In this blog we look at customer lifecycle marketing. What it is, its various stages and what they involve, the goals and objectives for each, and how they benefit your customers and business.
What is Customer Lifecycle Marketing?
Lifecycle marketing is a strategy that helps businesses attract and retain customers after they make their first purchase. This is accomplished through a variety of engagement tactics. In other words, the way you interact with customers at different stages of their lifecycle journey with your brand.
The ultimate aim of your lifecycle marketing should be to guide customers to repeat purchases and brand advocacy.
It’s widely known that just a small number of retained customers generate more revenue than newly acquired ones. Which is what makes customer lifecycle marketing important for your business, as the following stats demonstrate:
Just 20% of your existing retained and loyal customers will generate 80% of your future profits
That’s because the top 10% of loyal customers spend up to 3 times more than the remaining 90%
This is compounded even more by the top 1% of customers who spend 5 times more than the lower 90%
Bear in mind that although your customer lifecycle marketing strategy will yield similar results to others, yours will be unique and tailored to your business. There are many reasons for this. What you sell, whether that be a product or service, your targeted demographics, and the type of loyalty programme you use, play a part in shaping your business model. And that has a direct impact on the way your customer lifecycle looks.
Businesses that sell high volumes of low ticket products for example, typically see shorter purchase cycles. Compare this to – let’s say – an expensive annual subscription to a SaaS product. The customer journey in this instance is long-winded and sparse.
It’s up to you then to offer consistent, personalised and hyper-relevant communication with customers. To keep content fresh, relevant and rewarding in short term cycles and prevent customers from lapsing between long term purchases. It’s for this reason why the length of your sales cycle should inform the way you engage with customers.
Customer Lifecycle Stages
Now we know what customer lifecycle marketing is and how it serves your customers and business, it’s time to link it to the customer journey itself.
Your customer journey encompasses peoples’ overall experience with you. In many ways it’s a series of plot points, designed to resonate with customer emotions at every stage. Marketers use a whole range of tools and tactics to bring value and incentives to customer journeys. For example, surveys and customer feedback yield huge data sets, leveraged to create segmented lists.
Another method that helps us optimise each lifecycle stage is the customer loyalty ladder. In fact, these go hand in hand.
We’d recommend you to check out our Customer Loyalty Ladder blog, in which we describe the customer actions you should look out for, and the strategies to respond with to thrust them towards brand advocacy.
A loyalty ladder structures the customer journey. Lifecycle marketing fleshes it out. Let’s take a look at the phases customers embark on in the marketing funnel.
Stage 1: Awareness
The stage when potential customers or leads first encounter your company. This may be the result of outbound marketing or they may stumble on your inbound material. Either way, if it’s their first time on your site, they’re known as anonymous visitors.
Other subsets include known visitors, leads who visit your website on multiple occasions. Often this is to find out more information about your products and services. Lastly, visitors who sign up to emailing lists and newsletters are registered users.
Stage 2: Engagement
This stage is reached when customers engage with your brand on social media, in chatbots, on the phone, via email or enquiry forms. However, the lead is still only a potential lead.
Queries related to their problems are what sets these leads apart from those in the awareness stage. Hence why we’d argue registration to newsletters isn’t considered engagement. The potential customer is still top-of-funnel and learning about what your business does in general terms. Rather than what you can do specifically for them.
A lead might sign up to a blog post, forget about it and ignore the emails as they’ve grown disinterested. In this instance, they wouldn’t fit the engagement criteria. That requires active interaction with your brand.
Stage 3: Evaluation
By now, the lead is firmly in the prospect camp. They’ve learned about what your product or service does via inbound content. They’ve interacted directly with your sales and marketing team to learn what your business can do for them.
Now, they’re weighing you up against competitors they’ve engaged with. The prospect will definitely search for reviews, customer feedback and testimonials. Robust customer lifecycle marketing is particularly essential at this stage. You’ll see why later.
Stage 4: Purchase
The moment you’ve been waiting for! The prospect becomes a customer. Similar to awareness, the purchase stage has potential to divide customers into subsections.
“First-time customers” is quite self-explanatory. There’s nuances to the purchase stage though. For example, how often do customers buy your product or service? We’ve already touched on how your business model affects the stages of the customer lifecycle. Therefore, either one of these below may not be relevant to you.
