Effective Customer Lifecycle Marketing in 2024: The Latest Trends

Effective Customer Lifecycle Marketing in 2024: The Latest Trends

We have worked with hundreds of brands over the years to help them to reimagine how email can be used as a core digital marketing channel, or more than that, a relationship channel. Whether it’s retail marketers looking to give their customers more relevant email marketing content, or e-commerce businesses wanting to enhance their email marketing automation. We’ve seen brands increase their revenue outputs up to 300% from email marketing, by simply putting their audience first.

The potential to build relationships with people through email is enormous. I’d actually go as far as to say that effective customer lifestyle marketing is actually ‘the holy grail’ of email, and it's only getting more and more important as the digital world evolves. It’s a crucial method to help businesses stand out from their competitors.

Surprisingly, around 90% of businesses don’t get that granular with email because there’s a concern (or fallacy) around the time investment needed (the task just feels unachievable with the resource available), and they get too wrapped up in their own business revenue goals and lose sight of what their customers actually need and want.

Customer lifecycle marketing is about taking a step back and identifying what decision or relationship stage your customers are in with you as a brand and to continue to create a valuable experience at each stage, so that they find it hard to walk away from the benefits you provide to them. This looks very different for every business and across industries, which is why it is very reliant on you, the brand, to put the hard graft in; to talk to your colleagues and customers and really get to the crux of the lifecycle stages that are applicable to your business.

Let's get real for a moment 

Have you ever been guilty of sending emails out to the masses without a clear direction other than hope? If your answer is yes, then this article is for you. 

Now let's have a moment of honesty here too. Do you really think your customers are sitting there waiting for your email to come through to their inbox, which they lavishly kick back and read over a cuppa and jammy dodger? Of course not! They are busy people, leading busy lives. And just as you may fancy a jacket potato with beans for dinner one night and a roast chicken with all the trimmings the next, their preferences change too. No one moment is the same and we need to move with the times.

Lifecycle marketing is about moving with customers' needs and behaviours by listening to their desires and then take those findings to communicate with value. It’s about treating them with the same level of personalisation as they’d expect if they walked into a small independent store and made a one-time impulse purchase. Scented gift paper ’n all! It’s a concept that many marketers find challenging at the beginning because they can’t understand how this approach will make their business goals / problems go away and feels all too overwhelming and unachievable.

In this article, we share our top 5 tips around how to get started and stay relevant in the ever-changing world of customer lifecycle marketing to help build solid foundations right from your inbox, that last. And more importantly, the tips that make an impact on ROI.

Tip 1: Nail the strategy

First things first, you need to identify what your customers go through in their purchasing journey and make that journey as enjoyable and valuable to them as humanly possible. Have a working session with key stakeholders. Hell, call up your customers and ask them questions about why they bought from you, ask them what you’re doing well and what you’re doing badly! Honesty means everything and surveys are a great source of knowledge to help piece the jigsaw together. 

The key objective here is to know your customer's journey from that initial brand discovery phase (or becoming aware of your brand online), to actually acquiring and then retaining the customer. You want to step into your customers shoes and take note of what they’re looking at from the moment they’re browsing your website, how you develop persuasion tactics to get them to convert and how you then communicate with them post-purchase and even encourage repeat purchases.

Let's take a couple of examples here to showcase how we might go about building the right strategy for your business in both the awareness phase and then the retention phase post-purchase, respectively.


Awareness phase marketing

You own a kids clothing company. Your prospect has been on your website and looked at boys jackets for 5-6 year olds and wellies (size 13). They’ve scrolled through and looked at 5 different jackets. 3 with hoods, 2 without. The wellies they looked at varied in colour and some had warm fleece linings. They even put one pair in their basket and then got distracted by their 5 year old hanging off a lampshade. What do you do next?

Well, first things first, look at the data and identify whether this is a common occurrence. How many cart abandonment cases do you see on a weekly basis? If its hundreds, then it’s a no brainer and worth investing the time into building an email automation campaign to encourage the purchase when the prospect has 5 minutes peace to pop back online. If you hardly see cart abandonment on your site, then don’t focus your efforts here. Simples! Usually, when it comes to the awareness into consideration phase, you should be looking for ways to help your customers evaluate your products. There are plenty of options out there and the competition is ferocious, so it’s about showing them why your product is the best they will find - or influencing perceived value.

