Ever wondered how you can squeeze more value out of your existing customers? Savvy marketers can easily maximise their customer lifetime value by understanding and leveraging the customer lifecycle and adopting a more customer focused strategic approach to communicating with their customers.
Customer lifecycle marketing recognizes that prospects and customers move through phases in their relationship with a company - from initial contact to fully engaged relationships in which a customer becomes a true advocate. As customers move through the different phases of the lifecycle they exhibit different behaviours and their needs and wants will also evolve. Like in life each customer will move through the phases of their lifecycle at different points in time compared with other customers.
Marketers can strategically leverage the customer lifecycle in order to develop a timely, engaging and above all relevant communications campaign to maximise customer lifetime value. Implementing an effective lifecycle marketing strategy requires a few important considerations.
Defining the customer lifecycle
If your goal is to effectively communicate with your customers throughout their lifecycle then it only makes sense that you identify its various stages. Having credible and up to date customer data is critical at this point.
Identifying lifecycle stages requires segmenting your customers into logical groups based on similar characteristics and behaviours. This is why even a little customer knowledge can go a long way. Huggies for example identified that the lifecycle for their 'mum to be club' members was based around the different stages of a woman's pregnancy. At each different stage of the pregnancy the new mum exhibited different characteristics and different behaviours such as the type of information they seek out on pregnancy.
To identify these characteristics and behaviours use whatever data you have available (previous email response behaviour, previous purchases, website click activity etc). If you find you don't have the right data to enable you to identify the different stages of your customer's lifecycle then some market research may be required.
A quick and cost-effective method is to survey your database using an online survey. An online survey will enable you to gather up-to-date customer information and opinions in real time with a relatively quick execution turn over.
Lifecycle communications planning
Once the stages of the customer lifecycle have been identified you are ready to begin planning your lifecycle communications. Again at this point, understanding your customers and having solid data on which to build your communications plan will come in handy.
The first step is to identify the types of content your customers will be engaged with and responsive to for each lifecycle stage. For example, when a new mum is in the first trimester she is very interested in reading about information relating to "managing pregnancy". In the third trimester it's all about "getting ready for birth". Huggies uses these insights to build relevant communications which they send their customers as they move through the various stages of pregnancy.
Building your content
The insights you have gathered in the previous stage can now be used to construct each lifecycle communication piece. It is important that each communication piece delivers value to the client and is relevant to their specific needs.
Consistently delivering value to your customers is critical to remaining competitive, can reduce the likelihood of brand switching and increase your customers' loyalty to your brand. Remember that value doesn't always mean monetary value. Value can be anything that the customer finds relevant and useful towards achieving their goals and improving their situation. This could be anything from emotional value to social value.
In order to understand what your customer's deem valuable ensure you stay close to them. Listen to their feedback and partner with them to create superior customer value that competes against your competitors' offerings.
Automating lifecycle communications
Once you have a strategy to get the 'right message to the right customer', you're two thirds of the way there. The remaining piece of your strategy is the 'right time'.
Communicating with your customers in a timely manner is crucial to connecting with them at a time when their propensity to be responsive to your message is at it's highest. By aligning the content and timing of communications with customer needs the relevance, response and revenue from marketing programs can all be increased.
The best way to achieve this timeliness is to automate your communications using trigger-based email. Certain customer behaviours can be programmed as triggers. When those triggers occur your communications can be automatically sent to the customer at exactly the right time. For example when a new mum enters the third trimester of her pregnancy this triggers an email to be sent to her and contains relevant information about this stage of pregnancy.
Implementing a customer lifecycle marketing strategy can effectively maximise your customer value and strengthen your overall business results. Consistently communicating relevant offers at a time when customers are most responsive to marketing messages promotes long term valuable customer relationships, increases the efficiency of your marketing campaigns and will deliver a stronger marketing ROI.