For years, marketers chased the customer purchase as the end-game in the sales process. As long as a customer made a purchase, the marketing team did its job and could move on to the next person to sell to.
However, modern marketers are changing how they think about the buying process. The journey doesn’t end with a purchase — and in some cases, that’s just the beginning.
We’re entering the era of customer lifecycle marketing, where the customer is cared for after they make a purchase and forms long relationships with the companies they buy from.
What Is Lifecycle Marketing?
Image via Flickr by Traveloscopy
Simply put, customer lifecycle marketing is the process of considering a customer’s journey with a brand from when they first hear about it until the last time they buy. A few examples of customer lifecycles include:
- A man joins a gym and pays $30/month over the next three years.
- A couple enjoys a romantic night out at a restaurant and returns again for their anniversary and Valentine’s day.
- A woman buys a wedding dress from a local store and then brings her friend there when she gets engaged.
All of these customer lifecycles have one thing in common: The journey doesn’t end when the customer makes a purchase. The gym has to earn the man’s business every month, the restaurant has to bring the couple back, and the wedding store has to evoke word-of-mouth recommendations.
Considering the customer lifecycle as a whole, instead of focusing on just one purchase, can help brands plan for the futures, grow their business, and create better content marketing materials.
Start By Calculating Your Customer Lifetime Value
There are multiple factors that marketers consider when they calculate the customer lifetime value. Depending on your resources, you may want to opt for a simpler formula or expand to understand the potential value of each of your customers.
The easiest way to calculate your customer lifetime value is to multiply the average ticket by the average number of times a customer purchases from your brand and how long they stay a customer. Using the examples mentioned earlier:
- The man pays the gym $30/month over five years (60 months) for a CLV of $1,800.
- The couple spends $100 on dinner four times per year, for an annual CLV of $400.
- The bride spends $5,000 on her wedding dress once.
As you can see, average customer lifetime value will vary dramatically by business and industry. You may even develop a model to account for repeat business and loyalty options.
CLV Helps You Develop Audience Personas
One of the main benefits of developing an in-depth CLV formula is to help your brand create audience personas that drive your content marketing. For example, you can see how a gym would develop personas based on customer lifetime value using the man’s example above:
- He pays $30/month for the basic plan, stays for five years, and has a CLV of $1,800.
- Another person joins for $30/month as a New Year’s resolution, quits after three months, and has a CLV of $90.
- Another person pays $30/month for a basic membership and stays for five years, but also signs up for monthly personal training at $100/session. Their CLV is $7,800.
If a gym builds out these target personas, they can start to form marketing content for each of the people who are likely to buy memberships. They can work on content that retains people and keeps them coming in longer than five months, while up-selling loyal gym-goers into upgrading to a personal trainer membership.
Personas and the Customer Lifecycle Work Together
By now, you can clearly see how the customer lifecycle affects your business and your content marketing process. Instead of marketing to people and trying to engage them once, you can see your customers with long-term vision. You can work to create positive experiences that bring them back, encourage them to spend more, and get them to tell their friends.
This process is fairly easy to build into your content creation process. Some companies even develop a chart where they align the target persona with their position in the customer lifecycle. From there, they create content based on that person’s needs and goals at the time. Below is an example of what this might look like for the restaurant mentioned above:
- Target persona: couples looking for a romantic night out.
- Location is sales funnel: a month since they last visited the restaurant.
- Needs: a place to eat for their anniversary, ideas for a fun night out.
- Content plan: promote romantic menu items and extensive wine list, target couples on social media with photos, videos, and blog content about keeping the romance alive.
Following this process, your marketing team can come up with ideas, and then determine the best actions to take by choosing the platform and content type. In just a few steps, you can have dozens of ideas and plans for promotion on each of your channels.
There is Overlap Between Your Personas
If you have multiple target personas, multiple channels, and various steps in the buying process, you may start to feel overwhelmed at the idea of using customer lifecycle marketing, but there is good news: there will be significant overlap throughout your marketing process. This doesn’t mean you should share the same content over and over again, but rather that one piece of content will hit multiple audiences and call them to action. If you can find where your audiences overlap, you can prioritize your marketing efforts.
Create Content That Keeps Your Customers Engaged
Understanding the behavior of your customers and catering to their needs can help you develop a content marketing strategy that engages repeat customers while selling to new ones. The marketing process doesn’t end when your customers buy, and your department has to communicate with multiple customers at once.
Develop a strategic marketing plan with a content company you can trust can give you the tools to scale your efforts to maximize your results. Your customers will appreciate the direct messaging, and your business will benefit from your customer lifecycle marketing focus.