Sales funnel vs lifecycle marketing – is there a difference?

By Tania Jones

February 10, 2021

There are two well known strategies to move contacts through your sales process, those are a sales funnel and lifecycle marketing. They both have stages that can guide your sales planning with data. But what is the difference and why would you use them? In sales funnel vs lifecycle marketing we will explain each of these strategies, but which is better? Read on to find out.

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel plans the journey of your lead through your sales pipeline, helping them to get to know you and build their trust in readiness for them to take action and buy. It’s predictable and based on analytics. The stages of a typical sales funnel are:


This is when your contact gets to know about you, find out who you are and that your business exists. Maybe they’ve discovered your website for the first time, spotted an ad for a campaign you’re promoting or heard about you at an event or by word-of-mouth.


They know about you and now they want to get to know more about your business, the services you offer and how you can solve their challenges. This is where they’ll do their research, quickly search for you online and browse your social media channels, which is why it’s important to keep your channels active.


They know you’re the one to help them and now they need that nudge to make the purchase. This is when your offers (not discounts!) need to be compelling and hitting the target with their wants and needs.


They’ve done their research and you’ve shared an offer they cannot refuse, this is the time for them to make their purchase. They’re now a customer!

The typical sales funnel is kind of a three-part approach:

1) Businesses go out and engage in activities that will attract people to their business.

2) Then apply the sales process. You may have a very short sales process or a very long sales process, but you have some method that you use to acquire new customers.

3) From your sales process, a proportion of those people will buy.

Having got that sale, you may then start looking for the next interested lead to take through your sales funnel. At this point you may measure your results and decide you want to double the number of customers that you’re getting. Usually small businesses will say, “Why don’t I double the amount of money I’m spending or the amount of time, or why don’t I double my sales staff?”

This is a simple, straightforward and measurable approach to sales. Planning is data driven and can be reviewed regularly to guide future actions. It can guide your next sales move with predictable outcomes.

What is Lifecycle Marketing?

Well, what I’m going to share with you today is that there are some options for doubling the number of customers that you’re getting that will be far less expensive than just going around and starting to double things. Let’s talk about some of those areas.

The first big area of waste in small businesses is lost traffic.

How many people:

  • Visit your website today, or
  • Hear about you through their friends or word-of-mouth, or;
  • Respond to your direct advertising

But aren’t yet ready to do business and so they just leave? Then they forget about you.

Do you want to follow up with 100% of your leads? Find out how to turn lost leads into paying clients here

What if there was a way for you to capture the information of those people so that when they are ready to move forward, closer to the sale, you’re there and following up with them?

Most people don’t have a mechanism for that. Most businesses have a bunch of traffic either coming to their website or calling them on the phone or coming into their store, and they’re not capturing it.

They literally have traffic that is going straight into the trash can.

Also known as the customer journey, Lifecycle Marketing follows stages too. This time as an overview of your customers experience from discovery to purchase. We covered what Lifecycle Marketing is in more detail in another blog post, here.

Collect leads

Just like a sales funnel, the first stage of lifecycle marketing is discovery. Your contact finds out about your business and choose whether or not they want to learn more. To move your contacts forward in the customer journey you’ll want to capture their email address with high-quality content and lead magnets.

Convert prospects to customers

Just like the interest and desire stages in a sales funnel, this is where research, education and nurturing take place. This is to build a stronger relationship with trust, demonstrate that you will deliver on your promise and confirm that you’re the choice for them. They’re now a customer!

Create fans

Here is where you’ll see a difference with Lifecycle Marketing and the customer journey. It doesn’t end when the purchase has taken place, but looks at the overall customer experience. By improving the experience with gifts, follow-up emails and exclusive access to products you’re creating loyal fans. Keep your customers happy to improve customer retention, it costs less to retain a customer than it does to acquire a new one. This is a must if you want to grow and scale your business.

Let’s summarise a sales funnel vs lifecycle marketing, which is better?

Both strategies have their bonuses, and it really will depend on what works best for your business and customers. If you’re looking for a quick, straightforward way to draw in leads then a sales funnel could work well for you. However, driving sustainable lead generation, predictable conversions and creating a loyal fan base then lifecycle marketing will be the better option.

Do you want to learn more about lifecycle marketing for your business? Book a call with Tania today.

What are your thoughts on sales funnel vs lifecycle marketing, would one work better for your business?

Let us know. Leave your feedback or comments below.

Tania Jones

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