When we think of a human being's natural lifespan, we tend to think of the various stages that they go through from cradle to grave. There are infant years, toddler years, children, pre-teen, teenage, young adult, middle age, older adult, senior citizen, and so on. There are defined periods of time in the customer lifecycle that interact with a company as well, and it is important that we recognize what those stages are and what to do at each stage of that journey to retain customers and continue to build relationships with them.
The Big Four Actions That a Company Must Take
Depending on where a customer is in their lifecycle with your company and brand determines how you should interact with those customers. If you come on too strongly in the beginning, it is possible that you will make them turn away. However, if you are too tepid with customers as time goes on, you may lose them as well. Thus, it is important to understand what we will refer to as the Big 4 steps that a company should take at various stages of the customer lifecycle. Those actions are defined as:
Each of those actions contains a variety of sub-actions that can also be taken to help make them bare fruit. We will explore what some of those actions are and how they can be implemented.
The Reach Stage
This is the part of the cycle when a customer is first learning about a new company or product. The company has put out marketing efforts that may include ads on television, the radio, social media, and more. They have actively pushed to get the word out about themselves as a company as well as about the product offerings that they have available. If the company has managed to do an excellent job of this, then their reach will have made it to customers who have a genuine interest in their products and/or services.
At this stage of the process, it is all about making sure marketing efforts are hitting the right channels. Companies should have a pretty good idea about what kind of mediums their customers are most likely to receive messages from, and they will act to get their message out on those platforms. If they need to do anything to change how they reach their customers, then they can do so at this point in the process. It should become readily obvious if they are making glaring errors, but baring that, they should proceed as normal and allow their customers to start to learn about them through these efforts.
The Act Stage
Things start to heat up a little more in the Act stage as this is the time when a new customer will make their first purchase of your products or services. You have convinced them enough that your products or services are worthwhile, and they have given you a shot or they are about to.
It is during this time that you want to make sure to redouble your efforts to continue to market to this new customer. In fact, it may be a great time to spring your social media ads onto their feeds at this time. If they have even clicked on your ads in the past, this is enough evidence that they may be interested in learning more about your products going forward. Many companies take this as a sign to increase their ad spend on customers or prospective customers like this.
The Convert Stage
Remember, you may have already made your first sale to a customer when they reach this stage, and you may not have. Either way, it is the moment when you need to push forward full steam ahead to convince them to make a purchase. At this stage, a customer is on your website and is looking around. You should provide them with the rationale that they need to complete a purchase. This may mean including:
- Messenger Bots
These useful website tools pop up and let a visitor know that you have customer service representatives standing by who can help if they have any questions or concerns. The bots will auto-populate a warm and welcoming message that lets a visitor know that help is just a click away!
- One-Click Purchasing
Why make it harder than it has to be to get a customer to make a purchase? You can offer a one-click purchasing option for customers who simply want to buy what they see right when they see it on the website. The less friction that you put between them and their opportunity to make the purchase, the better.
- Suggested/Related Products
Another great way to convert people is to offer suggested products alongside the premier products that are on offer on your website. The customer might not be interested in the main products available on your website, but something from the suggested category may catch their eye.
You need to pay very close attention to the aspects that go into this stage. You have brought a customer all the way to the finish line and you just need to get them across it at this point. The Adobe Marketo blog provides this important insight:
This is the moment when a customer makes the final decision to buy your product. Providing maximum support at this stage is essential. Research shows that more than 80% of customers require some degree of support while making a purchase. More than 50% of buyers will abandon the purchase if they cannot find quick answers to their questions.
That is a lot of support and encouragement that is needed near the end of the journey, and yet, it is not nearly discussed enough just how important this is. There is a popular mythology that the first stage of this process is the most important and that companies have to put all of their focus on letting customers know that they exist. While that is certainly an important aspect of things, it is NOT the most critical stage. Getting a would-be customer converted into an actual customer is what matters the most.
