The Customer Journey is the series of stages your buyers go through– from strangers to raving fans of your business. Marketing professionals like to add jargon to this idea with names like customer lifecycle, buyer journey, lead lifecycle, lifecycle modeling, perfect customer lifecycle, inbound marketing, lifecycle campaigns, or sales and marketing funnels.
The concept is simple, though. Humans like to do business with those they like and trust. Successful businesses need a process for building relationships and turning strangers into fans. It’s a process of:
- Identifying and connecting with those whose problems you can help solve
- Building trust through conveying empathy and authority
- Offering a plan and solution to the customer’s problem
- Calling them to action through compelling offers
- Delighting customers with your products and services
- Giving customers the opportunity to tell the world they love you
Here’s the thing that separates the meh from the great: great companies understand that “marketing” isn’t a department or activities to generate leads. Marketing comprises the whole of the customer journey experience. Done right, we call it Lifecycle Marketing.
Lifecycle Marketing– The Structured Method of Turning Strangers into Fans
When you’ve got Lifecycle Marketing built into your business, then you’ve ACED it. It’s an acronym for Attract, Connect, Engage, and Delight. When you’ve ACED it, you’ve covered the basis of caring for your customers throughout their journey, from complete strangers to raving fans.
Broken down, here’s the four phases of Lifecycle Marketing:
You don’t want just anyone coming to your site. You want visitors who are most likely to become your happy customers. And you get visitors by attracting people who need your solutions with relevant content at the right time, when they’re out looking for it. Different ways to attract the right visitors include:
Content Strategy & SEO
In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create informative content on your site that brings in organic visitors, speaks to them, addresses their problems, and answers their questions. Compelling content on your site, including a blog, is one of the best ways to boost credibility and generate SEO-worthy content for your website. Your customers begin their buying process online, usually by searching to find something they have questions about. So, you need to make sure you’re showing up when and where they search.
Organic results are good, but when you show up in both organic and paid searches, it shows you are more relevant and credible, corresponding to more leads. In addition, paid digital advertising, like Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, allows you to target demographics, psychographics, and behaviors, giving you immediate, consistent, golden traffic; it pays for itself many times over. PPC and display ads serve as a wide casting net to help ensure you are capturing your future customers at the right point in their buying journey. Paid search marketing works extremely well, especially for local service businesses, when done right.
Social media allows you to share valuable content and information that is interesting to your potential customers on platforms where your customers often visit, live and work. Social media also allows happy customers to easily share their experiences, which creates credibility and interest in your services within your customers’ social circles.
Once you’ve attracted visitors, the next step is to connect with those visitors and turn them into leads. You do this by opening up a dialog in ways that work best for the person. Once you’ve connected, you answer questions and provide relevant content that is interesting and valuable to the lead and keeps the conversation going. Different ways to connect include:
Lead Magnets are irresistible works of prepared content or incentives we spread through different marketing channels that encourage visitors to exchange their valuable information–like their email address– for the valuable content or incentives we provide. Think “opt-in bribe.” Lead magnets take the form of checklists, cheat sheets, toolkits, eBooks, whitepapers, videos and more. They help us connect with visitors by giving them a reason to share contact information.
Messages are powerful ways to connect with the right people at the right time. Live chat on your site, Facebook messaging, text messaging and more allow conversations to become a natural part of your sales process, connecting you with people just when they’re most engaged and curious about your solutions to their problems.
Forms are a great way to collect a lead’s information. Forms can be placed in ads, squeeze pages, on your site and more. Forms can allow a lead to raise their hand, say they’re interested, but not feel threatened about having to talk to someone immediately.
For the fastest way to connect, inbound calls can’t be beat. Giving your leads a chance to call you allows them to get answers immediately and quickly, speeding them through the sales pipeline. It also can help segment which leads are more prepared to make a move on one of your services vs leads that may need more time to warm up.
Next to phone calls, scheduling in-person meetings or consultations are great ways to connect. These types of connections are usually required for a more expensive product or service.
To keep track of your visitors turning into leads, you’ll want a centralized contact database, or a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software solution. Keeping your data centralized in one place helps you make sense of each interaction you’ve had with your contacts, and it will allow you to optimize your future interactions along the customer’s journey.
Every visitor should be nurtured according to their interests. If visitors don’t connect or buy right away, they can still be exposed to your company through remarketing. Remarketing allows you to show ads to your visitors and leads on their own turf– when they visit Facebook, YouTube and sites affiliated with the Google Display Network.
