The AIDA model has been used for centuries to describe and guide customer paths. With the changes in marketing, advertising, and now technology, the AIDA model and its use have changed and evolved as well.
New Paths to Conversions and Purchase
When the AIDA model was first created, the purchase funnel was linear: you attracted the attention of the customer, gained their interest, then their desire for the product, before they finally took action and bought the product.
For more information on the AIDA model and purchase funnels, check out our brief history of marketing funnels.
Today, there are multiple levels of engagement and interaction with brands is more direct and faster than ever before. Customers have access to more information and resources with new technology: instant access to brands via social media and their websites.
According to Forrester, 53% of U.S. online consumers research products online that they’ll later purchase in the store. Rather than taking a straight path towards the purchase, customers take a non-linear path filled with research, reflection and interaction beforehand.
So what does this mean? During the research phase of a customer’s journey, new or unknown brands become known and new information is taken into consideration while making decisions. It is at this point (the research phase) in the traditional AIDA funnel model that the funnel would narrow, but the opposite happens in the current AIDA model – the funnel gets wider or turns non-linear (like a curly cue straw).
Because of this deviation, you must think outside of the traditional marketing funnel. A traditional funnel neglects a customer’s lifetime value and profit. The model is purely volume-based, representing a sale as a sale and a customer as a customer and nothing more.
To take into account the non-linear funnel of the present, ask yourself: What can you do to improve your marketing activities and results with this in mind?
With this new customer path in mind, tailor your content based on the funnel. Guide them through each step with your copywriting, content creation and social media presence. Cover the customer’s awareness, interest, desire and action regarding your brand.
To do this, put yourself in the visitor’s shoes – each is on your website, blog or social media with a particular goal in mind. Use the tools available to get information about visitors (surveys, interviews, and social media) and provide the shortest path to their need.
Keep in mind the growing use of mobile, especially with Millennials, and how this might impact your customer’s path and marketing funnel.
Thinking of the customer path, use social media conversions such as newsletter sign-ups, social media likes, follows, and shares as opportunities to give your leads useful, quality content. Cover the funnel stages and nurture your leads.
By doing this, you’ll get SEO benefits and more visitors at a particular place in their journey through the funnel. You’ll also receive benefits to your social media presence, build a community around your brand, and make lead nurturing more effective.
How-to: Put the Customer into the Center of the AIDA Model
It is clear that new customer paths towards purchase center around the customer versus the product or marketing itself. This means you have to put the customer at the center of your AIDA model. Does this mean we bury the marketing funnel and introduce a new model?
A new model that focuses on the customer, not on the marketing itself and covers the customer life-cycle to provide a better fit with modern marketing? We think you can have it both ways.
While changes to the traditional AIDA marketing funnel model are necessary, it does not need to be thrown out entirely. A new model can be built upon the AIDA foundations. A model that is non-linear would cover:
- Discovery: awareness, interest, desire
- Exploration: interest, desire, action
- Purchase: interest, desire, action
- Engagement: desire, action and beyond (think retention)
Notice that the “stages” are similar, at least from your customer’s point of view, but much more interconnected.
It might help to look at the customer life cycle in a different way. Think of it as the customer’s relationship with a brand as the customer engages in the product experience by discovering new options, exploring needs, and making purchases. Taking this approach puts the customer at the center of your marketing to create an entire brand experience and relationship with the brand.
The Customer Life Cycle Will Give Your Customers the Total Brand Experience
With the customer life cycle model, marketing is continuous and surrounds the customer with a total brand experience across four mentioned relationship phases: discovery, exploration, purchase, and engagement.
This incorporates the solid foundation of the AIDA model while creating a non-linear marketing funnel centrally focused on the customer’s journey towards purchase given current customer paths. Optimizing your funnel with this model will increase conversion while also providing a more solid experience for first-time and repeat customers alike.