Marketing is easy, isn’t it? After all, all you really need to do is put up some adverts and customers will come flocking to your website (or store) to buy the product.
Of course, that’s not quite right. In the modern market, marketing is at times a science, and at other times an art. Doing it well involves in-depth knowledge of your product and, more importantly, your customers.
There are multiple aspects to an effective marketing strategy. You need a deep understanding of what your customers want and know how they want to see/hear your messages.
You also need to be able to collect and analyze data and make changes to your strategy when required.
It’s for these reasons that at the heart of effective modern marketing lies a solid understanding of lifecycle marketing.
What is lifecycle marketing?
Think about how the different aspects of your marketing strategies are designed to achieve different things.
Lifecycle marketing is a mix of all the tactics you use that aim to influence your customers—and potential customers—as they move through each stage of their own particular lifecycle.
Knowing each stage of that lifecycle, and how to target them, can lead to a successful marketing strategy.
One thing to note about lifecycle marketing is that there is no fixed length. A car manufacturer will be looking at longer lifecycles, while a grocery store will utilize shorter ones.
Whatever length your lifecycle is, the goal is the same; attract a customer’s attention, get them to make a purchase, and then have them come back again (and again).
There are different views as to how many stages are involved in lifecycle marketing, but one common model involves six stages. So, what are the 6 stages of the customer life cycle?
Awareness: This is the stage where people first become aware of your product and/or brand. It could be through traditional advertising, social media marketing, or even word of mouth.
Connection: In this stage, people begin to connect and engage with you as they want to know more about you. They might browse your website, follow any social media pages you have, or even subscribe to a mailing list via your website.
Consideration: People now know a little more about you. They may have interest in a particular product or service and will be looking to see if it meets their needs, fulfills their desires, etc. They will also likely be comparing your product or service to the ones offered by your competitors.
Purchase: This is your first major goal. The customer has evaluated your brand and your products and made the decision that you represent their best choice. They have moved through your sales funnel and made a purchase. Congratulations!
Support: Now, this is an optional stage in many cases. For example, if you are selling tech products, then you will want robust customer support and service. For many consumers, good support and service can be as important as the quality of their purchased product or service.
Loyalty: This is your second major goal. It doesn’t matter whether you sell cars or cans of peas; you want the customer to come back and make further purchases from you.
Customer retention not only reduces your CACs (customer acquisition costs), it can also lead to brand advocacy and customer recommendations to friends and family.
5 Things You Should Know About Lifecycle Marketing
So, now you know the basic concepts of lifestyle marketing, but how do you build a strategy that recognizes each stage relevant to you, and how do you implement tactics that make each of those stages a success?
Think of this stage as the introduction to your business and what you do.
If you’ve ever attended a networking event, you know you would never just introduce yourself with, ‘Hi, I’m Bob’. You’d give your full name, tell the person what you do, and what company you work for.
It’s the same with lifecycle marketing.
You need to introduce yourself without overwhelming the targets.
However, you need to know who you are talking to before you create content so that it can be tailored—or even personalized—to suit your audience.
For instance, there is little point in providing lots of technical details about services such as remote desktop solutions if you’re speaking to someone with little or no technical knowledge.
To this end, keep the following in mind:
Who are your products or services aimed at? Do your campaigns require segmentation into different demographic groups? Create buyer personas for each of the segments you have identified so that you can make content they want to see.
Now you know the people you want to talk to. But how do they find you? This is where SEO (search engine optimization) comes into play.
Identify the keywords and phrases people use when looking for a product or service such as yours. You can look at where your competitors rank in SERPs (search engine results pages) and how they have achieved those rankings.
Hold their attention
Now that you have a way of capturing your targets’ attention, how do you hold it? Your content creators are your new best friends. Create blogs (and other content) that extol the virtues of the product or demonstrates how it solves problems they may be having.
For example, if a customer operates a call center, show how your outbound dialer is better than others available on the market.
Widen your reach
Of course, you want to reach as many potential customers as possible. You may want to utilize traditional methods such as print advertising or billboards, or utilize the various social media platforms using either paid or organic ads.
Look at every possible touchpoint where you can connect with customers, from Facebook posts to podcasts.
Additionally, consider collaborating with industry influencers or guest bloggers who specialize in relevant subjects.
This kind of collaboration can bring your brand to the attention of a new audience. You can even use a logo maker to create a unique and recognizable brand image that resonates with your target market.
Another way to widen your reach is to collaborate. This could be with influencers working in your sector or with guest bloggers who focus on relevant subjects. Either of those can bring your brand to the attention of a new audience.
Don’t overthink leads
Ok, generating lots of leads looks great on paper, but how many of those are qualified leads who lead to actual conversions? Some of your attention should focus on how to convert customers and how to keep them on board.
Connect and engage
While we have touched on the use of content to make people aware of you, you should also think of how to engage with those people on an ongoing basis.
You don’t just want them to look once; you want consumers to look at as much of your content and your website as possible. Note that this stage involves two-way conversations, and you need to be ready to answer questions and points.
