Customer Lifecycle Marketing: How to Build a Sales and Marketing Machine

customer lifecycle marketing

Do you know what makes people choose specific brands?

I’ll tell you one thing. It’s not just because of comfort and routine.

We stick to our choices because companies go to great lengths in order to persuade us. From relevant, strategic marketing to amazing customer service. Most likely, this type of brand is empathetic and constantly tries walking in their client’s shoes.

It’s no secret that engaging your customers is crucial to achieving continued sales. Another well known fact is that it’s usually far easier and costs less to get repeat business from existing customers than it is to acquire new ones from scratch.

The customer lifecycle comes from the practice of customer relationship management (CRM). Usually, it’s used to map the different stages a customer goes through from considering a product or service to the actual buy and also the post-purchase stages.

CRM is well established as a process to try to achieve customer retention, customer loyalty and advocacy. But the relationship with your prospect begins today, with the first contact.

What is the Customer Lifetime Value

The Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is a prediction of the total value generated by a customer across the entire customer lifecycle.

CLV is mostly expressed in net profit and comes from a CRM and database marketing background. However, it’s more often used in customer-centric and integrated marketing. In a customer experience context the focus is on long-term customer relationships. 

Benefits of using the customer lifecycle

Using the customer lifecycle and customer lifetime value offers several benefits:

  • lower costs,
  • segmentation,
  • prioritization,
  • better ROI and much more.

It’s all about building long-term relationships. Meeting new people means nothing if you can’t keep them as friends.

You must provide such an experience for your potential client that they will not only purchase but come back again and again.

What is Customer Lifecycle Marketing

It’s a marketing framework illustrating the series of changes that occur as you move a customer through the marketing and sales funnel. In this process you have to provide your audience the types of communications and experiences they need, want, or like as they move from prospects to customers and then, ideally, to advocates.

As a result of the customer being empowered, the stages of the lifecycle are not as linear as they once were. Now they are more fluid and the customer could jump stages in your lifecycle in a non-linear fashion.

By breaking down the different stages of a customer’s journey, customer lifecycle marketing helps marketers map out the touchpoints that are relevant at each stage.

Some of the touchpoints are:

  • Social media,
  • Content marketing,
  • Paid advertising,
  • Marketing automation.

The goal of Customer Lifecycle Marketing

The goal of Customer Lifecycle Marketing is to tailor marketing communication based on the lifecycle stage of the customer. Furthermore, it attempts to stop customers from reaching the end of their buyer’s journey. Instead, it gets them to circle back and continue being an active consumer.

A decisive moment for your prospects is the first purchase. Just like a first date, the customer’s first interaction with your brand might leave a lasting impression. It’s up to you if it’s a good one or a bad one.

How the relationship evolves from that point on depends on what kind of experience the customer has – and what kind of retention marketing program the retailer has in place. 

The journey starts as customers learn about the business (awareness). Then, they become further connected with your brand (engagement). It continues as customers research what you have to offer and compare it with other options to see if they want to buy (evaluation).

Once the customers buys (purchase), the cycle might end. The post purchase section is when people often start to leave and exit the customer lifecycle. But, by using additional promotions, re-engagement campaigns and customer engagement you keep them coming back, starting the cycle again.

1. Reach

Reach (discovery) is the first step in the lifecycle because it develops awareness right away. For people to get here, your marketing material and content needs to be in places where consumers will find it. 

This phase is where the customer lifecycle officially begins. It’s not easy to know exactly when a customer experiences his or her first contact with your business. In fact, it might be tough for the customer himself or herself to recognize the precise touch point.

Even so, from a marketing perspective, it’s important to track those touch points as accurately as possible. This way, you can figure out which marketing efforts are most effective in driving brand awareness.

Furthermore, by reviewing those metrics, you can get a good idea of the types of campaigns are worth more investment.

How to track reach:

  • Identify the most common search terms that are bringing people to your website for the first time.
  • Monitor visitor data, such as new website visitors and returning website visitors.
  • Keep an eye on social analytic, especially new followers or other first-time user interactions.
  • Analyze pay-per-click (PPC) and AdWords data.
  • Survey current customers and prospects on how they heard about you.

2. Acquire

Ecommerce acquisition is very important. Your mission should be clear: to turn your marketing contacts into leads.

Firstly, you should attract, seek out, and acquire the right customers. This way you’ll avoid wasting time and energy attracting customers who aren’t a good fit for your company or your product.

While you might have a higher rate of lead generation by attracting a great variety of people, you’ll have a lower rate of customer success. In the long run, that’ll cost you more than you think.

In order to turn your contacts into leads, you must tailor your messaging to specific buyer personas. The key is understanding your brand, the products you offer and what type of person will buy them. 

Contacting them directly with personalized communication improves the odds of a future conversion. But it’s not just about making contact. Rather, it’s about making the right kind of contact at the right moment and with the right frequency. 

If you ignore potential customers during this stage or provide them with content which doesn’t resonate with them, you could end up pushing them away. 

On the other hand, if you can deliver your audience something of value even before they even become your actual customers, then they’ll be more likely to continue engaging and interacting with your business.

How to track acquisition:

This phase of the customer journey is more trackable. It’s relatively easy to define the point at which a contact becomes a lead. Also, this is the stage that often gets the most attention from marketers who use it to quantify the success of their efforts.

