Aug 16th, 2023

Long live the marketing funnel: customer journey mapping basics from MKT1 [VIDEO]

To paraphrase Mark Twain: The reports of the marketing funnel’s death are greatly exaggerated.

Yes, the days of the linear marketing funnel are long gone, but companies will always need a way to understand how their relationships with customers evolve. More importantly, they need to know what to do at each stage to maximize success.

Common Room’s Head of Demand Generation Kevin White discussed that and much more with MKT1 co-founder Emily Kramer in our recent event: Mapping the modern funnel.

Here are three of the top takeaways from that conversation, including:

  • Why funnel mapping is key to fueling your growth engine
  • How to approach funnel mapping with hybrid growth models
  • Why it’s worth digging deeper into your funnel metrics

1. Different engines require different fuels

Your fuel is the content you create to educate and enable your high-priority customers. Your engine is how you get that content in front of the right eyeballs.

Brand positioning—the problems you solve, the outcomes you drive, how you compare to competitors—should influence the content you create. Likewise, what your funnel looks like should influence how you distribute that content and prioritize channels.

Whether it’s a growth loop, hourglass, or some other shape, your funnel helps you break down your marketing activities by stage. The objective is to make sure you have the right fuel and right engine for each one. You can only do that by mapping it out.

“You can then build proper full-funnel reports that represent every stage and you can get on the same page across teams, which is perhaps one of the most overlooked benefits,” Emily said. “You can get much more alignment across marketing, sales, customer success, and even product—depending on your business model—about what's happening across the prospect and customer journey.”
What it means for marketing teams: The shape of your funnel isn’t important. What matters is knowing what your customers need at each stage, which team owns what, and what the best next steps are based on customer activity.

Funnel maps often look different from business to business, but that’s never more true than when you compare marketing- and sales-led growth models to product-led growth (PLG) models.

PLG requires unique handoffs between teams, and without careful consideration of who owns what and when, it’s all too easy to drop the ball. This goes double when self-serve motions also feature some kind of sales assist.

“You need to have goalposts,” Emily said. “The goalposts are either handoffs between teams, changes in messaging, or changes in activities that you're doing. Map it out, define your goalposts, measure that with reports—both the number in each stage and the conversion rate—and get alignment across teams and in your systems around this mapping.”

2. Hybrid models need more attention

Hybrid business models are getting more and more common. Part traditional and part PLG, they give companies room to switch up their strategies depending on the customer.

This makes mapping the funnel more complex—and more business-critical.

“Most B2B businesses these days [...] have a hybrid motion,” Emily said. “They have sales involved and they have some self-serve option, even if it's just a 14-day trial or something like that. So there's two motions. Your funnel map gets much more complicated when that's the situation and you need to make it clear when people are moving between these motions.”
Image of funnel map
Click the image above to see an example of a funnel map from MKT1
What it means for marketing teams: PLG simplifies the buying process in many ways, but hybrid models make tracking the customer journey more complex. If you have a hybrid model that mixes marketing- and sales-led growth with self-service, put a plan in place for all the permutations that are bound to pop up.

Mapping your funnel isn’t just about getting your marketing game on point. It’s also key to customer experience.

“You've got to map that out or it's just going to be super confusing for prospects—or even people who are in the product, using it and trying to expand—and they're going to go to someone who offers a better experience,” Emily said.

With so many potential pathways to account for, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Just remember that the most important part is making sure you understand the journey from prospect to customer to expansion.

“It doesn't need to be this really complicated diagram or this really complicated attribution model at first,” Emily said. “Just start by knowing what the goalposts are, what's happening at each of them, who's owning them, and you'll go from there.”

3. Go beyond surface-level numbers

Funnel mapping is all about making it easier to measure (and improve) your performance throughout the customer journey.

While it’s tempting to use averages or overly broad metrics to measure the health of your funnel, the devil’s in the details. For instance, breaking out numbers by source and entry point will tell you a lot more than simply looking at numbers per stage.

It’s important to know exactly what’s driving conversions and the level of buyer intent.

Not all leads are created equal. You can increase web traffic and boost marketing-qualified lead generation all day, but it’s no guarantee that you’re reaching the right people or generating high-quality opportunities.

What it means for marketing teams: Insights into high-intent behaviors aren’t enough—you need visibility into the people behind them, where they are in the customer journey, and which channels they flock to. Once you have a centralized view of buyer intent and context, you can overlay it with product and customer fit.

Automation is helpful for tracking and reporting on your performance, but it won’t tell you everything you need to know. There’s a reason MQLs are less valuable than SQLs—they’re not based on human insights related to intent, context, and fit.

“The phrase marketing-qualified lead should go away because it's not marketing that's qualifying them, it’s an automated qualification process,” Emily said. “So it's really automation-qualified and human-qualified.”

Understanding the customer journey is key to delivering better customer experiences and driving better business outcomes.

In other words, it pays to have a roadmap handy.

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