Think about your customer’s lifecycle

As marketers, we are sometimes so busy pushing out our content and brand, we forget to see things from our potential customer’s perspective. And of course, if we’re going to be successful, we really need to get inside their heads and take a walk in their shoes. Here’s a quick run down of that prospect’s journey.

Stage 1: Discovery: Brand Awareness

Your goal should be to make your target market aware of your brand, service and product. You can use traditional methods like advertising (which tends to not be targeted), blog articles, social media marketing, search engine optimization and all kinds of content marketing (infographics, ebooks, video). When a prospect is attracted by such tactics, this is a great stage to gather an email address from your potential customer. You’ll want it to help move her along to the next stage in the sales cycle.

Stage 2: Evaluation

At this point, it is still mostly a monologue. You’re talking to your potential customer, but they haven’t really engaged yet. You want to keep educating your prospect and demonstrate relevance in a friendly and approachable way. You can do this while using white papers, product demos, trial offers and a collection of blog articles in the form of an email newsletter (good thing you got that email address). As he/she downloads the white papers and signs up for trial offers, you are moving them toward the next, fully engaged stage.

Stage 3: Buy

Congrats, you’ve sold a service or a product — your work has just begun. You should continue your two-way conversation with outstanding customer service and a product worth its price. You can segment your audience and possibly sell them additional services (based on what they just purchased). Customers who aren’t perfectly satisfied can become satisfied through an honest, open customer service process. Happy customers are good targets for a loyalty program. And when your customer loves your brand so much, they are going to want to tell their friends.

Stage 4: Advocate

You can motivate your happy customer to share the good word about your company with referral programs and contests. Of course, social media is a great tool, too. Give them something to share: continue to create “shareable content” like interesting infographics and videos. Online user review sites are an underused channel, and you should ask for referrals.

Stage 5: Bonding: Brand Ambassadors

Super-happy brand advocates eventually turn into brand ambassadors. This is a lifelong customer who wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else for a product like yours. He/she feels a part of your team and should be rewarded and shown love routinely. He/she will regularly be a source of Discovery for new customers.

All the pieces of social media and inbound marketing come together in the Customer Lifecycle illustration below.


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