Engage Your Customers and Earn Their Trust with Lifecycle Marketing
As a marketer, your ultimate goal is to keep your customers engaged and moving forward in their journey with your brand. Lifecycle marketing is the key to making this happen.
7 min. read
For brands in any industry, building trust amongst your target audience is vital to your business’ success.
That’s the message communicated by Edelmen’s 2019 Trust Barometer Special Report across the board:
- 75% of consumers stick with brands they trust instead of going with the “trendy” option
- 66% of respondents value brands they trust over those that may be more innovative or technologically advanced
- 76% of consumers will recommend brands they trust to their friends, family members, and colleagues
As for why consumers tend to trust certain brands over others...well, there are a number of reasons:
Notice the common thread running through many of these statements:
- “Good quality products or services”
- “Always treated me and others well”
- “Quickly addresses customer service problems”
Basically, the brands consumers are most likely to trust are those that are always prepared to give the customer what they need at all times—and those that always have the customer’s best interest in mind when engaging with them.
This is where lifecycle marketing comes into play.
What is Lifecycle Marketing?
To understand the concept of lifecycle marketing, we first need to understand what the customer lifecycle actually is.
The customer lifecycle is made up of the different “stages” your customers go through as they become more engaged with your brand.
Typically, these stages are defined as follows:
- Reach: The consumer becomes aware of a problem they’re facing, and of the brand(s) that offer a solution that meets their needs.
- Acquire: The prospect makes an initial purchase, officially becoming a customer of your brand.
- Nurture: After the initial purchase, the brand will stay in close contact with the new customer to ensure their satisfaction—and to continue building a relationship with them.
- Retention: The satisfied customer continues to do business and engage with the brand on a regular, ongoing basis.
- Advocacy: The brand has “wowed” the customer to the point that they’ll be quite likely to recommend the company to others in their network.
Lifecycle marketing, then, is the process of engaging with the customer throughout these stages to provide exactly that which will enhance the customer’s experience and get them to engage further with your brand. This can mean anything from delivering relevant content, providing customer service and support, or introducing additional products or services to the customer. It all depends on their specific needs at a specific point in time.
How Lifecycle Marketing Helps Build Trust at Each Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
From a bird’s-eye perspective, it’s easy to see how a successful approach to lifecycle marketing can lead your customers to place their trust in your brand.
Still, it’s worth taking a closer look at how lifecycle marketing builds your audience’s trust at each stage of their journey.
Lifecycle Marketing Focuses on Helping Customers Succeed—Not On Selling Them
Okay, that heading may be a bit misleading.
Of course lifecycle marketing involves selling to the customer at certain moments along the buyer’s journey.
But lifecycle marketing isn’t “salesy.”
Instead, it’s all about providing value to the customer and helping them achieve their goals—whether they’ve opened their wallets or not.
During the pre-purchase stages of the customer lifecycle, the goal will be to provide informational content to the consumer free of charge, and with minimal commitment on their part. Typically, the only thing you’ll be asking your prospective customers for at this point is their email address—allowing you to continue providing them with valuable content for no charge.
At this point, the consumer won’t have to give anything more of themselves if they choose not to. Still, the brand will continue delivering valuable content and other offers for as long as the customer wishes to receive them.
Can you sprinkle promotional offers into the mix, so that prospects who are ready to convert can do so?
But your focus should be on helping your potential customers achieve their immediate goals without asking for anything in return.
This builds trust in two ways:
For one, you’ll be able to prove your expertise, and give your prospects a sneak peak of your product’s or service’s value without forcing them to take a risk by making an immediate purchase. Secondly, the prospect will see that you have their best interest in mind and are dedicated to helping them grow—regardless of whether you get anything out of doing so.
If you can prove all this to your audience right from the get-go, they’ll have every reason to trust that you’ll provide even more value once they’re ready to open their wallets.
