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Over the last few years, things have changed dramatically in the funnel structure. Long gone are the days when we had prospects coming into the top of the pipe and emerging as loyal followers. The customer experience process has changed; today’s sales process has changed; calling for a drastic shift in the way we market to others.
Today, there is an impressive range of ways people interact with a product and learn about it, says the Harvard Business Review. And, since people rely heavily on peers’ recommendations, a typical marketing funnel usually starts somewhere in the middle, rather than the top, and ends with fewer customers in the Retention phase. It’s also not unusual for customers to flit between funnel stages while they’re trying to decide which brand or product to trust. The Awareness and Discovery parts of the funnel are often passed through quickly with the help of social media, in particular, Facebook where prospects can check out a friend’s recommendation and see comments and testimonials from other users at the tap of a button.
Turn attention to the relationship to boost conversion rate
According to Visa’s chief brand officer, Antonio Lucio, we should concentrate more on customer relationships and change from decision to engagement. This is why they are mapping out their entire customer experience and looking at the process from transactions as part of the customer relationship. The transaction itself is no longer the end goal but a small piece of the puzzle, he says.
It’s paramount to consider the factors driving the transactions and to be able to provide an excellent customer experience, and increase brand advocacy. Take for example Tesla Motors. They have almost 1.5 million Facebook followers, but not all of them are customers; at least, not at the moment. However, they are all people who applaud the company for its values and what it has done thus far for them and their communities. This adjusted funnel creates an excellent customer experience. But mobile apps, SaaS, and other digital services and products can also gain much from it. This is because marketing and service are not separated in SaaS, unlike with traditional funnels.
For example, the Salesforce AppExchange wants to add value to the process so that whatever they recommend markets for them. Although not all AppExchange-featured apps were built by Salesforce, they all have one thing in common: they are used to provide customers with a great experience. See how Google has become a word processor, email and storage service (and many more services that make Google even more user-friendly, fast, and a popular means to communicate) – more than just a search engine? Of the many search engines that share Google’s influence, none has managed to make our experiences more enjoyable, easier, and faster.
Although the traditional funnel is still a way to gain new customers for some products and services, it lacks the flexibility and effectiveness required, and doesn’t guarantee a good customer experience.
James Leighton Davis is a Customer Acquisition Consultant, Interim DigitalDirector, and NED, primarily for PE-and-VC-backed companies across B2C, B2B and D2C markets in both the UK and Australia. Further information is available at leightondavis.com.
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