Understanding the customer lifecycle can help you plan and execute successful marketing campaigns for your small business. A lot of business owners think that an online user doesn’t become a customer until they make a purchase. That’s far from correct; in fact, someone becomes a customer the second they enquire about your business. That’s why it’s so important to guide them through their entire customer lifecycle if you want to increase sales. So what is customer lifecycle management exactly?
What is a customer lifecycle?
A customer lifecycle describes the relationship a user has with a brand. It spans every stage of the journey, from the very first touch point to repeat purchases. Unlike the conversion funnel which is an end-to-end process, the customer lifecycle is a cyclical process instead. Rather than focusing on the stages of converting a customer, it spans the whole customer relationship, including multiple transactions and interactions. The process is made up of five stages: awareness, consideration, acquisition, retention, and advocacy.
The awareness phase occurs when a prospect is first aware of your brand. This happens when they’ve become aware of a problem they need to solve, and come across your brand amongst others.
Your customer is now doing research, comparing products from other brands, including yours, and reading customer reviews. That’s why it’s important to invest in social media marketing, SEO and other inbound and outbound marketing strategies to ensure your brand is visible.
When the customer contacts you for more information in order to either enhance their education or obtain firm pricing, this stage is successful.
During this stage, your client is out to gather and digest information, and you need to make it readily available to them.
You may help them by offering information that makes weighing selections and comprehending features and advantages as simple as possible. You can also provide clarification by responding to their inquiries. If you’re an e-commerce website, product comparison tools work particularly well because it lets customers make like-for-like comparisons between products. Case studies and testimonial content work well too because it enables customers to put themselves in the shoes of an existing customer with comparable questions and requirements.
Having gained all the necessary information and be delighted with your brand’s customer experience, the prospect makes a purchase. They’ve officially converted and turned into your customer!
But the work is far from being done. It’s not time to retain the customer so that they make repeat purchases. And how can you convince them to do that? By providing them value!
Continuing to give value is a key factor that can help retain your customers. They’ll stay loyal to your brand because they come back for more.
They know that the quality of your product or service will satisfy them and that you’ll be there for them when their needs arise. In this stage, you’re also helping them discover new products and services available through your brand to satisfy more needs.
Research has proven customer loyalty to lead to an infinite number of transactions, making it highly lucrative. Content that’s of interest to the customer, promotions relevant to their interest, loyalty programmes and customer feedback can all come into play at this stage.
At this point, a repeat consumer has established a strong, favourable association with your brand. Not only are they loyal to you, but they’re also telling all their friends and family about it. Reaching this stage definitely isn’t easy, but it’s worth it in the long run. To keep them at this point, you want to go above and beyond for them in a way that encourages them to talk about your brand even more. For example, you can reward their willingness to recommend you by setting up a referral programme. This is a formalised approach to advocacy that not only rewards your customer – both they and their referee get a discount or bonus – but allows you to track and quantify the added value each customer brings by referring new awareness-stage customers.
Understanding your customer’s lifecycle is key to attracting new users and retaining existing ones. While it seems like that process is a result of chance, you can take control of your customers’ lifecycles by initiating lifecycle marketing campaigns and using the right tools to manage each stage.