Much like the phases of the moon, your buyers go through a series of stages as they engage with your ecommerce brand.

First, an anonymous user browses your site, then makes a purchase, then another, and slowly but surely becomes a loyal customer. This is the customer lifecycle, and understanding the ins and outs of this ever-changing process is the key to effective B2C marketing.

If your customer lifecycle today only has two steps — not-a-customer and customer— you’re thinking about your ecommerce marketing far too simply. Each step in the buying process should have it’s own unique and personalized marketing focus.

The depth of segmentation and detail of your customer lifecycle influences all of your marketing activities. You cannot market to one-time buyers in the same way that you market to a loyal customer of 5 years. Here’s how to map personalized marketing to each step in the ecommerce customer lifecycle.

Outline Your Customer Lifecycle

Not every ecommerce business has the same exact customer lifecycle. Depending on your industry and the products you sell specifically, your lifecycle may be simple or very complex. But the majority customers go through the same 4 basic steps as they buy from you:

  • No Purchase
  • 1 Purchase
  • Repeat
  • Loyal

Of course, not every customer will convert at each step and become a loyal customer, but your goal as a B2C marketer should always be to drive them towards that stage. However, you can break down customer lifecycle even further. Each stage of the buying process can be broken into more detailed segments within each cycle.

Here you can see each of the 4 main lifecycle stages broken down by sub-segments:

  • At Risk: Has not been seen across any channel in over 30 days
  • Recent Buyer: Has purchased within the last 30 days, but has not been seen on any other channel since
  • Awareness: Has been seen in the last 30 days
  • Interest: Has shown a basic level of interest in a product, such as viewed a product
  • Consideration: Has shown further interest in a product, such as viewing a single product twice
  • Intent: Has shown real purchase intent by adding product to cart

These steps can, of course, be customized to your business, depending on your buyer’s behavior. But generally, this means that within the group of Repeat purchasers, you could have a group that is fully engaged and about to buy again, along with a group that is completely unengaged with your brand and unlikely to buy.

Personalize Your Marketing Activities

Now that you’ve identified and broken down your customer lifecycle into specific and detailed segments, you can begin to map your marketing activities to each stage. The way you market to buyers at each step should be vastly different, including:

  • Specific messaging
  • Most responsive channel
  • Targeted conversion goals
  • …and more.

You should hyper-personalize all of your communications with customers according to where the buyer is in the lifecycle today.

For example, you know a group of At-risk 1-Purchase customers need a nudge to come back to your site and make a second purchase. By segmenting that group, you can send them targeted offers like a discount for 20% off their second purchase, along with suggested items from the same line of products as their first purchase. You can do this type of targeted marketing again and again, offering custom loyalty messaging to loyal customers and introductory welcome messages to new customers. The more personalized and tailored the message, the more likely a customer is to respond.

Measure Success Throughout the Lifecycle

As you map your marketing activities to the many stages of the customer lifecycle, you also have to make sure you’re offering the right message at the right time. You never know what mix of messaging will work for a specific stage in the lifecycle, and should always be on the lookout for a new tactic and a new channel that may engage your buyers at that stage. Make sure to try out email, push notifications, paid ads, and more to test out your best messages for each and every stage.

At each step in this process, carefully measure the success of each of your marketing efforts and continually tweak and change your messages according to the data. You may find that your welcome message to new buyers isn’t converting at a high enough rate and have to tweak it to get the best possible results. Mapping to the customer lifecycle is a powerful tool in your arsenal, but it doesn’t get you out of the hard work of experimenting and testing your marketing.

But customer lifecycle marketing will make your job easier. With this type of powerful segmentation across email, paid ads, and other platforms, you can really drill down and engage with your audience at each stage. By offering value throughout the customer lifecycle, your buyers will be sure to come back again and again.

 

Cara Hogan is the Content Strategist at Zaius, where she focuses on how technology can drive business growth. She is a grammar perfectionist, a data enthusiast, and a rock climber.

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