You might have heard the term lifecycle marketing bounced around, but do you really know what it means? If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, you’re not alone.
Here is our essential beginner’s guide to lifecycle marketing and what you need to know to make it a great success.
What is Lifecycle Marketing?
In short, lifecycle marketing is the process of turning leads into customers and further into advocates for your brand. If done correctly, then your customers should do a little marketing for you and promote your brand to their friends and family members – whether through word-of-mouth or social media.
This is a four-step process, and it goes like this:
- Capture leads via lead generation (social media campaigns, Adword campaigns, email marketing campaigns).
- Nurture leads to entice them into becoming customers.
- Manage customers after they’ve made purchases.
- Promote consumer advocacy.
Now we’ll go more in-depth with each process and show you how you can guide consumers through every step of the process.
Step 1: Lead Generation
The lead generation process gathers leads who have a genuine interest in your product. Most of this process involves marketing tactics that attract consumer attention and introduce them to your brand. The overall goal is to get consumers to hand over their personal information to you so you can start sending them content. In most cases, a name and an email address is a great place to start out.
The most common forms of lead generation are:
- Email sign-ups and opt-in forms.
- Gated content.
Email sign-ups and opt-in forms are common for marketers who are attracting leads through their own websites or through ads. On your company blog, for example, you should have a place for readers to subscribe and get updates and emails from your company. With ads, your landing page should give users the opportunity to download more information about your product offering.
Gated content can be anything from ebooks to whitepapers. The idea is to allow users to download a free copy of an ebook, provided they give you their email addresses and allow you to send them emails. This is a great option that can easily be promoted in a pay-per-click (PPC) or Facebook ads that will encourage plenty of clicks.
Step 2: Lead Nurturing
Now that you have a group of leads, it’s time to start nurturing them and moving them through the sales funnel. Your job will be to anticipate what the buyer needs from you and be diligent about answering questions about your product or service. Part of this process should be done by you, the marketer, and the other half should be done by your sales team, after they make contact with the consumer.
The marketer’s role in lead nurturing is to nurture them until they are ready to be passed on to a sales person. To nurture leads, marketers need to be creating valuable content that educates consumers on more than just the product or service for sale. Whether you’re hosting webinars, updating your blog regularly or answering questions via social media, you should be doing a mix of promoting your company and promoting the flow of information about your industry.
Once the salesperson makes initial contact with the consumer, they should be the one answering questions and connecting with the consumer. Providing that personal connection here is key so salespeople need to be answering questions within a timely manner (as quickly as possible, and at least within 24 hours).
It’s also vital that salespeople have all the information necessary to answer questions. Any skepticisms could prevent buyers from making that final decision to buy, and if salespeople seem more interested in the sale alone than providing quality information, your leads will never become sales.
Step 3: Post-Sales Success
Once your salesperson has closed the sale, your job does not end. Now your company should be providing customer support to continue nurturing consumers and ensure that they come back soon. Home buyers for example might decide in a few years that they want to invest in property, and undergraduate students may look into postgraduate study.
Your first priority should be to provide exceptional customer service to your customers. If you drop all contact with them after they buy from you, you may see more returns and exchanges in the future. Your customers may still have questions about their product or service so it is important to keep that flow of communication going.
A study conducted by Zendesk showed that 40 percent of surveyed consumers admitted to switching to a competitor because the competitor’s reputation for customer service was much better. Clearly, it makes a difference.
You should also be tracking the buying habits of consumers and creating personalised content through emails and other marketing forms that will speak directly to the buyer’s habits and journey. As new sales and promotions come up, salespeople should be offering them to consumers who have previously shown interest in that particular product or service.
Step 4: Promote Consumer Activity
After guiding your buyer through all steps of this process and providing them with exceptional service, you should be able to bring them to your side and encourage them to do a little marketing for you.
Word-of-mouth advertising is perhaps one of the most effective forms of advertising, and if you can convince your buyers to do more of it, you’re golden. Because word-of-mouth advertising is so well trusted and respected, you should be getting your best customers to do some reviewing on your website and on other sites such as Google+.
Email campaigns are great reminders to get people to review. Send emails to people within a week or two after they’ve purchased a product or service and ask them to leave your company a review. If you’ve done everything right – answered questions, provided good customer support – then your buyer should be happy to leave you a positive review.
Social media posts and mentions can also be great forms of promotion. If buyers are already following you, encourage them to give you a shout out on social media or recommend their pages to their friends.
Lifecycle marketing campaigns are great for keeping customers loyal in the long run, but it all starts with a single strategy. What will be your starting strategy?