Are online sales funnels dead?
If you watch this talk from the recent Inbound marketing conference you’ll see Brian talk about the death of the sales funnel which is an ascension process through which an online customer typically traveled through to eventually reach the point of purchase.
A typical online sales funnel goes something like this:
>> John Doe (a prospective customer) searches google to solve a problem >>> Google points John to the best content to solve his problem (which hopefully sits on your website) >>> John interacts with your content and opts into your email list (often via a downloadable piece of information in exchange for an email address) >>> John consumes some of your content over time and you gain his trust >>> John buys a product (often a superior version of the free content you shared with John earlier) which solves John’s problem more comprehensively >>> John becomes your customer.
So in the above situation, John Doe is seen an ‘input’ into your system. He’s the input at the beginning of the funnel where he’s a prospect, he then gets ‘processed’ within the funnel, and finally gets ‘spat out’ at the other end as a customer.
In this video, Brian from Inbound says that trust is at an all-time low and that funnels don’t cut it anymore. Trust-based marketing (often word of mouth) is a better solution.
The trust-based system isn’t as linear as a sales funnel which implies finding a prospective customer (John Doe) at one end of the funnel and spitting out a paying customer at the other.
The trust-based system is more of a flywheel — a virtuous circle which nurtures John Doe more holistically. It’s a loop rather than a funnel. A loop that ‘attracts’, ‘engages’, and ‘delights’ your customer and has ‘growth’ at the center of that loop.
John’s attracted, engaged and delighted by your business on an ongoing basis, and he reciprocates by recommending your business to his friends and family — thereby drawing them into that virtuous loop.
Which of the two resonates with you? The funnel or the flywheel?