Is your marketing funnel using loyalty loops?

Way back last century when I was studying marketing, the way to understand the customer journey was through the marketing funnel. Marketers lived and died by the funnel. Getting the right message to the right customer at the right time was the sure-fire route to success. It was linear, simplistic and easy to follow. A few years ago McKinsey created a new model which reflects how customers use new technologies to actively seek products and services. The loyalty loop recognizes that customers interact with brands in the 21st century, rather than being passive receivers of advertising. Though they appear quite different, they way you plan your marketing should not fundamentally change depending on which model you subscribe to.

GOMF – The Good Old Marketing Funnel

A typical customer journey might look like this
– Customer sees ad re: personal training
– Visit website, read reviews, trial session
– Sign up for coaching
– Renew after 6 months
– Tell my friends about it, tweet, blog

The Marketing funnel is straight-forward, but doesn’t reflect the way customers seek information online and discover brands via the internet and social media prior to purchase.

So McKinsey brought us the loyalty Loop:

The loop starts with a trigger. A trigger is something that compels the customer to start seeking a solution to their problem. The customer begins gathering information which includes the brands they are already familiar with (initial consideration set). They evaluate the options and ultimately make a purchase decision. After the purchase, subsequent exposure to the brand means the next time there is a trigger the customer will re-evaluate if they will purchase the same brand. Done properly the ongoing exposure will convert passive loyal customers into active loyal customers who not only don’t consider other brands, but advocate yours.

A customer journey using the loyalty loop

Stepping on the scale is a trigger to find a personal trainer. The customer thinks about trainers he’s heard of and does a quick internet search for “personal trainers in my neighbourhood” He visits a few websites weighing pros and cons for each choice. He reads some articles and blogs on how to get started. He thinks about which trainer is right for him. Next, he calls the trainer and books a trial session, or several before entering into a contract. If the personal coach is a good marketer they will have offers for him to share with his friends and other information to keep him engaged to become an active loyalist.

What’s the Difference?

Both models are attempts to simplify a process that often looks more like a bowl of spaghetti than a recognizable shape. The marketing funnel is based around the idea of advertising to a customer. The loyalty loop acknowledges that customers interact with brands before purchase and often have a two-way communication via social media. Sometimes the process can be quite short, as in the decision to call a 24-hour plumber at 2am. The loyalty loop focuses on the lower part of the funnel and retaining customers and having them to generate referrals.

What Now?

It doesn’t matter how you look at this; if you’re doing your job as a marketer you are getting a consistent brand message and offers to the right person at the right time in their journey.

A clever growth hacker knows the same piece may be relevant for someone who is not even considering your product or service and a loyal customer. In the example above it may be about how to sculpt your abs. Your brand message should also be consistent.

Looped or funneled a consistent meaningful message will help create customers and turn them into brand champions.