Is the marketing funnel obsolete? Well, short answer: no. Long answer: kind of. While the funnel isn’t (and shouldn’t be) completely dead, there HAS been a shift in the way content marketers work within the company to best serve a customer.
While the funnel is a helpful guide through the buyer’s journey and an effective method for lead generation, it ultimately focuses too much on closing a sale and moving onto the next.
The flywheel, on the other hand, puts an emphasis on thinking about the relationship between company and client as a cycle. It’s an unending loop where customers can keep interacting with the company (and vice versa) even after their transaction has ended.
We’ve been focusing on sales and marketing alignment in our strategy at Brandpoint, and the flywheel fits right into this mindset. Teams within B2B companies all need to work together to put customers at the center of their strategy with the end goal being not just one sale, but a continued relationship that will eventually result in more leads, sales and brand authority.
What is the marketing flywheel?
The marketing flywheel is an upgrade to the traditional funnel we’re all familiar with. While the funnel is a straight line from acquisition to sale, the flywheel is, as Jon Dick of HubSpot explains, a “circular process where customers feed growth.”
There are three phases in the marketing flywheel:
- Attract: Inbound lead generation as we know it, making sure to provide genuine value to your target audience.
- Engage: A continued relationship through the sales funnel, which includes providing solutions, education and personalized customer service throughout a customer’s buying process.
- Delight: Cultivating such a positive experience with a focus on strong relationships with your customer that they eventually become promoters, which will help the wheel spin right back to the attract phase.
As you can see, the flywheel is built to keep rotating on its own, gaining momentum and strength the longer it works effectively. Here we’ll break it down a bit more and dig into what each of these phases in the cycle mean.
The Attract Phase
The best elements of a solid attract phase are most likely already part of your marketing plan. This step in the flywheel is all about bringing people in — the top-of-the-funnel prospects.
Just remember, when you’re mapping out your inbound marketing strategy, be sure not to forget your key goal: satisfying the customer. Are your actions all done with the prospect’s best interest in mind? Are you driving the right type of traffic to your site?
Attract phase tactics include:
- Blog posts and content marketing
- Keyword strategy and on/off-page SEO
- Social media presence, both organic and paid
During the attract phase, you’re encouraging the customer to begin the buyer’s journey on their own. By providing all this helpful (and free) content, potential clients can determine whether they’re interested in working with your company. If your inbound techniques are focused with those specific audiences in mind, you’ll be convincing them to act upon your CTAs and reach out for more information.
The Engage Phase
After a customer is brought into this process, the next step is to provide them with even more information and content that will help convince them that they want to move forward with your product.
Engaging a customer in this phase can mean a lot of things — it all depends on each specific customer’s end goal and their company’s needs.
You’re still able to automate a lot of this process, such as in your email strategy and content creation, but it’s imperative to keep an open line of communication with your sales and service teams to make sure you understand what potential customers are saying, asking about or having troubles with. This way, you’ll be able to create more specialized content for each audience you’re targeting.
Engage phase tactics include:
- Segmented email campaigns
- Gated content, such as eBooks, whitepapers and downloadable templates
- One-on-one time, such as giving demos and initial phone calls
- Elevated free content, like in-depth explainer videos or webinars
- Offering a free trial of your product
A lot of engage phase techniques can be thought of as direct answers to problems customers are bringing to your service teams. Sales will be able to use your work as well, offering it to clients if any questions come up in their communications.
[Read more: Interactive Buyer Persona Template]
The Delight Phase
Now, the delight phase is what sets the flywheel apart from the funnel. In the past, old-school marketing teams would lead the customer to a salesperson and do a hand-off. Marketing would attract, sales would engage, a deal would be made, and boom, the client would be out the door.
Then, it would start all over again. Back to square one.
The flywheel tactic looks at this delight phase as a middle ground between a completed transaction and the next round of potential leads with the customer playing a key role in this transition.
If you’ve been successful in the cycle up to this point and helped your customer come to a solution crafted just for their specific needs, all while giving them out-of-the-ordinary customer service along the way, you should definitely have a happy person on your hands.
This is more precious than gold, honestly.
Now it’s the marketing team’s job to continue to nurture this relationship, with the goal of upselling and creating promoters in mind.
Delight phase tactics include:
- Hosting in-person events for your clients to network and continue their education
- Providing exclusive “members only” content, such as eBooks and webinars
- Personalized email campaigns
- Invitations to try out new features or products
- Creating a referral program
These are the customers that you can work with on creating case studies, product review videos and other user-generated content. Suddenly, you have a slew of promotional material on your hands created by real live people!
And just think of it from a brand-new customer’s point of view. Who do you trust more: A company selling their product or a paying customer giving their honest opinion?
Convince & Convert states that 91 percent of B2B sales are influenced by word of mouth.
Suddenly, your leads-turned-clients are now your influencers. Nurturing these relationships to keep them propelling your flywheel will only lead to more opportunities down the road.
The Marketing Flywheel vs. the Marketing Funnel
At the end of the day, the marketing flywheel might sound like another jargon-laced B2B strategy, but it’s fundamentally a simple concept. If you put the effort in to genuinely help your customers, then your marketing strategy will only be more supported and stronger. Work with all levels of your company, from your sales team to your execs, to make sure everyone is on the same page with these tactics.