Now would be the ideal time to send emails that explain the benefits of your product or be explicit in reminding them how your product will solve their problems. You look out the window, the rain is coming down hard and a quick search on BBC weather shows it’s going to continue that way for the next 2 weeks. Those prospects that have viewed your wellies or added them to their cart and forgotten about them, need a gentle nudge to remind them that the rain isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon! If you have it, you can even send them relevant reviews about your products, so if they’re on the fence or they’re particularly cost conscious, they can hear first hand from others that your wellies are the best ones out there and their child never complained about cold, wet feet, ever again!


Retention phase marketing

You want to make the purchasing experience as simple and pain-free as possible. Happy memories encourage repeat behaviour. From email confirmation, dispatch and delivery notification updates, it’s all about keeping the customer informed and up-to-date about the whereabouts of their delivery and when they can expect to receive their purchase. That relies on several touch points, which I’ll delve into in more detail shortly. Post-purchase, it’s crucial to keep your customer informed, without overburdening them. Consider a loyalty scheme to reward customers for repeat business by offering discounts or being the first in the know about upcoming sales. By doing this, you will make your customer feel valued and special.

You can also provide links to helpful content on your website about the product they have purchased. A company selling an ice-cream maker, for example, could send ideas for delicious recipes that are seasonal and engaging.

You can use your marketing automation in a number of ways to drive success and inform your customer lifecycle marketing. It really is just a simple case of monitoring the relevant and most important behaviours. Whether that be interactions on your website, interactions with your emails, recording first purchase date for anniversary marketing tactics or slowly capturing more information about your customer over time e.g. Birthday, age, location, dependencies. These can become vital pieces of information to help you to market to these people in a way that resonates.

Tip 2: Pick ONE thing to start with

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. It ain’t worth the headache. When we do an audit or roadmap for a company we usually identify 50-100 different tasks on that roadmap, which can be hugely overwhelming for the client and the agency too and can take months or even years to achieve! Pick one thing and go in with the mindset - what can we do that makes a difference TODAY. Not tomorrow, not next week; what is possible right now?

Let's take a basket abandonment email as an example here. You’ve got 100 known prospects that have left something in their basket. It’s a simple task to set up a campaign with a quick reminder that the item will only stay in their basket for another 3 hours and it’s selling fast. Putting a bit of urgency and competition around the proposition almost always gets someone to act. The days of spraying and praying (through want of a better term) are over when it comes to lifecycle marketing.

No one wants thousands of irrelevant emails hitting their inbox and trust me, even well known brands make this mistake. A LOT. It’s frustrating and subconsciously or consciously begins to form a negative relationship with the subscriber. Tapping into the segments you can extract, using your marketing intuition and sending a campaign to see if it’s the type of content your reader desires is a great starting point. It’s about finding the one thing that you can do now without restrictions that will make a difference with your customer experience in their inbox.

Tip 3: Trust yourself

Look, even after being in the email marketing industry for a decade, I’m still learning every day. No-one has this nailed. It’s always changing and I am always learning (the Van Wilder of email!), especially when it comes to evolving technologies and tools. Don’t underestimate your intuition as a marketer. We know people love data, and yes, it is obviously incredibly useful, but quite often there is too much data, it takes an age to analyse and often slows down the process that you instinctively know. You have to trust your knowledge and if things are working. You may make mistakes and there is definitely an element to trial and error (I mean, you learn by making mistakes, right??) So don’t be afraid to get things wrong, because the things you get right, will make the biggest impact.

Let's use an example here to illustrate. Reporting campaign success.

Is open rate a retired or useless metric? Absolutely not. All metrics are important and play a part in the success of a campaign, but do you actually have to report on everything? Is it all meaningful? The answer, my friend, is no. There’s also such a thing as the ‘campaign marketers curse’ when you continue doing something meaningless, or bad because you feel you have too. Usually this is down to pressure from above, unrealistic objectives and a culture of unhelpful goals. I once had a boss that was fixated on getting the bounce rate of our website down to 40%, just because… But setting unrealistic expectations makes you lose sight of the purpose of your overarching objectives. Is the site actually seeing more qualified lead conversions or not.

Companies get caught up in the chase and send more emails than they should because they are concerned that results will drop off a cliff. This comes from a place of fear or pressure from above and not effectively managing that. There will always be someone in a business who will say ‘How many people can we send this email to?’ But we know that isn’t the right debate or discussion. Don’t put your business goals before the needs and desires of your customers. That’s a big mistake and where so many brands go wrong. Results will show you something different for a long time - people tolerate mess and then there’s a tipping point and when that tipping point is met, results will drop off a cliff. 

