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is still relevant for modern marketers: we just have to reimagine the funnel for the digital age instead of using outdated funnel models.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.
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 funnel marketing, 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 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.
5 ways to use funnels 2.0
Customers might be more unpredictable today, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to predict the buyer journey. You just need a strategy that helps you nurture as many leads as possible. Modern funnels are the key. Let’s pop the hood and replace your old funnel. Instead of a linear process, think of funnels 2.0 as a maze with multiple entrances and exits. Follow these 5 tips to modernize your funnel and create a better buyer experience.
1. Focus on what works
It’s tempting to start completely over when you’re overhauling your strategy. But you don’t need to change your entire process just for the sake of modernizing your funnel. If a strategy or channel is working really well for your brand right now, don’t change it. It’s always harder to create a successful funnel from scratch. Feel free to adjust your strategy, but reconsider ending initiatives that are getting you more business.
2. Understand omnichannel experience
People have been talking about omnichannel for years as if it’s a pipe dream. But omnichannel is a reality, especially with modern funnel marketing. Omnichannel means customers are connecting with your brand on multiple channels at different times. The goal is to give leads a consistent, quality, personalized experience no matter where they find you. It’s hard to do omnichannel strategically without funnels. Omnichannel isn’t about being on every channel possible; it’s about choosing your channels strategically to get the most ROI. Conduct a survey to see what channels your customers use. Let the data inform your decisions. Don’t assume anything about your audience without the data; they’ll always surprise you. Choose your customers’ top 3-5 platforms and focus your energy there. Follow best practices for those platforms to tailor your brand’s message while acquiring new leads. Remember, let your omnichannel efforts work together instead of separately. Your Yelp, Instagram, website, and more need to play off of each other for a cohesive experience.
3. Be flexible
Modern funnels aren’t linear. Customers bounce from Awareness to Consideration and everything in between. The customer journey is very different today, but that doesn’t mean you can’t map it out. While every customer’s journey will be a little different, you can still get a general idea of your funnel stages. Identify the core pathways that customers take in your funnel. Do you usually connect on social media, then push them to your email list, and then invite them to a webinar? It’s good to know that this is a common path to conversion; knowing these pathways will help you optimize and automate for more sales.Identify which customer touchpoints eventually lead to a conversion. Use this map to prioritize your resources for better ROI.
4. Loyalty above all
Traditional funnels put a lot of focus on new customer acquisition. New customers are important, but loyal customers are the best way to grow your business. In fact, repeat customers spend 300% more and they’re 13% easier to persuade than new customers. Loyal customers also can become advocates for your brand. They’ll market for you, featuring your brand across social media and review sites. Emphasize customer loyalty in your funnel strategy. Embrace remarketing through email, PPC, and loyalty programs to keep customers coming back for more.
The great thing about funnels is that they assign some predictability to your customer journey. Once you’ve mapped out the pathways leads take to become customers, you can use those pathways to automate the journey itself. You have so many touchpoints with your customers that it’s too much to handle manually. Fortunately, funnel automation tools like Funnelfly help brands bring more leads to purchase.
The bottom line
Funnel marketing isn’t dead—it’s changed. Keep up with the times by using a holistic approach that focuses on your customer. Give your funnels a facelift for the digital age to keep up with the evolving needs of your customers.