You should steer away of so-called “vanity” metrics like social fans and followers. They don’t have any real value with in regards to your defined funnel. Instead, figure out which metrics are right for you by clearly defining your goals. 

3. Develop/nurture

Once the first purchase is made, your business needs to keep in contact with the customer.

This is where you develop a relationship with the buyer, making sure they’re fully satisfied with their initial transaction. Also, you can use analytics to predict what else they may like based on what they bought the first time.

Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback. Customers like when their opinion is valued and it helps with the development of the relationship.

The key to success in this phase is focusing on selling the relationship, not just the product. Customers are looking for brands that will act as their partners, not just their suppliers.

How to track nurturing:

Conversion rate is one of the most important sales conversion metrics. It tells you what percentage of leads actually ended up turning into customers. The basic formula for conversion rate is:

Conversion Rate = (Total Number of Sales ÷ Total Number of Leads) X 100

You can also track your conversion rate in relation to other marketing metrics, such as website traffic. If you want to find out the percentage of your site visitors who actually ended up purchasing your product, you could use this formula:

Conversion Rate = (Total Number of Sales ÷ Total Number of Unique Visitors) X 100

Obviously, at one point you’re going to lose some sales. And for those prospects, the customer lifecycle will come to an end. But that doesn’t mean you should immediately forget about them. Instead, try to find what went wrong and why you lost the sales in order to perfect the process.

Moreover, you should track and store this information in order to use it for your future marketing strategies.

4. Retention

In the modern marketplace, it’s easier than ever for customers to jump ship or walk out your back door, never to return. It’s crucial that you form a strong partnership based on trust with each customer.

Retention begins with satisfying a customer’s needs and cultivating the relationship. Show them you care by continually sending relevant and meaningful content.

Furthermore, if you can take a customer’s feedback and use it to improve a product or service, they’ll feel like they are your partner. This way the chances that they return and make another purchase are higher.

Some of the most important aspects that can influence retention are:

– The onboarding process

Onboarding is your customer’s first real experience with your product and your company. The impression you make during this process will stick with them Your goal is to get your customers up and running as soon as possible.

Successful onboarding is all about empowering the customer to use your product to its fullest potential. Instead of letting them attempt to use your product with no guidance or training, be there for your customers each step of the way.

If they try using your product and they’re unsuccessful that will annoy them. In turn, it could lead them to regret their purchase down the road.

To measure the effectiveness of your onboarding program you should be collecting and tracking a few different data points. These should include:

  • number of days to onboard a new client,
  • days to achieve key milestones,
  • number of customer interactions during onboarding process.

By comparing the averages for these metrics over time you will identify opportunities for improvement.

– Support

Once a customer has completed the onboarding process and has begun using your product, your support team has to be ready to answer any of the customer’s problems, questions, or concerns.

If you put all of your focus and energy into closing new deals, you might lose a lot of customers. Don’t disappear the moment the customer hands over his or her money.

Instead of providing support as a reactive measure, try using a support model organized around known milestones that are clearly laid out for the customer. 

Furthermore, monitor your data to look for patterns that might indicate a customer is having trouble or could have trouble at some point in the future. That way, you can act before those issues negatively impact customer experience.

Lastly, you must provide your customers with an easy means of obtaining on-demand support. Correct their problems promptly and continue providing value.

– Engagement

The only way to ensure your customers are happy with your product or service is to continually engage with them. Nurturing them shouldn’t stop after conversion and onboarding are over.

In order to keep your customers you have to build and maintain good relationships with them. Timing is everything, so initiate contact only at the right times. Be proactive and anticipate issues before they affect your customer’s feelings toward you.

You should be engaging with your customers across the entire customer lifecycle. But keep in mind that engagement change as the customer progresses through his or her lifecycle. You shouldn’t engage with your one-week-old customers the same way you engage with your one-year-old customers.  

The metrics you can use to monitor customer satisfaction are:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys,
  • Customer health/happiness indices,
  • Advisory boards, 
  • Customer outreach initiatives.

Once you’ve collected and analyzed the data, you can use the results to create targeted messaging.

5. Loyalty/ Advocacy

Once the retention stage of the lifecycle is reached, you want these customers to become a brand advocate for your business. Of course, all  marketers hope to get as many customers as they can to this phase.

When they get to this point, customers are not only satisfied with your product, they’re more than pleased. They praise your brand online and in-person, give good reviews, recommendations and testimonials. All of these are extremely effective when it comes to attracting more customers.

You can track loyalty using retention metrics such as churn rate and renewal. In addition, keep an eye on customer reviews and ratings.

Additionally, you can get a pulse on customer loyalty by creating a referral program and tracking its use. These types of programs can produce great results, especially if you offer some reward or incentive to both parties.

Conclusions

To be a master of customer lifecycle marketing, you must truly understand you target audience.

Acquiring is important, but equally important, or even more important are retaining and growing customer value over the long term. Those who use customer lifecycle marketing to keep their existing consumers coming back again and again will save more money and make more money.

Part of maximizing community growth is knowing the journey your customers take across your website. Moreover, understanding lifecycle stages can help you maximize the overall buying experience.

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