We live in an age that is firmly set on Fast Forward. No sooner is some new technological advancement reached that the blogs spring up like daffodils in the spring determining that it’s already dead. In the case of digital marketing funnels you’ll find no dearth of online articles declaring that it belongs on the scrap heap of history alongside tailfins on cars, rotary dial telephones, and Miley Cyrus’ modesty. However, the funnel is nowhere near defunct, just think of it as evolved in pretty much the same way that Hannah Montana evolved into… er… whatever that barely clothed tongue-out twerking creature is.

Lifecycle engagement is an evolution, not a new paradigm

The traditional digital marketing funnel is a fairly simple construct. At the top of the funnel you build awareness, at the middle you spark interest, at the bottom you stoke the fires of desire, and the whole shebang (no Miley reference at all there) is devised to conclude with the action which in almost every case is the proceeding to checkout by the customer. The wags who have chiseled out the gravestone for this time-honored process fail to see that the “replacement” which is the process of engagement across the entire customer lifecycle is not a new paradigm but an evolution.

Two characters portrayed by the same person

The customer lifecycle engagement integrates the experience into an albeit more organic form than the traditional funnel but even though you don’t really think of Miley as the old Hannah they are just two characters portrayed by the same person. The prototypical aspects of the customer lifecycle engagement process are:

  • Discovery. This is where customers discover your brand either though active or passive touchpoints. According to Forrester Research, 68% of all online American adults who discover a brand on Facebook do so by sheer accident, while 81% of the ones who have that discovery on a ratings & review site are doing so on purpose.
  • Exploration. Once the brand is discovered, these customers will undergo research on a variety of channels to gain a perspective on it and its competition. The Forrester study shows that 11% of American adults browse product data on their smartphone while in a bricks and mortar store, which makes the necessity of your brand providing that information in an accurate and persuasive manner absolutely critical.
  • Purchasing. The key to ensuring optimal checkout levels is to make the entire process easy and pleasant on the customer. These factors extend to everything from logical and prompt navigation and checkout process all the way to the actual price of the item. The Forrester report revealed that 62% of all consumers will avoid a site where they’ve had an unacceptable customer experience and 52% will steer clear of the bricks and mortar store, so there is no channel your brand utilizes where you can afford to drop the ball.
  • Engagement In the post-sale context, engagement is a process of extending that warm and fuzzy happy feeling by your customer to the point where they simply can’t wait to buy from you again. This process is based upon not only the quality of the item purchased, but also the extent of the customer service interactions you are able to provide when the customer has any question about their purchase.

All this model does is add Post-Sale Engagement

Even though this customer lifecycle engagement model is often shown as a circle rather than an unidirectional funnel, it’s really a case of whether the blonde Hannah wig is on or off. That bland little Disney creation may have turned into a blatant X-rated exhibitionist but it’s still the same person. At it’s essence: Discovery is TOFu, Exploration is MOFu, and Purchasing is BOFu. The only aspect which is added to the bottom of the funnel to turn it into a lifecycle experience is the Engagement stage which happens after the BOFu but then again that’s just good business practice.

Miley went from making a mere $15,000 per Hannah episode to accumulating well over $120 million. Emulating her evolutionary process in your sales approach could have similar beneficial bottom line effects!