For decades, marketers have prescribed to the notion of a marketing and sales funnel where leads enter into the top and customers emerge, like magic, from the bottom. We’ve created and optimized content and experiences for the different stages of this funnel and tested a plethora of tools and tactics to maximize it. But guess what? Somewhere along the way, as more and more new digital marketing channels and tactics emerged, this neat little linear funnel quit working like it was supposed to. The marketing funnel as we know it is over.
But marketers need not despair. A new marketing funnel has emerged and merges pre-purchase and post-purchase stages to present a complete view of the entire customer lifecycle. Multi-channel, multi-touch, multi-path customer journeys are the new marketing funnel.
Marketers must now own the complete journey of the customer lifecycle, not just think about cherry-picking touchpoints along the way. The end goal is no longer to simply convert a lead into a customer. It’s about maximizing the lifetime value of loyal customers who will come back again and again.
Unlike the traditional funnel, in the new marketing funnel, leads can enter at any stage. They can travel through in random order, and leads may not even make it through every stage because every lead is unique, and every journey is unique. There is no traditional one-size-fits-all funnel, journey or customer experience. This is the new age of customer lifecycle marketing.
Although the funnel is changing, and new marketing tactics are on the rise, and leads can enter at any stage – email marketing continues to be a leading channel at every stage of this new funnel.
Our biggest challenge as marketers in the coming year will be to deliver personalized, relevant multi-channel journeys that speak to the unique needs and desires of our prospects. Are you up for the challenge?