Lifecycle Marketing Part One: Map Your Brand’s Customer Lifecycles
Several years ago, Deloitte and Touche studied Fortune 500 leaders across industries and found that customer-centric companies were 60% more profitable, two times as likely to exceed return on shareholder equity, and twice as likely to exceed goals for pre-tax returns on assets, sales growth, and market share compared to less customer-centric companies.
In 2000, Bain and Company found that boosting client retention by 5% can raise overall profits by 25–95%. And more recently, WhaTech reported that there is a 60–70% probability of selling to existing customers, while the likelihood of selling to a new prospect is just 5–20%.
So what do these long-standing patterns mean for mobile marketers who are operating in a new and growing ecosystem? With mobile comes a new set of curveballs to the marketing equation, including the fact that mobile users are self-directing their own experiences across devices, touch points, and platforms. With so many channels, devices, and triggers influencing customers’ buying journeys, how can marketers craft a cohesive brand experience that translates into repeat purchases or conversions?
We’ve put together a two-part series to answer this question. This blog post kicks off the series with a framework for defining your customer lifecycles. In part two, we’ll show you how to act upon that knowledge to build a comprehensive lifecycle marketing strategy.
Step 1: Transform signals into patterns
Customer journeys today are complex, intricate, and personal. Let’s say that you’re running a company with an on-demand ride-sharing service. You might notice substantial variation in the way that users are engaging with your brand. For instance, user A may be a casual rider who is looking for inexpensive carpool options, from time to time. User B, on the other hand, may be a consultant or small business owner who needs a consistent black car service.
What these trends may show you is that a one-size-fits-all customer lifecycle just doesn’t exist for your brand: since users likely come to your company with a variety of pain points and needs, you need frameworks that represent the diversity of your customers’ buying and engagement journeys. So how should you get started in identifying some of these patterns? Conduct some research using the following methods:
Exploratory data analysis
Jump into your marketing automation or analytics software to analyse segments of your customers and note how their behaviors differ.
What to do: You can segment by attributes like age, location, and any preferences they’ve set, and also by levels of engagement with your content, features, or products on your app or website. Segment by channel, by attribution source, by the date they became a customer.
What to look for: Broadly, how these segments might turn out to be different from each other in their interactions with your brand. You might find that your email subscribers are more likely to buy during a sale, or that your younger customers come back to your social app more often if their friends are active on it. Look for what steps take place before key conversions, like a user signing up for your email list, redeeming an offer, and signing up for a loyalty program.
In-depth qualitative interviews
You can supplement what you find by conducting interviews or focus groups with your customers or your target market. Ask questions around their purchase patterns, pain points, and decision-making processes.
Look for patterns in all of these signals, and start creating stories around the trends that you’re observing. Uncover trends and customer stories to begin to piece together your customer lifecycle picture.
Step 2: Map out your customer journeys
In step 1, you worked to understand the personality traits, values, and needs of your user base. In step 2, you’ll use these traits to map out your customer journeys. The Appboy team has found that users typically progress through the following four stages:
- Loyal: User strongly and consistently engages with your brand, and supports your monetization efforts
- Active: User regularly engages with your brand via your app, website, emails, or physical locations
- Lapsing: User is becoming less active on your app or website, and less responsive to your outreach
- Inactive: User is no longer visiting your app, website, or otherwise engaging with your brand
A customer may or may not pass through all four stages—and it’s not always a linear progression. So how do you connect the dots? To answer, think back to the patterns that you’ve outlined in step 1 and:
- Create user segments that are most useful to your business goals based on the patterns you’ve observed
- Analyze user trends over time to see how these four customer lifecycle stages map to the segment-specific patterns that you’ve outlined
- Come up with depictions of the different lifecycles that your users are following
- And/or create a lifecycle for one or more of your ideal scenarios (and then you’ll look for ways to get users onto those paths)
- You may want to create some diagrams to help visualize your user journeys
As you connect the dots, you might generate diagrams or notes like these:
The biggest takeaway from these diagrams is that on an individual basis, customer lifecycles revolve around behavioral milestones. It’s the mobile marketer’s job to influence the journey from point A to point B and C.
Knowing where to spend your time
When it comes to re-engaging users, some will be more valuable over the long-haul than others. How can you figure out where you invest your efforts?
One way to answer this question is to calculate the revenue potential of users, by segment, at different stages of the lifecycle. And for an even more granular picture, you can append this forecast to each and every one of your users in your marketing database. Answer the question: how much should you aim to spend in your marketing to keep this user engaged?
Which brings us to the end of this blog post and to the second part of this series in which we’ll show you how to use these customer journeys to make more effective marketing decisions—Lifecycle Marketing Part Two: Build Campaigns That Work.
What will all of this enable you to do?
With detailed analysis around your customer lifecycles, you can identify and optimize specific marketing actions to take, to keep your users engaged for the long-haul. Rather than trying to push people through an abstract funnel, you can define specific steps that you want your segments of users to take on the road to a conversion goal. The end result will be more effective cross-channel strategies and more efficient campaigns.