AUDIENCE: Administrators, Marketing Users
OBJECTIVES: Identify frequently asked questions about marketing funnels
Q: What is a marketing funnel?
A: Marketing funnels give you a simple, yet powerful, analytics toolset to track your prospects' conversions along various marketing paths. A marketing funnel is a way to monitor and report on your pipeline of leads, prospects, opportunities, and closed deals/customers.
Q: What is a funnel stage?
A: A funnel is made up of stages. Each stage represents a key conversion point as defined by the stage criteria. The funnel reports on the net new conversions into each funnel stage in the selected time period in the report. A funnel stage conversion can be defined based on behavioral data, lead score, profile field data from Act-On lists, or CRM data.
Q: What is the funnel definition versus the funnel report?
A: First you define the stages of the funnel, creating stages that model the conversions you want to track. Once defined, the funnel can be initialized, and you can report on the flow of prospects through the funnel.
Q: How do I experiment with funnels and refine them over time?
A: A running funnel can be edited -- for instance, stage criteria and chosen reporting fields can be changed. Structural changes in a running funnel, like deleting/adding/reordering stages, are not allowed. To make a very different version of a funnel, simply copy it, change the structure as desired, and then initialize the new funnel.
Funnel Data Flow
Q: How is the funnel data actionable?
A: The high-level data in the funnel report lets you understand trends over time for the funnels you define. The high-level report can be downloaded from the funnel report view and shared in Excel format. You can also drill down into the contacts who entered a given stage in the chosen time period using the download button of the funnel report view.
Q: Do contacts have to be in a higher stage to get to a lower stage?
A: No. Each stage in a funnel is independent of the others. A prospect will count as converted into a stage as long as it meets that stage's criteria. You can create criteria for lower stages such that they meet the criteria of higher ones.
Q: What happens if a contact meets the criteria of many stages at one moment in time?
A: When stage membership is evaluated at a single moment in time by the funnel reporting back-end, membership in the lowest stage is counted. In a selected time period (e.g., this month to date) the contact may have converted into different stages at different times. In the funnel report view, you can count memberships in multiple stages, or limit to just the latest (lowest) stage.
Q: How often is funnel stage membership evaluated?
A: Funnel stage membership is evaluated in near real time as your contacts engage with your content updating their behavioral history. Stage membership is also evaluated upon completion of CRM sync to take into account any changes in the CRM data set that may affect funnel stage memberships.
Q: Will the lower stages of a funnel always have fewer prospects flowing through them?
A: No. It is possible for lower stages to show larger numbers of conversions based on the stage definitions and the specific activity in a given time period.
Q: What does 'population' mean?
A: Population determines which data source(s) are populating the stage. For example, a stage can be populated by Anonymous versus Contacts. Contact stages can then be populated by selected Act-On lists and/or the CRM database.
Q: What does an Anonymous stage track?
A: The Anonymous stage tracks anonymous visitor cookies. It approximates the number of anonymous visitors.
Q: What does "Contacts" mean?
A: Contacts stages count unique email addresses. They can be populated by selected Act-On lists and/or the CRM database. The term Contacts here should not be confused with the word Contacts in the CRM world. Funnel contacts are any unique email address, coming from Act-On lists and/or CRM records (Leads and Contacts).
Q: When would I choose a Contacts stage to populate from Act-On lists versus the CRM database?
A: Stages populated by events prior to the contact being pushed into the CRM should have 'Act-On Lists' as their population. Stages that count conversion of contacts after the CRM push, such as Marketing Qualified or Sales Qualified, should have 'CRM Database' as their population. If you want the stage to show CRM data but only if the record originated in selected Act-On lists, then choose BOTH checkboxes for 'Act-On Lists' and 'CRM Database,' and then add a profile criteria 'Profile Exists' equals True.
Q: How do I constrain membership in lower stages of the funnel so that only records that meet higher-stage criteria will be counted?
A: Add criteria to the lower stages to reflect the conversion events of the higher stages. In most cases you can use the criteria builder to accomplish this. In some cases of more complex flows of conversion through your business process, you may need to persist the fact of certain higher stage conversions using your CRM processes.
Q: What does the behavior criteria 'Became Known' mean?
A: When anonymous visitors visit your site, their activity history is stored in an anonymous visitor cookie in their browser. If they submit an Act-On form or click on an Act-On email for the first time, their anonymous cookie gets associated with their known email address and a 'known visitor conversion' has occurred. Converting anonymous to known visitors is important for marketing automation tasks such as behavioral segmentation, lead scoring based on behaviors, etc.
Q: How can I copy a funnel stage?
A: You can copy a funnel stage in a draft funnel by selecting the stage and clicking the '+' icon on the upper left of the stage. Rename the copy, click and drag the stage to the desired location in the funnel stack, and change the criteria as desired.
