A few days ago I posted an article on how to leverage lifecycle ecommerce marketing to build customer relationships.

Today I want to examine how lifecycle marketing applies to eCommerce.

I first learned about lifecycle marketing from Performable, a marketing software company recently acquired by HubSpot.

Performable defines lifecyle marketing as “a focus on the entire customer experience, from the very first time someone hears about your product all the way through to when they become passionate users who recommend your product to their friends.”

This definition of lifecycle marketing should be the goal of every single eCommerce store owner. Creating an amazing customer experience that evokes passion into vocal customers about your store, brand and products is the pot of gold at the end of the eCommerce rainbow.

But how does this concept of creating passionate customers work for eCommerce? I examined the 7 Steps to Lifecycle Marketing from Performable and put an eCommerce spin on them to find out:

1. Identify lifecycle stages of online customers

The first step is to identify each of the major steps an online customer takes from the first time they purchase from you to the point at which they recommend you via social media or word of mouth. Performable has a nice high level graph that you can use to model off of:

2. Identify each touch point your customer has with your store.

Explore each of the initial interactions a customer could have to find your store online:

  • Direct website traffic
  • Social media (expand this to your active networks: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube ect.)
  • Search engine traffic (organic and paid)
  • Email Marketing
  • Offline Advertising (print ads, radio ads, tv ads, ect.)
  • Instore walk-in (for click and mortar business)
  • Word of mouth
  • ect.

Explore each touchpoint a customer could have with your store:

  • Website experience
  • Social media experience
  • Mobile experience
  • Customer support experience
  • Product delivery experience
  • ect.

Explore each way a customer can purchase from your store:

  • Website orders
  • Social media orders (facebook store, ect.)
  • Comparison shopping engine orders (eBay, TheFind, Buy.com, ect.)
  • Mobile orders
  • ect.

There will be other unique ways that prospects will find, interact and purchase from your store. Write them all down. Then make sure you have a consistent message, branding and experience threaded through each. Consistent branding and messaging is extremely important to an excellent customer experience.

3. Record and analyze measurable touchpoints of your customers.

Use your analytic platform to measure how your website is being used by customers to purchase products. Are there noticeable click-paths? Do some buttons get clicked on more than others? What about category and product pages? Which are the most and least popular? Don’t forget to measure social media and mobile interactions as well. Make sure you are gathering this data to both optimize and gain insights into your customer experiences.

This is an example of how Performable measures touchpoints

4. Gather enough customer data to make informed decisions.

It can be tempting to make decisions too early based on incomplete data such as small sample sizes. Determine a time-frame and sample size needed before analyzing any significant changes. Data is crucial to making accurate decisions on improving your customer experience — make sure to have enough before acting unfounded.

5. Identify the most successful customer paths.

You will develop a clearer vision of the most profitable customer segments and customer paths once there is complete data on customer touchpoints. Use this data collected to determine the top performing segments and customers. Then analyze the data to find out where the most money is coming from and how the top performing customer segments purchased from your store. Make sure you are analyzing net income versus gross income as well.

6. Replicate the experience of your most profitable customers.

Use the data from the most successful customer paths to transform your customer experiences across all touch points to replicate the top performing customer experiences. Profitable customers may have large order value or many repeat purchases – cherish both. The most profitable customer paths should be given attention and resources to optimize first.

7. Truly care about your customers.

You can avoid negative feedback and experiences by truly caring about your online customers. Treat every online customer and prospect interaction as if that person where standing right in front of you in your store. Would you ignore or argue with a customer standing at your register? Minimize or remove any channels or touchpoints that are low performing with high support costs as well. Low performing channels can lead to negative experiences from both you and your customers perspective. Really care about every customer to gain passionate and vocal evangelist.

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