What is Lifecycle Marketing?
What separates the amateur and the professional salesman? It’s not the car, the clothes, or the coffee. Nor is it the product. A real pro could offset global warming by selling ice in Alaska. The approach is what separates the pro and the amateur.
The professional knows that once they’ve got the prospect’s attention and they’re talking value, they’ve got all day to make a sale. The professional understands that they’re going to develop a relationship with their customer and listen to their needs.
The amateur thinks the one who talks fastest wins, that the deal has to be made now or never. That’s simply not true, and this short-term mentality often sends them home empty handed. Truth is, when you know you’re out to create a lasting relationship with a customer, you talk to them differently.
Just like you know you’d rather spend time chatting with a sales professional than the tiresome amateur, customers appreciate this relationship-oriented approach from brands.
This is why customer lifecycle marketing is so effective. Brands build relationships with users throughout their customer lifecycle and across multi-channel touchpoints. Your marketing campaigns are the confident way to show prospects and customers that you’re serious about their needs and capable of delivering on your promises.
This helps lower churn rates, boosts conversions, and improve marketing ROI. Users feel appreciated by the nurturing care and respond by making repeat purchases and referrals. On average, a loyal customer is worth as much as 10x of their first purchase.
What is lifecycle marketing, exactly? Today we’ll define and dive deep on this topic. What the benefits are, how to structure a campaign, as well as examples from leading brands – all this is coming your way. This article is going to show you how to skip the short hustle and go for the big wins with lifecycle marketing.
What is Customer Lifecycle Marketing?
“It’s important to recognize that Lifecycle Marketing isn’t just about sending messages customers might like — it’s about positively influencing their behavior.”
–Anthony Nygren, EMI Strategic Marketing
Customer lifecycle marketing is a communication strategy that both values and recognizes the process of becoming engaged, loyal customer and so delivers responsive messaging throughout the customer journey to encourage a lasting and rewarding customer experience.
In essence, customer lifecycle marketing (CLM) engages each prospect, lead, and customer differently because they’re at different phases of the funnel. Because each stage is unique, this strategy emphasizes addressing customer needs and requirements as they engage with your brand.
Focusing on the entire customer experience, from acquisition to sale to loyalty to referrals means touchpoints are consistent and aligned with your customer.
Different stages of the journey will require different marketing messages and strategies. When, how, and why messaging is delivered is based on contextual messaging. How do we develop a functional approach to crafting lifecycle campaigns?
#1 Customer data: Numerous data sources must be combined to provide a comprehensive, and evolving, view of individual customers while highlighting their preferences and stage in the customer journey.
What does the professional do? Seek first to understand.
#2 Relevancy: Customer insights determine which marketing messages will be delivered to customers at pivotal stages in the customer journey.
What does the professional do? Offer the right product.
#3 Timeliness: The right messages are delivered to the right person at the right time in order to guide them forward to the next stage.
What does the professional do? Make a sale at the right moment.
The Benefits of Lifecycle Marketing
Lifecycle marketing is designed specifically to nurture relationships that span past the first sale and deliver compounding benefits to both the brand and their customer. Delivering appropriate marketing messages means better engagement. Increased engagement leads to increased retention. After the sale, customers who remain engaged become truly loyal, refer friends, and make multiple purchases.
The numbers have it:
#1 You save time, effort, and money because retaining existing customers is less expensive than acquiring new ones.
“A 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%.” –Bain & Company
#2 You have happy customers because they’re only receiving relevant messages at the right time. Positive customer experiences translates into retention, loyalty, advocacy and increased spending.
“Companies that prioritize the customer experience generate 60% higher profits than their competitors.” –Kapow
#3 You gain insights from customer interactions through segmentation – meaning your messaging is more relevant – so campaigns conversion rates and engagement rates go up.
“Engaged consumers buy 90% more frequently, spend 60% more per transaction and are five times more likely to indicate it is the only brand they would purchase in the future.” —Rosetta
Expect these benefits when you become effective at lifecycle marketing. But first, aim for an optimized customer lifecycle such as this:
- Acquire prospect’s attention
- Bring them into your sphere of influence
- Convert them into a paying customer
- Retain them as a customer
- Turn them into a company advocate
- Create opportunities for referrals and repeat revenue
“The best practitioners aim not just to improve the existing journey but to expand it.” — David C. Edelman, Aetna
Lifecycle strategies across multiple channels are satisfying for customers, as they get to receive messages via their preferred medium. However, a huge number of touchpoints means expanding your reach with new goals and different tactics.
For each stage in the lifecycle, marketers should have unique goals aligned for the customer to help move them down the funnel. For example, the acquisition stage could be email opt-in. Paying customers can be targeted with upsell and referral campaigns. Objectives for a churned customer might be gaining insights from a survey or incentivizing reactivation with a discount.
This requires segmentation, as you wouldn’t send a lead the same marketing message as a long-time customer. Assign new segments such as interested prospects, engaged customers and churned customers. Perhaps you prefer subscriber, lead, MQL, SQL, etc. Then address each segment with targeted marketing messages to promote engagement given each phase.
