What Is Lifecycle Marketing

What is lifecycle marketing

Lifecycle marketing is a type of marketing that uses the customer lifecycle to determine what and how you communicate with your prospects and customers.

Depending on where your audience is at any given moment, the communication they receive from you will be different. It’s one of the most effective approach to digital marketing because the message is highly dependent on where the customer is right now.

Have you ever called a fast food restaurant to have something delivered?

What’s the first thing they ask you?

Most of the time, they ask you for your phone number or your name.

They use this to search their database to determine if you have existing purchases from them (i.e. a customer) or if this is the first time you’re ordering. This will determine what they will say next.

So, if you’re a customer already, they just verify your name/address, then proceed with the order. But if you’re calling for the first time, they’d ask for your complete address and other relevant information before proceeding with getting your order.

Now, imagine if they don’t screen at the beginning of the call.

Each time you call, you’d have to repeat the same information over and over. Ordering will take a lot of time and will only end up with you frustrated.

The way these fast food restaurants process orders is a form of lifecycle marketing. The message they communicate differs whether you’re at the first stage or the middle stage or the last stage.

But, lifecycle marketing is more complex than that.

For B2B organizations, the buying cycle usually takes weeks and months. It’s not a simple 2-minute phone call where you can get to say what you want then get it 30 minutes later. B2C organizations also have complex buying cycles.

Usually, the higher monetary value is, the longer and more complex the process is.

5 Steps to Effective Lifecycle Marketing

So, how do you implement an effective lifecycle marketing?

1. Determine your own lifecycle stages

In a previous post, I wrote about the standard lifecycle stages. If your organization has this already setup, then that’s great. If not, read that article first.

If you already have different sales stages, you can use that as a starting point.

2. Define the criteria/action/behavior for each stage

The most important part of this exercise is to make sure you define exactly what action or criteria you need for each stage.

Here’s an example of how this works and why it’s important:

  • A subscriber is anyone who joins your email list.
  • A lead is someone who downloaded a marketing offer.
  • A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is someone who downloaded your software, requested a demo, or downloaded any one of your case studies.
  • and so on.

Define each stage properly so you avoid confusion.

But the most important part here is that you communicate the established definitions to everyone who has any interaction with customers. Usually, these are the marketing, sales, and customer service teams.

Using this example, a proper lifecycle marketing strategy will not send communications about your products and discounts to your subscribers. They are not in a stage that is ready to receive those types of communication. And if they did, it will only turn them off.

On the other hand, a standard promotional campaign for 30% off should not be sent nor seen by your customers as well — especially if they bought your product at full price.

3. Create content/marketing offers for each lifecycle stage

For each stage in the customer lifecycle, create content or marketing offers that, after completing/availing it, will move them to the next stage of the lifecycle.

Let’s say you sell coffee equipment like drip machines, Aeropress, and water kettles.

You have a blog where people can find everything they need to know about brewing the perfect cup of coffee.

Naturally, you write about coffee and where it comes from. This includes how different altitudes affect the taste of coffee, what coffee cherries are, the different types of processing, how long it takes to grow coffee, etc.

You also have content about brewing your own coffee at home using Aeropress / V60 / French Press / Regular Drip machine. You share about grinding your own beans at home, the “right” size for each brewing method, water temperature and how it affects your coffee, and many more.

Continuing from the previous section, you can imagine why a blog subscriber might not be interested in your products as they might only be interested in your content and learning more about great coffee.

Again, you can only write about how great your products are, but that won’t be as effective as capturing a bigger audience.

This concept is explained in detail in my post about the 5 stages of awareness.

Writing about your products only without talking about coffee doesn’t flow together. It would only make your products seem irrelevant. It’s always better to write about something that matters to your customers, not just you.

4. Automate your marketing

The main goal of lifecycle marketing is to give your prospects and customers the experience they want, need, and expect.

And the only way to scale your business is to automate your marketing. This is done through lead nurturing.

For example, you setup a lead nurturing campaign that sends marketing offer downloads every 2 weeks. This is sent to your subscribers so that after downloading an eBook, they become a lead.

Once they become a lead, two things happen: (1) they are removed from the subscriber-to-lead nurturing automation and (2) they are enrolled in the lead-to-MQL nurturing campaign.

What that means is they will no longer receive marketing offer downloads every two weeks. Instead, what they will receive are communications designed to move them to the next stage — offer to download a software/case study/demo request.

5. Improve and update every quarter

If you are applying a content pillar approach, every marketing offer you create will have its own email series. You can use these to update your existing nurturing sequences or create a new one if it’s for a different stage.

For example, you published a new case study. You can then update your lead-to-MQL sequence to include an invite to download this case study.

So, what are you going to do next

Applying lifecycle marketing is one of the most effective shift you can do to your digital marketing. I shared how you can do this via email in this post, but lifecycle marketing doesn’t end there.

The trend nowadays is to use an omni-channel approach where you use different channels to engage with your prospects and customers while still applying lifecycle marketing. I’ll share more about this in future posts.

Are you using lifecycle marketing right now? What results have you seen since you implemented it? If you see the value of lifecycle marketing but having trouble getting started, feel free to reach out in the comments section below.

