Engaging with your customers is a basic building block when marketing your business and is a crucial part of increasing overall sales and revenue.

Where other processes, such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) become involved only once a sale has been made, customer lifecycle marketing offers a way to plan for interactions throughout the whole customer journey.

We’re here to go through:

What is customer lifecycle marketing?

The term Customer Lifecycle Marketing was born out of the increasing trend of marketers prioritizing customer engagement, conversion, and customer retention within their marketing strategy.

This strategy prioritizes communication with customers, across multiple channels of interaction and can be defined as:

A high-level approach to personalized customer communications, based on the understanding that different marketing messages and strategies work best for customers at different stages of their journey with a brand.

To implement this strategy and forge a stronger bond with your customers, you must understand the distinction between each stage of the customer lifecycle, and the priorities of the respective stages for both you and your customer.

What are the stages of the customer lifecycle?

There are four basic stages of this lifecycle for the customer. These go through the pre and post-purchase stages and are defined as such:

  1. The prospect or the window shopper. This is a customer who has shown some interest, but has not purchased from you.
  2. The active customer. These are customers who’ve purchased from you, and therefore, are ones you have a relationship with. Active customers have different levels of attachment to your brand:
  3. They may be a first time purchaser. These are customers who, you guessed it, have just purchased something from you for the first time. These folks can just as easily turn into inactive or lapsed customers as they can become repeat or loyal ones, depending on how you interact with them post-purchase.
  4. They may be repeat customers, customers who purchase consistently from your site.
  5. loyal customer. These have been repeat customers for a significant period and can be considered loyal to your business and unlikely to move onto competitors. Customer advocates fall under this category and are among the key players in your businesses success.

(Understanding the difference between these types of active customers is where customer segmentation comes in. This can help to categorize your customer base in a manageable way for you to begin specializing your marketing accordingly.)

  1. The inactive customer or the risk-of-churn customer. The customers who’ve purchased, but not recently. If you’re not careful these can quickly turn into:
  2. The lapsed customer or the churned customer. These are customers who’ve purchased, but not for a long time.
  3. The inactive and lapsed customers also have the potential to turn into reactivated customers. These are customers who had churned but then returned to make another purchase.

What activities might be seen within the customer lifecycle?

When we’re talking about activities, we mean the actions you take toward customers to then convert or move them onto the next stage in the lifecycle journey. Again, this can be broken down into four different categories: Reach, act, convert, and engage.


Who is this stage for?

The prospective customer.

What is the aim of these interactions?

For those people visiting your site, but not purchasing anything, your goal is to convince them to make that purchase they’re already considering. Take what you already know about them (i.e. how they found your site, what pages they browsed, where they live) to make offers targeted toward their interests.

If they’re consistent visitors to your site, or perhaps if they’ve registered with your site but still haven't made a purchase, prioritize informing them about the benefits of engaging with your brand.

The idea is to welcome them to your brand. Introduce yourself, provide an ice-breaker, encourage them to interact with you, and to then make that first purchase.

What activities come under this action?

Some activities include:

  • Getting your name out there to the relevant parties through SEO, events, sponsorships, social media advertising, or traditional advertising.
  • Providing them with information by content marketing, free trials, or community stories or company updates. Just make sure that this content is unique and engaging so that it sticks in the prospects mind.
  • Offering incentives such as first-time discounts, free samples, or contests.


Who is this stage for?

The first-time purchaser and reactivated customers.

What is the aim of these interactions?

These customers are among the hardest to convert onto the next stage of the life cycle. It’s common for one-time purchasers to use your site once and then never return to it again.

But it’s once a second purchase is made that the likelihood of them turning into repeat and loyal customers increases dramatically. Once you have them hooked they’re more likely to stay.

At this stage, it’s then the goal to provide as many relevant and enticing incentives to get them to that second purchase.

For reactivated customers, it’s important to note that marketing to your existing customers, even inactive ones can decrease your overall churn by up to 20%.

Reactivated customers are on par with first-time customers when it comes to the difficulty of retaining them in the first place. This is why treating reactivated customers similar to first-time customers, can help you understand the importance of getting them to that second purchase.

What activities come under this action?

These activities include:

  • Contacting them directly once they’ve left your site via email marketing and other forms of contact. Offering incentives this way can increase the likelihood of you holding their interest as they don’t have to go anywhere to find these discounts.
  • Take advantage of affiliates and third party recommendations such as influencer marketing and social media.
  • Reactivated customers should receive special treatment in the types of bonuses and personalized offers to turn them back into active buyers.


Who is this stage for?

The repeat customers.

What is the aim of these interactions?

This is where it can become tempting to sit back and relax. If customers are repeatedly coming back and buying your products then your job is done, right? Wrong!

Customer retention is a key way to maintain a steady bottom line. Repeat customers are among the most valuable people to your brand, and they need to be treated as such.

Though they may be a reliable source of revenue, there’s never a guarantee that they’ll stick around forever. Customer satisfaction shouldn’t be confused with customer loyalty.

Treat these customers as the VIPs they are and provide them with high value and relevant offers, content, and access that reflects that.

What activities come under this action?

These are activities such as:

  • Creating a customer community. Increased interaction is vital to understand each customer's pain points and interests so you can develop a strategy to convert them into loyal customers.
  • Incentivise them with a loyalty program. Provide them with discounts after a certain number of purchases, give them early access to new products and content.


Who is this stage for?

Both the inactive, indecisive, and loyal customers.

What is the aim of these interactions?

It may seem strange to put these three types of customers into one bracket, but your aim for each is very similar, and many strategies work well for both.

For customers at risk of churning, and for loyal customers, the key is in offering personalized incentives. The aim is to re-engage or retain engagement by keeping your communication with them consistent and evolving in order to keep these customers from lapsing into inactive customers.

The only way to reengage churned customers is to be aggressive and persistent with your messaging and contact. Again, personalization comes in handy here because customers who have churned need to feel like you want them specifically to come back. Consider looking into prior purchases and behaviors.

When loyal customers become as invested in your brand as you are, then they can become a part of your marketing strategy. These people are ones that’ll want to shout your name from the rooftops.

Ideally, these loyal customers will then become a part of your advocacy program, doing a lot of the marketing leg work for you.

What activities come under this action?

These include:

  • Reactivation or win-back campaigns. Email campaigns that get your name back into the minds of inactive users.
  • Exemplary customer service.
  • Advocacy programs. Provide unique and exclusive experiences, beyond simple discounts, to give them the incentive to continue promoting you.

What is involved in a customer lifecycle strategy?

Consistency, cohesion, and consolidation. These’re what customer lifecycle strategies aim for. The difference between this type of campaign and another is that it’s not area specific, it focuses on the whole cycle with the aim to align messaging across all touch points.

Because customer lifecycle marketing works across all platforms, it’s ideal for collaborations between different marketing departments and the key component in getting this type of strategy to work is with personalizing the customer experience at each stage in the customer journey.

It does no good to send a customer advertisements about your loyalty program if they’re already on tier 3 of that program. Knowing their habits and priorities can help you identify where they are in the cycle and as a result, allow you to specialize your marketing efforts to move them onto the next stage.

Personalization recognizes your customers as individuals. Marketing to them at their stage in the cycle can go a long way to show that you’re aware of their history with your brand. Applying this simple process can offer a level of care that customers will notice.