“By approaching your list in these fairly straight-forward segments, you can create specific campaigns that target each group more effectively and with better results than would be the case if you communicated to all with the same messages.” — Bill Nussey, CEO of Silverpop
For example, interested prospects will receive welcome messages after email subscription, educational content, onboarding guides, or first purchase promotions. Engaged customers receive cart-abandonment incentives, special promotions, feature announcements, or referral invitations. Lapsed customers should receive surveys, welcome back discounts, or user-aligned content that promotes re-engagement.
By tracking customer progress throughout the lifecycle and delivering on crucial touch points, you not only satisfy customer needs but help move users to the next stage of their journey.
3 Keys for Creating Effective Lifecycle Marketing Campaigns
To be successful, lifecycle campaigns require a balanced and integrated set of channels to guide users to the next stage of the journey. Sending the right message at the right time is key, as no customer wants to be sold all the right time or receive the wrong messages. Here’s the necessary traits for any lifecycle marketing campaigns.
#1 Personalization – Netflix
Today, users seek to be treated as individuals when they’re making purchases. When setting out to create lasting and valuable long-term relationships with customers, a personal touch goes a long way. Effective personalization is essential to a lifecycle campaign for two reasons:
- Personalized brand experiences make marketing efforts more compelling and emotionally rewarding for users.
- Personalization aids retention by ensuring that you’re not overloading recipients with the wrong messages.
Netflix is a perfect example of personalization carried to the furthest level. Over 75% of user activity is driven by the recommendation algorithms designed especially for their entertainment offering.
Yes, Netflix presents movies based upon viewing history and browsing patterns, but also segments recommendations by a complex system of taggings and ratings – specific to the time of day, what other users enjoyed, and if we’re watching for fun or value.
For example, the personalization engine figures you’re more likely to watch Family Guy after a long day of work instead of an art history documentary. The kicker: individual human analysts are responsible for a deep system of tags to provide this next-level of personalization.
This dedication to prediction helps Netflix TV shows earn a 65% success rate with views – compared to an industry average of 35%. This shows us how personalization requires a human and data-driven attention to bringing customers joy and keeping them unwaveringly engaged across a variety of lifecycle campaigns.
#2 Email Marketing
Customer lifecycle email marketing is an essential component of an effective communications strategy. After all, reaching users at the precisely right moment is how to build the customer relationship in a meaningful way. Send targeted and triggered messages to reach users in a flexible, powerful way that should be personalized for optimum effect.
There’s an expansive toolkit of lifecycle emails at a marketer’s disposal, from welcome emails, weekly newsletters, promotions, re-engagement emails, cart abandonment and many other actions. Such campaigns drive customer retention and prompt engagement with new and existing customers.
Delivering email messages at key customer touchpoints will help you achieve your desired result and give your customer a stronger experience. Collecting information across the span of the customer journey with email helps you develop a complete sense of your customer journey, and what’s needed to create happy, engaged customers at every phase.
Above, UK retailer ASOS gets personalized with hyper-relevant email lifecycle marketing. Realizing that the first purchase is not the end of the relationship, the e-commerce giant sends a variety of re-engagement emails throughout the year that offering discounts to drive sales.
A birthday message is a great opportunity to show that the brand cares, but also to convert. In an authentic and actionable moment, the CTA at the bottom provides fast action for reaffirming brand loyalty and multiple purchases.
#3 Automation – Amazon
From the first engagement, lifecycle marketing campaigns should be tailored for each following stage. Automation tools and software are what allow marketing teams to streamline steps in the customer journey and deliver triggered messages at the right time. Triggering communications, collecting data, and seamless adaptation to user needs is what makes automation essential.
The product offerings on Amazon are almost infinite, so the online retailer makes sure it’s automation assists customers at every step. First, we see personalized recommendations and preferences. Amazon’s predictive system also takes real-time interactions and instantly personalizes the shopping experience for each customer.
Automated attention to detail is what unites the entire shopping experience between lifecycle engagement emails, web retargeting both off and on-site, and order status updates. Transaction history, browsing history, product use, support calls – all interactions can be stored and should steer future marketing communications.
As shown by Amazon, companies with strong marketing automation platforms are able to deliver enhanced and seamless customer journey in a way that’s impossible without digital tracking, data utilization, and responsive targeting. In order to truly guide engagement through the funnel, a software solution is a must.
For lifecycle marketing strategies, the customer journey never truly ends. There’s always another touchpoint waiting for those with a lifecycle-optimized customer experience.
Moving prospects down the funnel towards being customers is attached to key touch points and objectives, centering around personalized messaging, behavioral email marketing, and platform automation to assist with so many moving parts.
Taking the long term view pays off immediately in higher engagement and conversion rates. After a sale, lifecycle campaigns are effective at enforcing customer retention, providing opportunities for re-engagement, repeat sales, and referral revenue.
Because you’re established to reach customers in a way that develops a meaningful relationship, these results are no surprise. And that’s a professional way to approach lifecycle marketing.