How To Use Email For Different Customer Lifecycle Stages
In order to maximize the results of using email you need to be sending the right types of emails to people in the different stages of their "customer lifecycle" in order to make them feel like your emails are personalized for them & their situation.
It doesn't matter what you sell or what industry you're in, the customer lifecycle is essentially the same.
Therefore, this blog post is helpful for anyone who wants to use automated email to grow their business & profits without taking up too much valuable time.
If you keep reading you'll see how to separate your customers into 4 basic groups based on behavior & understand what types of emails you should be sending them (and when) in order to get the best results from each group.
Part 1: Understanding Basic Customer Lifecycles
The first thing you need to understand about email marketing is that your main goals need to be:
Obviously, the main outcome is going to be more sales, but you need to realize that if you focus your goals on money this will be reflected in your emails & it will drive customers away because they won't feel valued.
Everyone on your email list will fall somewhere on this very simple (ugly) graph that I just drew up. In this section we'll look at the behaviors that determine where people fall in the cycle & in section 2 I'll explain what your goals should be based on for each group in order to create effective email campaigns that generate engagements & sales.
The New Customer
This category is for everyone who is new into your business. It doesn't matter if they've simply signed up to your email list or just made a major purchase, if this is their first interaction with your business via email then you need to consider them as a 'new customer'.
As this graph shows their engagement grows rapidly during this first phase, therefore your main goal for this group of customers in to provide them with an overwhelmingly positive experience so that they begin to develop a connection with your brand & look forward to receiving your emails.
You can achieve this with the on-boarding email process that I'll cover in Part 2.
The Active Customer
Once a customer has gone through your on-boarding email series & they continue to interact with your emails regularly they become an 'active customer'. This doesn't necessarily mean they're buying every product or service offered however, their behavior indicates that they're interested in what you're giving them & they're likely to make a purchase at some point in the future, when your product or service aligns with their needs.
As you can see from the graph, there is an abstract point where your 'active customer' will go one of two ways. This 'point' won't necessarily be the same for everyone however, you need to be monitoring engagement rates closely so that you can see anywhere that may be causing a noticeable movement of customers one way or the other so that you can either replicate or fix the email content.
In order to guide as many 'active customers' as possible into the 'pure profit' section, your main goal with this group should be to provide them with small snippets (don't overwhelm them) of highly relevant & valuable content that is directly related to the product or service that they've indicated interest in.
In Part 2 I will be covering different ways you can do this.
The Stagnant Customer
These are the people on your list who have become inactive & are not opening your emails, not consuming your valuable content (or your sales content) & not making purchases. You want to avoid having people in this category for two reasons:
- 1You're paying your email provider to have them there & they're not interacting with your emails in any meaningful way that could lead to profit.
- 2They're negatively impacting your open & engagement rates which may have a negative effect on your email deliverability, meaning your emails could end up being sent directly to the spam folder.
Once you've identified 'stagnant customers' your goal should be to either get them interacting with your emails again or remove them from your database.
I'll show you a simple tactic to do this in Part 2.
The Pure Profit Customer
Getting customers into this section is the ultimate goal of email marketing. These are your repeat buyers who love hearing from you, who love your products, who love the ground you walk on...ok, maybe not that far, but you get the point. These are the people with their credit cards out waiting to buy your next offer & you need to treat that behavior with respect.
Whatever you do, don't start throwing offers at them just because they're proven buyers!
If anything, you should do the opposite. This is because your goal with 'pure profit customers' is to make them feel important & filling their inbox with a flood of promotions will make them feel the opposite.
Instead, you should watch how they interact with your website to find out what they're interested in, find ways to interact with them on social media using this insight in order to make them feel more special & then deliver email content that further builds on this relationship.
Part 2: Effective Email Campaigns
Now that you can see where each type of person fits into your overall email marketing strategy, it's time to look at the different campaigns we can send your subscribers to get the maximum results based on their behavior.
The best thing about each one of these campaigns is that once you've built them & set the parameters for when they're to be sent to your subscribers all you need to do is drive traffic & test for optimization.
