Break the Funnel: Bring on the Wheel



By Sarah Malcolm, COO of The Content Funnel

Sales funnels, marketing funnels. Love them, hate them, they’ve been part of the industry lexicon for decades. Even we have talked about creating content that “moves clients through the sales/marketing funnel.” But is the funnel the most accurate representation of how we engage the modern business or customer?

Recently, HubSpot talked about the “flywheel” model. Where the funnel comes to a close, the flywheel is about bringing your existing customers back into the process. It makes so much sense for social marketing. Think about it like this:

The typical “marketing to sales” funnel has worked. Someone saw a social post on Twitter linked to a blog. They read it. A pop-up asked them to join a newsletter, they subscribed. Two weeks later they ended up contacting you about your services. A few phone calls later, you’ve got a service contract. Yay! Funnel over, right?

Absolutely not.

Landing a customer is just the start of your social and other marketing. As we talk about in “Win More Repeat Business with Social,” social media and related content are crucial to customer retention.

And our example above only addresses a true “funnel.” But, really, how many times will a potential client engage with your brand before converting? From Forbes: “B2B customers today progress more than 70% of the way through the decision-making process before ever engaging a sales representative. “

That’s why taking a circular, or “flywheel” approach makes more sense. Think of social media marketing as constantly cycling people through your content. Build content that simultaneously attracts, engages, and delights customers at all phases of the sales cycle.

Let’s reflect back on the example above. How does the flywheel apply to this new customer? Now they’re added to our email database for clients. In addition to the blog newsletter, they’ll receive occasionally, exclusive content just for them. We target them with specialized white papers and blogs just for our current customers. Maybe they make a social post about how much they love our service. Now we engage them socially by thanking the client for the love. We reshare the post on our feeds to our audience. Later on, their brand is featured in a case study. They share the case study across their social networks. As you can see, it’s cyclical relationship nurtured and grown over time.

A circular approach means investing equally in content. The goal goes beyond attracting the new. We know the value of retaining current clients. Use social media and your content to constantly delight and engage this critical core audience.

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