What is the customer lifecycle?
01 Apr 2022 | by Kristina Boschenriedter
8 min read
Over time, successful businesses build mutually beneficial relationships with their long-term customers.
In order to do this effectively in your organisation, you need to pay close attention to the customer lifecycle. This is the process a customer goes through when they engage with your business. It covers all aspects of the customer journey, from the first time they see your product or service to their first purchase and their ongoing engagement with your brand.
By paying close attention to the customer lifecycle, your business will experience a number of benefits. After all, when you know how customers interact with your business and how they feel about your product or service, you can better prepare your marketing, sales, and customer service teams to turn one-time purchasers into loyal promoters.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at the customer lifecycle in greater detail. As well as outlining the customer lifecycle stages (and what happens in each), we’ll also cover the customer lifecycle management process and how analysing the customer lifecycle can improve your marketing efforts. We’ll then conclude by showing you how our tools can help you perform a powerful customer lifecycle analysis.
Customer lifecycle stages
The customer lifecycle covers every interaction a customer has with your business. Due to this, it takes the entire customer experience into account. The process can be fluid, but for convenience it is generally split into five stages: awareness, acquisition, conversion, retention, and advocacy.
During the awareness stage of the customer lifecycle, a prospect is looking for a solution to a problem they’re facing. It’s your chance to reach prospects while they’re still deliberating which brand and solution are best for their needs.
At this stage of the process, the prospect is comparing products from a number of brands (including yours). They’re also reading reviews and carrying out background research, such as scouring forums or watching videos.
If the prospect completes their research and then reaches out to you for more information (either to educate themselves further or to get a price), then they move to the next stage of the process.
When the prospect goes to your website or calls you for more information, they’ve reached the acquisition phase of the customer lifecycle.
What this phase looks like depends on the acquisition channel. For example, if a prospect calls you, the way they engage with the brand will be different from someone who gets in touch via live chat or simply looks through the website.
However, regardless of how a prospect first interacts with your brand, all information presented to them should be helpful, informative, and educational. It should answer their questions and concerns succinctly and it should show them which of your products or services meets their needs best.
Remember, every landing page and blog post on your website, every live-chat enquiry, and every phone call is a customer service touchpoint. As a result, it’s vital that you make the process easy to navigate. This way, you can maximise conversions.
Once a prospect has found the information they were looking for, they will make a purchase if they’re happy with your pricing and your customer service. At this stage, they move to the conversion stage of the customer lifecycle.
After a prospect makes a purchase, they become a customer. Once this is the case, you need to prove that your brand and your product or service is providing them with value. By doing so, you'll be able to establish a lasting relationship.
The key to turning a one-time purchase into a lasting relationship is learning more about how the customer feels about your product and the customer service you’re providing.
By using information that you receive directly from the customer (through things like surveys and customer satisfaction scores), you can make improvements to your product and the service you provide.
In the retention phase of the customer lifecycle, you should also offer incentives that only existing customers can access, such as exclusive discounts and referral bonuses. By doing this, you can convert a purchaser to a brand promoter.
If you can retain your customer and turn them into a brand promoter, then they become an important asset for your brand. At this stage of the customer journey, your customer may write positive reviews that influence future customers or recommend your services to a family member or friend.
What is customer lifecycle management?
Customer lifecycle management involves tracking each stage of the customer lifecycle. While doing this, metrics should also be assigned to each stage of the lifecycle and success should be measured based on performance against these metrics.
To effectively manage the customer lifecycle, you need to:
• Identify your target audience and develop accurate buyer personas
• Create useful, relevant, and engaging content
• Develop self-service resources for customers, such as a FAQs section or a knowledge base
• Have a proactive customer service team
• Remove all friction from the purchase stage
• Personalise the customer experience
• Invite customer reviews
• Incentivise referrals
How to apply customer lifecycle analysis to your marketing strategy
Knowing how your brand is performing at each stage of the customer lifecycle is essential if you want to improve the customer journey.
To effectively analyse the customer journey, you’ll first need to identify problems or weak points in the customer experience. From here, you can then create solutions that improve the overall experience.
