Is this the conversion plan for your company?
1. Get a lead.
2. Pass along to sales or throw into an email automation sequence.
3. Pray for a conversion to a customer
Believe or not, this is the case for many organizations, from the small local business all the way up the ladder to the Fortune 500 space. While many of these companies remain very successful, they may be leaving a tremendous amount of business on the table by ignoring the customer lifecycle.
What is the Customer Lifecycle?
Mapping the customer journey, or lifecycle marketing, can be a rather daunting task as it requires an extremely deep dive into almost every aspect of your website, content, paid media, and any other marketing activity both on and offline. To take it a step further, it not only includes the process of lead generation and conversion to a customer, but also what happens afterward.
True lifecycle marketing can be grouped largely into 6 different parts.
1. Research and Audience Targeting
2. Awareness & Lead Generation
3. Conversion & Activation
4. Retention & Education
5. Revenue & Cross/Up-Selling
6. Loyalty & Referrals
Let’s take a brief look at the first 3 parts of the customer lifecycle and address the key points that you need to keep in mind as you consider what needs to be accomplished within your organization.
Discover Your Audience and Where to Reach Them
Unfortunately, we have found that this part of the customer journey is usually one of the most ignored, as it relies heavily on the “not so sexy” parts of marketing. Everyone wants to jump right in and utilize the cool new technologies or latest hot marketing tips that are “guaranteed” to generate immediate results.
In this phase, you will need to consider your ideal customer carefully, what industries you are targeting, and the best way to reach them and deliver your message.
Many times the best way to extract this information is to look at your existing customers and conduct a series of interviews that specifically ask them questions that result in a relatively robust customer profile, known as a “Buyer Persona Analysis”. By going through this process you will get real data from someone who has gone through your entire customer journey, and identify the exact reasons that they ended up becoming a customer.
You can also glean other valuable data such as learning more about their online behavior, what types of content they consume, and how they buy. If you wanted to take it a step further, you can then take the persona that you have created and go to an Experian or Quantcast to gather additional data that will give you additional insight into how these users behave online and where you will be most successful in reaching them.
By successfully completing this phase, you will be able to determine the answers to the following questions:
• What are the main characteristics and demographics of your customers?
• Why did they become customers
• What are the main problems that your product/solution solves for them
• How do they perceive your performance after becoming a customer
Brand Awareness and Lead Generation
Introducing your brand to potential customers and generating leads by capturing information and intent are typically the first 1/2 of the traditional conversion funnel. This particular part of lifecycle marketing usually gets the most attention, as it usually contains the more “fun” aspects of marketing, such as content marketing, social media, and paid media.
However, to be most effective, a cohesive strategy needs to be put into place to get the most bang for your buck from your activities. Most of these marketing activities aren’t “siloed” anymore and as time goes on they will only continue to become more dependent on each other. For example, SEO and Social Media have become more correlated, and both depend on value-add content that is well optimized for a particular theme to be most effective.
To map this part of the journey, it is best to determine every way that a new lead can be generated. Do you have whitepapers, webinars, or demos that can be used as a conversion point? Have you implemented a newsletter opt-in form? Is it easy to find and use the contact form or a chat client for more general questions?
It works best when you take each type of conversion goal, and determine the steps that need to be taken to get the end result. We have found that an if/then type of flow chart works well in this particular situation, as it helps you to map out the entire journey from how you are introducing yourself to the prospect, and you will be able to answer the following:
• What mediums will you use to get your prospects to your website? (PPC, Social, SEO, Email)
• What assets can you use that resonate with your target market and helps to capture information and generate a lead (eBook, Demo, Email Opt-In)
• How can you reach people who have left the site without converting and what assets can you use? (Exit Intent Popups, Retargeting on Social & PPC)
• Have you implemented the proper goal and event tracking to be able to quantify successes & failures?
• Do you have the ability or need to conduct split tests to determine the best landing pages for your conversion vehicles?
Converting and Activating New Customers
You have put systems and strategies in place, and now you are starting to generate a healthy amount of leads. At this point in time, it is quite common for the ball to get dropped as we enter into the gray area of where marketing ends and where sales begin.
From the marketing end, it will be essential to figure out the systems and touch points that can be put into place to serve as air support for the sales team, and to start to contribute to the “Pipeline Velocity” of the lead in question. For example, a lead has come in, but what is the best way to keep your message in front of the customer, slowly but surely leading them towards the point to where they are ready to reach a buying decision.
Common marketing techniques for accelerating your pipeline velocity at this point may include:
• Marketing Automation Campaigns,
• Retargeting Advertisements with more advanced or ancillary offers,
• Making sure that you are reaching out to connect and engage on social media
• Utilizing ABM (Account-Based Marketing) to start to sell into the organization as a whole.
At the same time, it will be important that Sales start to do their part and have a strategy in place to reach out to the client at the most appropriate time. Some companies are extremely aggressive and will literally call you within minutes of downloading an eBook on their website, while others are a bit more passive and wait until further down the pipeline to make their first personal contact.
At this point, some type of lead scoring, which is commonly found within marketing automation systems, is key. Lead scoring is a process whereby a lead is given a score based on the activities that they have exhibited with the brand. At a very high level, the more visits to the website and the more actions that are taken, the higher the lead score. It will be up to the sales department to determine when a lead score gets to the point where it justifies a call.
Sales these days isn’t just calling, and a few other activities that can help convert leads to clients include:
• On-site customer service and chat clients like Olark
• Automation campaigns based on actions taken when a prospect returns to the website
• Events and Tradeshows
• Live webinars and product demonstrations
Good news! You have now completed a sale or conversion!
Now that you have your client on board, the customer acquisition journey is over, right?
Not so fast. For companies that truly excel in attracting and retaining clients, the journey is only 1/2 the way completed. Stay tuned to our upcoming entry, which will step you through the next part of the process, which includes:
• Providing Value and Education to Your Customers
• Cross and Upselling Your Product
• Tapping into Customer Loyalty and Getting Referrals