3 minute read
The funnel isn’t dead – it has morphed into a flywheel.
By Mark Glucki
Over the past few years, the traditional concept of the sales ‘funnel’ has become outmoded. The modern consumer buying process has become less linear and more complex, bringing the need to transform the existing funnel and adapt a more holistic, customer-experience driven approach.
The marketing flywheel is a way of re-imagining the funnel as more of an ongoing, active conversation with customers and prospects that reaches across sales, marketing and service. Each feeds the other, and when done properly, creates consistent touchpoints that help prospects and customers solve pain points and move forward with less friction. This can do amazing things for both retention and conversion.
What is the marketing flywheel?
The flywheel flips the linear conception of the sales funnel into a circular feedback loop of touchpoints across marketing, sales and service.
In this model, momentum carries forward to drive growth, and every touchpoint a prospect may have at any time with any part of your organization is a contributing factor. Consistency of experience (as a measure of brand promise) is a key ingredient.
The flywheel concept was first created by Scottish engineer James Watt as a type of wheel that efficiently stores energy and can be used to increase a machine's momentum. Hubspot borrowed from this idea and applied it to marketing.
The concept is pretty simple. Just like machines need a flywheel to store energy, marketers need a flywheel to generate, maintain and grow a loyal customer base. The flywheel is very similar to the traditional funnel as it represents the customer journey in three core stages:
At the center of the wheel is human experience.
If you create a great experience through marketing, sales and service, people are likely to become promoters and advocate for your brand — thus expanding your pipeline of opportunities. It's momentum driven by earned goodwill.
Here’s how those stages work :
Attracting customers in the age of digital marketing involves a lot of tactics (i.e., social media, SEO and paid ads) all revolving around producing great content. These techniques can be very targeted and personalized to help you reach end-users more effectively.
For any inbound marketing strategy to work well you need to be able to meet your prospects where they are. This is achieved by first understanding who they are, where they look for information, and the type of content that is going to most resonate with them (note: to understand if your content is working, measure ROI to analyze results and make tweaks based on your findings).
Once your content has earned initial attention, it's time to engage. Getting prospects to interact with you through additional relevant content will build interest and increase your chances of converting. Chatbots, pop-up forms and email marketing come into play here, and can be enhanced by personalization and automation. The key is offering value through content that directly relates to their challenges.
Remember that less is more. People don't want to know about every article you've ever published, or every possible option and feature of every solution you offer. They need help making choices about what to do next. Producing content that genuinely helps them (and is not a hard sell disguised as helpful content) is the way to build trust. Always offer a relevant ‘next step’ that relates to where they are in their journey.
When the prospect has converted and become a customer, ensuring they have a great experience with your service and brand will make it more likely that they bring others along. At this point, the feeling of support and value created through the experience you’ve offered so far, is reflected in their actual experience of being a customer.
Easy to say, and harder to do as this can be impacted by so many different factors. But if you are taking active steps to invest in measuring and improving (ie. NPS scoring with the process, people and technology to address gaps), you are on the right path.
Continuing to produce and offer educational content can be a value-add that enhances CX.
Do we say goodbye to the funnel?
The funnel isn't going anywhere because it’s an established way to view and track opportunities and conversion. That view has value. However, by seeing it in the wider ‘flywheel’ context of customer experience, you can start to generate a whole new type of momentum that will pay off in spades for your organization.
Up Next: Measure ROI for content marketing with these 6 helpful tips
Regardless of whether you are building a funnel or a flywheel for your business, we can plan, create and execute rolling content to help you have better touchpoints with prospects and customers.
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