The notion that funnel marketing is dead has gained a lot of steam from marketing and advertising pundits. We’ve all seen the headlines: “death to funnel marketing,” “traditional marketing is dead,” “funnels are obsolete.” But funnels aren’t actually dead. The marketing funnel is still relevant for modern marketers: we just have to reimagine the funnel for the digital age instead of using outdated funnel models. Think of it as Funnel Marketing 2.0, or the modern sales funnel.
Instead of pushing persuasion-heavy copy and hard sells, modern funnels acknowledge each buyer’s unique journey. Modern funnels address the fact that the buying process is no longer linear, but a complex process that zigs and zags before customers come to purchase.
Customers are more empowered in the age of online shopping. While it doesn’t make sense to use the traditional marketing funnel, funnel marketing has an important role to play in your marketing strategy. Embrace funnel marketing 2.0 to build a relationship with potential customers, current clients, and repeat buyers to make the most of your marketing resources.
Funnel marketing is still relevant
Some people are calling for the total abandonment of funnel marketing, but we say that’s premature. Funnel marketing is still very useful. At its core, funnel marketing is about understanding the customer’s journey and using what you know about that journey to build a strategy that works. Without funnel marketing, you risk spending budget dollars and time on pricey tactics that don’t work. Here’s why brands still need to use modern funnel marketing.
1. Be relevant to customers
Funnel marketing gives your team a high-level view of what steps customers usually take to make a purchase. Maybe you’ve been cranking out social media posts, thinking it would bring in more customers. But once you look at your funnel, you realize your customers aren’t even on social media; they prefer to chat via SMS. Funnel marketing helps you reach customers on the channels they use the most. That means your brand is more relevant to potential customers, bringing in more engagement and leads.
2. Preserve resources
Marketing and sales always need to show how their efforts improve the bottom line. Fortunately, funnel marketing helps brands see where they should dedicate marketing resources. It can even show what efforts brought in the most bang for your buck. Instead of spending money and time on ineffective tactics, you can spend your resources where they’re going to make a difference. For example, without information from your funnel, you might invest a lot of funds into a live event for lead gen. But with a modern sales funnel, you can see most of your customers come in through your website, not in person. You would be able to save money and time by focusing on web leads instead of low-ROI activities like live events.
3. Effective automation
Funnel marketing also makes automation possible. Map out a general idea of how customers come to purchase so you can automate tedious tasks. For example, if you know customers tend to sign up for your email newsletter, create an automated welcome sequence. Deliver value to these subscribers automatically with free resources, coupons, and valuable content. This warms up your leads and brings them closer to purchase—without you lifting a finger. Automation also means that you make the most of your employees’ time. Stay lean and run with a streamlined team with funnel-informed automation.
Reimagining the traditional funnel
Of course, to get these benefits, you can’t stick with a traditional marketing mindset. You have to embrace a modernized version of the funnel. The funnel is a useful model, but the traditional model doesn’t always reflect reality, especially in the digital age. That’s because the original sales funnel model was invented in 1898—a lot of things have changed since then! Traditional funnels were linear and assumed a lot about the buying process. But we live in a world where customers can chat with each other, look up reviews, and check out your product before they engage with your brand at all.
In short, buyers are really unpredictable. That means you need a modern sales funnel built for the digital era. Digital funnels are about engaging and building authentic connections. Brands are in an ongoing dance with leads and customers in a funnel marketing renaissance. The evolution of the funnel is great news for brands looking for new opportunities to grow. Traditional funnel stages (Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action) might still be occurring, but they happen in a different order today. In fact, customers bounce around the different stages; funneling is a very dynamic process now. Funnels 2.0 focuses on the customer lifecycle. It gives your brand and your customers room to be human. Done right, modern funnels give you more context and tools to personalize the brand experience, deepening customer ties and boosting sales.