It’s A Marketing Hourglass, Not A Sales Funnel

Most business owners have heard of the sales funnel; the idea that you start with a large group of potential customers at the top of the funnel and use marketing tactics to move few through the small end of the tube to turn them into clients. Unfortunately, this is an outdated and incomplete way of thinking about marketing that doesn’t hold up in the modern business world.

The marketing experts at The Inbound Guide will help you transform your outdated marketing funnel to a marketing hourglass. Both you and your customers will benefit. You will offer a better, more complete customer experience, and your best customers will refer more business to you!

The Sales Funnel Is Incomplete

The sales funnel works on the premise that the buyer’s journey is linear, and you can control how they move through the funnel with the right marketing tactics. The truth is that much of the buyer’s journey now happens without your knowledge or input. So, we need a new way to think about our customer’s journey and experience.

The marketing funnel focuses on only the first part of the customer journey. When you think of your customer’s experience, you probably focus on getting people’s attention, enticing them to consider your product or service, then selling to them. But that is only half of their journey.

marketing hourglass, on the other hand, has seven stages–Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Repeat, and Refer. This approach allows you to give equal attention to building trust with your customers, delivering excellent products and services, and mobilizing your satisfied customers to refer you to their network.

The incomplete sales funnel does not create many opportunities for you to engage with the customer’s journey until they are aware of your existence, and they are looking for what you sell. A marketing hourglass allows you to create opportunities to interact with your potential clients long before they know they want what you are offering.

A sales funnel assumes your customers need no further care or engagement after they are satisfied with their purchase. A marketing hourglass continues building relationships with your clients long after the sale is complete. This increases the likelihood that they will become repeat customers and refer you to others.

Touchpoints and Customer Journeys Are Critical

To build an effective marketing hourglass for your business, you must start by understanding how you currently interact with potential clients and how they make purchasing decisions. Then, you can create a customer journey that expertly guides your audience through your marketing hourglass.

What are your touchpoints?
A touchpoint is any time a potential customer interacts with your business. Some of these interactions are well thought out and planned, others are accidental, and some don’t happen at all.

In today’s digital age, potential customers are inundated with ads and continually being courted by companies. Your business needs many “touchpoints” and interactions with people, from the moment they become aware of your existence to the moment you deliver your products or services to them.

You cannot assume that they will simply pick up the telephone and ring your business after seeing an ad online. Many potential customers want more interaction, “hand-holding,” and follow-up to be confident in your business.

These “touchpoints” can include anything that adds depth and value to their experience with your company. Offer travel planning guides on your social media pages. Send welcome emails as soon as they sign up for your email list. Offer live online chat; create quality information that helps them prepare for their upcoming travels; make fun countdowns and creative ways to build their excitement for their holiday. Be creative and showcase your company!

What is your customer’s journey?
To build an effective marketing hourglass, you must understand their journey. What questions your potential customers are asking. What problems or pains are they trying to solve? What are the challenging parts of planning and booking the holiday of a lifetime that you can help eliminate?

Perhaps your potential customers are having trouble determining what holiday activities they can reasonably expect to accomplish and enjoy in one day. Maybe they are trying to decide between two hotels and need some assistance in understanding the pros and cons of each option.

Your job of helping customers have a fantastic holiday begins the moment they decide they’d like to travel because that’s when your customer’s journey begins. To attract and serve your customers well, you must put yourself in their shoes and deeply understand their journey. That way, you can make it as smooth and enjoyable as possible, from start to finish.

Build your marketing hourglass

Now that you are aware of the touchpoints and you understand your customer’s journey, you can begin to build your marketing hourglass. This information helps you structure your marketing hourglass with strategic touchpoints, campaigns, and processes that offer an excellent customer experience.

The marketing hourglass includes seven phases:

  1. Know: This is the point where potential customers become aware of your existence. Advertising, referrals, social media presence, and content that ranks well in search results are essential for this phase of the marketing hourglass.
  2. Like: Once potential customers become aware of your existence and you attracted them to your site, you must offer reasons to come back and learn more about you. What do you offer that allows people to relate to you?
  3. Trust: Reviews, testimonials, and success stories allow potential customers to trust you and your business. Trust is a significant factor as people make purchasing decisions. When people are making expensive purchases (like travelling), reviews and testimonials have a more significant impact on purchasing decisions. In one study, experts found that displaying reviews on landing pages and websites can increase conversions by up to 270%!
  4. Try: Once your audience is seriously considering your business, it’s time to offer them a taste of what it will be like to work with you. Shower them with trip planning guides, FAQ resources, sample itineraries, and other useful “how-to” information. This continues the trust-building process and lets them experience how excellent your customer service is.
  5. Buy: As they make the decision to purchase your products and services, it is crucial to maintain high-quality customer experience. Every detail matters, right down to the page where they must type in their credit card number. Look for ways to exceed their expectations and make the process easy–even enjoyable!
  6. Repeat: One of the easiest ways to get repeat business is to make sure your clients understand the value you offer. Create ways to help your travelers relive the best parts of their holiday long after they’re back to their usual routine. This adds more touchpoints between you and your clients and more value to your services. Look for places to offer upsells and gather reviews and testimonials from them.
  7. Refer: Remember, the goal of the marketing hourglass is to turn satisfied customers into marketing agents who tell their friends and family about your amazing services. This starts with an incredible experience. Then you need to help your happy customers introduce your business to their network through specific campaigns and processes.

Referrals rarely happen organically. Even your champion customers need a little help referring your amazing services. This is an opportunity to be creative and build structures to help your customers tell their own stories in a way that points to your business. Help them tell others, “This company helped me achieved my ideal holiday.” In that statement, they are the hero, and you are the trusty sidekick that everyone knows, loves, and wants to invite on their own expeditions.

With a well-structured marketing hourglass, your customers become one of the best parts of your marketing team, and your business becomes more customer-centric. Every tactic in your marketing strategy has a clear purpose, making your marketing efforts simpler and more effective.

Are you ready to build a marketing hourglass for your business? The experts at The Inbound Guide will help you grow your business with customer-first strategies, including an excellent marketing hourglass.