Email Marketing Automation – Customer Lifecycles ( Part 1 and 2)

Article Featured in David Beard’s Weekly Sage CRM Blog – May 26th, 2021

Email Marketing Automation – Customer Lifecycles (part 1)

“Q: What is the most important objective for email marketing in the coming year and why?

A: Timing emails with content that is relevant to where the prospect/lead is in the sales cycle.”*

Every business has a different customer and sales lifecycle, therefore one of the first things to do before you consider automation is mapping this out. You need to know how you sell, and more importantly, how customers buy. This way you can plan your timings around a typical customer engagement or a sales process.

In fig 1 below you will see a hypothetical campaign to 2,000 customers mapping an engagement lifecycle over an 18 month period. For illustration purposes, I have highlighted 4 typical touch-points or “phases” that present opportunities for manual or automated intervention (more on this below).

What’s important to note here is the two lines – the green represents the natural cycle of user response when an email is sent to an unqualified list, i.e. down! Our objective in this case is to identify the orange line – those that are genuine prospects. An effective email marketing campaign will narrow the gap between the green and orange lines through techniques mentioned in previous blogs, including list growth and management, as well of course, as segmentation.

Fig 1:

To highlight the potential role of automation in a lifecycle (sales or customer engagement), fig 2 below explains each of the 4 phases from fig 1 in more detail. You can see that there is an opportunity to automate during each phase – from the initial newsletter/welcome programme introduction, through to promotions during the reactivation phase, through to upsell or cross-sell propositions when the customer relationship becomes more clearly defined.

The key point here is that these phases must first be identified before the automated content can be generated.

A final point, in fig 2 above I have highlighted the necessary support activities that accompany an automated process. It is important to keep in mind that there will always be a need for manual, human oversight regardless of whether you run an automated campaign or not.

In the second part of this section on lifecycles we will highlight the complexity of combining automation with basic segmentation techniques.

Email Marketing Automation – Customer Lifecycles (part 2)

In a previous post we took a look at a hypothetical customer lifecycle and mapped 4 stages that the customer (generally speaking) could move through. Unfortunately for email marketers however, the customer journey is rarely quite as linear as that!

With this in mind, your automation campaigns need to be able to handle different levels of complexity, and the diverging customer engagement paths matched with the appropriate content.

Let’s take an example.

Suppose that you have one email subscriber base. The source of these addresses could be traced back to either prospects, who signed up via your subscription page, or alternatively customers, who signed up based on a purchase. Both will get (the same) welcome mails. However the subsequent messaging will have to change:

  • Prospects want information that will guide them towards a purchase – so you need a conversion-focused mail with the appropriate content and messaging
  • Customers want information that will reinforce their decision to buy, and possibly communicate the benefits of related products. In this case you will need a retention-focused mail, with further information on the benefits of buying more

Below is an example* of how an automation campaign can grow increasingly complex should you include customers and prospects and basic segmentation methodology.

The conclusion we can reach here is simply this: the pre-planning phase is by far the most critical and time-consuming aspect of email marketing automation. However, even if you decide not to implement an automated programme, by merely going through the exploratory process of defining “who are my customers and who are my prospects”, you will go a long way towards adding significant ROI to your email marketing list.

*Source: eCircle

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About TimeLinx
TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.