In order to maintain a high level of engagement, you can consider various tools and tactics:
Videos: This can include UGC (user generated content) and can showcase your products and what they can do.
Knowledge base: Potential customers will often want a lot of information. While much of that information may be covered in other ways, a comprehensive knowledge base that includes an FAQ section can help customers as they evaluate your brand.
Website: Many people will want to discover things for themselves. Have a website and landing pages that are easy to navigate, and ensure that they are optimized for access from mobile devices. Use A/B testing to make sure any content meets users’ needs.
Tailored blogs. As you move through the customer lifecycle, you will encounter common questions. Having blogs or guides that address these questions can help maintain engagement.
White papers and case studies: For more technical products, white papers can present independent insights. You can also include case studies from businesses that have successfully used your product.
Newsletter and campaigns: Email is still an effective marketing tool. Use it to bring information, new products, and special offers to your customers’ attention.
Much of this stage is about tailoring content to the buyer personas and profiles you have identified. While it may seem like a lot of work, some of those tactics can be automated so that you have more time to focus on other ones.
Consideration and conversion
By now, you should have provided all the information needed for consumers to evaluate your brand. You should also address the majority of your potential customers’ questions and concerns. Now it’s time to turn consideration into actual sales.
Keep the conversion process as simple as possible. If someone has decided to buy your product but then encounters an overly-complicated or misleading buying process, they may go elsewhere. So, how do you keep it simple?
- Have very clear pricing with no hidden charges that suddenly appear at checkout. Include any relevant taxes and use geolocation to show clear shipping costs.
- For SaaS or similar products, offer a free trial so that customers can see the product in action.
- Include customer review or case studies on the landing page.
- Showcase customer services such as tech support so that a customer knows they won’t be forgotten once they buy.
Depending on the sector you work in, this stage can involve a lot of personalization. By now, you should know your potential buyer and can address any pain points they have encountered.
Getting a new customer is nice, but keeping that customer is nicer.
Retention rates vary across different industries but despite the importance of customer retention, a staggering 44% of businesses fail to track their retention statistics.
Also remember that a retained customer means no CACs, and they will also have a higher CLV (customer lifetime value).
In this stage, it is less about the quality of the product/service (we’ll take that as given) and more about how good your aftersales service and support is.
This can be important even when offering something as simple as a business phone number. If you don’t have them implemented already, consider the following customer service options.
- Easy contact: You should have omnichannel access to support services. This can include the traditional phone and email options, as well as live chat and other communication platforms.
- Onboarding help: Some new technical products can be challenging. Offer everything from ‘how to’ videos to live agents who can talk a customer through any process.
- Knowledge base: That knowledge base mentioned earlier can play a major role in customer support. It covers frequently encountered issues as well as other FAQs.
Now, to keep a customer interested, you can try the following different tactics.
- Exclusive access: Offer customers sneak previews or early access when you launch a new product/service.
- Discounts: Include discounts on future purchases or perks such as free shipping on physical products.
- Personalization: Now you know more about your customer, you can personalize ads and emails that showcase other products or services.
- Updates and upgrades: Many tech and software products are improved over time. By offering free updates or upgrades (not to forget bug fixes and patches), you demonstrate that you value your customers.
You can think of your lifecycle marketing in the same way as dating. You have gone from that first shy conversation to regular dinner dates and knowing your partner well.
It’s one thing to retain a customer, but another for them to openly demonstrate their loyalty. In this stage, you want people shouting about your brand from the rooftops; to be recommending you to people they know, posting about you on social media or in reviews, and even creating UGC that aids your lifecycle marketing efforts.
Incorporating the latest branding trends can further amplify your brand advocacy efforts. Stay updated with the ever-evolving world of design, storytelling, and customer engagement to ensure your brand remains relevant and appealing to your loyal customers.
In some cases, that brand advocacy happens naturally, but there are things you can do to encourage it:
- Incentives: Offer incentives to customers who refer someone when it leads to a sale. You can also incentivize sharing content to their own social media feeds.
- Loyalty program: Have a loyalty program where customers can ‘earn’ points or can receive discounts on other products.
- Referral program: Take the referral incentives a stage further by having a dedicated program that recognizes and rewards people who bring new customers to your brand.
- Special access: For many products or services, you may opt to host webinars that only loyal customers have access to. Similarly, you can also offer them access to any virtual or in person events you hold.
Getting marketing right is now a complicated process. While there are many tools that can help, and you can automate certain processes, it still requires a lot of hands-on work.
Having an understanding of lifecycle marketing can help you gain an understanding of your customers; what they want, what they need, and the pain points they might encounter.
It’s also crucial to remember that you will likely not get everything right the first time. Efficient marketing is about monitoring your efforts, collecting and analyzing all relevant data, and tweaking things until it’s as good as can be.
By being able to see how you achieved your goals—or why you missed some—you can use lifecycle marketing to improve those important metrics.