How the New Customer Funnel Could Change the Customer Journey in Your Business

Leah Mahon, Student, Staffordshire Business School


The new customer funnel is changing the way that businesses interact with their customers on their customer journey as we previously knew it.

For years, the traditional funnel has been one of the most used by businesses. However, according to Davies BDM, it has endured criticism due to its inability to adapt to the changing customer journey aligned with what customers want and need in an era of rampant digitalisation and self-controlled consumerism.

Now, the new funnel is set to be one of marketing’s biggest developments for the digital plethora, as predicted by Campaign Monitor. Its new hourglass shape represents non-linearity and continuity throughout the customer journey. It also boasts of new varied stages for every customer to experience as an acknowledgement of true individuality. The new funnel merges the stages of pre-purchase and post-purchase like never before to demonstrate a truly complete view of the customer life cycle. The concept of multi-touch, multi-channel and multi-path customers journeys are now changing the marketing strategies for every business that is embracing the rise of digital.

Some insight from Customer Journey Marketer, breaks down a little more why the previous customer funnel wasn’t quite cutting it in the dawn of this digital age, and what the new funnel can offer customers.

The Old Customer Funnel:

  • Inconsideration of external influences
  • Customers are linear and the same
  • Lack of focus beyond the point of purchase
  • Lack of granularity
  • Lacking perspective of journey

The New Customer Funnel:

  • Customers can enter at any pre-purchase stage
  • Customers do not enter every stage
  • Movement in non-linear way
  • Customer journeys are individual experiences

 

So, How are Businesses Using the New Funnel?

Good question! And it’s one that’s on every savvy business’s mind. The streaming service Netflix is using this new funnel with the non-linear perspective at the forefront, as described by Blue Coda. For instance, the average Netflix user would usually enter at the Engagement stage of the funnel.

Netflix market effectively to their customers with a “call to action” by offering a free streaming trial upon subscription for a month on their landing page with just a URL or Google search. This non-linear approach helps to reel in potential long-term subscribers quickly, and enable Netflix to collect data which can lead to profitable conversions. In a time with iron clad subscription polices, they emphasise that users can cancel this at any time, which increases trust in their service too.

According to Towerdata, customers crave that “1 to 1 level” experience and personalisation of their journeys’ which Netflix do throughout. After Engagement, the customer could then move their way down to Advocacy after watching their favourite series with personalised recommendations for similar streaming content. They could pass this onto friends and family, even before they make their way back up the funnel for an official subscription at the Purchase stage.

Another business that is putting the new marketing funnel to good use is Pinterest, as they prepare to launch their ad business in the UK market. Marketing Week demonstrates that they too market themselves well at the Engagement stage, which prompts potential customers to relinquish their data by signing up to their service, which would enable them to view more pins and to create their very own.

UK County Manager for Pinterest, Adele Cooper, highlights that businesses that work with them have the option of a using a “conversion pixel” which tracks if customers click on a pin and what they go onto do next. This means that ad companies now know what to market to their customers as they could make their way to Expansion with targeted ad campaigns personalised to there need and wants, before the Purchase stage has even been met.

Is it Worth the Journey?

It’s not just Campaign Monitor that has proclaimed the death of the old marketing funnel, but a marketer himself – Mckinsey – has also declared the concept of the funnel entirely dead as we knew it. However, according to McKinsey and Company, revival is not far away in the form of the Customer Decision Journey. 

Albeit, this model underwent a revival of its very own after failing to meet the forever changing scope of digital. Previously, its journey allowed customers to actively evaluate products or services through technology, while being able to add and remove choices. It also included a feedback loop where customers could continuously evaluate products and services after purchase, prompting products to perform and brands to provide a satisfactory experience every time. However, now in an era of accelerating digital advancements, the Customer Decision Journey was forced to undergo a drastic change.

Throughout the new journey, McKinsey argues that the stages of Consideration (Awareness) and Evaluation (Discovery) can be compressed, or in some cases completely eliminated. Businesses do not just react or respond to customers as they make purchasing decisions, but they also shape their decision journeys entirely. The rise of the digital plethora that once allowed self-controlled and self-educated consumerism, as outlined by Davies BDM is now fuelling the underpinning of further technological advancements that allows businesses to take back control. They have greater control over aspects like design and optimisation, and are now being able to create a space for not just value for the customer, but simultaneously for businesses too with “end to end purchase in consumer markets” being the end goal in this strategic model.