Analysing the awareness phase
When analysing the awareness stage of your customer lifecycle, you need to figure out how easy it is for potential customers to find out about your business and your product/solution. To analyse how well you’re reaching your customers, answer the following questions:
• Where are our prospects finding out about the company?
• How are we performing on each channel?
• Are we regularly posting content on social media and amplifying our reach?
• Are our competitors doing anything differently?
Remember, the easier it is for prospects to find your company online, the easier it is for you to reach them. So make sure you analyse the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, such as your SEO strategy.
Analysing the acquisition phase
During the acquisition phase, a prospect becomes a lead. This happens because a potential customer has found useful and relevant information that interests them. When analysing the acquisition phase of the customer lifecycle, answer the following questions:
• What kind of content is on our website right now?
• Is the content we provide helpful for someone looking to make a decision?
• Is our website easy to navigate and read?
• Do we have a knowledge centre/FAQ page and a blog?
• Can our customer services team be reached easily?
• Is pricing information directly available?
Analysing the conversion phase
When analysing the conversion phase of the process, your ultimate goal is to discover if there are any barriers that are stopping customers from making a purchase. To do this, answer the following questions:
• Is the purchasing process easy and straightforward?
• Is the site free from bugs?
• Is the site secure?
• Do you offer a refund policy or a product guarantee?
Analysing the retention stage
After a customer has made their first purchase with you, it’s important that you continue to make their experience as positive as possible. After all, if you consistently provide a positive experience, the customer is likely to stay with you for longer. So, answer the following questions:
• How do your customers feel about your business and its products?
• Is it easy for customers to place repeat orders?
• Is support available for customers who are struggling to use a product?
• Have you personalised the customer’s experience so they feel valued?
• Do you have a loyalty programme in place?
Analysing the advocacy stage
It’s difficult to inspire customer loyalty. However, if you analyse your activities at this stage of the process carefully, you can improve the chance that your customers will return for repeat purchases and tell their family and friends about their positive experiences. To analyse the advocacy stage of the customer lifecycle, answer the following questions:
• Have you included social media follow buttons on your site?
• Do your social profiles interact with customers and leads?
• Do your current customers receive perks and benefits?
• Do you have a referral programme in place?
• Do you have the right communications in place to communicate with customers about their benefits and loyalty points?
Conducting a customer lifecycle analysis with Apteco
Conducting a customer lifecycle analysis is a vital step if you want to improve your customer retention rates. However, if conducted manually, the process can be incredibly time-consuming. It can also lead to limited conclusions.
Due to this, we recommend that you conduct your customer lifecycle analysis with the help of our powerful tools. With our solutions, you’ll not only be able to conduct the customer lifecycle analysis and determine in which segment each of your customers is, but you’ll also be able to put your insights into action. In doing so, you’ll be able to:
By personalising interactions with your prospects and your customers, you stand the best possible chance of moving them through the lifecycle and converting them to brand advocates.
When personalising your interactions, you can ensure that people who are at different stages of the customer journey only receive information that’s tailored to their needs. For example, those at the awareness or acquisition phase may receive helpful resources, while existing customers may receive offers or referral codes. By personalising your communications, you’ll ensure that all of your marketing communications are timely and relevant.
Recognise important touchpoints and take advantage of automation
By analysing the customer journey in greater detail, our software can also help you prevent churn and win back customers. Plus, it can also help you focus on the touchpoints that are most valuable and will help you recognise behaviours that indicate a purchase is imminent.
In this instance, providing the right message at the right time can make all the difference. As part of this, by using our software and taking advantage of automation, you can maximise your results with minimal effort.
Deliver an omni-channel experience
Finally, our software can also ensure that you’re always where your customers and prospects are. By ensuring that you offer your customers an omni-channel experience, you can make sure that you don’t have any gaps in the customer lifecycle. Plus, you can also manage the lifecycle more effectively and make sure that your customers always receive the same messages no matter which channel or touchpoint they use.
Interested in learning more about how our marketing tools can improve your customer lifecycle analysis? Get in touch today to book a demo.