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The Life Cycle of a Customer: How to Acquire and Convert Leads that Last

Businesses today know that standing out as a brand is more important now than ever. Consumers have a never-ending amount of choices right at their fingertips…

To make matters worse, according to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, trust is more important to ever than customers but also harder to earn than in the past. 

That makes branding a tricky situation, and stresses the importance of knowing your target audience. The truth is, you can have the best products, story, and service in the world, but if you don’t understand how to relate to your customers, none of that will make a difference. 

The Buyer Journey

A trusting relationship with customers takes time to build. Think of it like attracting a spouse. You can’t ask someone to marry you on your first date… You have to grow your relationship before you get to that point. 

Your job is to help your buyers along that road so that they trust you and want to commit. There are many takes on the buyer journey, but ultimately it comes down to three stages—awareness, consideration, and decision making. Before making a purchase, consumers first have to know who you are, then they have to consider why they should buy from you.

Prospecting 

Understanding where your buyer is on their journey is key to knowing how you should reach them. When you’re searching for potential customers, you’re going to come across two types of leads: warm and cold. 

Cold Leads

The cold prospects are in the awareness phase of their buyer journey. They came across your name online or from an ad, but they don’t know who you are yet. 

In our relationship analogy, these leads stumbled onto your dating profile. They aren’t even ready to go on a date with you yet, much less marry you. You have to woo them first. 

To do that, you need a strong web presence. Your web site should be inviting, engaging, and focused on what you can do for your prospects. You also need to put out content that lets cold leads get to know you.

Blog posts and social media engagement are a prime way to show who you are and provide value to your potential customers. These should be focused on helping, not necessarily selling, and must be targeted toward what your customer needs. 

A supplement company might put out posts about how to achieve a balanced diet. A cosmetic brand might put out tips for caring for dry skin or how-to posts for different makeup styles.  

The goal is to establish trust and provide value for your customers so that when they’re ready to make a purchase they’ll already want to buy from you. 

Warm Leads

Warm leads are slightly different. These leads are in the consideration stage rather than awareness. They already know about you—you’re not starting from scratch. But you haven’t won them over yet. 

These are people who you’ve been set up with by a friend. They know more about you and they want the relationship to work out… They’re just not sure if you’re the best fit for them. 

Your goal with these leads is to make sure they keep hearing the good things about you. Online reviews and case studies offer warm leads a chance to see that you are a trustworthy brand that might fit their needs. 

Retargeting ads are also very important for this group—consumers need to hear about you seven times before they decide to buy from you. 

This is also the prime time to offer free trials and samples (bring on the romance). You need to make sure that this group sees the benefits they can get from your products. That way when they’re ready for the decision stage, they already know that you’re a solid choice. 

Creating Customers for Life

It’s tempting to relax your relationship-building once a customer buys from you. But it’s also a potentially expensive mistake. According to Bain and Company’s Prescription for Cutting Costs, “a five percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.”

Your ultimate goal isn’t just to acquire customers—it’s to attract loyal, lifetime customers who will repeatedly purchase from you. 

Spend time putting out content specifically for existing customers. Create a delivery email with tips or videos on how to use your product successfully. Put together a detailed FAQ section on your website. Send special offers to past purchasers. 

If you can keep customers around, you’re more likely to be able to upsell them to bigger purchases such as memberships or exclusive packages. 

Customer Advocates

All businesses would love their customers to be as evangelical about their brands as a tween is about their favorite boy band. Ideally, you want your customers sharing success stories on social media and shouting your name from the rooftops.

That’s why an ongoing relationship is so important. You want your customers to feel valued and engaged so that they will stay loyal and even convert leads for you. 

Your responsibility to your customers doesn’t end with a purchase, or even with multiple purchases. You want the customer life cycle to go on and on and on, with a community of customers who associate your brand name with trust and value. 

When you know your customers and cater content to every stage of the buyer life cycle, you can build that kind of a relationship—the kind that lasts a lifetime and pays dividends. 

Want to learn more about how to establish your brand and relate to your audience? Check out this post for more tips!

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