For years, inbound marketing was often thought of as a funnel. ‘Top of the funnel’ made up the vast majority of site viewers and marketing and, as the funnel became more and more narrow, the warmer and warmer leads resided within it. At the bottom of the funnel were your clients and the people that actually bought your products after the research and shopping parts were completed.

However, nowadays, many claim that the marketing funnel is dead—and the flywheel has taken its place on the proverbial ‘inbound marketing throne’. It may seem harsh and hard to accept, but without coming to terms with it, your business is destined to be left in the past.

To understand what the flywheel method consists of and whether or not it is a better solution for your business, you must first know what the traditional method is and how the new strategy is different. Through this knowledge, you can determine which method is right for your business and whether or not the flywheel is the better solution for success and brand growth in general.

Related: What is Inbound Marketing and How Does it Work?

What is the Traditional Inbound Marketing Funnel Method?

Essentially, there are three stages of the original inbound marketing funnel method: Learners, shoppers, and buyers. These stages make up all of the right data from your website visitors that you will need to succeed as a business owner—or so they did. To know what a traditional inbound marketing funnel is, you must know how these stages come into play and what they mean for a business’ marketing strategy online.

Top of the Funnel: Learners

The learners are at the top of the funnel as these are the people that will ultimately make up the vast majority of a site’s viewers. In fact, according to SproutBox, over 85 percent of website traffic is top-of-the-funnel.

This is the initial interest phase where individuals are researching their options, learning about a particular service or product, and discovering the many choices out there. It is also where many companies focus their marketing as it is where you can first hook potential clients and get them to continue down the sales funnel.

Middle of the Funnel: Shoppers

The middle of the funnel people are often referred to as ‘shoppers’. The reason for this is that these individuals have done the research and learning phase and are now interested in knowing what products or services you provide on your online shop.

A good inbound marketing mid-funnel strategy is to have easy-to-digest and transparent pricing visuals that can be found from the front page of your site with ease. After all, how many times have you been interested in a product and simply moved on because it was hard to find how and where to buy it?

Bottom of the Funnel: Buyers

Although this part of the funnel only accounts for 5 percent of your site’s viewers, this is where the conversions and actual profits come into play. However, this is also where the inbound marketing funnel begins to fail businesses. Once this part of the funnel is complete, what’s next? The answer is nothing. The goal of the sales funnel is solely to get people to the bottom of the funnel and wave goodbye as they fall out the other end.

How does this help a business to keep clients and to acquire more leads from these initial sales? Perhaps, learning more about the flywheel below will answer this question and prove why countless businesses are switching to inbound marketing flywheels over the traditional funnel method they once knew and loved.

Related: Why Buyer Personas Are a Marketing Must-Have

How Does the new Flywheel Strategy Work—and is it Better?

To those that have either used the funnel method for years or have read the above description and think it sounds clever, you may be wondering how the flywheel has killed this strategy and whether the flywheel is actually better than its predecessor.

In short, yes, it is. The flywheel killed the funnel method by simply being a better solution for businesses—including your own. The way in which it did this is by creating an inbound marketing strategy that doesn’t just acquire new leads but uses this momentum to continue to grow your business well past the final purchase step of your marketing campaign.

To put this into perspective, take a look at this quote by HubSpot about flywheel’s advantages over funnel methods:

“Companies that choose to use the flywheel model over the typical funnel have a huge advantage because they aren’t the only ones helping their business grow — their customers are helping them grow as well.”


So, what does this mean? How does a flywheel method help your business grow through past customers? Well, the answer is simple. The flywheel method does not simply lead potential clients through a funnel and let them go at the end but rather uses the momentum it creates to keep the business rotating and expanding with each rotation likewise.

Invented by James Watt, the flywheel method focuses on the momentum of happy customers to drive referrals and repeat sales. To use this method, you must focus on the parts of your current marketing strategy that do best and remove any friction in your path.

Rightfully referred to as a wheel, you must think of this method as the wheels on a bike. The strongest parts of your marketing strategy apply the force, similar to your legs putting force on the pedals to make the bike go faster.

To successfully implement a flywheel strategy in your own business, you must find the ‘legs of your business’ and strengthen them. For instance, if your team or your advertisements are engaging people successfully, put more weight on these aspects of your strategy and ‘strengthen’ them so they can push harder on those proverbial pedals.

Related: Amazing Ways to Integrate Print into Your Digital Campaign

Next, just as you would riding a bike, you want a clear path that is free of friction. If you were riding down a bike path that was covered in huge rocks, you would likely be forced to slow down or face a major fall and injury.

With this said, you will want to analyze your current strategy and determine bottlenecks or roadblocks where your wheel is getting caught and slowing down your overall momentum. Once you find these problem points and fix them, you are sure to not only see your flywheel rotate much faster but will also see it grow larger and continue to create returns and new opportunities.

Where the funnel method fails is where the flywheel succeeds. Instead of forcing people down a funnel, your team is responsible for creating a simple and effective marketing process that doesn’t just leave customers happy but encourages them to come back and refer others as well.

In this way, you don’t create a method that has open ends for clients to fall through but instead create a wheel that continues to expand your business and create happy customers each and every day.

In the end, the flywheel is not just the future of marketing—but also the present. Whether your business is new to inbound marketing or you have been using a funnel for decades, it’s time to jump into the future and see just how successful this new method can be for you and your team.

After all, according to a quote by author Roy T. Bennett, “Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” So, why live in the past and harm your business solely because it’s what you know when you can change your strategy for the better and be a part of the present and future of marketing?

DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Inbound Marketing Terminology Guide

Written by Lynne Kingsley

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