Lifecycle Marketing Guide: Strategies, Examples, and Model

Writer:
Gabrielle Hass
Editor:
Alaina Bradenburger
Published: Nov 18, 2021
Last Updated:
January 4, 2024
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As the nature of business has shifted, so too has the marketing process. In the modern world, companies do more than just offer products and services. There’s so much competition in every industry that it’s not enough to simply make something and explain why it’s worth buying. You need to develop customer relationships, so they keep coming back. That’s the premise of customer lifecycle marketing.

In lifecycle marketing, you consider every stage of the customer experience with your brand. Your goal is to build a relationship, not just make one sale. Keep reading to learn how lifecycle marketing works, the stages and pillars of the lifecycle marketing process, and examples of how this approach works in the real world.

An image of people having a business meeting

What Is Lifecycle Marketing?

The customer lifecycle marketing model is built on the idea that it’s better to win customer loyalty over individual sales. In lifecycle marketing, you nurture your relationship with customers from the moment they’re aware of your brand to long after their initial purchase. This improves customer lifetime value, as they are more likely to make repeated purchases.

There are three pillars of lifecycle marketing:

  • Personalization: Marketing teams use research, data tracking, and automation to provide personalized recommendations and marketing messages to each customer.
  • Utility: Beyond personalization, lifecycle marketing also ensures that every marketing message is valuable to the recipient.
  • Customer Orientation: All lifecycle marketing is based on what the customer wants and needs. You need to approach things from your clients’ perspectives to effectively market to them in each stage.

Basically, lifecycle marketing is the process of making customers happy to buy from your business by marketing with their point of view in mind.

The 5 Customer Lifecycle Stages and What They Are All About

The customer lifecycle journey has stages, just like every other lifecycle model. However, unlike lifecycles in the natural world, there’s no necessary end to the cycle. Here’s how the customer lifecycle works and what each stage includes.

1. Reach

The reach stage begins when your customer becomes aware of their problem. At this stage, they are actively looking for solutions, so it’s the best time to get their attention. Reach is all about engaging first-time customers and standing out from the crowd. Attract people at this stage by communicating how you can solve their problems better than your competitors. 

2. Acquisition

As soon as a customer reaches out to you for more information, they have entered the acquisition phase. This could be as simple as hopping onto your website and looking through your content for more information. Or, it could involve scheduling a marketing sales call or asking for a demo.  

3. Conversion

Conversion is the moment when someone buys your product or service and becomes a customer. The conversion stage is dedicated to making the sales process as simple and thought-free as possible. It’s focused on customer carts and the checkout process and is a vital part of any marketing strategy. An increase in conversion rate shows how well your company handles customer acquisition.

4. Retention

Your relationship with customers doesn’t end after their first purchase. Following that critical sale, you should follow up and build a relationship. Retention is the process of reaching out to customers who haven’t interacted with your brand in a while and bringing them back into the fold. This stage focuses on reminding clients why they like your brand and tempting them with offers to return. If you manage the retention stage successfully, your customer may move to the loyalty stage.

5. Loyalty

Once someone has bought from you for the first time, you know they appreciate your brand and offerings. Now, you want to keep them coming back. The loyalty stage is about rewarding your customers’ choice to buy from your brand by providing content, community, and other valuable resources that make them feel special. Strong customer loyalty can lead to loyal brand advocates — people who talk about your brand either locally or through social media.

How To Craft a Customer Lifecycle Marketing Strategy

To make the most of lifecycle marketing, you need to have specific strategies for each stage. Here are some lifecycle marketing strategies for each step and examples of how businesses have implemented them in the real world.

Attract Potential Customers in the Awareness Stage

The first and most straightforward lifecycle marketing strategy covers your initial point of contact with the customer. Once you’ve built your email marketing funnel, you can send new customers a welcome email campaign. This type of campaign helps build a relationship with the customer by making them feel like they’ve joined a community and gained access to valuable resources.

