There’s a tectonic shift happening in eCommerce.
From clicks to relationships. From short-term wins to lifelong value.
From acquisition marketing to lifecycle marketing.
When acquisition alone is no longer viable, and marketers can’t seem to keep up with market demands or increased competition, lifecycle marketing offers an alternative.
Instead of fighting for acquisition alone with blind campaigns, you can create personalized experiences for each cycle stage, convert smarter, and retain better.
This guide looks at lifecycle marketing from a strategic POV and gives you exciting ideas to put into action starting today.
What is Customer Lifecycle Marketing?
Customer Lifecycle Marketing represents the act of aligning all marketing communications channels and experiences to support prospects across all customer lifecycle stages: from awareness to retention.
The main difference between lifecycle marketing and basic customer journeys, or purchase flows, is that lifecycle marketing considers the prospect way beyond acquisition.
The purpose is to harness and extend customer relationships for as long as possible, prevent churn, and increase overall customer lifetime value.
Benefits of Customer Lifecycle Marketing
Is it worth it to embark on this endeavor?
Lifecycle marketing is how you keep customers close to your brand even after the initial purchase.
The main benefit of lifecycle marketing is increased customer lifetime value.
It’s no secret that customer retention takes patience, hard work, and, too often, relying on gut feelings.
Instead, with lifecycle marketing, you rely on your data and customer experiences to improve your campaigns and build customer loyalty.
Instead of bombarding your customer base with random offers, you take the time to look at each lifecycle stage and personalize your messaging and timing accordingly.
Personalized marketing leaves customers with a more positive taste for your brand. By feeling unique and cared for, you provide the organic environment in which customers stick with you, even if they get more offers and discounts from your competition.
Suppose you want to look at the benefits from a KPI-driven lens. In that case, lifecycle marketing increases your ROI and can even lower the CAC.
Relevant and perfectly timed messaging isn’t as invasive as regular campaigns, so people aren’t that reticent to hear you out.
In turn, you can generate a higher ROI, retain customers, increase the overall margin and show your stakeholders better results than before.
Customer Lifecycle Stages
No one in this world will wake up one day with an undeniable desire to buy from you.
There are several stages shoppers go through before making a purchase. We’ll discuss each step and give you the corresponding action you can include inside your strategy.
These phases coincide with stages of lifecycle marketing, as each milestone inside the customer journey can be mirrored by your actions.
Stage 1 – Awareness
Or ground zero.
This is where the prospects are aware they need an answer to a problem and are browsing the Internet looking for a solution.
Your purpose here is to exist in the back of their minds.
Not in an aggressive way, but in a delicate way.
If prospects consider you an option at this point, you’ve done your job.
Stage 2 – Interest
Prospects are aware of your existence, so it’s time to spark their interest. Give out more information about yourself, but don’t start pushing your products just yet.
Lifecycle marketing examples here include:
- Explanatory videos.
- Blog articles including valuable information.
- Ads with exciting facts about your brand.
The purpose here is to narrow the prospects’ focus and make them zoom into your brand in their research process.
Stage 3 – Desire
So, you took it slow and didn’t get too pushy, too soon. In this stage, consumers need to decide they want your products.
Showcase your offers and let shoppers analyze and evaluate your pricing and product assortment.
Make sure you ease prospects’ minds with plenty of product reviews and testimonials while also providing information about your brand through social media channels and blog articles.
Stage 4 – Action
This stage is the conversion stage.
Your prospects no longer have questions and they made up their minds. Here’s where you reap the benefits of working for the previous stages.
Stage 5 – Retention
While most eComm businesses stop here, you should be aware of the last and most profitable stage.
The purpose here is to create emotional connections with your customers. People need to buy from ethical brands. They need to have their values shared by the companies they support.
So, make an effort to meet your customers’ needs, solve their problems, treat them like humans – not as cash cows – and build up profitable relationships.
Retention is the main reason this is called lifecycle marketing, not a customer journey or purchase flow.
Lifecycle marketing extends beyond acquisition and considers the long-term value you can extract from your customers.
