Lifecycle Marketing vs. Traditional Sales Funnel

Are you still using sales funnels to map your marketing to customer journeys? There’s a better way to do it: It’s far more accurate and it aligns with lead nurturing and trust-building in content marketing.

It’s called lifecycle marketing, and it’s trending big. This new framework is all about giving your audience what they need and want as they move through their buying journeys. They run the show; meanwhile, you’re there at every touchpoint, providing value.

But, before we can get into why and how lifecycle marketing works with the modern buyer’s journey, we need to explain why sales funnels don’t work anymore.

1. Understand why sales funnels are inaccurate

Everyone in the industry, it seems, is talking about audience trust—that building it is a pillar of successful content. In fact, in the most recent Budgets, Trends, and Benchmarks Report from MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute, that was one of the top takeaways: 90% of all respondents said they put their audience’s informational needs above promotional/sales messages.

That’s a very good thing. It’s what modern buyers want—as opposed to the aggressive sales funnel mentality.

What’s so inaccurate about sales funnels when we apply them to modern buyers? A few things:

  • The structure of a funnel, as you’ll have noticed, is wide at one end and narrow at the other. The wide part symbolizes a giant net that scoops as many prospects as possible into your funnel—whether they’re qualified to buy or not.
  • The narrow end of the sales funnel symbolizes pressure on the buyer to pull the trigger with a purchase. William Townsend, the creator of the original sales funnel model (circa 1924), describes it as “the forcing by compression [emphasis mine] of a broad and general concept of facts through a funnel which produces the specific and favorable consideration of one fact.”
  • Modern buyers’ journeys are not even close to so linear, not to mention they hate impersonal marketing and cold/aggressive sales tactics.

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