A good customer service professional knows that business is more than just closing a one-time deal. Companies that want to be successful should create relationships with their customers that are beneficial for both parties involved. This way, the customer will be more likely to stay with the company for a longer period of time.
This means they consider what a customer needs at each stage of their relationship with the company. This text is discussing how analyzing the customer lifecycle can help improve your business by turning one-time customers into loyal promoters.
We will explain what a customer lifecycle is, how to analyse it, what the best tools are for managing it, and what marketing strategies can increase your customer retention rates.
What is the Customer Lifecycle?
The customer lifecycle is composed of the following steps: awareness, purchase, and ideally, becoming a company’s longtime customer. The process consists of five stages: reaching the customer, acquiring the customer, converting the customer, retaining the customer, and developing customer loyalty.
It sets out the steps a customer takes as they progress from being unaware of your product to becoming a satisfied customer. It provides marketing, sales, and customer service teams with a complete picture of the customer’s journey and highlights areas that need improvement.
If you want your team to be successful, you should use the lifecycle to create content that will help you acquire leads and make customers happy at every stage.
Customer Lifecycle Stages
The customer lifecycle has five stages: reach, acquisition, conversion, retention, and loyalty. While the buyer’s journey and the customer lifecycle are similar, the customer lifecycle takes into account the customer’s experience after they make a purchase.
We’ll walk through these stages one by one.
A customer in this stage becomes aware of a problem they need to solve and searches for a product to solve that problem. This stage is your opportunity to reach the customer when they are still considering their options.
The customer is comparing products and brands, conducting research, and reading customer reviews at this stage. There are various marketing techniques that you can use to make your brand known to potential customers, such as social media marketing, SEO, and search engine marketing.
The goal of this stage is to get the customer to reach out to you for more information. This can be done by providing information that educates them further or by getting a definitive price.
The customer has started the process of acquiring your product or service when they reach your website or call you on the phone.
The stage will vary depending on which acquisition channel the customer has used. If you receive a phone call from a customer, you will need to respond to any questions or concerns that they have. You will also need to ask for more information about what they need. After you identify what your customer wants, you can provide them with the products or services that they need along with additional information on how to use those products or services.
If someone has found your website, they should see helpful and educational content that can help them make a purchasing decision. Every content offer, pricing page, or blog post should provide the customer with the information they need to decide whether or not to make the purchase.
Some content should be blocked off so that you can collect the customer’s information. Your service team should always be available to answer any urgent inquiries that come up via live chat. In other words, customer service extends far beyond tech support and phone calls. Every time someone interacts with your company in any way, they’re effectively receiving customer service.
After the prospect has gathered all the required information and been pleased with the brand’s customer experience, they make a purchase. They’ve officially converted and turned into your customer.
Clear value must be provided in this stage. They are in a relationship with you, not just a customer. But the work doesn’t end here. It’s time to keep the customer so that they continually come back to your brand.
Customer retention begins by determining how the customer feels. See how they’re settling in with their new product or service. Customer service surveys can help you improve your customer satisfaction score and voice of the customer program.
You can improve your products and services, as well as the customer service experience, by using information directly from your customers.
In the retention stage, you’ll want to offer exclusive perks that only your customers have access to. This will help keep them coming back. There are a few things that can turn a customer into a brand promoter, such as 24/7 support, product discounts, and referral bonuses.
The customer becomes an important part of the brand by making additional purchases. Some customers might post about their experience with your company on social media or write product reviews to help inform future customers who are in the reach stage.
Brand loyalty is of the utmost importance. Here’s a common example.
In the automobile industry, there are many brands that sell similar vehicles for similar purposes. What helps a customer choose an SUV between Toyota and Chevrolet?
The answer is brand loyalty. For example, the customer’s first car might have been a Toyota Camry from the 1990s. The car was a good investment for them and lasted a long time. Now, as an experienced car-buyer looking to invest in a new SUV, which company do you think they would go with? The familiar brand or the new one? The first option is more likely, unless a negative experience with customer service turns them away.
Your customer reaches the purchase stage after being influenced by the previous four stages. This means that you cannot create a loyal following for your brand without any effort. The customer needs to be nurtured and given service experiences that solve their problems and prove the value of your product and brand.
The customer journey is not always linear. When customers want to learn about a new brand, they often ask friends and family for recommendations, look up the brand on social media, or see ads. Sometimes customers will do their own research to learn more. It is important to understand the customer lifecycle so that you can manage it effectively. Mapping it out can help with this process.
