Savvy marketers know that it is rare for customers to be approached the first time they encounter a brand. Winning people over takes time, thoughtful points of contact and a lot of trust. Fortunately, there is a strategy that includes all of this and more. It’s known as lifecycle marketing, and it’s the way companies attract and retain customers beyond that impulse buy.
All companies develop their own unique lifecycle marketing strategy, but the purpose is the same: to retain customers, increase sales, and build a brand.
Unlike the buyer’s trip or conversion funnel, lifecycle marketing takes a customer into account long after the purchase. The focus is on attracting buyers and making them loyal brand advocates.
But how does that look for your company? In this guide, we’re going to cover:
- What Makes Lifecycle Marketing So Effective?
- Marketing strategies to attract customers and keep them coming back
- Considerations for Including Campaigns
- Use of email for each lifecycle phase
Let’s jump in.
What is life cycle marketing?
Lifecycle marketing is a mix of strategies a company uses to make a positive impact on customer behavior as it moves through every touchpoint in the marketing cycle, from initial attraction to brand promotion.
A life cycle can be short or long. Companies like Nespresso or Whole Foods Market have shorter cycles and people have to withdraw almost immediately after making a purchase.
However, companies with life cycles like Mercedes or Avocado Mattress play the long game of customer loyalty and advocacy in order to generate more business. The ultimate goal is to keep attracting customers and keep visiting them.
Regardless of the cycle length, there are different phases that make up any life cycle marketing plan. Understanding these will allow you to address the specific needs of your target audience at every stage, regardless of whether they are a lead, first-time buyer, repeat customer, or obsolete customer. Take a look at the following main life cycle stages.
The stages of life cycle marketing
This is the time when potential customers first learn about your company. As the topmost part of your conversion funnel, you have the opportunity to grab users’ attention and guide them further down your funnel.
People start interacting with your brand in the engagement cycle. Interested and want to know more about your offers by subscribing to your email list, following them on social media, or browsing your website.
The evaluation phase is all about decisions. This is the time to make it easier for people to choose your brand by giving them the right information to compare features, pricing, and value.
Congratulations! Anyone who makes it through this phase is a customer. Your job here is not to promote your brand, but rather to make a purchase as seamlessly as possible. Therefore, it is easy for users to click “Buy”.
It is important to make sure that you meet customers’ needs after they buy as customers tend to fall off after the first purchase. Because of this, the support phase is all about making sure employees are happy and maximizing the value of their purchase.
Customers reach this stage when they’re happy enough to let everyone know about your brand. They want to encourage this advocacy to keep their business going and attract new buyers.
While the lifecycle stages seem like a linear buyer journey, it’s important to remember that this is a cycle that should keep repeating itself. You can’t just forget a customer when they have made a purchase. When you put in the effort to come up with a well thought out plan, it can be a lot easier to meet and exceed your marketing, sales, and business goals.
Life cycle marketing strategy
Strategy is the core of successful life cycle marketing. Without them, you’re likely to bring in the wrong leads and waste your budget on people who don’t turn into trademark lawyers. With it you can:
- Grow your customer base by providing a better shopping experience.
- Improve sales by turning one-time buyers into repeat customers.
- Turn buyers into brand advocates raving about your business.
- Improve your marketing ROI and lifetime customer benefits.
The best strategies take into account how people interact with your brand at certain stages in the lifecycle. Here is an example of using different marketing channels throughout the cycle.
Your business can do just fine with a simple strategy, or you may need to include more touchpoints and channels at each stage. For example, a small art gallery can use social media, email, a website, and events to attract artists and potential buyers.
However, a large art museum like the Metropolitan Museum of Art needs a more complex marketing strategy to reach thousands of visitors, attract donors, sell and retain memberships, attract artists and exhibits, sell retail products, and host events.
Regardless of size, all life cycle marketing strategies are content powered. And with 70% of marketers actively investing in content marketing, you can be missing out on potential buyers (and profits) if you don’t create relevant content for each stage.
Instead of blindly marketing to the masses, you need to be strategic and link your sales directly to your promotions. Let’s go over the strategies you can use at each stage.
You want to attract as many people as possible to your target group. So it is time to create shareable and highly visible content. Awareness strategies include:
- Create an audience for each buyer personality so you know who will fit your buyer profile.
- Find and use keywords that will help people discover your brand when they search online.
- Write blog posts that answer key questions from your audience about common problems.
- Share your offers in an eye-catching paid or organic social ad.
- Put up a billboard or banner in the places your audience visits.
- Create a catchy ad on the podcasts that you know potential buyers will hear.
- Work with guests or influencers your audience follows to promote content to one another.
