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Optimising paid campaigns with a data-driven full funnel marketing approach

One of our customers in the higher education industry uses PPC campaigns extensively to generate leads. Over the years they have spent approximately $1million USD on paid campaigns. In this blog post, I will do a complete breakdown of how they adopted a data-driven marketing approach across the funnel to increase conversions.

I’ve personally known the customer for over five years and I was able to witness how their tracking and KPIs maturity evolved first hand. Five years ago, they focussed on generating leads at a very low cost and the major channel that they chose was Google Ads.

Since the number of competitors increased in Google Ads, the cost per lead increased drastically. They were forced to look into other acquisition channels. Setting up campaigns across channels and generating leads at half of the cost was not an issue.

However, the final conversion rates went down. 

Chapter 1: Higher Education Funnel

The customer has various steps between awareness and the final conversion. Below is a quick representation of their funnel & the various stages. 

Various stages of the Funnel
  • Awareness stage: How many clicks we had per channel
  • Lead Generated stage: Form submissions on the landing page
  • Opportunity stage: Leads qualified by the sales teams
  • Offer Letter and Deposit stage: Final conversion stages

Chapter 2: KPIs tracked before adopting a data-driven marketing approach

Before adopting the data-driven approach, the customer was tracking the, 

  • Cost per lead per channel
  • No. of leads generated per channel

However, they soon realised that the leads coming from Quora were of low quality and that the leads coming from Google Ads were of high quality even though the CPL was much higher.

The marketing team needed this feedback from the sales team, at least on a weekly basis so that they could optimise the campaigns weekly.

At this stage the data looked like this:

Total CostLeadsCost/ Lead
Google Ads2711237733
Number of leads from Quora & Google Ads

As a marketer where would you optimise now? 

You’re right – logically we should go back to Google Ads and see if we can reduce the cost to match with Quora.

Like they say the devil is in the details.

You would be surprised to see what happened when they aligned both their marketing and sales teams.

Chapter 3: Marketing and Sales Alignment

Data-driven marketing will bring strong alignment between sales and marketing teams.

Unless the sales team sends their feedback quickly, the marketing team will not be able to optimise the campaigns.

In the funnel above, the top two steps are handled by the marketing team, and the bottom three steps were owned by the sales team. The hand-off between marketing and sales typically happens at the opportunity stage.

Pro-tip 1: Define the stage where the handoff happens from marketing to sales.

Pro-tip 2: If your business has long sales-cycles, have an intermediate qualification step which will help the marketing team to optimise campaigns weekly.

With our customer, the sales cycle is around 7 months, which means the marketing team cannot wait that long. So, the opportunity stage plays a major role.

When a lead submits the form the sales team calls these leads in under 36 hours to quickly qualify them.

Chapter 4: Introducing Data-driven Marketing KPIs

With this new understanding, they needed a different approach towards defining their KPIs. 

The number of leads and the cost per lead were not working anymore. They are using 8 more paid channels to generate leads and the lead cost between channels varied between 1.5x to 3x. 

How to define which channel works better now?

Addition of a few well-defined KPIs such as the number of,

  • Visitors per channel
  • Leads generated per channel
  • opportunities per channel

Made the difference!

You might be wondering how this will influence the campaigns. Here’s a detailed look at the numbers

Total CostLeadsCost/ LeadOppOpp RateOpp Cost
Google Ads27112377331437.831937

Where would you optimise now? 

Exactly… Quora! 

The deeper the alignment between the two teams, the more data-driven the marketing team can get.

Chapter 5: Challenges in getting opportunity data from the sales team

The customer has offices in 5 cities and a 50 member sales team. They adopted a CRM to mark the stages of the inbound leads. But manually mapping the 1000’s of leads generated every week was not possible.

The entire workflow had to be automated and a new customised dashboard had to be created.

Commonly used tools such as Google Analytics, Mixpanel did not work as they were not able to bring the CRM data into the funnel.

Chapter 6: Automation Setup

They started with CustomerLabs CDP, installed the tracking code on their 100+ landing pages and set up event tracking using the widget.

CustomerLabs CDP web widget

It was now critical to merge that with the CRM data. If the lead stage is changed or any other information is updated, that information will be updated in CustomerLabs CDP in real-time. 

Unified customer view

As you can see, the lead has been created, and the feedback has been brought back from the CRM.

Now, the users can be seamlessly segmented in CustomerLabs CDP. 

Funnels as Segments

In the following blogs, we will see more on

a) How they automated the full-funnel retargeting campaigns in various channels (Facebook, Quora, Linkedin).

b) How they used BigQuery to build their own dashboards.


  1. To nail your funnel – go deeper into the funnel
  2. Align Marketing and Sales operations
  3. Implement full-funnel marketing campaigns
  4. Automate the whole process using CustomerLabs CDP
  5. Adopt data-driven marketing today
Vishnu Vankayala

CEO of CustomerLabs, Building next-generation tools for Digital Marketers.

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