Welcome email marketing campaigns can be as simple as a single informational email or as complex as an automated series of emails introducing customers to your brand. An example of a great welcome email is this one by the Four Seasons. It offers a personal touch while also giving the recipient a quick way to learn more about different aspects of the business.

Welcome Email

Connect With Your Leads in the Engagement Stage

If someone has signed up for emails from you, make the most of it by offering customized, engaging promotional emails and newsletters. A good newsletter gives potential customers a reason to think about your brand positively. You can share product suggestions, seasonally relevant tips, and advice, plus highlight customer testimonials or social media posts.

Use company newsletter examples as inspiration to increase customer engagement. Create fun and engaging content within a well-branded format.

Close the Deal in the Conversion Stage

Many people will go window shopping online, filling their virtual cart and then leaving the site. Others will find what they want, then get distracted before they finish their purchase. In both situations, they have a full cart but leave the site without buying. You can encourage prospective customers and convert with abandoned cart reminders.

An abandoned cart reminder is an email or SMS message letting the recipient know they forgot to finish checking out. A simple reminder is often enough to encourage purchases from people who genuinely forgot. However, you can get even more conversions if you go further by offering a coupon or free shipping in your reminder messages. These offers can convince people who were on the fence about an item to commit to the purchase.

This email by ELO demonstrates how to reach out to people who’ve forgotten items in their cart without checking out. It’s simple, shows the items the person left, and provides a sense of urgency.

Extend Your Customer’s Lifetime Value in the Retention Stage

If a customer hasn’t made a new purchase in a while, you can automatically send them a reactivation campaign message. This type of email, also known as the “We Miss You” message, reminds lapsed customers about your brand and potentially turns them into return customers. Many reactivation campaigns consist of several emails: a simple “We Miss You” message, a message offering a discount to inspire them to come back, and a final message with a more significant discount.

Zazzle has developed an excellent customer retention email. It’s cute, memorable, and gives an obvious reason for the reader to return to the site with a $10 offer.

Zazzle We Miss You Email

 

Turn Customers Into Advocates in the Loyalty Stage

Once someone has become a customer, you can continue to build their loyalty to your brand. An effective way to do that is to send messages and offers that are truly personalized for them, like birthday or anniversary rewards.

If you collect your customers’ birthdays or track the day they joined, you can send them emails with coupons or free product offers on those special days. This creates happy customers because they’re getting an offer no one else receives that day. Those positive emotions lead to loyal customers and encourage them to keep buying in the future.

Many companies use loyalty programs to strengthen relationships with their customers. For instance, Starbucks offers free drinks to members of its Stars program on their birthdays.

How AI Aids in Planning and Executing Lifecycle Strategies

Artificial intelligence tools, such as marketing automation and AI-driven chatbots, can help you plan and execute your lifecycle strategies. AI for marketing can analyze large volumes of historical data to give you a clearer picture of which sales strategies are currently driving business. 

With these tools, you can create personalized campaigns at each stage of the lifecycle that are more likely to resonate with your target audience. Use AI buyer personas to better understand your potential customers and their needs. Then, you can use tailored keywords and phrases in social media posts and other content that are more likely to resonate with and draw in your desired audience. 

You can also use AI-powered predictive analysis to determine where to launch your campaigns. AI can assess your previous marketing activities and allow you to see which channels are generating the best engagement. With this data, you can tailor your content marketing strategy and messaging to the most appropriate channels at each lifecycle stage. 

How Can You Know if Your Lifecycle Strategy Was Successful?

As with all your marketing efforts, you should regularly assess your lifecycle marketing strategy to determine its success rate and refine it as you go forward. Start out by defining and measuring your key performance indicators. 

What Are the KPIs Used To Measure Success at Each Stage? 

With these KPIs, you can gain better insights into how your marketing strategies are working within each stage of the buyer journey:

  • Reach stage: Measure your impressions, average monthly sessions, time spent on your website, and email open rates
  • Acquisition stage: At this stage, track your click-through rates, the number of content downloads, and how many new prospects you've gained.
  • Conversion stage: Measure total new sales, average dollar value per sale, campaign conversion rate, and cost per qualified lead.
  • Retention stage: At this stage, track customer return rate, number of reviews, customer satisfaction, and upsell revenue.
  • Loyalty stage: Track the average customer lifetime value, repeat purchase rate, and churn rate. 