Albeit, an improvement from the linearity found in the traditional funnel with its entry and re-entry method, the Purchase stage is still a primary point of contact with the onus on customers to make a buyer “decision” on their journey. And with personalisation and customer individuality at the forefront, it is arguable that emphasis in this stage is complying with the demands of digital consumerism, because the pivot for customers has now become “the experience, not the purchase.” According to Relevance, personalisation can increase “five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend, and can lift sales by 10% or more.”  Customers feel more connected to the message that a business is sending out through personalisation also. Despite the “circularity” of the Customer Decision Journey, it is merely limited to “eating its own tail” while the focus remains on B2C transaction, and the assumption that can customers will remain loyal even if they have a good post purchase experience. Yes, there is more freedom for customers to explore, but ultimately the static nature of the end goal limits this model to a similar function of the traditional funnel. Customers crave a human touch, and businesses that use this strategic tool can risk compromising customer the longevity of their customer life cycle, and ultimately their sales if the journey itself to a potential purchase is indeed a bumpy one.

The connection between the stages of Purchase and Advocacy of both the new funnel and the Customer Decision Journey has also been criticised by marketers. Both models allow non-linearity to move freely throughout, but only once a customer has interacted with a product or service in some way. Take Netflix, for instance, and its call-to-action landing page, or Pinterest and its coaxing to sign up for more pins. The Harvard Business Review argues that now with the expansion of digital, the Purchase and Advocacy stages are now entirely disconnected, because people no longer have to be a customer or relinquish their data to become an advocate for a business. Potential customers are now experiencing what businesses have to offer through live events, content marketing, social media and word-of-mouth. This advocacy is an individual journey in itself that is not acknowledged fully with the previous strategic models, which  puts emphasis in the business, before the customer. True non-linearity through the customer journey is yet to be achieved, and now with more than 4 billion digital users around the globe and only predicted to increase by 20% each year, businesses that continue to rely on the convergence of Purchase and Advocacy could find themselves disconnected from their target markets before they have even truly met is this digital dichotomy.

It is food for thought whether the Customer Decision Journey has met its limitations, because its promise to reclaim self-controlled and self-educated consumerism as its very underpinnings for their B2C goals are undoing itself as customers’ feelings aim to be at the heart of every business – and not their money. For businesses to reject this concept would ultimately mean rejecting their customers. As they continue to shape their own individual journeys, and let the journey’s of others influence them, the impulsive nature of human behaviour is the foundation for the personalised digital experience to just keep getting bigger.

What about the Future of the Funnel?

The Customer Decision Journey and the funnel – new and old – don’t quite offer a smooth journey just yet. But just like the dawn of digital, they don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon, and they have a been a catalyst for further development of the journey customer’s embark upon. As predictions rise to up to 72% of marketing teams to increase spending and create bigger budgets for marketing tools and technological assets in the next two years, and as marketing strategies shift to transactions in the context of a relationship one thing can be for certain…

That in an age of counting followers and subscribers as a sign-point for the changing face of digital, the customer funnel – and the customer journey itself – will be changing right along with it on its very own journey. And businesses that embrace the multi-dimension of social influence, advocacy from non-customers and truly non-linear paths to purchase, they too are sure to come along on the journey.

A day out at Conkers

Simon Hughes, Student, Staffordshire Business School


‘Conkers’ is a day out at an activity centre in Derbyshire, where a group of new Staffordshire University students spent a day during Welcome Week. The day is used to bring people out of their shell and get them involved with various activities that involve communicating and working as part of a team.

The day started out and there was not much interaction between each member of the group and when we arrived at conkers there was still very little interaction while waiting to be split into teams to take part in several activities throughout the day.

When the students were separated into teams, I could see how they were bonding and forming a rapport with their teammates. I strongly recommend this to any person looking to improve their team working skills plus it’s a great confidence booster. It will also help them to ‘find their voice’ to help with communication skills.

The first part of the day was mainly about the communication within their teams. They had to get a bucket of water through an obstacle course, without losing too much water and not letting it touch the ground.

All the teams seemed to have a lot of fun no matter what the weather.

 

 

 

 

The second activity of which the teams took part in, was aimed at helping them build their self-confidence and to believe in themselves with a high wire walk.

 

 

They also had a lower wire for those who had not got as much confidence.

The third activity the team took part in was called `bush craft` where they were split into smaller groups to build a shelter showing their ability to work together as part of a team.
They also had to build a fire under the instructor’s guidance, by gathering wood so that they could toast their marshmallows.

By the end of all the activities, it was apparent that all who took part gained something positive from their experiences. Team working skills and communication were improved and it also helped with their self-confidence.

 

Middleport Pottery – my experience by Simon Hope

by Simon Hope on the BA Tourism Management award (top up)

Pots, Plates and plenty of clay. Middleport Pottery is a historical attraction based in Burslem, Stoke on Trent. It consists of a factory tour, history tour, tea rooms and a shop. The site promotes the history and culture behind the potteries industry and transports you back to the past.

It started in 1888, as a working potteries factory and had fallen into despair until it was brought by the United Kingdom Historical Building Preservation Trust and renovated so that the factory can be continued to be worked.

