In recent years some marketers have tried to weld "loyalty" or "advocacy" onto the bottom of the sales funnel, others have tried to "flip" the funnel, and many have longed to bury the funnel entirely -- all in an effort to find a model that better reflects the ongoing relationships between companies and their customers. Our research shows a four-stage customer life cycle best sums up how customers interact with companies. First customers discover a product or service; then they explore it in greater detail; next they buy the product or service; and after purchase they engage with the company from which they bought, as well as with other customers. If companies create positive engagements they can drive new discovery -- either by introducing existing customers to additional products or by leveraging satisfied customers to pass the word along to others. No piece of the model is naturally more important than any other. Many established marketers who prefer to focus on reach channels; often, emerging marketers want to emphasize relationship channels. But each set of channels - reach and depth and relationship - takes the lead at a different stage of the customer life cycle. If you focus just on one part of the model, you'll be less able to guide your customers through their journey. Get the full story at the Forrester Blog