What Is the Customer Lifecycle

What its the customer lifecycle

Customer lifecycle, or lifecycle stages, is an organization’s way of grouping their contacts. Take note that this is different from the buyer’s journey, where the customer goes through different phases from their perspective. Here, customer lifecycle is segmentation from the perspective of your organization.

Customer lifecycle is an organization’s way to describe the various stages a contact goes through when they are considering, buying, using, and remaining loyal to your organization.

The most important benefit of the customer lifecycle is it gives both marketing and sales a way to understand exactly where their leads and customers are at any given stage.

I’ll write a more thorough article about the main differences between the buyer’s journey and the customer lifecycle next time. But for now, I’ll focus on what the customer lifecycle is.

7 Customer Lifecycle Stages

1. Subscriber

A subscriber is someone who is slightly interested in hearing more from you and is not ready to buy now.

They may or may not be a good fit for whatever you are selling. The main reason for this is you don’t know anything about them.


Most of the time, these are people who subscribed to your blog and newsletter updates.

That is why selling to your subscribers often have disappointing results. Both parties don’t know anything about each other, but one party (you) already started selling to them.

It’s like proposing to someone to marry you on the first date. 🤦‍♂️

[pullquote align=”right”]Customer lifecycle is segmentation from the perspective of your organization. [/pullquote]

2. Lead

A lead is someone who is more engaged than a subscriber.

These people have self-qualified themselves by completing one of your macro goals. These come in the form of engaging your marketing offers like downloading PDFs or asking you some questions about what you offer via your contact us page.

Comparing to the other frameworks I’ve written, usually leads are in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey. This also coincides with stages 2-3 of the awareness stages.

I suggest reading those articles because they can give you a clearer picture of how people buy and how your organization can be part of that buying process.

For small businesses or those who are starting out, most of the time you can group subscribers and leads together. The more important distinction are what follows next.

3. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

Marketing qualified leads or MQLs are people who performed selected actions on your website.

For example, they filled out your contact us form that asks them thoroughly so you know exactly what you need to know. If you’re a software provider, these people are the ones who downloaded your software and/or requested for a demo.

It’s important to remember two things here:

  1. MQLs are more engaged than regular leads. These are the people who performed selected actions on your site. Not everyone will convert to an MQL.
  2. Usually, this is the point where marketing passes of the lead for sales.

It is important to note that MQLs have been pre-qualified by marketing to meet certain criteria that would make them a good fit for your products/services.

4. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

A sales qualified lead or SQL is someone who has progressed further down the funnel.

In practice, these are people whom your sales team have contacted and have responded positively.

5. Opportunity

An opportunity is a contact who is ready to buy, able to buy, and willing to buy.

This is the only time when you (or sales) create an associated deal for the contact. It means they have fulfilled the 3 conditions listed above.

What this means is sales have re-qualified these people and have weeded out people who are just looking around. These people are, in fact, in the buying process. They are actively looking for a solution to their problem (or put it differently, trying to seize advantage of something).

In your CRM, when a contact becomes an opportunity, it creates a deal associated with the contact. That’s when you can clearly attach a ₱ or $ value to it.

6. Customer

This is the stage that everybody loves — a paying customer.

When a contact becomes a customer, several things happen. This should trigger a proper onboarding series. Along the implementation, you should create several milestones where you can ask for feedback, get some reviews, and ask for some referrals.

7. Evangelist

Evangelists are people who you know will never buy from you but are raving fans of your business. For example, these can be brand ambassadors or simply someone who likes what you do but can’t afford you. Other people also call this Promoters.

For example, I’ve been following HubSpot since 2012. I’d count myself as being one of their evangelists since they have given me so much value through their content. Up until 2015, I personally can’t afford their software, nor do the organizations I worked with at those times.

If you were to only categorize me in the normal sales cycle, I would have already fallen out. No lead nurturing campaign lasts for 3 years.

But, when I had the chance to handle the digital marketing of an organization with a relatively big budget, I jumped on this opportunity and subscribed to HubSpot’s marketing platform.

8. Others

Not everyone can and should be your customer. By trying to sell to everyone, you will eventually experience customer churn and/or realize more problems for your organization.

For example, you sell enterprise software. A small business will eventually stop subscribing to your software because it’s expensive and that they aren’t using it that much. Another scenario is if you’re a startup and your target are small businesses. You certainly don’t want to target bigger organizations because, even if they have the budget, you”ll often be asked to do more than what you can offer. This can take in the form of more customizations, favors, and a whole lot more. Basically, more headache for you.

Pro Tip: if you are using a CRM, you’d notice that the lifecycle stages are tied to the Contacts (or People, depending on how your CRM calls them). They are not associated with deals. What this means is that you don’t only look at deals. Deals, like discussed above, are real business opportunities that have a ₱ or $ value to them. This framework allows you to focus only on customers that are a high fit for your business.

So, what are you going to do next?

Use the customer lifecycle to segment your contacts internally. Having a proper marketing and sales alignment on how each stage is defined will save you future headaches. Both marketing and sales will know their respective roles and won’t keep blaming each other for not reaching their goals.

How are you using the customer lifecycle in your organization?

Let me know in the comments below!