Defining B2B customer lifecycle marketing

Customer marketing lifecycleWhether you describe it as a customer lifecycle or buyer continuum, defining the relationship stages for B2B marketing and sales is vital for teams involved in generating leads and revenue for B-to-B businesses.

Defining the lifecycle your business employs, and understanding the customer experience throughout each stage and transition of this lifecycle can improve revenue, efficiency and customer retention. Don’t make the mistake of focusing on just the acquisition stage of the lifecycle–acquiring new customers. Think about your organization’s weaknesses.

Key assessment questions for customer lifecycle improvements

 

  • Where are customer needs least met?
  • What stage of the lifecycle is your organization weakest?
  • Could you improve your customer retention?
  • Are there other services you organization could offer to strengthen the up-sell?
  • Could these up-sell services improve customer happiness or commitment?
  • If you are weak with customer acquisition… Where is your weakness specifically? Is your drop off point in lead acquisition or further along the funnel in sales?

Example customer lifecycle model of B2B technology providers

customer lifecycle for B2B technology

The above model can apply to both technology transformation companies in the B2B sector, as well as software companies that begin to market their software as a service. Certainly this model can parallel other B2B customer lifecycle stages. For some B2B businesses, the (above) reactivation stage could act as a more progressive stage, where one solution is layered onto a previous solution to provide a vertical package. Ideally, the up-sell stage would improve customer happiness and not detract from customer happiness.

There are a few core stages that may ring true for most B2B businesses. These stages are as follows:

  1. Awareness
  2. Education
  3. Conversion
  4. Solution / Service
  5. Support

Focusing on just the marketing to sales elements of this model, you could break it down into these parts, which will help the analysis of conversions and retention. Try merging “the solution or service” with “support” and thinking of them as the same thing.

Simplify & codify the lifecycle to make it more useable…

  1. Awareness
  2. Education
  3. Conversion
  4. Support

Below is an example of this marketing to sales lifecycle model. The primary concept of this model is to get marketing team and sales team involvement in the service and solution stage to improve the lifecycle. Don’t let the concept of account management get in the way of providing feedback to the marketing and sales teams–both positive and negative. Any disconnection between the service stage and marketing / sales teams can hurt customer acquisition and retention. There needs to be a holistic view of this customer lifecycle, which can serve as a feedback loop for each team involved–but from a customer perspective.

Simple B2B customer lifecycle model

B2B customer lifecycle

Marketing and sales teams may learn about customer needs and pain-points early in the process, but sometimes these needs are not addressed in the first project or solution (intentionally or unintentionally). Keeping a profile on customers helps with creating and defining up-sell opportunities, which (especially if dealing with original pain-points or needs) can improve customer happiness.

Businesses often go long periods without addressing known needs or enacting solutions for pain-points. For this reason, B2B providers need to keep tabs on early conversions, goals, pain-points and needs of customers and revisit these conversions during the “support” stage of the lifecycle.



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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.