What is the marketing funnel?
A marketing funnel is a concept that maps out the customer journey—from the customer's awareness of your brand to their purchase of your product. The funnel lets you know what your company must do to influence consumers at each stage of their journey.
Having a means to understand how customers navigate the process in which they make purchase decisions—the buyer’s journey—can optimize marketing efforts and drive revenue.
The Four Stages
Every successive stage in the funnel is a reflection of the customer’s mindset as she inches closer to a purchase and is more cognizant of her problem, and more importantly, your solution.
A Helpful Concept
The funnel is a concept. A framework, if you will. To reduce human behavior to a two-dimensional graphic and strictly adhering to it is myopic. However, the funnel is a useful tool to understand the way in which the majority of your customers operate when making a purchase and subsequently can help drive your core marketing efforts by:
- Helping you better understand your customer’s needs and desires
- Accelerating customer purchase cycles
- Identifying conversion rate issues
- Optimizing campaign performance
- Facilitating sales and marketing automation initiatives
The Need for Advocacy
Lewis’ general concept hasn’t changed much and the elements of the funnel remain true for today’s industries. One newer change, however, is the increased focus on the stage after action: advocacy. Advocacy is a key part of today’s marketing; a focus on loyalty improves customer retention, increases revenue in what is perhaps the most efficient way, and underpins any sustainable growth strategy.
Advocacy may seem like a hasty new appendage to Lewis’ model or some 21st century invention to satisfy a marketing fad. It’s not. According to studies by Bain & Company and the Harvard Business School, loyalty has tangible results: a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by >25%.
Your customers are your most effective advocates and revenue drivers. Not only will they spread the word of your product and bring in new entrants to your pipeline, but existing customers are more effective sources of new business, through upsell and cross-sell opportunities. The most successful brands of today seek to drive experiences that will make their customers their ambassadors.
Therefore, appending an extra A to Lewis’ model—AIDAA—is more appropriate.