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Why you need a lifecycle marketing strategy–not just email marketing

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Kristina Lauren

We often find ourselves not looking at the overall picture in the digital marketing arena. Whether we're focused on just consistently sending out email marketing campaigns, tweaking those campaigns continuously to try to improve CTAs, or simply keeping the system running as is, there's always room for improvement. 

This improvement primarily comes from the personalization that happens when we fully understand customer lifecycle marketing.

What is customer lifecycle marketing? 

This is where we take a step back to review all communications and understand who the customer is. It's not just about that laser-focused approach to email marketing but a lifecycle strategy—understanding how we get a customer, when that customer makes an initial purchase, and whether that customer makes repeat purchases or just makes one. 

While there are some uniform stages, every business treats customer lifecycle marketing a bit differently, so your approach also needs to be tailored to your industry. For example, a typical restaurant has a relatively short customer lifecycle—family and friends are in the mood for a certain kind of food, they search for a restaurant that fits their tastes, they find one that seems appealing, they come in and dine, and hopefully they return and tell their friends. This entire journey typically takes place in a matter of hours.

On the other hand, consider someone purchasing a new laptop. That lifecycle can take much longer since it involves more deliberation—customers have to consider whether or not they’re ready to make a large purchase and they usually have a longer list of requirements that need to be met. The product alone may not always be enough to convert, but when you cultivate a favorable first experience by showing your customer you understand them and are able to meet them where they are, they’ll happily return to you for more. 

What are the stages of customer lifecycle marketing and the customer journey?

While the specific number of stages vary amongst marketers, there are about six beats of lifecycle marketing within the customer journey that you should aim to hit, with the last stage–advocacy–being where you want to ultimately thrive. 

  • Awareness
  • Consideration
  • Decision
  • Conversion
  • Retention
  • Advocacy

Let’s dive further into each one so that we can get a view into what is going through a customer’s mind at each point and how you can effectively usher them along to the next stage.

Awareness (AKA Reach)

At this point, your potential customers are totally new to your brand. They know they have a problem or a desire and they’re looking for answers. You don’t need to push too hard here since these possible buyers are at the top of the funnel, but your intention here should be to get them to come to your site, subscribe, and start the journey to becoming a customer. 

Consideration

This is where your leads turn into prospects, and they start considering the brand itself worthy of a purchase. At this stage, they're looking for more information and are in their research phase. They are going to look at your site, your social media channels, your emails, and maybe even follow you. Their intention here is to gauge whether or not your product or service is aligned with their specific needs, so you should be presenting them with content that displays your brand’s expertise and moves them further down the funnel.

Decision

It’s time for your qualified prospects to make a decision: become a new customer or move onto another brand. At this point, your lead has a solid understanding of what your brand is about and will feel confident in their choice to go with your product or not. Your goal here is to get them over the line and show them not only why your product is the perfect solution for whatever the prospect needs, but also what they’ll be missing out on if they don’t move forward with you. 

Conversion

This is what every business is looking for. The customer has gone from prospect to buyer and has made their first purchase. But this is also where a lot of brands can go wrong—it’s crucial to keep up communication with your new customers at this stage. No buyer likes the feeling of being courted from Awareness to Decision only to get radio silence once they’ve converted. This is especially important for businesses with customer journeys that drag after this Conversion stage, where a buyer may be waiting weeks or even months for their product to be made, shipped, or installed. Customers will remember how well or poorly they received communication at this stage and it will directly affect how they engage with your brand during the next stage. 

Retention 

This stage is why communication and that first purchase need to be excellent. By now, your customer has invested their hard-earned money and, in some cases, a large amount of time to finally make a purchase, so now you need to reassure them that they made the right decision and encourage them to come back for more. Realize that for most brands, it’s cheaper to retain existing customers. In fact, putting advertising dollars towards gaining new customers is 5 times more expensive than just trying to keep current buyers. 

Advocacy

In this final stage, you have your customers working for you. They become loyal to the product and the overall brand, and that means they become promoters of your brand, expanding the product to their inner circle of friends and family. The goal is to get every lead to this stage so that you have a dedicated, human-to-human marketing force pushing the good word about your products and services. One way brands can increase incentive at this stage is through a referral program and when done well, referrals convert 30% better than any other lead generation source. 

Why use emails in your customer lifecycle marketing?

Email marketing is a cost-effective method to provide continuous engagement for the customer at each stage of the lifecycle. That initial acquisition can be quite expensive from a marketing perspective, but email communication is versatile enough to help push the conversation as well as maintain loyalty and retention down the line, which is critical. 

When you combine your email campaigns with an email service provider (ESP), such as Mailchimp or Klaviyo, you can also track the effectiveness of your campaigns to see if they’re hitting the mark at each lifecycle marketing stage. 

If you already have email marketing campaigns in place, you’re already on the right track. But now your goal should be to create and organize campaigns that appeal to your customers throughout the entire lifecycle marketing journey.

Which emails should you include in your lifecycle marketing?

Let’s take a look at some lifecycle email marketing ideas and examples that small and large brands successfully use in their customer lifecycle marketing strategies. 

Awareness stage

* Welcome email 

* Weekly or monthly newsletter 

* FAQs with answers about your product

* Free e-book about your industry or the benefits of your service

The goal: To let new subscribers know what your brand and product is all about and get them excited about learning more.

Consideration stage

* Highlight a specific, popular product

* Promote your latest blog post

* Advertise an upcoming webinar or in-person event

* Showcase positive reviews or case studies

The goal: To convince prospects that you understand them and show them why your brand is the best solution to their problem.

Decision stage

* 30-day free trial

* Personal demo of the product with a sales agent

* Large first-purchase discount

* Custom estimate or proposal

The goal: To entice prospects to finally take the plunge and become a customer.

Conversion stage

* Thank you email with a confirmation number

* Follow-up email with tracking information and delivery estimates

* Detailed tutorial on how to use your product or service

* Survey about the customer’s shopping experience

The goal: To assure your customers that you still value active communication and customer service after the sale.

Retention stage

* Feedback email asking customers about their experience with a recent purchase

* A follow-up discount or even a gift to entice a future purchase. 

* A nurture email showcasing a new service or product

* A nurture email advertising an item that complements the buyer’s most recent purchase (cross-selling)

The goal: To turn buyers into loyal, returning customers and urge them to explore other aspects of your brand.

Advocacy stage

* Introduce your referral program

* Ask customers to post a review on Google

* Give a discount if the customer refers three friends

* Encourage customers to post about their purchase on social media for a chance to win a free item

The goal: To make your customers into loud, proud promoters of your brand who bring you new customers at a cheaper rate than other marketing avenues.

The key to building a strong lifecycle marketing strategy is consistent yet relevant engagement, and email marketing strategies can help achieve that. If you’re looking to find both email marketing and lifecycle marketing services in one place, get started with Scalero. We’ll not only help you create a custom lifecycle email marketing strategy for your brand, but our team of email designers and developers can also build custom templates for your campaigns.

Contact us today and start converting faster with our lifecycle email marketing services.

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