I’ve taken a break from SEO tips this week to let you know about a useful tool released by Google recently called Search Funnels. I’ve been having a play with it over the past couple of weeks, and think it’s something that really could help inform your search marketing campaigns. Understanding how your customers behave is critical knowledge when it comes to paid AdWords campaigns, and while it’s important to know which search terms convert to sales, you don’t quite get the full picture with Google’s Conversion tracking. But with Search Funnels you get another piece of the jigsaw (not the whole picture though, because that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?)
You can find Search Funnels for your account by clicking on Conversions in the Reports tab on the main menu. Once there, you’ll see “Search Funnels” labelled in the left hand navigation. Please note – you must have Conversion Tracking implemented on your site to use Search Funnels…and if you haven’t, well you really need to get that sorted as soon as possible, because you’re flying blind!
What is “Search Funnels”?
It a fairly simple premise, but there is a wealth of data you can mine which can help you understand visitors and improve your marketing efforts. Here’s a brief overview:
Search Funnels will show you four key bits of information for any given time period:

  • The number of conversions (registrations and subscriptions if you’ve set your conversion tracking up correctly)
  • The average number of ad impressions to conversion
  • The average number of ad clicks to conversion
  • The average number of days it takes someone to convert.

For me, the most interesting information it has thrown up so far is a) the ad clicks per conversion and b) the number of days to conversion, and here’s why:
The ad clicks per conversion
Knowing that people click on more than one ad before converting has help put some context to the performance of specific keywords. I’m sure you’ve been tempted to bid only on the keywords that convert most effectively. However, when you start looking at your own data, I think you’ll find that a conversion is achieved thanks to more than one keyword and click. For my sites, it’s taken on average two clicks to a registration and 5 to a sale.
This tells me that if you take away the frequency that your ads are being seen for every relevant search, your CTR and conversion rates will fall. Put another way, if your ad appears more consistently for each of (in my case) five relevant searches, and your competitor only appears for one or two, it’s more likely that you’ll get the click as well as the conversion. It’s the fact that users have seen your ad multiple times that wins the game.
The number of days to convert
We all know that it takes visitors a little time to convert into paying members. But the knowledge of exactly how long on average helps you build your cashflow with much more accuracy. For example, if you know on average your registrations are converting in 5 days, and your conversion rate over a 5 day period is 12.6%, then 12.6% is the rate you can confidently use in your forecast. This enables better revenue forecasting, better spend forecasts and therefore a much smoother monthly advertising spend. Oh and a bit more peace of mind for you!
In addition, the knowledge of roughly how long that is can help you build a strategy for shortening the cycle, and squeezing out more conversions after the prime converting period has gone. This may involve special offers, promoting specific features of your site that you’ve found attract interest…anything to drive traffic back to your site, and get more people converting.
Have a play with Search Funnels, and see what it can tell you about your site(s). I learned a lot from this tool, and I’m sure you will too.