The traditional marketing funnel is dead.
What you might not know is that the “death” of the marketing funnel is good news for marketers, at least for those of us who can adapt to a new way of looking at the funnel.
All the stages of the funnel are still there, but they don’t look like they used to. Marketers still have to attract leads, generate interest and engagement, and prompt decisions and action, but not necessarily in that order, and not using the same tactics.
Leads now inform themselves through reviews and content, and after they’ve become customers, they go on to advocate and act as brand evangelists. Now, the marketer’s job, at every stage, is to delight those potential customers.
With a little knowledge of how the funnel has changed and what that means for the role of marketing, doing this is easier than ever. Today we’re sharing more about the death of the old marketing funnel, and why that’s good news for marketers.
Replacing the old funnel with the loop
So what happened to the old funnel?
Some have called it “broken,” others have said it’s been turned on its side or flipped, and others have even compared the new model to a pinball machine.
There’s even a convention that meets to address the “flipped” funnel. In 2015, Terminus put together their first #flipmyfunnel conference. Their goal was to raise awareness around the new funnel and generate solutions for how to adapt to it. In the spirit of best practices for the new funnel, the conference was a lead generation and customer acquisition event in and of itself.
Terminus’ willingness to share this knowledge broadly would have made no sense in the days of a traditional funnel that swallows hard-won leads and spits out customers. But today’s funnel (or loop) considers the broader context of the buying experience. It creates opportunity in the once neglected period following the sale, a time when customers can become repeat customers and brand advocates.
Most importantly, the new way invites us to stop thinking about pre-purchase and post-purchase stages and instead take a more holistic approach that accounts for the entire customer lifecycle.
Modern leads enter at any stage
Today, leads can enter the new marketing funnel at any stage. They no longer are “acquired” and walked through a series of predictable and linear steps from awareness to discovery to sale. Anyone who’s ever shopped online and gotten a cart abandonment email or has Googled customer reviews from the aisle of a brick-and-mortar shop knows this.
The buyer’s journey is now a choose-your-own adventure. It’s omni-channel. Someone in the awareness stage might be just one or two clicks away from that all-important purchasing stage, or they could be engaging in a public way–like through social media.
While that might make it sound like key stages of the buyer’s journey are now out of marketer’s hands, just the opposite is true. Modern marketers now have unprecedented access to the customer journey at every stage. They no longer have to obsess over acquisition and can instead focus on a dynamic approach that can reach customers at any and all stages.
Email remains the most powerful and customizable way to do this.
Automation is tailored to the various stages of the journey–and the order in which customers move through them–with tools like behavior marketing and timing optimization to nail the where, when, and how of reaching customers and leads anywhere in loop.
Today’s marketing funnel uses an omni-channel approach
Marketing in the new funnel must be personalized and omnichannel. After all, that’s how people experience the internet in general.
Ascend2’s 2017 State of Marketing lists personalization as the most effective email marketing tactic but also described it as one of the hardest to pull off effectively. Personalization at scale depends on the effective use of data and organizational tools like email automation and customization.
Each “ping” of contact with a lead–whether via email, social media, or the many other online channels–presents an opportunity to deliver a personalized marketing experience and collect data to further personalize future pings. This is why some have likened the new funnel to a pinball machine.
If we’re going with that analogy, learning the rules of the new funnel is the difference between getting replay after replay on your original quarter (read: marketing budget) and shaking the machine in frustration, watching the pinballs (read: customers) go out of reach.