The marketing funnel: A shift from traditional to digital marketing

The marketing funnel visualises the path a potential customer takes from a company’s point of view. It’s a tool that helps you track the stages a prospect goes through as he becomes more and more familiar with your company or brand; starting with the introduction to your company and hopefully ending with brand ambassadorship.

In a world where the focus is rapidly shifting towards digital knowledge bases, the traditional marketing funnel is no longer valid. New marketing strategies demand a new marketing funnel. Let us show you how we think it should be shaped…

The old marketing funnel

The traditional cone-shaped marketing funnel wants to fill the top of the funnel with as many people as possible and simply hopes for the best. People go through the funnel without a phased, detailed strategy. The main strategy consists of attracting a mass, because the more people enter the funnel as a prospect, the more people can come out as a customer.

This traditional funnel follows 4 stages: Awareness > Interest > Desire > Action. It’s the awareness stage that gets the most attention. In this stage, traditional marketing techniques are used: tv, direct mailings, … The main goal is to reach as many – anonymous – people as possible.

With the shift towards a digital society, the way consumers look for information has changed. Mass marketing methods no longer do the trick. Consumers want a personal solution from brands who truly understand their individual needs. Thus, a new marketing funnel is needed.

The new marketing funnel

The new marketing funnel is no longer a linear, cone-shaped model. It has changed into an omni-channel experience that’s unique for each customer. A buyer carries out online research by himself, which means he can enter and leave the funnel at any time. The buyer can enter through social media, organic search, via desktop or mobile devices … We’ll dig deeper into these ‘new’ digital marketing trends in our next blog.

The new marketing funnel doesn’t look for mass audiences anymore. Instead, it attracts individuals who follow their own route and can be advised every step of the way. The focus is on engagement in every stage of the funnel. This engagement leads to personal relationships, which enable companies to get to know their consumers personally. It they do it right, their consumers will share their positive experiences with other people, who, in turn, can enter the funnel as well.

Additionally, the relationship with the customer doesn’t end after the Action stage. In this new, customer-centric marketing age, the after-sales service becomes more and more important. This means the funnel doesn’t stop at the purchase. Extra phases, like Adoption (of the product), Loyalty (to the company) and Advocacy arise. Companies should invest in customer retention, because studies show that the longer the relationship with the customer lasts, the higher your profits soar. Happy customers generate even more happy customers. According to Business 2 Community, 80% of buyers check out recommendations and reviews before deciding on their purchase. Even more people value the opinion of their friends and family over marketing communication. The importance of word of mouth, and thus the investment of customer retention at the end of the funnel, is proven.


In a world where digital knowledge gathering is becoming increasingly important, the old model of the marketing funnel is no longer viable. The awareness stage at the top of the funnel has shifted from a mass model to an individual approach. If the buyer even enters the funnel through the awareness phase at all. A customer can come and go whenever he pleases. And he will be welcomed and personally guided through every stage, even after buying something. Because not only the pre-sales process receives attention, customer retention gains importance as well.

Dit blog is geschreven door de specialisten van Raak.

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