Marketers are familiar with the sales funnel, a traditional marketing strategy created in 1898. However, the sales funnel is now descending into obsoletion. As times and technology change, brands and their marketing teams must find ways to evolve and adapt to the tide. One such strategy that’s made traction in recent years is the marketing flywheel.
What is the difference between a sales funnel and a marketing flywheel? The sales funnel is a straight line from acquisition to sale. According to the digital agency, Raka, the points of a sales funnel are awareness, opinion, consideration, preference and purchase, all happening as a straight chain of events. In contrast, where the funnel is linear, the flywheel is circular and feeds growth in a self-sustaining manner. The flywheel harnesses the momentum of existing customers to help bring in a new wave of clients through referrals and encourages repeat business.
There are three phases of the marketing flywheel: attract, engage and delight. In the attraction stage, the objective is to create content that piques consumer interest and heightens brand awareness. Attraction jumpstarts the conversations that help consumers connect with the brand’s message and mission. These conversations may be facilitated by customer feedback, live chats, email marketing and social media. Engagement builds upon the foundation that attraction lays. In the engage portion of the flywheel, brands gather valuable insight as it pertains to their target market and how best to serve them. Delight manifests when clients have had such a positive experience that they not only return as loyal customers but bring new business along with them.
The main differences between the sales funnel and the marketing flywheel is that the funnel allows the consumer to fall out of communication with the brand, whereas the flywheel maintains an ever-flowing cycle. The funnel’s singular objective is to make the sale – insightful customer engagement is either secondary or nonexistent. Naturally, any business owner can see how this strategy would fall out of favor over time. Over the past few decades, mainly with the rise of the digital age, consumers have amassed a much larger platform to voice both their grievances and praises of a brand. The immediacy and infinite size of the internet make it so that companies have no choice but to listen and adjust accordingly, or risk upsetting their market.
The marketing flywheel is just one of many tools in a brand’s toolkit. Combined with other strategies, both new and traditional, brands are more likely to develop an intimate understanding of their markets and reach their targets accordingly. The flywheel model helps build trust between brands and consumers. This perpetuates an ongoing dialogue that builds customer relationships and brand affinity.