What Are Conversion Paths In Inbound Marketing?
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What Are Conversion Paths In Inbound Marketing? How Do They Work?

TransFunnel Consulting
TransFunnel Consulting Oct 16, 2019

As an inbound marketer, our main job is to attract the customer to our website, convert, and delight them (precisely in this order). The brilliance of today’s digital age is that we are able to track and measure our efforts more than ever before! From monitoring website traffic and where leads are in the funnel, to email open rates, this bounty of data provides key insights into our performance and identifies gaps for improvement. 

While it’s essential to track performance through individual components, it’s also important to evaluate metrics in context or in relation to each other. In inbound marketing, we call this tracking a conversion path. What does this mean? 

Definition: A conversion path is a process through which a lead gets attracted to your website and then converts. HubSpot offers an even more in-depth definition of conversion path - “a conversion path includes 5 distinct components such as valuable content, enticing call-to-action, landing page, form, and thank you page. In simple terms, think of the conversion path as the steps a lead takes before they become a customer.”

A conversion path might look like something like these: 

Google Ad > Landing Page > Confirmation Email/Thank you email
Website CTA > Landing Page > Confirmation Email/Thank you email

Smart marketers look at the holistic picture of conversion paths and identify areas for improvement. For instance, in addition to tracking email click rates, smarketers also examine the conversion from email to the associated landing page. 

Here is a scenario that could very likely be occurring in your business. Your website CTA rates are high and if you are simply following this figure, you might think “all is well.” However, there are no conversions. WHY? Conversion path tracking will encourage you to look further down the process and identify the landing page conversion. This will highlight that your landing page content needs work if it’s not converting. 

Where to Start with Conversion Tracking? 

We have established that conversion paths are a big deal and highlight how all the pieces of the puzzle work together, but how can we start tracking and optimising them? Let’s understand this further. 

Know your Path

It sounds simple, know your conversion path, but very often, marketers only look at the end touchpoint of a buyer’s journey without understanding how they got there. 

According to a Google B2B study, 96% of visitors to a website not NOT ready to buy! Think about it, rarely do customers come to a website and convert or perform the desired action (the rarity of it happening is like winning the lottery). Most of the time, they are surfing multiple pages, reading blogs, browsing the catalogue, etc.. It takes a lot of convincing to get a visitor to trust you.  

Furthermore, most of our websites aren’t simple 2-3 page websites where a visitor lands on the homepage, makes a purchase on page 2, and views a final “thank you” page. Majority of our websites have multiple pages, and thus countless conversion paths. How do we figure out which conversion paths are most effective? The most common way to identify and track conversion paths is via Google Analytics. 

Analyse Conversion with Google Analytics

One way to track your conversion path and see which one is more effective is by analysing the Top Conversion Path report. It’s an excellent way to identify your most popular referral path. This report shows each and every unique conversion path and the value associated with each path (especially, if you are an e-commerce site). This includes paid search, organic search, direct hit, etc.

The following picture shows a snapshot of the Top Conversion Path report. In this particular example, you can see how the most effective conversion path stems from two PPC ads. 

You can take this report a step further by adding filters and secondary dimensions. 

For example, if you want to specifically view conversion path from any referrals via social media, then you add the “social” filter in the box.

We recommend adding a secondary dimension of “source path” to these findings, so you can clearly see which social media sites are driving traffic and conversion. Take this report to the next level by adding an advanced filter, via the advanced search box, to view how each specific social media site, like Facebook or Twitter, is converting. 

Another nifty tool in Google Analytics is Time Lag. This report counts the number of days it takes a customer to convert after the first user interaction, whether that is a click, impression or direct session. This tool is located under the Multi-Channel Funnel heading. This report addresses two key questions, “how long does it take a customer to go from the first visit to convert” and “how many touches does the customer make during that time period.” 

The benefits of the Time Lag report is that you get a clear understanding of your sales cycle, customer preferences, and content that gets consumed during a particular time frame. It also gives insights into how your multiple channels are working together. 

Optimising Conversion Paths

Once you have identified conversion paths, you can focus on optimising them and therefore turn unknown visitors into qualified leads with a high chance of conversion! 

  • Ensure the Content is SOLID - Content is the fuel, feeding your inbound marketing race car. Without relevant and efficient content, your conversion path won’t have positive outcomes. Right from a compelling subject line/headline to a compelling copy across all your communication pieces is an absolute must. 
  • Hard to Leave Landing Pages - Like content, great landing pages are also tailored to buyer personas and their journey. When designed well and followed by the brand guidelines, they can be really hard to miss. Here's how you can optimise them for high conversion rates.
  • Attractive CTAs - If it is hard for a visitor to access your content and offers, then all the hard work done for producing 5-star content will be washed down the drain! Create action-oriented calls-to-action that sync with landing page messaging and compel visitors to click. 
  • “Thank You” that Connects - Thank you pages generally signal the end of a conversion path. This all-important step is a great segway into offering more content, offers or CTAs that will gently urge a buyer further down the process. You can also utilise the thank you page as an outlet to gather feedback or further insights via a survey.

Pro Tip: The design and colour of your landing pages and CTAs are more important than you think, so invest time in working with an inbound marketer to make sure your conversion path is clear cut. 

Make Killer "Impressions" 

Just like a SAT or GMAT score doesn’t tell you everything about a student, simply looking at campaign metrics, like click rates in individual silos will never give a complete picture. It’s imperative to look at performance holistically. Each building block of your marketing campaign has an impact on the other. When you analyse conversion paths via segments and time associated with each path, you not only understand your customers better, but you are also able to structure content in a manner that will dazzle visitors and service the wildly diverse needs of your leads. Conversion path tracking can also aid you in diversifying your content, so you can keep pulling your customers back till they convert.

Quick Refresher

Conversion paths are key to optimising your inbound marketing campaign. Conversion paths are a great way to make sure your leads are moving exactly as you'd like them to, provided you've cleared all the hurdles and made the path very clear for them. How clean are your conversion paths? What strategies do you implement to get better resutls? Share your thought with transfunnel today.


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