The Evolving Marketing Funnel- How Customer Journeys Vary

The traditional sales funnel is a useful concept when attempting to understand your customer’s journey to a purchase. This well-known and established sales funnel, sometimes referred to as a marketing funnel, typically illustrated by an upside-down triangle divided into different stages of customer awareness, offers businesses a big-picture perspective of their customer journey. While helpful, marketing experts have longed for a more detailed series of events. With modern technology taken into account, a sales funnel that recognizes outliers, shortcuts, and roads less traveled is important to consider when developing a marketing strategy.

What is the traditional sales funnel?

The traditional sales funnel (sometimes referred to as “linear marketing”) organizes the evolution of customer interest into broad stages:

Awareness: Awareness is the first stage of the marketing funnel. Potential customers discover products and services after exposure to marketing campaigns (webinars, direct mail, viral campaigns, social media, search, and media mentions) or their own consumer research.

Interest: After leads are generated, they move on to the interest stage. Here, they learn more about your company, what you offer, and any helpful information you provide. This is a chance for companies to connect with people who have shown interest in the company's products or services.

Consideration: During the consideration stage, leads have matured to qualified leads and are considered prospective customers. This is an opportune time to send prospects more information about products and offers, perhaps through automated email campaigns and targeted content.

Intent: At this point, prospects are taking some action that directly indicates that they are interested in buying a product or service. This may happen in a survey, after a product demo, or when a product is placed in the shopping cart.

Evaluation: At the evaluation stage, buyers are deciding whether or not to buy a brand's product or services.

Purchase: Finally, a prospect has made the decision to buy and becomes a customer.

What is the new sales funnel?

Newer versions of the sales funnel recognize that potential customers can start their customer journey at varying stages.

For instance, sometimes these prospects are referrals, while others already know they want to buy a product because they’ve done their own research. These potential customers jump into the sales funnel at the interest or consideration phase.

Another benefit of these newer perspectives is that they acknowledge the simultaneous brand and products being exposed to a potential customer, making the customer’s decision-making process less black and white.

Non-linear marketing

An example of a non-traditional sales funnel would be non-linear marketing. The non-linear perspective of the marketing funnel considers multiple narratives about a company that exist on multiple channels through multiple means of engagement.

Non-linear sales funnels offer a strategy that involves the entire brand in the life of the consumer, and the consumer in the life of the brand. It is social, interactive, and relationship-based. 

Which funnel is part of your marketing strategy?

While traditional sales funnels offer a trusted starting point for marketing strategy, non-traditional versions of the sales funnel, such as the non-linear funnel, allow us to view the customer journey map holistically.

If you’re in need of conceptualizing your customer’s sales journey, reach out to The Old State. Our team of marketing experts will take a deep dive into your target audience’s perspective to determine the best methods of reaching qualified leads.