Have you emailed your new contacts yet? Marketers might want a breather after the winter selling season concludes, but the moment the boxes and gift wrap are thrown out is the perfect time to start nurturing new leads using email, SMS, and more as part of a lifecycle marketing strategy.
Rather than simply jump from campaign to campaign, marketers can benefit from taking a long-term view by using lifecycle marketing, which encompasses email marketing, SMS, chatbots, and more.
What Is Lifecycle Marketing?
Lifecycle marketing is a catch-all term for a range of strategies a company or brand might use to capture and keep customer interest at different stages of the marketing cycle; at Hawke Media we consider email and SMS marketing key pillars of lifecycle strategies. These stages go from initial awareness of the company or brand all the way to the creation of brand loyalists. These fans make your job easier by generating and publishing content about your brand — boasting about your products to their audience of followers.
The goal of lifecycle marketing is to generate a continuous stream of customers using a variety of value propositions and experiences to take leads from awareness to conversion to brand advocates. The amount of time this takes depends on the purchase cycle, which is different for different products, industries, and brands. Food and consumer packaged goods have shorter cycles, whereas big-ticket items like cars and luxury goods — in addition to B2B professional services and enterprise software — tend to have longer ones.
Let’s briefly review the six stages of lifecycle marketing, and what efforts marketers can use at each of them.
Awareness is the first step of any marketing process. It’s the stage where people traditionally think of advertising and marketing. This stage of marketing is the top of the funnel, the beginning of the pipeline, and the source of net new business that every single brand needs to keep scaling.
Sometimes the awareness stage goes even further than that: creating conversations about a “problem” in the market which the customer isn’t even aware that your product exists to solve.
Awareness efforts might include:
- Display ads
- Billboards or outdoor advertising
- Social media posts
At this stage, marketers share content with the intention that the buyer will take an action, such as visiting a website, to learn more. Content efforts at this stage include:
- Blog posts
- Email newsletters
- YouTube videos
- Podcast subscriptions
At the engagement stage, the customer hasn’t yet committed to making a purchase, and may not even know what the price points of the products are. This is the stage of nurturing and information gathering.
At this stage, the buyer is not quite ready to buy. Content will therefore need to go deeper, address pain points, or present experiences from other customers.
At this stage, marketers make available:
- Free demos
- Free trials
- Case studies
In B2C marketing, with shorter purchase cycles, the engagement and evaluation stages may not be distinguishable from each other. For B2B, these are longer stages, according to the length of the purchase cycle.
The purchase stage is where the buyer is about to hit the Buy button. Marketers will work with product managers to determine what other content is needed to push the buyer into a sale. This could include:
- Emails or SMS text messages with discounts
- Gifts with purchase
Immediately after the holidays, B2C marketers may not necessarily be working on the purchase stage, unless there are deep discounts or a twist, like purchasing an entire year’s supply of a product or a service subscription in January. This may be the time for B2B marketers to go all in, though, as often the budget refreshes.
Creating marketing assets and campaigns to generate a sale may seem sexier, but according to HubSpot, 93% percent of customers are likely to make repeat purchases with companies that offer excellent customer service.
Exceptional post-sale service — including quick processing of exchanges — will engage buyers and increase profits. Content at this stage includes live chat, FAQ pages, and community/message-board sites.
In this final stage, when customers become advocates, they choose your company without thinking twice — even if your product is priced higher or is tricky to obtain. At this stage, marketers can extend special offers, incentives, and other types of recognition for die-hard fans.
Lifecycle marketing is not new, and some of these strategies you may already have developed and had in place for quite some time.
However, lifecycle marketing is always worth revisiting, because new options for digital delivery, content creation, and analytics are constantly being rolled out. These technologies enable marketers to develop more effective content that targets the right customers at the right points in the lifecycle, reducing frustration and increasing efficiency.
Looking for more ways to enhance your business in the New Year? Download our Q1nderful Booklet with over 60 exclusive offers from some of our favorite Hawke Media partners!
Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services. A former technology reporter for CBS Radio, he covers such topics as security, mobility, eCommerce, and the Internet of Things.