom line is you need to be putting effort into more than one channel.

About the author 

Toby is the co-founder of 39 Celsius. He has over 20 years of digital marketing experience and has started several companies throughout his career. He's an expert in SEO, Social Media Ads, Google Ads, Marketing Automation, and more. He has a BA in Chemistry/Biochemistry from UC San Diego and an MBA from SDSU.

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