The term Lifecycle Marketing in this context does not refer to the user’s actual lifecycle, but to where they are in your process. This post will help you with the email marketing lifecycle and how to optimize each step in the process.
This focus is on your brand “evangelists,” who have already bought from you, had a great experience and are happy to buy again. An important aspect of targeted email marketing is identifying your audience and crafting your message so that it resonates with them.
It’s easy to classify everyone as “leads” and “customers,” but it’s not that simple. Not all of them are the same. Some leads are still in the “investigation” phase, and some are interested and ready to buy.
Your emails for these individuals will speak to them differently than the ones you send to your new and established customers.
A (Short) History of Inbound Marketing
Your lifecycle marketing goal is to attract people to your site and convert them into leads by getting their email addresses and contact information, with their permission. Once you do, you can begin to share valuable content with them, and guide them through the process to become a customer.
You can also get their contact information offline (at places like trade shows, or simply on the phone), as long as you have their permission.
Hurry Up And. . .Wait
One thing you’ll need for your email marketing campaign is patience. Most leads aren’t going to be ready to buy when they receive your first email to them. You may get some initial sales, but 73% of those targeted leads won’t be ready to buy on the first “touch.” Some will not be suitable leads for your business, and they’ll opt out. You won’t continue to market to them.
This is where email campaigns come in. Over time, you’ll continue to send leads additional content that will educate them about your company, and your product or service. You’ll also learn more about your leads, which ones are best suited for your company, and figure out which messages resonate the best with them.
You’ll begin to have a conversation with your leads and prospects, and learn from them:
- Pain points
- What resonates with them
- Which customers respond to which offers, and which generate the best customers
- Data that helps you create better content
Lifecycle marketing emails help you better engage with your customers, find out what they need and like, and gather this information to advance your sales process.
Lifecycle Marketing With Email
There are two best practices to keep in mind when sending your leads an email:
- Create your email’s content to coincide with the buyer’s journey. The “buyer’s journey” is simply where they are in the process of their research, with three steps:
- Awareness (that they have a problem and begin research to resolve it)
- Consideration (they understand their problem, researched it and have a firm grasp of it)
- Decision (understanding the different solutions and now searching for a provider vendor)
- Identify the “touch points” in your marketing/sales process. What are you asking them to do? Things like subscribing to your blog, filling out your contact form, downloading the “free report” (or other useful thing) and/or requesting an audit or consultations are the first steps in starting the conversation with each of your leads. Easy ways to start the conversation are:
- A thank-you email
- Confirmation request (“click here to activate your email”)
- Instructions or tips on the product they’ve purchased
- Follow-up email letting them know how often you can expect to hear from them
- A few links to popular content they can access immediately
But don’t make these emails long, drawn out narratives or frequent, regular email blasts. Remember—most people are looking at your email on a phone or tablet, so they need to skim and catch the information quickly. You don’t want to annoy them with an email they don’t have time to finish reading.
One (Email) Size Doesn’t Fit All
There are different types of content that appeal to different users in these various lifecycle marketing stages. An email that you send to your new leads will not be the same as the content you mail to established, interested leads or customers who have bought from you at least once. Use the collected data to craft specific, relevant messages that will resonate with each specific group of recipients. Your email program should also be able to keep the wrong messages from going to the wrong people.
Delight Your Customers
While emphasis on attracting new leads is important to your business’ growth, you’ll also need to spend some time retaining the customers you already have.
Just because they’ve already purchased something doesn’t mean that’s the end of it. You’ll still need to do some work to make sure they see the value of the product or service they’ve spent money on.
How do you take them from the “customer” stage to the “delighted evangelist” stage? Start by using these two best practices:
- Capture the right data. You are tracking your customers, aren’t you? Accurate customer data allows you to segment and personalize your emails.
- Create a map of the important parts of your customer’s lifecycle. One you’ve done that, figure out how to integrate email communication in the process.
Customer tracking—from what they’ve bought, how often, how much they’ve spent, etc.—is critical in keeping up with your customer’s needs and marketing to them. Using this data will help you create better content and more personalized emails to send. You won’t be sending them the same emails as you would a lead, and your email software should be able to help you prevent that from happening.
Divide And Conquer (Segmentation) Lifecycle Marketing
Once you’ve collected your data, it’s time to segment your customers. You can start segmenting them like this:
- New Customers
- Ongoing Customers
Some companies will segment them even further, and you can certainly do that too, if it’s appropriate for your business.
For the first group, you’ll concentrate on getting them on track with their purchase, and help them see the value of their purchase quickly and efficiently.
Subsequent emails can include a “thank you for your purchase” note, a confirmation email with the tracking number, or instructions for their purchase. If the purchase is something larger or more expensive, an appropriate email “touch” might also be an appointment confirmation or other relevant information.
Once they’ve realized the value of their purchase, it’s time to continue cultivating a relationship with them. Rather than seeing them as an income stream (which they’ll realize immediately), offer support or education to help them become successful with your product. They should always recognize the value of their purchase, and giving them help and support goes a long way in your company’s customer relations.
Next, pay attention to what they’re saying. Are their needs being met, or can you help with something else? Offering additional products that complement their shopping cart items, “favorite customer discounts” on repeat or similar purchases, or more email marketing based on your customer’s previous purchases with content such as case studies and testimonials.
Do be conscious of the timing and context of your emails. Sending out an email just because you can (or your coming up short this quarter) can still qualify as “spam” if it’s not wanted or relevant to your customers.
The Happy Campers
Finally, your “evangelists.”
They “like” every post on your Facebook page, re-tweet your posts on Twitter, and follow you on Pinterest, Instagram and/or LinkedIn. Evangelists are customers who are so happy with your company and product or service that they really do tell their friends and highly recommend you. These people are your best fans and are valuable to your marketing.
How do you turn customers into your evangelists? Ensure that their user experience is excellent, for starters. Email marketing is an easy, low-impact way to communicate with them. Offering exclusive discounts, referral or loyalty programs will spark interest in those who are already happy campers.
You can also use email to communicate directly with these evangelists in your lifecycle marketing process, and ask them if they would like to be a part of your brand’s messaging. These can take the form of online reviews, case studies, social communities (i.e., dedicated Facebook groups) or even case studies (where applicable.)
Email Isn’t Everything
While email is a valuable part of marketing, it’s just one part of your total marketing strategy. Don’t send out emails just for the sake of sending them. If you don’t have something important to impart, or aren’t saying anything that resonates with the specific audience, it’s still spam, and you may experience churn, or at least, unsubscribing.
Using your gathered data, tailor your message to the individual in the right part of their marketing lifecycle. This helps to ensure that your content is relevant to the user. Better, more relevant content makes sure your lead is more likely to be interested and engaged. Eventually, they will become not only a customer, but an evangelist who will be an advocate for your company and tell more people, bringing in more leads and furthering your company’s growth.