What is Lifecycle Marketing?
Unlike the traditional marketing funnel, which aims to push customers to a purchase, lifecycle marketing revolves around keeping customers engaged with your brand—even after a purchase. To increase customer lifetime value (LTV), lifecycle marketing aims to connect with customers at each stage of their buying journey across multiple touchpoints to create a long-lasting relationship.
With lifecycle marketing your mindset as a marketer shifts from thinking about how to get your customer to cross the finish line to how to get them to run the race over and over again. While customer journey mapping focuses on the customer and their possible touchpoints, lifecycle marketing is more campaign-based. As a marketer, you need to identify the different types of campaigns your brand can use to keep customers engaged.
As marketers take part in a digital transformation, there are more ways than ever to connect with customers. Connecting with customers effectively, however, relies on a deep understanding of the customer lifecycle.
Understanding the Customer Lifecycle
Defining the Customer
The first step in implementing lifecycle marketing is defining the type of customer you’re trying to reach. Ask yourself why the customer may be seeking out your brand. Are they looking to save time? Maybe they want to be more charitable. Understanding the "why" behind a customer's interaction with your brand helps drive the remainder of your lifecycle to be more targeted and, thus, effective.
This is where your customer lifecycle marketing journey begins.
Search for the Solutions
Once you’ve defined your customer and understand what they're looking for, the next step is to search for the solution. What problems does your customer face and how can your product solve them? As part of your lifecycle marketing strategy, include the ways in which your products are solutions to the customers’ conflicts.
Position Your Brand as the Guide
To kick your customer lifecycle marketing into high gear, you’ll want to position your brand as the guide to accompany your customer along their journey. Your brand knows how to solve the problem, but your goal is to get the customer to reach the conclusion by themselves. This will solidify a bond between the shopper and your brand. As part of your lifecycle marketing strategy, this is when you’ll want to demonstrate your brand’s expertise in being able to solve the customer’s problems.
Call the Customer to Action
The last stage in lifecycle marketing is calling the customer to action. In this stage, the customer completes an event that you’ve labeled as important in their lifecycle. For example, maybe the customer clicks “add to cart” or “buy now.” However, before the customer takes that action they’ll ask themselves what the alternatives are and what the results of that action will be. Will the customer miss out if they don’t purchase your product? Will the customer’s life change for the better if they do?
The call to action, while the last stage, is not the final stage. With a focus on LTV, lifecycle marketing continues post-purchase to build a lasting relationship with the customer.
Lifecycle Marketing in Practice
Let’s take a look at what lifecycle marketing may look like in a real-world application. We’ll use common marketing campaigns to guide the customer to action.
The onboarding process needs to be easy, user-friendly and should allow your brand to better define the customer. Onboarding is when your customer will seek out your brand, create an account and fill out their customer profile. Ask the important questions in the onboarding stage to collect data that makes it easier to provide your customer with tailored messaging down the road.
In addition to learning about the customer, onboarding is a chance to set your customer up for success. Here you can provide guides and tutorials to familiarize your audience with the different ways to make the most out of interacting with your brand.
On the heels of—or in conjunction with—the onboarding process, you’ll have a welcome series. Instead of helping customers navigate your site, the welcome series should familiarize the customer with your brand. Here you can begin to introduce solutions to the customer’s problems.
If your onboarding process allows customers to fill out their shopping preferences, the welcome series should take full advantage of these preferences by introducing specific features of your brand and products. You can even start sharing recommendations with your customers to learn more about their preferences.
Once your customer is onboarded and introduced to your brand, you can begin to position yourself as a guide. With nurture campaigns you can send personalized promotional and informational marketing messaging to reassure your customer that you’re paying attention to their needs and have the expertise to solve their problems.
In this stage of lifecycle marketing, your customers are likely browsing your site, contemplating a purchase and maybe even adding items to their cart. Make sure these actions are reflected in your marketing to further personalize the experience.
Abandonment campaigns are how you can call the customer to action. If your customer has been nurtured consistently with unique, individualized messages, they’ll be more likely to add items to their cart. The goal here is to get them to buy the products they’ve been mulling over.
With abandonment messaging—most often delivered via email, push notifications or in-app messages—you’re calling your customer to purchase. These messages could include a one-time discount that expires in the near future or they could feature products similar to, or that pair well with, those in their cart, to try to get the customer to shop those products as well. Most importantly, your abandoned cart messaging should reflect what’s happening in all carts—mobile and desktop.
At this point in lifecycle marketing, your customer has been onboarded, welcomed, nurtured and, hopefully, has made a purchase. The cycle doesn’t end here. Once a customer has purchased, or even just stopped interacting with your brand, your goal should be to keep the customer engaged, in the hopes that they’ll make a purchase in the future and tell their friends about your brand.
Re-engagement comes in many forms. You could send your customer an email asking them to review your product or “customers also bought” showing products that align with those that they’ve already purchased. Or, maybe if a customer unsubscribes you send them a coupon in the hopes of re-engaging them.
At the core of lifecycle marketing is customer LTV. It all starts with understanding who your customer is and what your brand can do to improve their life. When a customer makes a single purchase it should never be thought of as the end of your relationship with them.
With customer lifecycle marketing there is the potential to nurture each individual customer to make additional purchases and keep engaging with your brand at all stages of the lifecycle. The focus of lifecycle marketing should be providing your customer with messaging they want to receive.
See how Iterable can help your brand engage with customers at every stage of their lifecycle.