Understanding the Key Points in the Inbound Marketing Customer Conversion Chain

By Scott Anderson Miller

Each customer performs a series of small conversions along the purchase path before creating the ultimate conversion action . . . a purchase. It’s helpful to understand each of these conversion points along the Customer Conversion Chain because each conversion “link” in this chain influences your conversion metrics down the line. Here’s a simple synopsis of those conversion points:

  • Customer: The ultimate conversion action is a sale. At this point, you have earned a customer. Knowing your new customer count on a monthly basis helps you gauge your inbound marketing success. Applying the dollar amount of a new customer’s first transaction and understanding your customers’ lifetime value helps you formulate your return-on-investment (ROI).

  • Demonstrated interest: A “demonstrated interest” can also be defined as an “opportunity.” These are people who have requested a contract, a product demo, or a free trial. Knowing the percentage of your demonstrated interests that convert to customers provides your close ratio.

  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs): SQLs are people that your sales team have defined as having the desire, need, and budget for purchase as well as a timeframe for anticipated purchase. Some SQLs will quickly become customers and some may move through Demonstrated Interest first.

  • MQLs: MQLs are those prospects who meet a certain set of predefined criteria, as agreed upon by your marketing and sales departments, to signal a necessary follow-up action from your sales team. MQLs arise from form submission for downloads and from “Contact Us” forms, as well as from automated lead scoring.

  • Leads: Leads are those website visitors who exchanged their customer data for something of value on your website. Once your website visitors convert via form submission, they become leads.

  • Visits: Your website visitors affect every other conversion metric down the Customer Conversion Chain. Some people refer to visits as website traffic. Rather than using gross traffic figures for your conversion metrics, look at your “unique visit” statistics. This value eliminates repeat traffic as well as spider/bot traffic, giving you a clearer picture of how many people are actually visiting your website. Often, people think they have a website traffic issue when they actually have broken conversion links further down the chain.

  • Impressions: Your various attraction factors reach a certain number of people. Each of these is an impression. Your impression statistics are most valuable when comparing your digital media efficiencies. Determining your visitors generated per thousand impressions results in your first conversion metric: the number of people who came to your site as a percentage of those people who saw your message.