The Funnel is Dead. The Flywheel is dead. Long live the FunWheel!

The Funnel is Dead. The Flywheel is dead. Long live the FunWheel!

You might have read a lot lately about the so-called shift in B2B marketing from less Funnel to more Flywheel, sometimes called the Flywheel Effect.

Well, we at ClickSend HQ have created our own marketing framework called the FunWheel, but let’s take it back a step and assume you have no idea what a Funnel or a Flywheel is.

The Funnel with customers at the bottom

The marketing funnel at its most simplistic is about marketing driving demand for your product or service at the top of the funnel, filling it full of people (leads). These leads then pass through the funnel onto sales to become prospects and (hopefully) customers. Some people would drop off along the way, but it’s all about getting as many people as possible into the funnel at the top.

With the rise of inbound/content marketing funnels have become more complex, more strategic, as you track customers through their journey to purchase. The journey is broken down into various stages with the inbound marketer providing content specific to each stage.

There can be multiple stages, but for content purposes, it’s generally broken down into 3.

Top Of Funnel – TOFU

The very top of the funnel is where you attract visitors to your brand/product/service – generally driving them to your website. Like any good form of advertising, you are providing the necessary content to attract visitors to your website.

Specific TOFU content tools include:

Social media
Display Ads
And even more traditional types of advertising, but with a CTA to your website.

Middle Of Funnel – MOFU

Converting visitors into leads. This is about driving home the importance and value of your brand’s product or service. At this stage, you’re focused on providing much more targeted, high-value type content like eGuides, eBooks, webinars for the exchange of visitor data. Once you have a visitor’s data, normally just name and email, you can then put them on a lead nurturing program generally by email via marketing automation.

MOFU content tools can be:

Landing pages
Downloadable eGuides, eBooks, white-papers
Interactive calculators, especially the ROI type.

Bottom Of Funnel – BOFU

This is the stage where marketing and sales merge. This is now about getting that lead into a prospect and ultimately, a paying customer. This stage can be seen as marketing handing over (hot, always hot) leads to sales for them to go into a selling phase/sales strategy.

Important tools for this stage include:

Personalised, segmented email
Lead scoring, providing sales with high-quality marketing qualified leads
Scheduled online product demo’s
And picking up the phone and calling
Now when a lead has successfully passed through every stage of the funnel they are now a customer and they then generally become the responsibility of a service/support team. They become disconnected from marketing and sales, which is not a good thing because they can be one of your most powerful, and cost-effective, methods of attracting new leads.

Hence the idea of….

The Flywheel with customers at the centre

Funnels produce customers but don’t consider how those customers can help you grow and this is where the Flywheel model comes in.

Let’s put it in the context of a real-world situation. You have a cold can of engine oil, to get it in your engine you (aka marketing and sales) get it poured into a funnel. Once through the funnel, you lose the oil to your engine (aka your business) and it’s all but forgotten, but it’s always there flowing around your engine helping to keep things working.

The Flywheel concept has been championed by Hubspot’s CEO Brian Halligan as a way for that company to think about its business and it’s paying dividends. Here’s an excerpt from a great blog post by Hubspot’s VP of Marketing, Jon Dick:

“At HubSpot, shifting to the flywheel model helped us change in the following ways: Flywheels represent a circular process where customers feed growth. We’ve invested more in customer marketing, more in customer advocacy, and more in creating delightful onboarding for new customers. We’ve also invested in an integrations ecosystem that helps customers do more with HubSpot and creates real value for people who adopt our suite of software.

“Friction kills flywheels. We’ve made investments that systematically target our biggest points of friction: Great free software as an entry point, channels that help people connect now instead of later, a sales process that solves for prospects, and a broad range of customer education.”

The customer at the centre

At its core, the Flywheel is about an unashamed focus on building relationships with your customers. Whereas the Funnel is more about closing deals, the Flywheel is about building and maintaining positive relationships.

The Flywheel has your customer at the centre with constant exposure to:

Marketing: your marketing team continues engaging existing customers with content that adds value to them and their businesses. This engagement keeps them coming back around the flywheel for additional products and services or to renew their current ones.

Sales: With the power of word-of-mouth, your customers have become better marketers than you. You can no longer just bring in new customers to only forget about them in pursuit of the next deal. Instead, you need to build meaningful relationships and put them at the centre of your organisation. Love them to death, or at least to advocacy, and get them selling for you.

Service: Or what we call at ClickSend HQ Support: This part of the Flywheel should take the tiniest change as your support team should already be in their own little Flywheel. Your support team should always be in a constant state of delighting your customers. Now they do it with tight integration with sales and marketing – win, win!

But is the Funnel dead?

Not here at ClickSend HQ in fact, it’s still a massive part of our marketing strategy, but we have embraced the Flywheel and merged it with the Funnel to create…..

The ClickSend Funwheel

Pretty self-explanatory really isn’t it.

Marketing funnels are not dead, they’re still part of a robust marketing strategy and you will still need them for a level of customer acquisition, but now those customers aren’t just hand-balled over to Support once through the funnel – they now enter the Flywheel.

This provides us with a much better focus on their journey with ClickSend as customers, not as one-time only prospects.

The Funnel and the Flywheel should not be seen as mutually exclusive you could say the Funnel is a tactic to drive new customers into your Flywheel. And once in the Flywheel they will become advocates for your brand and bring in new customers as well #DoubleBubble.

Don’t take either in isolation – don’t believe any ‘The Funnel is Dead’ headlines.

Anyhoo, long live the Funwheel!

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