Those who have been in the business for a long time will know just how much funnel marketing has changed over the years. The traditional purchase funnel was very linear; it followed one person through the buying process — from awareness, to interest, to desire to purchase, to action — as they entered solely at the top, moved through the process, and often interacted with only one product or person.
However, recent advances in technology have altered the way in which people interact with each other, and as such, marketing has changed as well. Social media and email are the preferred forms of communication. The buyer’s journey is no longer linear — customers no longer interact with just one person, and customers can enter at any stage of the process. As a result, your funnel marketing probably looks quite different to how it once was.
Customers are much better informed now than they have ever been. Before the introduction of the digital media and enterprise seo programs, it would have taken take a lot of effort to compare and research various versions of a particular product or service. In fact, clients would often rely exclusively on marketing and sales teams to provide them with the relevant information they would need to make a purchase choice. As a result, the consideration stage would generally take place further down the funnel, once the customer had already had contact with your company.
Now however, customers can do all of the necessary research and make a decision before your company is even aware of their interest. This makes it increasingly important to focus your marketing efforts on establishing brand advocacy, rather than completing a sale. Subsequently, inbound marketing has replaced outbound marketing as the main strategy. Marketers need to provide content of value that can meet customers in the research stage, or they risk being passed over before they ever have a chance to make personal contact.
Social media now accounts for a third of all time spent online. This makes it a major avenue for top marketing teams to reach customers in the research stage. Because of this change in the marketing funnel however, marketers cannot approach social media marketing in the traditional way — pushing out ads or “cold calling” customers. Instead, in order to remain effective and relevant, companies have to focus on visibility, helping the brand to be found by customers who are looking for it. Providing real content of value is essential — customers will share good content with their friends and followers, but are very unlikely to want to share overt advertisements.
Using inbound methods has provided businesses with the opportunity to re-establish a new kind of marketing funnel, one in which marketers are able to use customer data and targeted campaigns to meet potential customers right at the top of the funnel — creating a link between the brand and the solution to their needs. This kicks off a one-to-one customer journey in which a company is able to guide a customer down the conversion funnel, from awareness to purchase and beyond, across all departments and channels. 83% of high-performing marketers use customer data to segment or target ads, compared to just 57% of underperformers.
These kinds of customer journeys offer significant advantages to companies who want to cultivate a customer base that they thoroughly understand. They also benefit the customers themselves, as they are able to move through the process more efficiently, and receive better service both before and after purchasing. In fact, among high performers who have integrated their digital marketing channels with their overall marketing, at least 95% rate the integrations as very effective or effective.
These are not the only benefits of modern funnel marketing, however. With social media as ubiquitous as it is, customers often become brand ambassadors on their own, advocating for their favorite brands and products. Furthermore, it creates greater possibility to connect to their friends and followers through data on mutual interests, as well as the ability to remain connected with past customers through automatically generated customer profiles.
Taken in all together, the effectiveness of the new market funnel is dependant upon something that previous iterations tended to overlook: customer relationships.
Perhaps the most effective tool for building customer relationship through the marketing funnel is customer relationship management (CRM). CRM systems give marketing teams the ability to personalize, optimize, and record every client and lead interaction. Here’s how:
Cloud-based CRM options give marketing teams the ability to work together seamlessly while providing a consistent customer experience. Real-time client data can be accessed by all authorized users, so that no customer ever gets lost in the shuffle as they move between representatives.
Automated task management and case management cuts down on the amount of busy work that marketers have to carry out, as well as providing them with a more comprehensive look at their data and customers. This means that they can not only better tailor the customer experience to each individual lead, but also that they can focus more of their efforts on nurturing those leads one on one.
Multi-channel integration means that marketers are able to easily manage campaigns across every channel, adjusting to suit the varying audiences where necessary. Modern customers use more channels than ever before, and are also much more likely to move between channels through the course of their journey. By taking advantage of multi-channel integration, marketers ensure that the level of service remains consistent.
Intelligent analytics provided by the best CRM systems mean that marketers can track customers, campaigns, and competitors, so that they can see what works and what doesn’t. Through tracking the right information, marketers can make sure that the best offer is sent to the right person, at exactly the right time on their preferred channel. These kinds of analytics also allow teams to reevaluate marketing decisions in real time, making course corrections when necessary, and always working towards an improved client experience.
If there’s one thing that Salesforce understands better than anyone else, it’s customer relationships. Salesforce CRM has come to be known as the industry gold standard in client relationship management, and with Salesforce marketing cloud, that expertise can be applied directly to your marketing funnel.
With Salesforce, you’ll be able to provide you leads with the kind of personalized, targeted journeys that create brand loyalty — the kind of journeys worth sharing. In fact, it offers nothing less than a full, 360-degree view of each individual client, so that you’ll have the information you need, to give them the high-quality service they need.
The marketing funnel has certainly come a long way, but at its heart, the main principle is still the same: to guide customer towards the path to purchase. With Salesforce CRM, that path can be one built on positive client relationships. After all, recent advances may have changed how people interact, but the importance of relationships will always remain.