Have you tried to implement funnels into your business, but the results don’t add up? If so, maybe you’re wondering whether digital marketing has outgrown the traditional funnel strategy. Funnels can be extremely helpful, but they aren’t perfect for every situation.
Funnels are sometimes unhelpful for digital marketing because of their linear approach to gaining customers. Digital spaces have created hyper-aware consumers who want valuable brand experiences through engagement. The traditional funnel strategy overlooks these trends in consumer behavior.
The modern marketing world is complex, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. If you want to be efficient with your strategies, you need to figure out if a funnel is actually necessary for your digital marketing. Below, we’ll discuss how a funnel strategy could be harming your business growth and which marketing approaches you could try instead.
Most digital marketing efforts do not need a funnel (at least not in the traditional sense). The funnel strategy segments the customer journey into a series of steps. After each phase, potential customers are filtered and nurtured until they drop out or reach the conversion point.
Only a fraction of the initial consumer base reaches the final stage of the funnel.
The funnel format relies on stages and marketing strategies that are designed around these stages.
This helps marketers focus on every point of contact between the customer and the brand. It might sound effective, and for many businesses, it is!
However, one reason the marketing infrastructure is being challenged is because of the growing presence of the digital sphere in consumers’ lives.
In contrast with traditional perception, consumers are now more aware of their purchasing behaviors.
They have greater access to information and online customer communities.
Modern consumers have a habit of researching brands, products, and services long before they consider making a purchase.
Moreover, advocacy and referrals have become a significant part of modern consumption and digital marketing culture.
This results in customers having a circular journey with the brand rather than developing a linear relationship.
Being connected to the vast network of online consumers can quickly transform a potential customer into an advocate for the brand.
So, if customers can easily skip the funnel stages and never have to gain awareness to make a purchase, then a funnel strategy could become irrelevant for the business.
However, you can still use some aspects of the funnel to grow your business, such as focusing on brand awareness through consumer profiling.
In general, designing an entire funnel for your digital marketing is becoming an increasingly obsolete approach.
1. Focused on Conversions
While businesses need to work towards increasing sales and profit, modern consumers are more receptive to the brand experience.
On the other hand, funnels tend to focus on making conversions instead of developing customer relationships.
Though an individual may not frequently purchase from a brand (or even at all), they could become a staunch supporter regardless.
This happens because of the values and emotions they associate with the company throughout their brand experience.
2. Linear Approach
The funnel strategy assumes a natural progression of awareness, interest, desire, and action.
This approach does not account for the number of times your target consumer might go back and forth between the stages.
Consumers are constantly changing their actions and perceptions because of the endless exchange of information.
Therefore, even if you have a strategic funnel strategy, it will not be efficient if it does not cater to the circular nature of a customer’s journey.
3. Overlooks Different Types of Customers
It is apparent from digital marketing that the description of a customer has evolved over time.
However, the funnel strategy simply perceives customers as buyers. Modern consumers are more influenced by each other rather than brands.
There could be buyers, advocates, brand loyalists, critics, and everything in between.
Because they have access and control over information while they create perceptions, modern consumers have more power to act rather than be acted upon.
Traditional funnel strategies become inefficient because they only focus on paying customers.
4. Prioritizes Acquisition Over Retention
The funnel’s stages are traditionally focused on attracting new customers rather than paying attention to existing ones.
Even though some funnels have an extra stage of advocacy after conversion, this is usually a bonus step rather than a prioritized strategy.
Existing customers carry the brand forward and bring promising growth. Nourishing their relationship with the brand is also cost-effective.
You can enjoy free advocates in the form of satisfied existing consumers.
5. Needs Attention of Target Consumers
In a fast-paced virtual environment, consumers are presented with endless information on a daily basis.
The funnel strategy relies on the consumers to stop and pay attention to the brand’s marketing strategies in order to move to the next stage of the funnel.
In the digital space, consumer attention is short-lived and difficult to maintain.
Consumers only pay attention once a brand has succeeded in engaging with them. A funnel is used to grab attention so that the customer makes a transaction.
However, for digital marketing, customers can form a deeper connection with a business even without making a purchase.
1. Brand Engagement
Since the customer journey is no longer linear, companies need to focus on creating opportunities for brand engagement.
This can be done by providing a multi-dimensional brand experience for customers to enjoy.
Modern consumers are more interested in connecting with a business rather than carrying out a transaction.
You could use user-generated content, gather customer feedback, and maintain an active and relevant social media presence.
By being closely connected with your target consumers, you are not only strengthening your brand support, but you can also better understand their behaviors and influences.
2. Integrated Marketing
If you keep your brand message consistent (regardless of the platform), you will add value to its identity. Customers are also more likely to retain marketing information.
A unified message will stand out from the sea of ads and campaigns they are exposed to.
By integrating your marketing strategies, you are building familiarity and credibility. Both of these are essential to a positive customer experience.
3. Hourglass Digital Marketing Funnel
This is an advanced adaptation of the traditional funnel strategy.
It pays close attention to the user experience journey and prioritizes the development of customer relationships.
With stages extending beyond purchase, the hourglass funnel aims to make the business a valuable addition to a customer’s lifestyle.
This is carried out in stages of adoption, retention, expansion, and advocacy.
4. Flywheel Marketing
The flywheel is circular in its approach as it develops valuable customer relationships based on relevant content marketing.
You could then deepen these connections with trust and engagement to create loyal advocates.
These steps can be continually improved and adapted to grow the business.
Digital spaces have transformed the way individuals form perceptions and behave as consumers.
Traditional funnel marketing does not take these changes into consideration, so it is becoming irrelevant for digital marketing.
Companies sometimes waste time and resources on a strategy that isn’t compatible with digital marketing forces.
However, adapting your funnel to accommodate consumer trends can help grow your business. There are also funnel alternatives you can use to great effect!