Posted on June 23, 2017 in Marketing Thoughts

The Customer Life Cycle

In the Marine Corps,  there is a decision cycle that was created by a military strategist named Colonel John Boyd. The idea centers on an incredible strategic tool: the OODA Loop — Observe, Orient, Decide, then Act. In a nutshell, the philosophy is that if you can complete this cycle faster than anyone else, you should have the upper hand. While every business is different is some way, one common element is that they all rely on having customers.

In 1898, E. St. Elmo Lewis developed a model which mapped a theoretical customer journey from the moment a brand or product attracted consumer attention to the point of action or purchase. St. Elmo Lewis’ idea is often referred to as the AIDA-model, an acronym which stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action. This staged process is summarized below:

  • Awareness– the customer is aware of the existence of a product or service
  • Interest– actively expressing an interest in a product group
  • Desire– aspiring to a particular brand or product
  • Action– taking the next step towards purchasing the chosen product

Regardless of the line of work you are in- b2b, b2c or even b2g there is a lifecycle for your customers. This has evolved slightly since St. Elmo’s day, however remains close to the original format. You can look at this customer cycle and combined with sales, bounce rates (found in Google analytics for websites) and other patterns you can determine which areas you can enhance or improve. There are a few iterations of the modern customer lifecycle, however there are basically 5 universally accepted phases. They may be named something else, but the gestalt remains the same. BirdSeed can help communication and engagement with your customers no matter where they are on the path. Here is a brief overview of the stages.

The Fives Stages of the Customer Life Cycle

  • Reach

This is how your customers learn about your business and the services or products you provide. In this stage you do branding, marketing and advertising in order for your target audience to become aware of you and start the customer on the path to interact with you. Marketing and advertising can include email, TV, radio, , social media, PPC, SEO and many other activities. It is important to identify the baselines and track each activity so you can later determine the effectiveness of each event.

  • Acquisition

This is where you get some form of engagement and commitment from the customer. (not necessarily a purchase, yet) This could be a contact number or email, meeting request, sales question or other activity. While all stages of the cycle is important, this is the one that has the most potential for customers to go elsewhere if they are not satisfied with your company. While price and other factors may determine if a customer goes with you, an increasing and ever important component of this stage is also how they feel they were treated and the time in which they were taken care of. Given that so much interaction is now transactional instead of relationship based, the customer is often not yet loyal at this point. BirdSeed can help with this immensely by reaching the customer where they are at and offering them a quick, easy way to be engaged and made to feel important.

  • Conversion

This is where your customer actually makes a purchase decision and revenue is generated. It is at this crucial time that the customer has determined that you are able to give them what they need. Positive engagement and easy processes are crucial at this juncture

  • Retention

The life cycle does not stop here. The customer cares how he/she is treated after the sale. Do you follow up to make sure they are happy? Do you answer any further questions? This is where you keep the customers for repeat business, up-sells, renewals, etc.

  • Advocacy

Almost every business has experienced the following: A happy customer might tell his close friends and even leave a positive review; however, an unhappy customer will try to tell the world of their experience. Therefore, it is important to do your best to offer the best experience across the board to your customers. When a customer develops a positive relationship with you and enjoys your product or service, then often they become brand advocates. They leave reviews, give referrals and spread awareness of your company, in turn starting the cycle for someone new.

 

Learn more about BirdSeed and how our real-time engagement software can help you with every step of the customer lifecycle. Contact us today or experience a demo of what we offer on the homepage of our site so you can discover what we can do for your business.

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