- Frequent customers make purchases often.
- Active customers make low volume purchases over longer periods of time.
Stage 5: Support
Customers need further support after their first purchase. The support stage ensures your first time buyer is happy with their order. We make reference to this in the loyalty ladder blog, in which we refer to a repeat customer as a client.
This stage sets apart those businesses with great customer service and those who need to drastically improve their efforts. Otherwise they begin to suffer from symptoms of poor customer loyalty, hallmarks of low retention in the form of risk-of-churn customers and the dreaded churned customer.
Stage 6: Loyalty
The final stage of the customer lifecycle marketing experience sees customers become brand advocates. This demographic of customers champion your brand to others, including highly qualified leads in the form of family and friends. After all, we only recommend a product or service to people we think will find value in it. Who knows leads better than the customers who know them personally?
Customers experience a long sequence of interactions, hyper-relevant content and engagement, rewards, benefits and valuable offers at this stage. Brand advocates should feel some degree of emotional connection by now. Efforts in marketing and customer service must orientate around consistent delivery of quality and driving desire with an exceptional experience.
Goals and Objectives
Now that we understand the different stages of the customer lifecycle, it’s time to look at objectives and goals.
You’ll see in this section how we divide long term goals into short term objectives. We’ll use one goal consisting of two or three objectives for each customer lifetime phase.
- We’re using the SMART formula to help guide our goals and objectives
- We’ve picked outcome-oriented goals
- As a result, we’ve decided tactical objectives focused on short-term deliverables will serve us best
Awareness Stage Goal & Objectives
Your goal for the awareness phase has two facets. On the one hand, you need to attract leads and on the other, encourage them to engage with your brand. You need outbound and inbound marketing channels in place.
Therefore, the goal here is to turn anonymous visitors to your site into registered users. Use the SMART principle to maximise their impact, which also ensures you implement them in a timely and effective manner.
These should focus on building acquisition techniques that encourage future engagement.
- Objective 1 - To increase the number of monthly visitors to our site we will write and publish X amount of blogs per month to improve SEO, brand awareness and visibility.
- Objective 2 - Set up a lead capture form on the website for visitors to sign up to monthly newsletters, promotions and content.
- Objective 3 - Create a landing page to generate X amount of leads in X amount of time.
Engagement Stage Goal & Objectives
Sales are arguably more aligned with how you engage customer interactions after the initial awareness stage. The use of marketing channels are still relevant here. However, chances are your sales team will start to directly interact with prospects after they’ve taken the jump towards direct engagement with your band.
Your goal is to drive engagement and maintain interaction with the prospect. Your short term deliverables should be tailored towards these.
- Set up X number of communication channels for marketing team to qualify leads
- Set up X number of communication channels for sales to cultivate prospects into customers
Evaluation Stage Goal & Objectives
Earlier we said this phase of customer lifecycle marketing is one of the most crucial points. If you think of the entire cycle as a bridge, this stage is the keystone. If it’s weak, the whole thing comes crashing down, making a lead’s journey from prospect to customer impossible. So, how do we make it strong?
We need to differentiate from our competitors by advertising what features set our product or service apart. Failing that, we need to demonstrate value in enhanced customer service and hyper-relevant experiences.
We do this by implementing methods of digital self-service, offering quick, accurate answers to questions.
- Provide FAQs on website by the end of the month
- Set up chatbots by the end of the month
- Set up a testimonials page by the end of the month
Purchase Stage Goal & Objectives
At this stage you want your new customers to be delighted with their decision of picking you as their choice. You should’ve set up various email sequences by now. At least one of these sequences must be focused around the purchase stage.
When customers give you their money you want them to feel good about it. Lifecycle marketing around this stage is very granular but is an essential component to your overall strategy. Therefore, the ultimate goal here is to reassure customers they’ve made the right decision.
- Send new customers a personalised thank you email immediately after purchase and include a subscriber preference centre
- Allocate new customers into segmented lists, factor in any preferences they’ve submitted and place into future lifecycle email marketing sequences
- After X amount of days invite them to give feedback
Support Stage Goal & Objectives
Post-purchase support is critical if you want to improve customer lifetime value over time. If a customer feels almost abandoned once you’ve got their money, they’ll just return the sentiment and abandon your brand altogether.
