Buzzwords: Funnel

Are you a customer that has fallen out of the funnel?

Back Article Oct 12, 2016 By Robin Epley

Fun·nel, (fuhn-nul) n. 

A consumer-focused marketing model which visually illustrates a customer’s journey toward the purchase of a product or service. Also known as a “purchasing funnel.”

“If I have to use the word ‘funnel’ one more time today, I might die. #buzzwords” — @abhinemani

Posted on Twitter by Sacramento’s Chief Innovation Officer, Abhi Nemani, on Aug. 22, this was the tweet heard ‘round the Comstock’s office. It kicked off a lengthy debate among our staff about what “funnel” actually meant. Did it mean turning a company’s resources into money? Maybe it meant directing resources to another project? For someone whose job it is to know about jargon, I was (admittedly) woefully uninformed. But, as it turns out, I had little reason to hear this particular buzzword used in context: It’s jargon most often used in marketing. So I asked 3fold Communications CEO Gordon Fowler to shine some light on why our city’s new CIO might be deathly tired of hearing it.

The Buzz:

“I think it is very jargon-y,” Fowler says with a laugh. He explains that marketers often use funnel as a visual example when talking to clients about how to move customers from being interested in a product to actually buying it. “If you view it as an actual funnel, that’s what we’re talking about,” Fowler says. “The widest part is what we use when we are trying to get people to start engaging in a service.” Clients move down the funnel when they are aware of a product, follow the product, decide to purchase the product and eventually buy the product.

“Where I think people misuse it is when they apply it conceptually,” Fowler says. “Everything becomes about a funnel, so you hear all the time ‘Let’s get them into the funnel!’ or ‘We need to get the customer in the funnel!’” But it doesn’t exactly work like that; you can’t just throw a customer or idea into the funnel. “That’s not necessarily about a funnel, that’s about convenience.” You have to work to get the customer to even enter the funnel — and then you can work on moving them through it.

The Word:

“We’re trying to get the customer to go from visiting the site to adding an item in their cart and then actually buying it,” Fowler says. When I mention that I’ve been guilty of putting items in my online cart only to change my mind, log off and not buy them, he says this means somewhere along the way, I was a customer that “fell out of the funnel,” probably due to a poor marketing campaign.

While we might never know why Nemani was so frustrated with “funnel” that day on Twitter — he didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time — it’s easy to understand why. Like most #buzzwords, “funnel” conveys an idea quickly and easily … but that means it’s also far too quickly and easily overused.

Post new comment

71907419943829 » If you have a visual disability, please type the numbers two one three three into the box. Your submission will be promptly reviewed by a validation service and sent to the site administrators.
By proving you are not a machine, you help us prevent spam and keep the site secure.

Recommended For You

Buzzwords: Engagement

As it relates to the workforce, the degree to which employees are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.

Engaged employees are pivotal to an organization’s financial success, company culture, brand experience and ability to retain top talent. But according to Gallup’s most recent polls, only 31.5 percent of U.S. employees are actively engaged at work, and disengaged employees currently outnumber actively engaged employees 2 to 1.

Jun 23, 2016 MaryJayne Zemer

Buzzwords: Parity

The complexities of wage parity are beyond equal pay for equal work

We’ll be hearing a whole lot of buzz about wage parity this year — in part because groundbreaking research conducted by New York University, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Haifa in Israel identifies flat-out gender bias as the elephant in the room affecting wage parity. This new study, titled “Occupational Feminization and Pay,” is the single most comprehensive study on wage parity in the U.S. to date.

May 16, 2016 MaryJayne Zemer

Buzzwords: Synergy

If allowed to go unchecked, it could be the downfall of your team

Synergy, in the common lexicon, is the magic that makes collaborations more efficient, effective and profitable than individualized efforts. It originates from the Latin word synergia,meaning “cooperation.” You’re most likely to hear it used to describe the potential benefits of a collaborative or combined effort, like a strategic partnership, merger and acquisition, creative brainstorming session or co-branding effort.  

Apr 22, 2016 MaryJayne Zemer

Buzzwords: Millennial

Throwing a wide net won't help you market to this coveted demographic

The millennial generation’s sheer numbers, unprecedented spending power, and knack for radically influencing progressive trends and cultural shifts has made them a highly sought after target market. While millennials are currently the single largest generation to date, making up an entire quarter of the population, they’re also the most diverse generation this country has ever seen, making them far more difficult to target as a collective whole.

Mar 21, 2016 MaryJayne Zemer

Buzzwords: Authenticity

Don't fake it

There’s a whole lot of buzz lately about authenticity: authentic leadership styles, authentic brands, authentic values, authentic marketing and advertising … and on and on. By definition, something is authentic if it is genuine, real, of unquestionable origin, not faked or copied, verifiable and trustworthy.

Jan 7, 2016 MaryJayne Zemer