The Digital Marketing Flywheel

Category: Primitive Social digital marketing

Written by: Lacey Wilcox

Posted on: October 22, 2019

Models are incredibly helpful in many aspects of our life. They give us a picture that helps us to both understand and relate to something. Anyone who has dabbled in budgeting immediately understands what is meant when someone mentions the avalanche or snowball models (hint: they’re different ways of knocking out debt). Most teachers can immediately picture the triangle that represents Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and understand how it relates to the care and education of their students. And marketers immediately understand what is meant by a funnel – the traditional model used to describe marketing, sales, and the generation of new customers.

But the thing about models is that they sometimes have to change to better describe or portray something. Which brings us to that marketing funnel: it’s served us well, but it’s time for a change. Today’s digital consumers no longer follow such a linear path, and they are more empowered and informed than ever before. If you want to reach them with your digital marketing and sales strategy, then you’re going to have to adjust your model. To what, you ask? The flywheel.

What on Earth is a Flywheel?

We’re glad you asked. While it might sound like a fancy mechanism for flying cars, it’s actually something you use every day. While it’s not a wheel like the tires on your car (tricky, we know), it is a mechanism used in your car engine to help your vehicle store and release energy as needed. For a very in-depth look that is way outside my pay grade, check out this video.

The important thing to know is that flywheels allow you to store and release energy. For your business, think of this energy as customer generation and retention. The higher your levels of customer satisfaction, the more likely you are to keep your customers and increase the chances they will tell others about your work.

Why Shift from a Funnel to a Flywheel

While the funnel served its purpose for a season, the reason a shift was needed in our model for digital marketing has everything to do with customers. In a funnel, customers are merely an outcome – this model shows how they can be earned, but there’s nothing to represent what happens after that.

In a flywheel, on the other hand, customers are at the very center of your paradigm. They are the source of energy or forward motion. Marketing, sales, and service all rotate around (and gain energy from) your customers. This means your business has a great opportunity to drive force depending on how you exert your energy and focus. For example, service is a huge opportunity for growth: happy customers who have experienced success are very likely to share about their success with their network, which results in more business for you. Your customers also present a great resource for content creation for both marketing and sales. What questions did they have in their buyer’s journey? What tools, offers, etc. would have been helpful to them in their decision-making process?



A flywheel model also makes it much easier to find and eliminate friction. By its very design, a funnel methodology presents many opportunities for bottlenecks because movement is much more linear and narrow. With a flywheel methodology, it’s much more evident where friction is stopping your energy and easier to fix it. 

How to Make the Shift to a Flywheel

Before you start building a brand new website or throwing out your old marketing materials, first consider adjusting your perspective. How can you focus first on your customers with your content, marketing, and sales process? Talk to some of your most loyal customers: what change would they recommend in your positioning and your process to better serve both future and current customers?

Consider as well your prospects’ buyer’s journey. What could you change to make information more accessible to prospects? Does a visit to your homepage present specific ways to engage prospects at different levels of readiness? For example, some customers come to your website and are eager to pull the trigger – is there a chatbot, landing page, or resource available to them? What about for customers who are just starting to feel out your business as an option? Do you have a homepage offer that provides helpful information right at their fingertips?

Ready to Get Rolling?

How would your marketing and communication change if your customer was at the center of everything you do? What would it mean for your business growth if you shifted from a funnel mentality to a flywheel one? 

Ready to get started on making the flywheel work for your business? Download our free ebook, Creating a Healthy Ecosystem, below. All 52 pages are jam-packed with everything we know about creating a digital environment built to serve your customers and grow your business.

Creating a Healthy Digital Ecosystem | Download Free Ebook