For a long time, marketers and business owners alike have considered the funnel as a model for understanding customer relationships and conversions. But the way that customers approach sales, think about purchases and interact with brands is changing - and your sales funnel needs to change with it.
The traditional marketing model, the simplistic sales funnel that we're all familiar suggests that customers filter down through the following processes:
However, this model no longer accurately captures the nature of online conversions. Marketers must now be adaptive and dynamic to nurture long-lasting, truly valuable relationships with customers.
What should your marketing model look like?
Rather than considering your relationship with a single customer as a linear journey with a single end point ('Action' or sale), you should consider how to nurture that customers interest in your products into continuous growth. For example, Hubspot have indentified that generating growth from customer relationships is more of a circular process than a linear one with their innovative Flywheel model. The Flywheel represents a more holistic, unified way of the manner in which existing customer relationships, inbound marketing, sales and post-sales marketing impact upon each other. Savvy marketers should develop their own holistic, integrated marketing methodologies.
There are three crucial changes to how you should approach your marketing model:
Overhauling your marketing model and creating a new methodology from scratch is a daunting prospect, but these guidelines are a good jumping off point for developing a more adaptive approach to customer relationships.
1. Extensive market research is crucial
Your model should be attuned to predicting and responding to your customer's needs and actions, so in-depth marketing research should be fundamental to your marketing model. A data-driven, well-defined strategy should be the backbone of your methodology.
Every customer journey is industry specific and it's key to understand exactly what this will look like in your industry through thorough data gathering and analysis.
2. Pay close attention to customer touchpoints
One popular approach to re-thinking the marketing funnel was McKinsey's Customer Decision Journey model. This is a circular model that puts the customer's purchase at its core and unfortunately runs into the pitfall of viewing marketing as a means to a single end point (purchase) rather than a continuous opportunity for strengthening customer relationships and generating growth.
However, a very useful take away from this model is its focus on the customer's decision making process. It encourages marketers to pay close attention to where the customer's touchpoints are, which in turn helps us capitalise on opportunities for engagement that will both delight and entice the customer.
3. The sale is not the end of the customer journey
The most important change you should make to your marketing model is to stop perceiving a sale as the end of the customer journey. In an age where we endless channels for communicating with customers, post-sales marketing is more important than ever. For example, in a retail setting, you can use email marketing to drip-feed information about a customer's order. This transparency and consistent communication will no doubt enhance the customer experience and is more likely to turn them into a repeat customer and ambassador for your brand. You can use this same method to encourage customers to leave reviews of their experience, which in turn benefits your SEO and offers social proof of your excellent service. For more advice and tips on how to re-think your marketing strategy, get in touch with a proven team of experts.