If you have a background in marketing or business, you’re probably already familiar with the idea of the “funnel.” This traditional model of the consumer journey is named for its conical shape, which starts with brand awareness at the top of the funnel (TOFU), progresses toward consideration and conversion in the middle of the funnel (MOFU), and ends at the bottom of the funnel (BOFU) with the consumer making a purchase.
While the funnel is a time-tested approach that can still yield solid results today, some experts argue that this model has become outdated as consumer habits have changed over time. (That might be an understatement, since the concept of a sales funnel was first pioneered in the nineteenth century!) For example, online reviews have caused a tectonic shift in the way that consumers think about products or brands, with one 2020 survey noting 79% of respondents said they trusted reviews as much as recommendations from their friends or family. That was an increase from the previous two years, suggesting that reviews are, little by little, becoming more influential on consumers over time.
Meanwhile, consumer trust in businesses is on the decline, negatively impacting industries as varied as banking, insurance, entertainment, and tourism. And when it comes to B2B transactions, research has shown that “on average, business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete.” Think With Google sums up the implications of this data bluntly: “That means for nearly two thirds of the buying process, your customers are out in the ether: Forming opinions, learning technical specifications, building requirements lists, and narrowing down their options, all on their own, with minimal influence from you.”
The bottom line? Consumers are becoming more demanding, more tech-savvy, and more independent. So what can businesses do to evolve and keep up? HubSpot’s flywheel model — a modern alternative to the traditional funnel — may be able to provide at least some of the answers. In this article, we’ll compare the flywheel against the funnel; explain how the flywheel model works in three steps; and discuss how online reviews can help keep the flywheel spinning to drive more growth and momentum. By obtaining and managing customer reviews, you’ll be creating a powerful promotional tool, leveraging positive user-generated content to spark more interest in your brand. Read on to learn more about the flywheel, its advantages for businesses, and its relationship to online review management.
What is the Difference Between the Flywheel and a Traditional Marketing Funnel?
While the funnel has its advantages, it isn’t without its shortcomings, as we’ve already discussed. Another potential issue with the funnel approach is that, in placing such a heavy emphasis on acquiring customers, it may be less effective at tapping the power of satisfied customers to help promote growth.
As Business Chronicler explains, “With a funnel approach, you’re pouring effort and energy in to receive certain results without prioritizing the repeatability of the process.” This is a potential flaw or issue, Business Chronicler continues, because with its linear approach, “it ignores the fact that the people who have [already] passed through a marketing funnel have the ability to influence those entering the funnel.”
So, where does that leave your agency or brand? In an effort to create “a much more efficient way to attract new customers and retain existing ones,” the software company HubSpot — a leader in inbound marketing and customer service — developed a new, more customer-centric model called the “flywheel.”
In contrast to the funnel, which is focused on turning leads into paying customers, the flywheel aims to “provide an amazing customer experience” so that satisfied clients become advocates for your brand, driving growth for you. As HubSpot explains in this overview of its flywheel model, “The more you increase speed and decrease friction” — for example, poor interdepartmental communication — “the more you will create promoters of your business. And all those promoters become a force that spins your flywheel.”
How the Flywheel Works: Attract, Engage, Delight
So how does this actually work? There are three basic stages to HubSpot’s flywheel model: attract, engage, and finally, delight (which leads to the process starting over again — a critical advantage over the funnel). Let’s take a closer look at each of these stages, how they can be accomplished, and later, how responding to online reviews is the perfect way to capitalize on the momentum the flywheel generates for you.
- Attract — First, you need to attract strangers who are currently unfamiliar with your brand. To attract attention to your agency (or your clients) successfully, HubSpot suggests:
- – Publishing “useful content,” such as an engaging and informative blog, that will help meet a need and educate the reader.
- – Identifying and removing any roadblocks or barriers that are currently preventing people from learning about your brand.
- Engage — Once you’ve attracted a client, you need to engage them — by letting them engage with you. The key is to do so “on their preferred timeline and channels,” making the experience truly frictionless and customer-centric. For example, Business Chronicler suggests “ask[ing] them what they need and like” during your onboarding process, or “us[ing] automation to improve the customer experience.”
- – HubSpot suggests trying “database segmentation, marketing automation, [and] lead nurturing,” among other tactics, to engage with prospects more successfully. Another approach that HubSpot and Business Chronicler both call out is to use or offer personalized content, an important topic our response scribes covered here.
- Delight — At this stage of the process, your mission is to “help, support, and empower customers to reach their goals,” as HubSpot explains. There are many ways that you can achieve (or help your clients achieve) this, such as offering exceptional customer service and support, implementing loyalty programs, and ensuring that you’re available via multiple channels for the greatest convenience (such as email, chat, or phone).
Satisfied customers are already leaving positive reviews on mobile apps and websites like Yelp. So why isn’t your agency or brand taking advantage of that invaluable user-generated content, which can be shared on social media and used to improve your local rankings on Google?
If you aren’t actively monitoring, generating, and replying to 4-star and 5-star reviews, you’re missing opportunities to attract, engage, and delight customers. That means you’re also missing opportunities to build consumer trust, increase brand loyalty, boost your local SEO, and learn what your customers value most.
Don’t lose out on vital opportunities to bolster your reputation and increase your visibility. Instead, partner with Shout About Us and start moving your agency or brand forward today.
Easily Generate, Manage, and Respond to Reviews with Solutions by Shout About Us
If the classic funnel approach has had disappointing results for your agency or brand, maybe it’s time to try a new marketing strategy. By taking charge of your or your clients’ online reviews, you’ll be better positioned to attract new customers, retain current customers, and keep the flywheel spinning smoothly.
The problem? It takes time to collect, manage, and reply to reviews — time your brand or agency can’t always spare. Shout About Us offers seamless solutions, supplying a personalized review response service and white label reputation management.
Our Review Navigator, which provides a secure platform to sort and manage reviews, can be easily integrated with your suite of services or ERP dashboard. Meanwhile, our 24-hour review reply service ensures that all ratings and reviews receive a timely personalized response. And with our custom review widgets and social posting features, you can easily embed all of your clients’ positive reviews and ratings directly to their website and/or social media profile, building more momentum for your brand.
Discover why CallSource, V Digital Services, SmartLink Solutions, and other satisfied agencies trust Shout About Us to provide review response, generation, and management services. Request a demo of our Review Navigator platform and/or review reply service, or contact our team today to learn more.
Emily Homrok is a freelance copywriter with more than seven years of writing experience. She joined the Shout About Us team as a content strategist in 2020.