The traditional funnel model, born in 1924 in a radically different world, has guided marketing for decades, but today it is time to put that old perspective aside. We live in an era of an abundance of information and ways to reach it, and because of this we must wear new glasses to interpret the consumer journey.
The traditional funnel model views the buying process as a linear path with clear and distinct stages from awareness to purchase. However, if we think back to the last time we purchased something for the first time, we quickly realize that the reality is much more complex. Users move nonlinearly, jumping back and forth between stages and doing extensive research and using a wide range of tools, before making a decision.
This is where the concept of "messy middle" or elaborated by the team of Google and The Behavioural Architects in 2021 comes in. In the messy middle, consumers are in a continuous phase of exploration and evaluation. They are immersed in a sea of information, comparing products, reading reviews, and seeking insights. This process can take days, weeks or even months, depending on the product or service in question.
A key aspect of the messy middle is the role of cognitive biases. Users are influenced by a range of personal biases and beliefs that may influence their decisions. For example, they may be influenced by the confirmation effect, seeking information that confirms what they already believe, or they may fall victim to anchor bias, making decisions based on incorrect or irrelevant initial information. Understanding and managing these biases intelligently to meet consumers' information needs is essential to a successful strategy.
In this context, user experience (UX) plays a particularly important role. A user's navigation through the messy middle must be intuitive, pleasant, and informative. Websites and apps must be designed to guide users through the process of exploration and evaluation in a smooth manner. It is essential to offer high-quality content and accurate information to help users make informed decisions.
In addition, personalization becomes crucial in UX during the messy middle. Machine learning algorithms can analyze user behavior and offer highly relevant content and suggestions. This can help overcome cognitive bias, providing users with a more balanced view of available options.
In conclusion, the traditional funnel model is no longer adequate to describe the consumer journey in the age of information abundance. The messy middle offers a more accurate and comprehensive perspective in which users continuously explore and evaluate. Understanding cognitive bias and investing in the user experience becomes essential to succeed in this complex environment. Only by adopting this new perspective and adapting our marketing strategies can we hope to make a meaningful impact on today's consumers.