Lifecycle Marketing: Everything You Need To Know

Written by: Scott Cohen

The term “lifecycle marketing” is becoming more prevalent in the business world–especially for the email marketers and CRM marketing professionals within these organizations. Personally, I love that this is happening.

The “lifecycle” of every product and service is different. How you would nurture prospects, acquire paying customers, and cultivate repeat purchases is different as well. Bringing that “lifecycle” marketing thinking is smart.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the world of lifecycle marketing. We’ll give you foundational ideas around lifecycle marketing plus effective ideas for impactful strategies and email marketing campaigns to help you turn your prospects into brand advocates.

Let’s start with the basics.

What Is Lifecycle Marketing?

It’s the principle of building effective marketing around the journey a customer takes when interacting with your brand and your product or service. This customer lifecycle requires an in-depth marketing strategy that addresses your buyers’ various needs and at the different stages of their relationship with your brand.

A concrete way to think about this is by using the example of Netflix. Customers have a desire to watch TV shows, movies, documentaries, etc., from the comfort of their couch (or anywhere, really). The journey to an initial trial or first purchase is relatively quick as they can “solve the problem” in short order.

From there, smart marketers would identify those customers who are regularly using the platform, not using the platform, looking to cancel their subscriptions, or have canceled their subscriptions previously, etc. A lifecycle will have many ins and outs to cover, after all.

Conversely, consider an enterprise-level decision like Salesforce. The lifecycle for an initial purchase may be long (years, even). This extended decision cycle will require a meticulous strategy and execution plan to cover multiple touchpoints for multiple decision makers. And let’s not even get into renewals…

Regardless of the length of your product or service’s lifecycle, the objective of lifecycle marketing at a very high level is simple:

  • Determine the wants and needs of your ideal customer;
  • Create a journey of touchpoints across channels (including email) to drive that crucial first purchase;
  • Cultivate a journey of touchpoints that encourages use of your product or service and encourage repeat purchases;
  • Seal the bond by retaining your customers.

Success hinges on your ability to effectively “fill the gaps” in communication during the stages of your customer lifecycle marketing and employs diverse marketing methods to facilitate buyer decision making.

The Stages of Lifecycle Marketing

The-Stages-of-Lifecycle-Marketing-Banner2

While every lifecycle is different, most customers go through some form of seven distinct stages from anonymous site visitors to cherished, loyal advocates. Before we jump into these phases, it’s important to remember and account for the fact that your customers will “raise their hand” in terms of email signup, outreach, etc., at different customer lifecycle stages.

Let’s take a look at each of these stages and how they’re defined.

Awareness

This is the initial stage of any customer journey. Your target audience is grappling with a problem and actively seeking a solution. Your product or service is that solution. How do you get your solution to the forefront? Time to step into the limelight and grab prospects’ attention.

From a marketing standpoint, you’re looking to distinguish yourself from the crowd. You’ll be looking to connect with these prospects in their preferred channels (social, paid advertising, word of mouth, etc.) and guide them into your sales funnel where you can address their concerns and guide them into the next stage.

Consideration

You’ve got their attention–now what? Provide them with the information they seek. They are officially in the consideration stage and are looking for reasons to choose you.

Guide them deeper into your funnel by telling your brand story. Present them with the information they need to compare features, costs, benefits, and overall value. The overall goal here is to make it so obvious that you’re the answer they’re looking for that they reach a decision.

Conversion

This is it–well, the first big “this is it” moment. Prospects become paying customers by prioritizing value and compelling reasons to choose you. Leverage customer testimonials and reviews, FAQs, and more as part of your communications efforts. Strive to optimize the conversion process, removing friction wherever possible, to make it easy to make a purchase, sign up for your service, or take another desired action.

Post-purchase support

Buyer’s remorse is real. Even after closing a deal, your now-new customers will likely still have needs related to their purchase. Focus on building the relationship, offering solutions, and emphasizing value before you jump into marketing and upselling. Prove your value first, then begin to push into downstream marketing.

Recovery

This stage might be the most crucial. It requires pinpoint identification for when a customer is at risk of or has already churned. From there, marketers would try to reignite interest and encourage these customers to reconnect with the brand. (You’ve no doubt heard campaigns at this stage referred to as “reactivation” or “winback” campaigns.)

For example, a fitness app notices a decline in user activity. To re-engage these inactive users, they can send personalized workout recommendations and exclusive challenges. For long-inactive users, the app might offer a limited-time free trial of premium features.

Loyalty and advocacy

This will be your smallest yet loudest and proudest set of customers. Your ongoing efforts to retain customers, keep them engaged and satisfied with your product or service are how you achieve this stage.

If your customer experience is seamless and productive, your customers are more likely to be satisfied. The more satisfied they are, the more likely they are to buy again. They’re also more likely to actively promote your brand by sharing their experiences (and perhaps an incentive or two from you) with their family and friends. When you get to this point, you’ve got brand advocates.

