Design 4

Narratives of space and time and experience

Traditional Marketing Funnel


There are variations for the marketing funnel, but generally, some “marketing endeavor” creates awareness and interest, and a “salesperson” completes the sale. Ultimate conversion is accomplished by sales, not marketing. The sales force relies on marketing to generate qualified leads.

So the old marketing funnel generally followed some version of this pattern:

Awareness > Research/Consideration > Purchase / Conversion


AIDA = Awareness > Interest > Desire > Action

AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) is a self-explanatory sequential marketing process established in 1898 when first coined by E. St. Elmo Lewis who created the AIDA marketing funnel model for the life insurance sales industry.

The objective in selling any product from a pack of chewing gum to a car is to convince the prospect that your product or service is of greater value to her than the cash or available credit she now has. However, a distinct and sequential process of persuasion must be implemented prior to the customer agreeing to trade her cash for your offering.

The AIDA model describes the basic process by which people become motivated to act on a purchase and is based on external stimuli from sales representatives. This motivation to make a purchase depends on:

  1. AWARENESS of the existence of a product or service;
  2. INTEREST in paying attention to the product’s benefits;
  3. DESIRE for the product.

Lewis held that the fourth stage or mental state, ACTION, was a natural result of moving through the first three stages — that desire leads to action, i.e.

  1. Are you talking to me?
  2. Why are you talking to me?
  3. Good idea, but do I really need it?
  4. What will I have to do to get it?

With the widespread adoption of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in the 1990’s, marketers began focusing more on loyalty or customer retention and brought the funnel one level deeper.

Awareness > Interest > Desire > Action > Retention

While AIDA has provided a good rationale for the sales driven process; since the model takes the view that the sales person rather than the buyer has the most control in the interaction, this model may not be adequate to anticipate the needs and behaviors of a consumer who today has access to multiple channels to research, try, buy and advocate for or against an issue or brand.

Widespread access to technology and the internet, and specifically the rise of social media is changing the way that marketers and organizations relate to their constituents. Organizations can no longer rely on the monologue of one-way communications with passive consumers (aka traditional channels like TV advertising). Today there is a need to communicate in a dialogue with constituents on multiple platforms, using multiple tactics.

Some believe that the funnel is an out dated model that is still rooted in top down communications. Experience designers coming out of product design and interaction design (web, software, interface) have used tactics that look at the entire experience, or the life cycle of a constituent to create better design solutions.

Many marketers have adopted this model to help create more effective design and marketing strategies. This gets more complicated because it requires a broader multidisciplinary design team that may include the traditional creative team (visual designer + copy writer) as well as newer creative disciplines like interaction or experience designers, and a bevy of strategic disciplines from research, production, technology and business strategy.

This approach also presents a less rigid and potentially more complex but flexible approach to examining a and designing for a person’s experience with a brand.

Customer Life Cycle

According to Steven Noble’s article It’s Time To Bury The Marketing Funnel in Forbes, the customer life cycle describes a customers’ relationship with a brand as they continue to discover new options, explore their needs, make purchases, and engage with the product experience and their peers.

We see this model as a better fit for how marketing leaders conceive, execute and measure in the 21st century for three key reasons: It puts the customer at the center of marketing; it involves the entire brand experience; and it describes an ongoing relationship. Most importantly, the customer life cycle recognizes that marketing is continuous and surrounds the customer with the total brand experience across four relationship phases. By doing so, the model simultaneously addresses key issues in customer psychology and experience, marketing mix performance, and business value creation.

The four phases include: Discover > Explore > Buy > Engage

Discover: Every customer must discover a brand, product category, or personal need–the initial trigger that leads to a new or repeat purchase. Customers are quicker to discover brands through positive WOM as well as good distribution media.

Explore: In this phase, customers explore the brand–and their options. When visiting an online store or handling products in a well-crafted shop environment, customers are immersing themselves in the explore phase. For example, when buying a car, this might involve long conversations with salespeople and friends, multiple web searches, test drives, and many other thoughtful events–all critical aspects of the brand experience.

Buy: Customer experiences during this phase include product availability, inventory lookup, and satisfaction with the checkout process. It also includes the actual price paid, the perceived value, and the experience with the sales channel if there is a problem. Whether the sale is via an online store like or direct from the manufacturer’s site, the marketer must stay close to the brand experience in these channels, including in-store customer service and the call center.

Engage: After buying a product or service, customers engage with brands in several ways. To inspire loyalty and word or mouth (WOM), companies must engage the customer regardless of the touch points the customer uses.




The aforementioned process sounds allot AIDA doesn’t it? So how might this change in the semantics provide for more flexibility and effectiveness to enable a design team to create better experiences?


Below is a traditional life cycle information graphic using time, and location to map out the progression of the growth of an insect.

A complete yearlong life cycle of the Popillia japonica Newman (the Japanese Beetle) L. Hugh Newman, Man and Insects (London, 1965), pp. 104-105. Cited by Edward R. Tufte, (1991) p.110.
Tufte, Edward R. (1991) Envisioning InformationGraphics Press. Cheshire, Connecticut

Using the life cycle information graphic model, lets look at a few examples of process flow information graphics that move away from the funnel and allow for a more nuanced and flexible approach to mapping out an experience.

Highlevel consumer experience flow that maps anticipated behaviors.


Detailed and illustrative consumer experience specific to the experience of looking for banking services. Notice that it explores multiple and detailed anticipated behaviors, which reveals a more opportunities to create effective design experiences.


Here is an interesting user experience diagram that maps out the experience of a person interacting with the social-photo sharing website Flickr.


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This entry was posted on 2012 April 24 by in Business, Design, Information Design, Interaction Design, Strategy.

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Welcome to the Design 4 Blog

This blog is for inspiration and education related to the Parsons Design 4 Information Design and Visualization course taught by Andrew Robinson. The objectives of this class are to help students in the Strategic Design Studies program to learn how to create effective information design as a tool for communication. Beauty in form and function, which communicates ideas effectively, is our goal.
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