Editors note: big thanks to Josh Brown from Helpjuice who created this excellent guide on how to nurture relationships with your customers, no matter which stage of the customer lifecycle they are at. And by doing so, how to generate real results for your business 💸💸
- What is customer lifecycle marketing?
- Why you should be investing in lifecycle marketing
Stages of the customer lifecycle:
- Awareness: think guest blogs, press releases, influencers, website traffic, digital advertising.
- Engagement: mailing list registration, quizzes and interactive forms, welcome emails, abandoned cart and more.
- Purchase/Post Purchase: confirmation, product info, surveys and feedback.
- Retention and Loyalty: customer support, reminders, loyalty programs, up-sell, cross-sell… all that goodness.
- Advocacy: reviews, user generated content – get involved with your customers.
If you only read one post about customer lifecycle marketing, make it this one! Let’s dive in.
No matter which industry you operate in, your goal is to help your customers grow in one way or another. After all, if your customers remain unchanged as time goes on, you really haven’t done much for them — and they have no reason to stay loyal to your brand.
That said, you simply cannot help your customers grow without tailoring your engagements to their ever-changing circumstances. What they want and need from your company will continue to evolve as they do. And it’s up to you to provide for them at all stages of their journey with your brand.
This is where customer lifecycle marketing comes in.
What is Customer Lifecycle Marketing — and Why Is It So Effective?
Customer lifecycle marketing, or CLM, is a strategy for engaging with individual consumers based on where they currently stand with your brand.
Creating a workflow that uses your customer journey map and sales funnel as reference points, the goal of CLM is to deliver tailored experiences and value to your customers that:
- Meets their needs and expectations at the current stage
- Helps them progress to the next stage of the customer lifecycle
The key stages to focus on:
- Awareness: The individual is aware of their problem, and potentially aware that solutions to their problem exist. Your job is to make them aware of your solution.
- Engagement: The consumer has engaged with your brand, and will be looking to dive a bit deeper. You need to enable them to do so with ease.
- Purchase (and Post-Purchase): The individual has become a paying customer, and is starting to realise the value of your product or service. Again, you need to work with them to ensure they realise this value.
- Retention and Loyalty: The customer has used your product or service regularly, ideally building a habit of engaging with your brand. Your job: Strengthen their levels of engagement.
- Growth: The individual has gotten full value out of their initial purchase, and will be looking to get even more value from your brand. Here, you’ll be introducing them to additional products and services your team offers.
- Advocacy: Your loyal, high-value customer loves everything your brand has to offer — and is willing to tell others all about it. You may need to prompt them to actually do so, though.
As we’ll discuss, you’ll be using a variety of marketing channels to engage with and deliver value to your customers at each of these stages.
But first, here’s 5 reasons why you’ll want to invest in CLM moving forward
Connect With Your Customers and Build Trust
For today’s companies, it’s becoming increasingly important to connect with your customers in an authentic, personable manner.
This goes hand-in-hand with the importance of building trust within your target audience from the very first point of engagement. As shown below, if your customers can’t trust that you have their best interest in mind, they’re not going to stay with your brand for very long.
Adopting customer lifecycle marketing strategies allows you to show your customers that you see them as individuals, and that you’re willing and able to give them exactly what they need to move toward their goal at any given moment.
Increase Engagement at All Lifecycle Stages
One key thing to know about customer lifecycle marketing is that it’s proactive.
Instead of waiting for your customers to come to you with a specific need, you’ll be bringing value directly to them — in some cases before they even realise they need it.
From the customer’s perspective, engaging further with your brand becomes a no-brainer.
- They know what you have to offer
- They understand the value it will bring to their lives
- They don’t have to put all that much effort into taking the next steps
This also helps eliminate friction and other obstacles that can stop interested customers from engaging further with your brand.
For example, a customer’s outside obligations may cause your brand to slip to the back of their mind — even if they appreciate all you’ve done for them thus far. For these customers, a quick, proactive reminder can be just what they need to come back to your brand.
Improve Average Customer Lifetime Value
Customer lifecycle marketing inherently increases your average customer lifetime value in two ways.
For one, you’ll be keeping your customers engaged for longer periods of time. Even among those who don’t increase their average order value over time, you’ll still be getting more from them the longer they stay onboard.
Ideally, though, your customers will provide increasing amounts of value as they dig deeper into what your brand has to offer. They may buy from you more frequently, purchase more valuable products — or do both. In any case, you’ll be getting much more out of them than the run-of-the-mill consumer.
Create a Community of Brand Evangelists
Getting your most satisfied customers to refer others to your brand is crucial for business growth.