How to Create an Effective Lifecycle Marketing Strategy

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Lifecycle marketing requires a comprehensive strategy designed to establish brand authority and positioning amidst your competition. The essential components of creating a highly effective lifecycle marketing include:

Establishing a holistic understanding of your customer(s)

A product or service without an audience isn’t going to do well. Start your strategy with a deep understanding of who your audience is. Move beyond conventional buyer personas. Leverage data-driven insights from customer service interactions, customer satisfaction surveys, reviews, social media–anything that would be considered the “Voice of the Customer.” This will provide the groundwork for personalized and impactful engagement strategies.

Tailored content for every stage

Let’s start here: How and where you communicate with your prospects and customers needs to adjust based on the lifecycle stage they occupy. The specific needs and wants may change, the decision makers may change, and the end users may change, too.

Let’s take a look at some high-level tactics you can use at each stage of the lifecycle to provide relevant and valuable information:

1. Awareness

  • Employ an omnichannel approach to reach potential customers on diverse platforms.
  • Develop shareable content, including infographics, quotes, and concise videos.
  • Invest in display and social media ads, influencer marketing, and guest blog posts to enhance brand visibility.

2. Consideration

  • Create compelling lead magnets and landing pages to get prospects signed up to receive more information via email, phone, etc.
  • Implement a robust email marketing strategy, driving engagement and directing users to your website, mobile app, internal sales people, and more
  • Offer free trials and encourage hands-on user interaction where possible.
  • Create comparison-based content showcasing your product’s unique value.
  • Leverage easy-to-navigate landing pages, video product demonstrations, and industry research whitepapers for effective engagement.

4. Conversion

  • Ensure a seamless buying experience to instill confidence and remove friction from potential customers.
  • Incentivize loyal customers to leave reviews and testimonials, building trust and credibility.
  • Establish a responsive support team and a comprehensive knowledge base to address customer issues promptly.

5. Post-purchase support

  • Design an effective onboarding process to showcase the immediate value of your product.
  • Utilize push notifications to keep users engaged, providing ongoing support and highlighting the value of your app.
  • Implement deep linking in notifications and email communications to drive users to specific pages within your app or website for a seamless experience.

6. Recovery or win-back

  • Identify and re-engage customers showing signs of disinterest or inactivity.
  • Execute winback email campaigns with aggressive offers and personalized incentives based on past interactions.
  • Treat reactivated customers with exclusive bonuses and special treatment to foster renewed interest and loyalty.

7. Loyalty and advocacy

  • Harness machine learning to enhance user loyalty efforts, predicting and responding to individual preferences.
  • Track repeat purchases and measure loyalty through new versus repeat buyer comparisons.
  • Leverage your customer support team communications (and push for increased investment in that team as well) to enhance the user experience and foster long-term relationships.

Precision in personalization

80% of consumers are likely to purchase from a brand providing personalized marketing experience. And personalization goes beyond “Hello First Name” as well. Personalization speaks to the relevance of the messaging with regard to placement within the lifecycle. Utilize your customer data gathered at each lifecycle stage to elevate your marketing efforts and deliver a customized experience based on individual behavior.

Leverage smart automation

Streamlining repetitive tasks and ensuring consistency across the customer lifecycle can be achieved through advanced automation technologies. Workflow automation platforms can trigger personalized emails and communications based on specific customer behaviors. This not only saves time but also enhances the relevance of your messaging touchpoints.

Monitor customer acquisition costs (CAC)

Lifecycle marketing encompasses both the acquisition and retention sides of the customer lifecycle. One way to gauge the impact of your messaging and marketing strategies is to consistently monitor your customer acquisition cost (CAC). Over time, prioritize delivering an exceptional customer experience, recognizing its significant impact on customer acquisition efforts.

Leverage your “Voice of the Customer” for continuous improvement

Actively seek direct engagement with existing customers to gather insights into their experiences, preferences, and challenges. Use customer feedback as a powerful tool for iterative refinement and improvement. Addressing concerns and incorporating customer insights fortifies relationships and facilitates continuous strategy enhancement.

Leverage your Advocates to champion portions of your marketing

Differentiate your strategy by embracing innovative tactics that transcend conventional lifecycle stages. Harness the influence of loyal advocates within your user base for impactful influencer marketing. Motivate advocates, including your team and external partners, to champion your product and leverage their networks more effectively than traditional marketing campaigns.

Implement CRM for comprehensive insights

Deploy a robust customer relationship management (CRM) tool to document interactions and customer engagements across all channels systematically. It ensures a holistic understanding of the customer journey, allowing businesses to analyze touchpoints, trace unique customer paths, and deliver a more personalized and cohesive brand experience.

