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Back in December, I wrote a blog entitled “Outcome Based Marketing: Who’s Doing it?” I had a number of helpful conversations with readers (thank you) through the MindTree web site; as well as through LinkedIn.

One of the conclusions I came away with is that the traditional marketing funnel has become outdated, as it doesn’t reflect the customer-centric marketing approach that many of us have adopted. Marketers need to become more comfortable with this fact and adopt a framework that is relevant and effective in measuring 21st century marketing activities.

Increasingly prospects are taking a nonlinear approach in getting to know your company. There is a plethora of touch points before “commitment” with an executive; and an equal number of channels that are in play today.

Take this example below. How would you determine which of these activities led to a prospect to become a client (i.e. commitment)?

Marketing funnel I

Traditional Marketing Funnel

In the traditional marketing funnel, there are usually three steps in the sales cycle before commitment (sales): awareness, interest and evaluation. Some of these touches align easily to the steps. For example, the first touch point is usually awareness. But then it becomes murky for marketers. When did the prospect move from awareness to interest? Was it when he/she received the follow-up email? Or maybe when they browsed the web site?

Does it even matter?

Forrester Research writes about creating a Customer Life Cycle (CLC) that is better at matching customer activities to your marketing approach. One of the models I have read about in their recent research looks like this:

Marketing funnel II

Customer Life Cycle

What makes this model more attractive than the traditional marketing funnel is that it is easier to map the touch points to the 4 stages of the Customer Life Cycle. It is also more flexible – one could have many touch points in “Explore, Buy and Engage” (usually there is only one touch point, the first, that gets credited with “Discover”). However, to me the best part about Forrester’s CLC model is that it is an outcome based model that puts the focus on the customer and shows the importance of retention activities like loyalty – creating raving fans and repeat purchase.

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