Purchase Funnels 2.0

The purchase funnel has been around since the very first human commercial transaction, but it was only identified once social scientists and marketers began to dissect the behaviors and emotions that lead one to transact and with whom. Ever since, it has been a core tenet of marketing – my own awareness of the purchase funnel came on the first day of my first marketing class in college, just after the presentation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

But in recent years the standard purchase funnel has faced some opposition as marketers become more precise with their efforts to make people customers; drafting the skills of ethnographers and anthropologists to further define and illustrate how people behave as consumers.

Forrester recently published a report eschewing the traditional funnel for a model that’s based upon engagement. Scott Weisbrod has a nice recap here with the illustrations and Forrester’s suggested model for measuring engagement. Meanwhile David Armano proposes a marketing spiral that takes the idea of engagement into consideration. It seems everyone has their own take on the the old funnel these days, including us.

Our proposed evolution of the purchase funnel comes out of our study of CGC‘s influence on consumer behavior – leading up to the purchase as it is consumed as part of the consideration and research phases, and subsequently created after the purchase when the individual consumer shares her experience with the product.

Purchase Funnel

This model places a greater emphasis on the purchase funnel as the experience of an individual intertwined with the funnels of many others. It’s a critically important point, because of the ease with which the experience is shared via online WOM — and the influence that this shared experience has on another others’ purchase behavior, having reached them at a critical time in their own purchase process. It’s not enough to study a single purchase funnel without considering how that purchase funnel intertwines, is influenced and influences the individual purchase funnels of other people.

So who’s right? What is the correct 2.0 version of the purchase funnel? Is the purchase funnel an antiquated model altogether? Or are we all right, in part? Consumers, their behaviors and the new marketplace are perhaps a bit too complex for any one model.

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Click below for links to relevant agency/consulting services:

Social Media & Word-of-Mouth: Monitoring / Analytics / Community Development
Understand and leverage the conversations about your brand. Measure relationships, their strength and growth. Build digital spaces in which your brand advocates and prospects can engage.


Site Conversion Optimization
Continuous improvement of conversion by focusing on dynamic landing pages, conversion optimization and site analytics.


Media Optimization
Ensuring your money follows the best performing sites, messages and prospects.


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About Web Liquid

Web Liquid is a digital marketing agency with offices in London, New York and Lagos.


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