The Customer Lifecycle Journey: What it is and How to Use it to Create Repeat Customers

Customer Lifecycle Journey

Table of Contents

In this day and age where consumers have an abundance of choices, closing a sale isn’t enough to build a profitable business.

About 65% of an organization’s business comes from its repeat customers. This means real growth happens when you retain your first-time buyers and, ideally, turn them into brand advocates.

For that, you need a targeted marketing strategy that stems from a deep understanding of the customer lifecycle journey.

This article discusses the different stages of the customer lifecycle journey and how to navigate it to build lasting customer relationships.

Key Takeaways

  1. The customer lifecycle journey follows the customer from their initial awareness of your brand, through to becoming advocates.
  2. There are five stages in the customer lifecycle journey:
    1. Awareness stage
    2. Consideration stage
    3. Decision stage
    4. Retention stage
    5. Loyalty stage
  3. If managed properly, the customer lifecycle journey can help you to curate loyal customers.

What is the customer lifecycle journey in marketing?

A customer lifecycle journey refers to the stages your customer goes through from their initial awareness of your product or brand, to when they either start advocating for, or no longer engage with it.

As a marketer, you, in collaboration with your oganization’s sales team, are responsible for managing the customer lifecycle journey and coming up with strategies to maximize conversion at each stage.

On the other hand, a customer journey is the path your customer takes while interacting with your brand during a specific transaction or experience. For example, clicking an ad to visit a brand’s website for the first time is a crucial step in the customer journey.

The customer journey is seen from the customer’s perspective. It seeks to capture how a customer feels when interacting with a brand during a specific series of actions.

The moment a customer starts their journey with your company, you can direct your marketing efforts to ensure they’re aware of your offerings, and move them along the stages of your customer lifecycle: from being problem-aware to solutions-aware and then eventually buying your product or service.

It’s hard to target your customer in each stage of the customer lifecycle journey as the path from awareness to decision depends entirely on the individual.

But together, these concepts can help you offer a smooth experience for your customers and lead them to conversion. This is where customer lifecyle management comes in.

What is customer lifecycle management?

Customer lifecycle management is a strategic approach businesses use to manage and optimize customer interactions throughout their journeys.

The idea is to track, shape, and understand their experiences during all the stages of the customer lifecycle journey—from awareness to loyalty.

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How to analyze each stage of the customer lifecycle journey

The process begins with analyzing the stages of your customer lifecycle journey. It involves gathering customer data from different touchpoints (like social media, website, and ads).

It’s a laborious process, where you’ll use analytics tools to try and understand how customers behave at each touchpoint. Then, you use your findings to make decisions to foster customer engagement at every stage of your customer lifecycle.

1. Awareness stage

Analyzing the awareness stage is all about knowing how your prospects are discovering you.

When tracking your customer’s data at the awareness stage, your first order of business is to monitor your traffic sources. Gather insights about traffic from organic search, paid search ads, social media referrals, or direct traffic.

Let’s say you’re launching a new product and want to promote it. So, you run a campaign to increase your brand awareness through Facebook ads.

How to track your marketing efforts at the awareness stage

  • You’ll need a well-defined goal, such as generating 10,000 website visits within a month.
  • You need to track the increase in your followers, post shares, and likes during the campaign, as well as the click through rate (CTR) of your Facebook ads.
  • You’ll need a social listening tool that helps you track the increase in brand mentions with related hashtags.
  • You’ll need to monitor the increase in your blog views and gather customer surveys about where they first heard about your brand.

When gathering these insights, ask yourself these questions:

  • How are customers discovering your brand?
  • Which marketing channels are most effective for awareness?
  • What are the metrics that matter most for assessing awareness?
  • Do the awareness levels fluctuate with seasons, holidays, or trends in your industry?
  • Are your websites and social media channels visually appealing and informative?

2. Consideration stage

In this stage, your prospects know what they need to solve their problem; they just haven’t found the solution yet.

Let’s say you offer a time-tracking software for service-based entrepreneurs, freelancers, and organizations working remotely.

A prospect knows she needs to track her time to manage her clients better. She heads to Google and types “time-tracking software” and is bombarded with tons of blogs and landing pages. She clicks on a blog that reads “best time-tracking software for freelancers” and reads about several tools.

