Lifecycle Marketing: Definitions, Benefits and Strategies
Lifecycle marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. While it would be nice to win over customers with a shining first impression and call it a day, truly effective marketing takes a consistent, sustained effort to win over consumers. This is where lifecycle marketing comes in.
Below you’ll find the definition and benefits of lifecycle marketing, plus some strategies marketing teams can use to improve their own processes.
What is lifecycle marketing?
Lifecycle marketing is the process of nurturing your customers throughout the customer journey. Its main goals are to grow your customer base, foster repeat buying, and nurture long-term loyalty.
Achieving these goals isn’t as easy as setting up a rigid sales funnel and praying for the best—lifecycle marketing involves building deeply ingrained relationships with your customers. You build these relationships by delivering what your customers need, tailored to where they’re at on their buyer journey.
To help visualize the often involved process of selling to consumers, we like to look at the lifecycle marketing process as a sandwich. It has three categories that represent the three drivers of a business:
- The marketing (or sales funnel) lifecycle: This brand-focused lifecycle approach deals primarily with acquiring customers.
- The customer lifecycle: With a view of customer satisfaction, this approach defines how often customers buy from you and how they use your product.
- The shared loyalty lifecycle: This lifecycle deals with how the customer–brand relationship is developed over time through several customer touchpoints. The goal is to retain and grow customers and help them develop positive attitudes and behaviors toward the brand.
Aligning your lifecycle marketing strategy across all three layers of the sandwich will help you maintain high conversion rates and happy customers. This is an effort that goes well beyond the walls of your marketing department—the strategy will work best if your entire business is involved in each category.
Though challenging, there are plenty of upsides to using a comprehensive lifecycle approach.
The benefits of lifecycle marketing
These are just some of the benefits you can expect from a well-executed lifecycle marketing plan:
Better alignment with the customer journey
A holistic lifecycle approach enables you to coordinate every one of your sales channels with the customer journey. With the right data on hand, marketing teams can more closely tailor their strategies to the nuances of each customer’s path.
Better targeted campaign outcomes
You probably already know that retaining customers costs a lot less than acquiring new ones. Focusing on the whole customer journey helps you increase overall profit and margins, offsetting your customer acquisition cost (CAC).
Instead of investing resources only in customers whom you haven’t yet built relationships with, lifecycle marketing focuses its efforts across the board. Yes, new customer acquisition is important—but so is selling to your existing customers with a continuous lifecycle strategy.
Higher customer lifetime value
Nurturing customers increases their customer lifetime value (CLV). Along with lowering costs, lifecycle marketing increases retention and accelerates purchase frequency if done right.
Better ROI on resource usage
Rather than using a traditional sales funnel, a lifecycle approach to marketing allocates your resources where they’ll be most effective. Focusing on the needs and wants of your existing customers means you will get more value from the dollars, time, manpower, and skill sets you invest.
Increased efficiency with more useful data
Thanks to tech like predictive analytics, cookies, and automation, brands today can take a more data-driven approach to how they sell. Using data ensures you are basing your marketing decisions on actual metrics instead of spending your resources on guesswork.
For example, a retargeting strategy informed by behavioral data is one of the many ways marketing teams can optimize their conversion efforts for higher revenue.
Stages of lifecycle marketing
The process of lifecycle marketing can be broken down into four stages:
The awareness stage—at the top of the sales funnel—is where potential customers learn about your offer. In this stage, you get to wow them with the value you bring and the problems you solve.
Did you catch their attention? At the consideration stage, would-be customers are intentionally browsing your website, following you on social media, or maybe even subscribing to your emails. This is the point where potential customers start warming up to you and learning more about your products and brand.
Automation will be your best ally here. With it, you can tailor your approach to keep your target customers’ attention based on the actions they take or interests they express. This might involve engaging them through a website chat form, offering a discount or shipping promotion, sending SMS messages, personalizing your email marketing, or retargeting paid ads based on behaviors you’ve tracked on your site.
The decision stage is where it gets serious. Customers have learned enough about who you are, what you do, and if they want what you’re selling. At this stage, your potential customers decide whether to make a purchase.
With lifecycle marketing, it’s important to remember that selling continues well beyond the decision phase. If your customer ultimately decides to go with your offer, you can now start the loyalty stage.
There are many ways to nurture loyalty. Once you gain a paying customer, you can nurture them by upselling or cross-selling products they might like. You can also offer exclusive deals as a thank you for being a customer. In addition to encouraging more purchases from them in the future, this will also make them more likely to spread the word about your brand.
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to generate new leads. Offer incentives to get your customers on board as brand evangelists, and consider including a referral program in your greater marketing plan. Throwing some love back to the people who send you more customers is money well spent.
How to get started with lifecycle marketing
Breaking down your customer lifecycle into the phases above will help make the process less overwhelming. From there, it’s a matter of breaking each phase down even further to pinpoint your marketing objectives.
Once you‘re clear on what objectives determine success for each phase, you can map out campaigns to reach them. During the campaign ideation phase, it helps to start with the end in mind and work backward from there.
