I’m a member of a group called Voyager University, which is an independent professionals community here in Minneapolis. One of the concepts of Voyager U that I just love is the customer journey funnel. Instead of the traditional sales funnel, you use your customer’s journey as your framework to organize your sales and marketing work, measure your results and prioritize your programs.
I’ve had a lot of success using this as my rubric for my working with my customers on how marketing can help their business. Hopefully you find value in it too.
The customer journey funnel defined
My definition of the funnel is a seven stage process:
It starts on the left with a target market that doesn’t even know who you are, and goes all to the far right, where you have people that have fallen in love with what you do and are going out of their way to tell people about what you do and how valuable you are.
Here is a brief description of the seven steps:
The Demand stage is your target market. Take the time to really understand who exactly it is that you that loves and values what you do.
Once you know your target market, the rest of the journey can be focused very sharply on that group of people.
The Awareness stage is the point where people in your target market learn who you are, what you do and how that might be valuable to them.
The Interest stage is when those people in your target market that now know who you are reach out to you. Some fraction of your target will become interested in what you do or want that value. They raise their hand or engage with you.
The Purchase stage is where your prospects go from interest to committing to you with a purchase (usually) – starting that relationship in earnest.
The Satisfaction stage is what happens after purchase when they start using your product and experience working with you and your business.
How is that experience? It’s so important. First impressions matter, but so do 2nd and 3rd impressions.
The Repeat Purchase stage is yet another important step.
Are your customers buying just once from you? Sometimes that’s true, but often there’s a recurring purchase opportunity. It could be annually. It could be every week. Understanding that dynamic is so important. Managing and optimizing that experience can greatly increase the amount of revenue you get from a client.
The Advocacy stage is the point in the relationship where they’ve had such a positive experience with your offer and with your team that they are now fans of you and your business. They go out of their way to tell other people about what you do for them.
One of the most important things about this seven-stage view of your business through the eyes of your customer is that it doesn’t stop at purchase.
The sales funnel often is focused on, “How do I get a deal?” Or, “How do I get a purchase?”
And everything stops halfway there.
I’ve seen several different businesses that thought their biggest need for marketing was to get more leads.
After understanding this journey for their customers and their business model, they found that growing existing customers was a much more productive and fruitful opportunity for their revenue growth.
The customer journal funnel view is also powerful compared to the sales funnel model because it’s outside-in – it’s focused on the customer and then saying, “Okay, what do we need to do to make that happen?”, while sometimes a sales funnel can be focused on, “All right, what do I do to get this metric (MQLs , etc.) to meet my targets?”
It’s easy to forget and to think about your internal concerns. It’s Inside Baseball, instead of being focused on what’s really driving success for you: what the customer is experiencing.
On top of that, because it’s focused on the customer, it’s simpler. You remove a step; you are directly viewing what marketing should be doing for your business and sales, which is changing your customers experience for the better.
Using the customer journey funnel as your starting place when it comes to organizing your marketing programs, measuring results at each stage, and also supporting sales will pay off handsomely in four ways:
Benefit 1: It’s simple
It avoids the over-engineering that happens when you get into an internal process focus. It helps you stay at that top level of what really matters to your customers.
It’s also helpful because it’s intuitive. Sometimes with the conventional sales funnel approach, you have disagreements between Marketing and Sales on how valuable a lead is, for example, and that’s because you have different definitions of what a good lead is.
When you start with a customer view and customer milestones, everybody can more easily rally around what you’re trying to do. Sales and Marketing can work more easily together.
Benefit 2: It’s more accountable
This approach can make your program more accountable.
It starts with metrics. You look at your journey and you understand what do want and need your customer to experience at each of these stages. What can Marketing and Sales do to make that happen?
You’re creating your programs based on the results you want, instead of starting with a marketing tactic idea, and then trying to almost back into the metrics.
The customer journey funnel is focused on external results. It also is accountable because it’s not just Marketing that makes things happen. It enables cross-functional teams to stay accountable to each other in a better way with shared metrics.
Benefit 3: It’s more flexible
The customer journey funnel is also very flexible.
When you operate with a “Marketing silo” view of your market or a “Sales funnel” view of your business, you are are limiting yourself to lead generation or customer acquisition. If you step back and look at the overall customer experience, one month (or one quarter) you might need to focus on getting leads that front have. But there might be a need to shift priorities and focus more on satisfaction or generating advocates and, and this, this process allows you to adapt to what the real needs of your business are.
And then finally this customer journey funnel approach.
Benefit 4: It’s more real
The customer journey funnel is focused on the customer and not you. And that’s as it should be. You will be successful if you tie your marketing and sales investments to what’s really happening with your customer.