Customer Lifecycle Management: The Definitive Guide (2023)

Ammar Mazhar
Ammar Mazhar

Last updated on

January 16, 2023

Every business needs the support of an indispensable resource, its customers. Respecting the mutual relationship between the business and its customers is a great way to steer the growth of your business. Customers, the most critical asset, undergo several stages before becoming long-term customers. 

Read on to learn more about a customer’s lifecycle and why a business needs to manage it efficiently.

What is the customer lifecycle?

The customer lifecycle is a process that encompasses the various steps a prospect goes through before becoming a customer. Everything, from brand awareness to the final purchase, forms part of the cycle. A satisfied customer becomes a long-standing customer. Therefore, the brand must deliver an excellent customer experience through the various stages of the customer lifecycle. 

What is customer lifecycle management?

There is nothing like securing loyal customers for a business. The organization has a significant role to play in creating customers who are devoted to the brand. The role of a business does not stop with just acquiring customers. Every stage of the customer lifecycle has to be assessed for its success, and corrective action, if necessary, needs to be taken. 

The brand has to steer the customer’s journey by taking proactive steps. Amidst heavy competition, it is easy for customers to get distracted. Customer lifecycle management is the process by which the brand guides the customer in every conversion stage. Once you establish trust, you can be rest assured of creating long-standing customers who can also become your brand ambassadors.

What are the stages in the customer lifecycle?

There are five stages in the customer lifecycle. Let us break down these stages and explore each of them.

Infograhic: What are the stages in the customer lifecycle?

1. Awareness stage

In this first stage of the lifecycle, the customer becomes aware of the brand. A brand uses various marketing strategies to create awareness. The prospect may also know about the brand through word-of-mouth reviews or online testimonials. 

While each stage is essential for a business, the awareness stage is the most basic. The brand should utilize any available opportunity to create brand awareness. This is easier when you research well about your customers. Your research will let your business know who your prospects are and how to convert their interest into sales. In the present times, digital media is widely used to create awareness. 

2. Consideration stage 

The next stage in the customer lifecycle is a consideration. Here, the prospect makes the make-or-break decision crucial to the brand. After gaining awareness about your brand, they consider several aspects before deciding if they want to continue. 

A prospect may move out of the cycle if there is no intention to proceed after the brand awareness stage. Your marketing strategy should be compelling at this stage so that you get all potential customers. If the prospect forms a positive impression of your brand, there will be further movement down the sales funnel.

3. Purchase stage 

This is the conversion stage, where the prospect has turned into your customer. A business transaction happens when the transfer of goods or services happens in exchange for monetary consideration. Some circumstances force a buyer from dropping out even in the last stage. During an online purchase, cart abandonment is found to be a significant deadlock. 

A company should analyze the reasons for the same and avoid them so that a practical purchase occurs. Follow-up with the customers gives the lifecycle the much-needed push.

4. Retention stage 

A company cannot be satisfied that a sale has been completed. It should always be on the go to take steps to retain customers. There is no better asset to a company than its loyal customers. Retention is, therefore, an essential part of the customer lifecycle. A satisfied customer comes back to the brand again and again. 

This makes the brand trustworthy, further laying the foundation for creating more customers. This is the stage when the connection between the brand and the customer is strengthened.

Importance of customer retention: Stats
Source

5. Advocacy stage 

As the retention stage forms the foundation for creating customers, the advocacy stage moves further in achieving it. Your loyal customers become your brand ambassadors. They vouch for your brand's reliability through word of mouth or other channels. 

It creates awareness in other potential customers, and the cycle continues again. The brand can also request feedback from the customer after the sale has been made.

How to analyze each stage of the customer lifecycle?

Before learning how to analyze the lifecycle, you should know why you should analyze the lifecycle. Analyzing assists you in learning how your marketing strategies are supporting the lifecycle. It also helps in locating the flaws and initiating necessary corrective action. This will result in a smooth flow in the customer lifecycle.

