Facebook COO Claims “Marketing Funnel Itself is Collapsing” Thanks to Digital
As Sheryl Sandberg points out, the rapid rise of digital media has compressed the traditional marketing funnel, making it increasingly difficult for marketers to closely track customer journeys.
“We’re living through the fastest change in communications technology this world has ever seen,” declared Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in her address at this year’s dmexco 2017 conference in Cologne, Germany. “Radio took decades to reach 50 million people,” she continued, “and TV took over a decade to reach 50 million people. Mobile took half a decade to reach 1 billion people.”
Sandberg used these remarkable figures as a jumping off point to discuss the ways in which the rapid emergence and proliferation of the internet — and especially internet-enabled mobile devices — have fundamentally redefined media, and with it, marketing.
“The marketing funnel itself is collapsing,” she argued. “It used to take time to go from research to discovery to awareness all the way through a purchase. But now with digital and mobile that’s happening faster than ever, and that means that from the largest brand to the corner coffee shop to the smallest companies in the world to nonprofits, the way you work on your brand, the way you communicate who you are, has never been more important.”
Sandberg is right to point out that the rise of digital media has completely transformed the way that marketers conduct business. Insofar as it has shortened the duration of the average customer journey from awareness to conversion, digital media has indeed collapsed — or at the very least compressed — the marketing funnel. As a result, many of the traditional routes through the funnel have been modified and distorted.
The Effect of Digital Media on the Customer Journey
The concept of the marketing funnel and its simple series of customer touchpoints has been a resilient one because of how helpful it’s proven to marketers. Today, however, digital media has added so many touchpoints to the traditional model that it’s become nearly impossible for these marketers to optimize them all.
Research indicates that the average mobile user touches their phone 2,617 times per day, and more high-frequency users interact with their devices as many as 5,400 times per day. As such, the impact of each individual touchpoint has been dramatically reduced, meaning marketers now have to prioritize crafting compelling end-to-end “digital experiences” (DX) instead of simply stringing together a series of marginally related touchpoints.
A digital experience amounts to how a given consumer perceives a brand across all of its touchpoints and marketing channels — from ad campaigns, to third-party reviews, to the company’s mobile app — in the context of their unique digital environment. In practice, this results in all the components of the traditional marketing funnel (awareness, interest, consideration, and intent) blending into each other. This is not to suggest that each of these phases of the customer journey has become any less important, but rather, that the pivot toward comprehensive digital experiences has blurred the lines between them.
Using Artificial Intelligence to Craft Compelling Digital Experiences
Ultimately, this compression of the traditional marketing funnel has complicated the customer journey analyses upon which marketers rely so heavily. In our new digital media age, there is no longer a straightforward, reliably consistent path from awareness to purchase. Customer journeys still offer a great wealth of insight, but accessing these insights has become more complicated and challenging than ever.
That’s why cutting-edge technologies like Albert™, the world’s first fully-autonomous artificial intelligence marketing platform, represent such a tremendous value to the modern marketer. Marketers must leverage an incredible amount of data in order to create a compelling digital experience that stands out amidst the noise for every potential customer, and doing so has become all but impossible without the help of AI-enabled tools.
Not only does Albert identify emerging consumer behavior patterns across a number of channels and touchpoints at once, but he also analyzes the data he collects and autonomously takes action based on what he learns. Albert is capable of piloting thousands of micro-campaigns at once, scaling up the ones that work and abandoning those that don’t. In a digital media landscape that tends to obfuscate each customer’s unique journey down the marketing funnel, this kind of large-scale intelligent trial and error is absolutely essential in determining how customers are making their way from awareness to purchase.