Best Practices To Analyze and Report Each Stage’s KPIs

Improve your chances of successfully implementing your lifecycle marketing strategy by regularly measuring your KPIs. Get to know your audience and their pain points through analysis and surveys so you understand which metrics and areas to prioritize. If you’re creating a report for your board, they may want to see hard data on sales and marketing costs. Your marketing managers may be more interested in social media sign-ups and email click-through rates. 

Before you run your metrics, analyze your SMART marketing goals and decide which KPIs align with them. For example, if you wanted to increase website traffic by 20%, that would be the most important KPI to measure. Also, make sure you establish baseline values so you know how to compare your progress over time.

Finally, pay attention to your return on investment for each marketing channel. Understanding which channels are providing the best returns can help you tweak your marketing techniques to focus on high-performing platforms. 

Examples of Lifecycle Marketing Campaigns for Every Stage

Here are some examples of how different companies have successfully implemented programs and campaigns to attract, engage, and retain customers.

How Coca-Cola Mastered Brand Awareness

Coca-Cola is one of the most well-known brands on the planet. In 2012, the company rolled out its “Share a Coke” campaign, starting with a launch in Australia. This campaign allowed customers to personalize bottles of Coke by texting a friend’s name to the company and receiving bottles with the person’s name on them. 

People were then encouraged to promote the product using a customized hashtag on social media. As a result, Coca-Cola’s Facebook traffic increased by 870%.

How Spotify Boosted Engagement Through Personalization

To encourage Spotify users to listen longer, the company launched its “Discover Weekly” playlists in 2015. This tool involves an algorithm that creates a custom playlist of new music based on a customer’s listening habits. The list is updated and rolled out to Spotify Premium users every week. 

Spotify found that Discover Weekly users streamed music and podcasts more than twice as long as those who didn’t use the tool. It also allowed creators on the platform to connect with people who may not have heard their music or podcasts through organic listening methods. 

How Amazon Increases the Company’s Conversion Rates

Instead of just hopping on to Black Friday and other typical holiday sales, Amazon invented its own special day. Each year, the company hosts Prime Day, when Prime members get exclusive deals and discounts. 

Amazon introduced the event in 2015 and has been gaining steam ever since. In 2023, shoppers bought more than 375 million items, boosting revenues by 6.1% during the promotion period.

How Starbucks Keeps Customers Coming Back for More

Starbucks offers a rewards program that is easy to use. Everything customers need to participate is located in the mobile app. Customers can reload their rewards cards and pay in the app, earning points with each purchase. They also get points through various integrations and personalized specials. 

As of 2023, Starbucks Rewards had 31 million members who are 5.6 times more likely than non-members to visit a store every day. 

How Apple Encourages a Community of Loyal Customers

Smartphones have evolved over time with each company trying to outdo the next. However, Apple is one of the best examples of brand loyalty. After releasing the iPhone 15, the company launched its “Shot on iPhone” campaign, showcasing real commercials shot with the phone. 

These commercials appeal to those who like the technological capabilities of Apple phones. They showcase how the phone is better than average, which helps deepen existing customers' pride in their Apple products and encourages them to keep buying more. 

How Compose.ly’s Quality Content Can Help Your Strategy

Your clients appreciate the personalized touch they get from a well-made lifecycle marketing campaign. By implementing customer lifecycle marketing, you can create deeper engagement with your customers and guide them through every part of the sales funnel. High-quality content offers a successful way to build awareness and interact with your target audience. 

Take advantage of Compose.ly’s blog writing services to create entertaining, memorable blog posts that drive traffic to your site. That’s an excellent way of winning first-time buyers while keeping current customers engaged with your brand for a long time to come.

Need help developing and executing your content strategy? Compose.ly has you covered.
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