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When I started as a marketer, I often thought of my job as being finished with a purchase. I let people know how amazing my product is, and they are convinced to buy it.
However, this narrow look at the role of marketing in the customer journey leads to countless missed opportunities and sales left out on the table. In reality, there’s a clear, rich lifecycle that every customer goes through and we, as marketers, can shepherd them through every step.
So what exactly is the customer lifecycle, and how can we craft campaigns within it that keep customers engaged, revenue high, and churn rates plummeting? All it takes is a little awareness and planning.
What is Lifecycle Marketing
Each customer passes through certain stages during their journey with your brand. They are going to need different things from you when they first discover your company than when they have been with you for years and years.
Lifecycle marketing acknowledges this and focuses on meeting customers where they are at.
With this customer-centric approach, your team will have a different tactic and system in place for each of the stages of the customer lifecycle, and be able to provide a personalized and seamless experience.
Benefits of Lifecycle Marketing
With so many moving parts to consider, new marketers might have trouble seeing why lifecycle marketing is worth the hype. However, the benefits far outweigh the work of putting it all together (and honestly, it’s not as hard as you’d suspect)
With a solid plan, you can look forward to
- Customer Retention - Because you’re focused on understanding their needs and preferences at each stage of the journey, your customers will be super loyal
- Lifetime Value - Customers who are expertly exposed to marketing throughout their lifecycle will be far more likely to make repeat purchases. You’ll have far more opportunities for cross-selling and upselling
- Personalized Customer Experiences - You’ll be interacting with people in ways specific to their experience with your company. This will enhance brand perception, and customer satisfaction, and allow for more targeted ads
- Improved Onboarding - Because you’re timing out your marketing material, new customers won’t be overwhelmed by information they don’t need. This ensures a smooth transition and a positive initial experience, reducing the likelihood of early churn
- More Referrals - By focusing on customer satisfaction throughout the lifecycle, you can create loyal customers who will recommend your brand to their friends and family
- Data-Driven Results - Targeted campaigns based on customer preferences lead to higher response rates and conversion
Overall, a well-planned lifecycle marketing strategy will help you grow your revenue in two big ways. You’ll get more value out of existing customers, and encourage referrals to bring in more new customers.
This revenue growth is sustainable and long-term, as it is driven by building strong customer relationships and consistently delivering value.
Stages of Lifecycle Marketing
In order to target your marketing for each stage of the customer lifecycle, you need to fully understand said stages. These include
Let’s take a closer look at these stages and see what kind of strategies can be implemented throughout!
Stage One: Awareness
This stage is the very first-time people hear about your company. It could be through a friend making a referral, a banner ad online, or walking by a brick-and-mortar store.
Marketing at this stage mainly consists of raising brand awareness, attracting your target audience, and making content that catches people’s eye.
This might include:
- Running User-Generated Content Contests to Show Off Products
- Securing Influencer Partnerships
- Crafting Social Media Campaigns To Pop Up on People’s Feeds
- Guerrilla Marketing Tactics Like Street Art, Flash Mobs, or Installations
- Optimizing Your SEO So Searchers Can Find You
Whatever you do, make it eye-catching and specific to your ideal customer.
Stage Two: Engagement
Now your audience knows about you, but you need to keep them interested. The engagement stage focuses on building a relationship with potential customers, showing them the value you can offer, and keeping them engaged with your brand.
This stage is all about building trust, so your audience becomes loyal fans. This may include strategies like:
- Starting an Email Drip Campaign to Send Relevant Content and Promotions
- Creating Engaging Social Media Content and Interacting with Followers
- Hosting Webinars or Events for Education and Product Demonstration
- Personalized Landing Pages with Targeted Offers or Deals
By keeping your future customers engaged, you increase the chances of them moving to the next stage.
Stage Three: Evaluation
People have been around for a while now, and they’re likely deciding whether they are going to pull the trigger and make a purchase. The key here is to show off why you’re better than the competition.
To make a good impression and stand out from the rest, you might consider:
- Displaying Customer Reviews and Testimonials
- Offering Free Trials or Demos
- Creating Comparison Charts to Showcase Your Unique Features
- Providing In-Depth Product Information and FAQ’s
- Having a Strong Online Presence and Professional Website
By making it easy for potential customers to gather information and giving them a positive experience, you can win their trust and earn their business.
Stage Four: Support
So they liked your brand enough to make a purchase! Great work! For a lot of marketers, this marks the end of their journey with the customer. However, the lifecycle is not finished, so you shouldn’t be either.