In this stage, you’re focusing on bringing in shoppers and nurturing them into loyal customers – even brand advocates.
If you want to learn even more about Lifecycle Stages and master all tactics – from acquisition to retention – enroll in the CVO Academy. Check out this quick introductory Course and learn the basis of Customer Value optimisation!
What are Customer Lifecycle Marketing Activities?
Customer lifecycle marketing activities include regular activities from the marketing and CX world. However, these activities aren’t random but bonded together in an all-encompassing strategy.
Lifecycle marketing aligns sales, marketing, and customer success departments, forcing them to look at consumers like individuals.
Lifecycle marketing campaigns require skills in data analysis, strategic thinking, copy and content writing, design, web design, talking to customers, lifecycle email marketing, research, etc.
It’s not about what you do – it’s about how and why you’re doing it.
Customer Lifecycle Strategy
Before discussing lifecycle marketing strategies, you should analyze each stage in the current lifecycle.
You start by looking at each stage and keeping an eye out for any problems in the customer lifecycle.
After you identify any friction or problems, you can brainstorm solutions that can lead to a better experience overall.
This way, you can quickly spot areas for improvement and define the steps you need to include in your lifecycle model.
However, this is just the beginning.
For an advanced lifecycle marketing strategy, you should first pick apart every lifecycle stage, create specific milestones for each, then bring all of them together and align them into a big-picture plan.
Think of your customer lifecycle marketing strategy as a journey – your customer is the hero. He crosses the map and travels from awareness to retention (and loyalty).
Your customer lifecycle model is based on this journey.
Each stage in the lifecycle is a landmark, and your purpose is to safely get the prospect from point A to point B, point C, and so on.
Strategy for the Awareness Stage
– get your story out there.
In the awareness stage, you want to shine a light on your brand.
Of course, it’s not about blasting promotional challenges across all channels. There’s a science behind the awareness stage. Here are some tips you should try in this stage:
→ target audiences.
Ideally, you want to reach as many people as possible, but not all people out there.
The best plan here is to create target audiences based on your best customers to attract prospects with the highest potential.
Each customer segment behaves differently, and you need to adapt your messaging to this behavior. No one likes to feel like another number in a database. Still, personalization allows you to create unique flows for unique customers.
Omniconvert Reveal is the tool to help you here. Request a Call and get expert data-driven advice from our CVO teams.
→ keyword research.
As Bob Moesta states in his Jobs to Be Done framework, people verbalize their needs for your products differently.
If you want to appeal to them, you have to identify the different ways your prospects express themselves, then use their exact expressions in your messaging. Verbatim, if possible.
By mimicking your prospects’ language, you help them discover your brand when searching online.
→ educating the market.
Whoever offers the most value wins…but who says you need to provide value only in terms of customer experience?
In the awareness stage, you can dip your toes in content marketing and start creating free content (blogs, vlogs, webinars, podcasts, etc.) that answer key questions your audience has.
With this type of content, you don’t have to find customers – they discover you organically when looking for an answer to their problems.
By providing value and solutions without asking for anything in return, potential customers engage with your brand and perceive you as a thought leader, even before making a purchase.
So you’re not competing for their attention with other brands since you already caught your prospects’ eyes.
→ go where your prospects spend their time.
With so many online channels to promote your brand, it might be overwhelming to attack all mass media methods to target a wider audience.
So look at your existing customers, see where they’re spending the time, then go there. It’s the best way to reach potential customers similar to your existing ones.
Put up adverts in all the places your audience visits, collaborate with influencers loved by your audience and create an ad on podcasts or radio stations your audience listens to.
You may not reach the mass audience, but you will target a specific group of individuals who are prone to make a purchase.
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Strategy for the Interest stage
– you had their attention. Now you’ll get their curiosity
So, you caught your prospect’s eye. They know who you are. Maybe they even interacted with you once or twice.
Now it’s time to spark their interest and make it obvious that your brand is the best choice.
