Customer Retention in Sales Funnel


In the competitive world of marketing and sales, businesses that focus on long-term success are adopting a modern approach to their strategies. The traditional marketing funnel is being replaced by a more innovative and effective technique called the bowtie funnel. This article will delve into what a bowtie funnel is, how it differs from traditional marketing funnels, and the benefits of using this approach for customer retention. By following the steps outlined in this article, businesses can implement a successful bowtie funnel strategy and ensure long-term customer success.

What is a Bowtie Funnel?

A bowtie funnel is a marketing technique that focuses on nurturing relationships with existing customers to generate recurring revenue streams. The funnel is shaped like a bowtie, with two halves representing two types of customers and the stages they go through. While there are slight differences between B2B and B2C bowtie funnels, the concept remains the same.

B2C Bowtie Funnel

  • New Customer (left of bowtie)
  • Awareness Stage
  • Interest Stage
  • Consideration Stage
  • Conversion Stage
  • Customer Commitment (middle of bowtie funnel)
  • Core Business Offer
  • Loyalty Stage
  • Recommendations Stage
  • Up-Sell Stage
  • Cross-Sell Stage
  • Existing Customer (right of bowtie)

B2B Bowtie Funnel

  • New Customer – Convert (left funnel of bowtie)
  • Prospect – Awareness Stage
  • Lead – Education Stage
  • Opportunity – Selection Stage
  • Complete – Growth Stage
  • Customer Commitment (middle of bowtie)
  • On-Air – Onboarding Stage
  • Impact – Renew Stage
  • Expand – Opportunity Stage
  • Win – Complete Stage
  • Existing Customer – Expand (right of bowtie)

The aim of the bowtie funnel is to nurture the customer experience throughout the entire journey, from the initial conversion to becoming a loyal brand ambassador. This approach ensures that the customer journey does not end at the first sale but continues to generate revenue through repeat business and referrals.

Modern Bowtie Funnels vs. Traditional Marketing Funnels

There are distinct differences between traditional marketing funnels and bowtie funnels. While both follow a four-stage model, the bowtie funnel is designed to align with the complex and non-linear customer journey of the present day.

Traditional AIDA Model

The traditional marketing funnel follows a linear customer journey with the primary goal of closing the sale. It is based on the AIDA structure, which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. This funnel assumes that customers move through these stages and stop once they take action.

The traditional funnel is focused on sales volume and transactional businesses. It fails to account for post-purchase revenue opportunities and does not prioritize building long-term relationships with customers.

Modern Bowtie Model

The modern bowtie funnel, on the other hand, recognizes the importance of customer retention and recurring revenue. It was first used in the travel industry and has since been adapted to various businesses, including SaaS companies. The bowtie funnel consists of two revenue sources: primary revenue during the pre-purchase stage and ancillary revenue during the post-purchase stage.

The modern bowtie model acknowledges that the customer journey is not linear but rather multi-channel and non-linear. It focuses on nurturing relationships with existing customers and generating revenue through upselling, cross-selling, and referrals.

Benefits of Using a Bowtie Funnel

Implementing a bowtie funnel strategy offers several advantages for businesses, especially in terms of customer retention and revenue generation.

Retain Customers

One of the main benefits of using a bowtie funnel is the ability to retain customers. Traditional marketing funnels often neglect post-purchase efforts, resulting in a lower chance of selling to existing customers. Studies have shown that the probability of selling to an existing customer is much higher compared to acquiring new prospects. By focusing on customer retention, businesses can drive revenue from their existing customer base.

Drive Profits from Customer Success

Customer retention is closely tied to profitability. Improving customer retention by just 5% can lead to a significant increase in profits. Unlike traditional marketing funnels that focus on customer acquisition and conversions, bowtie funnels allow businesses to upsell and cross-sell products to existing customers with less resource investment. By nurturing relationships throughout the customer journey, businesses can drive profits from customer success.

Save Money and Increase Customer Lifetime Value

Marketing to existing customers is more cost-effective compared to acquiring new customers. The cost of acquiring new customers can be significantly higher, making customer retention a more efficient way to generate revenue. By shifting the focus from acquiring new customers to retaining existing ones, businesses can save money and increase customer lifetime value.

Gather More Valuable Data on the Customer Journey

Bowtie funnels provide businesses with the opportunity to gather valuable data on the customer journey. By tracking customers and measuring various metrics such as customer lifetime value, churn rate, retention rate, and repeat purchase ratio, businesses can gain insights into customer behavior and preferences. This data can help make data-driven decisions and improve the overall customer experience.

Implementing a Bowtie Funnel Strategy

To implement a successful bowtie funnel strategy, businesses can follow these key steps:

Step 1: Measure Current Customer Retention Marketing Efforts

Evaluate your current marketing funnel and assess your existing customer retention efforts. Measure the effectiveness of these efforts and determine if any revisions or refinements are needed. This step sets the foundation for implementing a bowtie funnel strategy.

Step 2: Collect Extensive Sets of Customer Data

Collect detailed customer data that can be used to make informed decisions. Set journey touchpoints, select key performance indicators (KPIs), and predict customer behavior based on the data collected. This data will help drive the bowtie funnel strategy and improve the customer experience.

Step 3: Get All Teams on Board

Break down departmental silos by ensuring that all teams, including sales, marketing, and customer service, are aligned and have access to the same customer data. Collaboration and communication between teams are essential for the success of the bowtie funnel strategy.

Step 4: Tailor Strategy to Each Stage

Tailor the bowtie funnel strategy to each stage of the customer journey. For example, during the Conversion or Selection Stage, focus on building customer confidence and providing personalized offers. In the Brand Ambassador Stage, reward loyal customers with exclusive content and incentives. Each stage requires a unique approach to maximize customer retention and drive revenue.

Step 5: Emulate Competitors but Stand Out

Stay informed about competitor strategies and industry trends. While it’s helpful to take inspiration from competitors, it’s crucial to differentiate your brand and offerings. Find ways to stand out and provide a unique value proposition to customers.


The traditional marketing funnel is no longer sufficient for businesses aiming for long-term success. Bowtie funnels offer a more effective and innovative approach to customer retention and revenue generation. By implementing a bowtie funnel strategy, businesses can nurture customer relationships throughout the entire journey and drive profits from customer success. By following the steps outlined in this article, businesses can successfully implement a bowtie funnel strategy and ensure long-term customer success.

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