December 7, 2018
Customer Lifecycle Marketing
By putting customers at the heart of your business, you place greater emphasis on customer loyalty. You shift the focus from making money to keeping your customers happy. This shift has helped companies like Apple dominate the market. Today, 87% of Apple customers are loyal, repeat buyers (Apple). They would rather pay more for a product that gives them what they want, then pay less for a product that doesn’t fulfill their needs.
To produce and retain loyal customers, marketers must focus on managing the entire lifecycle of the customer, providing valuable information at each stage of their journey. Companies achieve customer loyalty when they implement lifecycle marketing strategies that consistently meet and exceed the expectations of their customers. 80% of a company’s future profits will come from 20% of its existing customers (Gartner). So, it’s safe to say that focusing on the customer is good for business.
“Business must be run at a profit, else it will die. But when anyone tries to run a business solely for profit… then the business must die as well, for it no longer has a reason for existence.” – Henry Ford
What is customer lifecycle marketing?
The process of engaging customers at every stage of the customer journey. Marketers use this strategy to create and distribute content for specific customers including lead, new, at-risk, churned and repeat buyers. Customer lifecycle marketing improves the customer’s overall experience with a brand by providing the right value at the right time.
Here’s a list of customer lifecycle strategies that you can use to target customers at all stages of their journey.
A lead is a customer who has just started a relationship with your brand. They’ve already demonstrated buying behavior by showing interest in your products or services.
Your goal with a lead should be to:
- Nurture with educational content
- Showcase high-value products
- Convert into a customer
Here are two strategies to transform your lead into a customer:
1. Free product trial
Give your lead a taste of your product with a free 30-day trial. In this trial, give your lead access to your best features for a limited time, without taking payment. A free trial gives people the opportunity to test a product before they make a purchase commitment.
For example, Autopilot offers customers a 30-day free trial, no credit card required. By removing the pressure of forcing customers to submit their credit card details, the barrier to trial entry is lowered. Check out our 30-day free trial template to see how it works within the customer’s journey.
2. Email nurture
Not all leads may be ready to make a purchase. Some may need an extra nudge — and that nudge comes in the form of education. Before converting, a lead is at the awareness stage of the customer journey might need to know more about how your product fulfills their needs.
To encourage your leads to make a purchase, create product-related content that educates them on how to get started, the benefits of specific features and stories of customer success. Add this content to a weekly or fortnightly email to place your brand at the forefront of their mind. So, when they’re ready to make a decision, they think of your product first.
A new customer is someone who has, for the first time, made a purchase with your company. They may have signed up to an annual subscription or bought a product as a one-off. Either way, this is your chance to showcase your brand and increase your chances of a customer increasing their purchase amount or making a repeat buy.
Your goal here should be to:
- Provide value
Here are two strategies to start your relationship off strong:
1. Welcome email
The welcome email is the first personalized message you should focus on. The initial welcome email opens the door to a direct path of communication. As soon as a new customer signs up to your product, you have an opportunity to onboard and upsell them with new features and promotions.
A welcome email receives four times as many opens and five times as many clicks as promotional emails (Experian). So, it’s safe to say that adding a personalized touch to your welcome message is an essential part of your email marketing strategy.
2. Onboarding content
Customer onboarding is one of the most important parts of the customer journey. In terms of apps, within the first three days of installation, 77% of customers are lost and within 30 days, 90% churn (Quettra). Within a month, most customers have dropped off.
Just because customers have access to your product that doesn’t mean they’re here to stay. It’s critical to continue communication with your new customers and provide value-rich content that keeps them engaged.
One way to keep them engaged is through onboarding content like a webinar. To ensure that your customers are benefiting from your product, walk them through a series of best practices. Sometimes product features and tools aren’t so apparent to the user, so a webinar is a good chance to highlight them and demonstrate a relevant use case.
An at-risk customer hasn’t yet churned, but they’ve started to disengage. Before you’ve lost them altogether, there are strategies you can implement to win them back over. Once you familiarize yourself with the behaviors of an at-risk customer (such as decreased product usage), you can target them with the right kinds of content.
Your goal here should be to:
- Reinforce product value
Here are two strategies to prevent these customers from churning:
1. Promotional campaigns
For customers who are no longer making purchases, win them back with timely promotional campaigns. But don’t just send a batch-and-blast promotion to all of your at-risk customers. Segment your customers based on their behavior and send them promotional content that’s relevant to them.
For example, a customer may have decreased their product usage because they’re unsure of its value. To reinvigorate these customers, send an exclusive, one-on-one product training session. This will help customers make the most out of your product and re-engage those who appear to lose interest.
2. Highlight recent product updates or new features
Reinforce product value by sending your at-risk customers an email or on-site message displaying new products or features. The release of a new feature might be what the customer has been waiting for. So, don’t let your customers leave without a fight. Use an email campaign to send them weekly reminders of new releases, best practices and most-used features.
A churned customer has officially left the building. They’ve used your product, decided it’s not for them and they’ve exited. Although, that’s not to say they won’t be back. There are many reasons why a customer has churned. But don’t play a guessing game, ask them for feedback, and if you’re constantly receiving the same advice, you might want to adjust your offering.
Your goal here should be to:
- Understand what went wrong
- Determine areas for improvement
You have one final chance to understand what went wrong. Here’s a common strategy used to extract value from customers who’ve churned:
1.Customer feedback survey
Before you delete their account, ask churned customers to submit feedback on their experience. Send a survey using Typeform, politely asking them questions on how they would improve your product or service offering.
Some questions you might ask include:
- How would you rate our product from 1-10?
- What feature did you use the most?
- What feature did you use the least?
- Describe your experience with our product
- Identify areas for improvement
These customers are your most trusted, and they’re the ones you want to keep impressing. You can always incentivize your loyal customers to move from repeat buyers and into brand advocates.
Customers who have great experiences with your brand are 75% more likely to tell their friends and colleagues. Unfortunately, most companies fail to capitalize on repeat customers, with 80% saying that they don’t use advocates in their marketing strategy (JitBit).
Thanks to the internet and social media, word of a great experience travels fast. So it’s time for brands to start incentivizing their most loved customers to spread the word.
Your goal here should be to:
- Increase longevity
- Encourage brand advocacy
Here are two ways to make the most out of your highly-satisfied customers:
1. Implement a loyalty program
A loyalty program isn’t just for airlines and grocery stores. SaaS companies can also implement programs that reward customers who refer their friends.
For example, Uber and Airbnb use a referral program to encourage customers to invite their friends to share a ride or book a room. The same system can be used for your own repeat customers. Identify those who are heavy users of your product and send them a discount code when they refer a friend.
2. Customer testimonials
Did you know that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation? And, nearly 70% of internet users form an opinion about a product after reading between one and six online reviews (BrightLocal).
It’s apparent that people place much emphasis on product reviews. Therefore, it’s critical to create a backlog of customer testimonials. Tell the story of customers who’ve had a great experience with your product and those who have a unique use case. Set up an interview with these customers and feature their story as a quote on your website or as an article within your blog.
For every company, a lifecycle marketing strategy will be very different. The strategy you choose must align with the customer’s journey and provide valuable information at every touchpoint they have with your brand. Optimizing the customer journey is an investment that leads you down the path of creating happy, delighted customers.