Direct & Integrated Marketing Roundtable

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Purchase Funnel, Then and Now

The purchase funnel was first developed in 1898 by E. St. Elmo Lewis as a theoretical customer journey from the first point of contact with a brand to the final purchase decision.  As consumers traverse through the funnel the numbers lessen.  This is due to the fact that of all who first become aware of the brand, relatively few actually convert.  Understanding how changes in our marketing strategies at each of these steps impacts the bottom line is key to the success of any business.   Pre web and social media or post, the basics are still the same.

As shown in Figure 1 below, the marketing purchase funnel has been comprised of four main components over the years:  Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.  This is known as AIDA.  What has mostly influenced the decisions at each stage were brand initiated and included such things as in store demos, TV and print ads, FSI's, coupons and billboards.

 Figure 1:  Purchase Funnel Pre Social Media

Due to the introduction of the web, search engines and social media, the definition of each are changing as is the relationship of each of these to one another.  However, the basic funnel concept still works.  Let’s discuss each of these concepts further in today’s world.

Awareness in today’s world has totally changed due to Social Media.  No longer are we made aware by simple push messages.  Brands are pulling us in and telling us what they have to offer.  And in some cases it is not even the brand that is directly making us aware of a product but rather our friends who are sharing their experiences with us on social media sites.

How a brand keeps our interest is also totally different thanks to retargeting of online ads or tailored web experiences due to cookie drops.

Once we have gained product awareness and shown sustained interest, a brand has many more options today to move us further along that path in order to increase our desire to buy.  Years ago we would have to call to request a sample or go into an automobile showroom to talk pricing.  Today those are no longer the only options available.

And then of course there is the purchase action.  Money is still needed for this to take place, but what has changed is how we can share our purchase experiences (good or bad) with our friends and family.  We can become advocates and make others aware of the product on behalf of the brand.

The new funnel is being depicted in many forms by various companies like Forrester Research as shown below in Figure 3. 

Figure 3:  New Model by Forrester Research

What this figure shows nicely is the “disruption” being caused in the purchase cycle by the abundance of information we can now gather at every step of the purchase process.
But at a high level the “funnel” concept still works.  It shows nicely how as consumers move along that journey their numbers lessen.  

Keep in mind, the funnel never was meant to depict a linear path.  What is vastly different today are the experiences or options we have at each of those steps from a marketers and consumers perspective.   What the funnel looks like today is as shown in Figure 3 below.  As you can see there are now many more things affecting the purchase decision.

Figure 3:  The New Purchase Funnel Post Social Media

The biggest difference in today’s world is advocacy.  Brands need advocates for their products.  They need to create them, find them and foster a good relationship with them.  Why?  Because they who the consumer turns to in order to gain information prior any purchase consideration.  Based on a recent Nielsen report, 92% of people trust brand advocates.  Remember, as said prior, control has shifted to the consumer in so many regards.  This makes brands a bit nervous.  Understanding that shift, as Sephora has done, and capitalizing on it will ensure a strong customer base full of advocates for your brand or offering for years to come.

I would love to hear your comments.

Perry D. Drake
Professor of Social and Digital Media
University of Missouri - St. Louis

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Don’t Let Your Online Profile be Hijacked!

Yesterday KMOV News 4 here is St. Louis contacted me about a local women who’s profile had been hijacked on Facebook.  Her estranged husband had created a fake Facebook account in her name and began posting inappropriate photos of her and posting inappropriate messages on others walls.  She did not know what to do nor could the police assist.  So she contacted News 4 for help.  And, they in turn, contacted me about her options.

 Figure 1:  Perry Interviewed on News 4

As I reveal in my interview (Link: http://bit.ly/16w31Ix) there are a few things you can do if you find yourself in a similar situation in full or in part.

First of all you can report any photo others are posting as spam by simply clicking on the photo and then in the options, click “Mark as Spam” as Figure 2 below shows. 

 Figure 2:  Reporting a picture as Spam.

Secondly you can mark any Facebook account as spam also.  Simply go to the Facebook page and in the drop down click on “Report/Block.”  Facebook will ask you a few other questions as to why you are reporting the account as spam.  See Figure 3.

Figure 3:  Reporting an account as Spam.

 If you find yourself being tagged in a photo that you rather not be tagged in, you can remove that tag.  It is quite simple.  All you do is click on the picture and then click on ”Report/Remove Tag” as shown in Figure 4 below.  After all, Facebook realizes that you may not want to be tagged in that old high school picture that your best friend just posted.  So Facebook gives you that option. 

Figure 4:  Untagging yourself in a picture you were tagged in..

And do not forget that you can also remove posts others make on your wall.  After all it is your wall.  So you can remove whatever you deem appropriate to remove.  Guard your Facebook page carefully.  It is a representation of who you are what you stand for.  If someone posts something on your wall that might be viewed by others as offensive or politically incorrect, remove it.  I monitor my Facebook wall very carefully and do occasionally remove posts.  I take no chances.  As Figure 5 below shows, if I did not like one of the posts one of my friends made regarding a picture I posted, all I do is move my mouse over the upper right hand corner of the post I wish to remove and click “Remove.”  Not to worry, your friend will not be notified.

Figure 5:  Removing a post made by others on your wall.

On Twitter you can also report spammers.  If someone is following you that is spammy or sending you spammy tweets I recommend you report them.  Just go to their account page and click on the drop down and select “Report for Spam.”  See Figure 6 below for how to do this.
 Figure 6:  Reporting a Twitter account as spam.

To view my YouTube video of me demonstrating these features click on the link below associated with Figure 7.

Figure 7:  Facebook Security Settings Youtube Video

Believe it or not, approximately 9% of the 1 billion Facebook accounts are fake according to documents filed by Facebook themselves with the Security Exchange Commission not that long ago:

  • 4.8% are duplicate accounts we make for our professional and personal personas
  • 2.4% are accounts we make for our dog or cat or some other non human entity
  • 1.5% are created to be spammy or do malicious things
Be proactive and monitor your name usage regularly with the help of Google Alerts.  To receive notifications anytime Google notices your name being used, set up a Google Alert by inputting your name in quotes (see Figure 8 below).  When it shows up anywhere on the web, Google will send you an email.  This is a nice and easy way to keep an eye on your “brand” and how it is being used

Figure 8:  Using Google Alerts to monitor your name or brand.

If you find yourself dealing with a stalker or a cyber bully, follow these steps:

  1. Never engage with them online.
  2. Document everything they are doing by saving emails and taking screen shots of the posts they are making on Facebook
  3. Report them immediately to Facebook or Twitter as discussed above
  4. Block them from seeing your posts going forward and writing on your wall (using the Facebook Privacy Setting) or as last resort “unfriend” them.

Bottom line, be proactive.  In this new digital world we are very vulnerable to others hijacking our personal data and personas.  But we can minimize that risk by checking our virtual presence regularly and being careful who we friend.  

I hope you find this article helpful.