Should You Ditch The Marketing Funnel and Choose the Bowtie Method?

Navy blue bowtie with rocketships

Gary Malhotra, VP of SEO and Self Serve at TapClicks, was interviewed by Sure Oak for their Agency Podcast. Check out the video here. We're including some of the core ideas from the 15 min expert interview. The original interview can be found at Sure Oak.

Gary Malhotra VP Marketing and Customer Experience

Marketing's Most Important Metric

Rather than focusing on the numerous metrics associated with traditional marketing efforts, Gary suggests adopting a revenue-centric mindset. Revenue, he says, should be your marketing team's most important metric. If your current strategy isn't bringing in the right amount of revenue, change it, because revenue is what keeps a business going.

What does this mean for your marketing strategy? Here's an example.

In most marketing organizations, only 5-10% of backlinks from influencers contribute to 80-90% of your total influencer revenue. Instead of increasing your total number of influencers' backlinks, you should double down on the group of influencers that are actually providing revenue. Give them case studies or product roadmaps to work with, get their feedback on upcoming products, and make them work harder and smarter for you so they can bring in even more revenue.

By focusing on currently existing revenue streams, you will improve not only your marketing costs but also the amount of revenue and business you're bringing in.

The Horizontal Bowtie

Marketing has changed, and the metrics you focus on need to change with it. That means shifting your mindset from the traditional image of a vertical funnel to one of a horizontal bowtie.

On the left side of the bowtie are new customers coming into your business. They then convert in the middle and expand outward toward upsell revenue. This is where focusing on existing revenue streams comes in. It's much easier and more effective to get additional revenue from existing customers than new customers. The more you can increase revenue from these established streams, the more you'll affect your company's total revenue.

Granted, determining which factors in your marketing strategy will have the largest effect on your total revenue can be difficult. To help make your available data valuable, Gary provided suggestions for factors to focus on on each side of the bowtie.

Left Side of the Bowtie (New Customers)

  • Buying intent data What does prospects' activity on Google and your website tell you about their intent to buy?
  • Lookalike data What do your current best customers look like, and what prospects look like them? Those lookalikes are prime targets for sales.
  • Clickstream data What is the path to purchase when discovering your website? What is the path to purchase once potential customers click through to your website?
  • Attribution data/Multi-channel campaign data Where are most of your most valuable leads and customers coming from? What types of campaigns and channels have proven to be most valuable to your total revenue?

Right Side of the Bowtie (Current Customers)

  • Customer support tickets What are the biggest issues your current customers are facing? When customers cancel, what are their reasons?
  • User reviews What are people saying about your services/product and market? Are there any major issues you can work on to increase customer retention and upsells?

Data Visualization Tactics

Once you've collected the data above, it's important to visualize it all in terms of your horizontal bowtie. The data visualization tactics you utilize can have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

There are 3 contexts in which you'll want to visualize your data.

  1. Reporting marketing performance to an executive When visualizing your data for executives, it's important to present your data more simply. What's the bottom-line? How have your efforts affected revenue thus far, and what is being done to bring in additional revenue? The key to succeeding on this front is to be able to determine what efforts are successful and replicate that success on another platform. This will often be shown with simple charts and linear graphs.
  2. Discovering trends in data with peers (discovery mode) Visualizations when you are in discovery mode will often include pivot tables, graphs, HTML and Mobile UI, overall multi-channel views, and contextual linking. Presenting the data in this way will enable you and your team to determine the findings that will be shown to executives and customers.
  3. Making a case for more program budget In this case, you'll be presenting your data visualizations to customers. Unlike executives and your peers, customers aren't interested in your company's bottom-line. They want to know what you're doing to help them. What does your data show about your product or services' impact on users, and why should they invest more in your company? The more your visuals tell a story, the more successful they will be. For these visualizations, you'll often want to use a powerpoint or PDF.

No matter how you choose to present your marketing data, it's important to always maintain a focus on how it affects your total revenue. Executing that data and identifying positive trends will have a more significant impact on your bottom line than a traditional approach to the marketing funnel.


  • The most valuable data is the hardest to get.
  • Metrics associated with the traditional marketing funnel will not always lead to more customers and revenue.
  • A marketer's focus should be on total revenue and the drivers that impact it directly.


  • The horizontal bow-tie is a much better way to visualize the customer journey than the vertical marketing funnel.
  • Total revenue is the most important metric for marketers to monitor.
  • The best data visualizations tell a story and help marketers determine what tactics will have the most effect on total revenue.