Focusing on keeping your existing customers instead of acquiring new ones is more beneficial than you might think. Repeat customers are not only 130% more valuable than first-time buyers, but they also generate as much as 40% of revenue for brands and retailers. That’s why customer retention is so important. So, to help you develop the best retention strategy, I’ll show you how customer lifecycle marketing, alongside the right loyalty program, will maximise the results of your efforts. But first…
What Is Customer Lifecycle Marketing (CLM)?
Customer lifecycle marketing — or simply lifecycle marketing — is a seamlessly integrated marketing strategy that aims to target, convert and retain shoppers throughout every stage of the customer journey.
In order to achieve the highest possible customer lifetime value, marketers need to lay out a well-crafted roadmap of touchpoints. The overall goal is to provide a quality shopping experience from the window-shopping stage to the point where people become brand advocates.
What Are the Stages of Customer Lifecycle Marketing?
InfusionSoft, who popularised the term, describes customer lifecycle marketing in three stages:
This structure is quite simple, but gives you a solid understanding of how lifecycle marketing works. Still, we decided to expand on it using the study of Sterne and Cutler, authors of Business Metrics For The New Economy.
- Reach & Acquire (Attract): Get customers’ attention and lay down the foundation of a long-lasting relationship. This involves specifying your target audience and attracting them on a multitude of platforms (website, social media, influencers, etc.)
- Convert (Sell): First, you need to educate customers and convince them that they need to buy the product from you. Then comes the targeting phase when you extend relevant (and preferably personalised) offers to them. Only then can you seal the deal.
Retain & Reward (Wow): Having a new customer on board is great, but keep your eyes on the repeat purchase! This is the stage where reward fulfilment, remarketing and earn & burn loyalty systems do a great service, keeping people invested in your brand.
Taking Customer Lifecycle Marketing to a New Level
If you take a look at the graph, you’ll notice the downward slant at the end of the third stage. This is because customer retention inevitably falls short if all touchpoints are linked to a purchase. Just think about it: if people only feel appreciated when buying something, they eventually get bored between purchases and forget about your brand.
So I hereby introduce the fourth stage: Recognise & Reactivate. It’s meant to prevent customer churn and contribute to a higher purchase frequency by engaging customers outside of the buying cycle. Being able to connect with members when they are living their best lives keeps them invested, ensuring that they’ll choose you for the second, third and umpteenth purchase.
Flavouring Your Lifecycle Marketing With a Loyalty Program
Since we rounded up the four stepping stones of lifecycle marketing, it’s time to see how a loyalty program fits into the picture. I use Tokyo Otaku Mode as an example to show how a well-implemented reward program can add value to each of the stages, and go even beyond…
Stage 1: Target and Acquire
When it comes to piquing the interest of new customers, existing loyalty program members are your most valuable assets. Incentivise friend referrals and product reviews to get positive word of mouth!
In this sense, Tokyo Otaku Mode relies on a tried-and-tested behavioural trick, called ‘The first one’s free’. Since the loyalty program is subscription based, friends or family members can pre-purchase a loyalty currency bundle and gift it to their loved ones. The recipients then redeem the currency for benefits like free gifts, daily manga tickets or extra tokens to win a prize in the crane-style minigame.
Stage 2: Convert
In this phase, leads are just browsing your site, but aren’t members yet. But did you know that 72% of customers are persuaded into choosing one brand over another because of a loyalty program? So make it clear for visitors that you have one.
Tokyo Otaku Mode displays the positives of a loyalty membership the moment you look at the product. Below the price tag, customers see how much of a discount they would receive as a loyalty member. Moreover, unregistered visitors are reminded that opting for premium membership rewards them with a $10 discount that applies to the first purchase. And to sweeten the deal even more, the company throws in a 30-day free trial as well.
Stage 3: Retain and Reward
This step is quite obvious since most loyalty-related features take effect at this point. Still, here’s a tip: let customers redeem their hard-earned points for something more meaningful than a discount or gift card.
Tokyo Otaku Mode falls a bit short in this case, as the company primarily focuses on price-related incentives. There’s a cashback bonus for both the premium subscription and the actual purchase, plus a promise for free shipping once the overall order value reaches $150. In case you wish to truly stand out, think outside of the box! Come up with reward ideas that are truly irresistible, like uniquely designed gifts, invitations to community events or exclusive access to upcoming products.
There are multiple approaches to ensure the success and popularity of your loyalty program. In this video, our CMO & co-founder Zsuzsa Kecsmar discusses the top strategies with Jörn Roegler, our VP of Strategy & Insight.
Stage 4: Recognise & Reactivate
The concept of reactivating customers who are churning is fine on paper but how does it look like in action? For a truly unique loyalty experience, consider implementing any of the following:
- Gamification: Probably the craziest feature of Tokyo Otaku Mode is its crane-like minigame. Loyalty members receive free game tokens each day, and they can purchase them with points, too. And this isn’t a sweepstake: players have to actually put their skills on the line in order to win.
- Exclusive content: Tokyo Otaku Mode not only allows premium members to read their officially licensed manga — something their community goes bonkers for — but they also provide insider access to staff happenings and secret events, which is a great way to build an emotional connection with the community.
- Surprise & Delight: Personalised birthday messages that come with bonus points is not only a nice gesture, but also a positive sensation. Recipients feel appreciated and are likely to make an unplanned purchase just to redeem their gift.
Recognition Loyalty: With a 21st century customer retention solution like Recognition Loyalty, you have the tools to reward customers for everyday activities such as going for a run, wearing your products (thanks to smart-tagging chips) or participating in online/in-store treasure hunts.
A Successful Cycle Never Ends
See? Moving customers up through the lifecycle stages is a piece of cake with the right incentives. If you know how to keep them invested in all circumstances, they’ll never let you go. So it’s truly a win-win to run a next-gen loyalty program. If you’d like to use Antavo’s world-class loyalty programs to power up your customer lifecycle marketing, then request a demo or subscribe to our newsletter.