The marketing funnel is ‘dead’ – people trust customer reviews more than marketers, claims HubSpot MD


The traditional marketing funnel is “dead” and marketers have to get used to the fact that they are trusted less than the customer referrals enabled by internet ratings and reviews, the HubSpot Asia-Pacific managing director has claimed.

Speaking at the Echelon Summit in Singapore, Shahid Nizami told delegates that research by his company – a global survey of just under 1,000 consumers – had revealed that only 3% of people trusted marketers, a percentage lower than the trust in journalists (5%) and the same as investment bankers, also at 3%.


“The funnel is dead,” said Nizami. “It’s developing cracks and it’s not a good way to run your business.”

He added that marketing could only build awareness rather than drive purchasing nowadays, suggesting that the “last mile was driven by customer referrals”.

“Your customers are your best marketing channel and word-of-mouth is the single largest source of reference,” he explained.

Promoting the idea of inbound marketing via content creation and social media networks plus search engine optimisation, as a more valid alternative to traditional marketing channels, Nizami said: “It puts customers at the heart of your business and will ensure growth.”

In addition, he said that marketers had to quickly move beyond the urge to simply attract and engage consumers. “The maximum focus now should be on delighting them,” he added. “Companies have to become customer-obsessed, rather than self-obsessed.”



At HubSpot – an inbound marketing software provider – Nizami said this had been achieved by rethinking the industry norms. This included taking commission back from sales people if the customer left within eight months, but then rewarding the sales teams exponentially if the client stayed for more than a year.

Other initiatives included creating a customer code that actually rated the firm’s performance for its clients, and a determination to quickly take ownership of mistakes and publicly apologise.

“You have to own your screw-ups, mistakes are part of life,” he said. “It’s how you deal with them that sets you apart. The customers really appreciate it.”

Highlighting a brand doing this, he referenced KFC’s public apology in the United Kingdom when the fast-food chain ran out of chicken due to poor supply chain decisions.

Beyond that, he recommended clear and transparent pricing in order to improve the customer experience.

“It will change your destiny because the customer experience never ends,” added Nizami.


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