Targeted Approach to Customers Along the Customer Lifecycle
Published on 10 March 2014 | Author Stefan von Lieven0
37.6 % of German retail companies focus on lifecycle emails in email marketing, a further 41.8 % are planning its use. This is illustrated by artegic’s recent study Digital direct Marketing in Retail 2016. In lifecycle email marketing, the customer is approached with the most suitable, individualised contents in every phase of the customer lifecycle. The content is not necessarily promotional. Constructing a long-term dialogue relationship is more important in email marketing, than generating short-term sales.
The aim of lifecycle email marketing is the sustainable increase of the customer value and the generation of regular repeat purchases. The customer lifetime value is the core value to optimise. The customer lifecycle can be divided into four phases, “prospective customer”, “new customer”, “inactive customer” and “lost customer”. In order to assign the customer to one of these phases and provide him relevant contents, you will need precise information about the customer. Transaction data from the online shop may, for example, give a clue if you are dealing with an existing customer, i.e. regular buyer, or an inactive customer, who has not made a purchase in a long time. Response data from email marketing helps to optimise the communicated contents by means of individual customer preferences and may also inform you about the phase of the customer within the customer lifecycle. Prospective customers, for example, may susbcribe to and open your newsletter, but have not bought the promoted products, yet.
The following will illustrate in which phases of the customer lifecycle you should use each of the email marketing measures.
Prospective customers have subscribed to your newsletter, but have not made a purchase, yet. In this phase, it is important to convert the prospective customer into a new customer. As the prospective customer has proactively registered for your newsletter, it is likely that he is interested in your product. This interest is especially high at the time of subscription, so you should immediately send a welcome email to activate the customer right at the beginning of his lifecycle. Integrate a voucher in the welcome email, which is only valid for a short period of time. You should link this voucher to a minimum order value to prevent prospective customers from subscribing only because of the voucher. To help the prospective customer make good use of the voucher, you should include suitable offers in the same email.
It is recommended to not only send one welcome email, but a multi-level series of welcome emails. The content of the welcome emails should be exclusive, e.g. special packages for new customers, product samples, competitions, unique services, such as express delivery free of charge. Create your welcome emails in a flexible way and put out different contents depending on the response of the prospective customer. A prospective customer, who converts after the first email, should be approached with different contents than a prospective customer, who cannot be activated immediately.
Even a prospective customer, who has immediately converted to a new customer, should be approached with exclusive offers in the welcome emails in order to maintain his interest on a high level and regularly trigger new purchase impulses. The goal is to retain the new customer in the long-term and convert him into a regular customer. As already mentioned, efficient lifecycle email marketing requires comprehensive customer consent in order to use personal data. However, take into account that most customers initially only wish to register for your newsletter. Additional questions regarding the consent to collect response data or compile data may put many customers off at this point. Instead, you should use the series of welcome emails to successively ask for more comprehensive permissions. However, keep in mind: Customers give their consent only if they gain an added value. You should communicate this value as precisely as possible.
After the first purchase by a new customer, you should send him a thank you email thanking him for his purchase and wishing him the best with the product. Also, integrate suitable cross and up-sell offers in this thank you email to motivate the new customer directly to his next purchase.
Many companies think the task of customer activation is done with the transfer of a customer from the welcome emails into the regular newsletter sending. They do not pay him any further attention – until he unsubscribes. However, you should keep regular customers active. Use your information about the customer to individualise newsletter contents according to his preferences. As you are gaining new information with each sending, the individualisation is becoming more and more precise. Modern email marketing solutions such as ELAINE use self-sharpening profiles, which help you to compile contents depending on the profile for each newsletter sending and integrate them into the newsletter. In the case of regular customers with a high purchase frequency, you can also try to increase the send frequency of the newsletters.
Apart from the newsletter, the sending of stand-alones is also recommended for existing customers. Stand-alones are individual mailings, which are sent at special occasions, e.g. for a limited discount action or product launch. While newsletters promote a large number of products, stand-alones usually focus on individual offers. Individualisation is even more important here. While customers will still find suitable offers in an insufficiently individualised newsletter, if the stand-alone offer is not suited, the mailing is worthless.
Customers who have not purchased anything over a long period are classed as inactive. You should try to reactivate inactive customers with exclusive, temporary offers or discounts. The problem here is that inactive customers often do not open your emails anymore. The reactivation must therefore take place via the subject line. Particularly personalised subject lines, such as ” We miss you, Mr/Mrs Name may trigger the necessary attention to open the email. To prevent the reactivation email from being lost between your regular newsletters and stand-alones you should give the customer a few weeks’ rest, i.e. remove him for the regular sending. Email marketing technology such as ELAINE FIVE offers a frequency management for this purpose.
A customer is lost, when he unsubscribes from your newsletter. From this point, you cannot send any more promotional emails. However, you can send an unsubscribe confirmation. You should use this to express your regret about losing the customer, as well as the hope you can welcome him back soon as a newsletter subscriber. You should also integrate a link for new subscription, in case the customer has changed his mind or has accidentally unsubscribed. We also recommend a short questionnaire to find out why the customer has unsubscribed.
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