In businesses where customers make repeat purchases in a measurable way (such as eCommerce and retail) there’s an opportunity to measure and plan for touchpoints in the customer lifecycle. On the journey from prospect to loyal customer, you can use individual lifetime value metrics to optimize your marketing strategies.
Lifecycle marketing is a personalized strategy based on the customer’s stage in the cycle. The first stage is made up of prospects, or people who have expressed interest (for example, by visiting your website or clicking on an ad) but have not yet purchased.
To acquire high lifetime value customers, there are several strategies you can use, including value-based lookalike audiences and value-based bidding. Value-based lookalike audiences on Facebook or Google help you acquire customers that are similar to your high-value customers and avoid customers that are similar to low-value customers. Value-based bidding goes a step further and sets bid caps based on your CLV-to-CAC ratio to ensure you aren’t paying too much for any given customer.
You can also use behavioral data from your high-value customers to attract more prospects like them. For example, if high-CLV customers tend to purchase a certain product first, increase the visibility and promotion of that product to new prospects. Or, if high-CLV customers usually come from Instagram ads rather than Facebook, bump up your ad spend on the former platform. While some learnings may be driven by correlation rather than causation, it’s a good place to start.
Once you have acquired a customer, the next stages in the lifecycle are made up of active, inactive, and lapsed customers. If you know the estimated churn date for each individual customer, lifecycle marketing is much more straightforward.
Consider an example of two customers:
- Customer A purchases on a monthly basis
- Customer B purchases seasonally during the Black Friday sale
If Customer A hasn’t made a purchase in three months, CLV analysis will indicate inactivity and you’d consider ramping up the retention campaigns to avoid losing this customer. But if Customer B hasn’t made a purchase in three months, you needn’t waste retention efforts. This way, you reduce wasteful ad spend on customers who will come back in their own time.
To put this example into practice, segment your customers by CLV and by risk of churn. These segments are:
- Champions are your most loyal customers who tend to come back often and spend the most.
- Build lookalike audiences based on these customers
- Upsell higher value products and ask for reviews
- Reward them because they are early adopters
- Potential Loyalists have made a few purchases to get to know your products but are not exhibiting high CLV behavior yet.
- Offer membership or loyalty programs
- Recommend other products
- Provide onboarding support
- Can’t Lose Them customers are high-CLV customers on the verge of lapsing based on their behavior.
- Send personalized notifications or emails to reconnect
- Win them back with renewals or new products
- Lost High Value customers have lapsed and are unlikely to return without marketing intervention.
- Test potential revival campaigns that promote high-value products
Individual CLV can also help you thoughtfully adjust discounting practices. You can offer varied discount amounts depending on the predicted CLV of each customer. Some low-value customers may only purchase with steep discounts, making the sale unprofitable for you. If you can optimize the discounting process, you’ll retain more high-value customers (and perhaps lose low-value customers that weren’t worth keeping anyway).
Throughout the customer lifecycle, it’s important to keep customer service in mind. Be proactive in reaching out to customers that you expect will churn soon. Consider rank ordering your tickets based on lifetime value to ensure you retain your best customers.
Beyond this, you can evaluate the customer service tickets that have the highest impact on lifetime value. Focus on the ticket types and topics that boost CLV to retain more of the right customers.
Overall, with individual customer lifetime value, you have visibility into the lifecycle journeys of high-value customers. When you view the full picture, you can shift and enhance each customer’s journey with the goal of increasing their lifetime value.
From the customer point of view, lifecycle marketing ensures that you aren’t sending your customers irrelevant promotions. Personalize interactions based on CLV to help build trust in your brand and increase response rates.