How to Effectively Bring Consumers Back, and Buying!

This blog post is adapted from a presentation I made at Dx3 Canada 2017. To download the slides from this presentation click here.

I made this presentation to provide retailers and brands context to effectively bring consumers back to their sites and get them buying. It all came together one night after having beer with a friend of mine who runs an eCommerce business. We took to the whiteboard and this was what we came up with!

Basically these are the thoughts of two software engineers beating their heads against the wall…

YOUR PROBLEM(S)

There are simply too many channels, which causes a lot of conflicting stories about which channel is actually responsible for sales, which means most of us don’t know which channel’s provide the best ROI.

The Acquisition Framework


demac media acquisition framework

What I’m going to walk you through is the old vs. new acquisition framework, and show you how I build our retailer’s funnels. No theory bullshit here. All of this is based on data from the projects we work on at Demac.

Acquisition 5 years ago is very VERY different than today. There was a time when pretty much anything you had on your site would convert into a sale, but not so much anymore.

The problem is that there are two many channels, and our definition of a channel needs to change. This is what I think a channel is…

A channel is any where the customer is.

Channels (Funnels)


Sequential funnels – are like dominos

  • It’s when you do it, not what you do
  • Analogy time: You can’t show up to a river and build a dam.
  • Channels are little bunnies that multiple, they’re all over the map. We look at hundreds of millions of dollars online transactions and it’s hard to pinpoint what customers want.

Channels are what you use to create leverage.

channels to create leverage

  • If you were gonna put money into one of these, the arrows are here to show you where the return will come out. You don’t see money come back in the same spot as where you put it.
  • Stack ‘em up

We aren’t in a single channel world; this is a bad place to be in right now. One algorithm change can mess up your world. Where we are: minimum 4 channels. Businesses that at $20-30 million have 8/9 channels.

This is what customer journeys look like now. Lots of origins, and they look like lots of journeys. Your Facebook spend, could turn up in email, or pinterest. You’re gonna look at the origin of a customer or sale and wonder why it popped up somewhere other than where you were investing your money!

2 Types of Funnels

Context Funnels = Cold traffic

  • Objective 1 – Pixel (Pixel is from Facebook for those not in the know…it tracks people around so you can learn what people do and how they shop)
  • Objective 2 – Lead Capture

Intent Funnels = Warm Traffic

  • Objective 1 – Sale
  • Objective 2 – Lead Capture
  • Objective 3 – Pixel

Sharing is not caring!

Keep your data clean by creating lines of separation (segmentation) between campaigns, ads, content pieces/landing pages, based on your desired output (pixel, lead, sale, etc.)

If you have two funnels, you have two types of everything. Advertising on Facebook direct to purchase is painful and doesn’t work. Very few products can go right from Facebook to purchase. You won’t see it happen, so don’t bet on it. Channels like pinterest are for inspiration, but aren’t for intent.

Here’s what I do….

On – measure – off – measure.


(test channels and funnels in a vacuum)

We have a site that we spend 15-20k a month on AdWords. We turn off our advertising to have a baseline to know where that dollar comes back from.

Proof: Last year I bought Pela Case, and the company has grown a lot in the last year. I use this method (see sketch below) and it’s interesting to see what we found. Sales didn’t go up where I spent my money. Some people would see a Facebook Ad on their phones, then they would go to a different machine or to a different browser and buy the case. You can’t track it. We would advertise to women, but found that men only bought the case…it was their wives that told them to get it after seeing our ads! How can you even know if your investments in channels are working?!

facebook text for ecommerce merchants

Attribution (quicksand)

This is where most brands and retailers get stuck. Attribution is like the ninth circle of hell for us.

Revenue by Channel Matters. It’s just damn near impossible to get right when you have a lot of channels supporting your business.

If you’re spending money in a channel, you wanna know it’s coming back. You just can’t know 100% if the return is there, and here’s why:

Depending on the model we use, we get VERY different results. Either it’s showing we made money…or lost a shitload. This is why I just shut off ads.

If I turned off PPC, what happened to Direct? When I turned PPC off, sales dropped in the other channels. The way things were 5 years ago we use to see exactly where money came back, but now I’m all over the map with channels everywhere.

You need to acknowledge attribution, you have to look at it, but it’s so heavy that it will drag down all of your strategy.

Data (leading indicators)

Finding and measuring the leading indicators of ROI

We’re all swimming in data. If you’re dealing with any traffic volume, you’re swimming in data. You collect it, but do nothing with it. We’re not great yet at turning data into action.

I need to know before I spend how it will affect my business. I need to ratchet it up when I know it’s working. Set up your ad budget as a percentage of total sales. If it’s working – then you have an unlimited budget!

How do you know what to measure?

Assuming you know what your typical funnels look like, measure the steps AND the desired outcome.

Break things down into steps. Similar to a typical intent funnel. Measure the funnel first, and segment by channel. Are people moving from content to products to purchase flow? Google already does this for you, so take a look at the analytics.

matt bertulli dx3

Leading indicator data:

Context Objectives:

  • Time on page
  • viewed collection
  • viewed product
  • lead captures
  • add to carts
  • Purchases

Intent objectives:

  • add to carts
  • Purchases
  • lead captures
  • Pixel

You can get traffic now from channels that are super cheap. This is how we build funnels, and it’s all we care about. If you can get 1000 people down to view a product, then your retargeting takes care of the rest.

Take all the stuff that GA throws at you, and ignore it! Keep things segmenting and just measure the numbers outline above. I promise you that will convert into dollars. Even though consumers aren’t buying when you first touch them. Let’s be real here, most of you are in the discovery business.

Remember…balance!!

1. Map channels to different objectives and use channels to create leverage, but know that it’s not a perfect science.

2. TEST – Turn it on, turn it off, and see what the impacts are. Go into a new channel with a hypothesis. Test before you think about going deeper with anything.

3. Don’t get lost in data, look at leading indicators. Your competitors are scrambling to figure out the same thing. You don’t need to get fancy!Measure leading indicators (steps), not lagging (sales)

Download the slides by filling in the form below: