Customer lifecycle marketing: 6 steps to build your marketing

Customer lifecycle marketing: 6 steps to build and automate your marketing
Thomas Roth Marketing Monkeys
Thomas Roth

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0 Comments18 minutes19.08.2021

Customer lifecycle marketing: 6 steps to build and automate your marketing

How many brand advocates do you have? Whatever your number is, you can never have enough. While some customers evolve into true fans, others may get lost after the first purchase. Your goal as a marketeer is to guide more people through their customer journey from the first touch to loyalty. Even if fuelling the funnel is your priority, you should be able to control churn. It’s not an easy task as it requires you to drive traction and affinity with your brand throughout the entire customer lifecycle.

The key to success lays in proper customer lifecycle management and marketing. This approach will help you build customer-centric communication people will love. Read this article and learn why we start every Marketing Automation project with a customer lifecycle workshop in order to set priorities right and boost project success.

Discover the benefits of lifecycle marketing

As your customers move through your marketing funnel, their expectations change. So should your communication. People want to feel that their relationships with your brand are developing. If they lack this feeling, they may start perceiving your brand as that ‘annoying guy that's always talking about the same things’. You don’t want this to happen as bombarding your prospects with the same message results in poor brand recognition and badwill effects.

So, how do you adjust your communication to the customer lifecycle? For this, try to find out what helped your loyal customers reach the later lifecycle stages. Those insights can help you come up with a perfect communication strategy that will guide people through their buyer journey in a predictable and desirable way. This is what customer lifecycle management and marketing are all about. Now, let’s clarify what those terms mean and how they correlate.

Customer lifecycle management is a methodology that allows brands to improve customer experience and lifetime value based on the insights received from measuring communication efficiency at different stages of the customer lifecycle.

Simply put, customer lifecycle management allows you to back up your marketing communication strategy by data. It involves tracking and analyzing metrics that allow you to graduate your customer to the next stage of their lifecycle.

You shouldn't mix up customer lifecycle management (CLM) with customer journey management (CJM). Although they have similar goals they work at different levels. CLM is strategic, while CJM focuses on optimizing particular customer-brand interactions and works them out in greater detail.

Customer lifecycle marketing is an approach that allows building a personalized customer-brand communication that engages people with messages and offers specific to the lifecycle stage they are in at the time of contact.

In essence, customer lifecycle marketing is a go-to approach to building personal, proactive, and compelling communication that assists your customers through their journey. It helps you give maximum value to your customers at every touchpoint and get their loyalty in return.

An important thing you should keep in mind is that customer lifecycle marketing will impact your whole marketing mix: product, price, place, and promotion. For instance, CLM inspired Harley Davidson to launch the Sportster model. It was meant to appeal to the company's customers who were at earlier stages of their lifecycle as well as to biker’s girlfriends and wives. This is why CLM is the most holistic concept to steer and develop your marketing.

1. Define your customer lifecycle model

Regardless of the type of your business, you can divide your customer lifecycle into three major stages: recruitment, retention, and recovery. Those stages can be visualized in the form of a funnel and also help a great deal to differentiate between campaigns, newslettering and Automation which all three serve a different purpose.

Customers' purchasing activity indicates their movement between the three stages. When people make their first purchase they move from the recruitment to the retention stage. Then, they stay in the retention stage as long as they make repeat purchases. Finally, if the time from their latest purchase exceeds a certain amount, it indicates that they stopped purchasing and moved to the recovery stage.

To be truly customer-centric, you’ll need to play out the right content at the right stage of every buyer’s journey. But how do you know who to say what and when? Data analytics will help you find the answer. Define your set of customer-focused metrics and you’ll be able to segment your customers and find out how to approach each of the segments.

2. Track customer-focused metrics

To evaluate the success of your lifecycle marketing initiatives, you’ll need to keep an eye on your customer-related metrics. What metrics to track will depend on the type of your business and the data you can collect and process. Let’s consider a couple of metrics your lifecycle marketing activities should influence:

First of all, your efforts should bring in some new business and an increased conversion rate would be a great sign of having done the job greatly. The marketing communication strategy you introduce with existing clients should improve your customer retention rate and optimally result in an increased average customer value due to up- and cross-selling efforts. Last but not least you will aim at winning back recovery leads which can be measured by means of the win-back rate.

Those three metrics are just an example. Indeed, there are a number of indicators of customers’ behavior and engagement you can track. Customer-related metrics are interesting from various perspectives. For example, you can use them to improve your budget allocation by investing in the entry points that bring in a lot of new leads with a high conversion probability. Further, you can use your data to figure out what journeys convert those leads into paying customers in the shortest period of time. As a result, you’ll know what journeys to push in order to increase your velocity rate.

3. Segment customers by lifecycle stages

Customers who are at similar lifecycle stages usually have some common characteristics and behaviors. You can assume that new customers making a particular step on the buyer journey have a mindset similar to those who had been there before. This allows you to rely on proven communication tactics when you deal with different customer segments:


First-time and repeat visitors of your website who haven’t purchased from you and haven't given you any personal details yet.


People who have completed an opt-in or a sign-up form on your website and gave you their contact details in exchange for an incentive still haven't made any purchases.


Leads that have taken specific actions that commonly indicate a higher likeliness of making a purchase and thus are scored higher than the average in your lead scoring model.

Trial clients

Opportunities who signed up for your free product trial but haven't put subscription. For instance, we offer a 14-day free trial of Automation for people to try and like our software

Single-purchase customers

People who have recently made their first purchase.

Repeat customers

Active customers who have made multiple purchases.

Churned customers

People who stopped purchasing from you a long time ago.

Reactivated customers

The churned customers who have returned to make another purchase.

When contacting different segments you'll strive to take into account what those customers think and feel. By accumulating information about your customers, such as industry, company size, location, etc., along their journey, you’ll build thorough segment profiles. And the more you know about your customers the better you can tailor your messages at later stages of their lifecycle.

4. Set your goals and priorities

Customer lifecycle marketing will work for your company regardless of the length of your customers’ journey. It just will center around different stages depending on the priorities of your business. Let’s consider a couple of examples to see what your CLM initiatives could focus on.

Business with a limited product range

If your product range does not allow you to upsell or cross-sell your customers along their lifecycle, then you’ll focus on optimizing the recruitment stage. For example, an educator who sells their online course may have one to five products: an ebook, a beginner course, an advanced course, and a couple of one-to-one workshops. As their customer lifecycle is short, they have no other choice than to attract more and more new students. In such cases, all the CLM segmentation and automation activities will be aimed at the improvement of the inbound and outbound campaigns targeting prospects and leads.

Business with a wide product range

If your company's product range is wide, it makes more sense for you to focus your CLM initiatives on the retention stage. For example, for an online store selling clothes, getting new leads is challenging and expensive. At the same time, they have all means to maintain good relationships with existing customers who bring them some repeat business. In such cases, CLM will focus on building a sterling during- and after-purchase experience for first-time buyers and repeat customers. A wide variety of automated triggered campaigns, such as cart abandonment, personalized product recommendations, back in stock, will work to increase purchase frequency and transaction value for the brand’s fans.

Although many businesses have similar goals, they may choose different ways to achieve them. To understand what marketing tactics and channels will make it in your particular case, you’ll need to create an accurate customer journey map.

5. Map your customer journey

The customer journey mapping will give you an insight into how your customers experience your brand. You’ll zoom into every point of contact to determine gaps in your customer experience and find ways to cover them. Market research studies have shown that 69% of consumers would switch provider due to disconnected, poor customer experience.

Customer journey map is a diagram that visualizes the steps that a person takes when engaging with your company and the emotions they experience at every step.

Your customer journey map will represent a flowchart reflecting the sequence of customer-brand interactions distributed across the lifecycle stages. For every touchpoint, you’ll specify the communication channel where it takes place. Then, you’ll add notes about the common emotional states of customers who reached those stages.

After your current customer journey is mapped, you’ll analyze the level of customer satisfaction with every touchpoint. The more comprehensive the map is, the faster you’ll identify the areas where you need some improvement. For example, check if you can let customers skip any unnecessary steps, reduce wait times between actions, or move any touchpoints into a more preferred communication channel.

For every improvement opportunity you find, you should assess the expected impact, estimate the cost of implementation, and set priorities. This is where you can leverage a vast toolbox of marketing automation. By introducing automation you can either introduce minor changes and quick fixes at some touchpoints or completely change the existing customer experience.

Anyway, your final goal is to get a modified version of the map along with the change implementation plan. The plan will outline the tweaks to be made in the internal systems and processes to improve communication at every step of the customer journey.

6. Put your lifecycle marketing into action

The supreme goal of all the mentioned measurements and observations is to help you build a contextually tailored communication with every customer. The truth is it can't be done manually. This effect is reached through a smart combination of software and strategy, therefore, you’ll have to go through the following stages:

  • Understand your customers’ needs at every touchpoint -> Touchpoint analysis
  • Design messages to elicit specific next best actions at every touchpoint
  • Define triggering events and select channels for sending those messages
  • Choose, set up, and integrate required marketing automation tools
  • Optimize and further customize your message for different segments

Building this system requires some technical expertise. The infrastructure of your lifecycle marketing will represent a system of automation journeys that need your marketing software, CRM system, website, and other systems to speak to each other and share data efficiently.

To make your marketing automation infrastructure work seamlessly, you might need to have a central data warehouse. Although it is quite difficult to build one, it’s well worth the effort. Central data warehousing gives massive benefits over decentralized data storage in your ERP, CRM, or other automation software. Feel free to address Marketing Monkeys system architects for help. We’ll be glad to provide consultancy on the best-suited IT system architecture.

Let’s look at an example of a CLM automation that an online software vendor may use. Quite often software companies tap into content marketing to build an online presence. Their new customer’s journey may start from reading a post on their company’s blog:

This eight-step flow represents just a small part of a customer journey at the recruitment stage of an online software company. At later stages of the journey, the automated marketing communication system, customers interact with, gets far more complicated.

If your marketing team is not tech-savvy enough to set up such data flows across different pieces of software, the Marketing Monkey team of experts will be glad to get things done for you from A-Z. Book your Marketing Automation Workshop now!

One more thing that’s crucial for the success of your customer lifecycle marketing is employee training. Your marketing team should be on top of all changes in the mechanics of your marketing campaigns. You should explain your strategy to the rest of the company and get buy-in from sales and support representatives. Communicating with customers daily, they can share their feedback with you and provide you with the information needed to fine-tune your communication tactics.


Customer lifecycle management is a tedious and complex task that requires experience and in-depth knowledge. However, it's a critical step to achieve success for your Marketing Automation project. It allows you to decide which of the three main lifecycle stages (3R) matter for you the most, balance your inbound and outbound marketing activities, and prioritize different touchpoints and customer sub-journeys.

In Marketing Automation projects, it constitutes a good foundation to set priorities, goals, KPIs and for breaking down projects into small, iterative project steps. We guide our clients through the following phases:

  1. Define Customer Lifecycle Map
  2. Set suitable Marketing Funnel KPIs
  3. Segment your Customers
  4. Set Goals and Priorities based on the Lifecycle-Map
  5. Customer Journey Mapping
  6. Marketing Automation Project Introduction

At Marketing Monkeys, we start every automation project with a Customer Lifecycle Workshop. Get yourself involved and register now for the next event.

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