Rethinking the Funnel

02.29.16 / Advertising

This past January, I attended my first marketing conference in Key Biscayne, FL. Key takeaway – most presentations were eh some presentations were amazing. The most spectacular came from Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik, who blew everyone away with his presentation on customer intent.

Avinash took the traditional marketing sales funnel (the one that exists in every marketing textbook ever created) and completely destroyed it. He explained how creating loyal customers is much more complicated than “shoving people down funnels all day.” Instead, let’s think about the intent of the user and solve for that intent.

We begin by breaking users into four different clusters.

  1. funnelSee – This is our largest addressable and qualified audience
  2. Think – The largest addressable qualified audience (with some commercial intent)
  3. Do – The largest addressable qualified audience (with LOADS of commercial intent)
  4. Care – These are our current loyal customers (with 2+ transactions)

Keep in mind that this is a generic description. Your clusters will be specific to the industry or client you are working with.

Now, you might be thinking this is the same concept as a marketing funnel, except you’ve just changed the names of each stage. Not quite. Funnels have the limitation of users moving in a linear path; from awareness –> opinion –> consideration – you get the point. People are much more complex than the funnels we put them in. They engage, interact, and convert from all over the place!

Let’s get back to our intent clusters. We as marketers sometimes obsess over the “Do” (the later stage of a purchase). The idea here is to focus on all four clusters and pursue the right content, marketing and measurement strategy for each stage.

Start by mapping out all possible user outcomes at each stage. See example below:

SeeThinkDoCare
Blog SubscriberseBook DownloadsPurchaseMobile Apps
Social Media EngagementsEmail SignupsPhone CallsRefer Friends

Identify a content strategy that aligns with the intent of the user. For example, YouTube and Facebook are great platforms for “See,” “Think” and “Care.” The key is to engage audiences of all types in a relevant matter, no matter what marketing strategy you’re using. Someone in the Care cluster interacts differently with content than someone in the See cluster.

seethinkdoA strong marketing strategy drives home your organizations value proposition. Align your marketing strategy for what each cluster is great at and understand the benefits and limitations of each channel. Paid search is amazing for targeting users in the “Do”, but might not work for your largest audience “See”, who don’t have the commercial intent yet. Display can be a great strategy for any cluster when done properly. It can be used as a content driver for “See” and again as remarketing tactic for “Do!”

Digital people love data and need to see the numbers in order to measure a campaign’s success. Duh! But, are we measuring the right metrics at the right time? “Don’t judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree.” In other words, don’t always be looking for conversions from every marketing channel. Go beyond the Last-Click, or #clickofdeath. Assisted conversions can be great “See”/”Think” Metrics.

I’m not asking you to go home and start burning pictures of sales funnels from your old textbooks. However, I hope you think about the users’ intent when you are planning the next marketing campaign.

Key Learnings

  • Funnels are outdated and don’t work for the complex digital world we live in today
  • Think about intent before demographic or psychographic data
  • We are marketing to people! Not just cookies and IP addresses

To learn more about See-Think-Do-Care Business framework, go to http://www.kaushik.net/avinash/

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