Why the User Experience Deserves as much Focus as the Sales Funnel

Generally speaking, most, if not all, industries can organize their particular sales process with a traditional sales funnel. This tried and true method has been illustrated in dozens of ways with various levels of specificity, but can be boiled down into four essential steps: Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing, and Conversion. Marketers and sales professionals alike pour a great deal of attention into this funnel model, and particularly to the Lead Nurturing step. Good marketers, those that can effectively generate results, focus on Lead Nurturing, making sure that qualified leads turn into conversions, and ultimately dollars. However, marketers must not lose focus on what happens once the funnel lets out at the bottom.

Focusing on Retention

Research has proven that it is significantly cheaper to retain customers than to acquire new ones. One statistic has the rate of acquiring new customers at five times more expensive than retaining that same customer. Therefore, beyond nurturing leads, marketers must optimize the user experience of their product or service to nurture existing customers as much, if not more than, potential leads. They must listen to customer feedback, taking account of exactly what they want, how they want it, and what they did not like.

Brands can nurture existing customers by optimizing the customer experience. They can accomplish this by targeting lower transaction costs, introducing loyalty programs, and adjusting the product as needed according to customer feedback. In certain cases, brands can go beyond surface-level feedback and engage the customer more directly. Marketers can work on lifetime value measurements in order to determine high-value customers which they can engage for direct feedback on the user experience and offer unique perks. The “VIP” customers can be four times as likely to refer the brand and seven times as likely to try new products from the same brand, demonstrating how their value extends beyond their gross dollars spent.

Going Beyond the Funnel

Ultimately, marketers must not lose sight of what occurs beyond the sales funnel itself and must recognize that the consumer journey does not end at conversion. They must endeavor to keep customers from cycling out of the brand’s ecosystem and returning to the top of the funnel. Tight budgets and lofty targets are a reality of the marketing discipline, but focusing on optimizing the user experience can help marketers gain an efficient edge.

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