Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Marketing Funnel: how strangers become customers - the 6 stages and key questions

In this post, we'll go over the Marketing Funnel, which illustrates the journey to customer adoption.  I'll define the concept, explain each of its 6 stages, and suggest key questions to ask yourself at each stage about your company's performance.

In future posts I'll explain Marketing Funnel diagnostics and common mistakes companies make.


The traditional marketing funnel - also known as product adoption or customer adoption process - is a five-step process that a consumer goes through before finally buying and adopting a company's product or service.  It starts with a potential customer who is unaware that you or your product even exist, and ends with purchase and adoption.

In a business environment where social media gives customers a voice with tremendous reach, I think it's important to add a sixth stage - Advocacy.  This goes beyond engaging with customers via social media - it's empowering and inspiring customers to be proactive and vocal about how much they like your company and product.


1.  Awareness

You won't be in a customer's consideration set if they don't even know that you exist.  However, it's not just enough for them to know your company's name and brand.  They must learn that you have a product or service to offer.  This is the stage at which "there's no such thing as bad publicity" might apply.
Key questions:  Are you reaching enough potential customers?  What is the first impression you're making on customers as they become aware of you?

2.  Interest

Once the customer knows you're out there, you have to pique their interest enough to make them want to learn more about you and your product.  It's not enough to just have a great product - you have to present it in a way that that is compelling to the customer.
Key question:  Are you prepared and able to provide them with the right information - the kind that will move them further down the marketing funnel - once they seek it?

3.  Evaluation

At this stage, the customer is deciding whether or not you can help them.  They will be using the information they gathered during the "Interest" phase to inform this decision.  You will also be compared against other options and alternatives.
Key question:  Do you have what it takes to stand out and offer a compelling value proposition?

4.  Trial

This is the test drive phase.  You've got the customer interested enough to take your product out for a spin.  It's likely that this is a one-time opportunity to deliver on what you've promised - everything had better be present and working properly during this phase.  Especially for inexpensive products, trial might entail a one-off purchase.
Key question:  Are your company and product prepared to be tested by your customer and come out on top?

5.  Adoption

If all goes well, the customer will vote with their wallet and purchase your product.  But true adoption goes beyond purchase and must include thorough acceptance.  For the inexpensive products described in trial, adoption might mean you're now a regular, repeat purchase.  That requires more than just a great product that just creates value for the customer.  Quality, value, ease-of-use, customer service, and overall customer experience are examples of elements that can drive adoption.
Key question:  Do you offer enough to your customers to drive adoption?

6.  Advocacy

Ideally, your customer will be sufficiently delighted with their experience to proactively and enthusiastically promote your brand and product.  Examples include posting favorable online reviews, promoting you in social media, and participating in customer service forums.
Key questions:  Do you offer the right experience to motivate these behaviors?  Do you provide the platforms to enable this type of advocacy?


The more you understand about how customers make the journey from not knowing who you are to being an enthusiastic, outspoken advocate of your brand, the more you can do to encourage others customers to do the same.  This will also help you understand where you're doing well and how you can improve your performance along the marketing funnel.

1 comment:

  1. I think this article will fully complement you article. PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from Always Open Commerce