In the subscription economy, the classic funnel approach is increasingly becoming non-relatable. Because user journeys are getting more and more complicated, the “funnel” way of looking at things is turning out to be dysfunctional. It has now been replaced by what is called the flywheel marketing - which aligns with the reality that well-designed user journeys always trigger a feedback and growth loop.
Marketing Funnel vs Marketing Flywheel
The difference between the funnel and flywheel approach is not just the look and feel of it but also how different things are done at different stages. The framework stresses on the fact that user journeys and experience with a brand are rarely linear - Users keep switching between different stages, hopping onto one from other
The flywheel marketing approach can be applied to any business - no matter whether its e-commerce, media or service.
In this post, I’ll apply this framework to news and media businesses. Let’s dive in
New Visitors: New users who have discovered your product for the first time. Irrespective of the channel which they came from - search, social, referral, ads - doesn’t matter. The only common attribute here is that this is the first time these users are experiencing your product/ brand.
Fly-By Visitors: Most of these new visitors are Fly-bys. They managed to land on your website/ blog looking for a very specific piece of information or they literally stumbled upon your website with display or native ads. Basis the channel they are coming in from, there is a degree of intent or interest. For eg - those coming in via Search ( organic results or search ads) have an established intent. Some of these users who carry clear intent and interest in your offering are often willing to commit. The commitment is what takes them to the next stage. Their on-site experience is what decides whether these visitors would be willing to come back and make a small first commitment.
Repeat Visitors: A repeat site visit today is SOLID proof that not only has the user derived value from your content and product but if asked, would be willing to take the next step towards commitment. Again, factors like on-site experience, easy of discovering content on site, ability to consume content without interruption, all of these would decide whether or not these users would make the second commitment to your brand. These are also excellent candidates for your first ask - “ Email Subscription” or “Push Notification Subscription” or “Messenger Notification Permission” and so on. It is important to understand all these asks - Push Notification, Email, Messenger, SMS - imply a different level of commitment. It is hence important that the user is not bombarded with all of these options at one single shot. A small % of your visitors convert into subscribers.
Active Subscribers: Consistent engagement with your subscribers - no matter what channel they are subscribed to is what converts your subscribers into active subscribers. These are people who frequently open your email, or click on your notification and come back to your website to consume more content. This is a critical orbit and one would see a lot of users going back and forth fro this stage to the fly-by stage as well.
Loyal Subscribers: This is the stage when your subscribers start arriving on your website by directly entering your website URL on their browser. This is also when they start engaging with your brand across social platforms and communication channels and they actively converse with. This is the audience that contributes DIRECT traffic on your website and these are also the users drive word of mouth and actively start referring to your content
Paying Customers: As direct as it gets. A part of your loyal audience is willing to go and become your supporters beyond just advocating for your content and brand but by actually going ahead and paying for it. Their expectations remain the same - getting more and more value from your content. This is the set of people that becomes your biggest advocate and further catalyze the conversion loop - the loop of converting your loyal subscribers into customers.
It is important to understand that - none of the loops is one way. Customers churn all the time but given that they have experienced your brand over a period of time, they would simply shift from being active customers to active subscribers. Simply because they have stopped paying for your product doesn’t imply that the relationship has ended.
This is not a 0-1 game.