On-boarding Your New Customers
In the first week of someone signing up to your email list you should send them 3 emails that work to introduce them to your business, help them make an emotional connection with your brand, set their expectations for the future, give them something to look forward to & teach them that they will benefit from opening your emails.
This is also a great chance to encourage your customers to connect with you on social media & checkout your 'About' page on your website, but avoid anything that comes across as being too 'salesy' or promotional.
Almost 75% of people expect to receive an email immediately upon signing up to a list. For this reason the 'welcome email' has a significantly higher open rate than most other emails & you should capitilize on that by ensuring that your welcome email contains the following:
By doing this you give yourself the best chance of establishing a good relationship with your customers via email & setting the foundation for higher open & click through rates in the future.
Your second email in this campaign should be sent 1-3 days later & your goal with it should be to make your readers feel an emotional connection to your business. There are a number of ways to do this; pick one that works for you:
Make sure that you provide a teaser for the third email that you'll send another 1-3 days later. The goal for this email is to increase trust in your brand by showing your customers social proof of the benefits stated in your first email. This can be in the form of case studies, reviews, testimonials, publications you've been featured in, events you've spoken at, etc.
Once your customers have been through this welcome series you can automatically move them into a relevant nurture campaign, based on how they entered your list.
Nurturing Your Active Customers
Once your customers are familiar with your business you want to send them a mix of educational, promotional & brand related emails as per the schedule you outlined in your first welcome email.
The real key to the success of this campaign is knowing what your audience wants & sending emails that they're going to find relevant & valuable & can be connected to your product or service in a natural way. Keep in mind that you should group your customers into segments based on their behavior, purchases, location, opt-in source, gender, etc to make sure that your emails are as relevant as possible.
Here are some different email types that can be adapted to fit different business types.
Now, I can't tell you the best schedule to send these out because that is determined by your audience. However, I would suggest starting out by sending 2-3 educational/value based emails for every 1 promotional email & sending them 2-7 days apart. Then simply watch your engagement rates & split test accordingly to find the best schedule for your business goals.
Re-Engaging Your Stagnant Customers
Like I said earlier, having customers on your list who haven't been opening your emails for several months means that they're not seeing your value content or promotional offers. Also, if they don't open the emails they're not going to build a relationship with your brand & never become a Pure Profits customer in the future.
The best way to re-engage stagnant customers is to send them an email with an intriguing subject line for an offer they can't ignore. Once you've found an offer that is proven to work (I aim for a 50%+ open rate & a 10%+ click through rate across 3 emails - but you should decide for yourself the stats that determine a successful offer as these numbers are higher than the average) you can start removing subscribers who didn't respond.
It may seem counter intuitive to delete customers from your email database, but if they're not going to respond to your most intriguing subject line & offer, then I believe it's a safe assumption that they don't fit your target customer profile anyway so save your money & cull.
There are several tactics I've seen people use in their re-engagement emails. They include (but are not limited to):
My favorite however, is to send them a 'courtesy' email to let them know that they have $X in their account & it will expire in 7 days. Then all you need to do is give them a coupon or discount code for that exact value amount off any purchase they make within the 7 days.
Interacting With Your Pure Profit Customers
When your customers actively respond to your emails, have become repeat buyers & probably interact with your social media pages regularly you should start to take a more personalized approach to your email interactions with them.
A good place to start is to acknowledge that they've become a VIP customer. Then you can invite them to join you in a VIP social media group & provide an incentive for them to do so - like priority service, VIP discounts, etc.
In this setting you can interact directly with your customers to find out what products, features, benefits, etc that they want. This way you have great feedback to adjust your products/services to better fit the demand for what your most profitable customers want.
While this moves the conversation off email, it gives you the insight needed to send a lot less emails that cover a broad range & instead send 2-3 emails per month that are irresistible to your Pure Profits customers - because they've told you exactly that.
I hope this has helped you with getting ideas for how to manage your emails campaigns more effectively for more sales.
Please drop a comment below if you have any questions or more ideas.