If, until now, prospects were vaguely aware of your existence, now it’s the time to get them flirting with the idea of becoming your customers.
This stage aims to bring people to your website or Social Media channels. And keep them there.
Side note: if you want to engage customers and succeed, ensure your Customer Care departments are quick to respond.
86% of consumers expect immediate engagement when interacting with a brand.
So, here’s how to encourage prospects to successfully journey across this lifecycle stage and reach their buying decision faster.
→ think about the User Experience.
In the online world, less is more, and you should keep your copy & design as simple as possible.
So you should provide easy-to-navigate content and use design elements to highlight the benefits and offers on the website.
Intuitive pages convert better since you aren’t confusing your prospects or making them search too much for the information they need.
→ present features and benefits in a digestible way.
Prospects get bored fast, and since they aren’t so much invested in your brand, they won’t have the patience to read through chunky blocks of texts to better understand a product.
Your safest bet is to use video demos or infographics to better explain your products. You can also deploy use cases, testimonials, or “how it’s used” videos.
→ don’t forget about free, valuable content.
Content shouldn’t miss from your digital marketing strategy at this stage. The prospect still isn’t convinced, so take this opportunity to provide even more information to help him solve his problem.
Blog posts are ideal here since they provide the perfect medium to say what you need. Identify common customer problems and teach people how to solve these problems.
→ provide as much social proof as possible.
If you can’t prove it, there’s no point in stating and promising value. People are naturally suspicious and afraid of being deceived.
It’s worth it to put together case studies showcasing the results of other people who used your products or even provide video testimonials.
Strategy for the Desire stage
– they see it, they want it…
Customer acquisition doesn’t happen overnight, but if you successfully guide prospects through the first two stages, now it’s the natural conversion point.
You’ve sparked their interest. You provided social proof and more valuable free information – so prospects are smitten, and they make the buying decision.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to make it as easy as possible for prospects to convert.
→ easy to understand information.
We already discussed simple landing pages, so you know the reasoning behind this. Your purpose here is to keep the checkout process as straightforward as possible and don’t offer any distractions.
So, ensure you provide all the pricing, features, benefits, and shipping information on your website.
→ place friction diminishers to build trust.
Even if they added to cart a product, your prospects might still doubt your ability to meet their needs.
So now it’s the best time to share customer testimonials and ease your prospects’ minds.
Don’t limit yourself to testimonials referring to your product or service. Search (or ask for) testimonials that discuss the post-purchase experience or customer service experience.
Hint: NPS tracking is one of the best ways to get referrals or reviews. If done right (before and after the purchase), the NPS allows you to identify satisfied customers and set up referral flows.
Discover more about the Net Promoter Score (and how it really is the key to better Customer Lifetime Value) from our dedicated articles.
Strategy for the Action stage
– they get it.
Now that you addressed every objection and created an ideal environment for conversion, your prospects should become your customers.
Not all of them – some will abandon the journey, but it’s a natural and organic process.
If you feel like offering even more incentive to buy, you can use discounts and offers to increase your chances.
However, you must be careful with lowering your prices and taking care of your margin.
If you aren’t converting as much as you’d hoped to, ask yourself these questions:
- Is the checkout process easy?
- Do you offer the option for guest checkout, or do your prospects have to register before buying?
- Are there any friction points on your website (such as the loading speed, bugs, or outdated pages)?
- Did you offer explicit info about the product guarantee, refund policy, and shipping options?
- Is your copy benefit-oriented, or you’re just showcasing features?
Usually, conversion is a matter of making the checkout process convenient for prospects. Also, personalization will take a long way – prospects like to feel unique, not just a number in your sales reports.
Strategy for the Retention stage
– don’t let them go.
Most lifecycle marketing strategies stop after acquisition. Marketers consider the job is done and move on to other projects.
However, retention isn’t a job for the Customer Service department alone. The whole point of aligning your departments was so that you can all keep an eye on the same prize.
One new customer will bring 10x more value than his first purchase if he stays with you longer.
In a cookieless age with surging acquisition costs, repeat purchases are your path to success.
