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The Promise of Lifecycle Marketing

The next major trend we are seeing in Connected CRM is customer lifecycle marketing. In theory, marketers have always acknowledged the importance of relevance in the form of "right message, right time to the right person." But in practice, the fulfillment of this ideal has not been possible except for only a small fraction of companies. For example, pure-play digital retailers have the luxury of a truly "closed loop" view of the customer and without the burden of conflicting and siloed legacy technology, data and organizational infrastructures.

However, what companies are quickly realizing is that even in an imperfect data and technology environment, there are many untapped opportunities to take what information they do have to deliver a more relevant customer communication strategy. A lifecycle marketing view requires a significant shift in the way marketers think about their business and moving away from focusing on the short term "conversion event" to a more holistic view of the customer. It's the difference between a "cross-sectional" approach and a "longitudinal" one.

For each stage of the customer life cycle, there should be a specific business goal and an effort made to determine how communications and interactions can be used to intercept and influence prospects and customers at each stage.

The appropriate programs will be based on a detailed analysis of those customers who do (as well as those who do not) migrate to the next tier. This analysis should be compiled of findings from both observed behavior based on transactions and marketing activities (e.g., categories purchased, seasonality, time since last transaction) as well as customers' stated perspective (e.g., perception of brand, satisfaction with last interaction and barriers to completion of purchase).

This approach has resulted in significant business benefits for companies. For example, an "At Risk" Program identified and intercepted previously active buyers who are likely to attrite. Instead of the general campaign, at risk customers received a targeted message featuring product categories previously purchased and a targeted offer. A pilot testing this approach resulted in a 10% lift in response over a control group.

While many companies have adopted segmentation as an approach to targeting their marketing program, lifecycle based programs are still relatively rare. It's simply a matter of acknowledging that that brands need to differentiate messaging/offer/experience based not only on "who she is" (segmentation) but also "where she is in her relationship with you" (lifecycle).

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