Back in 1898, Elias St. Elmo Lewis needed to explain how people buy stuff so he created the purchase funnel. The model starts with customers considering a set of brands and moves linearly through a series of narrowing choices that leads to purchase.
But good ole’ St. Elmo never could have imagined how powerful and connected people would become in the age of social, mobile and digital commerce. Unfortunately many organizations are still set up based around the outdated funnel model.
Thankfully, sophisticated ways of thinking are emerging for brand marketers to navigate this landscape which are less linear and more complex. Here are a couple of more evolved models…
McKinsey developed this circular model with the understanding that customers don’t just come in through the top and pop out the bottom. But rather they move through an ongoing set of touchpoints before, during and after the purchase.
The Customer Decision Journey covers the most important parts of the journey.
- Consider an initial set of brands.
- Evaluate information to expand and then narrow choices.
- Buy a product based on a final decision.
- Experience the product and create expectations that will inform a subsequent purchase.
- Advocate for (or against) the product or service based on the experience
- Bond with the brand, which that leads to repeat purchases.
Forrester Research created the Customer Life Cycle model to show multiple entry points where customers jump into the buying process and move around between stages.
“The customer life cycle involves the entire brand experience, from messaging to product usage and ongoing interactions, and incorporates the ongoing relationship firms must have with customers.”
This framework takes an overall view of the brand relationship with the customer and promises to reduce the costs of customer acquisition and improve lifetime value by…
- Involving the entire brand experience
- Putting the customer at the center of the marketing effort
- Describing the ongoing relationship between the brand and the consumer.
I appreciate how this takes a holistic view of designing brand experiences by overlapping it with the Customer Journey Map. Using these two together creates a macro-micro view of the customer experience across all touch points which allows for identifying moments of truth and informing the experience strategy.
Where’s the Post Purchase Experience in the Funnel?
The old model cut off at the point of purchase, which is where the marketing work really begins now. The post-purchase experience shapes people’s opinion by inspiring loyalty and leading to repeat purchases.
Marketers have always been aware of customer considerations for buying. Yet marketing has fundamentally failed to change with the customer evolution. The shift in consumer behavior and decision-making presents an opportunity for marketers to be in the right place at the right time so they can give people the information and incentives needed to make the right decision.