There’s a far better ROI on returning customers than new ones, so it’s best to keep churn to a minimum. This takes constant support and attention, which might include:
- Creating a Loyalty Program
- Sending Out Personalized Thank You Emails
- Continuing to Provide High-Quality Products and Services
- Offering Special Deals and Promotions for Returning Customers
- Targeted ads letting them know what other products or services would upgrade their purchase
By nurturing the relationship and showing appreciation for their business, you can turn one-time customers into long-term advocates for your brand.
Stage Five: Advocacy
Hopefully, by this point, your customers are not only loyal fans of your brand, but willing and excited to share the good news to all their friends and family. This is where word-of-mouth marketing naturally kicks in, but with a little encouragement, you can turn the entire lifecycle into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
With careful planning, you can bring customers into a referral program with tactics like
- Partnering with Influencers or Brand Ambassadors
- Creating an Enticing Rewards System for Referrals
- Encouraging User-Generated Content and Sharing it on Social Media
- Going Above and Beyond to Delight Customers
- Loyalty Programs and Exclusive Features
It's important to note that these stages may vary depending on the industry, product, or service being offered. It’s seldom as linear as I’ve laid out, and can involve multiple touchpoints or cycles as customers continue to engage with a company over time.
You might find that one customer jumps straight from Awareness to making a purchase, at which point you can easily move them into the Support stage. What’s important is you know where people are and what they need from you next.
Customer Lifecycle Marketing Strategies
Let’s zoom in on some ultra-successful campaigns from across the customer lifecycle.
Awareness: Unique Advertising Streams
Getting an ad on a podcast has been shown to make people remember you. There’s a 71% recall rate across podcasts, and if you’re able to do your research and target specific podcasters within your niche, that number could be even higher.
If you ask the average listener about Better Help, Squarespace, or HelloFresh, they’d likely be able to rattle off many of the selling points for these brands, even if they’ve never used them.
The best part about advertising with podcasts is that you can get wildly specific about who you want to target. There are so many podcasts being made every day, and each of them has its own loyal fan base. You just need to find out which one holds the key to your future customers’ hearts.
Engagement: Top Notch Content
When you’re trying to reel customers in from the awareness stage, a great way to keep them invested and learning more about your brand is with value-adding content. If you can become a thought leader, you’ll have the people’s trust.
Climate Fieldview was able to attract lots of attention and funnel people towards a sale by creating engaging and informative blog posts like “Find Your Fungicide Window.”
This content offers value to farmers who might be looking for solutions for their crops and keeps them coming back. Eventually, when farmers think of crop science, they’ll think of Climate Fieldview, making them that much more likely to make a sale.
Evaluation: The Competitive Free Trial
By the evaluation stage, people know they want something like your product. They are usually on the fence about if you are the place to get it, though.
This is where an expertly crafted free trial offer can come into play. Wrike, a work management platform, uses its free trial to challenge people’s perceptions of what a good platform can do. Their copy mentions Click Up by name, encouraging people to try it out and see how it’s different.
This kind of simple, to-the-point, risk-free option helps customers test out your product and see why it’s so wonderful.
Support: Rewarding Loyalty
When you reach the support stage, it’s time to get personal. Offering a loyalty program with specific rewards and benefits is a great way to give people more of what they love and keep them coming back again and again.
Marriott uses their Marriott Bonvoy Benefits to track what customers are excited about. When someone cashes in points for an upscale dinner or a room upgrade, they show Marriott what they appreciate about their hotels. This means next time they can offer more personalized recommendations and services.
Creating a loyalty program that tracks people's interests lets you get more and more specific the longer they’re around. That boosts loyalty, and makes it that much more exciting for them to stay!
Advocacy: Referral, Referral, Referral
If people are excited to share your product, all you need to do is make it easy for them to do so. A simple referral program can be ultra-effective, and boost customer loyalty while bringing in new leads.
SMARTY was able to more than double its revenue by offering a free month to anyone who brought in a user. The success of this was two-fold because customers stuck around and felt valued, even as they got their friends on board.
With a well-crafted referral program, you can bring more people into the customer lifecycle without missing a beat.
The Bottom Line
A successful marketer will always put the customer first. That means being with them through the entire process.
Having a clear plan throughout the customer lifecycle not only brings in more revenue but also means less work. When you can reduce churn and keep people invested in your company, you’ll reap continual benefits without having to find new customers all the time.
This system allows you to find success through genuine connection and care, so you can do good business and feel great about it.
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