The good news?
93% of customers will likely buy again if they like the experience.
The even better news?
Even though customer-centricity is trendy nowadays, few eCommerce companies invest in retention.
So, break the pattern, get a head start.
Customer retention isn’t a “customer care problem” since marketers can definitely play a part in encouraging repeat purchases and providing personalized experiences that delight customers.
Your purpose here is to create incentives to build customer loyalty and turn as many shoppers into long-term customers.
Here’s how you impact retention with marketing strategies:
→ help customers help themselves.
Yes, customers love attention, and they love a supportive customer experience.
However, they’d rather help themselves and not go through the system for simple problems. So, empower them to do so.
Write FAQ pages or dedicate a website section for knowledge and troubleshooting articles.
→ intuitive onboarding.
Collaborate with the customer success department to kick off onboarding flows that are intuitive, simple, and hassle-free.
Don’t bombard first-time shoppers with offers and discounts. Instead, make it a priority to really help them use your products correctly and achieve the results they’ve been hoping for.
It’s simple – if your customers feel you care or that the products helped and contributed to a better life, they will return.
Again, and again, and again.
→ reward customers with perks.
You can offer extra benefits for first-time customers as a sign of goodwill.
Don’t make the mistake of confusing a first-time customer with a relationship. Relationships are created in time, and there’s no secret that many customers won’t return for a second purchase.
One can argue that getting a second purchase is more challenging than the initial acquisition. However, it’s cheaper and more profitable to invest in retention, not only in acquisition.
If you don’t want to offer discounts this early on, you can provide exclusive access to new collections or extend the product’s guarantee period.
→ targeted ads for complementary products.
The great thing about advertising in 2022 is that you can get highly specific with your targeting.
Increase the number of return customers with ads that promote complementary products or discounts for people who want to restock on your products.
Analyze at the Average Days between Transactions metric and identify the time slot in which customers usually repurchase your products. No one needs stacks of products in their pantries, but everyone loves convenience.
For example, if you’re selling beauty products and you know customers need an average of three months until they need them again, set up email and ad flows triggered after that period.
Offer a discount on an extra perk as a relevant incentive and give customers more reasons to buy from you.
In turn, this increases customer lifetime value since customers who might forget to restock are triggered to buy again.
You can do the same with products that are usually purchased in pairs. Suppose you notice this type of pattern in your data. In that case, you can trigger ad flows to existing customers and promote products that complement the initial purchase.
Through personalization and smart targeting, you can increase the number of repeat customers and improve the customer lifetime value.
Customer Lifecycle Marketing is a powerful approach to customer acquisition and retention. When done right, it increases customer lifetime value, lowers your CAC, and helps you grow long-term.
Yet, few companies invest their time and energy in this endeavor.
It’s not something you can do overnight since a cycle can last anywhere between a few months and a year.
Besides, it can be difficult to align all departments and make them understand the role they have to play in the bigger picture.
Take it slow and adjust your expectations. Results will be visible only if you put in the work and make the extra effort with your customers.
However, lifecycle marketing can’t be avoided. The trend is visible globally, and it’s evident that eCommerce’s direction.
You now have a choice – continue as you did until now and risk getting lost in the sea of businesses out there, or become customer-centric and a relevant entity in your customers’ lives.
Frequently Asked Questions about Customer Lifecycle Marketing
Customer Lifecycle in Marketing represents the act of aligning all marketing communications channels and experiences to support prospects across all customer lifecycle stages: from awareness to retention.
The most common five stages of the customer lifecycle are Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Retention. Each stage comes with its own strategies to improve customer lifetime value.
Enquiry, Conversion, Repeat Purchase, Cross-selling or up-selling, Dissatisfaction (complaint), Dormancy (waiting for a response), Revival (reactivation). According to your content, marketing, and customer experience departments, dissatisfaction can arrive at a later moment in time.
Awareness of a problem, researching issues, comparing the options, making a decision. For a successful lifecycle marketing strategy, each phase needs to be treated differently