Why the Customer Lifecycle has Transformed to the Marketing Lifecycle

April 28, 2015 | Posted by Adam Graham

Customer-lifecycleThe digital age has brought many changes to the traditional business model, and no department has been more affected than marketing. Once, marketers devoted most of their time and budget to front-end activities, such as generating leads and increasing brand awareness. Leads were handed over to the sales department, and the customer service department took care of any interactions after the sale. In other words, the marketer's responsibilities were largely limited to giving salespeople a chance to generate revenue.

The traditional model is no longer the most effective. Technology has changed how companies conduct their business, and one major change has involved leveraging technology in marketing efforts. As a result, marketers have been able to grow beyond traditional responsibilities. Today, the most successful marketers have been able to assume ownership of the entire customer lifecycle, not just the front end. 

  • More and more, business is being transacted digitally, from marketing campaigns to online stores. Marketers already own the digital relationship. Therefore, it only makes sense for them to manage all of the digital interactions, including post-sale communications. 
  • According to a recent survey, businesses derive approximately 30 percent of their revenue from existing customers. Marketers have begun to expand their efforts from merely attracting new customers to retaining existing customers. Managing the customer lifecycle is an effective way to build a long-lasting relationship with the customer.
  • The top marketers use a 360-degree view of their customers to measure success. Instead of basing success on "filling the bucket" with leads, they look at the number of qualified leads, lead conversions, and other analytics that were once of more interest to the sales department. They also consider returns and customer complaints, monitor posts about their products in online forums or social sites, stay current on what the competition is doing, and work across departments to help ensure that the customer's experience will be a satisfactory one. 
  • Increasingly, businesses are differentiating between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy, and they are now focusing more on the latter than the former. A marketing plan typically focuses on short-term goals and is revised annually. It features well-defined budgets, timetables and responsibilities. A marketing strategy is designed to support business goals more completely. It features medium- and long-term goals with imprecisely defined timetables, budgets, and responsibilities. Marketing strategies do not change unless the needs of the consumer, regulatory requirements, competition, or the goals of the business change. The increased focus on marketing strategies means that marketers must assume a larger role in the customer lifecycle to ensure that all efforts contribute to the overall success of the strategy, which in turn supports the success of the business.
  • Marketing initiatives can include a variety of methods. Banner ads, social media sites, content on the company's website, emails, webinars, blogs, "snail mail," printed media, and many other methods can be used to reach customers. It is essential that all communications deliver a consistent image or message, regardless of whether the goal is to find new customers, build relationships with existing customers, increase brand awareness, or promote goodwill. The marketing department is in the best position to ensure that all efforts are coordinated and deliver the proper message to achieve the business goals.
  • Marketers know that it costs more to convince a new customer to make a purchase than it is to convince an existing customer to make another purchase. Increasingly, companies are focusing on establishing long-term relationships with customers and converting them from repeat buyers to brand advocates. To achieve these goals, marketers must act as stewards for the entire customer lifecycle. 
Businesses have not been able to rely on traditional methods for many years although there are some enterprises that have not yet realized that fact. The move to a digital enterprise, global competition and increased demands from consumers can all contribute to major upheavals within any business. The shift in the responsibilities of marketers is just one more example of how the most successful business are adapting to an ever-changing world.

Topics: customer engagement, Marketing Technology

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