There is a lot of software available today that can help automate different aspects of the customer lifecycle, even if you don’t think of it as “automation.”
The majority of marketers are using at least one form of marketing automation in their business, with 75% reporting this in a Social Media Today survey from 2019.
The top three processes that marketers find viable to automate without compromising on personalized experiences and reducing the overall effectiveness of their campaigns are:
- social media post scheduling
- email marketing (segmentation and automated messages)
- social media advertising (retargeting)
One of the biggest challenges people face with automated processes is creating effective automations and producing high-quality content that meets audience needs.
The benefits of automating your business are obvious. Although it may be tempting to automate your customer lifecycle, it is a complex project that requires careful planning and execution. Automating your customer lifecycle requires strategic leadership, excellent communication among team members, and in-depth technical knowledge.
This framework will help you plan the automation of your customer lifecycle. it is designed to be simple and actionable.
What is automation exactly?
In its broadest sense, automation is the process of making a task easier to complete by using technology. This can involve improving existing manual processes to make them more efficient, or implementing new processes that would be difficult or impossible to complete without the use of technology.
Automation in digital marketing refers to the use of software and technology to manage, streamline, and measure marketing tasks and workflows so they can be executed more efficiently and effectively. By automating processes that would normally be done manually, you can efficiently scale your operations to reach and convert more customers.
A step-by-step framework to automate your customer lifecycle
Step 1: Define your marketing funnel
Well, you can’t very well automate your marketing processes if you don’t have a clear understanding of what your customer’s lifecycle looks like. In order to properly evaluate any automation tools, you must first get a broad overview of your business.
The customer lifecycle can be defined by mapping out a specific marketing funnel.
The marketing and sales funnel is the process a person takes to become a customer of your business. This is broken down into specific stages, each representing a different stage in the process. As customers progress from one stage to the next, some will drop off while others will reach the final stage by becoming a loyal customer that brings more business to you.
There are plenty of funnels commonly adopted by high-tech businesses, to name a few:
- AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action)
- AICA (Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Action)
- AARRR (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue – Dave McClure’s model from 500 Startups)
You should map the stages of your customer’s journey with your organization instead of created a separate funnel for your business. This will help ensure that your customers have a positive experience and are more likely to buy from you.
Step 2: Track the right metrics
It is important for everyone to have data, but it is especially important to figure out which data will be most beneficial for improving decision making in your business, which will ultimatley lead to an increase in your business’s bottom line.
At this step, you need to decide on the metrics that you want to measure in order to track the performance of your automation efforts. Then, list these metrics in your automation strategy sheet.
The best automation tool is the one that helps you achieve your goals and shows you what is possible. The goal of automation is not to show ads, create dedicated landing pages, or send emails. The more customers you convert and move down your funnel, the more sales you will make.
Step 3: Map the customer journeys/scenarios
Think about your customers and what journey they take to get to each stage of the funnel. As SurveyMonkey explains,
The customer journey is all of the experiences that customers have with your company and brand. The customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer, not just a part of a transaction or experience.
The difference between the marketing funnel and the customer journey is that the marketing funnel is a general overview of the different stages a customer goes through, while the customer journey is a specific account of how a customer interacts with your brand. The following text outlines the customer’s experience from the client’s point of view.
- Your potential customer is searching for “Black Friday” deals and sees your ad on the Google search results page.
- She clicks your ad (because you’ve used ad customizers to increase your conversions!)
- She’s taken to a personalized landing page where you capture her email using a gated asset.
- Minutes later, your marketing automation software sends her the first email in your Black Friday sequence of emails with exclusive discounts and promotions.
- She is taken back to your website where her journey continues until she makes a purchase and later refers more people to your brand.
If you want an accurate picture of what needs to be automated, you need to outline the customer journeys in great detail. This makes it easier for you to carry out your plan.
Step 4: Implement and automate
The final step is to make your automations live in your tool(s) of choice.
There are two ways of thinking about automation vendors, either going for an all-in-one solution or choosing the best tool for the job. One one side, there are all-in-one platforms like HubSpot and Pardot. On one hand, you can operate with the best tools that cater to a specific fragment of the automation. On the other hand, you can use tools that cater to a specific fragment of the automation, like Instapage or Encharge.
Choose an approach that will allow the software features to match the customer journey stages and scenarios you want to automate. The goal of the tools is to help you improve the key metrics you set to track and measure in your strategy spreadsheet. Consider whether the automation will help with progressing the person to the next stage of the funnel and increasing KPIs before implementing.
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