Lifecycle marketing is the way in which you move prospects through the buyer's journey in order to gain customers and increase revenue.
Because lifecycle marketing spans across the entire buyer’s journey, there are a ton of different tactics that you can implement. But, before you even think about getting started with tactics, there are a few foundational things to get in order.
Everything you do as a marketer is dependent on understanding your target customers and prospects, and having that foundation in place will help guide the way in which you think about moving prospects through the funnel as well as which tactics will work best. That’s why the first step to doing effective lifecycle marketing is to make sure you have accurate buyer personas and buying roles fully built out for your company.
You will also want to ensure you have a tech stack that is built to accommodate lifecycle marketing in terms of tactic implementation, automation and measurement. You will need to be able to report on how well people are moving through the different lifecycle stages in order to tell if your efforts are successful as well as how you can improve.
Typically that measurement is done through a marketing automation software like HubSpot, but there are other tools out there that can also help you execute and track your lifecycle marketing efforts.
Once you have these two pieces set up, it’s time to decide what tactics you will be using to help buyers move through their journey. Many of these tactics fall under more than one lifecycle stage and overlap, but for the sake of this post, we have broken them out based on each lifecycle stage in the funnel: Visitor, Lead, MQL, SQL/Opportunity and Customer.
In order to start generating leads for your business, you need to first drive traffic to your website. The people who come to your site but haven’t identified themselves yet are known as visitors.
Your keyword strategy is how you rank in search engine results, which is the best organic way to drive consistent traffic to your site. If you are using a solid keyword strategy, you can outrank competitors, increase visibility to your own pages and get eyes on your content.
Blogging and your content strategy is at the heart of the visitor stage because it is the best way to entice visitors to come to your site while also showcasing your expertise and educating your prospects during their initial experience with your site and brand. Whether it be blog posts, videos, guides or e-books, your content will be how you build that initial relationship with prospects.
The more value you can provide to prospects, the higher chance you have of getting them to convert down the line in terms of subscriptions or downloads.
Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram can all be great for driving visitors to your site. They are a way for you to interact with individuals who may not know who you are yet through relevant content or messaging that will lead them to click and enter your site.
Once someone has landed on your site, the goal is to get them to convert into a lead by collecting information from them somehow.
CTAs or calls-to-action are used on your site as a button to promote a next step to your reader or visitor with enticing text or images. We use them at the bottom of our blogs to indicate that there is a related offer, like a relevant guide or template for that person to download. Typically a CTA will lead to a landing page with a form that someone submits in exchange for the promoted offer.
Forms are the means by which you will most commonly collect visitors’ information on your site. These will exist on landing pages or pop-up forms.
If you’re trying to convert visitors into leads, you need to keep in mind that the required information on the form should be minimal as possible, often just an email address. Adding too many fields to a form can cause visitors to not want to submit the form at all.
Leads are people who have provided you with some information about themselves so you know who they are and how to contact them, but you have not yet qualified them as a good fit. In order to convert leads into MQLs, you need to increase their interest in your company while simultaneously identifying if they’d be a good-fit customer.
Once you have someone’s email address they can begin to receive your company’s promotional emails and offers. Those emails can contain things like blogs, videos or even industry information that will be useful to the recipients. The key to email marketing is to be helpful rather than just flooding their inbox with an overwhelming amount of information. Focus on providing real value through content that builds trust and gets them more bought into your product or service and brand as a whole.
Forms function similarly in all lifecycle stages, but once someone has already submitted one form you can ask for new pieces of information that will help you qualify the lead. If a lead is on your site and fills out a second form, consider asking them their industry or company size. That type of information can be used to help you decide if they are the right type of person or company that should progress to the MQL stage.
MQLs are leads that have shown a higher amount of interest and are definite fits for your company.
Once you’ve nurtured a lead into becoming an MQL, the goal is to get them to take an action, like booking a meeting or requesting a demo, that indicates they’re ready to start a conversation with sales. Keep in mind that many of the tactics above also apply during this stage including CTAs, forms and content strategy.
Chatbots can be great for getting prospects to book meetings with sales reps. Consider deploying bots on high intent pages, like your pricing or solutions pages. Oftentimes users who are known and viewing your pricing will be willing to book a meeting or be routed to sales right away on live chat.
When you know someone is a good fit for your business and you’re trying to get them to book a meeting with sales, email nurture strategies can be very helpful in warming up a lead. You can set up automated email campaigns that offer valuable content to users once they have downloaded a certain piece of content to give them the next best content in their inbox. As they progress through your designated “nurture track” the last offer could be an assessment or demo link which would allow you to enroll them in a sales process.
Once a prospect books (or for some companies, attends) a meeting, they’re an SQL. To become an opportunity, they need to show that they’re willing to move forward in the buying process.
An opportunity occurs when there is agreement from both sales and the prospect that the company’s offering is a realistic solution for the prospect and that there is a real potential for a sale or partnership.
While these stages are different, they have similar steps in terms of outreach and tactics.
At this stage in the funnel, the outreach this company is receiving should be highly personalized and will come from sales. These emails will be extremely well written and in-line with that prospect’s needs, wants and situation at the time.
Outside of the sales emails they are receiving, prospects can also be simultaneously receiving marketing emails. Those emails will continue to build trust and prove to be a valid resource. Case studies are also a great resource to promote through email while in the SQL or Opportunity stage as they can serve as a great trust mark during the sales process.
Just make sure there is alignment between your sales outreach and your marketing strategy during the SQL and Opportunity phases to be sure you aren’t sending mixed messages or hindering their experience.
Leveraging video in the marketing and sales process will help your business offer a more personal connection to your prospects.
From a sales perspective, taking the time to send custom videos to prospects based on the content they engage with or in response to their unique challenges is a great, high-touch way to show how invested you are in building a relationship.
At this stage, sending video can establish a more human relationship with your prospects and increase engagement, ultimately driving toward closed-won.
Once you have moved someone down the funnel and they become a customer, that doesn’t mean they no longer matter in terms of strategy and outreach. Your customers are your biggest opportunity for growth and keeping them happy and engaged is key to getting them to renew and expand with your product or service.
Customer Feedback Surveys
Providing a systematic way for customers to provide feedback on your product, service or company as a whole is a great way to not only understand where there are opportunities for improvement but also to keep two-way communication going.
Email will be one of your easiest and most efficient ways to keep customers engaged with your brand and company as a whole. A newsletter is a great resource to promote relevant content, industry information and any upcoming webinars or updates they should know about.
When it comes to customer marketing emails versus your general email promotion, you want to be sure to segment whenever you can. Your customers are already bought into your product or service, so the content and information they receive should be geared toward helping them get even more value from it. Just make sure to exclude your customers from any sales-like promotion or intro level information to keep the relationship with customers strong and progressing.
Social platforms are a great way to build brand loyalty and awareness, and your customers are your biggest advocates. Providing a space where they can get answers about your product or service through you or others who are alike is also a great way to use social to engage customers.
Lifecycle marketing isn’t breaking news, it's just a more refined way of breaking down the way you interact and engage with prospects at different points in their journey to drive results.
The key to all of the tactics in this list is to remain aware of what that prospect needs at that time and be sure you are truly putting them and their needs first so you can serve them the right information at the right time.
Weslee Clyde is an inbound marketing strategist at New Breed. She is focused on generating results using inbound methods and is driven by the customer experience. When not at the office, you can find her binging a docu-series on true crime or perfecting her gluten-free baking skills.