Long before the proliferation of digital marketing, customers were pushed through a sales funnel. Sales funnels are obsolete. They focus on squeezing your prospects into small segments, forcing them to choose when making a purchase decision.
The concept of "marketing stages" originated with the AIDA model—an early version of the sales funnel which posited that the customer journey map could be broken into various stages—awareness, interest, desire, and action. This idea was further developed when William Townsend introduced the "funnel" concept in 1924 in his book Bond Salesmanship. However, since this time, little has changed regarding how we use and perceive this sales model.
In many ways, the traditional sales funnel indicates the dichotomy between hard skills and soft skills. Like empathy and kindness, soft personal skills are much more difficult to quantify and, thus, cannot be measured through simple metrics.
However, hard skills—such as aggressiveness and assertiveness—are quantifiable as you can see direct results from these skills (think: read rates on email, bounce rates on a landing page, or just your blended click-through rate). If you’re only employing hard skills, you’re hampering the authenticity of your business.
Gone are the days of plotting your customer through a traditional sales funnel. Lifecycle marketing is a novel way to look at the customer journey, emphasizing the human component of the sales process. Buyers move from one stage to another fluidly, just as they would in real life. As a marketer, you can leverage lifecycle marketing by considering the real buyer’s journey.
For example, a buyer may be in the interest stage and finds content from your competitor that better meet their informational needs. The customer will lose interest in you, moving back a step in your "sales funnel."
Cold sales tactics are not conducive to digital marketing. Marketers must consider where their buyer lands in the marketing lifecycle to provide them with more room for personal decisions. Instead of a linear plot, lifecycle marketing is like a series of fluid pathways that dynamically changes.
Each stage is mapped to a specific type of content that will resonate with the user at that particular pain point. Essentially, lifecycle marketing is simply nurturing your leads to extend your customer lifetime value.
In fact, the B2B model is no stranger to lifecycle marketing. To nurture leads over the customer life cycle, businesses build trust with their clients by introducing personalized content at the perfect moment. Whether this is a free ebook, case study, or general information on your landing page, this content is designed to capture your prospects effectively. Today, B2C brands are jumping on this trend to improve their customer experience.
So how does one acknowledge the effectiveness of content marketing within the marketing lifecycle and sales funnel? To understand how your content marketing strategy can extend your existing customers' value, we decided to break down life cycle marketing using the traditional sales funnel approach.
At the earliest stage in the customer life cycle, awareness is the first step in finding your leads. Your content should be value-focused and less promotional as your potential customers will be easily turned off a sales pitch so early in the customer journey.
Leads at this stage look for high-quality content that builds authority around the brand and establishes a basic trust and understanding level. Regarding content formats, search engine optimized blog posts, case studies, free ebooks, and organic social media content are some of the best ways to generate awareness.
Interest and Intent
To foster interest, you must continue nurturing your leads throughout the early stages of the customer life cycle. The best way to accomplish this is typically through real-time conversation, yet given the limitations of e-commerce, that may not be in your best interest. Instead, work to emulate conversational marketing types, whether it be live chats online or seasonal/client-specific messaging and offers. The more personalized it is, the more effective your content will be.
Decision and Action
Your lead is now interested in your brand and has the potential to purchase. As the final stage in the traditional customer journey, this stage’s apparent objective is to generate a conversion. Leads are primed and ready to buy, meaning all you have to do is offer that final push to seal the deal. At this stage, effective types of content include price quotes, positive reviews, and sponsored content hosted on relevant publications.
By design, the loyalty stage is not included in the traditional sales funnel. However, customer loyalty remains at the crux of lifecycle marketing. Rather than discarding your customer once they convert, lifecycle marketing entends their lifetime value by keeping them in the loop. If you can provide consistent value through your content marketing efforts, you will easily maintain pre-established relationships.
Here at GeistM, we pride ourselves on our robust content marketing capabilities. We understand that to attract high-quality customers; you need to provide high-quality content. And what’s high-quality content suitable for if you’re not targeting your consumers at the perfect moment. These factors are under consideration when designing a lifecycle marketing plan, and we know that it isn’t as simple as it sounds.
If you’re looking to build-out new content strategies that effectively resonate with your target audience, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.