After contemplating different options and considering her needs and budget, she chooses your brand, and goes ahead and fills out the form for the demo. But your work isn’t done yet. You still need to monitor her behavior and interactions as she evaluates your software.

How to track your marketing efforts at the consideration stage

  • Define the specific metrics and objectives you need to track in the consideration stage. These may include lead generation, content engagement, and email sign-ups from your lead magnet.
  • Implement conversion tracking for actions such as filling out inquiry or contact forms, adding or wishlisting products to a shopping cart, initiating live chat sessions or requesting product demos, or signing up for newsletters or email updates.
  • Track content engagement metrics such as page views, time spent on each page, and social shares.
  • Use customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track leads and implement lead scoring based on their interactions and behaviors.

When gathering these insights, ask yourself these questions:

  • What channels or sources are driving visitors to your consideration-stage content or pages?
  • How much time do visitors typically spend on pages or content?
  • Does the duration of engagement vary across different pieces of content?
  • What sequences of pages or interactions do visitors follow before reaching the consideration stage?
  • What keywords or search terms lead visitors to your consideration-stage content?
  • Do visitors in the consideration stage return to your site multiple times or engage with content updates?

3. Decision stage

In this stage, your customers decide to make a purchase with you. As such, your checkout process, payment options, and shopping experience play a significant role.

Let’s go back to our time-tracking software example. Your prospect requested a demo, and you set up a call with her. After the call, you offer her a week’s free trial and consistently share helpful email communication (blogs and guides) with her until the trial period ends.

On her last day of free trial, you send her a personalized offer and a special discount code that convinces her to close the deal.

However, your efforts must continue. You still need to ensure she keeps using the software and doesn’t churn.

How to track your marketing efforts at the decision stage

  • Analyze the sales funnel to pinpoint where potential customers drop off or convert. Identify any bottlenecks or hurdles in the decision-making process.
  • Leverage your CRM system to track and segment leads based on their stage in the decision process.
  • Monitor and track abandoned shopping carts. Set up automated follow-up emails or retargeting campaigns to re-engage customers in the decision stage.
  • Collect feedback from your sales team from customer inquiries, objections, and interactions.

When gathering these insights, ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s the typical path your customers follow in the conversion funnel during the decision stage?
  • Which marketing channels or campaigns drive the highest conversions in the decision stage?
  • What role does pricing play in potential customers’ final decisions? Do pricing tiers or discounts have a significant impact on conversions?
  • Do potential customers frequently abandon their carts or requests in the decision stage?
  • To what extent do competitors’ strategies, pricing changes, or promotions influence potential customers’ decisions?

4. Retention stage

Per a recent survey, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase your profits by 25–95%. This is your cue to refine your retention strategies and make it worthwhile for your customers to stick around and become brand advocates.

How to track your marketing efforts at the retention stage

  • Monitor your churn rate, as this measures the percentage of customers who stop using your product or service within a given period.
  • Calculate your customer retention rate by measuring the percentage of customers who remain active over a specific time period.
  • Segment your customer base based on behavior, purchase history, demographics, and engagement level. This will help you send targeted communication and nurture your relationships with them.
  • Track how often your customers make repeat transactions and if their purchasing patterns change over time.

When gathering these insights, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the primary reasons for churn?
  • Has your customer lifetime value (CLV)—the predicted revenue you can expect to earn from a single customer throughout their engagement—increased or decreased?
  • Are customers receiving timely and helpful assistance when they encounter issues?
  • Are your customers responding to the communication you sent to nurture them?

5. Loyalty stage

Your loyal customers are the most crucial pillars of your marketing strategy. As they repeatedly purchase from you and engage with your brand, you should deepen your relationship with them.

How to track your marketing efforts at the loyalty stage

  • Analyze participation rates, reward redemption, and the frequency of repeat customers engaging with your loyalty program.
  • Examine the purchase history of loyal customers to identify trends, such as the types of products or services they consistently buy, and any seasonal variations.
  • Determine how many new customers your loyal customers bring in through advocacy efforts.
  • Continuously measure the net promoter score (NPS) of loyal customers to assess their willingness to recommend your brand.

