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7 Steps to Build a Lifecycle Marketing Strategy

Marketing success often hinges on your ability to engage and retain customers throughout their entire journey with your brand. A well-crafted lifecycle marketing strategy can be your secret weapon in achieving just that.

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In this comprehensive guide, I'll walk you through the essential steps to build a highly effective lifecycle marketing strategy that not only nurtures your customer relationships but also boosts your business's bottom line. If you're looking for a basic introduction to the lifecycle stages, we recommend starting with our previous post, Intro to Lifecycle Marketing.

Now, let’s get started! Here are 7 steps to build a lifecycle marketing strategy:

Step 1: Get to know your customer and create personas

Before diving into any marketing strategy, you need a deep understanding of your audience.

Create detailed customer personas that represent your ideal customers. These personas should include demographics, interests, pain points, and goals. Knowing your customers inside and out will guide your messaging and help you personalize their experiences.

Step 2: Map the customer experience using existing data

Examine existing customer data to gain insights into their journey with your brand. Identify key touchpoints, areas of friction, and opportunities to improve the customer experience.

  • How to identify key touchpoints: Start by identifying the places where customers interact with your brand. This could include your website, mobile app, social media, email, customer support, and more. Each touchpoint is an opportunity to engage and influence your customers. An example: for an ecommerce company, key touchpoints might include the product search on their website, the experience of adding items to the cart, the checkout process, post-purchase emails, and customer reviews.

  • How to pinpoint pain points: Look for signs that customers are encountering obstacles, frustration, or confusion. These pain points can be stumbling blocks that prevent a seamless customer experience. To find specific pain points, review customer feedback. Look at engagement metrics and examine any areas that are surprisingly low. And if you have data that maps your customer journey, look for big drop-off points. An example: If you run a software company, a common pain point occurs when customers struggle with the initial setup and onboarding process. This is reflected in high abandonment rates and is likely represented in decreased engagement and reports of poor experiences to customer service.

  • How to find areas ripe for improvement: Look for opportunities to enhance the customer experience at each touchpoint. Addressing pain points effectively also helps. Understanding the current state of affairs empowers you to formulate solutions and improvements. An example: An online streaming service might identify a pain point in the form of buffering issues during video playback. To improve the customer experience, they could invest in better content delivery infrastructure.

Step 3: Assess available channels

Determine the most effective communication channels for reaching your audience. In most cases, product-based interactions (e.g., in-app messages) and email marketing are the two major channels.

  • Product-based interactions: These include in-app messages, pop ups, and notifications that appear when users are navigating your platform. This type of interaction is particularly effective for providing real-time assistance or personalized recommendations. An example: A ride-sharing app can use in-app messages to inform users about available discounts when they open the app to book a ride.

  • Email marketing: Email remains one of the most powerful communication channels. It's versatile and can be used for various purposes including onboarding, updates, newsletters, and personalized recommendations. An example: An online clothing retailer can send personalized email recommendations based on a customer's browsing and purchase history.

Don’t forget to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each channel and consider how they can complement each other. For instance, in-app messages can deliver real-time information, but they are limited to users who are actively using the app. Email marketing has a wider reach but may not provide immediate responses. Consider how these channels can complement each other to create a cohesive customer experience.

Step 4: Design experiences for each lifecycle stage

Segment your customers into different lifecycle stages: Awareness, Acquisition (Trial), Onboarding, Engagement/Retention, and Winback/Reclamation.

Start by focusing on the most valuable stage for your business. Design tailored experiences and content for each stage that will resonate with your personas and address their specific needs at that time.

Let’s pretend you work for a video conferencing software company for these examples.

Awareness: Attract new leads and prospects to your brand by raising awareness through targeted campaigns. To attract attention to your video conferencing software:

  • You run a LinkedIn advertising campaign aimed at professionals looking for reliable video conferencing solutions. The ads highlight key features like screen sharing, recording, and security.

  • You create a series of blog posts and webinars that provide insights into the future of remote work and the importance of effective virtual communication. These educational resources not only showcase your expertise but also attract potential users seeking guidance.

  • You host live demos and virtual events where attendees can experience your product in action and ask questions in real time.

Acquisition (Trial): Craft compelling trial experiences to entice potential customers to purchase your product or service:

  • Offer a 14-day free trial with no credit card required. This lowers the barrier to entry, making it easy for users to test your product.

