The marketing funnel is dead. Again.
Or at least, it should be.
That’s the takeout from a recent keynote speech by Avinash Kaushik, Google’s chief digital evangelist.
Why is the marketing funnel dead?
Because a focus on consumer intent needs to trump a focus on pure conversion.
Because instead of trying to manipulate consumers down a prescribed path or funnel, marketers should be using a framework that either solves business problems or focuses on user behaviour.
In other words, it’s time to start looking at digital marketing from the human-centred point of view we’ve seen in UX, digital design and other disciplines.
I don’t actually believe marketers have an either/or choice regarding business problem vs user behaviour. You need to consider both. If your marketing framework focuses purely on a business problem, and doesn’t consider user need, chances are it won’t meet their expectations. If you focus solely on their behaviour, without considering the business problem you’re addressing, how do you account for ROI?
That’s why the key planks of a digital strategy are business goals and audience need. Finding the ‘sweet spot’ between the two is what shapes your approach.
By way of example, Avinash talks about designing a website that allows for all user intents i.e. it doesn’t try to only convert a small number of prospects, but also provides value for those who visit but aren’t ready to make a purchasing decision.
Now, creating a website that caters to all user groups might seem pretty obvious to those who design digital experiences for a living. But the point is that many marketers are so focused on engagement or conversion, they lose sight of the huge group of consumers who may passively experience your marketing and want light-touch value. This applies not just in the narrow confines of a web experience, but more broadly across the digital mix, as Jerry Daykin outlines here.
In my view, Avinash is really talking about the digital experience. I wrote in an earlier post that a great digital experience is driven by customer needs (a digital experience is also a lot more than just a website).
Marketers must deliver a digital experience that both meets consumer needs and addresses business objectives, at whichever contact point the consumer chooses to use, not at the contact point marketers wish they would use.
The sooner digital marketing begins to understand the importance of the experience, and the motivations of users within that experience, the more effective it will be.
The Venn diagram of digital marketing and human experience is rapidly being drawn. It can only mean good things for marketers and audiences alike.