Guide to customer lifecycle marketing

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all! “ - Michael Lebouef

A business doesn’t run on just acquiring one customer after the other. It’s about keeping them satisfied for their entire lifecycle. From the minute they come to your website, you want to deliver the best experience possible and keep your customers happy till the foreseeable future.  

Customer lifecycle marketing is the marketing strategy that you create for the entirety of your customer’s experiences. Identify similar behaviors, find common attributes, provide personalized experiences, and keep customers for life. In this guide, let’s take an in-depth look at what lifecycle marketing is?

What is customer lifecycle marketing?

Although it might seem so, customer lifecycle marketing isn’t just another process of customer relationship management (CRM). Lifecycle marketing focuses on your customers from the moment they hear about you and tracks their experience, interaction, and engagement with your brand. In other words, the customer lifecycle involves analyzing the relationship your customers share with you. Creating a lifecycle marketing strategy by identifying the different stages your customer goes through helps refine your communication and prioritize channels and touchpoints that are most effective. By doing so, you can personalize your message and product to maximize your reach, grow your business, create everlasting relationships, and retain customers who will be your brand advocates forever. 

Understanding and following the journey your customer takes with your brand is the foundation of customer lifecycle marketing. By analyzing this data, you can ensure that all the teams in your organization are directed towards the same marketing goal, which is crucial if you’re looking at converting existing customers further and delighting them to create advocates to acquire more customers in the future.

Why is it important? 

The customer goes through different experiences at each stage of their lifecycle. Perhaps, a prospect became aware of your brand, came on your website, and interacted with you, didn’t like their experience, and bounced off. Maybe they loved the experience and have been a customer of yours for ten years. For the entire duration, a customer is in contact with you, is that customers’ lifecycle. 

Understanding every phase of the customer’s journey with you becomes critical so you can come up with stage-wise appropriate lifecycle marketing strategies to tackle specific customer issues. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is a thing of the past. Every customer today wants to be treated special, and there are so many channels that they come from, that it’s practically impossible to keep them happy with a single approach. 

By using customer lifecycle marketing, your customers will feel valued, heard, and taken care of. A study shows that 64% of companies agree that customer experience is the best way to improve customer lifetime, closely followed by better use of data and personalization. The best way to do this is by understanding the lifecycle of your customer parameters.

Different stages of customer lifecycle marketing

There are seven essential stages of a customer lifecycle, which every customer goes through generally. These stages need to be documented and analyzed. Understanding how you can convert and nudge the customer in every stage of their lifecycle will be more beneficial to your business than approaching them as a one-time-only customer. The goal of your business should be to attract new customers, convert potential and inactive customers, and turn existing customers into brand ambassadors. Now let’s understand each stage individually:

AWARENESS

At this stage, you’ve managed to reach your customers on one of the channels, and they are finally aware of you. Out of all the marketing messages they consume every day, yours has managed to stand out, and they’ve taken notice of your product and brand. This could’ve happened through various touchpoints like targeted ads, google search, maybe a friend or family recommended your brand, or via online reviews. Your effort to grab the customers’ attention has paid off, and now you need to work on converting them because just awareness of your product is not enough motivation to buy from you.

This is simply the first phase, so if they’ve discovered your brand, chances are they’ve been exposed to other brands too. Based on your findings in this phase, create a unique lifecycle marketing strategy that will work on sustaining the customers’ attention towards you. Once your potential customer is aware, you can nudge them into the next lifecycle stage by engaging with them.

ENGAGEMENT

Now that your potential customers are aware that you exist, it’s time to establish communication and engage with them. Help them understand how you can meet their needs. Most customers will seek information about you by going through your website, contacting a representative, go through top-of-the-funnel content like blog articles. You ought to strike the iron while it’s hot, and send customer engagement campaigns like welcome emails as soon as a prospect leaves their information. A study states that 70% of customers’ buying decisions are based on how they are treated. If you actively communicate and engage with your customers with smart email marketing, they’re more likely to trust you and advance in their journey with your brand. This is also an excellent opportunity for you to understand. get more information on what prospects need, and move them further down the sales funnel.