In fact, acquiring new customers through referrals is much cheaper than acquiring them via advertising and other marketing tactics. What’s more, referred customers will typically provide more value to your business than the average customer.
But…this assumes your current customers will make said referrals in the first place — and there’s really no guarantee that they’ll do so.
Part of CLM, then, is increasing the chances that your loyal and valuable customers will promote your brand in some way or another. Not only will you be giving them more to rave about, but you’ll also be delivering timely and engaging prompts to help them spread the word in an effective manner.
Develop Your Brand’s Value and Facilitate Company Growth
Looking at the big picture, customer lifecycle marketing will also enable you to grow your business as a whole.
Because you’ll be laser-focused on your customers’ evolving needs at all times, you’ll also always be looking to the “next big thing” your team can offer them.
Conversely, if you’re not continually thinking about what more you can do for your customers, they’ll eventually get to a point where they’re no longer in need of your services. Obviously, you don’t want this to happen.
At any rate, if you’re always able to give your evolving customers what they need, they’ll have every reason to continue doing business with your company. Since they’ll continually bring added value to your business, you’ll always have the resources needed to make improvements to your operations across the board.
This puts you in a prime position to become a major leader within your industry.
Using Customer Lifecycle Marketing to Acquire and Retain More (and More Valuable) Customers
As we’ve established, customer lifecycle marketing is all about engaging with your customers on their terms, depending on where they are in their journey with your brand.
Let’s now discuss what that might look like for your brand.
Awareness Stage Customer Lifecycle Marketing
Customer lifecycle marketing at the awareness stage is all about (wait for it…) making the customer aware of their need for your products and services.
In some cases, they won’t even be aware that they have a problem in the first place. Others might be aware of their issue, but unaware of any possible solutions to it. Still others might know that solutions exist, but aren’t aware of any specific solution that would be good for them.
It’s up to you, then, to get them to the point that they:
- Have acknowledged the problem they’re facing
- Know what solutions are available
- Have at least a decent idea of what they, specifically, should be looking for in a solution
Since they aren’t yet aware of your brand, though, it’ll be difficult to get them onto your own brand’s channels. Instead, you’ll need to generate a presence on the channels your target audience already frequents.
1. Publish Guest Blog Posts
Creating guest blog posts on third-party sites is an effective way to expose a common audience to your brand — and to deliver valuable information to them from the moment they hear about you.
2. Distribute Press Releases
Press releases are another great way to generate brand awareness via earned media. With press releases, you can focus on a specific aspect of your products or services that will benefit a certain audience — and get it published on special interest websites these individuals are known to frequent.
3. Influencer Marketing
You can also enlist the help of influencers to spread the good word about your brand to their targeted and highly-engaged audience. This will help you build trust and forge a more authentic connection with your new followers right from the get-go.
Content marketing and social media marketing can be used to create awareness both organically and through paid methods.
4. Generating Organic Website Traffic
If looking to generate organic traffic to your on-site content, there are a number of paths to choose from, such as:
- Optimising your content for search engines using relevant, frequently-used keywords,
- Creating social media posts including relevant and engaging hashtags,
- Joining and participating in social media forums — while pointing others to your content and encouraging them to share it.
5. Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising
“PPC ads focusing on lookalike audiences are another key way to get your brand in front of those who will almost certainly be interested in your products. Targeting lookalikes, specifically, is important here; you don’t want to waste precious ad spend gambling on an unknown audience.”
– Alon Popilskis, Owner, Smart SEO Designs.
The awareness stage of CLM is a bit tricky.
On the one hand, you’ll be casting a rather wide net, looking to attract customers from audiences that you don’t have much control over. On the other hand, you need to be strategic to ensure your content gets in front of the right people — and that it prepares them to take steps toward further engagement with your brand.
Engagement Stage Customer Lifecycle Marketing
At this stage of their journey, the customer will be ready to face their problem head on — and will begin looking to specific brands for assistance.
Your job, then, is to ensure they start seeing your brand as their best bet moving forward.
To make this happen, you need to begin actively engaging with your new prospects — and getting them to actively engage with you.
The key word there: Actively.
Sure, getting new prospects to check out your site and social media channels is a decent first step…but it won’t do much if that’s the only thing they do.
To truly get them engaged with your brand, you need to set the stage for regular, ongoing communication.
The first step: Getting them to sign up for your mailing list.
By collecting prospects’ contact information and getting their permission to contact them, you’ll then be able to reach out to them for a variety of purposes (which we’ll discuss throughout this article).