Getting people involved is important, but remember not to focus all of your efforts on generating leads. Although 67% of businesses use lead generation as the only metric of content success, returning customers spend an average of 67% more than new buyers.
Your strategy for the engagement phase is to share information about your offerings so people can see why your brand is the best. Get people to your website or channels and keep them there.
Those prospects are still relatively high in the sales funnel, so you need to answer their questions with concise content that is easy to understand. Some engagement strategies include:
- Design engaging landing pages that are easy to navigate.
- Video demos to showcase the features of your product or service.
- Blog posts, guides, or templates that provide solutions to common customer problems.
- Whitepaper on insightful research or industry trends.
- Case studies highlighting the positive aspects of doing business with your brand.
- Email campaigns to fix sticking points before they occur.
Increasingly, customer loyalty is about personalization and instant gratification. In fact, 83% of customers who contact a company expect immediate engagement.
That means you have to dial in your channels and be ready to respond, probably using automation technology. When you do this, prospects will move into the next phase of lifestyle.
Save time with marketing automation software from HubSpot
You have impressed a prospect, and it’s time to convert them from prospect to customer. To do this, make it as easy as possible for them to convert (aka “buy”). Think what people need to see when comparing your brand to a competitor. Here are strategies to ensure that you are confident in your decision.
- Provide clear pricing and feature information on your website so that these options can be compared.
- Share customer testimonials to build confidence in the post-purchase experience.
- Create a demo or free trial to increase confidence in the full investment.
- Send an email answering questions from executives to make pitching easier.
- Take a look at your customer service team for post-purchase assistance.
Personalization, like the engagement phase, is key to conversion. Research shows that online retailers improve conversion rates by around 8% when it comes to personalizing the customer experience. So try to make a prospect feel like they are unique, rather than being some other number that will get you closer to your sales goals.
Unfortunately, not enough marketing dollars are spent on customer loyalty. Lead generation may seem sexier, but 93% of customers are likely to make repeat purchases from companies that provide excellent customer service. Having a good post-purchase experience and exceptional service can help engage buyers and increase profits.
- Set up easy-to-use support options such as live chat, messaging, FAQ pages, or troubleshooting forums. For simple service problems, 65% of customers prefer to help themselves.
- Onboarding materials that make it easy and hassle free to set up and use.
- Offer a discount code or a perk for a future purchase.
- Announce a new product or offer with an appealing campaign – you can even offer exclusive initial access to existing customers.
- Targeted ads with additional offers that complement an initial purchase (i.e. a sleeping bag and mat for someone buying a tent).
- Emails to notify customers of updates or ways to improve their current purchase.
Don’t let your customers take care of themselves at this stage. To improve your retention marketing strategies, you need to increase your sales and improve your overall customer experience.
The final phase of lifecycle marketing is all about loyalty. When clients become lawyers, they can’t stop talking about your brand to everyone who will listen. They recognize your logo and will prefer it to others without a second thought. They drive leads and sales, and are repeat buyers. Strategies for maintaining this type of loyalty include:
- Exclusive in-app functions or membership in the Loyalty Club.
- Incentives for sharing testimonials (i.e. discount codes or free products).
- Events or webinars with team members or industry experts.
- Referral programs for people who are attracting new customers.
- Social media functions to increase brand awareness for both companies.
- Reactivation campaigns for expired customers.
Customers who trust a brand are 95% more likely to remain loyal to the brand. So your job is to maintain people’s expectations and show them why their feedback is valued. A strong strategy encourages clients to repeat the cycle and bring new perspectives into the awareness phase.
Life cycle marketing campaigns
Designing campaigns for each phase of the life cycle seems overwhelming. However, a campaign doesn’t have to be complex to be effective.
First, define the purpose of your campaign. They can be aimed at acquiring new customers, retaining existing customers, building loyalty, attracting expired customers, or adding value to customer lifetime.
With a clear goal, it will be easier for you to focus on a specific phase or to see throughout the cycle how to improve the effort in each phase.
Learn how REI, an outdoor retail company, uses lifecycle marketing to engage people at different stages across different channels.
1. Awareness campaign
When I searched Google for “best lightweight camping tents”, REI came up on the first page of results. The blog post is part of the Expert Advice column, which asks people to learn more about their product features, testing processes, and ratings. Of course, you can buy every tent presented at REI with just a few clicks.
2. Engagement campaign
For example, let’s say I’ve read a few blog posts from REI and I’m interested in the equipment they sell. A website popup invites me to sign up for their email list, which I can’t resist. The subject line of any email I receive is “We see backpacking trips in your future.”
They know what I’m interested in and offer an email with tips on planning a trip, including a list of equipment I will need before I leave. I’m going down the funnel.
