The customer life-cycle is defined as the progression of steps a customer goes through that covers all the possible stages from awareness to conversion and then retention. This means getting a potential customer’s attention and teaching them what a brand has to offer, converting them into a customer and then keeping them as loyal users whose satisfaction with the product or service advocates other prospecting customers to join the loop.

This is a very important step in marketing your brand, products or services to the right person, at the right time, and in the right place. You can use the information gleaned from the customer buying cycle to increase the sharpness of your marketing strategies.

Transactions, sales, prospects, and users are going to expect different interactions with the brand depending on which stage of the buying cycle they’re currently in.

As potential customers enter every stage of the buying cycle, what they require and want to change from a simple confirmation that their need analysis is on the right track to cold data about your brand and product — so, it’s safe to say a one-size-fits-all content strategy won’t get you very far.

By mapping with the right content and action to each stage of the buying cycle, marketers can provide a custom-fit journey for each of their target personas, providing a more positive user experience and increasing the impact of the marketing message.

Check major points in the journey cycle: 

  • Awareness: attract the attention of the customer.
  • Interest: promote advantages and benefits.
  • Desire: convince customers that the product will satisfy their needs.
  • Action: lead customers toward acting or making a purchase.

Breaking down each of the customer buying cycle stages even further:

  • Awareness 
  • Acquisition 
  • Conversion 
  • Retention 
  • Referral 

Awareness:

Awareness is the first stage of the customer buying cycle, customers have just recently identified needs or challenges

Awareness of the brand is the level of consumer consciousness about the brand. It measures a potential customer’s ability to not only recognize a brand image but to also associate it with a certain brand’s product or service. Awareness spread through both inbound and outbound marketing efforts.

Brand Awareness Strategy

There are 3 major steps for building a brand awareness strategy:

A good brand awareness strategy requires a multifaceted approach to improve brand engagement with past, current, and future customers. It is incredibly important that brands establish a loyal following of active customers. 

To understand brand awareness marketing tactics that have converted loyal followers into active customers, you need to understand 3 important steps. 

1: Segment Branding Tactics to Target Specific Audiences

Awareness strategies should continue to focus on capturing the attention of prospecting customers. These customers can be identified as those individuals who have shown an interest by visiting the brand’s website or shown an intent to purchase.

To make the most of branding efforts, you should focus attention on the brand’s identified target market. Through increased efforts, you can increase brand-awareness to a larger, more qualified audience. 

2: Establish Strong Brand Recall Using Search Results

Re-target a user who has visited a website or interacted with a digital asset. Using digital retargeting can stimulate brand recall and encourage prospecting customers to come back to the website. There are four general ways that can leverage for retargeting to establish stronger brand recall amongst current and prospective customers:

  • Retarget individuals with preliminary brand awareness.
  • Retarget people who have previously visited a website.
  • Focus on people who have opened an email.
  • Track users who have searched products by name.

3: Social Customer Engagement

Social media tools and referral programs can help to be proactive in social media marketing efforts.

By being proactive you can:

  • Build a better brand experience for customers.
  • Improve prospective customer engagement levels.
  • Help prospective customers become loyal brand followers.
  • Engage in a dual conversation between past, present, and future customers.
  • Turn leads into profitable sales.

Acquisition:

An acquisition is a step to convince consumers to buy your product or service.

For acquisition, you can test many possibilities for both inbound strategies (content marketing, webinars, and social media) and outbound strategies (cold outreach via social media, email or Linkedin ), figure out which all works best, then invest heavily in their implementation.

In other words, you need to devote both time and money to customer acquisition. Otherwise, you can miss out on lots of sales.

The acquisition strategy encompasses all efforts to bring consumers to the final stage of making a transaction. It might involve lots of touch points.

Plus, the acquisition strategy is based on consumer behavior. How do people interact with the app/website? emails? social channels? After understanding these behaviors, you can optimize your site for conversions.

Customer Acquisition Process

Major steps for customer acquisition strategy:

1. Increase Engagement from Unopened Emails

Increase the number of people engaging with the emails that are sent to subscriber list by specifically targeting those that have failed to open them.

2. Update and Republish Old Content for a Ranking Boost

Generate more organic search traffic to existing content that lives on the blog through improved keyword rankings.

3. Aligning Search Intent to Content Upgrades

Increase the number of customers downloading content upgrades when they’ve come through to content from organic search.

4. Integrations with Other Products

Acquire new customers by leveraging the existing user base of products that integrate with, thereby offering an improved user experience in the process.

5. Industry, Feature & Location Pages

Increase organic search traffic with high commercial intent by ranking for keywords related to specific industries and locations targeted, as well as those related to individual features of the product.

6. Build an Inherently Viral Mechanism

Acquire new users through a mechanism that enables existing users to bring them to the product without increasing customer acquisition cost by any significant amount.

7. Engagement Metrics on Facebook Ads to Drive Down CPC

Reduce the amount of paying per click across paid Facebook ads while maintaining the same quality of visitors.