There are a few essential elements to factor into your lifecycle marketing process:
To market to prospects, you have to get their attention first. Define how you’ll generate leads. Quizzes, email subscriptions, free trials, or contests are some ways you can capture contact information that will be invaluable throughout the lifecycle process.
Ideally, your approach to capturing leads will be evergreen. Once you’ve tested different approaches and found the highest-performing lead capture strategies, automate them and keep them running in the background to continue funneling new leads into your marketing system.
Customer definition and segmentation
Where and how your campaign is executed will depend on the customer segments you want to reach. Once interested leads start to come in, segment them into groups by key identifiers. These could be interests, familiarity with your brand, or even by lead generation strategy.
Segmentation helps you create targeted messaging that’s defined by the more specific needs of each segment, rather than marketing to every customer with the exact same approach. As customers go through their lifecycle, the messaging will change according to their needs at whatever stage they’re in.
With segmentation, you can develop more personalized messaging that positions you to strengthen customer relationships.
Creating a nurturing strategy
Once you win customers, it’s vital to continue doing the work to keep them. This is where a nurturing strategy comes into play. Your nurturing strategy will include things like building engagement, creating more customer touchpoints, and ramping up your newsletter strategy. All these efforts may be small individually, yet they are critical to the entirety of the lifecycle.
After you’ve tested several campaigns to get a sense of what your ideal customer responds to, you can start automating nurturing workflows. This will mean one less marketing task you need to manage in real time, so you can focus your efforts on monitoring performance and usage data to tailor future campaigns.
Tracking and assessing campaign data
Without a strong data component, data-driven decisions can’t be made. Retargeting is harder, reaching warm leads is more challenging, and any digital marketing efforts can fall flat. In other words, campaign data is the fuel that keeps your lifecycle marketing engine going.
This is often upheld by a customer relationship management platform (CRM)—but a CRM alone doesn’t always come with the luxury of built-in data-capturing features to keep you informed along the buyer’s journey. Thankfully, a customer data platform (CDP) is perfect for that.
With tools like Simon CDP, you can create omnichannel customer experiences without needing to know code. They enable you to consolidate historical and recent customer data into a single view, so you can create customer touchpoints that are real value drivers.
Whether you’re working on audience management, email marketing, or cross-channel orchestration, Simon Data simplifies the end-to-end lifecycle marketing process. With the visibility of a centralized platform, campaign metrics become easier to track and assess.
Automation is your best friend when it comes to executing campaigns at scale to cover all the stages of the customer lifecycle. Whether you’re trying to create more touchpoints on different marketing channels, gather key metrics, or create a welcome sequence, automation will make the process much simpler and quicker.
Marketing automation improves the overall customer experience. It helps lower churn rates and maintain conversion rates—no more missing out on additional sales because you didn’t set up an automated trigger to remind your customers of their abandoned carts.
Lifecycle marketing campaign example—the Farmer’s Dog
Ecommerce brand the Farmer’s Dog is a prime example of a company making the most of each stage of lifecycle marketing. By centralizing their customer lifecycle into one comprehensive view, they ensure both new and existing customers receive the nurturing they need to make repeat purchases, become loyal customers, and share their enthusiasm with other potential customers.
Let’s look at how the Farmer’s Dog works through each stage of lifecycle marketing and what best practices they have employed:
At the awareness stage, the Farmer’s Dog has everything in place to become discoverable. They have a strong social media presence, they’ve created a meal plan survey to usher interested customers into their email list, and they even pay for acquisition via Facebook ads.
- Designing a targeted and professional website aimed at dog owners
- Including a survey button on the landing page to start prospects down the marketing funnel
- Appearing on large platforms like Today and CBS News
During the consideration stage, the Farmer’s Dog nudges potential customers through email marketing. They also have a reviews page on their website highlighting some of the best praise they’ve received from important customers.
- Using a survey to personalize email messaging as customers move through the awareness stage into the consideration stage
- Showcasing reviews from trusted sources like veterinarians
A good way to get warm prospects to make a purchasing decision is to use a pop-up asking for the customer’s opinion. In this case the Farmer’s Dog asks, “What can we improve?” Customers who want to see prices, view recipes, or get more information can make their choice here and be led further down the funnel.
- Asking for feedback in the form of a pop-up survey
- Collecting email addresses for every option
- Focusing messaging on helping the customer instead of pushing the brand
The loyalty stage can be nurtured in more ways than one. The Farmer’s Dog uses an affiliate strategy to incentivize satisfied customers to spread the word about their pet food products.
- Implementing an affiliate program with clear benefits to the customer
- Making it easy to join with a “Join Now” CTA above the fold
Check out the Farmer’s Dog case study here to learn how they saved more than 80 hours of engineering work by executing a lifecycle strategy with Simon Data.
Make the complex simple
Without the right tools, it’s easy to get lost under a ton of data while you struggle to make it actionable. But with the right customer data platform at your fingertips, creating a unified and comprehensive lifecycle marketing strategy becomes easier.
Simon CDP helps you build a framework that will fuel your entire customer journey, making it easy to use complex data and enabling you to refine your marketing campaigns for better returns. Request a demo today.