The best customer a business can have is a loyal customer that comes back for more and becomes a vocal supporter. They cost the least, spend the most, while telling their friends and family they need to buy from you. This should be the goal of every digital marketing strategist!
However, to get your customer to this point takes work. Understanding customer lifecycle stages and where in the cycle your customer sits can help to optimise the overall buying experience.
What is Customer Lifecycle Marketing?
Customer lifecycle marketing is the term that defines all strategies that businesses use to attract customers, convert and close them, before leveraging the newly formed loyal relationship for return sales and upselling. All such strategies engage customers throughout their buying journey.
The customer lifecycle and its stages.
1. Collect Leads (Awareness)
Firstly, you need to consider your target customers. While you may already know who they are, you need to clearly define your target audience. What are their motivations and pain points? Where do they go to find answers? When you understand their problems and motivations you can then use tools like high-value content that address their biggest pains and aspirations. Employ lead capture methods for collecting contact information into one central location for segmentation, lead scoring and ongoing nurturing.
2. Convert (Nurturing through education, engagement and evaluation)
How are you educating the customer, guiding and getting them to look to you as someone they can trust? If you get this right you’ll be front-of-mind when it’s time to buy.
Data and segmentation become increasingly important in this stage. How are you collecting information from leads so you can start to offer more personalised content, qualify them and move into the sales process? Test various methods and focus on those that work best.
It is usually this phase where the customer considers whether your product solves their problem or helps them meet their objectives, while also comparing you vs your industry competitors. They look for customer reviews and compare similar offers from different brands before making their purchase decision.
Efforts should be focused on content creation, targeted offers, and follow-up campaigns for specific buyer personas. Creating and utilising custom audiences, white papers, video, social media channels, newsletters and blogs all become tools to bring out of your content and digital marketing toolbox. Companies who are more active in content production and social media will have a head start in this phase.
3. Close (The sale)
The final decision-making stage in your sales funnel. This can be an emotional stage for the buyer, so it’s important that your messages and sales strategies are equally emotional and targeted to specific needs.
How do you make the offer to your customer? What are the best points of engagement where you can present the right offers, in the right place, at the right time that lead them to the most natural next step. NOTE: A focus on lead scoring is great here, with particular focus on those most engaged.
Once a customer has made up their mind, where do they turn to in order to purchase?
You need to think about how you ‘reduce the friction’ during this phase i.e. How easy is it for the customer to make the final purchase and what support do you provide to guide them through that process? Access to prompt support is key with as many as 50% of buyers abandoning purchases if they cannot access support during the purchase phase. Think about services such as live chat to help in this phase of the customer lifecycle marketing process.
4. Loyalty (Post-first sale)
Numerous studies have shown that it costs six times more to attract new customers than it is to retain existing customers and more than 70% of customers choose to remain loyal to brands based on the quality of customer service.
This phase focuses on how your strategy can over-deliver and continue to connect with the customer to provide further value and make them feel valued. Think about what tools you use in order to systemise your delivery so that customers consistently get everything they were sold, and ideally more. Create intentional plans to go above and beyond, consistently. Leave a mark that keeps them coming back for more.
The biggest goal of every digital marketing specialist is to turn one-time buyers into returning loyal customers and advocate to all their connections. Understanding lifecycle stages can help achieve this and greatly improve the overall customer buying experience, whether it’s B2C or B2B.
If you would like to discuss the customer lifecycle approach and how it could help your business please contact us.