1. Awareness stage

  • Analysis of the awareness stage lets you know how the customer gathered information about your brand.
  • It may be through online advertisements, online reviews, email newsletters, social media, etc.
  • Your brand learns about buyer behavior and gathers information about its online activity. 
  • With this, you can strengthen your marketing campaign and develop plans to create the best impression in the first stage. 

2. Consideration stage

  • Analyzing the consideration stage will help the customer move to the next stage.
  • After acquiring knowledge about the brand, the prospect may need some queries answered before considering the purchase decision. 
  • Your brand should assist the prospect by giving them confidence in the brand.
  • A personal connection with the customer helps them to proceed with the brand.

3. Purchase stage

  • Your brand should analyze why a customer drops a purchase at this stage.
  • A slow loading site, an annoying check-out process, or the absence of multiple payment options may be some reasons for cart abandonment. 
  • Analyzing this stage will offer you knowledge about customer expectations while making a purchase. 
  • It enables your brand to take steps to make the process simple and easy.

Customer lifecycle: Purchase stage stats
Source

4. Retention stage

  • You can analyze the retention stage by determining the number of customers who return for repeat purchases.
  • Communicate with those who do not turn up after their first stage to know the feedback.
  • Your post-sales service also impacts the retention stage. 
  • You should also find out what the customers like the most to return to your brand again.

5. Advocacy stage

  • Analysis of this stage should help identify your engagement with customers post-sale.
  • Analyze the provisions you have made for them to approach you with their feedback.
  • Loyal customers advocate for your product, so a referral program that rewards them will help generate more customers. 
  • Also, taking proactive steps to implement any feedback that long-standing customers express can help the customer lifecycle.

How to manage the customer lifecycle?

Customer lifecycle management becomes essential to maintain the flow without any hindrance. The following pointers assist in the management of the lifecycle.

Infographic: How to manage the customer lifecycle?

1. Identify the target audience

It is essential to direct your efforts in the proper direction. For this, identification of the target audience is crucial. You cannot create engagement with someone who is not interested in your products or services. Buyer persona identification streamlines your marketing strategy. The right market segment, in terms of demography, spending habits, etc., helps locate the right audience. Once you are sure about the target audience, you can create interest in them, sustain their interest through various promotional programs, and convert them into customers. 

Infographic: Target audience type

2. Share relevant content

In a highly competitive environment, you must make the the purchase decision easier for buyers. You should take steps to keep them engaged. Sharing relevant content through emails, apps for social media posting, affiliate marketing content, etc., are some ways this can be done. When you are in constant touch, the customer will most likely be reminded of your brand when finalizing the buying decision. This is one of the most effective marketing strategies to convert leads into customers. Email open rates and shares on social media posts are indicators of your customer engagement.

3. Provide resources 

When the prospects become aware of the brand, they may develop further interest in knowing more about the company. They need resources that can facilitate in providing relevant data. The company’s website may also be one such resource. It contains information like the latest financial statement or milestones achieved, etc. An FAQ section may also help a prospect get better information about the company.

Also, launching webinars to discuss the latest developments and offering lead magnets such as ebooks can help you manage acquisition.

4. Concentrate on customer service

An emphasis on customer service brings your brand closer to the customers. An easily reachable customer support team can go a long way toward better relationships. The customers may have several concerns that need to be addressed by the company before they can finalize a purchase. The role of your sales team is significant here.

Source

5. Eliminate bottlenecks in the purchase process

A tedious check-out process may only go well with some customers. It may lead them to leave the purchase midway. Facilitating guest check-out and ensuring the safety of online transactions are some ways that can remove the hurdles in the purchase process. The customer should be confident with your system. 

6. Support during the purchase stage

Even during the purchase stage, a customer may need assistance. Many doubts could arise, and your portal and the support system should be highly proactive in helping the customers at this stage. Get back to your customers to discover why they have yet to proceed to the check-out stage. An AI-powered chatbot that can interact with customers to identify glitches can help immensely. The buyer can clarify the product or service by chatting with the customer support team.