EVALUATION

By this time in their lifecycle, the prospect is weighing in options between you and a few other competitors. They are aware that they have a need, a pain point, that a brand like yours can fulfill. They’ll fully evaluate and compare the options available and decide a good fit based on their set parameters. By understanding your prospect’s mindset during this phase, you can make their decision favorable to you by ensuring you readily have answers to all their questions. The one thing to keep in mind is that you maintain the same unified response across your platforms, whether through your website or sales representative. Educating them about the uses of your products and services will make them self-reliant and knowledgeable, and give them a sense of satisfaction that they have all the information they need to make the purchase. During this phase, they will do background checks on you too. They will find you on social media or go through online reviews to help them make a decision about your brand. 

PURCHASE

There are many problems and queries that one has while making any purchase. Even if we consider something as digital as eCommerce where transactions are easy and smaller in value, the cart abandonment rate is about 69.57%. With high abandonment rates, there’re problems that need to be addressed. You can nudge your active prospects through the sales funnel by providing online assistance via live chat services and FAQs that answer most of the prospects’ inquiries. 

 There may be a fair share of prospects that fail to convert because of reasons like long shipping time, payment issues, bad experiences, or that your competitor has better prices. You must understand why you lose opportunities so that you’re better equipped to eliminate these problems for your future prospects.

SUPPORT EXPERIENCE

It’s a common misconception that your customer’s journey ends with their purchase. In reality, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% while selling to a new customer is 5-20%.  The marketing effort to keep an existing customer satisfied is less than the efforts put in to capture new customers. How customers feel after their purchase is the real test of how successful you have been in converting them. By providing them with exceptional services and experiences, along with active customer engagement, you win customers for life. By continuously engaging with them even after a purchase, and delivering stellar experiences, you can build everlasting customer relationships.

RELATIONSHIPS FOR LIFE

Building relationships with your customers proves that you genuinely care and value them and not just the revenue they bring in. In this stage, you continue to nurture your relationship with them, making sure they are satisfied. According to a study, 71% of customers end their relationship with a company when they receive poor customer service. In which case, they are back at the start of a new lifecycle, except this time with another brand. Staying customer-obsessed is the best way to retain your customers.  Run loyalty programs to keep your customers engaged, and convert them further. This will help you convert customers into brand advocates, and move them to the next and most fruitful stage.

ADVOCACY

Did you know that 97% of customers look at reviews before buying, and around 92% hesitate to buy a product without online reviews (Source)? The impression you create in the market depends entirely on how satisfied your customers are. This stage brings your customer lifecycle into a full circle, where feedback and online impression influence the prospects’ decisions. These will give you more visibility in the world, and create awareness for new business.

Benefits of customer lifecycle marketing

Analyzing a customer’s lifecycle and creating marketing strategies based on your findings can benefit your organization in many ways. Here are the few rewards you reap from great customer lifecycle marketing.

Make data-driven decisions

You can make informed and data-driven marketing decisions based on what your customers buy, how they interact with your brand, how they feel about you in various stages, their purchase frequency, interests, etc. These insights can be a complete game-changer for making marketing decisions because you can create personalized experiences. You have access to a wealth of data, and analyzing it correctly across the customer lifecycle can give you information to fruitful decisions.

Be highly relevant

Instead of shooting standard emails to your customers, personalize your email marketing strategy based on which stage of the lifecycle your customer is in. It’s evident that customers require a variety of communication delivered to them at the right time to ensure they are fully satisfied, and it varies for every lifecycle stage. Tailoring your messages with the proper context ensures you are relevant to them. 50% of customers are likely to engage with a brand when they receive attractive offers tailored to their interests.

Be customer-focused

Businesses that are customer- focused enjoy the long-lasting attention of their customers. This process ensures that your marketing efforts are in sync with the goals of your business. By focusing on improving your customers’ experience, you automatically increase customer loyalty, retention, and profits become a byproduct of the process.

Have a competitive advantage

With an intelligent analysis of your customer’s journey, you can build on a more durable and robust marketing strategy that will help you stay ahead of your competition. With the data you have, your goal will be to ensure high-quality customer satisfaction and experiences that shape the customer’s behavior and purchasing pattern.

Conclusion

Customer lifecycle marketing is a process that helps businesses sustain their target market in the long run. The lifecycle process is cyclical; it means that the journey your customer undertakes with you never ends unless they are dissatisfied with the service provided to them, and leave your product/service. The main aim of this process is to build a customer base that is loyal to your brand and will help potential customers with any clarifications they might have. In these situations, your customers become influencers and brand ambassadors, and that’s the ultimate aim - to earn customers for life.