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How to Perform Lifecycle Email Marketing

Instead of separate email campaigns sent from time to time, email marketers have started to prefer a series of correlated email campaigns covering the full lifecycle of a business. During the Mailigen email marketing breakfast, our head of sales, Andris Zigurs, presented the principles of lifecycle email marketing.

What is lifecycle email marketing?

Lifecycle email marketing is a customer-oriented, one-to-one email marketing strategy based on the idea of delivering automatically the right message to the right person at the right time on a regular basis throughout the whole business cycle.

How does lifecycle marketing look?

Lifecycle email marketing

Event-triggered messaging starts from the moment people are searching for information to the moment they have become evangelists and promote your services or products to others. We have separated the customer lifecycle in eight steps:

  • Awareness of your brand, product or service after having searched for information
  • Deeper knowledge by receiving informative and educational information from you
  • Consideration of your product or service when you demonstrate your expertise
  • Selection of your product or service having tried several options apart from yours
  • The first purchase comes only in the middle of a cycle!
  • Satisfaction with the experience and your customer care service
  • Retention and loyalty by making repeated purchases
  • Word of mouth spreading to others and promoting your brand

Most marketers use behaviorally triggered emails to build relationships with early-stage buyers. But somehow they often forget about current and recently lost customers. According to the survey in MarketingProfs, 78% of brands performing lifecycle email marketing use welcome programs, but only 45% use post-purchase programs, 44% use cross/upsell programs and 26% use cart abandonment programs.

Why perform lifecycle email marketing?

More and more marketers are becoming aware of the effectiveness of lifecycle email marketing messages. Epsilon and Eloqua claim a growth of engagement by 75 – 200% with event-triggered messages, while the research by Gartner finds that marketers can achieve 600% growth over traditional email marketing.

Nevertheless, only 2.6% of emails are sent as lifecycle email messages. Few marketers perform lifecycle marketing because of concerns about the additional work required to implement this strategy. According to the survey in MarketingProfs, 46% say they have already implemented some kind of behaviorally triggered messages in their email marketing and 58% plan to do so in the nearest future.

We are sure however that those who do it are amazed about the results and claim that some extra hours for strategy implementation are absolutely worth it. To avoid confusion about where to begin, we’ve outlined some ideas.

Start lifecycle marketing using the personal approach

Start with the positive customer experience at the very beginning of your business lifecycle. If you have various sign-up forms on your webpage, blog, landing page or social media site, keep track of the email subscriber sign-up source. If you know through which source each subscriber has joined your list, you can treat them accordingly.

  • If subscribers have joined your email list during the purchase process, you can proceed, for example, with surveys or upsell offers.
  • If they have signed up for newsletters via a blog, you should know they are already quite informed about your product.
  • If the source is a Facebook sign-up form, they have probably only heard about you. However, you can include in newsletters encouragement to share your news with their friends on social media.

Segment and personalize according to lifecycle

Send targeted messages not only at the beginning but during the entire business lifecycle. One of the most effective ways of creating personalized emails is to segment your database and send relevant content to each group.

  • You can segment you email list by subscriber interests and needs using sign-up forms, profile update forms and online surveys.
  • You can also segment by subscriber status, i.e., where they are in the buying cycle. Email content should differ depending on whether it is sent to interested recipients, engaged customers or inactive subscribers. Here you can use segmentation by CRM data or segmentation by activity such as email opens and clicks.

Create a series of lifecycle email autoresponders

Personalized communication doesn’t mean you cannot automate it. Sure you can! Create a series of triggered autoresponders based on the lifecycle email marketing strategy. For instance, you can create correlated autoresponders from the moment of a purchase to the next purchase:

  • Thank you message right after the purchase
  • Some tips and tricks the next day
  • Feedback survey after a week
  • Special offer for the next purchase after a month

You can create a similar series of lifecycle email autoresponders if there is a test period before making a final purchase. Then you can send extra information on a regular basis to create interest and result in engagement.

Another type of autoresponder which helps to create a positive customer experience is a birthday message. Find out your subscriber birthdays using one of the previously mentioned methods and set up an autoresponder of a personalized e-card that is sent to each of your subscribers on their special day.

Choose lifecycle email marketing if selling online

Lifecycle email marketing is crucial if you are an online retailer. In a business where order confirmations, shipping details and promo campaigns are sent one after another, it’s easy to get confused and make mistakes such as sending a discount offer for the product the customer has just bought. Ouch! Various types of segmentation and triggered autoresponders will help there.

One of the main problems for online retailers is abandoned carts. According to the latest research by E-tailing Group, online retailers lose about 15% of sales because of cart abandonment. However, 73% of abandoned carts may proceed with purchases if you offer free shipping and 56% – with a discount offer. BUT only if the offer is sent right after the purchase attempt. From this you can see that there is profit to be made from an effective lifecycle email marketing strategy and email marketing automation.

12 more ideas on how to perform lifecycle marketing

Apart from welcome messages, confirmations and reminders, there are a lot of other ideas on how to perform lifecycle email marketing:

  • Getting started email with tips and tricks
  • Educational newsletter about the recently bought product
  • Urgent message about the account expiring within X days
  • Introduction to features customers haven’t used
  • Inactivity email if the customer hasn’t logged in for a while
  • Feedback gathering survey
  • Short message just to say something interesting or funny without any selling motives
  • Compliment message sending love to your customers
  • Sharing relevant news with your customer about the topic but not about your brand or product
  • Introduction to new features to your customers
  • Invitation to a VIP community of your brand or industry
  • Surprise message of… whatever you can offer…

Transactional emails for lifecycle marketing strategy

MarketingProfs reveal that 57% of brands not currently running lifecycle email programs say they would do so if an easy-to-use tool was available. Fortunately, Mailigen has launched a new transactional email service just for that. There are numerous sources for transactional emails that we can perform: thank you message, ask for review, personal information update, invitation to sign up for newsletters, social media notification, etc. All this can be included in your lifecycle email marketing strategy to provide your audience with correlated and meaningful email campaigns.

Besides, according to the data presented by Andris, the average open rate of transactional emails is 47%, and the average click through rate is 20%. People treat transactional emails as twice as important as other marketing messages. By enriching transactional emails with marketing information, you can improve your email marketing results. Read more about transactional emails.

Let’s get started

Lifecycle email marketing is the future of email marketing and the way forward. If not yet started, it’s time to change the game. Although lifecycle email marketing requires some time and resources for strategy development and implementation, once set up, it will deliver business results continuously.

Our email experts are always here and ready to help you build email marketing strategies, manage your email campaigns and deliver results.

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