The marketing funnel theory of sales holds that a solid marketing campaign would lead the buyer through the following steps, which would funnel them down into a sale: awareness, interest, evaluation, commitment, referral. The problem with using this model today is that the user is far more in control of their reality then ever they were before. The question of whether or not the funnel theory still applies has been a hotly debated topic over the past few years.
Forrester Research believes that the funnel theory is extinct due to the increased complexity of today’s market. One of their reasons is that through their research they determined that 53% of U.S. online consumers do their product research online before making a purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. It would then be assumed that through their research, consumers are expanding their exposure to other brands and options at the very point where the funnel theory would have their considerations narrowing down.
What does this mean for email marketing? It means that you should be patently aware of the power of the consumer voice. Not only can their voices be heard by more people then ever, but today’s consumer is much more likely to announce to their world their preferences via social media like blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and more. You can respond positively in two ways: you can design your email marketing to create a consumer path that acknowledges their increased options while building customer loyalty, and/or you can invite (rather than just accept) them to broadcast thoughts and ideas online.