3. Conversion campaign
I search the equipment list to see what I will need for my trip and find that I have no way of making my all-important morning coffee. So I read a review and decided on a lightweight AeroPress. A single click takes me to the product page and I put the coffee machine in my shopping cart.
After logging into my account, I am directed to a checkout page that stores my member ID, billing and shipping information. It takes seconds to check and click “Submit Order”.
4. Retention campaign
My caffeine kick is done and I am receiving a confirmation email receipt for my purchase. It summarizes the order, describes the return policy, and explains how I can donate used equipment that I may have lying around.
I am a happy customer. A few days later I received an email about the new REI gearbox line, which was only developed for cooperative members. It is unique and available in limited quantities. As a backpack hoarder, I’m tempted.
5. Loyalty campaign
As a REI Co-op member for seven years, I’m on my way to be a lifelong customer. It’s one of my first stops when I want to buy something for my outdoor adventure. And I even encouraged some friends to become members.
REI knows what matters to me and encourages me to take part in campaigns to protect wild areas. That’s why you invite me to support the REPLANT Act in an email campaign.
By using my values, I am connected to the brand. And emotionally connected customers spend about $ 699 per year on a business compared to regular customers who spend about $ 275.
Lifecycle Email Marketing
The examples above show a few ways you can use email marketing to engage customers in the lifecycle. However, sloppily sending emails is not enough. They need to arrive at just the right time so they don’t get buried in someone else’s inbox. And they have to be enticing enough to open up. The average email click rate (CTR) is 18%, which means that many messages are unopened and ignored.
The click rate varies depending on the industry. Take a look at this breakdown to get an idea of your benchmark.
Don’t be disappointed if your prices are low to begin with. There are ways to spice up your campaigns and get people interested in the click. You can:
- A / B Test your subject lines for length, message delivery, and context.
- Optimize the preheader text so that users get a good preview.
- Test the cadence, day, and time of day (i.e. Monday evening versus Tuesday morning).
- Try to personalize the email with the recipient’s name.
- Send email from someone in your company instead of their company name.
- Segment your email campaigns based on your audience segments (i.e. newsletter emails versus product emails).
- Take into account your brand’s voice and tone for cohesive messaging.
- Make sure you have a unique CTA.
- Add eye-catching design along with hero pictures, videos or graphics.
Before testing email, you need to design a campaign that anticipates the various touchpoints your customers will need to move from the awareness phase to the loyalty phase. Let’s take a look at how companies are using email for lifecycle marketing campaigns.
1. Hilton Honors
Welcome emails are expected when you sign up for a company’s email list or loyalty program. I’m actually nervous that my request wasn’t answered if I don’t receive a welcome email.
This is where Hilton sends a straightforward email to join Hilton Honors and tips on how to get the most out of membership. It’s easy to scan and has informative content to learn more about the company or program.
Life cycle phase: awareness
2. Outside the magazine
After signing up for Outside Magazine’s daily newsletter, I can read the latest stories in the email that pique my interest. The publication shares articles and promotions through embedded links so you can just click on their website and read the entire piece.
Informational emails help get people to your website where they are likely to scroll long past the original article.
Life cycle phase: engagement
Let’s follow up on this outdoor theme with a promotional email from Backcountry. Using the subject line “Ending Hours: 20% Off a Full Price Item” is meant to grab people’s attention and get them to make a purchase right away.
You can use this type of email for engaged customers who have already had multiple points of contact with your brand. Maybe you have subscribed to your newsletter or items in your shopping cart.
Life cycle phase: converting
4. Sierra Club
To remind donors of Earth Day and the various return options, the Sierra Club sent this re-engagement email. It shares ideas to celebrate the holidays, explains how to raise money for the grassroots organization, and invites donors to free webinars from climate activists.
The in-brand combination of education and activism is a great way to remind supporters of their shared values and encourage donations.
Life cycle phase: retention
5. Third love
We’ve covered personalization more than once in this post, but there are so many benefits to custom emails. Take this example from Thirdlove.
Your marketing team doesn’t just send emails from different accounts, such as B. Names of individual team members, but also personalizes emails by sending a collection based on buying habits. Seeing your name like this is fascinating, and clicking it makes you feel special – even when hundreds of other people are given the same product options.
Life cycle phase: loyalty
Integrate lifecycle marketing into your strategy
You know the advantages, phases and possibilities of incorporating lifecycle marketing into your company’s strategy. All you have to do is map the cycle for your customer segments and manage the people you hire.
Once you’ve done the hard work, you can save time with marketing automation software that simplifies tasks like setting up email campaigns, tracking analytics, planning your SEO strategy, and more.
If you’d like to learn more about managing customers once they’re on the cycle, you can brush up on customer lifecycle management or see how you work with lifecycles in HubSpot.