So how can we provide value longer term? Don’t lose sight of why people subscribe - always keep this in mind - it's not always about business goals. When you get too caught up in yourself as a business you will lose sight of creating campaigns that will provide truly amazing benefits for your subscribers.

If you have a database of say, 10 million subscribers but solely look at conversion rates and engagement rates, that could be incredibly misleading. If you look at revenue per email sent and it’s really low, versus a campaign that you sent to a small segment and the revenue generated was phenomenally high, then there’s great information in those numbers and it stops you from over mailing to broader segments - so use your instincts. Do what works and continue doing it. This gives you the freedom you need - don’t report on a metric for the sake of it and don’t get caught up in the numbers, you can’t know everything. Just report what works. Drawing your own conclusions on a campaign is key.

We ran a campaign recently where one launch email was sent (costing next to nothing) and generated over £15,000 of revenue in just a few hours. That is a great indicator of success and should be banked, tweaked and recreated. All the client cared about in that campaign was revenue per email sent. So that was the only metric we reported on. 

Tip 4: Be collaborative

Whilst email marketing is undoubtedly one of the strongest performing digital channels for both B2B and B2C marketing, it’s pretty well documented that you can do it badly and still get a fairly good return of investment, which isn’t the same for many other channels. Highly frustrating for us as an email marketing agency, but makes all the difference when you see the higher impact of a well designed, well-written and highly targeted campaign.

I read an interesting blog post by HubSpot earlier this week, which surveyed more than 1200 marketers. Main highlights included that those in the B2B space saw social media, website, blogs and email marketing, respectively as the most powerful channels for conversion in 2022 and in the B2C space, email ranked more highly, mainly due to its capabilities for automation, enabling marketers to focus their energy elsewhere. 

Email marketing is particularly effective when used for personalised communication, time-sensitive notifications (like product launches), and cart abandonment email reminders. This, combined with SMS / MMS, In-App and Push notifications, will help you as a marketer to tap into multiple touch points in the buyer's journey. That is largely due to the fact that in today’s world, our subscribers have clear expectations about the types of messaging they’ll receive, when, where, and how. The main point the writer makes is that leveraging a single marketing channel with only one strategy won’t be effective. Their survey showed that in 2022, 81% of marketers leveraged more than three channels, so collaboration is key, and gone are the days of living and working in a silo. Looking at results across the board and how your subscribers interact across all channels, will help you draw up a more informed strategy.

Tip 5: Utilise AI

Recently voted as Klayvio’s agency Gold partner of the month out of over 8,000 agency partners globally, we have seen incredible results using this platform by helping our customers to create personalised email and SMS flows that really maintain relevance during the different stages of their life cycles.

Utilising AI through effective automation platforms like Klayvio are where we see big wins with all of our clients. Essentially, Klayvio has tons of data points, including web behavioural browsing insights (if given consent to do so), purchasing decisions, cart abandonment data, repeat purchase data and email interaction to name but a few. The more data you can feed in, the smarter the technology gets and the more personalised you can get with your targeting. You will get to the point where you can start to analyse the data you have and see similarities between user journeys, allowing you to build specific customer profiles based on how they’ve interacted with your brand and what they’ve purchased.

Getting you set up correctly is another matter. It takes time and expertise and you need to get the leaders in your business invested in the ideas and methodology behind this approach. But this IS the way forward and we’ve seen it hundreds of times over with both the results our clients get from these campaigns and the feedback they receive.

Wrap up

Overall, coming up with an effective customer lifecycle marketing strategy doesn’t have to be difficult and you can start small and gain more insight over time. The key is to just get started and make the decision to start. Your main goals are to find out where your prospects and customers are. Follow their journey and have a deep understanding of what they absolutely need. This is not guesswork and relies on you utilising your data, but also requires the intuition of you, the expert. 

Make sure you ask the question ‘How do you want to be perceived as a brand?’ You can send bad campaigns and hit your numbers in terms of ROI, but remember, people have a tipping point, and you are in it for the long haul. Don’t annoy people with irrelevant messages that provide no value, and most importantly, don’t get caught up in your business goals and always put your subscriber first. They will give you more insight than your business targets ever will. Check out our service, where we where we explain how best to implement email management to achieve better results!

Ready to Improve Your Email Marketing?

Our team of email marketing consultants are here to help you today

Let's Talk Email

Ready to Improve Your Email Marketing?

Our team of email marketing consultants are here to help you today

Let's Talk Email