Since the dawn of (marketing) time, the funnel has been a universally accepted strategy for marketers to track impact. From the AIDA model to the ‘New Marketing Funnel,’ it traditionally consists of the following steps: awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, and loyalty.
Although the traditional funnel provided context to measure the impact of push marketing strategies, the consumer decision journey today is no longer linear. With evolving consumer shopping behaviors and the rise of social media, this approach is no longer the most effective. Many marketers have begun to view the modern customer decision journey as a feedback loop, as visualized by McKinsey and Company:
While this process depicts the fluidity of consumer decision making, it still doesn’t address a central problem that brands face in carrying their customers through the journey. Customers can now dip in and out at any point, moving from awareness to purchase within seconds of a search, or deliberating on a purchase without any of the prior steps to affect their decision. It’s never been easier for a customer to make a purchase, and it’s never been harder for a brand to get a customer to that point.
So how do we impact consumers at the right time?
With 83% of consumers trusting and acting on recommendations from friends and family over any other forms of marketing, today’s marketing strategies need to be more omnipresent, adaptable, and, most importantly, they need to be human-powered. After a purchase, your customer can either become a brand advocate for you or can disappear, taking all potential value with them.
It’s time to flip the funnel.
To be successful in today’s commerce ecosystem, brands need to begin with the end in mind. In a world dominated by clicks, brands must convert their customers at every point of the decision making journey, carrying them through a funnel of influence that engages them through to conversion, and then re-engages them in the funnel to attract new customers.
In recent years, we have seen a shift in the tides of influence, as social media channels have made it possible for everyday users to influence thousands of other users instantaneously, an opportunity previously available only for macro-influencers like politicians and celebrities. This shift in interaction has brought forth the rise of micro-influencers: everyday consumers who have a highly engaged social following (500-5K on average) around relevant topics. Not only is this group able to amplify a brand’s message to friends and followers, but their voice is regarded as more authentic and trustworthy than a traditional ad, paid celebrity endorsement or marketing blast.
By starting (rather than ending) with existing customers, savvy consumer-facing brands that discover and activate their own micro-influencers are able to distribute content that results in measurable conversion, without the massive churn that inevitably occurs in traditional marketing tactics. No blanket ad pushes or mass appeals on social- just organic promotion from trustworthy individuals to their like-minded friends.
The value doesn’t stop there. Micro-influencers drive more value with each new customer they convert. They give you the ultimate lookalike audience with a higher lifetime value, since they are attracting and converting friends with shared interests, and who therefore who will most likely also possess high brand loyalty and affinity as they continue the funnel. Micro-influencers are also a more cost-efficient strategy for acquiring customers: unlike the traditional marketing funnel, where you pay to shout from the rooftops just to be ignored by strangers, micro-influencers are your existing megaphone to rise above the noise with a message people trust.