Q: How can I reproduce stage criteria from another funnel stage or an existing list segment?
A: Currently stage criteria can't be copied from another funnel stage or marketing list segment. This is being considered for a future version of marketing funnels. Any segmentation query that you can build in list segmentation can be reproduced in the funnel segment criteria. You can also copy a whole funnel to re-use the stage(s) you wish to copy in a new funnel.
Q: What are reporting fields for?
A: Select the reporting fields that you want to be available in the funnel report for downloading and filtering. Select the fields that you use to 'slice and dice' your data -- the metrics that matter for your business. For instance, if you want to filter your funnel by region, then add 'Country' to your reporting fields. If you want to pivot or segment your download by industry, then add 'Industry' to your reporting fields. The available reporting fields are Act-On's standard field names as defined for your account, and any fields selected in the CRM Admin.
Funnel Report On-screen View
Q: What is the funnel report showing me?
A: The funnel report shows the net new contacts that entered each stage in the selected time period. Stages populated from CRM data optionally let you show any associated Opportunities and Revenues. The story the funnel tells depends on its stages and conversion criteria for each stage.
Q: What is the 'All Time' reporting time period?
A: 'All Time' goes back to the earliest behaviors, lead create dates, etc., that are criteria in your funnel definition. 'All Time' contains all contacts that entered a given stage (regardless of whether they exited the stage). To subtract the contacts that exited the stage, choose the All Time period, and check the report option Include contacts only in the latest stage they populated within the report time period, then download. This represents the contacts who are in the stage 'as of now.'
Q: What does the Refresh button do?
A: Press this button to ensure the most current data has been included in the reporting time periods for 'Month (until now),' 'Year (until now),' and 'All Time.' The Refresh button does not trigger a 'sync now' of the CRM data -- this is accomplished in the CRM Settings page (under Development).
Q: What's this option: 'Include contacts only in the latest stage they populated within the report time period'?
A: A contact will become a member of more than one stage in the chosen calendar period if it meets the criteria for more than one stage. You can limit the report to count only the most recent stage the contact entered by checking the Limit contacts to latest stage only checkbox in the Options window.
Q: What's this option: 'Show the velocity of contact transitions between stages'?
A: When a contact moves from one stage to the stage immediately below it, the transition time is recorded. To view the average time for stage transitions that occurred within the chosen time period, check the Show Velocity checkbox in the Options window.
Initializing and Running Funnels
Q: What happens when I initialize a funnel?
A: When a funnel is initialized, it begins to run. This means that the funnel starts monitoring the contacts who enter and exit a funnel stage.
Q: How long does it take to initialize a funnel?
A: Funnel initialization is a background process that can take from several minutes to an hour or more, depending on the size of your source data and funnel complexity. Progress percentage is shown for the initializing funnel as previous time periods are computed and made available in the funnel report dashboard.
Q: What aspects of a running funnel can be changed and not changed?
A: After the funnel is activated, you can edit some of its elements but not others.
Elements that are editable in running funnels include:
- Funnel and stage names and descriptions
- Stage criteria
- Stage data fields
Elements that are not editable in running funnels include:
- Contact lists and list prioritization
- Stage population
- Stage 'applies to' values
Funnel stages cannot be added, deleted, or re-ordered in running funnels. Note: Any modifications to existing stage definitions are not retroactive (i.e., they will only reflect in the report from the change date onward).
Q: Which CRMs are supported in the CRM Administration?
A: At this time, the Funnel report supports Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, and SugarCRM. More CRMs will be added soon.
Q: Which CRM objects are supported?
A: The CRM Admin currently supports importing data from these CRM entities: Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities, Campaigns, Campaigns (associated with Opportunities), and Owners. Funnel reporting fields and filters can access those entities as well. Funnel Stage criteria can be built from fields in the CRM Leads, Contacts, Accounts, Opportunities, and Campaigns (tied to Opportunities).
Q: How often does it sync?
A: The sync schedule is up to you. You can sync anywhere from monthly to hourly.
Q: What is the maximum number of funnels I can have?
A: Every account can have a maximum of five funnels.
Q: How many stages maximum?
A: A funnel can have up to seven stages total. A funnel can have up to one Anonymous Visitor stage at the top of the funnel.
Q: How many reporting fields can be in a funnel?
A: A funnel can have up to 25 reporting fields.
Q: How many CRM fields can be pulled into the CRM Admin?
A: Each CRM entity (Leads, Contacts, Opportunities, etc.) supported in the CRM Admin page can have up to 15 fields selected for pull sync beyond the number of required fields. CRM field limit can be increased for your account -- please contact your CSM.