Email marketing is one of the most effective ways for businesses to build a relationship with their audience and convert their leads into customers, as long as it’s done correctly. Having an in-depth knowledge of the customer lifecycle and applying those learnings to an email marketing strategy can yield great results.
To be able to understand how your leads become customers, and how your customers become loyal, you need to have a basic understanding of the customer lifecycle. Only then can you build an effective marketing strategy.
The Customer Lifecycle
The customer lifecycle tracks the customer journey from the time they learn about your business to after the point of purchase. The stages of the life cycle include: awareness, rapport or relationship, purchase, retention, and referral.
Awareness is the entry point for your customer lifecycle as well as your sales funnel. In other words, this is your lead generation process. It involves helping your potential customer learn about you and creating an opening for rapport or relationship building via email marketing. A prospect must first learn that you exist and can potentially provide something of value before becoming a customer.
Strategies for Building Awareness
There are multiple strategies for building awareness of your business, product or service. The main methods are social media marketing and advertising and SEO strategizing. For either approach to work, you must offer a lead magnet that encourages leads to share their email, starting the email marketing process.
Examples of lead magnets include webinars, free workbooks or ebooks– something of value to your ideal customer. While social media plays a significant role in modern marketing, focusing on SEO and identifying not only what keywords to use– but how leads use them for effective searching– is key to long-term success (source: Coforge – Advanced Google Search Tips).
Rapport or Relationship
From the customer standpoint, the rapport or relationship stage of the customer lifecycle can also be referred to as the “research” stage. While you are trying to build trust with a prospect, they are actively researching your business and competition to see if you’re worthy of their trust– and their money.
Strategies for Developing a Rapport
In an email marketing strategy, using a series of emails before asking for a sale is the best method of rapport building. While some businesses opt to include a passive comment about their goods or services, others follow more of an 80:20 rule: 80% telling a story and creating a connection, 20% asking for a sale.
Outline a series of follow-up emails that start with the acceptance of your lead magnet. This might include introducing your organization in the first email, outlining how your lead magnet was useful in achieving success in the next, following up to see how your users enjoy the lead magnet in the third, and including customer testimonials in the fourth.
Monitor analytics to determine which emails are getting engagement and consider adding in some A/B testing to determine the most effective approach.
Your leads might spend a lot of time in the previous stage before finally making a purchase. It’s estimated that 59% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by email marketing. If you’ve built a strong relationship, getting a commitment in this phase should be fairly simple.
Strategies for Purchase
Now is the time when you push for the sale. Offer a discount code or a time-limited offer to encourage potential customers to take the leap and complete the transaction. Ask for the sale!
Approximately 80% of profits come from repeat customers in business. Additionally, up to 80% of businesses rely on email marketing to assist with customer retention. You see this often with online clothing stores that offer an immediate discount on the next purchase if used within a specific timeframe. Retention email marketing also shows your customers that you stand by your brand and that you’re not a fly-by-night company ready to take the money and run.
Strategies for Retention
Just as you provided something of value in return for an email address, consider sending something of value as a thank you gift as well. David’s Tea accomplishes customer retention by offering free samples of other teas with each shipment, making recommendations based on the customers’ perceived tastes. Even sending regular updates about upcoming specials or activity within the business can keep you at the forefront of your customer’s mind.
Now that your customer is satisfied with your offering, you want them to spread the word and advocate for the brand, creating awareness in other potential customers and thus completing the cycle.
Strategies for Referral
Doing a great job will speak for itself. Asking customers to share their positive experience via social media takes the traditional word-of-mouth marketing into the digital age. Creating an affiliate or referral program that offers customers a perk for bringing new people to your business also has profit-boosting effects.
Creating an email marketing strategy that takes a deep dive into each phase of the customer lifecycle will not only improve your success rates, but also create a clear structure to follow during planning. Use these strategies to help your prospects see what they’ve been missing.