In the rapidly evolving landscape of digital marketing, the funnel concept continues to be a pivotal player. Yet, the shape and function of the funnel are not static. As we look towards 2023, we see emerging trends that are reshaping the conventional funnel model, pushing the boundaries of what is achievable in terms of conversion rates, customer engagement, and overall marketing success. This article provides a detailed exploration of these progressive funnel trends for 2023.

1. Reevaluating Conversion Rates Amid Economic Shifts

As the pandemic continues to disrupt business operations worldwide, B2B SaaS companies are particularly feeling the pinch. The economic environment is challenging, and deals are taking longer to close. Consequently, there's a growing interest in understanding what the right marketing and B2B sales funnel conversion rates should be in such an uncertain climate.

1.1 The Quest for Benchmarks

Companies are keen to compare their current conversion rates with industry benchmarks to gauge their performance. However, deriving reliable benchmarks is a complex task. Numerous variables influence a company's sales cycle, and every team has a unique definition for each stage of the marketing funnel. As a result, the best benchmarks are a moving target, providing only a rough estimate of what B2B SaaS conversion rates could look like.

1.2 The Role of Data

Data plays a central role in this quest for benchmarks. In an ideal world, we would have a plethora of recent, reliable figures to guide us. However, the current metrics are somewhat elusive. Changes in SaaS marketing and sales funnel conversion rates take time to show up consistently in the data. Hence, the numbers we have now are more of a snapshot of the past than a projection of the future.

2. The Emergence of the Flywheel Model

The traditional sales funnel model is losing ground to a new, customer-centric paradigm: the flywheel. The flywheel model puts customers at the heart of the business, acknowledging that the customer journey does not end with a sale.

2.1 The Limits of the Sales Funnel

The sales funnel model has a linear progression, starting with awareness and ending with conversion. The problem with this model is that it neglects customers once they've made a purchase. Given the power of word-of-mouth marketing and the value of customer retention, this oversight can be costly.

2.2 The Advantages of the Flywheel

Contrarily, the flywheel model nurtures leads until they become customers, then continues to engage and delight them as they transform into brand advocates. This continuity is a crucial advantage of the flywheel model, as it recognizes that each customer presents endless opportunities for business growth.

3. The Rise of Content Marketing

Content marketing continues to be a powerful tool for attracting and engaging customers, and 2023 promises to be an exciting year for content marketers. Several key trends are emerging that will shape the content marketing landscape in the coming year.

3.1 The Battle for Content

The content marketing market is set to expand significantly, with billions of pieces of content being published by brands, individuals, and machines alike. With so much content vying for consumer attention, ensuring your content stands out will become more challenging. Marketers will need to strike a balance between quality and quantity and find innovative ways to capture consumers' attention.

3.2 The Power of Video

Video content is increasingly dominating the marketing space. Short-form videos, in particular, are proving to be extremely effective, with a whopping 90% of marketers planning to invest in this format in 2023. The popularity of video content is attributed to its ability to create a deeper connection with potential customers and its ease of repurposing into other content formats.

3.3 The Impact of AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making significant inroads into content marketing. AI-powered content creation tools are becoming more sophisticated, leading to a surge in AI-generated content. This shift represents a paradigm shift in how marketers approach content creation. However, while AI can assist with content creation, it's crucial to remember that it should be used as a tool to augment human capabilities, not replace them.

4. The Importance of SEO and Mobile Optimization

As online content continues to grow exponentially, the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and mobile optimization cannot be overstated. More businesses are leveraging SEO to conquer search traffic, and mobile optimization is becoming even more critical.

4.1 The Role of SEO

SEO is not a new concept, but its strategies are becoming more integrated with modern marketing strategies. With Google's algorithms continually evolving, SEO now goes beyond simply producing basic posts to answer simple search queries. Brands are investing in SEO experts who can help them with everything from search insights reports to multimedia optimization.

4.2 The Need for Mobile Optimization

With consumers spending more time on mobile devices, optimizing digital experiences for mobile is more important than ever. This is especially true for brands targeting younger demographics like Millennials and Gen Z, who are highly connected and fast-paced.

5. The Social Responsibility Imperative

More and more companies are prioritizing social responsibility in their marketing strategies. Consumers, particularly younger generations, want companies to take a stance on social issues. Brands that advocate for these issues can have a significant impact on their customers' purchase decisions, making social responsibility a powerful marketing tool.

6. The Integration of Sales and Marketing

As we move towards 2023, the alignment of sales and marketing teams will become increasingly crucial. When these teams work together, marketers can get a more complete picture of their customers. Yet, only 31% of marketers currently report strong alignment between their sales and marketing teams. This lack of alignment can create problems in sharing and accessing data across teams. Therefore, improving sales and marketing alignment will be a major focus for marketers in 2023.

7. The Return of Experiential Marketing

Experiential marketing campaigns create immersive experiences for audiences, either in physical spaces or through AR/VR platforms. These campaigns were largely halted during the pandemic, but as digital immersive platforms become more accessible, we could see a resurgence of experiential marketing in 2023.

8. The Continued Relevance of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing will remain a best practice for growing brands in 2023. With the shift from in-person to hybrid work-from-home business practices, inbound marketing has become even more vital. By producing quality, valuable content tailored towards your target audience, you can drive customers to seek out your content, boosting brand awareness and building trust digitally.

9. The Slow Adoption of VR and AR

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have been slow to be adopted in the marketing sphere. While these technologies offer exciting possibilities for immersive marketing experiences, the high cost of equipment and the need for consumers to have access to specific technologies have limited their uptake. However, as VR and AR technologies become more accessible, their use in marketing may increase.

10. The Rise of Native Ads

Finally, more brands are testing out native ads. Native advertising blends in with the content on a third-party website, making it less intrusive than traditional advertising. Because native ads don't feel like traditional ads, consumers are more likely to engage with them. With almost half of marketers reporting that native advertising is their top ROI-generating tactic, it's a trend worth watching in 2023.

In conclusion, the marketing landscape is continually evolving, and staying ahead of the curve is crucial for success. As we look towards 2023, these are the funnel trends to watch. Whether it's the rise of the flywheel model, the continued importance of content marketing, or the slow adoption of VR and AR, understanding these trends can help you craft a cutting-edge and competitive marketing strategy for the coming year.