What do we think about when we think about marketing? The first thing that comes to mind is the customer and how to reach the customer in the best possible manner. And why is this important? This is important because the crux of all business activities and marketing, in particular, is to reach the customer in a way that a convincing case is made and a sale finally happens at the other end of the pipeline. This brings us to the topic for today: customer lifecycle management.
So what exactly is CLM or customer lifecycle management? And more than that, what is the importance of lifecycle management? Before we get into that, it would be important to actually understand CLM as well as the CLM process in detail, and how one can implement customer lifecycle management.
Every marketing activity and the process has a lifecycle within which it must be implemented properly so as to show results. Now, what we do not know is that the customer management within this marketing cycle or process also has its own lifecycle. This entire gamut covers a number of activities that will define the buying journey of the customer. This is what we term as CLM or customer lifecycle management. The CLM process is one that helps us implement customer lifecycle management with all the activities within it, carefully rendered at the right time to create the basis for customer engagement and conversion.
Before we talk about all the activities that make up the CLM process, let us first cast a glance at the importance of customer lifecycle management. If statistics are to be believed, then we are looking at the E-Commerce boom of at least 6 billion shoppers online. And this is not even including the offline customers. The reason we are talking about the online and E-Commerce boom is simple – most of the marketing activities today are digital-centric and they are concentrated in every inch of the digital landscape and online real estate tat one uses in order to make purchases, read reviews, follow influencers, and also find brands. In such a climate, it would be imperative to define the exact activities that would help you reach your ideal audience and turn these people into your ideal customers. But why do we need a CLM process to do so?
The answer can be summed up in one word: competition. Everywhere we look, everything we read and see online, each time we scroll through our social media feed, there are a number of different ways in which brands and businesses are trying to woo us. This would also help us home on to the exact activities and the timelines attached to the same so that we may successfully implement customer lifecycle management as well.
In keeping with the above discussion, let us now dive right into the various activities that make up the CLM process and help us reach out to customers and drive conversions in the best possible manner:
- Awareness: Bringing awareness about your brand and the products and services that you have on offer would be one of the foremost activities in the CLM process. The importance of customer lifecycle management starts right here since the customer would first have to know what all you are offering and how it may help him or her, before a purchase is made and before customer loyalty is generated. In this phase, the activities would revolve around talking about the brand as well as the solutions offered by the products and services. Before getting into this phase, it would be imperative for the business to define whether it is a B2B model or a B2C model so that the activities can be charted out and planned accordingly with the right deliverables and collateral in the right place.
- Educate or Advocate: This is where the customer lifecycle management process actually takes off. Now that you have the attention of your ideal client or customer, it is time to spread the word and educate the customer with various activities that have to do with many aspects of your products or services. The CLM process here would revolve around touching upon or articulating the needs of the customer that can be solved with your products and services so that they can actually imagine the scenario and start asking questions that you would be able to answer for them to actually make a purchase. This is also known as an engagement when we implement customer lifecycle management.
- Nurture: In this stage of the CLM process, you would have to engage to nurture. Now that the awareness and advocacy have been built and you have started a conversation with the ideal customer, it is time to turn that conversation into a relevant relationship so that the customer can start to invest in your product or service. The activities here would have to do with higher and more personalized engagement that can go from emails to actual one on one interactions. In this stage of the CLM process, the business or the brand would look to actually acquire the customer and make a purchase as well as forge a meaningful milestone in the buying journey.
- Retention: Now, when we say a meaningful milestone, we are obviously referring to the fact that a single purchase is not the end of the buying journey or the CLM process, by any means. One would have to know how to retain the customers and to do so, a number of targeted activities and campaigns would have to be put into place so that there is constant interaction that goes towards repeat orders, up-selling and cross-selling as well. This will actually show the efficacy and the importance of customer lifecycle management as well. Building brand loyalty is the very crux of the CLM process since the tone that you take on and the way you service your clients and keep in touch with them will decide a repeat purchase as well as word of mouth advertising.