What is the definition of CLM (Customer Lifecycle Marketing)? A customer lifecycle is a term used to describe the milestones that occur during the sales process and the span of a customers relationship with a brand.
Why is this important? When you have a clear understanding of the sales process and knowing which step your customer is presently on, you’ll target market more effectively with practical information. You will efficiently navigate your customer through the decision making process resulting in higher productivity, a higher closing rate, increased client retention and building customer loyalty.
What are the various stages within a customers lifecycle? In a nutshell there are 4 simple stages in any given customers lifecycle with specifics steps repeating through each unique buying cycle. The 4 primary stages being:
1. Acquire 2. Serve 3. Grow 4. Retain
What’s equally important is what happens along the way in between each primary stage. Understanding the sub-stages strengthens your ability and likelihood of delivering your customer to each primary stage and one step closer to closing.
Awareness Also known as the Reach stage. This most likely originates from a search engine, email or direct mail campaign, social media marketing and any other lead generation you have in place. This step can take time before reaching the next and some contacts may never engage to convert to a prospect. A general marketing rule of thumb is that a consumer needs to see your message or advertisement 7 times before they become aware of it. This doesn’t mean 7 touches through the same channel but reaching them through various mediums to spark engagement.
Knowledge Often referred to as Engagement, the customer seeks more information and testimonials about the brand, product and service. This is often done through social media, registering for emails and researched reviews. Using testimonials to establish a social proof will help compliance at this stage. People find comfort in knowing that other people have used the brand or product first, approve and trust it. I find that the Similarity Principle is the most effective as it makes the presentation more easily relatable for your customer. The simplicity principle can be defined as using a case history or a testimonial from someone similar to them. That similarity might be their industry, geography or intended use of a product or service. Establishing proofs throughout the sales process is important and should be used repeatedly.
Consideration The evaluation stage is a good time to perform a needs assessment. Gain an understanding of their obstacles, what they’re trying to accomplish before presenting the solutions you have to offer. Performing a needs assessment gives you information to make your presentation more practical. You’ll also be able to pick up on their language and hot words to build bridges and communicate more effectively making your pitch that much more relevant.
Selection The “gut check” happens just before a purchase is made. Your customer is reviewing information and forming a decision to trust and move forward with your brand. Customer service and information support is critical in the early stages of the buying process.
Fun Fact: Consumers prefer to have a self-service environment during the buying process however survey studies have shown that more than 80% require some degree of support during their purchase.
Purchase The customer has completed the decision making process and is moving forward with a purchase. The fun isn’t over yet, continued support will help avoid an abandoned purchase.
Fun Fact: Over 50% of buyers will abandon the purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question. Over 40% of consumers report that having questions answered by a live person during the purchase is one of the most important elements. (astute solutions)
Experience Customer will evaluate the product and overall experience to gauge the potential for future business. The overall customer experience is their lasting impression and what will greatly influence the lifetime of the relationship.
Retention Bonding with your customer will help to concrete the relationship. Proactively engage with them to generate future purchases and experience opportunities. All decisions we make are in some way tied to emotion. The stronger emotional bond you have with your customer the stronger their loyalty to you. It is at this stage where Cross-Sell and Up-Sell has the most potential. When it comes to Cross-Sell versus Up-Sell let’s make sure we all have the same understanding and definition of what that means. Cross Selling is offering an item that correlations and in addition to the item they’re already buying. An Up-Sell is offering them a similar but higher priced item. In Other Words:
Cross-Sell is “do you want Fries with that”
Up-Sell is “would you like to Super-Size that”
Advocacy Your client feels positive about the experience and is advocating on your behalf. This strengthens brand loyalty while generating new business through testimonials and establishing social proofs. It is at this stage where you have the opportunity to pickup referrals through both inside and outside channels of this customer.
These paths are simply outlined models. The interaction, buying patterns and conversion paths are far more webbed and complex for each unique customer experience. It is important to remember that the customer’s ever evolving journey is not a linear one. Therefore your marketing approach requires a fully integrated and multi-channel approach. Customer buying behaviors are exceptionally difficult to understand and nearly impossible to predict. Therefore having a flexible marketing strategy that allows you to move across a latitude and find the unique point of entry is a necessity. In other words, move across X to find Y.
©Matt Wagner, Vice President of Sales at Fields Manufacturing