To get them to take this first step, you’ll need to:
- Make the “ask” clear, concise, and overt
- Offer them something of value in return for their information
6. Website Mailing List Registration Forms
Traditionally, mailing list registration forms are displayed directly on website pages or via popup:
7. Quizzes, Chatbots and Interactive Signup Forms
Many brands have started taken a more engaging approach using interactive quizzes as well as creating landing pages along with a chatbot to collect this initial information from prospects:
Chatbot technology can also be used to automatically reach out to those who “like” or follow your brand’s social media pages to gather more info from them.
8. Welcome Email
Once you’ve forged this connection, you need to immediately begin delivering value as promised. Obviously, you’ll need to provide your new lead with whatever you’d offered within your lead magnet.
Here’s where your lifecycle marketing efforts will really start to kick in, in the form of welcome email drip campaigns.
Within this initial welcome email sequence, you’ll have a few goals to accomplish.
Above all else, you want to thank the individual for providing their contact info and engaging with your brand.
9. Ask for Extra Information for Tailored Communications
While you have their attention, you’ll also want to collect any additional information regarding their personalities, their needs, and their expectations. It’s important to frame your request in terms of how it will help them (e.g., by delivering more relevant content, personalised services, and more).
Finally, your welcoming email drip campaigns should set the stage for the prospect’s branded experiences moving forward. Here, you might:
- Explain what type of content they’ll be receiving
- Point them toward social proof featuring individuals who fit their persona
- Deliver specific product and service offers relating to their needs
10. Browser and Cart Abandonment Reminders
Of course, your new prospects might not be ready just yet to make a purchase — which is where behaviourally-triggered outreach comes in.
Again using email, you can send browser and cart abandonment reminders to get hesitant prospects back on track toward conversion.
You might also use push notifications or text messaging to provide similar reminders to those who have downloaded your app or provided their phone number:
11. Retargeting Potential Clients
Retargeting is another effective way to re-engage those who show signs of possible conversion, but have yet to take the leap.
Again, when delivering these reminders, it’s crucial to focus on delivering specific offers of value to your individual prospects. Though you may not know too much about them just yet, you can use what you do know to provide a level of personalisation that your competitors may not be.
Ideally, your efforts at this initial stage will lead your prospective customers to make their first purchase from your brand.
Conversion (and Post-Conversion) Customer Lifecycle Marketing
Hopefully this goes without saying, but success in the business world won’t come from making a bunch of one-off sales.
As we said earlier, the longer you can keep a customer with your brand, the better it will be for your business.
That said, you need to start working on keeping your newly-converted customers engaged from the moment they make a purchase. It’s not hyperbole to say that any time wasted here will increase the chances of losing the customer for good.
12. Purchase Confirmation
At the very least, you should send out a message confirming the customer’s recent purchase — along with any need-to-know information regarding the purchase (such as shipping details and return policies).
13. Add Further Value at the Cart
In some cases, you might use the moments immediately following a purchase to offer even more valuable products to your customer.
Be cautious when using this strategy with first-time customers, though. Though you do want to offer them the products or services that best fit their needs, you don’t want to come off as too pushy or salesy.
14. Surveys and Feedback
Now that the customer has gotten a taste of what your brand has to offer, you’ll also want to start collecting feedback from them in order to better serve them moving forward. It’s important to focus on specifics, here, such as:
- Their on-site experiences
- The content you’ve delivered
- Your checkout processes and surrounding policies (shipping, returns, etc).
15. Communicate Further Value of Your Product
In addition to looking back on their experience thus far, you also want to point your new customers toward the future, as well. Using what you know about their needs and expectations, you’ll want to continue delivering the content they need to truly succeed.
For example, Salesforce provides guides to help new customers get the most out of their efforts moving forward:
Similarly, Google gives new users clear steps to take once they’ve converted.
16. Empower Customers with Knowledge
You should also point your new customers to your external knowledge base, which will allow them to:
- Quickly find answers to frequently asked questions
- Learn more about the products or services they’ve purchased
- Supercharge their efforts when engaging with your brand
Overall, your goal at this stage is to ensure you’ve lived up to your new customer’s expectations so far — and to ensure they’re equipped to take the next steps in their journey toward success.
Customer Lifecycle Marketing for Retention, Loyalty, and Growth
Now, let’s talk about how to move your new customers beyond the moments surrounding their initial purchase.
Overall, you’ll have three main tasks ahead of you:
- Keeping your customers engaged with the products or services they’ve purchased
- Getting them to make additional purchases in the relatively near future
- Nurturing them toward higher-value purchases
17. Rock Solid Customer Support
As mentioned above, customer-facing support software will enable your customers to stay engaged with your brand — and do so on their own terms.
