Advertising & Brand

Beware Of Funnel Vision: Use Data To Navigate The New Marketing Norms

6 min read

You’ve heard it a thousand times: Fill the funnel, see what happens, and segment later. That strategy can fly or it can fail, but is it worth the risk—especially now, when everything marketers thought they knew about their customers is changing?  


As part of our Retention Masterclass series, John Koetsier and I talked to Rebecca Nackson, a veteran of iHeartMedia, Audible, and IBM—and the founder of Notable, a team of strategists, creatives, analysts, and project managers that will work with you to build your growth stack and engage your customers. Rebecca was turned off by the “fill the funnel” strategy long ago, and has set out to change the way we think about digital marketing.  

“I, myself, handled marketing at a number of companies, and I’ve been across the spectrum in terms of size, and I’m old enough that when I started doing it, this whole thing called digital transformation started,” she says. “And one thing that I noticed between doing this at large companies that had lots of resources, doing it at newer companies that were digital-first, that you can have the right technology, you can have the right tools, but if your team and your tactics are not there, you’re not able to take advantage of those tools. “  

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Throw your instincts out the window

A Liftoff survey found that the three biggest concerns of marketers in 2020 were growth, retention and fraud—in that order. Rebecca says the answer lies in the data. You can’t rely on your gut, she says, but today you don’t have to. The advent of smartphones and the mass adoption of the devices meant marketers could know more about their customers than ever before, and the idea that you have to rely on instinct went out the window. And that’s especially true as marketers adjust to the new norm under coronavirus. 

I’m home right now. All of my shopping patterns are changing,” says Rebecca. “We’re looking at the data with our existing clients, and their work is bleeding into the evening, is bleeding into the weekend. They’re not commuting. They’re purchasing products in different ways.”  

Everything you thought you knew is changing, and the only way to keep up with your users is to follow the data. How is that playing out? 

“The first phase of the response to everything was, of course, to be conservative and to pause things and make sure that we’re sending out a message that’s sensitive,” says Rebecca. But that’s changing as people are home for longer, working on projects and figuring out how to get it all done without leaving the house.   

“One thing that really surprised me in consulting is that I find that our clients are actually overly conservative in the messaging that they send,” Rebecca says. “You know, somebody will say to them, ‘I got two of your emails and that was annoying.’ And then suddenly there’s this whole directive [to scale back].” Rebecca warns against ignoring the data, especially on this front.  

She adds, “So, if I was preaching to look at the data rather than just trusting your own instinct before, I definitely am going to be saying that now.  And for us, I think a lot of people are going to be listening to that advice in a way that they weren’t before.” 

Follow your customer’s lead 

So, if you’re feeling confused and uncertain about how to navigate the turbulent waters of e-commerce in the age of coronavirus, there’s a simple answer to all your questions—and it’s in your data. For example, Rebecca says that, like a lot of New Yorkers, she’s eating out less now and has extra money to put toward other projects. Smart marketers will notice that she’s more engaged with emails and looking to accomplish home projects while sequestered at home. 

Our collective behavior is changing, and the only way to know how to provide your users with what they need is to pay attention to what they’re telling you through the data.

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