Think about the eCommerce brands that you purchase products from most often. How did you find them, and what keeps you coming back for more? Chances are these brands are encouraging your loyalty through actively nurturing their relationship with you and creating a customer journey experience, even after you make a purchase.
That’s because modern marketers and customers alike recognize the value of the relationships they create.
While the traditional marketing funnel focuses on the actions a company takes to guide potential leads through the buyer’s journey, we’d like to propose a new funnel. One that more accurately reflects what it takes to establish long-lasting relationships between brands and the customers who believe in, and benefit from, their products and services.
Let’s start by taking a look at the marketing funnel in it’s widely accepted form today.
The Traditional Inbound Marketing Funnel
The current inbound marketing funnel is made up of three main components, typically referred to as top of funnel, middle of funnel and bottom of funnel. The funnel imagery aptly represents the number of leads generated by the marketing efforts expended in each section. You start at the top of the funnel with a wide array of potential leads and narrow your focus as you travel down.
Marketers know that their efforts won’t convert every lead that comes across their content. No matter how detailed it is. By breaking down marketing efforts into a funnel, marketers can better focus on the types of content they need to create to elicit specific responses along the buyer’s journey.
Top of Funnel: The Awareness Stage
This is the marketing stage wherein the widest net is cast. You’re mainly appealing to those leads who are pouring over Google results, looking for answers to questions and solutions to their problems.
Your brand shows up here as a blip in a sea of options. You appear in search results due to your SEO strategy and your content quality.
Middle of Funnel: The Consideration Stage
The middle stage is where the funnel starts to narrow and you sort out the leads who are engaging and trusting your content from those who are just passing through. You hook these leads by proving your value through quality content that communicates your brand’s specific value.
The goal here is to prove to your leads why your brand will add value to their lives.
Bottom of Funnel: The Decision Stage
Here’s where the traditional marketing funnel ends. The decision stage is where leads decide to solidify their relationship with your brand by making a purchase. At this point, you’ve either hooked them or you haven’t, and your marketing job is supposedly done either way.
Notice what each of these stages has in common? They’re only focusing on the marketing efforts that take place before a lead converts into a customer. In the current inbound marketing funnel blueprint, there’s no component that tackles what happens after you make the sale.
Enter customer marketing.
Customer Marketing: Nurturing Existing Customers
To truly connect and form relationships with leads and customers, your brand needs to be about more than just the sale. Introducing customer marketing into your marketing funnel will help you prove your worth to customers and encourage them to stick with your brand.
When marketing to leads you’ve converted into customers, remember that you’re still supporting them in their buyer’s journey. This means rewarding them for clicking through and purchasing your products while simultaneously adding value to their lives.
To do this, consider creating the following added marketing content on your site:
Onboarding Campaign: An onboarding campaign is an excellent way to thank your users for their support while building brand loyalty by extending personalized offers or upsell opportunities via email. Design a personalized experience based on their user activity that soothes known areas of churn and markets relevant products.
Downloadable Content: Creating additional, exclusive content for customers to access will make them feel like your brand is opening doors that they can’t gain access to elsewhere. Not only are you rewarding their investment in you, you’re providing additional services to solidify your existing relationship.
User-generated Content: Giving your own customers a platform on your social media and website by sharing their posts, comments and reviews is another way to enhance your relationship while marketing your products and services to other potential leads.
Integrating Customer Marketing into the Marketing Funnel
When you integrate customer marketing in the existing components of the inbound marketing funnel, you create a new funnel that doesn’t quit once you’ve made a sale. This funnel builds the task of nurturing customers into the marketing process itself, fostering a culture more firmly rooted in meaningful relationships.
When you integrate customer marketing into your marketing funnel, you get:
Retention - Retaining the leads you’ve already converted is key to long-term success for any organization.
Loyalty - Repeatedly demonstrating your worth to your customers inspires brand loyalty and repeat usage.
Engagement - Consistently producing useful, in-depth content provides your customers with a reason to continue following your brand.
Advocacy - After experiencing your products and services, your customers are encouraged to share your brand to their friends and family.
These are essentially the ultimate in customer goals, here. You’re placing the final emphasis on nurturing repeat customers that become brand advocates for life.
Tracking Your Customer Marketing Efforts
To help prove that customer marketing should be the new, fourth stage in the marketing funnel, it’s important to develop ways to track your progress. While keeping track of metrics is something you’re no doubt already used to, you’ll need to integrate the specific customer marketing tasks that you use into your system. Some of the top customer marketing metrics might be:
LTV (Lifetime Value): This shows the worth of the customer marketing you're doing by showing that a customer's LTV increases (or not) after customer marketing efforts. According to Duct Tape Marketing, for a subscription-based service, this is simply the average monthly revenue multiplied by the average subscription length. For a sales-oriented business, it would be the average sale multiplied by the average number of sales.
Customer Satisfaction: Sometimes difficult to track, but can be done with surveys, the most popular being the Net Promoter score. This asks your customers a simple question after brand interaction or purchase — "On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend __________."
Churn: Churn is simply the number percentage of customers who have left during a certain period of time, such as a calendar year or a quarter. Churn is calculated by taking the number of customers you have at the start of a time period and comparing it against the percentage of customers who are not there at the end of the time period.
Luckily, you shouldn't have to add new technology to your existing interface to calculate the above metrics. Your customer relationship management (CRM) software or internal revenue/database tracking should already hold the information you’ll need to gather the data on how your customer marketing efforts are performing. If you're not currently aware of what your LTV or AOV are, you might need to conduct some data modeling with a finance expert.
By integrating customer marketing into the inbound marketing funnel, your brand can shift the focus of the buyer’s journey from one of delivering a product to creating lasting relationships. We think it’s a change worth making to your inbound marketing routine, providing you with an opportunity to convert leads into customers and convert customers into lifelong brand advocates.