This goes a long way in terms of providing the service and support your customers expect, as they expect it. This, in turn, will have a major impact on your retention and lifetime value metrics:
- 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies who offer excellent customer service
- Consumers are willing to spend 17% more on a company that has outstanding customer service
- 62% of customers say their loyalty was due in part to the brand’s knowledge or resourcefulness
“Enabling your customers to help themselves also enables your team to provide better hands-on assistance when needed. Since those facing minor issues will typically be able to solve the problem on their own, your team will have more time and resources available to help those facing larger, more intensive issues.”
– Rachel Esco, Marketing, CustomerICare.
18. Reminders to Use Service or Reorder
You also want to deliver timely and relevant reminders to your customers using a variety of channels. For example, Duolingo uses both email and push notifications to prompt customers to use their services routinely.
In such cases, you’re looking to build a habit within your customers. Ideally, they’ll get to a point where they no longer need these timely reminders — but you’ll still want to deliver them just in case.
Your customers may also need reminders to replenish their stock of your product, or refresh their subscription to your services. Again, email, text messages, and push notifications can all be used here.
19. Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs (and accompanying messaging) can also effectively build a habit amongst your new and long-time customers alike.
You can also use these strategies to get your customers to make more frequent purchases as appropriate. For example, if they typically buy from you every two weeks, you might incentivise a purchase on an “off week” by offering a can’t-miss deal.
Getting your customers to continually make their “normal” purchases can allow you to maintain a status quo of sorts.
But, as we said at the beginning, customer lifecycle marketing is all about helping your customers evolve.
To this end, you’ll eventually need to deliver whatever your customers need to take even further steps in their journey.
20. Power Users
For starters, you can continue creating content that allows your customers to get even more use out of the products they’ve purchased. Here, you’ll want to go beyond the basics to help bring your customers to “power user” status.
As you prepare your customers to become power users, you’ll then need to showcase your higher-value products and services. For one thing, they’ll be ready to use them — and be ready to spend more to do so. They’ll also likely have gotten as much as they can out of their current products — and may soon churn if they aren’t given a more powerful solution.
21. Upselling and Cross-selling
This is where upselling and cross-selling really come into play.
You can also tie these offers to your loyalty program, providing added incentives for customers to make larger and more valuable purchases.
These offers must be highly personalized to the individual’s specific use cases and customer journey. The idea isn’t just to sell more to them — but to deliver that which will help them accomplish even more than they’d initially dreamed of.
As long as you keep giving your customers valid and valuable reasons to return, they have no reason to leave your company. In turn, both your retention rates and lifetime value will continue to soar.
Referral Stage Customer Lifecycle Marketing
As your customers fall more and more in love with your brand, you’ll want to enlist their help in spreading the word to others in their network.
22. Collecting Reviews
Collecting testimonials and other forms of social proof is a go-to strategy here — as long as you do it right.
Some key best practices to follow:
- Ask your customers to focus on a specific experience or part of their overall experience with your brand’s products or services
- Make the ask at the right time, such as directly after they take a specific action, complete a certain task, or reach a given milestone with your company
- Be open to negative feedback — and be prepared to take action to address it publicly and in private
23. Encourage User Generated Content
You’ll also want to solicit user-generated content featuring your brand’s products or services — again, being as specific and timely as possible. Or, if an individual has already created the content, you’ll want to ask permission to use it on your end.
While you do want your customers to create such content on their own terms, you certainly can offer guidance along the way. This will ensure the content they create ends up being useful for promotional purposes.
24. Referral Programs
For a more structured approach, you might create an entire referral program for your most loyal and valuable customers to participate in. Again, providing guidance is key here; it’s important that your referring customers hit the right notes when asking others to join your community.
In each of these cases, you may need to incentivise participation from your audience members. While offering tangible rewards can increase such engagement, it shouldn’t be the reason your customers help you spread the word about your brand.
Rather, the focus should be on how referring other customers will help your brand’s community grow — and how this will lead to better experiences for your current customers. On an intrinsic level, it will also give your loyal followers an even stronger sense of belonging, and make them more likely to stay with your brand well into the future.
Actively keeping in touch with your customers throughout their journey with your brand is the best way to ensure they continue on this journey in the first place.
Sure, they may take it upon themselves to dig deeper when push comes to shove…but you don’t want to leave their return up to chance.
With ClickSend, you can deliver laser-focused value to your customers at critical moments in their lifecycle — and all but guarantee they stick around to see what else you have in store for them.
Ready to get started? Sign up with ClickSend to find the solution that’s right for your team and your customers.
About the Author
Josh Brown is the Marketing Manager at Helpjuice. Helpjuice enables you to easily create a comprehensive knowledge base that can help you scale your customer support as well as improve internal business productivity.