Why You Should Care About The New Marketing Funnel
In the world of marketing and analytics, a “funnel” refers to the set of steps a visitor or customer walks through on their way from awareness and discovery to conversion. Each business or organization will have unique actions around the steps, but the journey through the funnel is remarkably similar in every sector.
Funnels are not a new concept, but with the widespread impact of the Internet on daily life, the funnels of years past are being replaced with new, customer-focused funnels.
Keep reading, and find out why you should care about the new marketing funnel.
Perhaps you’re asking users to sign up for an event or fill out a form. When the individual takes the action you’ve requested, they’ve entered the conversion stage of the funnel. In the structure of a church that could mean piquing the interest of as many potential attendees as possible, strategically arranging steps along the way that help them continue down the road to the goal of making them a part of your church family.
In an organization or non-profit, you’re casting large nets (the top stage of the funnel) to appeal to a wide audience and by the end of the journey, they’ve joined together with you in your cause. Once that desired action is taken, they’re in the conversion stage of the funnel.
Although many of our churches and organizations aren’t “selling” anything, we often refer to the visitors as customers. After all, whether there is an exchange of money or not, we’re all in the business of “selling” something, right?
(image credit: Color 9 Creative)
How Funnels Have Changed
The rise of technology has changed the marketing funnel. First of all, it’s now a digital marketing funnel. What used to be done through broadcast and print is largely done via digital means, like video, social media and online content.
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The old marketing funnel often referred to as the AIDA Model, takes potential converts on a journey through 4 stages. Smart Insights describes the stages as:
- Awareness: creating brand awareness or affiliation with your product or service.
- Interest: generating interest in the benefits of your product or service, and sufficient interest to encourage the buyer to start to research further.
- Desire: for your product or service through an 'emotional connection', showing your brand personality. Move the consumer from 'liking' it to 'wanting it'.
- Action: CTA (call to action)- Move the buyer to interact with your company and taking the next step ie. downloading a brochure, making the phone call, joining your newsletter, or engaging in live chat, etc.
- Retention: We all know that this is key to upsell, cross-sell, referrals, Advocacy and the list goes on.. as companies are also focusing on LTV (lifetime value).
Pro tip: Endless marketing experts have declared the old funnel is dead and data shows that new methods have proven more successful in the Internet era. Experts like Neil Patel warn us that continued usage of the old funnel in a new era will be the death of our brands.
With over 4 billion Internet users (that’s more than half the humans on earth!), individuals have easy access to a never-ending amount of information. This changes the customer’s journey, allowing them to step off the predetermined path and follow a new road to conversion. The linear approach of the old model has proven ineffective.
Customers have endless access to seemingly unlimited information on any given product, and this changes the customer journey. The information can come in many forms, including reviews, “how-to” videos from other customers and social media references, not to mention in-house content like blog articles and personalized emails.
Modern Marketing Funnel
In the new funnel approach, all the stages are still there, but they don’t look like they used to. As stated by Campaign Monitor:
“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.”
In this unstructured strategy, sometimes referred to as the Loop Method or Looping Funnel, every stage is flexible and unique for every customer. As articulated by WebFX, the stages include:
- Awareness: Becoming aware of a problem or need
- Consideration: Finding a solution
- Research and Discovery Loop: Uncovering potential solutions and brands
- Purchase: Buying the product or service
- Post-Purchase Experience: Improving the experience of the buyer
- Loyalty Loop: Building shopper loyalty
Unlike the old, linear approach that failed to consider the numerous paths each customer can take, the new marketing funnel gives weight to the Research and Discovery Loop. We’re all familiar with this stage of the funnel, where we travel down an Internet rabbit trail (another loop), reading reviews on the product at hand, creating a spreadsheet with comparative products, even searching other customers’ personal social channels to find their unfiltered comments regarding said product. The amount of “researching and discovering” is seemingly endless!
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This “loop” approach is optimistic. When a customer hops off the traditional path and spends time researching and discovering, marketers now see the value in that stage and consider the customer still on the road to conversion.
What does that mean for your church or organization? Let’s focus on two exciting changes for organizations like yours.
You now have journey access.
Unlike never before, marketers have access to customers at every stage of the marketing funnel. We can take a more holistic approach that accounts for the entire cycle instead of obsessing over the final stages and how to close the deal.
The new marketing funnel opens the door to the dynamic work of getting creative at every stage, accounting for different customer personas and trends.
Another benefit? When customers aren’t being rushed down the funnel, they have time to become more invested in the product and ultimately turn into loyal brand enthusiasts.
You have a following of brand advocates.
As articulated by Campaign Monitor, leads or potential customers:
“...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.”
The reviews and content being digested is largely at the hands of a brand’s customers. When your organization or church has enthusiastic customers and followers their testimonies will point people to the acquisition stage for you.
When determining your marketing strategy for your brand, bury the old model of the traditional funnel and check out the new digital marketing model.