Improve your conversion rate with lifecycle marketing

Improve your conversion rate with lifecycle marketing

If you want someone to buy you an ice-cream you don’t just walk up to them and say “Hey you buy me an ice-cream”. You would first introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. The aim would be to develop a relationship with points of common interest, you would then introduce the right messages at the right time about how hot it is say, or perhaps invoke a happy childhood memory of having ice-cream and then when you can see his mouth is watering for an ice-cream you mention that the little gelato shop on the corner makes the best ice-cream in town and just happens to be having a two-for-one special. And hey presto! You have your ice-cream.

Lifecycle marketing works in much the same way.

What is lifecycle marketing?

Lifecycle marketing focuses on each customer’s unique journey through the buying cycle. This includes every interaction they have with the business along the way. It aims to provide meaningful communication and information to customers to help them move to their next stage in the buying process.

Because of how easily today’s hyper-informed consumers can conduct product research, access price comparisons, and make purchases online, the goal of “getting the customer through the door” isn’t as important as it once was. Lifecycle marketing emphasises that the buyer’s journey doesn’t end when they make their first purchase. Instead, it emphasises the nurturing of customers with the goal of forming long-term relationships with them and improving lifetime value to the company.

By creating unique messages based on where the client is on the sales funnel, brands demonstrate their appreciation to customers and show that they prioritise each customer’s unique buying needs. This makes customers feel valued and encourages them to keep coming back, turning them into loyal, repeat customers that will, ideally, become brand advocates over time.

Lifecycle marketing therefore has to focus on each customer’s unique experiences and interactions, as well as the content they interact with while engaging with the brand. It’s all about grooming the customer, nurturing and helping them to reach their desired goal – just like getting someone to buy you an ice-cream. It’s no longer about putting the business first ahead of the customers’.

So how does it work?

A series of stages have been identified in the consumer buying process. Each of these has a different type of communication that is most appropriate. These stages and related communication for each are as follows:

Attraction

In the first stage, the prospect discovers the business – either through SEO, paid ads, or social media. The best way to be discovered is to create content that relates to what people are looking for, as well as what the brand has to offer. Here the focus needs to be on the target’s informational needs rather than only creating sales messages.

Considerations

The customer considers their purchasing options. This is where the brand needs to make purchasing its product or service seem like the obvious choice. Content types such as welcome campaigns, customer reviews, and detailed product descriptions are effective.

Conversion

At the conversion stage, businesses need to persuade prospects to take action and purchase their product (instead of a competitor’s). They can achieve this by providing access to content such as product recommendations and calls-to-action.

Retention

This stage focuses on keeping the customer and bringing them back to purchase again. It encourages brand loyalty. This is the stage where loyalty programmes and exclusive discounts (based on the behaviour of the customer) make sense.

Advocacy

Here, the necessary steps are taken to turn loyal, long-term customers into brand advocates. The best way to do this is by encouraging brand followers to create and submit user-generated content on social media. This in turn provided ‘word-of-mouth’ or as some say ‘word-of-mouse’ which helps other customers through the consideration stage.

Reactivation

Lastly, the reactivation stage requires brands to employ strategies that get in touch with their “lost” or inactive customers by sending re-engagement emails to past, once-off customers to encourage them to “come back” to the brand.

It is important to note that a customer’s journey may not be linear and they may not pass through all the above stages in order. To make things even more complex these contact points can occur across multiple channels. An effective lifecycle marketing strategy takes this into account and develops communication based on each customer segment’s journey.

Advantages of lifecycle marketing over traditional marketing

Brands that employ a lifecycle marketing strategy will be able to attract and retain new customers or turn existing customers into life-long buyers and advocates.

This means that brands will save money by focusing on existing customers, rather than periodically targeting new ones.

By sending customers a tailored message once they reach a new stage of the buying process, brands will make them feel valued knowing that the messages they receive are unique, rather than automated.

