The customer lifecycle is as varied and multifaceted as your customers themselves.
Customers take a multi-step journey as they move from a brand new buyer to — hopefully — a loyal customer. But there are many steps along the way, and a lot you have to understand about your buyers.
Have they bought a product from you yet? When? What kind of product? How many times have they visited your brand website, opened your emails, or liked posts on social media? When was the last time they engaged with your brand? How do they like you to communicate with you?
Collecting this data — and bringing it all together to get a single view of the customer — is key to understanding each shopper as an individual. This data powers your ability to execute lifecycle marketing — a strategy to engage with shoppers in the most relevant way according to where they are in their customer journey.
It really all comes down to: Are they a long-term loyal customer? Or a brand new customer? Or somewhere in between?
Once you understand that, you can improve customer retention and power your ecommerce growth. Learn how you can create a marketing strategy to more accurately target your buyers with customer lifecycle marketing.
What customer lifecycle data do I need?
The more data you have on your customers, the better. This is the information you need to start building out customer segments to personalize marketing communications according to the stage of the customer lifecycle.
Here you can see that this shopper:
- Is a loyal customer
- Made their first purchase on March 28th
- Made their last purchase on April 9th (which was also the date of their last engagement)
- Shops mainly in the homeware department
- Favors email marketing messages
Ideally, you would also be able to collect data on other variables such as newsletter subscription, location, app download, gender, and so on, as this will enable you to build out a more complete picture of your customer and accurately put them into the right customer segment.
What does the customer lifecycle look like?
There is no one lifecycle marketing strategy that fits all companies, but there are normally four basic steps in a lifecycle for your target audience:
- No purchase
- One purchase
- Loyal or Long-Term
There are also sub-segments to each of these steps, which describe how engaged a customer is within any of the basic lifestyle steps:
- At-Risk: Hasn’t engaged across any channel in more than 30 days
- Recent Buyer: Has made a purchase from you within the last 30 days, but has not engaged on any other channel since
- Awareness: Has engaged with you in the last 30 days
- Interest: Has shown a basic level of interest in a product, such as viewed a product
- Consideration: Has shown further interest in a product, such as viewing a single product twice
- Intent: Has shown purchase intent by adding a product to cart
The way you should engage with each of these segments and subsegments is different. You need to send each segment messaging specific to their lifecycle stage, with targeted marketing offers. But the most powerful part of lifecycle marketing, hands down, is triggered messages.
When a buyer interacts with your brand and sends a signal that indicates they’ve moved from awareness to interest, for example, you can automatically trigger an email marketing campaign to send to that specific buyer. You can offer them a message that is specific to exactly where they are in their buying process, increasing the odds that they click, engage, and — hopefully — buy.
Lifecycle marketing campaigns that work
You know your business best, but there are a number of lifecycle marketing campaigns that can work for specific stages of the customer lifecycle. Everything from winback campaigns to welcome campaigns have their place in lifecycle marketing strategy. Here are three examples of different campaigns that work for buyers at three different stages.
- Re-engage an at-risk, one purchase buyer: Offer a discount code for 20% off their next purchase through email marketing and retargeted ads.
- No purchase customer in the interest sub-segment: Send them a retargeting ad showing off the exact product they viewed on your website, or show them similar items they might like to buy.
- Loyal customer in the awareness stage: Send an invitation to early access to an upcoming sale, or a special offer to celebrate their birthday.
What does that look like in the real world? Here are three more examples for you. Fossil combined two of the above tactics in one email, both wishing a loyal customer a happy holiday season and offering early access to the company’s sale. If you have collected enough information to know a loyal customer always shops in the holiday sale, then providing early access to a sale can help drive up order value.
Electric bike retailer Vanmoof provides a similar offer specifically for its newsletter readers, with early access to its sale, as well as the ability to send the offer to friends for rewards.
If your active customer has viewed a product but not added it to their basket, it could be because it’s out of stock. Boot retailer Ugg’s email to customers to inform them that a product is back in stock also includes free shipping that ends that same day to encourage a purchase, as well as a range of other ways to engage with them, including entering a competition, and joining a loyalty program.
Providing specific, targeted messaging is not enough: you need to work out which channel and type of ad is best to use for this messaging. With the customer above, for example, the best methods are an email newsletter and mobile-friendly content. The only way to know what’s working is to measure success and always being on the lookout for new channels and techniques to try.
While personalizing communications according to the customer lifecycle will help improve customer retention and boost revenue, there is no one “right” way of engaging with existing customers at each stage. It’s important to test messaging, track results, and adjust your digital marketing strategy according to these results. With lifecycle marketing, you’ll be able to encourage your customers to move through the lifecycle with ease and become the loyal customers you’ve always dreamed of.
Thanks to Really Good Emails for all the great images!