When gathering these insights, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are your most loyal customers? Is there a specific criteria they match, such as—demographics, interests, purchase power, or needs?
  • What aspects of your products, services, or experiences do your customers value most?
  • Are your customers actively earning and redeeming rewards, and what motivates them?
  • Are your loyal customers active on social media and do they engage with your content?
  • What offers do these customers find most appealing?

Funnelytics can help you gain a holistic view of how your customers interact and behave at each stage by visualizing and centralizing your the data points and key metrics in a single location.

The best part is that you don’t even need to switch between different platforms to collect data. Funnelytics connects directly to your platforms and makes it easy to monitor results through automated reporting.

Start your free trial of Funnelytics Performance

Unleash the full potential of Funnelytics with a free 14-day trial and get access to the platform that will help you plan, measure and optimize your customer journeys.

How to manage each stage of the customer lifecycle journey

Awareness stage

In the awareness stage, your focus is answering your customers and helping them understand the problem they’re looking to address. If they’re searching for “how to be healthy,” provide them with ample resources around that topic.

  • If you notice that your Instagram posts generate more engagement than your X (formerly, Twitter) posts, make Instagram your primary channel for awareness content.
  • If a particular video ad garnered high engagement and brand mentions, create similar video content to amplify its impact, or re-target the ad to reach a more specific and targeted audience.
  • If your email newsletter sign-ups are stagnant, consider revamping your content strategy and making sure your copy is relevant and persuasive.
  • Consideration stage

    The goal here is to build trust and position your product or service as the best choice.

    Say, a prospect is looking for an online course on “following a healthy diet.” They’re already in the consideration stage.

    This is where you need to help them consider your offerings as a viable solution to their problem.

  • Showcase real-life success stories and testimonials from satisfied customers. Distribute them across your social media and email lists.
  • Offer free trials or product demos that allow your audience to experience your offering firsthand. In the meantime, be responsive and engage in meaningful conversations to address their concerns.
  • Use retargeting ads to stay on the radar of people who have visited your website but haven’t converted. Show them relevant content and offers.
  • Decision stage

    Your role in this stage is to help your customers choose your product or service, and provide the information and reassurance they need.

  • Make the purchasing process a smooth ride for them. Don’t overcomplicate the checkout process, and make sure it’s short and sweet.
  • Send targeted welcome email campaigns that provide additional information, address objections, and encourage your customers to take the next step.
  • Ensure that your customer support team is readily available to answer inquiries and provide assistance.
  • Retention stage

    Marketing at this stage focuses on keeping existing customers engaged, satisfied, and loyal to your brand.

  • Keep customers informed about product updates, new features, and relevant industry news.
  • Identify opportunities to cross-sell complementary products or upsell customers to higher-tier services that align with their existing purchases.
  • Map your entire customer journey using a tool like Funnelytics to identify any bottlenecks in your marketing strategy.
  • Start your free trial of Funnelytics Performance

    Unleash the full potential of Funnelytics with a free 14-day trial and get access to the platform that will help you plan, measure and optimize your customer journeys.

    Loyalty stage

    The aim of the loyalty stage is to turn your existing customers into brand advocates who not only continue to buy from you, but also promote your brand to others. You do that by offering exclusive deals such as early access, discounts, and rewards to applaud their consistent support.

  • Treat loyal customers like VIPs. Provide them with priority customer service, dedicated support channels, and special access to events or features.
  • Foster a sense of community among your loyal customers where they can connect, share experiences, and offer mutual support.
  • Reward your repeat customers with a benefit or special offer.
  • Create referral programs and encourage your customers to refer your brand to their network in exchange for incentives.
  • Create loyal customers with accurate lifecycle mapping

    Knowing your customers well is crucial for laying out the perfect marketing plan and customer journey maps are a critical part of getting to know them.

    They help you outline even the smallest funnel detail around the various customer stages, touchpoints, and interactions, and analyze them deeply.

    Thankfully, a customer journey mapping tool like Funnelytics can help visualize the entire process and gather all the data from your customer lifecycle journey in one place.

    Get your 14-day free trial today!

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    Mikael Dia

    Founder & CEO @ Funnelytics Inc.

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