How to Improve and Optimize Customer Lifecycle Stages
The beauty of the customer lifecycle is that each stage can be optimized. The effects of one thoughtful change can reverberate through the journey and enhance the entire customer experience.
So, how do you improve the customer lifecycle? Tracking KPIs, reevaluating your stages, and delivering tailored messages are three great ways to keep the buyer journey fresh and relevant.
In this article, we are going to discuss the basics of the customer-buyer journey, as well as some ways to optimize each stage of the lifecycle.
What Are the Five Stages of the Customer Lifecycle?
Stage 1: Awareness
This is how your relationship with your customer begins. At the awareness stage, customers are aware of your presence through social media, content marketing, or email marketing. More often than not, prospects want to see more content before they move to the next stage.
Stage 2: Engagement
The engagement stage is when a prospect interacts with your resources or your employees. At this point, you have the opportunity to engage your customers and sell crucial aspects of your product or services through calls or the content you publish.
Modern marketers use this as an opportunity to promote their content and focus marketing efforts on developing good relationships with customers instead of prioritizing a quick sale.
Stage 3: Evaluation
After getting in touch with your brand, customers will now have to decide whether or not you are compatible with their needs. The best way to keep your customers connected with your brand during this stage is to continue sending “soft sells” and helpful resources. Informative content, social media posts, email marketing are all great ways to “soft sell” to decision-makers.
Stage 4: Purchase
At the purchase stage, the customer finally decides to commit to your product or service. During this phase, your focus should shift from customer acquisition to customer retention.
Stage 5: Support and Retention
The support and retention stage can go on indefinitely. This is the most crucial part of customer lifecycle marketing. Continue to deliver high-quality content and targeted marketing messages to extend your customers’ value.
The Dynamic Nature of the Customer Lifecycle
You’ve gotten clients before and assessed your data and you know you have a profitable customer lifecycle – so why improve it?
Most business owners follow the adage “don’t fix it if it’s not broken”. Too many people only consider revamping their customer lifecycle marketing after suffering major losses. But at this point, sometimes it’s already too late to make the right changes and before you know it, your “loyal customers” have decided to drop out of their contracts.
So, why exactly do you have to continue improving on your customer lifecycle stages?
- Results are impermanent: Just because your business is on an upward trend doesn’t mean it’s going to stay there forever. Changes in the industry, adjustments in the economy, and new competition can all affect how customers and leads perceive your brand.
- You will enter new markets: Just because you’re offering the same product or service to your customers doesn’t mean that every customer will respond in the same way. Different markets have different expectations. If you start entering new markets and funneling in new lead types, you’re wasting the opportunity to convert them if you’re not thinking about their specific customer journey.
- Customer behavior changes. Just ten years ago customers were keen to coordinate with sales representatives when making decisions. The modern customer is less dependent on sales reps now more than ever. As a result, a shift from sales-centric to customer-centric and content-first positions is necessary to stay competitive in an evolving market.
Optimizing Your Customer Lifecycle
Improving and optimizing your customer lifecycle isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Think of it as a never-ending process of refinement and adjustment. The customer lifecycle scales with your business and inevitably evolves with it.
Here are eight ways you could keep your customer lifecycle relevant:
1. Keep Consulting Data
Data predictions can only do so much. The market can completely shift the opposite direction on the spot, which will render old data and analytics obsolete. Don’t be reliant on old trends and old data when making crucial decisions. Always consult the most recent data, especially when dealing with new customers. This practice gives you more influence over each individual customer lifecycle stage, allowing you to shape it according to existing customer demands and expectations.
2. Track Progress Against KPIs
One of the standard practices in customer lifecycle optimization is data tracking. Define your key performance indicators (KPI) and track them accordingly. Lazy marketers will simply look at the numbers like lead volume, stage-by-stage conversion, or inquiry rate to determine whether or not a lifecycle stage is optimized.
In reality, different metrics mean different things to businesses. An eCommerce brand might only look at the visit-to-buy ratio on its site, while a software company might think about cross-selling opportunities and metrics. Instead of defining your success with just about any kind data set, track your progress against your KPIs.
KPIs differ depending on your business. If you’re a SaaS, monthly resubscriptions can be just as important as new subscriptions. Staying on top of your KPIs will give you a birds’ eye view of your organization’s performance, and give you insight on the progress that really matters the most to your business.
3. Tailor Messaging
Building customer relationships is one of the key aspects of optimizing the lifecycle. At every stage, customers expect the same (if not a better) level of engagement, support, and transparency from your business.
One of the easiest ways to tailor messaging to your customer base is by paying attention to the resources they need. At the introduction stage, you can develop resources that highlight their bottlenecks and explain your solutions, which will help them decide whether or not your product or service is compatible with their needs.
Afterward, you can develop messaging for the sole purpose of retention. This means launching email marketing strategies that will help promote customer loyalty and developing content marketing campaigns that are designed to provide limitless value with existing customers.
4. Streamline Customer Data Sharing
Decisions made by customers in the lifecycle don’t exist in a vacuum, which is why it’s important to share all data across the organization. Every interaction a customer has with your business is rife with actionable insights. Therefore, access to customer interactions should be shared freely so everyone, from customer service representatives to your marketing team, can harness these interactions and develop a consistent customer experience as they go through the funnel.
Data sharing isn’t exclusive to big companies. Even small to medium businesses can use customer relationship management (CRM) platforms to consolidate data from customer reviews, inquiries, calls, and just about any interaction in one area.
5. Prepare Campaigns At Each Stage
More than anything else, the customer lifecycle is a journey. Although the ability to make decisions and changes on the spot is crucial, your lifecycle also has to feel seamless and well-coordinated. At the very least, ensure that messaging is progressive to avoid redundancy.
For instance, your customers wouldn’t expect the same messaging at the Onboarding stage and the Retention stage. At the onboarding stage, your campaign should be focused on providing amazing customer service so you can convince your prospects to work with you. At the retention stage, your campaigns should be designed to keep customers long after they say yes.
Think of your lifecycle as a journey and not in stages. This way, each stage can supplement the other, and encourage customer loyalty.
6. Identify Churners and Loyal Customers
Identifying churners and loyal customers is crucial because they can provide insight into what works and what doesn’t. Aside from qualitative tracking (surveys, phone call check-ups, email blasts), there are more subtle ways of determining whether your customer is loyal or not.
Again, this all boils down to your KPIs. If you’re an e-commerce brand, the most important thing to look at is the repeat purchase of each customer. If more customers are churning after one or two purchases, reconsider your current customer retention strategies and focus on redefining your customer lifecycle marketing with that new goal in mind.
7. Reevaluate The Stages
Even the stages aren’t set in stone. When your company starts growing, you might start offering more complex solutions, targetting a different audience, or implementing new marketing processes that aren’t compatible with your current customer lifecycle.
As your business evolves, so too should your lifecycle. Again, it’s all about creating a journey that makes the most sense for your business and your customers.
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