Follow a Customer's Journey as He or She Actually Behaves | CMO Strategy – Advertising Age

En route to a purchase, customers use TV ads, websites, word of mouth, stores, loyalty programs, at different stages. Marketing must see the world as they do.

Poor Elias St. Elmo Lewis. When he first described the sales funnel more than 100 years ago, he was trying to map the path a single customer took to a single purchase. Little did he know how badly we’d one day abuse his model.

In recent years some marketers have tried to weld “loyalty” or “advocacy” onto the bottom of the funnel, others have tried to “flip” the funnel, and many have longed to bury the funnel entirely — all in an effort to find a model that better reflects the ongoing relationships between companies and their customers.

Our research shows a four-stage customer life cycle best sums up how customers interact with companies. First customers discover a product or service; then they explore it in greater detail; next they buy the product or service; and after purchase they engage with the company from which they bought, as well as with other customers. If companies create positive engagements they can drive new discovery — either by introducing existing customers to additional products or by leveraging satisfied customers to pass the word along to others.

If we take a new approach to understanding the customer journey, of course, we need to rethink how we market to customers in that journey.

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