Lifecycle Marketing Provides Guidance to New Customers
Once you’ve converted a customer, you still have a ways to go in terms of earning their trust.
Needless to say, if you let your new customers down in any way after they’ve given you their hard-earned cash, the trust you have built will quickly be shattered.
This is why the next stage of lifecycle marketing focuses heavily on onboarding and orienting your new customers, enabling them to use your products or services to their highest potential.
Throughout this initial post-conversion phase, lifecycle marketing dictates that you:
- Provide explicit direction and instructions regarding the use of your product or service.
- Be available to your new customers, should they have questions or need further assistance.
- Reach out to keep new customers engaged, motivated, and progressing in their journey with your brand.
Here, you reinforce the message that your team is more concerned with helping your customers succeed than with making money. From the customer’s perspective, you could just as easily have taken their money and moved on to the next customer.
On the contrary, you’ll now actually ramp-up your engagement levels with your new customers—following through with all the promises you made before they converted.
By properly onboarding your new customers and engaging with them as they get acclimated with your brand, you’ll easily strengthen the foundation of trust you’ve built your relationship on.
Lifecycle Marketing Piles on Added Value
Once your customers start experiencing success with their initial purchase (e.g., bigger wins, major milestones, etc.), they’ll truly start to place their trust in your brand.
At this point, you’ll want to ramp things up even more than you already have—and solidify your customer’s trust in the process.
Since your customers at this stage will have grown in various ways since they originally came onboard, they’ll be prepared for the more “advanced” experiences offered by your brand. In other words, you’ll want to introduce your satisfied customers to your more valuable (and more expensive) products.
Luckily, your trusting customers are much more likely to make an additional purchase than a first-time buyer. And the likelihood of their making even more future purchases increases with every purchase they make.
This, of course, is because trust compounds as your customers have more and more positive experiences with your brand.
However, this assumes the subsequent experiences you provide your customers contain the value your audience has come to expect.
Here, lifecycle marketing will have you:
- Delivering in-depth content tailored to your individual customers’ needs and preferences.
- Providing product recommendations based on their purchase and engagement history.
- Creating unique offers and experiences for your individual customers and your loyal fanbase.
In providing tailored content and product recommendations to your long-time customers, you show them that you’ve been paying attention to them throughout their ‘lifespan’ with your company—and that you know exactly what to give them to help them grow further.
What’s more, since the product recommendations you make are laser-focused on the individual’s needs, the customer will be more likely to experience success when using it. In turn, you’ll add yet another positive experience to the customer’s list—and will continue to strengthen their trust in your brand.
Lifecycle Marketing Builds “Meta-Trust”
Eventually, your satisfied and loyal customers will get to a point where they’ll be willing to give back to your brand in some way.
Typically, this comes in the form of:
- Providing feedback
- Creating social proof
- Making referrals
To be sure, social proof and peer referrals are huge for building initial trust in brand new prospects. That being the case, you definitely want to solicit feedback and referrals from your loyal customers whenever the opportunity arises.
But, it’s also worth noting that soliciting feedback can serve to strengthen your loyal customers’ trust in your brand, as well.
For one thing, it gives your customer pause to think about all the value you’ve provided them throughout their lifespan with your company. Whether they’re thinking about your products or services, your content, or the overall experience you’ve provided them, creating social proof will ultimately renew their trust in your brand.
What’s more, by soliciting feedback from your loyal customers, you prove once more that you care about your audience’s opinions and are constantly looking to improve your brand’s offerings in order to better serve and provide value to them.
The goal of customer lifecycle marketing is to engage with your customers at just the right moment, providing just what they need to take the next step in their buyer’s journey, and in life.
By nailing down these pivotal moments of engagement—and following through with offers of value at every touchpoint—you’ll easily stand out in your customer’s mind as a brand that can be trusted. Keep it up throughout the various stages of the customer’s life cycle, and you’ll have a loyal, trusting fan onboard for longer than you could have ever imagined.