  • During the trial, users receive a series of emails that highlight different aspects of your software. For instance, on day 1, they get an email showcasing the benefits of HD video quality, while on day 7, they receive an email emphasizing the ease of scheduling meetings.

  • Users can invite colleagues to join them in the trial, which encourages team adoption and increases the chances of conversion.

Onboarding: Create a seamless and informative onboarding experience to ensure customers can quickly grasp the value of your product or service. To get your new customer effectively using your video conferencing software:

  • You greet new customers with a welcome email that not only confirms their registration but also provides a step-by-step guide on how to schedule and join their first meeting. The email includes links to video tutorials and FAQs.

  • Within the software, you have a guided tour that pops up the first-time users log in. It highlights key features like screen sharing, chat, and recording, giving them a hands-on introduction to your product's capabilities.

  • You offer a 24/7 live chat support option during the onboarding process to address any questions or issues users might encounter.

Engagement/Retention: Use personalized content, loyalty programs, and upselling opportunities to keep your customers engaged. Using our example, you want to keep users happy with your video conferencing software. You can do that by:

  • Sending emails with content personalized based on their behavior. If someone frequently uses screen sharing, you share tips and best practices for optimizing screen sharing experiences. For those who use the chat feature extensively, you send content on effective communication in virtual meetings.

  • Introducing a loyalty program where users earn points for hosting successful meetings, referring new users, or attending webinars. Accumulated points can be redeemed for premium features or merchandise.

  • Encouraging upselling, you provide free trials of advanced features to existing users who meet specific criteria. Users with a high meeting frequency can try out the premium recording and transcription feature for a month, for instance.

Winback/Reclamation: Implement strategies to re-engage customers who have disengaged. For users who have disengaged or left your video conferencing software:

  • You send personalized emails when they haven't logged in for a while, offering them a special discount or access to new features.

  • If a user cancels their subscription, you follow up with a "We Miss You" email that highlights any improvements or updates made since they left. You also ask for feedback on why they chose to cancel.

  • You create a winback campaign targeting users who previously had a positive experience but stopped using your product. Include success stories and testimonials from customers who returned and found value in your software again.

Step 5: Build out the campaigns

With your lifecycle experiences designed, create marketing campaigns that align with each stage.

Ensure your messaging is consistent with your brand identity and that the topics are relevant to the customer's current experience. Be sure to tailor your content to address their specific needs, concerns, or desires.

Use marketing automation tools to deliver timely and personalized content to your customers. Automation allows you to engage with customers at scale without losing the personal touch.

Step 6: Track results with lifecycle-level KPIs

For each stage of the customer lifecycle, define specific high-level key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your goals.​ Tracking these will tell you how well your overall strategy (inclusive of product and marketing) is working.

Common lifecycle-based KPIs include:

  • Acquisition rate

  • Conversion rate

  • Activation rate

  • Customer retention rate

  • Customer lifetime value (LTV)

  • Churn rate

You also want to track metrics that provide insight into how your campaigns are landing. This includes channel-specific metrics like open rates and click rates for email or likes and reach for social media posts.

It’s also important to track product engagement metrics to better understand what your customers are actually doing with your tool. In the engagement stage, for example, you may track the number of interactions a customer has with your product, their average session duration, or the percentage of users who complete or abandon specific actions. These metrics will provide deeper insights into the effectiveness of your product at meeting their needs.

Step 7: Iterate based on learnings

Regularly review your strategy and campaign performance. Use the insights gained from tracking KPIs to make data-driven improvements. As customer behaviors and preferences evolve, your strategy should evolve with them.

For instance, if you notice a drop in activation rates during the onboarding stage, you might revise your onboarding materials, introduce new support resources, and double-check your early user experience for bugs.

To maintain your strategy’s effectiveness, regularly review and adjust based on what you learn. Two particularly effective learning strategies include:

  • A/B testing: Experiment with different approaches, messaging, or offers within your campaigns. A/B testing allows you to identify what resonates best with your audience and fine-tune your approach accordingly.

  • Customer feedback: Actively seek feedback from your customers at various stages of their journey. Their input can provide valuable insights into their needs and expectations.

By following these seven steps and continuously refining your lifecycle marketing strategy, you'll be well-equipped to create lasting customer relationships, boost brand loyalty, and ultimately drive business growth.

Remember that effective lifecycle marketing is a journey, not a destination, so stay agile and responsive to the ever-changing needs of your customers. Happy marketing!

Want some support along the way? Reach out to let us know. We’d be delighted to help.

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