This one word describes what Apple has done for us. iPhones, iPads, iTunes…me, me, me. Whether it’s music or a marketing message, we live in a world where we expect and demand a personalized and relevant experience. Does everyone in our sales pipeline and our customer base deserve the same monthly newsletter? Logically, we know the answer is “no.” So why do so many companies continue to deliver a one-size-fits-all communication strategy?
There is a misconception that it’s difficult — and that it’s marketing’s job.
I host Lifecycle Workshops for our new clients and in two hours we create a communication road map for every stage of the customer journey and it involves marketing and sales. We use a simple game of “imagine if” to determine the strategy.
Imagine if, you were a prospect.
Imagine if, you were a new customer.
Imagine if, you’ve been a customer for 10 years.
What would you like to hear from a company at each of these points? We break down the B2B Lifecycle journey into five stages: Attract, Convert, Onboard, Expand, and Appreciate.
These are contacts and companies you don’t know a lot about. You may only have their name and email address. They typically have not engaged with your sales team.
Goal – The focus at this stage is thought leadership. I heard a VP of Sales recently say “I don’t care if you buy my product at this stage. I want you to come to our website and consume all of our information because we are the experts in this field.”
Don’t sell. They aren’t ready to buy.
Don’t throw up all over your prospects about your features and benefits. They are just learning about your company.
Do make your website the hub of every message you send with a strong CTA to go back to the website so you can begin capturing the web behavior.
Do be present where your buyers are looking. During this stage, prospects are typically looking for a solution through Google or other online search engines.
Do use social media to engage. Participate in groups on LinkedIn. Respond to relevant posts with a “non-salesy” response.
By the time a prospect is in the Convert Stage they are likely labeled as “qualified” in your CRM. These prospects have shown an interest in your product and are engaging with sales team members.
Goal – You want your prospects to start recognizing the value of your products and services.
Don’t assume you have the sale. The buyer is researching you, but they are also looking at your competitors. Ensure value proposition (and positioning against competition) are strong.
Don’t do one-size-fits-all emails. The buyer is transitioning from search marketing to discovery. They want to learn about your products and services, but only the ones that interest them.
Do provide information based on their engagement. Because you are tracking website activity at this stage, you can provide targeted content based on their unique engagement.
Do make it personal. Engagement at this stage is going to become more one-to-one. Sending automated alerts to a sales rep when a certain action is taken can be a vital step at this stage. If someone looks at more than 4 pages of your website, that may be a “hot lead,” so you can send an alert to sales.
These are your new customers. The duration of this period could be 30 days or it could be 12 months.
Goal – You want them to experience your differential and feel like they are glad they chose your solution. It’s 6-7x more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer, and it all starts with onboarding.
Don’t stop communicating. This stage is crucial to make a great first impression.
Don’t ignore the unengaged. Retention starts the first day a customer comes on board. If they are unengaged in the first 30 days of doing business with you, they will be at risk ongoing.
Do make it simple. A good way to streamline the onboarding process is with automation. Provide triggered alerts for both positive and negative behaviors. For example, we have a technology client and their big KPI is for clients to log into the portal at least 4 times in the first 30 days. So, they trigger alerts to customer service reps if someone has not logged into the portal in their first 7 days. If it gets to 21 days, the alert gets escalated to a manager.
Do provide engagement channels chock full of instruction, how to and product information. Videos and webinars are great tools for this stage.
You have the opportunity to take your relationship with the customer to the next level at this stage.
Goal – There are certain customers that will be positioned for an upsell or a cross-sell. The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.
Don’t keep calling the same customers. Defy the 80/20 rule by connecting with those customers that are in the bottom half of purchasing.
Do identify complimentary products. One of our clients distributes all types of office products. They send an automated email when someone orders boxes to immediately ask if they need tape.
Do use new products as a communication opportunity. Inform all customers in this stage of a new product then watch their engagement activity and alert sales. If a customer clicks through on an email, downloads a product brochure and likes a post on Facebook about the new product, they are raising their hand with interest.
Your brand loyal advocates are those that typically spend the most and are your champions.
Goal – You want to take care of these clients in a special way. This should be high touch communication.
Don’t assume they are done buying.
Don’t assume they aren’t looking at your competition. Look for drops in engagement.
Do delight and surprise. Send a box of chocolates out on your customer’s business anniversary. If you are using an automation system, this could be automated, but looks highly personal from the sales rep.
Do consider the power of a phone call. One of our customers has the president of the company place a phone call once a year to anyone in the Appreciate Stage.
Do setup forums on social media or events for your best customers to interact and share best practices.
Do create a loyalty program.
Do ask for their opinions through surveys/focus groups.
Do ask for referrals and for them to complete online reviews.
Whether you are using a marketing automation solution or managing the Customer Lifecycle journey manually, remember to find relevancy simply by asking your team to “imagine if.”