While it's easy to still think of the sales funnel as an inverted pyramid, the truth is that buyer journeys are rarely so straightforward.
Customers have much more autonomy today: they could be scrolling through social media one minute, researching your product on Google another, then finally hit purchase from somewhere else entirely.
For brands, this means crafting buyer journeys is much more akin to putting together an elaborate jigsaw puzzle than filling in predetermined slots for shoppers along a straight line. And the biggest piece most retailers are still missing? Customer retention.
This is where the bowtie sales funnel comes in.
Unlike the traditional sales funnel, the bowtie sales funnel recognizes that the customer journey doesn't end with a purchase, but rather extends into post-purchase engagement and loyalty. It rewards brands for investing their time into forging stronger bonds with shoppers — after all, it's five times cheaper to retain a customer than it is to acquire a new one, so why not show those current relationships a little TLC and reap the rewards?
In this blog, we'll explain how to use the bowtie sales funnel to wow your customers and boost revenue at the same time:
Ramp Up Revenue with Repeat Customers
Data-driven targeting and lead generation are great tools to lure in new customers, but it’s the next phase — customer retention and loyalty — that’s the real moneymaker for most businesses.
Studies show that a five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. Even still, retention isn't getting nearly the amount of attention it deserves: only 44% of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition, versus just 18% that focus on retention.
So, why are companies leaving so much potential cash on the table? For one thing, acquisition metrics are easier to measure. Acquisition metrics such as cost per lead and conversion rate can show brands the quick results of their efforts; however, understanding customer retention requires a deeper, longer-term look. You'll need to collect data over an extended period to better understand customer lifetime value and, ultimately, identify which customer retention strategies work best.
Follow the S-Curve to Sustainable Growth
Make no mistake: sales is a marathon, not a sprint. That's why taking the time to understand how your business fits into the S-curve model is crucial. Much like the bowtie funnel, it's slow and steady growth along the S-curve that leads you straight across the finish line.
So, how does it work? Think of it like riding a roller coaster: you start off slowly and inch up the track, refining your products and establishing a solid foundation before you reach the top of the hill. This is when things get really exciting; momentum picks up, and investing in infrastructure, marketing, and operations is necessary to keep up with demand. And when it looks like the wild ride is winding down? That's your cue to innovate and explore new opportunities to grow sustainably — whether it's launching a new product, overhauling your current offering, or inventing something else entirely new.
The bowtie funnel is the perfect companion for the S-curve journey because they're two sides of the same coin: they're both focused entirely on customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, and striking a balance between short-term wins and long-term goals.
So, what should a bowtie funnel look like? Let's find out:
Rethink the Second Half of Your Sales Funnel
A bowtie funnel is a mirror of the traditional funnel, symbolizing the mysterious other half of the customer journey: the post-purchase relationship, aka, the one that should never end.
It's segmented into the following four stages:
- Stage One: The Adopter. Adopters have taken the plunge and made a purchase, but that doesn't mean they're fully committed to you yet. To win them over, provide an amazing customer experience: make sure your products and services are top-notch; offer excellent service when customers reach out; give incentives like discounts or rewards for repeat purchases, and welcome feedback with open ears. Remind them that they made the right decision choosing you, and you'll be well on your way to winning them over for good.
- Stage Two: The Loyalist. The loyalist stage of the bowtie sales funnel is where customers have gone beyond "trying it out" — they enjoyed their first shopping experience with you, so they made a conscious decision to return to your brand. At this level, it's all about creating an experience that goes above and beyond: Offer exclusive rewards like sneak peeks at new products or discounts on future orders – show them you appreciate their loyalty and make them feel valued. After all, nothing creates a bond quite like exclusivity.
- Stage Three: The Advocate. Advocates are true fans of your brand: they've made multiple purchases and now use their social influence to help win over other prospective buyers. Their enthusiasm creates word-of-mouth marketing that spreads far beyond traditional channels: they sway prospective buyers by providing reviews, testimonials, or engaging on social media. One way to shepherd advocates to the fourth and final stage is to offer a referral program — this not only rewards them for sending new business your way, but it also strengthens your relationships with your most ardent fans by cultivating shared values.
- Stage Four: The Brand Ambassador. Brand ambassadors are the crème de la crème of customers. They live and breathe your brand; from the people to the products, they know your story inside and out and talk about it in social circles online and offline. They wear their brand loyalty with pride, telling everyone they ever meet about you while embodying the company values you hold so dear. At ThirdChannel, we know just how special this type of customer is — we even have a network of over 250,000 loyal brand representatives who are ready to be matched with brands they love so that companies can achieve their customer retention goals. It's a win-win.
Streamline Your Sales Funnel with ThirdChannel
Forget about the days of blindly trying to navigate sales funnels — ThirdChannel is here to bring clarity and sustainability into your business growth.
Our innovative approach gives businesses complete control over how they engage their customers through every stage, from attraction to retention and advocacy. With our comprehensive platform at hand, plus our carefully vetted brand representatives, navigating each granular step in the bowtie sales funnel has never been easier. Schedule a customized demo to learn how ThirdChannel can help you maximize revenue by minimizing sales funnel bottlenecks.