The marketing funnel as we know it is gone. Or at least it needs to be, if we as marketers want to move toward a truly customer-centric operation.
In this new installment of our Trust Factors series, we’ll review the conventional models for customer acquisition and explain why they’re going out of style. Then, we’ll present an updated version, geared toward long-term sustainable growth.
The Funnel Fallacy
We’re all accustomed to funnels: marketing funnels, sales funnels, conversion funnels. These frameworks can be helpful in guiding our strategies, but there’s an inherent disconnect at play: they tend to commoditize our customers, because these models are solely focused on the end result (revenue). Traditionally, the funnel is designed to usher prospects from awareness, to consideration, to purchase, and then the job is done.
In today’s buyer-controlled landscape, where retention and advocacy are at a premium, marketers need to align with every other customer-facing business 工作职能邮件数据库unit to ensure trust is being built at each interaction — including (and especially) those after the purchase.
In today's buyer-controlled landscape, where retention and advocacy are at a premium, need to align with every other customer-facing business unit to ensure trust is being built at each interaction. @NickNelsonMNCLICK TO TWEET
What is the Trust Funnel?
This theme has been covered in the past from a variety of different viewpoints (including a book by Brian G. Johnson), but we’ve got our own spin on it. By our definition, the trust funnel is a reconfiguration of the buying cycle, with a shift in orientation and objective. The focus here is not only generating sales, but also, generating trust (which leads to the same result).
At TopRank Marketing, we follow a modified version of the traditional marketing funnel, extending it beyond the purchase stage and accounting for the full customer lifecycle:
The Trust Funnel for B2B Marketing
The trust funnel is essentially aimed at optimizing each of the first three stages to support the last two by inspiring loyalty and cultivating long-term relationships throughout. Why is this important? Because successfully mastering this process is the key to running an efficient and sustainable business. Consider that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25%-95%. Meanwhile, studies show that customer-referred leads are far more likely to convert, and deliver considerably higher lifetime value on average.
In short, an effective customer retention and advocacy model helps your marketing become more self-sufficient. Trust unlocks this ideal.
Optimizing for Each Stage of the Trust Funnel
Adopting the trust funnel methodology is all about a shift in mindset. The stages are not fundamentally different than those in the aforementioned marketing funnel, at a high level, but you’ll be better positioned to serve your customers when thinking about them in these terms:
1. Attract: Foundational Credibility
“Awareness” is a broad and ambiguous concept. It’s not enough to simply make people aware of our brands — we need to instill an immediate sense of credibility, so that trust is being established in the very first interactions. How can we accomplish this? Focus on three vital touchpoints:
Your Website. Does it convey authority of expertise in your vertical? Is it easily navigable, with quick access to resources that a curious buyer might want? Are there seamless methods to get in touch? If the site contains contact fields, do you clearly outline your commitment to privacy and care when handling a user’s personal data?
Your Social Media Accounts. At any given time, your latest tweet or update might be the first time a new prospect experiences your brand. As such, it’s important to be thoughtful with each one. Make sure your voice is consistent, genuine, and directly aligned with your target audience. Are you approachable and conversant?
Your Search Visibility. As we wrote here recently, your presence in search results is instrumental to your brand’s credibility. Are you delivering best answer content that satisfies search intent for prioritized phrases? Consequently, are you outranking competitors for these terms? Do your page titles and meta descriptions reflect an inviting and knowledgeable demeanor?
2. Engage: Authenticity and Conversations
Once you’ve taken the appropriate steps to develop an air of credibility, it’s time to cement this perception as people begin to engage with your brand. Seize these opportunities to do so:
Be Available and Responsive. Candace Lun Plotkin of McKinsey & Company published a post on LinkedIn recently discussing the growing expectation of B2B customers for rapid response times. In the age of an on-demand economy, people are conditioned for short waits and fast access to what they need. This is why an always-on marketing strategy is highly advisable, and why digital tools like chatbots