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What is Customer Lifecycle Marketing?

Aug 01, 2022
Jeff Haws

Lifecycle marketing is a broad term that essentially refers to the strategic process of making your target customer aware, loyal, and vocal about your brand. It’s going from initial brand awareness to converting them into a customer, and eventually creating a level of satisfaction that converts them into brand advocates. Brand advocates are essential to building a strong brand reputation and, in turn, future revenue.

Growth and retention marketing are pieces of the puzzle, but customer lifecycle marketing involves looking at the entire customer journey in an holistic, integrated fashion— from first contact to developing the ongoing customer relationship.

Instead of looking solely at individual campaigns, lifecycle marketing takes an “always-on” approach and looks at the entire customer journey across all devices and channels. The goal is to optimize how you interact with your audience by reaching them in the right place at the right time with the right message. When executed well, the payoff for this type of marketing is increased ROI, a better understanding of your customer’s needs and preferences, and improved customer loyalty.

Brands large and small will have large datasets on their customers. Unlocking, organizing, and optimizing messaging based on this data is the largest challenge for many. In this guide, our marketing and technology experts break down lifecycle marketing and detail why you should invest your time and resources into getting it right.

What are the Benefits of Lifecycle Campaigns?

An effective lifecycle campaign can catapult your marketing programs resulting in high impact business outcomes. Ultimately, the lifecycle campaign allows you to:

Grow your customer base

An improved buying and branding experience helps you grow your customer base. When you positively influence customer behavior as people move through each touchpoint, you can turn one-time buyers into repeat customers.

Turn buyers into advocates

When these buyers become brand advocates, the benefits become exponential. Brand advocates are those customers who have such a positive experience with your brand (for example they love the products or services and any issue has been addressed in a timely manner), they rave about your company to their friends and family and act as ambassadors for your organization. Nurturing your customer relationships leads to organically increasing your audience courtesy of your own customers in a virtuous feedback loop that should be positive for everyone involved.

Improve ROI 

A lifecycle campaign improves your marketing ROI and lifetime customer value. Without a solid campaign strategy, you can easily bring in the wrong potential customers, wasting time and money on people who simply won’t purchase or convert into brand ambassadors.

What are the stages/phases of the customer lifecycle?

Each step in the customer lifecycle is extremely important. Depending on your company’s strategy, the customer lifecycle length can vary by quite a bit, but the stages are exactly the same.  Understanding these phases can help you identify your customer’s unique need at every point in the process, and ultimately design targeted marketing strategies to move them through the cycle.

Awareness 

This is when future customers are first exposed to your brand. Here, the goal is to capture the attention of your target market— you want to pull as many people as possible into the narrative, and that involves creating lots of highly visible content.

Engagement

At this point, the potential customer is interested in something about your brand. A key component of managing the lifecycle is nurturing this new interest by encouraging them to engage. This could be by subscribing to an email list, following you on social media, downloading your content, or even adding items to a cart.  Here, it’s all about getting their information so you can design tactics to move them into the next phase.

Purchase 

Once the customer decides to buy, you want to make it easy for them to make another future purchase. Send a follow-up email. Prompt them to save their information for future purchases. Create one-click buying features. These methods bring customers quickly back to your site if they drift.

When conversion is achieved, pat yourself on the back and get into the data. Follow up to see why they purchased it and how you can improve the process in the future. You want them to get the most out of the purchase and experience.

Part of this follow-up involves some kind of email dialogue to keep the conversation going. This post-purchase email conversation looks like:

  1. Information and updates on their order progress. This keeps the customer involved at every step and also manages their expectations. If they know exactly when their order has been confirmed, shipped, and delivered, they’ll feel more confident in the process.
  2. Relevant and valuable information about the actual product. This can come in the form of instructional information, maintenance and care, or tips on how other users are experiencing the product. Or, think about what other products this customer may enjoy. What other products (complimentary items, similar styles, etc.) you might suggest based off of similarities and commonalities to the one they purchased.
  3. Customer satisfaction checkups to maintain quality and create streamlined paths to purchase. A customer satisfaction survey or a simple note to check in on the product quality ensures you’re delivering the right product and the customer knows exactly how to repeat the purchase.

Loyalty 

This is the ultimate payoff of customer lifecycle marketing. A happy customer can become a loyal customer, and loyalty produces evangelism. Loyal customers will tell others about your brand, which can be far more powerful (think more conversions) than any other type of marketing you’ll ever do.

At this stage, you can use tactics to encourage customers to write reviews or make personal referrals. And referral programs are a great way to tangibly track loyalty. Credit card companies, for example, will give customers a code they can share with a friend or family to get a great sign-up bonus— and the original customer is given additional bonus points for sharing the code. When you generate a unique code for each customer, you’ll get valuable information on who’s happy and who’s telling others about your brand.

What is involved in a cross-channel approach? What channels are required?

