How to Automate the Customer Lifecycle Journey to Get More Conversions

Marketers are under more pressure than ever to keep up with the constantly changing marketing landscape. 

McKinsey claims that business buyers behave more like individual consumers nowadays. But that’s not the only challenge:

  • Almost half of all purchases are now made on digital platforms.
  • On average, B2B buyers use 6 different channels for interaction during the buying process.
  • 65% of purchasers were disappointed by a poor customer experience.

Here’s the thing:

If you’re a marketer who truly wants to deliver bespoke customers experiences, you have to think and feel like your customers. 

You have to understand the entire customer journey and how your clients purchase from you. This means that you need to map out the sum of your customers’ interactions, from discovering your brand to becoming loyal advocates.

Yes, the customer lifecycle journey may be shifting, but marketers need to stay on top. Thankfully, marketing automation systems can help you do just that. 

If you want to win over customers, you must understand the phases involved in a customer journey. Plus, learn how to implement marketing automation to make the job seamless and leave zero open gaps in every touchpoint. 

Ready to learn that? Let’s dive in.

What is the customer lifecycle journey?

The customer lifecycle journey is a visual representation of how a customer experiences a brand. It’s a picture of how they engage with your business, from an anonymous visitor to a buyer and ultimately a raving fan.

To visualize it, try putting yourself in their shoes.

Identify the first touchpoints and list out what you would expect from a brand on each interaction. When you meet these expectations, it becomes more likely that they will purchase. 

The customer journey map can help marketers understand how their product will benefit their customers in each stage of the process.

But is the customer lifecycle journey the same as the customer lifecycle map?

The short answer is no. 

They are almost identical, but there’s a thin line that separates the two terms.

Customer lifecycle mapping paints the marketing and sales team’s perspective. It pictures the overall customers’ actions and interactions with the brand. It is how your customers would IDEALLY move inside the sales funnel.

On the other hand, the customer lifecycle journey is the ACTUAL movement of a customer from a total stranger transforming into a prospect, then buyer, and finally, advocate

This aids marketers in understanding their consumers’ overall behavior. This way, they’ll know how to better fit the product into their customers’ lives. 

See the distinction between the two? 

It’s only a word variation, but the details make all the difference. While both are important in the marketers’ lives, we will first talk about the latter ― the customer lifecycle journey.

Why understanding the customer lifecycle journey is essential?

Today, businesses should be about customer focus and customer-centricity. A poorly handled customer service experience caused 60% of customers to stop doing business with a brand.

Isn’t this enough evidence of how essential it is to know the course of a customer as they interact with your business? Even when they are not yet your customer at that point?

In case it isn’t, here are other reasons. The lifecycle journey is important because it:

  1. Helps develop an effective marketing strategy
  2. Provides insight on what the opportunities and problems are at each stage of the journey
  3. Aligns the marketing team with sales and other departments 
  4. Identifies important moments for customers

Let’s now dive into the phases of their journey.

What are the phases of the customer lifecycle journey?

Every business uses different words to map the various stages of the customer lifecycle journey. The key here is not the exact wording of the phases, but the overall understanding of the journey, so that your whole team is on the same page when you discuss the journey across marketing, sales, and customer service.

Phase 1. Discovery

The customer lifecycle journey begins with attraction ― outbound and inbound marketing.

First, there are the searchers or window shoppers who happen to see your content. 

If your content captures their interest, they’ll read what you have to say. Otherwise, they’ll close the tab. 

So the questions here are:

  • Is your content meant to solve a problem?
  • Can it satisfy their needs?
  • Is it educational or at least relatable?
  • Does it satisfy the intent of the searcher?

Essentially, discovery happens when people discover your site because they are drawn to the content that you created. One good content piece, and they become aware of your existence. 

Your ultimate goal with all of your content is for people to discover and read it. It’s unlikely that a person will convert if they are not interested in reading your content.

At first, people are just casual readers of your website. But once they become “regulars,” you’re turning these visits into regular traffic (that process usually involves lead nurturing, as we will explore in the next phase.) These people will engage with you over time.

Examples of marketing activities in this phase:

Since discovery happens with great content, typical examples of marketing activities here are:

Social media marketing

Source

Blogging

Source

Web opt-ins like this quiz

Source

When creating your content, you should have an ideal customer in mind. 

But how do you write for a specific person in mind if you don’t know who’s visiting your website?

It’s almost impossible to know an anonymous searcher, but you can create an avatar of your target audience. 