Brands can gain a better understanding of the target audience – who they are, how to reach them, their likes and dislikes, and how to keep them coming back.

Lastly, it saves time. By having a clear idea of exactly who the target customer is, lifecycle marketers are able to send messages to prospects who are genuinely interested in what the brand offers, rather than wasting time trying to appeal to “browsers”.

The bottom line

Lifecycle marketing shifts focus from selling products or services to developing long-term relationships with consumers by providing unique communications with individual clients at key points in the buying process and guides them from prospects to advocates, who will not only be loyal customers but also become an enthusiastic reference to new prospects.

Influencers: Superheroes or Supervillains?

The IMM Graduate School | Super heroes in combat FB webScrolling through my Instagram timeline I came across yet another self-proclaimed influencer flogging what seemed to be the millionth product in as many days. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and instead of being influenced in a positive way and loving the product, I was annoyed… not only with the person who posted it, but also with the brand.

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there and because of this the word ‘influencer’ has gotten a bad rep in recent years.

Influencer marketing is still quite a new concept in South Africa, and it makes sense that we’ve been learning through trial and error. However, we’ve already learnt big lessons and we see many brands implementing remarkable influencer campaigns, but there are just as many who are still struggling to get it right.

Think strategy

A lot of influencer campaigns fall flat for one main reason. Brands skip an extremely important step when considering influencer campaigns – strategy. Everyone is implementing some sort of influencer tactic but haven’t given much thought as to what success looks like for campaigns.

With a lack of strategy, influencers can either be superheroes or supervillains for your brand. Strategy can be the difference between annoying your target market and them having negative feelings towards your products and services; or being top of mind when they are making purchasing decisions and having warm, fuzzy feelings when thinking about your brand.

One of the mistakes we observe is that there seems to be one list of influencers that is shared between brands and agencies, as we see the same influencers being used time and time again by various brands.

When this happens, the influencer and their content loses its authenticity, rendering them ineffective. It’s as easy as expanding the list of influencers that brands use, including the types, making sure they align with brand values and are best suited to reach objectives and target markets to get around this.

The vetting of influencers is also paramount to ensure that they do not engage in activities or behaviour that can harm the reputation of the brand. Equally important is to audit influencer followings and engagements to check for fake or bought followers and fake engagements… aka using social media pods and the like. Don’t fret, there are companies out there that specialise in doing just that, trust the professionals to get this right for you.

On the flip side, it’s also in the interest of influencers to be discerning about which brands they work with, in order to not be overused or switching between competitors too quickly, which can lead to brands not wanting to work with them; and ultimately getting a reputation for being a blegger*.

Being authentic to their own brands and their currency is the reason people follow them and value their opinions and recommendations. Once influencers work with anyone and everyone, their influence will drop as they are no longer viewed as unbiased and authentic.

When brands take a step back and identify the basics, like what they want to achieve and who they want to speak to through influencers, the next step is to match the type of influencers that should be utilised.

Each category of influencers excels in achieving different objectives. Whether you decide on nano, micro, macro or mega influencers, make sure that they are best positioned to influence the target market in the desired way. 

*A blegger is an influencer who works with any brand without making sure the brand aligns with their values and audience. Bleggers are also known to push different brands within short lag times between each other and thus causes fatigue in their audiences.

The influencer equation: LIP = Lust + Investment + Proximity

One book every marketer should have on their bookshelf is Influence by Robert Cialdini. The author writes extensively on the six principles he believes underpin ‘influence’ –reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, authority, liking, and scarcity. And in 2016, he added a seventh: unity. The unity principle posits that the more we identity with others, the more we are influenced by them. Authority figures have the power to sway us.

We’re seduced by powerful stats from experts. According to a 2015 Schlesinger Associates study for Augure (now LaunchMetricscom), 81% of marketers believe influencer engagement is effective. It begs the question of what “effective” really means because with enough money, brands can pay influencers to get their message out to the masses and create ‘talk-ability’. This can be disastrously effective.