Incentivizing customers to engage with your brand on multiple channels has more bottom-line value than you might realize. Omnisend’s research indicates that the AOV (average order value) of customers who interact with three or more channels ($66.31) is 13% higher than the AOV of customers that interact with just one ($58.70).

That means it’s worth your time to build a true, cohesive strategy that seamlessly integrates email with channels like mobile push and SMS. It’s essential to optimize your messaging across your available touchpoints. Each phase of the customer lifecycle requires a different type of approach based on the preferences/behavior of each member of your audience. In other words, you cannot market to every potential or current customer in the same way. Customers’ attitudes and emotions change throughout the process. At every step, you gather more and more data on your customer, allowing you to personalize and go deeper at each stage.

The awareness phase, for example, is all about high-level, broad marketing to the larger target audience. It’s crucial to think strategically about those individual personas in your target market and what each needs or wants. This is where display marketing, paid search, and SEO marketing comes in to capture large swaths of the audience and get them to your website or mobile app.

In the engagement phase, you’re here to get something from your customer: more data. Once you’ve achieved this, you can start to understand and personalize based on their behavior (clicks, opens, likes), move them into different segments based on this first-party data, and really nurture the relationship through personalized emails or SMS notifications.

Personalization is a key component of the cross-channel approach. Once the customer has made a purchase, you now have more data to encourage loyalty and additional purchases, like a post-purchase mobile push introducing complementary items, or deals on things they’ve purchased before. You can also encourage loyalty with rich and dynamic emails featuring referral bonuses for those loyal customers who are spreading the word about your product.

Common B2C Lifecycle Marketing Journeys

In a B2C environment, you are marketing the product directly to the customer, thus, it’s the individual customer who is interacting with the business. This is a crucial difference, as customers tend to make decisions based far more on emotion than logic. Thus, B2C strategies focus less on logic and instead pull on the emotional responses of their target market.

What are some common lifecycle journeys?

There is a wealth of possibilities for the type of customer journeys that can be dreamt up with the right tools. Here are just a few of the major lifecycle campaign types:

  • New Customer Journey

Set new customers on a path toward brand advocacy with welcome emails, requests to update their profile, or start introducing them to new product launches.

  • Winback Customer Journey

Win back lapsed customers who haven’t interacted with your brand in a set period of time with custom messaging/campaigns to re-establish their interest. People are busy these days, attention spans are shrinking, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. The passion with which a consumer is researching your product today can fade to a distant memory in a matter of hours. But that doesn’t mean they’ve sworn you off entirely.

With re-engagement campaigns, you can lure your customer back to you. Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. If they bought from you once and were satisfied, there’s a good chance you have an opening to bring them back. Entice them! Reminding a subscriber you haven’t heard from in a while why they fell in love with you in the first place could rekindle that fire. You have nothing to lose from starting a thoughtful winback campaign for re-engaging lapsed customers, and plenty to potentially gain.

  • Abandoned Purchase Journey

Often, customers show interest in an item but then never complete a purchase. Who knows why they abandoned that cart or browsing session? Maybe they had an emergency, the kids wanted their lunch, or the prospect just got distracted. It’s also worth considering they could have had a problem with the website. Sending an email reminding the prospect they didn’t complete their purchase could help close the sale. Group these customers, test, optimize, and measure the success of your messaging.

  • App Download Journey

Take advantage of SMS notifications to remind your customers of your branded app, taking users straight to their App Store for an easy download.

How does MessageGears let you run better campaigns?

When it comes to Customer Lifecycle Marketing, MessageGears clients have a number of advantages due to the unique structural setup of MessageGears’ customer engagement platform. Because it operates in a fundamentally different way than the legacy cloud providers’ platforms that most marketers are used to, it’s able to empower marketing and data teams in a new way to help them engage customers throughout the journey. Some of the main benefits include:

  • Because we connect directly to our clients’ database, they don’t have to copy and ship their data  to an external cloud environment anymore to build audiences for executing campaigns. This means they have real-time access to the data, don’t have to wait for frustrating data syncs to complete, have vastly improved data security, and save money from not having to store the same data twice.
  • MessageGears customers benefit from using a platform that enables high levels of security for their customer data. Because MG is warehouse-native and integrates within a brand’s modern data warehouse environment, customer data never leaves a brand’s firewalls and remains secure – eliminating worries of a data breach.
  • From direct connection to big swaths of data, to bulk message processing, and the ability to separate bulk job processing from critical render and delivery services, MessageGears’ scaling capabilities are best in class.
  • Having complete access to all their data for building campaigns means better personalization because marketers can quickly utilize any data point for personalization without having to wait for data syncs. When creating customer lifecycle campaigns, that sort of flexibility and speed is crucial to getting the campaign out the door. Timing can often make the difference between being ignored and an important conversion.
About the Author

Jeff Haws

As MessageGears’ Senior Marketing Manager, Jeff is focused on producing engaging and thoughtful content that resonates with enterprise marketers, helping them to better understand how MessageGears makes their jobs easier. He’s passionate about understanding the way data impacts messaging, and he’s also hopelessly obsessed with baseball.