Your visitors showed interest, and you’ve connected with them– now it’s time to engage. Now it’s time to “lead” your leads to become customers by purchasing your core products and services. Ways to engage include:
Call to Action
A wise teacher once said, “Ask and ye shall receive.” If you don’t ask your leads for their business, you’re much less likely to receive their business. In addition, asking your leads to buy your services portrays a certain confidence in your offerings. Consider the difference between a guy asking a girl on a date: “Do you like coffee?” vs “Would you like to go on a date with me?” In this example, the guy who is asking for a date is clear about his offering. There is no doubt in the girl’s mind what his intentions are. If he asks the girl if she likes coffee and she says “no,” then there is some ambiguity on what she is saying “no” to. “Was it the coffee, or was it me?” he’s thinking. Clear, concise calls to action allow your leads to understand your objectives, and it takes less brain cells for them to process what you offer.
What do you do if a visitor clicks on your call to action, fills out a landing page, or downloads your checklist, but still isn’t ready to become a customer? A series of emails with useful, relevant content can build trust with a prospect and help them become more ready to buy. It also keeps the conversation open with increased familiarity with your services and continual invitations to engage with you.
Sales Force Automation
As your business grows and you generate more leads, it makes sense to prioritize your efforts. You want to follow up with leads when they are ready to buy. Lead scoring tools and automated workflows and follow-up help maximize the productivity of your sales team.
Tripwires are low-cost offers that connect you with to your target market. Tripwires separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff, so you can know which leads are more willing to engage with you and become customers of your core products and services. Tripwires may include low-cost in-home visits, “first time customer only” offers and others. It is simply a way to accelerate the buyer/seller relationship by helping leads establish trust through a low-risk transaction.
Dashboards and Pipeline Management
You’ll need processes and systems in place to get your leads from here to there. You’ll want to measure the performance of your copy, your ads, and your people. You’ll need a dashboard that measures your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics that matter. Then you know where optimizations and additional training are needed.
Lifecycle Marketing is all about delighting your customers with a remarkable, consistent experience. It’s about meeting your customer’s expectations and beyond. Once your leads become customers, you want to turn them into raving fans. If you do, they will buy more, stay with you longer, refer their friends and tell the world how great you are. Ways to delight include:
Welcoming new customers should be a deliberate process ensuring a consistent experience. The goal is to set clear expectations, define what customer success is, and focus on the next milestone towards customer success. Relevant content and communications via email, video and text can guide new customers to make the most of their purchase experience. Customer onboarding prevents churn, breeds loyalty and affirms that they’ve made the right choice.
When your customers are reaching out for follow-up help with their purchased product or service, this is the perfect time to prove that your brand believes deeply in wowing your customers. You’ll need systems to get to know, connect with and truly help your customers feel good about their purchase. Your customers can be your biggest fans or your worst detractors, so it makes sense to keep them happy, productive and on your side.
No one wants to hear a repeat sales pitch when they’ve already bought your stuff. Smart content makes sure you don’t show loyal customers content meant for first-time buyers. In fact, you may want to continue your loyal customers down the sales pipeline and offer more services, and possibly advanced services, such as profit maximizers and loyalty programs.
The most successful businesses excel at one thing that mediocre business don’t: maximizing the value of their customers. We’ve all heard, “it’s cheaper to retain customers than acquire new ones.” The same principle is in place when we try to sell more products and services to loyal customers; loyal customers buy more, buy more often, and buy higher-priced products and services. A Profit Maximizer has one primary goal: to increase the average transaction value of your customers through upsells, cross-sells, recurring billing, value buckets, and bundles or kits, resulting in immediate ROI.
Even loyal customers can easily turn to a competitor after even the slightest inconvenience. Loyalty Programs aim at providing an incentive for customers to return to your business, in the form of added benefits, points, discounts, coupons, punch cards, cash back, gift cards, incentives or freebies for birthdays, etc.
Reputation management is the active practice of influencing and controlling your reputation. For local service businesses, that generally means controlling your online reputation through Google My Business and other tools. We help build and manage your online reputation, generating more five-star reviews while diminishing detractors. In conjunction with your reputation management, we track NPS scores and make it easy for promoters to refer customers and share their positive experiences.
At OYM, we believe that good marketing starts when you’ve ACED it with Lifecycle Marketing. We infuse customer journey into your business; we help identify the customer’s problems, their wants, your ability to give them empathy and provide a painless solution. We guide you in discovering the human behavior around your products and services, and we help you methodically turn strangers into raving fans of your company.
While the tools we use to deploy marketing tactics are constantly evolving, our motivations and behaviors as humans don’t change much. There will always be the latest and greatest bright, new shiny tactics in marketing– the latest chat-bot strategy, the latest up-and-coming social media tool, etc. And we are constantly staying abreast of and evaluating new tools and tactics, finding new places where your customers congregate, and finding more effective ways to deliver your message. But we build a firm foundation first, with a focus on identifying with the customer, building desire, communicating clear calls to action, and, ultimately, providing a clear path to success for the customer.
Discover how Lifecycle Marketing can help you identify problematic areas that are hindering your company’s true potential. Don’t delay; schedule your free marketing consultation now.