Business leaders and marketers alike keep referring to the “funnel” when depicting their hypothetical customer’s journey from lead generation stage to prospect conversion stage.
However, this classic marketing illustration is fairly antiquated.
It certainly does its justice by driving awareness, interest, and consideration of the product/service as well as the decision-making and conversion processes, but it stops there. Referrals and loyalty programs in the customer’s path to purchase appear to be entirely funneled-out.
Today’s customers are widely different from those a decade ago. They are all well informed, put a high focus on the reputation of a business in their purchase decision-making process and their expectations are higher than ever before.
Marketers who align their companies’ successes with superb customer service, an unparalleled experience, and loyalty beyond purchase need to ditch the funnel and adopt a more nimble and modern visual representation that reflects an entire customer journey with the experience provided.
Funky Funnel Explained
So, the old trusty funnel that oftentimes represents the company’s marketing strategy has turned into the “shape” of the past. It’s important, however, to examine it as a collective representation of each individual stage that transforms a lead into a buyer vis-a-vis the entire customer journey beyond purchase in order to evaluate newer, nimbler solutions.
The funnel focuses predominantly, and heavily on five key stages like awareness, interest, consideration, decision-making, and conversion at the expense of loyalty and advocacy. Clearly, it represents a short-term, transactional marketing strategy and business growth approach, completely ignoring a long-term, relationship-driven take on it.
In today’s customer-centric world, word-of-mouth referrals, loyalty programs, and positive reviews given are critical driving forces for scaling a business. By utilizing the funnel approach, companies not only ignore these crucial areas of influence but may not be serving their customers in the best way possible. Many times it results in the proverbial leaving money on the table, fewer repeat customers, and lack of brand evangelists.
Behind the Flywheel
HubSpot explains what the flywheel is:
Invented by James Watt, the flywheel is simply a wheel that’s incredibly energy-efficient. The amount of energy it stores depends on how fast it spins, the amount of friction it encounters, and its size. Think of it like the wheels on a train or a car. Source: Hubspot.com
In marketing terms, a flywheel is a model that brings all the aspects described in the previous section together. Customers are no longer an afterthought. Instead, they are placed in the epicenter of the flywheel even though they have already transitioned from leads to the buyers.
As they become brand advocates championing the company by making repeated purchases, providing reviews and referrals, they simultaneously accelerate growth and increase revenue.
The flywheel model allows for the removal of potential resistance within internal processes (sales, marketing, or operations) leading to its faster spin in achieving set goals. Without a doubt, this agile model offers operational efficiency and business growth acceleration achieved by simply putting the customers as the driving force of its power.
The marketing flywheel model accelerates in accordance with the significance of the customer experience. Its trajectory tracks the following stages: attract, engage, and delight. The model is self-perpetuating as the “delight” stage powers the “attract” stage in new inbound lead generation methodology. Simply put, how the customers are treated directly affects what prospects hear about the business. It reveals the significance of customer experience, which is central to its approach.
Furthermore, thanks to specific metrics and goals attributed to each stage of the flywheel, it’s easier to obtain a more comprehensive look at where the business is growing the fastest, getting insight into where friction exists or most significant areas of opportunity.
Related post: Don’t Guess How Customers Decide: Do Buyer Interviews
Scaling up the loop
What is the lemniscate? According to the technical definition, it is a closed curve that produces two symmetrical loops connected at the node. Or, just a fancy name for the infinity symbol.
Similar to the flywheel model, in terms of the marketing strategy utilization approach of the lemniscate mode, it centers on providing a superb customer experience and nurturing long-term relationships with customers.
To an extent, the loop still takes funnel-like stage-based measurements into consideration like awareness, consideration, evaluation, decision, and purchase. It does not stop there, however. It accelerates beyond the customer acquisition stage and expedites the journey further towards onboarding, adoption, value realization, loyalty, and finally, advocacy. ¹
Measuring the customer’s journey using the lemniscate model enables marketers to develop predictable solutions, repeatable, and readily scalable processes as the business grows. Key performance identifiers attributed to each stage of the customer journey provide critical insights into business progress and are indicative of revenue generation through the increased customer lifetime value and lower cost of acquisition.
Unlike the traditional marketing funnel that limits the company to rigid, inaccessible, project-based lead generation tactics completely disjointed from revenue growth, in the infinity loop scenario, marketing is no longer a “cost” to the organization. Instead, it elevates its position to the revenue driver, leading to a position of authority and credibility².
Sum the “Shapes” Up
The trusty marketing funnel became the industry standard for many years and in retrospect, it set us astray. This model has had a noxious effect on relationships with customers and in a way is responsible for the decay of credibility and authority of marketing departments.
There’s no better time than now to adapt your company’s marketing strategy to nurture your customers so they become loyal for life.
Move over funnel! It’s time for the flywheel or the infinity loop to serve customers better, scale businesses, and drive revenue up.
¹ Jeff Pedowitz: C-Suite Network; “F the Funnel: How Marketing Loops Will Turn Leads into Lifelong Loyalists”.
yorCMO’s proven process includes helping organizations in a wide variety of industries, with many different business models. We implement the right strategies to ensure your marketing is applicable to your growth and your business is soliciting the positive reviews it needs.
I am happy to help you discover your next steps. Want to know more? aneta@yorCMO.com
About the Author:
Aneta Zawila-Jordan is a proven brand builder and business accelerator who lives in the mission to grow her clients’ enterprises. She parlays her extensive experience in the fast-paced, consumer-facing verticals to make them WIN by mastering marketing strategy, go-to-market solutions, and performance lead generation.
Aneta is based in the Great Washington D.C. metro area.