Marketing can be an expensive business. But here’s the good news: it’s not how much you can spend on marketing that determines results – it’s what you do with it. The most important factor that determines how successful you will be, is undoubtedly how you target your market and how you tailor your message to speak to different segments. The customer lifecycle, and knowing where your customers are in it, is one of the best ways to go about strategizing marketing.
In the customer life cycle, your clients and prospective clients pass through six stages that indicate what their attitudes towards your business are and how close they are to making a purchase, referring their friends, or making a repeat purchase. The type of message you deliver, and your approach to moving customers through their lifecycle, is determined by a customer lifecycle marketing strategy. It’s a conscious and carefully orchestrated approach to marketing that will help you to improve your return on investment.
To understand customer lifecycle marketing better, we need to look at the stages of the customer lifecycle in more detail. Along the way, the benefits of customer lifecycle marketing will become clear, helping you to start formulating a strategy and use your marketing budget more effectively.
Stages of the Customer Lifecycle
Before people can even begin thinking about whether they want to buy your product, they need to know that it exists. A lot of marketing efforts get stuck at this stage of the lifecycle. They throw their whole budget into boosting awareness and on reminders that they’re out there. While making people aware of your product is good, not all of them will want it, no matter how often they’re reminded of it. Some of your marketing budget should certainly go towards building awareness, but that’s not where you’ll find the largest number of conversions.
Unlike awareness, engagement indicates a definite interest in your products. Having become aware of what you do, some of your audience decides to find out more. They visit your website, for example, decide to sign up for emails, or start following you on social media. At this point, it’s marketing’s task to find out what engaged customers are looking for and whether that can be used to help them proceed to the next stage of the customer lifecycle.
Now that your prospects know a bit more about what you do, they’ll either decide it isn’t for them or else go through an evaluation process. Does your product solve an important problem for them? What are the alternatives? Is your product worth its price to them? In short, they’re trying to determine whether your product is worth buying, and without being pushy, your marketing approach should offer them the information they need to make a decision. Keep it real. You want satisfied customers, not buyers’ regret!
During the evaluation phase, some people will decide not to make a purchase. That’s OK. But knowing the reasons could be valuable to you. If they do choose to purchase, it’s time to celebrate! But you’re not at the end of the customer lifecycle yet. Give them the best service and support that you possibly can to move them to the next level.
If you handle the purchase stage well, your customers are pleased with your product and happy with the service you’ve provided. They become supporters. They’re proud of choosing you and they’re ready to tell others about their experience when an opportunity arises. Supporters are advocates for your business, and the best part is that they market your products for free! It’s one of the top benefits of customer lifecycle marketing. Encourage them to do so and show your appreciation!
Having developed a relationship with your company, your customers won’t consider using any other product. When it’s time to make the next purchase, they won’t even look elsewhere. Depending on your competition, getting and keeping loyalty may be harder than it sounds. Although a loyal customer might not be ready to make a new purchase for some time yet, it’s your job to keep the relationship going. Offer valuable tips and tricks. Stay in touch!
What are Customer Lifecycle Marketing Activities?
When practising customer lifecycle marketing, the activities you undertake are based on where your customers are in their journey. Here are some examples.
To generate awareness, you will spread your net quite widely, most probably through social media marketing and advertising. However, you should know the characteristics of your ideal customers. For example, what is their age? What is their profession or lifestyle like? What problems do they have that your product might solve? Target awareness campaigns to reach the people who are most likely to move to the next step. It’s cheaper and more effective.
During the engagement phase, it’s important that people should be able to interact with your business. That means being active on social media, responding to comments and messages, and ensuring that your website offers the information they need. Make it easy for them to find out more. You won’t win them all, but if you’re open with information, you’re more likely to win over the people who are the best fit for your products.
During evaluation, prospects may need a personal touch to get them through to the purchase. They already think you have something they want. It’s up to you to show them that a purchase will be worth their while. These are red-hot prospects, so you might decide to send them an email or, better yet, make a call to see how they’re doing and whether they have any questions.
For the purchase phase, it’s all about great service. You deliver on your promises and are there to help if there are any questions or problems.
You now have a satisfied customer, and as your supporter, you’d like to see them making referrals. You can encourage them to do so by offering a benefit, for example, a discount on their next purchase. You can stay in touch through newsletters that offer helpful information. And you’re still there with great after-sales support when they need it.
As your customers move into the loyalty phase, your activities are focussed on affirmation. You shouldn’t have to go all the way back to square one again. But you need to know that you’re still on the top of their list for their next purchase or recommendation to a friend. Your nurturing activities remain within customer service, support and information sharing. Loyal customers are also good prospects for new products you may have to offer, and you can do so cheaply thanks to lifecycle email marketing that sends the right messages to the right people at any point in their customer lifecycle journey.
Develop Your Customer Lifecycle Marketing Strategy
The whole point of strategy is that it’s a deliberate, predetermined path to a goal. But strategies that worked last year may not work today. Your challenge is to formulate a strategy, evaluate it on an ongoing basis, and make adjustments as needed. It can seem like a massive task, but your analytics can do much of the work for you.
For example, seeing how many engaged prospects you get from different awareness approaches can tell you if you’re sending the right message out in your awareness-building campaigns. If very few engaged customers move to the next level, you may need to adjust your information-sharing, or you might have to move back to the awareness phase and see whether you’re getting people interested in something, but failing to deliver what they need.
In short, you will investigate customer response to your efforts by looking at the next step in the customer lifecycle (did they move to it?) and your previous one (did it lead prospects to a dead-end?.) Yes, it’s good to know why you succeeded in selling to certain prospects, but it’s also worth knowing why some of them got put off. This knowledge helps you to make all the adjacent steps more effective, and if that means narrowing your audience, it may also mean boosting your sales to people who will enjoy the most utility from what you offer.
You Can’t Automate Everything: RSVP It
There are strategic points in the customer lifecycle when just sending a generic email or posting something on social media isn’t enough. For example, when people are engaging, you may need to respond in person. When people are evaluating, you may need to use a little persuasion. And then there’s all the nurturing required during purchase and in after-sales support.
Do you feel like you need every member of your staff to be quintuplets just to cope? Not sure if you’re getting personal contact when it’s most needed? Not responding fast enough? RSVP’s Lifecycle Management service could be just what you need. It’s an accepted fact that retaining customers requires less investment than acquiring new ones. Moving back through the lifecycle, engaged customers are far more likely to purchase than aware ones. It all comes back to how you communicate, and communication is our speciality.
Talk to us about your strategies for customer lifecycle management. We’ll implement your plans, analyse their efficacy, and help you to build the marketing success story you’re looking for. It’s a real partnership, and it all begins with your call or email. Start now. RSVP is ready to become your secret to success.