So first, define your ideal customer persona. 

Who is your target customer? You shouldn’t assume a general audience here. Instead, focus on a single buyer in mind.

Once you have figured out who your customer is, you can create a story (content for different channels) that connects them to your brand. 

Highlight the possible end goal of their desire

Basic DesireEnd Goals
PowerAchievement, competence, leadership
CuriosityKnowledge, truth
AcceptancePositive self-image, self-worth
OrderCleanliness, stability, organization
SavingCollection, property
HonorMorality, character, loyalty
IdealismFairness, justice
Social contactFriendship, justice
FamilyChildren, husband/wife, brothers, and sisters
StatusWealth, titles, attention, awards
VengeanceWinning, aggression
RomanceBeauty, sex
EatingFood, dining, hunting
Physical exerciseFitness
TranquilityRelaxation, safety
Source

From there, map out how they ideally move in the marketing funnel. 

Is there a conflict that stops a customer from signing up? This problem can be internal, external, or philosophical: 

  • External – meaning physical obstacles to success
  • Internal – a reflection of the character’s limiting beliefs
  • Philosophical – focusing on ideals 

If there is, position your brand as the one that can solve it. 

You can then plan your content like blogs, social media posts, videos, and guides to revolve around this positioning. 

When you get their attention, it’s now time to get to know them better. 

Collect their information, so you know who you’re dealing with (more details on how below). 

When anonymous visitors become known leads, you’re ready to move to the second phase.

Pro tip: When choosing a marketing automation tool, ensure that the platform can collect anonymous user data. Encharge’s website tracking allows you to track anonymous visitors and even build segments with anonymous visitors. But the most important part is that it will merge all anonymous user activity to the identified profile once the user leaves their email, allowing you to see the whole customer journey of that person.

Learn more on how anonymous people become identified in Encharge.

Tracked anonymous user in Encharge. Once you collect their email, this activity will be merged with their profile.

Phase 2. Education

After moving your target to a known lead, nurturing comes next. 

You don’t jump towards selling immediately. Instead, you warm them up. Educate them first to understand your offer’s value. Lead nurturing aims to develop relationships with customers regardless of which stage they are in the sales process. 

The first question in this phase is: “What channel does the lead come from?”

You need to emphasize and reiterate your product’s value. But you have to make sure that you’re reaching the right people.

Say someone downloaded your lead magnet; you got their name and email address. You can thank them and send a series of drip emails, but you should not send them product onboarding emails just yet.

At this stage, you should start thinking about segmentation — categorizing your leads into groups that share common criteria. Segmentation will help you deliver personalized customer journeys and move more leads down the journey much quicker. 

Your team should know the needs of specific leads and send them the relevant information they need. 

The only goal is to engage with them, so maintain a connection until they’re ready to make a purchase.

Examples of marketing activities in this phase:

The marketing activities you did in the first phase set the stage for getting and nurturing leads. 

Now, your job is to maintain this interaction throughout the education phase. 

But first, identify where these leads are coming from. Some of your sources may include:

Next up, segment these users. Only send relevant messages once you know their sources and engage accordingly. 

Your lead nurturing messages should include:

  • Educational messages that make you a leader or an expert of the niche
  • Answers to your customer’s common objections
  • Benefits of your product so they know what they miss out on if they don’t choose it
  • Or even simple check-in emails.

You shouldn’t limit yourself to simply sending out plain text emails. Use graphics, videos, invites to free webinars or product updates. 

Just keep one thing in mind: show them how your product or service can help them achieve their goals.

Are they warmer now? Then move on to the next phase.

Phase 3. Conversion

So you got visitors, turned them to leads, and warmed them up with some nurturing. Great! You can hand them over to the sales team now.

It’s crucial that the new leads fully understand that your product or service fulfills its promise or how it solves their problem. That among the competitors out there, yours will benefit them the most. 

Once all these are set out, your goal now is to sell. You’ve trained these people to receive a sales pitch after all.

Examples of marketing activities in this phase:

After building a close relationship with a lead, you now aim to mark them as sales opportunities. They are now aware of their problem and your solution. So go ahead and try to close the deal.

Have they booked a call or demo? Then, you need another series of sales emails to nudge them to make a purchase.

Once you’ve closed the deal, don’t think that the marketing is done. You must now enter phase 4. 

Phase 4. Retention

Good job on closing the deal. So far, you’ve converted a target into a customer. But at this point, your job as a marketer is not done. 

