Remember the sales funnel? The idea was simple. Push customers toward a sale through key stages: awareness, interest, desire and action. But it was simple because it didn’t reflect reality. Now that the power has shifted away from marketing and sales, the buyer’s journey from visitor to lead to customer seem more like a choose your own adventure novel. Buyers have been granted greater control over how, when and where they were marketed to, so the sales funnel, with all of its inherent leaks and clogs, is dead.
Instead of looking at the sales process as a funnel with a starting point (top of funnel) and ending point (bottom of funnel), the buyer’s journey has taken its place. For businesses and customers, this lifecycle marketing is never ending.
Lifecycle marketing focuses on developing stronger, long-term relationships between customer and brand with deeper value and engagement by addressing the customer’s wants and needs as they change over time. This ensures customer expectations are continuously met, and at the same time, your business generates brand advocates and more revenue at a lower investment cost.
But transitioning from the sales funnel to journey-oriented lifecycle marketing isn’t easy. There are two key internal connection that must be made and maintained:
- Alignment between sales and marketing teams
- Behavioral data tracking from your website and other digital initiatives
Here are the essential components you need to achieve these internal connections and create a successful lifecycle marketing strategy:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Manage every interaction with current and potential customers.
CRM software used to organize, automate and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service and technical support (if applicable). In addition to storing lead/customer contact information, CRMs track phone calls, emails, and social media feeds. CRMs also log interactions with customer support and ultimately, route leads to the appropriate sales professional.
Why you need CRM for lifecycle marketing
CRM is the common denominator shared between all departments within your company. It acts as a single repository for all information, which creates transparency and alignment between sales and marketing, enabling the two departments to work together from the same real-time data.
Marketers use CRM to determine when it’s the right time to communicate with leads based on their lifecycle stage. Sales uses CRM to collect all necessary prospect history before making a pitch. That means departments are able to synchronize and perform their duties with more transparency on both sides.
Most importantly, though, is that the marketing platform and sales CRM platform need to have an integration so tight that the left hand knows what the right hand is doing at all times. CRM is only as valuable as the data it provides to other platforms and services, and without that connection, you might as well be using spreadsheets.
Customize campaigns for personalized interactions that nurture leads.
In the old days, marketing automation was heavily focused on impersonal funnel-style movement from lead to customer. But there’s a human side to marketing automation these days. Any automation platform should provide customer segmentation (grouping customers by similarities for marketing purposes) and campaign management in order to act as a personalized guide for buyers through their journey. That means email, social, website content and even outbound activities like PPC and channel advertising can be streamline and prioritized based on the buyer’s lifecycle stage.
Why you need marketing automation for lifecycle marketing
The ultimate goal of the marketer is to create high-quality leads for the sales team and customer advocates for the brand. Marketing automation assists marketers with this endeavor in several ways.
- It tells the marketer what information should be sent to the customer based on where he/she is in the buyer’s journey.
- It automates personalized messaging both via email and on your website that addresses the wants and needs of the customer at exactly the right time (pre or post sale).
- It heightens visibility and awareness about the customer by illustrating which outreach efforts resonate best with the individual.
- It increases productivity and efficiency within your marketing department by automating repetitive tasks.
While HubSpot’s Brian Halligan said the last thing you should be doing is automating the customer experience (and he’s right), smart, people-centric automation allows marketers communicate more effectively… because it’s personal.
Develop an understanding of the buyer’s journey and measure success.
At each part of the buyer’s journey, there should be data points communicated through website interaction to confirm or deny whether marketing and sales efforts are converting leads to customers and inspiring repeat business. Behavioral data tracked via your website will illustrate who’s visiting your site, which pages they visit, whether or not they’re taking the desired action and whether or not they are coming back to your site.
Why you need behavioral data for lifecycle marketing
All along, you’ve been guiding the buyer’s journey so it’s your brand is worth returning to. Website analytics for behavioral data, data that can and should be connected with your CRM and automation, will give sales and marketing teams the insight around the changing behaviors of their customers.
For example, if a new lead visits a web page dedicated to a certain industry, you can provide them the most relevant information about how your product or service can help them with their specific needs. Likewise, if a customer starts investigating addons or new products, you and your sales team will both know there’s a potential upsell. This behavior data is powerful in determining when and what a visitor, lead or customer needs, empowering you as a marketer to give them the best possible brand experience.
By implementing these essential components, you’ll equip your sales and marketing teams with the tools and intuition necessary to adapt alongside the ever-changing customer. In doing so, you give the customer a greater reason to remain a patron of your brand. Your brand knows them, caters to them, and has been doing so for a long time. The result is high-quality leads, a greater conversion rate and loyal brand advocates that support your business for years to come.
photo credit: Austin TX 1963