7. Support after purchase stage

A business must support customers after the purchase stage to retain them for long. The after-sale support system has to be robust to assist the customer whenever there is any need. Emails enquiring about how the buyer feels about the product, informing them about the customer support contact team, and providing an easy returns process are some ways of being in touch. 

The business should also communicate with the buyers about new launches or upgrades to the product they purchased. This will keep the business in the good books of the buyer.

8. Choose automated communication

For a small business, keeping track of the customers and communicating personally is easy. This is different from the case of a big business. To make things simpler, it is wise to choose automated communication. Your messages will be delivered to the buyers without fail at the appointed time. 

This lets you concentrate on other tasks, and at the same time, your customers are also included. This ensures personal connectivity with the customers, which goes a long way in fostering strong relationships.

Email automation can help you in staying in touch with customers. Also, with drip campaigns, you can provide timely content to help them make crucial buying decisions. Also, you can set up autoresponders to cater to their queries instantly.

9. Ask for reviews

This is yet another proven strategy to manage customer lifecycle. When a purchase is complete, leave some time for the customer to use the product and then approach them for reviews. You could also send a questionnaire to find out what they found best in the product and what could be improved. 

A referral program also motivates customers. They get discounts or cashback on their next purchase when they refer people to the brand. Brands can create loyal customers this way.

Asking for a review: an example
Source

Best practices for managing the customer lifecycle

1. Customize interactions 

  • Your interaction with potential customers should be customized according to their stage of their lifecycle.
  • If they are stuck at the purchase stage, you could assist them by analyzing what is preventing them from moving further.
  • Keeping track of buyer preferences, browsing patterns, etc., helps identify the support you can offer your buyers.

2. Engagement through multiple channels

  • A customer may use different devices for purchases or visit a store personally. 
  • Whether they use a desktop, laptop, smartphone, or the latest smartwatch, your brand should give the best experience to the buyer.
  • It should also integrate the experience with multiple platforms like social media, emails, etc.
  • This can fill the gaps across communication in different platforms and help manage the customer lifecycle.
  • You can also use an contact center software to enhance the customer experience with you.

3. Use surveys to identify pain points

  • Surveys can significantly help your business as they provide valuable feedback.
  • You can know the customer’s mind with the help of surveys, which can be used to better the experience you provide.
  • Surveys help identify lapses on your side so that you can take corrective action.
  • For example, if the customer feels that your eCommerce website is not user-friendly, this will come up in the survey and offer opportunities for you to correct the same.
  • A business can also use surveys to analyze those leads who did not convert into customers. 

4. Nurture customers 

  • Customer retention is easier said than done.
  • They are constantly attracted to competitive brands, and when your business loses vigor, they are sure to move over.
  • You should keep the customers engaged with your brand through various activities, like inviting them for a new product launch at a trade fair, offering promotional discounts, etc. 
  • A company’s role does not stop with a sale. It has to be proactive after a sale too.
  • Generating customers is a challenging process, so it is important to nurture the existing customers to retain them for a long.

Manage your customer lifecycles with Mailmunch!

We now know about the stages in the customer lifecycle and how important they are for a business. The business should take the necessary steps to manage the lifecycle to assist in the growth of the business. In this digital world, the support of tools can significantly help manage the customer lifecycle. Use tools effectively to support your customer’s journey into becoming long-standing customers. 

Mailmunch is an email marketing tool that can immensely help your business. Customer lifecycle management is easier with the help of such tools from Mailmunch. They can help your business strike the right chord through automated and customized email campaigns, offer actionable insights about your marketing efforts and provide customized coupons to increase customer engagement. 

Author Bio

Ammar Mazhar

A voracious reader and a music lover, Ammar has been writing engaging and informative content for over 2 years for B2B and B2C markets. With a knack for writing SEO-optimized content, Ammar makes sure that the results speak for themselves.

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