8. Set up an Affiliate Program

Generate new customers through incentivized referrals.

9. Map the Locations of Potential Customers

Identify the physical locations of the target market so that localized campaigns can be aligned more effectively.

10. Build a Small-Scale Influencer Referral Programme

Grow customer referrals and increase your organic search engine rankings and brand image.

Conversion:

Conversion is a concept must tackle to figure out why customers are or aren’t converting on a website or app. Conversion, specifically, focuses on optimizing content with just the right mix of strategies to transform a lead into a ‘convert’. 

How to know if conversions are happening? By measuring the conversion rate, or the percentage of overall visitors who perform any action. For example, if there are 10 website visitors per day and 5 of them click on free download, then the conversion rate is 50 percent. Look for higher conversion rates for a few simple reasons: gain more customers, increase brand awareness, and eventually, earn more revenue.

Below are marketing strategies to convert new and returning visitors:

1. Implement Smart Pop-ups

There are several smart pop-ups that have been proven to significantly increase email lists and improve e-commerce conversion rates. Some of the most commonly used pop-ups include delayed pop-ups, pushdown pop-ups, push-up pop-ups, exit-intent pop-ups, and sign-up forms.

2. Take Advantage of Facebook Marketing

Facebook reported 2.4 billion monthly active users in Q1 2018 (according to business insider website ), which remains the most popular social platform on the planet.

Here are some of the ways to leverage Facebook for conversions:

  • Talk to your community

Initiating conversations in the comments section of your posts is a simple yet great way to increase engagement. 

  • Pixel power 

Facebook Pixel is an option that allows for full integration of Facebook ad campaigns to websites. Essentially, Pixel is added to the website’s code, enabling it to report on actions that users take after viewing Facebook ads. This data helps to increase conversions by allowing us to build more relevant custom audiences for implementing more effective retargeting.

Retention:

Customer retention is the set of activities a business uses to increase the number of repeat customers and improve the unit economics of the brand.

Customer retention strategies enable both; to provide and extract more value from the existing customer base. To ensure the customers that are acquired by working so hard to stay with the brand, have great customer experience, and continue to get value from the products.

In short, the acquisition creates a foundation of users while retention is how to build customer relationships and maximize revenue from each one. 

Major steps for customer retention strategy:

1. Win-Back Campaigns

Entice customers with things they value. Consider offering gifts, bonus items, and free shipping. If lifetime customer value allows for it, you can kick things up a notch and offer a win-back package that includes multiple.

2. Loyalty Programs

Loyalty points are likely the most common form of the loyalty program. Easy to implement and pretty darn effective. 

3. Subscription-Based Business Models

Subscriptions work well for most consumable or disposable products, but what if brands sell something with a low repeat purchase rate? In this case, you should focus on what complementary product you can offer that would lend itself to a subscription model.

4. Paid VIP Memberships

Offering a paid membership that includes such perks that can make the difference between satisfied customers and customers who buy almost exclusively.

5. Gamification

Gamification improves customer retention by making business more fun to interact with. The idea is to take the psychological elements that make video games enjoyable and incorporate them into the business.

Some of these psychological elements include:

  • Competition
  • Completing goals
  • Receiving rewards
  • Achieving social status

Referral:

There’s no better advocate for the brand than a satisfied customer. This is the reason why referral programs work.

When existing customers refer to their friends or colleagues, they’re telling them how much value your service truly is.

As new customers come in, people will stick around longer, and your business will grow and become more successful. Referred customers have 16 percent higher LTV and 18 percent low churn than those acquired by other methods—and customers with high LTV and low churn rates are the backbone of any strong, fast-growth eCommerce business.

Major steps for referral strategy:

The best referral program should meet the following criteria:

1. It should be engaging enough for your customers to be interested in using your referral program.

If you have a referral program but your users don’t get a notification about it, they won’t be engaged in your store as much as they would if they got a notification.

Every customer wants to get a profit out of a good purchase. Therefore, the right notification matters

2. The best referral program should reward affiliates and influencers

If your referral program is good, your customers should get a notification when your shopper’s recommendation turns into sales.

3. An ideal referral program should have an AI-powered bot

Sending notifications to your shoppers manually is tedious. If you have an AI-powered bot, your job gets easy and you don’t have to worry about sending the right notification at the right time.

Conclusion

While it’s common for online business owners to always focus on the sale, it’s important to remember that your flock of customers is scattered across the field. By herding them through the right gates using your marketing, you’ll be able to enjoy a much more dependable customer pipeline.

Hopefully, these five steps have given you a better understanding of the thought process that goes into making a purchase. These can be extremely helpful if it used as a model to analyze your customer’s thinking, and then use what you learn in combination with other marketing efforts.

The hard truth is your company needs to keep up with the new customer’s buying cycle or get out. Hopefully, by being able to understand this cycle, to begin with, you will now be able to adjust your business plans and rewrite your marketing and selling strategies to reach the customers buying this year.

And as we all know, a flowing pipeline is always better than a dry one.

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