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.

The Human side of marketing

The IMM Graduate School | The Human side of marketingMarket Business News explains that marketing is “the activities of a business related to buying and selling a product or service. It involves finding out what consumers want and determining whether it is possible to produce it at the right price.” Additionally, marketing allows for the introduction and promotion of a service or a product to any potential customers. Considering a business revolves around its customers, without (successful) marketing, the business will fail.

Modern marketing focuses on engaging with customers on an emotional level by building trust, telling meaningful stories and showcasing the human side of a brand.

Human vs. non-human interactions

In the realm of chatbots, instant messaging, social media and artificial intelligence, most interactions can be done without ever talking to a human.

Interactions between the brand and its customers can be human or non-human. Non-human interaction refers to when customers search for information on the web or visit a website as opposed to human interaction, where the customer meets with a sales rep. Alternatively, online forums and webinars are also considered human interactions.

For brands to be successful, they must put their customers and employees and the core of their marketing strategy. For a business to show its human side, they can apply the following strategies:

  • One of the best ways to show the human side of a brand is to focus on the people who work there. An important part of telling a brand’s story is showcasing the personalities of those who help to make the business successful. This not only gives the business a face, it also builds employee morale by making them feel valued. To do this, publicly acknowledge an employee’s work on social media and be sure to tag them in the post.
  • Provide customers with an opportunity to engage with the brand on a personal level, share their opinions and provide feedback. Create polls on social media and ask customers to weigh in.
  • Give customers a “behind the scenes” look at the business. This allows customers to feel like they are part of the team. They will also get a better idea of the brand’s culture and whether or not its values are in line with their own. Post videos and photos of company events on social media and go live during special business events.
  • Ensure that your online interactions with customers are of the same quality as the face-to-face conversations. This means consistent messaging, staying true to the brand’s values and keeping promises. If a brand takes pride in its speed and efficiency, be sure to respond to phone calls, emails and social media messages in a timely manner.
  • Lastly, nothing says “human” like making a mistake. As a brand, by admitting to any mistakes you might make, your customers will have more respect for the business. You can either make a sincere apology on social media or if your mistake has a humorous tone to it, find the humour and laugh off your mistakes alongside your customers.

Why human interaction trumps digital ones

According to Retail Dive, “70% consumers surveyed about their customer service preferences said they would rather speak to a human customer service representative than engage with a digital customer service rep or chatbot”.

Read the article here: https://www.retaildive.com/news/70-of-consumers-still-want-human-interaction-versus-bots/543324/

Every interaction a customer has with a brand is a form of customer experience that, if handled correctly, can boost brand awareness and engagement. Automated responses are often limited so, especially when trying to report a specific problem, customers prefer speaking to a person from the start to resolve the problem as soon as possible.

The impact of the product lifecycle on business logistics

According to Jooste (2014), marketing is defined as “… the process by which organisations satisfy the needs of consumers by creating, communicating and delivering value for customers in the form of ideas, goods and services to facilitate satisfying exchange relationships, in ways that benefit both organisations and customers”.

Pienaar and Vogt (2012) posit that business logistics is “…concerned with the inbound movement of materials and supplies and the outbound movement of finished products. The goal is the delivery of the finished products required by the marketing department to the point where they are needed and when they are needed in the most economic fashion.”

So, in terms of Pienaar and Vogt’s definition, logistics’ key function is to convey inputs into the organisation in the form of materials and components etcetera and then deliver the end-goods that were developed by means of the transformation process (operations) to consumers at the right time, the right place and price to the right person in the right condition and quantity. The relationship between the two functions is that of co-dependence; marketing cannot survive without logistics and logistics has no place in the economy without the need-satisfying offerings that are uncovered and designed under the umbrella of the marketing effort.

Essentially, marketing is focused on four key elements known as the four Ps: product, price, promotion and place (distribution), whereas business logistics is made up of several activities such as demand forecasting, site selection and facility design, procurement, materials handling, packaging, warehouse management, inventory management, order processing, logistics communication, transportation, reverse logistics and customer service.

Addressing needs and wants

Every logistics activity, as mentioned above, is required by marketing to convey inputs into the organisation and to deliver the outputs that have been developed by operations for targeted customers in such a way that the needs and wants of such customers may be satisfied in a cost-efficient manner.

All products have a lifecycle; some are of long duration, like Coca Cola, and others extremely short (e.g. a fad). The traditional product lifecycle (PLC) has four stages; the introduction stage where new products are introduced in the market, the growth stage which is characterised by robust sales and profits, the maturation stage where sales have peaked and finally the decline stage where the demand for the offering starts to diminish as the market becomes saturated with the organisation’s goods and those of competitors.  In order to elongate the life expectancy of the product or service, marketing utilises the marketing mix variables (4Ps) to try to generate sales but like anything in life, the product will experience an eventual sad demise.

Although the traditional PLC as reflected above is an accurate indication of a product’s lifecycle, which starts at market entry and ends at the death of the offering, it is not a true reflection of the entire process because it is void of one of the most important stages; the product conceptualisation and development phase. It is this important juncture (when the product is perceived, conceived and born), that triggers the commercialisation of the offering and its ultimate absorption into the marketplace.

 An organisation that is well-versed in product life cycle management will have the ability and skills to optimise logistics and SCM to benefit its bottom line. Product lifecycle logistics is an approach to treating the supply chain as a continuous network or circle and, in the process, to improve customer service, lower supply chain costs, and where possible, bring in an additional income stream if the form of investment recovery by means of the disposing of dead stock and effective waste management.

The key to realising these savings as well as exceeding customer expectations is to recognise the relationship between the supply chain, business logistics, marketing and the PLC. This will provide a better understanding of the business and if used correctly, it can be used in combat with business adversaries as a result of a competitive advantage.

In the same way, lead time management, in the form of order-to-delivery cycle and the cash-to-cash cycle, will reduce the time it takes to satisfy customer needs and likewise the time it takes an organisation to convert an order into cash. Both forms of lead time management will provide the organisation, compared with slower rivals, with a competitive advantage.