The Traditional Marketing and Sales Funnel is Dead – What Has Changed?

Do you think sales funnels are dead? 

If you said YES then I am sorry, their ghosts are going to start haunting you. Good luck. 

But with all seriousness, why is getting leads and customers to a business today so damn hard? Have sales funnels truly lived out their era? What’s next? 

In this post, I’ll cover answers to all of these questions. You’ll find out what types of sales funnels “have died” and the “newborns” that have started thriving. Furthermore, I’ll explain what the problem is with traditional marketing

Let’s go!

What is a sales funnel?

I can’t get into this topic without first doing a brief overview of what sales funnels exactly are.   

In short, non-formal definition, sales funnels are a step-by-step process that takes a person from not knowing you and your business exist to your business’s long-term customer – from A to Z in the buying process.  

Most sales funnels operate by the AIDA model. AIDA stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. These are the 4 steps every person in the funnel goes through and they are placed in order. 

AIDA model
  • First step of every funnel is Awareness where a person becomes aware of the certain product’s existence.
  • Next step is Interest where a person goes from someone who just knows of a product to someone who likes it and is interested in it.
  • Third step is Desire where a person figures out he/she needs that product.
  • Last step is Action where that person fills out their desire and purchase that product.

Let me now show you the most basic example of this in the real world: 

  • Awareness – A person walks down the street and a billboard catches their attention.
  • Interest – The ad on the billboard sparks interest in the person. Soon after, they go to an address/call a phone number they saw on the billboard.
  • Desire – A salesperson answers to the person’s call. Their job is to take that person from someone who is just casually calling to check out a few things about a product to the person that wants that product. The person has an “aha! moment” and finds out that they need such a product. The salesperson has done a good job.
  • Action – The person buys the product.

Are sales funnels dead?

Sales funnels, as a whole, aren’t close to being dead. They worked 200 years ago, they work now and will work a long time into the future. However, with all the technology now, a lot of things have changed.  

It’s not about working the hardest right now, it’s about leveraging the technology to automate as many things as possible for you.   

For example, when we compare a person who is making 500 cold calls a day and a person who spends 30 minutes a day creating and monitoring their social media ads, who do you think will have better results? 


Of course, the person doing online marketing. Cold calling is ineffective more than 90% of the time. Although the cold caller worked a lot harder, the online advertiser has won the battle. 

TV is dead – video is on the rise 

Stats show that content consumption through TV is slowly dying off compared to digital devices. Youtube and Netflix have become dominant forces when it comes to video consuming and many people started to prefer consuming content through online video rather than traditional TV.  

This means that ads on traditional TV are also starting to decline since less and less people are seeing them.  

It also means that marketers should focus more on producing video ads for Youtube and similar channels since those are only growing in terms of views and average daily time spent on them.  

Speaking of digital devices… 

You can’t ignore smartphones 

Over 90% of millennials own a smartphone. Also, more and more old people have started to use smartphones as well. What does this say to us? 

It means that all advertising campaigns you’re running should include mobile ads since nearly everybody has a smartphone today.   

Artificial Intelligence 

Unless you’d been under a rock for the past dozen or so years, you should know that AI is on the rise. It has already replaced many jobs such in communication, personalization, and other fields and is also expected to take over many jobs salespeople are currently responsible for.  

This means that a lot of the selling in the future will be done by robots and don’t think this will affect business in a negative way. In fact, studies show exactly the opposite. 

The Traditional Marketing and Sales Funnel is Dead

Social media   

Social media has taken over the world. There are almost 4 billion social media users in 2020 and an average user spends two and a half hours on it.  

For many of us, the funnel stage of Awareness today most commonly happens when we’re on social media, not walking down the street or reading a newspaper. 

You can instantly show your product to millions of people and this is why so many are willing to pay insane amounts of money to social media companies. No wonders why Facebook has made a little over $70 billion in 2019.  

However, it’s not just about creating an ad. Your ad has to be good or two things will happen:

  • Viewers will have a negative emotional response to your ad and overall brand
  • This will lead to social media companies charging you more money until you eventually run out of it or shut down your ad. You may also get your ad account shut down and be unable to run ads on that social network again.

Millennials don’t trust marketers 

Studies show that millennials are more skeptical of ads than previous generations. Marketing tactics such as paying actors to give positive reviews of products simply don’t work anymore.  

There are thousands of review sites that can easily show if a product is worth it or not so faking a positive review is out of the window.  


Newspaper ad spending is going down 

You may have expected this but newspaper ads are facing a drastic decline. In 2010, almost $82 billion was spent while today, in 2020, the spending was equivalent to only $34 billion. 

Direct mail  

This is something you may have not expected – direct mail ads are still thriving. In fact, direct mail has a higher response rate than email

direct mail

Direct mail not only has high response rates but it’s reported that internet ads annoy users way more than direct mail ads. 

Millennials love direct mail which may come as surprise when we look at generations tied to lives and tweets.

The traditional marketing and sales funnel is dead: conclusion

What should all of this data mean to you now? 

It should show you that sales funnels aren’t dead, it’s just that things have changed. Somewhere even drastically.  

Although digital rules the world now, some old-school methods of marketing still do work as well. However, unsurprisingly, many more simply don’t work.  

In case you’d like to learn how to create a digital sales funnel from scratch, check out the One Funnel Away Challenge. It’s an inexpensive, 30-day coaching program that will take you from A to Z and teach you everything you need to know in the process. 

Have an awesome day! 

About the author 

Peter Keszegh

Most people write this part in the third person but I won't. You're at the right place if you want to start or grow your online business. When I'm not busy scaling up my own or other people' businesses, you'll find me trying out new things and discovering new places. Connect with me on Facebook, just let me know how I can help.

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