Why Funnels Can Still Help You Build a Marketing Strategy

In business, popular concepts go in and out of fashion, but certain principles remain constant. To find a successful path for your business, you need to know when to hold fast to established truths and when to make changes based on emerging trends.

Since long before you were born, the concept of funnels has helped sales strategists and marketers understand and map out the customer journey. But recently, funnels have been under fire. Some business strategists have begun advocating for a move away from the traditional funnel as a way of conceptualizing the customer journey. 

Critics argue that funnels fail to capture the complexities of modern consumer behavior and the myriad touchpoints that influence purchasing decisions. However, at Black Raven AFC, we believe that while funnels are not a prescriptive panacea, they remain a valuable descriptive tool for building a robust marketing strategy. 

Here’s why funnels still matter and how they can be adapted to meet contemporary marketing challenges.

Lack of Post-Purchase or Loyalty Relevance

One of the primary criticisms of the funnel model is its lack of focus on what happens after a customer makes a purchase. Traditional funnels primarily address the stages leading up to a purchase—awareness, consideration, and intent—often neglecting post-purchase activities and customer loyalty. This oversight can lead to missed opportunities for fostering long-term relationships and brand advocacy.

To counter this, marketers have to enhance their funnels by adding stages that recognize the importance of post-purchase engagement. 

By including loyalty and advocacy stages, businesses can create strategies that extend beyond the initial transaction. This not only encourages repeat business but also transforms satisfied customers into brand advocates who can drive further awareness and consideration through word-of-mouth and social sharing.

In other words, build a longer funnel.

Linear Nature of Funnel Models

Another common critique is that funnel models assume a linear progression from awareness to purchase, which does not reflect the reality of consumer behavior. In practice, customers interact with brands through a complex web of touchpoints, including social media, websites, emails, and more. These interactions are rarely sequential and often involve a back-and-forth journey as consumers research, compare, and evaluate their options.

While the linear nature of traditional funnels can seem outdated, the concept can be adapted to acknowledge these non-linear behaviors. 

By incorporating feedback loops and recognizing that customers may revisit earlier stages or engage with multiple touchpoints simultaneously, marketers can create a more flexible and realistic representation of the customer journey. This hybrid approach retains the organizational benefits of funnels while embracing the fluidity of modern consumer interactions.

Long story short, recognize the limitations of your funnel concept. Your customers are people, not marbles rolling down a track.

Traditional funnels tend to oversimplify the decision-making process, assuming that customers follow a predictable path. However, today’s consumers are active participants who engage in extensive research, comparison, and reconsideration before making a purchase. They bring unique behaviors, preferences, and interactions to the table, making a one-size-fits-all approach inadequate.

A more nuanced funnel model can accommodate these complexities by segmenting the journey into more detailed and specific stages that reflect varied consumer behaviors. By doing so, businesses can tailor their marketing efforts to address the specific needs and preferences of different customer segments, enhancing the overall effectiveness of their strategies.

Disconnect Between Brand and Consumer Evaluation

One of the most significant pitfalls of a funnel-based strategy is the potential disconnect between how brands perceive their funnel stages and how consumers actually experience them. This misalignment can lead to ineffective marketing efforts and a poor understanding of the customer journey.

To bridge this gap, marketers must prioritize understanding the multi-touchpoint journey from the consumer’s perspective. 

This involves regular feedback, data analysis, and an openness to adjusting the funnel stages based on real-world dynamics. By aligning the funnel more closely with actual consumer experiences, businesses can ensure that their marketing strategies are more relevant and effective.

Strategy with a Heartbeat

The only strategy worth pursuing is a living strategy. One that respects your business as a unique human enterprise and your customers as people with individual needs and concerns. While the traditional funnel model has limitations in this respect, it remains a valuable framework for building a marketing strategy. Acknowledging these limitations and adapting the funnel to reflect the complexities of modern consumer behavior can enhance its effectiveness. 

At Black Raven AFC, we recognize the importance of evolving our strategies to meet the demands of today’s market. By integrating additional stages, embracing non-linear customer journeys, and aligning more closely with consumer experiences, we can leverage the funnel model to drive meaningful engagement and business growth.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to effectively incorporate funnels into your marketing strategy, reach out to us at Black Raven AFC. Let’s navigate the complexities of modern marketing together and build a strategy that connects with your audience at every stage of their journey.

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