Rethink Commerce Blog

12 Tips to Optimize the Customer Lifecycle

Posted on September 13th, 2018 by

No matter where you are in the customer lifecycle, you can almost certainly benefit from some amount of optimization. Whether you want creative growth hacks or proven customer lifecycle marketing tips, we’ve compiled the best of both in this blog post to help you take your eCommerce business to the next level.

For the complete picture of each of these techniques, check out the full video presentations from our Commerce Now event a few months ago.

 

Take a look at what Tiffany DaSilva of flowjo.co had to say about the 6 Growth Hacks to Optimize Every Stage of your Customer Journey.

 

tiffany-dasilva

 

A traditional definition of growth hacking (used on Wikipedia!) says it involves “rapid experimentation across marketing channels and product development to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business.” We prefer to think of it as “marketing with a sense of urgency” instead.

 

Growth hacking is not corporate; it’s done by people who are highly motivated to spend a lot in a short amount of time and have set big goals. To reach those goals, they need to experiment, fail, and try again, plus prioritize what to test and what to do about test results.

 

We all know the traditional customer journey, right? Well, instead of focusing on the traditional customer lifecycle, growth hackers can get results by shifting to the growth journey. This consists of:

  • Think
  • Acquire
  • Convert
  • Retain
  • Advocate
  • Cash in

Best of all, each step offers an opportunity to engage in growth hacks that will build your business.

 

1. Think about your options

Surprisingly, very few approaches to growth start with the most important step: thinking! This can involve identifying a problem, setting a goal, planning new features, engaging in “blue sky” thinking, creative teambuilding and other exercises to come up with new ideas for growth strategies to test.

 

We recommend the popular “domino solution” brainstorming technique, which involves identifying a problem for a team to solve, having everyone quietly write down a possible solution, then passing each solution one person to the right and having the next person expand on it. This is a great way to get quiet people involved in problem-solving and avoid the “loudest person in the room” problem, as well as get everyone invested in expanding everyone else’s solution rather than shooting down ideas. It makes brainstorming a team effort instead of a competition, and can lead to a lot of creative ideas for improving your tactics.

 

2. Acquire with influence

We all know that influencers are a great way to acquire enthusiastic new customers. There are countless options for getting influencers on board with your company, but a good way to get started is to build a “stairway to influence” that begins with your existing fans and followers and proceeds all the way up to companies, celebrities and journalists.

 

Create effective tactics for engaging influencers at each level of the pyramid and track how your efforts pay off.

influencer

 3. Convert through creativity

 Converting the prospects you attract will increase sales and sales per purchase, decrease cost/sales ratio and improve your understanding of your customer. To make conversion happen, think about hacking the funnel. What areas of your purchase flow or checkout page could you improve to get more customers on board?

 

A key part of this effort is to identify upsells and downsells – what items go well together, or what’s the smallest thing someone can do to become a customer? The easier you make it to sign on, the more people you’ll convert.

 

4. Retain with “lite” offers

 Once you get folks on board, focusing on customer retention is a no-brainer: it lets you reduce churn, increase profitability, more referrals and more. Basically, you want to be more than a one-night stand to customers!

 

A great way to retain customers is to “make it lite,” or let customers downgrade to a more affordable “lite” version of your product with fewer features. This lets you retain customers while letting them feel like they get a deal that’s customized to your needs.

 

5. Advocate for advocacy

 Turning customers into advocates is the holy grail for any marketer. And it doesn’t have to be hard: you just need to know when and how to ask your customers to advocate for you.

 

A custom outreach effort, such as a personalized video, can go a long way toward getting customers to become advocates. Timing is also important: ask for referrals after getting compliments from customers. Of course, ask nicely, and be ready with some kind of special reward for advocates.

 

6. Cash in!

Once you’ve optimized your growth marketing strategies across all the other stages, it’s time to watch the cash roll in!

customers

 

If you learn how to think like your customers, you can acquire, convert, influence and retain them, then turn them into advocates that get more customers on board, growing your business.

 

Once you get your growth hacking strategy going, it’s time to look at always-on lifecycle marketing. At Commerce Now, Dave Chaffey of SmartInsights discussed Optimizing Always-on Lifecycle Marketing; here are a few highlights.

 

dave-chaffey

 

1. Take a Customer-Centric View of Devices

To optimize your lifecycle marketing, you have to know what devices your prospects are using. About a quarter of users worldwide are mobile only, so if your content isn’t mobile optimized, it’s not reaching these folks.

 

You also need to know your conversion rates by platform and be able to track the customer journey across platforms, taking a customer-centric instead of a device-centric view of optimization and providing information.

 

2. Consider Competitive Benchmarking and Close the Stack Gap

Different companies are at different stages in their development, so they look different when it comes to metrics as well. To gauge your success, take a look at what other companies similar to yours are doing. Benchmark against similar organizations to identify any gaps you need to address in your planning, reaching, interacting, converting, engaging, branding and governance stages of your marketing.

 

In addition to gaps in your lifecycle marketing approach, you may have technology gaps to fill as well. Take a look at your marketing technology stack, too, and figure out what you’re missing and how to add it in.

 

digital marketing tools

 

Whether it’s social media, customer service, CRM, email, SEO, chat, call tracking, customer reviews or something else, make sure you have a plan and a tool in place.

 

3. Pick the Right Priorities

Even Superman can’t do everything. You need to prioritize optimization on the channels that matter most to your bottom line. While the most influential channels may vary slightly for each business, on average they tend to be (in order) organic search, paid search, email/newsletter, social and display ads.

 

Take a look at your search engine optimization strategy for starters and see how you could improve. Within your priority channels, make sure to conduct extensive testing of different subject lines or titles, offers and methods to see what works best.

 

4. Map Triggers and Improve Targeting

Rather than zeroing in on email marketing optimization, think holistically about your customer lifecycle communications and how you can improve them. Your communications may already include account statements, cross/upsell offers or birthday/anniversary messages.

 

To take these messages to the next level, start planning sophisticated targeting and customization efforts. Many companies are not using segmentation: about half of companies send the same email to everyone, meaning that you can gain a big advantage with simple customization. While customizing emails, map out your triggers so you understand when you send what emails and use programmatic tools to help with targeting.

These steps will take your communications from something to check off to something that works.

 

5. Take a New View on Optimization

To ensure effective ongoing optimization, create a monthly planning framework and outline the techniques you’re using across lifecycle, behavioral, newsletter, feature, and other marketing efforts, at each stage in the customer lifecycle (from prospects to lapsed customers).

 

Techniques may include optimization (A/B testing), segmentation (rules-based optimization), machine-driven segmentation and more. Look at products or pages that aren’t converting well, and develop a content optimization matrix so you can lean on your top performing content, improve your high potential content and keep it up with consistent performers.

 

6. Keep an Eye on What’s Next

The marketing optimization landscape is evolving, but there’s already so much to do with the tools we already have available. There’s no need to chase the next big thing if you don’t have your fundamentals in place yet. Still, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on emerging trends. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are improving fast and can have a major impact on your optimization over time. As communication preferences shift, consider adding messenger bots in addition to or instead of email marketing. The good news is that adopting an optimization mindset will put you in the position of always improving everything you do.

 

There you have it!  A dozen growth hacking and lifecycle marketing optimization tips to help you grow your business.

As a bonus tip, take it from us: watch all the Commerce Now sessions if you really want to take your business to the next level!

 

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Raluca Marmureanu

Digital Marketing Specialist

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