You have to maintain the relationship by continuously sending product or service updates.

Your users already understand the value of your offer, so keep your sales messages at a minimum. 

The goal of this phase is to retain customers.

Sad to say, not all customers who purchased from you become repeat customers. Some will churn.

Still, it’s not too late to re-engage your lost customers.

Examples of marketing activities in this phase:

Customers who know your offer’s value are not hard to please. You can go on sending marketing emails like product updates and rewards. More likely, they will make a repeat purchase and retain their loyalty to your brand. 

What your marketing efforts must focus on are the lost customers. It’s best to have a Customer Win-Back Strategy so you can capture them back. 

Here’s a good one from Ubersuggest.

Keeping your churn rate low is the ultimate goal. Don’t let those inactive customers go astray — convert them back into active users.

Phase 5. Advocacy

Constantly rewarding and updating loyal customers makes them stay. And what’s even better is, you’re close to turning them into advocates.

Rather than just staying with you, advocates are happy customers who will also refer you to their family, friends, or colleagues they believe will benefit from your brand as well. Since you provided them with the best customer experience, you’ll be in their minds for future recommendations.

So yes, this phase is straightforward. Just keep “wowing” your loyal customers — your end goal is to deliver your promised results to the extent of exceeding them.

Examples of marketing activities in this phase:

In this phase, you can introduce your loyal customer to more offers. By continuously delivering results, you amaze them even more.

How to do this?

Send exclusive emails or exclusive offers once in a while.

Thinking of offering more? You can upsell, down-sell, or cross-sell. It will not be too hard to sell to people who have already seen your competence. You can reap more profits from repeat buyers than running back to phase 1.

Another important benefit? 

Those who truly gained value from your product can give you testimonials or even referrals. And they are important to build your credibility or optimize what you currently practice.

How can marketing automation help?

Some important questions that come to every marketer’s mind are:

How can we identify all these prospects, their requirements, and their needs? And how can we contact them when we are ready with our products or services? 

Now that you understand the customer lifecycle journey check the first question off your list. The next question is, where does marketing automation come into action. 

At this point, the role of marketing automation helps you get better insights into your audience without all the busy work. 

We suggest automating your marketing efforts like this:

The Customer Lifecycle Journey StageMarketing automation use cases
Discovery
Goal: Attract
Content automation
Publish regularly. Based on the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) created, craft your content relating to their pain, interest, or need.

Social media automation
Automated publishing takes place when you publish content to multiple channels simultaneously.

Some tools even allow you to do post-scheduling. Meaning you can create a post now but publish it at a later date.

SEO, Search PPC
Use of special tools that can automatically give you the search terms that are most profitable for an organic or paid search. 

Analytics
Discover visitor traffic and use it for marketing. You can then determine whether your content marketing efforts are successful.
These are nameless traffic, yet it’ll show if the content you are sending out is good.
Education
Goal: Engage and Nurture
Automated welcome email messages and lead nurturing emails 
For sending automated welcome emails, onboarding emails, or nurturing emails to your new contacts.

Depending on what segment they are in, your email campaign can either be a one-time run or trigger-based.
Conversion
Goal: Sell
CRM automation 
Automate repetitive sales processes. Marketing automation tools like Encharge support seamless native integrations with the major CRM platforms like HubSpot and Salesforce.

Lead scoring

Every time someone provides their email, you get a lead. Now, it’s your job to turn that lead into a customer. Lead scoring helps you automatically identify hot prospects.
Retention
Goal: Retain
Automated reward emails
Reward emails are a smart way to retain users. When you acknowledge them reaching a milestone, you encourage them to repeat or even do better.
Advocacy
Goal: Impress
Automated seasonal messages
These are for your best customers. Sending them special messages now and then makes advocates feel special.

Customer lifecycle journey management and marketing automation

Lifecycle marketing improves the customer journey by making it more personalized, quicker, and frictionless.

It’s an approach to digital marketing that helps brands keep their audience engaged and interested over the entire customer journey. And one of its important aspects is automation. 

Marketing automation is the key to successful customer lifecycle management. It’s what will help you stay on top of your marketing efforts and make sure they are not only effective but also efficient. 
If you want to take your nurturing to the next level, try Encharge. It’s a powerful marketing automation platform designed for sending personalized messages and behavior-based emails across the whole customer journey. To see it in action, you can request a demo here.

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Camille Richon
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