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“The Marketing Funnel is Dead”

“The Marketing Funnel is Dead.” That’s the big declaration today’s marketing industry guiding lights are declaring at HubSpot’s Inbound 2018, including the CEO of HubSpot, among others.

No one is saying that the customer journey is no longer relevant – just that the cliché model and image of a large number of cold leads that funnel down to the end point of “customer” isn’t reflective of reality. It’s more cyclical in nature than funnel-like with and end-point.

Customer Journey from discovery to retention. Credit:

Firstly, being a customer isn’t one moment in time, much less a final destination. Customers upsell, cross-sell. They take a break and come back again later. Also, they may go quickly from unaware to buying and for the same product they may sit in

Secondly, customers help fill the top of the funnel. Either they reenter after putting a pause on their “customer status” for one reason or another (new job, temporary loss of budget, shift in priorities, etc.) or they tell their friends, and hence are helping fill the top of the funnel. So, it’s just not accurate for the customer journey to be linear with customer at the end.

With all this fanfare calling for a new model, the customer journey from the unaware stage to problem aware stage to awareness to consideration to decision stage are still relevant. In each of these phases different flavors of tactics are germane. For example, social media can touch anyone at any stage, it’s the wording of the post that will be more or less harmonious to someone depending on where someone is– completely unaware of a problem to be solved or considering which solution or already a current customer. It’s not like we only look at social media when we are a customer or only read blog posts to discover problems we didn’t know we had.

Like the different tactics, different metrics are more and less relevant for measuring the effectiveness of your organization’s marketing tactics at different points on the customer journey. (more on this in a later post.)

Why does it matter if the “marketing funnel is dead”? Marketers must explain to colleagues throughout their organization how we are effectively galvanizing relevant audiences from prospects to customers to key stakeholders in order to support sales and the health of the brand. Additionally, a model gives marketers a framework through which to ensure their efforts are appropriately weighted. One needs the right model in order to ensure efforts pay off.

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