The Marketing Funnel And The Customer Life Cycle

Classically trained marketers are familiar with the Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action (AIDA) model of marketing: The funnel description of driving consumer awareness from awareness to interest, to desire or decisions, and then to final actions. This is a very transactional approach to customers, with a beginning, middle, and end point.

Newer concepts, including those promoted by Forrester Research, speak of a more holistic and ongoing customer life cycle. Forrester analysts and others have talked about Reach, Depth and Engagement as the three key phases of a relationship with a consumer across a spectrum of needs, desires and discovery, as well as with their greater social graphs.

Both concepts are critical to understand in the context of smarter content and content marketing as a whole.

Currently, most marketers pay a lot of attention to their paid media in the form of ATL (above the line). Broadcast media like TV, print, radio, and occasionally digital display falls into this category. These are the awareness and interest categories in the AIDA model and the “reach” category in the life cycle model.



Marketers will also focus on BTL (below the line) direct-response vehicles, such as paid search and paid social, to drive further interest, consideration and purchase, or depth and engagement. Email and database marketing are also generally included in these stages and phases.

What's missing? How about considering all the other owned and earned content as part of the AIDA model or the life cycle model?

That's right. Because of the strong focus on the paid modes of advertising, very little emphasis is placed on researching, creating, and analyzing the types of marketer, publisher or consumer-created content that should be used at the “top of the funnel” or in the reach and discovery phases, versus the middle or bottom of the funnel and the depth and engagement phases.   

Have you ever considered what kind of articles and other content are better for reach versus depth? Or is it really that using images is better for awareness and interest, and videos are better for decisions and depth? What kind of content, in what kind of tone -- humorous, educational, and/or serious -- should be targeted to what type of persona at each stage of the customer journey or buying cycle? How do these various pieces of content get discovered through search, share and serendipity? 

These are all questions that marketers are just now waking up to. And it's not about more content -- it's about content that gets found, followed, friended and forwarded. It's about content that helps create itself, and lets you know where it has been, who has seen it or forwarded it, and where it ended up.

That's smarter content -- and that’s what the Gen X CMO and modern digital marketers need to be thinking about, whether the focus is an AIDA funnel model or the customer life cycle model.

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