Some of the range of Burleigh Pottery

Some of the range of Burleigh Pottery

We were toured round the factory by Tony who was a volunteer (as are all the tour guides) that was very insightful about the factory and all the history surrounding Middleport Pottery. We started on the old cobbled path then followed the path round to the clay dispense room with runners. Then we progressed through the factory tour developing more and more knowledge.

I really enjoyed the tour, it felt personal and connected. I felt like I was being transported back in time and I was surprised at how most of the factory preserved the historical feel whilst still operating. Whilst we were touring we saw the whole process and was able to see an order for Ralph Lauren which was exciting.

Middleport Pottery

Middleport Pottery

It was a completely different process to the World of Wedgwood (WoW) which we have visited previously.  WoW was very modern, and the tour was more views from a side line whereas Middleport pottery was much more hands on and interesting.

Bottle Kilns. The most interesting part of the tour brought us to one of the bottles kilns. I stood inside the kiln looking up towards the sky, thinking of how many thousands of pieces of crafts and the people who worked in these conditions. I was astounded, and it has made a lasting impression.

I would recommend the tour to any tourist student that wants an insight to history of the pottery industries. It has helped me to see how the operations of volunteer-based attraction works and I have seen where there is potential for the attraction to develop and maintain its advantage.

Overall, I would like to thank Middleport Pottery and Tony for the time taken to show us around the site. I would also like to promote the attraction to anyone who is interested in Stoke on Trent history and potteries.

Middleport Pottery on facebook 

Middleport Pottery on twitter

You may also be interested in our blog on resources for Chinese visitor for Middleport Pottery

My Visit to the Wonderful World of Wedgwood

By Sasha Wilson L6 Tourism Management

Wedgwood is an iconic brand within the pottery industry, it was founded by Josiah Wedgwood in 1759 and is valued as part of English History (Visit Stoke, 2018). It is now owned by the Fiskars Group who have ownership over other iconic brands including Gerber, Fiskars, Littala, Waterford and Royal Copenhagen (Wedgwood, 2018).

The World of Wedgwood is located in Stoke-on-Trent, Barlaston and is known for being a cultural attraction suitable for all ages. They attract 100,000 visitors per year with 25% of them being international with Japan and China being the most popular, helping to contribute to their global sales by 40% (Perkins, 2018).

Sasha with some of her fellow students

Sasha with some of her fellow students

My fellow colleagues and I arrived at the World of Wedgwood around 9am, where we were greeted by the director (Chris Perkins) and educational contact (Olivia Thackston). Chris has been working for the attraction for 5 years and manages the front of house, catering and museum teams, ensuring that they all run smoothly and all issues are resolves effectively.

The director showed us to the dinning hall where we conducted the interview, he started off by informing us about the Fiskars Group and the World of Wedgwood providing us with in-depth and valuable information. The group had individually prepared some questions to ask him, however many had already been answered through his inspirational talk.

I wanted to find out how the attraction is sustainable so I asked what strategies and procedures have been put into place to help the environment and reduce waste. He informed me that they don’t use plastic and that everything is made from glass so it can be reused, they also manage visitor numbers and order the right amount to cater for their needs to reduce food waste (Perkin, 2018).

An interesting fact I found out was that they recycle their broken casts by smashing them up which is then sold and used to make motorways, helping them to be more sustainable and provide positive impacts on the attraction as they still make money (Perkins, 2018). When I found out this I was very happy as I believe that organisations have a responsibility to the do whatever it takes to be more sustainable, to help preserve the environment and local community.

Once we had finished the interview we walked around the Museum where I saw lots of Wedgwood blue plates, taking me back to my childhood as my nan used to make us stories on the plates and tell them to me which gave me a warm and happy feeling. I then rang up my nan and told her she MUST visit as she would LOVE it! While on the phone we went back in time and remembered the happy and joyful memories that Wedgwood have provided us with, which we are very grateful for.

One of the many displays in the fabulous museum

One of the many displays in the fabulous museum

We then brought tickets for the factory tour which costs us £5 as we were a group of students, this helped to encourage us to go on the tour as it is affordable and value for money. I highly recommend taking part in the factory tour as you are able to gain first-hand experience on how they make their famous potteries and see the fantastic detail that is put into the hand-crafted items.

To finish our visit we visited the gift shop where I brought a keyring as I collect one every time I visit an attraction, as I am able to look back through them and remember my experience.

Overall, I believe that the World of Wedgwood is a fun and interesting way to spend your day and well worth a visit.

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Reference List

PERKINS, C. (2018) World of Wedgwood Q&A. [Interview]. 11th October 2018.

VISIT STOKE. (2018) World of Wedgwood. [Online] Available from: https://www.visitstoke.co.uk/see-and-do/world-of-wedgwood-p736491. [Accessed: 18th October 2018].

WEDGWOOD. (2018) About Fiskars Group. [Online] Available from: https://www.wedgwood.co.uk/wedgwood/about-us/. [Accessed: 18th October 2018].

Find out more about Tourism and Events Management at Staffordshire University