In our last blog post, we talked about some of the shortcomings of the traditional marketing funnel (pictured below). In case you need a refresher, here they are:
- It views the customer journey as linear.
- It underestimates the level at which customers guide their own journey.
- It views purchasing as the last stage in a customer journey.
While this tool can be helpful in making marketers think about what ultimately drives a consumer towards making a purchase, more and more marketers are now finding is that it is somewhat inadequate in defining the whole customer journey. The traditional marketing funnel does not give a full, nuanced understanding of the path that customers take in making a decision to purchase. Furthermore, the funnel completely overlooks the second part of the customer journey, which comes after the decision to purchase is made, but is equally as important.
More marketers are finding that there is a need to push what is considered the “finish line” even further down into the funnel, and consider the end goal not to be a purchase, but rather long-term brand advocacy on the part of the customer. What, then, does it take to turn a customer who has made their first purchase into a long-term brand advocate? And is there an image that can represent that journey accurately and adequately?
McKinsey and Company, which is a global management consulting firm, has developed a new model that incorporates the post-purchase journey to provide a better picture of a consumer’s ongoing experience with a brand. This model is called the “loyalty loop”:
As you can see, consumers go through a process of consideration and evaluation before making a decision to purchase. These phases are already defined and explained in the traditional marketing funnel model. The loyalty loop, however, does not consider the point of purchase the endpoint, but rather expands on the customer journey that takes place even after they decide to make the purchase. After a customer purchases a product or service, there are a number of experiences that can impact that customer’s decision to purchase again.
The inner loop in the loyalty loop model represents these experiences that can occur after the customer makes a purchase. Through enjoyment and satisfaction with the product or service, customers may begin to advocate for the product or service and recommend it to friends. In becoming brand advocates, the customer forms a closer tie to the brand and begins to form an emotional connection, or a bond, with the brand. This bond compels the customer to remain in the inner portion of the loyalty loop, continuing to advocate for the brand and continuing to make purchases.
The loyalty loop is important to understand because a huge factor of the success of any brand is whether or not customers become loyal to that brand. When customers become loyal and form a bond with a brand, they become brand advocates, which in and of itself is another form of marketing for the brand. Marketers should strongly consider placing a greater focus on the post-purchase customer journey that the loyalty loop visualizes, and make an effort to engage with customers post-purchase to drive satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.