Examples of Lifecycle Marketing Campaigns

A well-rounded and effective lifecycle marketing strategy involves crafting diverse email campaigns to elevate your brand’s engagement, conversion, and customer retention. Some brands do it better than others. Let’s see some examples that you can “borrow” from for your own lifecycle and email marketing campaigns.

Awareness campaign

In this initial stage, potential customers become aware of your brand, product, or service. Your efforts should focus on building brand recognition and reaching a broad audience.

The beauty and skincare brand Glossier leverages user-generated content on social media. The brand creates a visually appealing and authentic online presence by encouraging customers to share their makeup looks using Glossier products and branded hashtags like #GlossierGirl

This approach attracts potential customers and builds a community around the brand, fostering engagement in the awareness stage.

#glossiegirl

Consideration campaign

In this stage, the goal is to engage with potential customers who have actively shown interest in your brand and get them to actively consider your product or service. Your content should focus on providing valuable information on features, benefits, case studies, product descriptions, and so much more.

Dells-Consideration-campaign

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Dell does this well by providing a clear comparison of features, prices, and performance metrics for various laptop models on their website. This transparency makes it easy for customers to assess the value proposition and choose Dell over competitors based on their specific needs.

Conversion Campaign

At this stage, your prospects are already in the funnel and likely know what they want to buy. They might be receiving your nurture emails, blogs, and other social media content. But that’s not enough.

Research states that 53% of buyers abandon online shopping if they can’t find easy checkouts. So, it’s essential to insert clear call-to-action buttons like ‘Buy here’ or ‘Add to cart’ to make purchasing easier. Additionally, ensure your site is optimized for mobile responsiveness, as customers will likely use their phones for shopping.

You can, of course, leverage email marketing to rescue these abandoned carts. Rael does a nice job here showcasing the contents of the abandoned cart while leaning into their brand.

Raels conversion campaign

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Amazon strategically places an ‘Add to cart’ button alongside customer ratings and product details, streamlining the purchasing process. The seamless transition from product exploration to checkout minimizes friction and increases conversion rates.

Post-purchase support campaign

After a purchase, customers need support and reassurance. Meeting customers’ post-sales needs transforms a single purchase into repeated transactions. You must incorporate ongoing communication and strategic content use to maximize post-purchase value.

Proactive problem solving and swift responses create customer confidence, prevent issues, contribute to a seamless customer experience, and foster loyalty. In fact, customer service decides brand loyalty for 97% of global consumers.

Apple has a Support Page that contains lots of self-help content. It has also introduced post-purchase support through its Apple Support App, offering troubleshooting guides and live chat assistance. I’m sure this plays a role in the many reasons why Apple has a customer satisfaction score of 82 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

Recovery campaign

The ‘Recovery’ or ‘Win-Back’ stage employs highly relevant and personalized re-engagement communications to retain customers long-term rather than allowing them to lapse. This targeted approach ensures businesses reconnect effectively, turning a potential loss into a revived customer relationship.

BareMinerals recovery campaign.

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BareMinerals, the renowned cosmetics brand, employs a heartfelt “We Miss You” email campaign to re-engage customers displaying inactivity. Tailoring their approach with precision, BareMinerals leverages past purchase data to offer exclusive discounts on previously favored products. This strategic and personalized reconnection effort not only entices customers but also reaffirms BareMinerals’ commitment to understanding and meeting individual beauty needs.

Loyalty and advocacy campaign

Satisfied customers become promoters, influencing others and contributing to brand advocacy. To entice more repeat business, you should provide unparalleled customer service by using loyalty programs and incentives for repeat customers, listening to their feedback, and personalized product recommendations.

Nikes Loyalty campaign

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Nike builds loyalty by offering a personalized experience through its Nike app. Users receive exclusive product recommendations, early-release access, and customized training plans based on their activities. It enhances customer loyalty and encourages long-term engagement with the brand.

Nikes-advocacy-campaign.

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Wrapping Up

Lifecycle marketing requires a commitment to understanding, engaging with, and retaining customers throughout their unique journey with your brand–from awareness to advocacy. It requires nuanced strategies and targeted content for each lifecycle stage to ensure a seamless and value-driven customer experience.

Take a deep look at your current product or service lifecycle. Ask yourself where the customer decision points are. And then ask yourself: Does my marketing cover these decision points?

Then take inspiration from the insights and lifecycle marketing campaigns presented here and go on to craft the right strategy for your business and marketing needs or contact InboxArmy an email marketing agency based in US.

About Author

Winner of the ANA Email Experience Council’s 2021 Stefan Pollard Email Marketer of the Year Award, Scott Cohen is a proven email marketing veteran with nearly 20 years of experience as both a brand-side marketer and an email marketing agency executive. He brings to our clients a unique blend of experience building and managing larger CRM and retention teams, sending millions of emails and SMS per week, and award-winning copywriting chops. For more information, follow him on Linkedin

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