You have a product or service, but now what? All to often we think that the happy ever after just unfolds without any work on our end. In business, this could not be further from the truth. A potential customer must first be aware that your products exist. In the digital age of social media, this may be easier than in past marketing eras that relied on radio and television with little means of engagement, but the end goal of all interactions is for a consumer to generate positive word of mouth creating advocacy of your product or service.
What is the life cycle of customer?
Customer life cycle is a progression of steps a consumer goes through when considering, buying, using, and maintaining loyalty to a product or business. In other words, capturing a potential customer’s attention, teaching them about your product, developing them into a paying customer, and then keeping them as a loyal customer whose advocacy with the product encourages other customers to purchase.
Prospecting: Cold & Warm Leads
The first phase of the life cycle is prospecting which is the search for potential customers or buyers. Whether you are contacting people directly or indirectly, prospecting can be broken down to cold and warm leads. A warm lead is when that person has inquired about your product or they have been contacted before and showed interest. This is better than a cold lead which has never been contacted before.
Triggering a cold lead into a warm lead
A cold lead may first visit your site after seeing a post or tweet that addresses their pain point in a decadent or realistic manner. People respond to pain points or things they are passionate about. Customers buy emotively. Selling is “the transfer of enthusiasm.” The more enthusiastic and convinced you are about what you are selling, the more contagious this enthusiasm is and the more your customers will pick up on it and act on it. Blog posts at this stage are particularly potent. They allow the prospect to research your tone, brand, and values all in one spot. Putting out as much relevant content as possible is key.
For example, if you own a dog walking business, this would be the time to produce articles such as summer tips for walking your dog or a brief comparison of organic versus store bought food. This demonstrates that you are conscious of consumer concerns and are addressing them. A blog is the spotlight to prove you are of value to them. Make your content accessible and relevant.
Enticing a warm lead to buy
At this stage, your target audience has been exposed to your brand and may be thinking of ways your products are applicable to their lives. On average it takes a potential customers seeing your brand seven times to achieve brand awareness. Reviews and case studies are particularly helpful in swaying your audience that your product is the best option for them. According to a survey conducted by Dimensional Research, as high as 90 percent claimed that positive online reviews influenced their decision to buy. Another proven strategy is offering a free trial or samples to show that not only do you have complete faith in your product, but that you are believe your product will solve your customer’s problem or exceed their desires.
Customer acquisition is only the first step
Keeping an existing customer is a better investment than courting new prospects. Once a warm lead makes a purchase, they are now a part of your community. Continue to educate your target audience. If you own a furniture store, perhaps promote demos that illustrate the best way to clean new pieces. Generate an FAQ on your site to show that questions and concerns are a top priority. Demonstrate that you value their business enough to continue to care about them and their pain points even after purchase. When trust is built between your brand and your customers, they will be primed to consider upsells. Examples of upsells include exclusive packages or products for which others have to be on a waitlist.
How to create advocacy for your brand
All businesses would love their customers to be as evangelical about their brands as a tween is about their favorite boy band. This would translate into buying everything possible, converting warm leads, and shouting their love for your products all over social media. This is part of the cycle most businesses don’t achieve because they forget that acquiring customers is an ongoing process and not a goal. When people feel valued, they want to share that experience with others.
Create an ongoing experience
The life cycle of your customers is just that…a cycle. As a business owner you need to create an ongoing experience with your brand. Customers will give their loyalty in return for respect and relevance. Create engaging content and social media efforts to reflect your awareness of your target audience’s needs. In the end, maintaining regular purchasers is a solid investment that can pay off by word of mouth and advocacy.