A new take on customer lifecycle marketing: from the Traction Conference

By August 29, 2018Marketing, Sales

Last week, we filled our brains with great ideas, fresh perspectives and new insights at the Traction Conference in Vancouver. Kudos to the Traction and Boast teams. Not only was there a phenomenal lineup of speakers, but also plenty of opportunity to meet and reconnect with startups and scale-ups from across Canada and beyond.

But one woman bowled me over.

Okay, there were so many great women featured at Traction Conference that it’s hard to pick one out. But Menaka Shroff – the Global Head of Marketing, Devices and Mobility at Google Cloud – truly bowled me over with her session on customer lifecycle marketing.

A fresh perspective on customer lifecycle marketing.

Customer lifecycle marketing isn’t new. It’s a been around for ages under different names. In short, it’s all about rethinking your customer relationship as moving through a series of steps – from well before they are looking, to when they start shopping around, while they are considering or evaluating your product, when they buy, while they are implementing, and while they are using your product – and hopefully while referring you to their friends and colleagues.

But Menaka got me thinking about lifecycle marketing – in the context of growth.

She said that a lifecycle approach to customer marketing makes sense when there are multiple touchpoints for growth. If you’re a B2C company with a small transaction price, and a one-time buy, it’s likely not your jam. But if you’re selling a product with ongoing usage, where there are multiple opportunities for growth over time (think up-sell, cross-sell, referrals), then it can be a great driver of growth.

So, what’s new about that?  As a marketer, I’ve worked on up- and cross-sell campaigns for decades.

But Menaka got me thinking. Not just about how startups can think outside the box to build more of a growth machine around all stages of the customer lifecycle. But also about how few startups and scale-ups I know do a good job of marketing to existing customers as one of their growth strategies.

Why don’t we focus more on customer growth?

Many startups we work with at 321 Growth Academy have seen some traction, but struggle to repeat it.

Sometimes that’s because they don’t have a well-oiled sales machine in place. Or, that their messaging and positioning is off, so their buyers don’t “get it”.

But sometimes it’s because we tend to focus on the new. The shiny. The next.

I’m not saying that we should be happy to win a customer, then focus disproportionately on “land and expand” campaigns to farm new revenue from existing customers. But I am saying that mining opportunities with existing customers is an untapped opportunity for many startups.

And as Menaka says, building a growth engine around all stages of your customer lifecycle can be a new or untapped source of growth opportunity.

Some tips…

A few things to keep in mind, as you build out your own lifecycle growth engine (thanks to Menaka):

  • Measure attribution. When you focus only on customer acquisition, attribution (i.e. where did that lead or deal come from?) is easier. Why do we care about attribution? That’s a key driver of ROI for your marketing efforts and spend. And once you are driving growth across the entire customer lifecycle, marketing attribution gets a bit tricky. Be sure you’re using multi-touch attribution so you can see ALL the marketing tactics that influenced a customer over time, and can then correlate that with great outcomes – like revenue and referrals.
  • Rethink your funnel. Don’t think of your funnel as the inverted triangle. Your customers may “ping pong” back and forth across stages of the lifecycle over time. That’s ok. But be sure you …
  • Optimize your marketing for customer LTV (lifetime value). Think about how you can capture growth post-sale and in customer success. You’ll learn over time what triggers up- and cross-sell, and then can target your marketing at those opportunities.
  • Don’t forget a nurture stream. We all spend so much investing in getting and closing prospects, that we sometimes forget to nurture that ones that “almost closed”. Having a separate and clear approach to nurturing warms up cool prospects at the top of the funnel, and can re-engage those that didn’t make it all the way to buy.

So – just do it.

We challenge you to think about where you are missing opportunities for growth in your current customer lifecycle. How you can create marketing campaigns that drive more growth – growth that is likely faster and easier to close, with lower costs.

That’s what we’ll be tackling this fall.

This post originally appeared on Alberta Enterprise Corporation’s Start Alberta portal.

Carey Houston

Author Carey Houston

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