The goal then is to show your new customers that you still care, regardless if the transaction has completed. Retain customers and convert into longlasting clients by offering them exclusive incentives.
- Offer them a closed invitation to a user forum where they can discuss in real time the product or service you offer with your other customers
- Offer them X amounts of educational emails activated only after they’ve made a purchase e.g., how to look after the product to make it last longer
- Send them X amount of cross-selling emails per month of products they’ve looked at when they are on sale or discount
Loyalty Stage Goal & Objectives
The loyalty stage is firmly indicated by a client’s willingness to keep on purchasing from you and refer you to their friends or family.
Therefore your goals should be to reward loyal customers to incentivise them to refer others to your brand.
- Offering customers a X% discount or coupon when they refer a friend
- Or giving customers and a friend they’ve refereed X month free subscription after both have finished X month contract
All the other goals and objectives you implement allow you to leverage loyalty building strategies and recycle them. In this instance, promoting either of the objectives above might generate more leads and visits to your site. So your loyalty stage is contributing to your awareness stage.
Benefits of Customer Lifecycle Marketing
Customer lifetime marketing is incredibly beneficial to your customers. It gives them a great customer experience, alongside top quality products, and unforgettable hyper-relevant content.
Benefits of the Awareness Stage Strategies: Reduced Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC)
But let’s not forget that these strategies are designed to help your business out too! Consider the awareness stage. By implementing the above strategies, you’re improving your customer acquisition costs.
Did you know that:
44% of vendors read up to three to five pieces of content before they engage with brands
It’s a good time for adding an email newsletter as 77% of marketers saw a recent increase in email engagement
Benefits of the Engagement Stage Strategies: Qualifying Leads & Differentiation
Similarly, by incentivising customer interaction during the engagement and evaluation stages, allows you to qualify leads more effectively. What’s more, setting up consistent communication channels keeps customers engaged with your sales teams.
Generating more leads is the top priority for 34% of enterprise marketers. This means the market will grow more competitive. Identifying marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) via engagement strategies in customer lifecycle marketing is more important than ever
Giving your sales team communication channels like social media and screen share hosting is pivotal for customers to make purchases. Which is what you want your engagement and evaluation stages to lead towards.
Also, FAQs and chatbots are essential as 75% of online customers expect help within 5 minutes
Benefits of the Purchase Stage Strategies: Increased Revenue Through Enhanced Personalised Experiences
The purchase stage of your customer lifecycle marketing invites the use of goals and objectives that drive retention. These strategies improve customer lifetime value. Take note at this stage your marketing automation efforts will yield huge ROI. As the need for investing time and resources is eliminated.
Automated marketing techniques are synonymous with personalised interactions, with 22% of marketers actually using AI to send emails with hyper personalised subject lines
Thank you emails are excellent when it comes to open rates – which tells us one crucial thing – customers love them! They are twice as effective than traditional email marketing
Benefits of the Support Stage Strategies: Increased Customer Lifetime Value (LTV)
Then of course the support stage of your overall customer lifecycle marketing strategy pivots around conversion efforts. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of the goal and objectives we advised at this stage:
Personalised cross-sell and upsell emails can increase average order values (AOV) by up to 28%
Benefits of Loyalty Stage Strategies: Increased Retention and ROI
The ultimate goal of delivering a seamless, stress-free, enjoyable customer experience, by optimising strategies inside customer lifecycle marketing, is to nurture customers towards brand advocacy.
Loyalty programmes members generate 12-18% more revenue than their counterparts.
28% of people say word-of-mouth referrals increase brand affinity and customers gained this way spend 200% more on average
Hence the importance of incentivising referrals at the end of the initial customer lifecycle. The process should be seamless and simple to follow too!
Which brings us to our final point. The amount of work required for a fully optimised customer lifecycle marketing strategy is colossal. Even with the short term tactical deliverables we’ve mentioned.
A customer loyalty programme is a centralised solution that helps you plan, execute and measure your overall strategy. Allowing you to go even deeper with your goals and the objectives to accomplish them.
Want to find out how? Feel free to contact us today to get your wheel towards success in motion.
Until next time!