Things work better when we move ahead and take a few of our best old methods with us too. The funnel is the core of inbound marketing and it finds a place in the new Marketing Flywheel too.
It has been often observed that every time there is a new concept introduced, there is tremendous resistance from people. Accepting new ideas when you are so familiar and comfortable with the existing one can be tough. But who is asking you to let go completely of your old concepts? After all, the new ones emerge from them.
Marketing has changed and we will explain to you how you can combine your funnel with the flywheel and let everyone be happy.
The analogy of the funnel to marketing works because it represents the efforts of the sales and marketing teams engaged in converting visitors to customers.
Conjure the image of a funnel in your head and now imagine this:
The wide opening is Marketing as that creates awareness and entices people onto your website. The middle is the sales strategy that works on converting potential to definite. The end of the funnel is your transformed customer.
So, your entire process is brought down to your converted customers.
Read more about the Marketing Funnel.
The funnel is great, for sure. However, the journey of the customer ends after the purchase decision has been successfully made. This is where the Flywheel comes into the picture by placing the customer at the centre.
Jim Collins substituted an actual flywheel operation with marketing ideas. It goes something like this:
A flywheel is a machine that stores rotational energy when an external push enables its movement. Here, the flywheel is materialized with different departments of a business - marketing, sales and services. The customer is where the efforts of these departments are directed to, and the external push is the inbound strategy- attract, engage, convert and delight.
You can read more about the Marketing Flywheel ideology.
Yes! The Funnel has been around for way too long giving awesome results, it cannot vaporize in a whiff. The birth of Flywheel was meant to question the heavy attention placed on just the acquisition of customers and nothing else.
HubSpot introduced the Flywheel as a refined way of marketing based on the rapid changes in the buyer behavior. The Flywheel is aimed at reducing friction between different operations and aligning your business around consumer needs and demands.
The funnel ends after the conversion process but the flywheel continues to spin even after the conversion has taken place. This means that the funnel attracts customers into your flywheel and then the flywheel works on maintaining a loyal relationship with them and increasing brand value at the same time.
While the funnel greatly works for the acquiring of potential customers and converting them, the flywheel is targeted towards the otherwise less focused customer relations and internal coordination.
We, at Openthrive, have brainstormed the idea of combining the two different approaches of Inbound Marketing - the funnel, and the flywheel, and we’ve come up with something like the graphic image below.
Restating what I mentioned above - “The funnel ends after the conversion process but the flywheel continues to spin even after the conversion has taken place.”
(Refer to the graphic above)
If you look at the three stages - Attract, Engage and Retain - they form a funnel that is twisted and connects both its open ends.
The point where the Engage stage begins, that’s the beginning for another part of the system which continues and joins the point where the Attract stage begins.
The whole structure forms a complete circle and hence, the fully functional flywheel which incorporates the characteristics of our good old funnel.
Attract - Just like it happens in a regular funnel, through brilliant content that tries to answer the questions of its audience, your audience is attracted.
In the combined state, the Attract stage has two kinds of audiences getting into it -
1. It takes the existing customers (who have just traveled through our funnel till the end) again into the Attract stage by serving them with solutions, helpful content, and great customer service.
2. Also, whoever found the products/services worthwhile and valuable, they start talking about it in their communities, and hence, spread the news by word-of-mouth. This newly developed fraction of people start exploring your systems and enter your funnel in the Attract stage.
Engage - Similar to the original funnel, the people in this stage are more involved and responsive with your content offers. This is the stage where again you must consider two kinds of lot.
1. The existing customers who enter into the process of considering you for future purchases lie in this stage.
2. The influenced crowd also starts taking you into account for their requirements.
Retain - This is the stage where the sale has been made. When someone buys from you the first time, or has already bought from you multiple times, there MUST be NO discrimination between them. The only aim in this stage is to provide an awesome after-sales service and resolve any issues they have with your service or product. They must leave this stage as delighted as a kid who gets a box of chocolates when he asked only for one.
Only when you do good in this last stage of the twisted funnel, you will be able to get them successfully into your Attract stage again.
Influenced Audience - This is directly proportional to the level of exceptional service you provide to your audience throughout the journey from Engage to Retain. The happy people who are in your Engage and Retain stage have a huge potential of influencing other people around them. - their family, colleagues, friends, social connections etc.
We believe that a huge part of the combination flywheel is composed of this section of people who did not know you in the first place, but are now influenced by what they’ve heard from others. These people have huge buying potential, as they already know people who have bought from you.
Now, the scary part is that if your service is not so good during the different stages of the twisted funnel, the word-of-mouth has the power to spread “that” news as well.
So, if you want to implement this system, and win it, the one and only thing that needs focus, apart from your product, is the awesome customer service and experience. Start working on reducing friction areas and you can expect your flywheel to spin faster.
Here is how you can combine them:
1. When you are forming your flywheel framework, the funnel will lay down the foundation of metrics that already exist. For example, your key result areas, your departmental operations and your metric for analyzing success is already a part of the funnel. You can now use this to build your future flywheel.
2. The funnel will give you a list of all the resources that you have been using and help you track where there has been more emphasis and where there hasn’t been any. Reallocate these resources by giving them equal attention, as a flywheel gains momentum out of equal allocation.
3. The funnel grossly ignored the friction areas that could be reasons of creating turmoil in the business. You need to identify these friction points and lubricate them with options like easy website navigation, friendly salespersons, effective marketing and sales automation, human-like bot conversations, presence on different online platforms and such, so that your funnel is transformed into a running flywheel.
4. The funnel includes the customer service department in the delight stage (the last stage) but the flywheel thrives on it throughout. So, along with funnel operation, the flywheel revolutionizes your customer experience and thus, retains them with strong loyalty to your brand.
5. The funnel expects you to start back to the awareness process for a new audience which can be avoided when you combine it with the flywheel. Your customers become a part of your business by becoming your biggest marketing tools. Their word of mouth will hold more value than your advertisement.
Things are changing in the marketing sphere but traditional methods forever remain. It is out of these methods that evolution takes place and we must ensure we emerge successful with our heart being in marketing.
Check out our other posts on the Openthrive Blog to understand the Inbound and Flywheel Marketing world better.