In the pre-flip days of marketing, the important number to watch was sales. Not just current sales, but projected sales, which you could estimate by tracking customers as they moved from awareness to interest to consideration to intent to evaluation and, finally, to purchase. Over time, you could see that a certain percentage of people from each stage would move to the next, until a very small percentage would drop into the bucket as sales.

This model of measurement, called the purchase funnel, is only helpful if 1) your main goal is to project sales in the short term, 2) customers move toward their purchase in predictable stages, 3) current revenues are more important than brand-building, 4) acquiring customers ...

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