How to Improve Your Business with Customer Lifecycle Mapping
Failing to see the difference in value between a long-time customer and a fresh acquisition undermines brands on a regular basis. This tends to stem from viewing business decisions as isolated incidents, which is a flawed perspective — any given arrangement is just one link in a lengthy chain.
The need to understand and cater to these chains produced customer lifecycle marketing. Instead of treating each business opportunity as a generic context-free entity, it considers myriad factors, including where prospective clients have been, where they might be going, and what value they offer.
In doing so, it makes it possible to greatly improve efficiency, reducing the churn, building up loyalty, and producing compounding results. Let’s take a closer look at how adopting customer lifecycle marketing can make your company even more successful.
Finding easy efficiency improvements
Highly efficient marketing is all about finding the path to success with the least resistance, and the more widely you expand your scope when looking at customer journeys, the more opportunities you’ll find for easy improvement (this is huge for UX).
Think of it as getting more bites at the apple — instead of needing to get one step performing 10% better, you can make 10 steps perform 1% better, and their results will compound. You may even find as you look more closely into what’s happening that some part of the process you were previously overlooking has been serving as a major (but easy to remove) obstacle.
SaaS companies have really led the way in getting incredibly granular with their acquisition and retention processes, largely because their funnels are so consistent that they can easily check the analytics for maximum detail. Change the color of a button at the right time and you might end up with 3% more conversions for very little effort.
Enhancing long-term customer value
Instead of placing all the emphasis on carrying out specific discrete actions, taking a lifecycle-oriented approach prioritizes a customer’s overall positive momentum regarding your business. This is preferable because customers on average generate more value for a business the longer they use it.
Think about how a business relationship can break down if neither party is willing to make any concessions on a particular point of contention. Smart marketers understand that it is sometimes worth taking a small loss today to retain a customer which is likely to generate a lot of revenue and networking opportunities in the long run. You can’t treat all clients the same.
And this isn’t even taking into account the additional off-the-books benefits of extended B2B associations. The longer you have a professional association with another company, the more chances you get to learn about (and spend time with) the people there. Being on a first-name basis with the bulk of your clients is a sure indication of your operational consistency and a positive sign for any company thinking about working with you.
Moving to a multi-channel model
The line between business and personal communications has been steadily eroded due to social media channels, and it is now near-mandatory for a business with big customer service ambitious to adopt a multi-channel approach. The idea is to be accessible whenever and wherever necessary, working to keep clients happy, answer questions, fulfill requests, and carry out essential PR work (an ill-timed negative tweet can sink a brand image).
Customer lifecycle marketing ties social media activity into the customer’s business decisions, breaking down how, when and why it affects their choices. If you stick rigidly to your internal sales funnel and public perception turns against you, you’ll be unable to address it until the damage has already been done.
While it takes a lot of work to maintain a steady presence across major social media channels, you don’t need to handle it all manually. There are countless tools to automate the most laborious elements: there are popular options such as Buffer or HootSuite (and plenty of viable alternatives) that you can use for queuing and reusing social media content, and then there’s the relatively recent advent of sophisticated chatbots.
Chatbots are quickly proving their value for for B2B businesses. Shopify lends further value to its ecommerce CMS by providing a chatbot called Kit that can be used to manage stores and create ads through Messenger, and Winnie is a user-friendly way for an affiliate site to incentivize users to buy hosting through its revenue-driving links. If you set up a chatbot to deal with common queries, you can establish a solid level of 24/7 support.
Generating valuable feedback
Every business has room to grow and change and remaining static is a sure sign of impending decline, so you need feedback to give you an idea of how you can get better — but not all feedback is of equal value. Feedback from a new customer will be shallow and unreliable. You don’t know them, they don’t know you, and it will be a reflection of their first impression more than anything else.
But feedback from a long-time client is tremendously useful. Not only will they feel much more comfortable about being candid with you, but their information will also be vastly more comprehensive. They’ll be able to tell you about how their opinion of you has changed, what parts of your operation delight or frustrate them, and what changes you can make to avoid complaints before they happen.
Remember that a business is more than the sum of its parts. The online world is rife with people buying and selling any type of business they can find, and the prices are generally low because a business without management, brand or established audience simply isn’t worth much. It’s your image and your actions that matter most, and those are reflected in the clients you’d had the longest.
You can’t base everything you do on what your most loyal customers want, of course — that would be putting all your eggs in one basket — but you should give it the serious consideration it merits.
Customer lifecycle marketing is more efficient, produces compounding effects, and helps your business to function better. For all these reasons, and more, any company that doesn’t want to rest on its laurels should be moving away from traditional marketing models and towards multi-channel strategies that prioritize customer retention and engender brand advocacy.
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