The Engage Stage
At this point, you have made at least one sale with this customer, but you are eager to keep them coming back. They are your customers now, and if you play your cards right, you can make them repeat customers.
It is time to lay it on thick with promotions, rewards clubs, reminder emails, and other marketing tactics that help keep your company in the mind of those who have done business with you before. If they had a pleasant experience with you in the past, then they will likely be pleased to hear from you again going forward. They will want to know about what kind of offers you have available for them, and they may come back in again if the deal that they receive is good enough.
The best part of all regarding customers that you get to this stage is the fact that they may become your best ambassadors for converting even more customers going forward. The word-of-mouth marketing that they can offer your brand for free is something that you cannot put a price tag on. Make sure you continue to take care of these relationships as they are among your most valuable.
Can These Techniques Be Personalized for Individual Customers?
Yes, the entire process of converting everyday people into your customers can and should be personalized. There is nothing worse from the customer perspective than receiving an e-mail or other form of communication from a company that clearly just sent the same message out to an entire blanket group of customers. It makes the individual customers feel unimportant to the company. Instead, many companies have opted for a more personalized and wholesome approach to reaching people.
It is important to remember that messages sent to customers should be both personal in sentiment and well-constructed in tone, grammar, and spelling:
One key benefit of personalizing messages is that it recognizes the customers as individuals. By marketing one way to prospects, another way to those that have already purchased a product, and another way to long-term, high-value customers you can make your marketing messages far more compelling and effective.
When a customer detects that they have received a message that has clearly had some work put into it, they will feel that it is more worthy of their time and attention. They will understand that someone went through the trouble of thinking about the words that they were typing into a computer before they were sent out. Believe it or not, things like that can make a huge difference in how people respond to these messages.
Big Data Can Make Messages Even More Granular
There is so much data floating around about customers who shop online, and much of that data is easily accessible to any eCommerce website that requests permission to get it. Every eCommerce website owner should use the data that they have to help narrow down their marketing pitches to an even more granular level with each customer. There are very likely some details in the data that tell a marketer what they should do in their pitches to encourage a customer to make a purchase with them.
From previous shopping activity on your own website to demographic information about the customer that you are pitching, it is all potentially useful if you are willing to dig through the data. Naturally, you are not going to be digging through it piece by piece on your own. Instead, there are algorithms and programs that may be purchased which will comb through all of that data to help you find the information that you truly need about your customers.
The customers are voluntarily turning over the data to you, and you are using it to create messages that best appeal to them as a person. Therefore, it all works out for everyone.
How to Know When to Back Off
There are often tell-tell signs of the times when you need to back away from your current marketing strategy, or at least from using that strategy with a particular set of customers.
If you notice any of the following signs, take a few moments to think about how you will proceed:
- Your marketing does not seem to be attracting nearly the number of converted customers that it used to
- Your marketing efforts are running up against larger news stories (this can be particularly disastrous if the news is tragic)
- You are fielding complaints from customers or would-be customers about some aspect of your marketing
- Your marketing team is not able to keep up with the workload
It might be best to cool your heels at this stage if you notice any of these problems. There is something to be said for taking time to reassess your standing with customers and with the efforts you are making to win them over. There may be times when you simply cannot reach certain customers no matter how much you wish this wasn't true. Think about it carefully, and make informed decisions about how you will proceed. Consult with your marketing team and see if they have any ideas about how to right the ship.
Storyly is Here for Every Step of the Journey
Here at Storyly we are more than happy to guide you through the entire customer lifecycle journey. We know that this concept is foreign to some people, but it is something that we have worked on for a long time, and we have shown plenty of companies the route to success. If you would do us the honor of entrusting us with your business, we will take a look at the particular steps that need to be taken in the case of your company to help get it to where it needs to go. Slowly but surely, you are likely to see an uptick in business and in happy customers retained. If we can help you with that, we feel that we have done our job.