The move to digital has changed the marketing function and has created gaps that marketers need to be aware of. Without a firm understanding of how to capture the initial attention of the customer, you’re leaving revenue on the table.

Chris Walker, CEO at Refine Labs, discusses these gaps and his new framework to uncover the dark funnel.

Acknowledging the gaps

Imagine you enter a room of potential buyers, pitch the product or solution, and recognize no one is interested. Without this experience, your data might’ve blinded you to this group of people who’ve already made up their minds about your product.

This is exactly what happened for Chris Walker. He recognized a room full of people that could’ve been potential customers if he’d only reached them before they made their minds up. But how?

”I could really feel that we were talking to people that were not interested in buying right now; that we had asked for the meeting. They took it as a courtesy or because they wanted to learn something new.” — Chris Walker

The digital transformation has enabled buyers to do a lot more research for themselves before ever reaching out to a seller. In most cases today, a customer has made up their mind about what they want and only needs the seller to facilitate the sale. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for the seller to introduce alternative products or try to sell a different product that they think will suit the customer better.

Developing a new framework for marketing

Chris started on his journey of developing a new framework to do marketing by learning what his customers believed, what people who didn’t use their product believed, and understanding the gaps in the middle. This was a complete shift from what Chris was looking at before — running and trying to collect leads and writing emails.

The digital transformation

Chris visited a children’s hospital at 2AM, a typically quiet time, to observe how the nurses and physicians spent their time. The result: Everyone was busy doing one of three things.

  • Looking at social media
  • Watching YouTube
  • Scrolling on their phone

There was an immediate opportunity to communicate with these physicians and nurses through these channels that no other company was taking advantage of. After some hesitation from the boardroom to launch Facebook ads to emergency medicine physicians, the numbers eventually spoke for themselves.

”The reality of the situation is that B2B buyers are discovering, researching, and evaluating products in places that companies can’t track. And because they can’t track them, they actually just don’t do them. Or if they do, do them, it’s a throwaway.” — Chris Walker

Through this experiment, Chris realized how little these channels were being monitored, uncovering the dark funnel in the process. Without changing the ways companies track marketing strategies, it will be impossible to convince anyone to fund the projects.

Key takeaways

The shift to digital is creating a hidden group of potential customers that will do their research before ever reaching out to the seller. If the seller doesn’t reach this group, or isn’t aware of this group, they’ll be unable to sway their decisions by the time the customers reach out.

Companies prefer the traditional channels because they’re set up to measure that data. However, because these channels tend to be less productive than the dark funnel, it’s worth it for companies to make the shift.

Despite any difficulty to track the dark funnel, doing so will directly result in a proven increase in sales.

”The places where people are discovering you and the places that are making the most impact are not necessarily things that are getting attributed within the channels inside of the attribution software.” — Chris Walker