It’s a fact social media influencers have changed the marketing game and given brands access to people in ways businesses could have never imagined.

The Influencer Marketing 2018 research report[1] by Business Insider Intelligence reckons ad spend generated by influencers will reach between $5 billion and $10 billion by 2022. This represents a five-year compound annual growth rate of 38%.

With numbers like that in play, it’s no wonder influencers are a vital part of any marketing plan. But like everything else, there are good, bad and ugly sides to the influencer story which is why cutting through the clutter of influencer jargon and fluffy research stats is important to understanding a proven model of success that’s worked for banks, handsets, cellular providers and alcohol brands.

While there’s a lot of hype, there is in fact a science behind crafting a successful influencer campaign. We call it the LIP influencer model: LIP = Lust + Investment + Proximity.

 

  • Lust

Influencers must have a strong desire of affinity for what they are endorsing. It’s that simple. Find influencers passionate about your brand, let them fight to be on your team, and watch the magic unfold. While many marketers will hunt for influencers with large followings and approach them for endorsement, we recommend reversing the process by getting influencers to fight for why they should be chosen by you. It’s a bit like the dating game, except the influencer has to make the first move.

A brand that got influencers to make the first move was Vodacom, which tapped into the power of South Africa’s hottest young student influencers to drive their youth package, NXTLVL. Thousands of students applied to be an influencer for Vodacom and go through rigorous interviews on campus to qualify. Passion for the brand was the primary metric for fit.

Tip: Don’t get lulled into followers as a primary metric. Spend the time discovering if your influencers have a connection to your brand before taking the conversation further.

 

  • Investment

Investment wears three hats – Time. Training. Financial.

The Vodacom brand team knew that investing in influencers wasn’t a once-off exercise and committed to a year-long influencer programme. A longer timeframe meant that service provider could take a constant barometer of the team’s progress and make adjustments as the campaign grew. And the results speak for themselves: Vodacom exceeded its original target of NXT LVL customers.

Training was another crucial element and Vodacom understood that they were investing in influencers as if they were extensions of their own marketing team. The time spent training influencers on the brand’s vision, objectives, and products were crucial. This meant bringing influencers into its inner circle.

Tip: Brands taking influencer marketing seriously know that investing for the longer term must be a consideration in the annual budgeting process.

 

  • Proximity

A 2015 Schlesinger Associates report into influencer marketing alludes to the power of proximity, stating that 92% of consumers trust earned media such as word of mouth and recommendations from friends and family. In other words, the closer the proximity of a trusted group, the higher the sphere of influence. Having a favourite celebrity or supermodel recommend switching cellular networks doesn’t have the same credit as a best friend’s recommendation.

Looking specifically at university students (Fig 1), we see that peer groups have more influence on each other. Not only that, but as the sphere of influence expands outwards, the degree of trust drops and scrutiny rises. We have discovered that Afrillennials (African Millennials) are natural-born sceptics about celebrities endorsing multiple brands.

Authenticity is a big factor, and the youth have their eyes trained like a hawk for the inauthentic and will make sure to let everyone know when it’s absent. Just look at the global outrage over the Pepsi commercial in which celebrity Kendall Jenner brought a political march to a standstill. It was slap-in-the-face inauthentic.  She’s a supermodel and a reality TV celebrity, not an activist or social change maker. But it went viral. It got engagement.

In contrast, Vodacom won the authenticity race by infiltrating and activating at every touch point of a student’s world, thanks to influencers taking the brand to social events, showcasing it on campus, and boosting the offering on their social media platforms. The tight proximity of their influencers to the student market meant more authentic engagement.

Tip: Choose Influencers from a market that is closer to the sphere of influence in your target market. If you’re targeting youth then seek out young people with influence.

 

Final point

Influencer marketing is here to stay. Effectiveness takes time and effort and a process of steady accretion. Brands who succeed in bringing influencers into their circle of trust do so by walking the journey together as opposed to seeing them as just another billboard.