Awareness, engagement, evaluation, purchase, post-purchase, advocacy. This is the ideal customer lifecycle. Sure, there’s a model type out there with disengagement added into the mix, but you won’t have to deal with this phase (which involves customers becoming disillusioned with your product or brand) too much if you play your cards right.

What we want is a cycle where customers make it through to the Advocacy stage, then start over again anywhere from Engagement and beyond. Content, of course, plays a big role here. You want the content you create to funnel customers through each stage of the buyer’s journey. But what pieces are best for different portions of the cycle?

We’re here to answer that question.

The buyer’s journey is the pathway a potential customer takes as they discover a brand, make a purchase, become a loyal customer, then grow disengaged. The customer lifecycle, on the other hand, bypasses the Disengagement part and redirects back around to anything after “discovery.”

Some are short cycles (like your trip to the coffee shop—everything happens in the span of a few minutes), while some are long (a B2B sale that takes upward of six months). But, all are circles regardless of length, not linear journeys with specific beginnings and endings.

Marketing in circles

If your goal is to generate repeat purchases (and it should be), then your marketing must also work in a circular fashion. We call this “customer lifecycle marketing,” which is exactly as it sounds.

Each piece of content should direct prospects through to the next stage in the funnel, and the final stages should bring them back toward the beginning. In doing so, you extend the lifetime value of each customer, engaging them again and again while getting new sales. What’s more, you maximize your return on investment without significantly boosting the effort you put in.

Remember, it costs five to 25 times more money to find and onboard a new customer than it does to retain an old one. Save yourself a headache by focusing on lifecycle marketing. Here’s how:

Awareness

As the word suggests, this stage is when potential customers are first introduced to your brand. You’re trying to find and lure in new people here, and given that the average internet user (CEO and Redditor alike) has the attention span of a kitten on crack, you’ll need to create engaging, bite-size content snippets to catch their eye.

A CEO.

To maximize your customer lifecycle marketing strategy with as few resources as possible create content that are easily shared and discovered. You want potential customers dispersing your content among themselves, which is a much more effective use of your time than trying to lure them all to your blog or social media pages. If you can get your content on a platform that many of your prospects read religiously (like an industry blog), even better!

Content types for the awareness stage:

  • Social media posts.
  • Guests blogs.
  • Influencer content.
  • Shareable graphics.
  • Cold emails.
  • Videos.
  • GIFs.

Themes to cover in your content:

  • Branding and recognition.
  • The product or service you offer.
  • Ideas that create emotional connections with potential customers.

Engagement

Alright, the customer knows who you are now! They’re interested but not completely sold on your product. They want to know a bit more about your potential and why they should consider you alongside other competitors.

We’re still toward the top of the sales funnel here, but you’ll need to be extremely precise with your content. Really nail down your personas and write specifically for each of them. Write strong email subject lines (with messages sent from a person, not noreply@), and use your blog’s headers, lists and subheads to target specific keywords and get that oh-so-coveted Google featured snippet.

At this stage, you can get ahead of the competition by appearing like your brand is the best and brightest on the subject—even if you’re not yet sharing the statistics to back it up. Featured snippets, high organic ranking and backlinks not only get your business in front of more eyes, but they also portray your company like a thought leader. After all, Google wouldn’t point you out if you didn’t know your stuff.

Content types for the Engagement stage:

  • Blogs.
  • eBooks.
  • Emails.
  • Landing pages.

Themes to cover in your content:

  • Your products’ top features.
  • Customer testimonials.
  • Tips and tricks.
  • Industry-related topics that position you as a thought leader.

Evaluation

Now is the time to back up everything you claimed during the Awareness and Engagement stages. You’ve told the prospect that you’re the best; now come at them with facts.

At this point, your prospect has narrowed down their options to a few top competitors. Your content needs to seal the deal, doing everything it can to push that person through the funnel to the next stage of the customer journey. Get niche and personal—use demographic data, psychographic data and personalization to appeal to the prospect. Detail all the major features of your product or service, and use CTAs to direct people to a demo or your sales team.

Content for the Evaluation stage:

  • Testimonials.
  • White papers.
  • Case studies.

Themes to cover in your content:

  • Metrics that support the performance of your product or service.
  • Features that make your product unique.
  • Specific pain points that your product addresses.

Purchase

Yes, you can take it easy once your customer makes a purchase. That doesn’t mean you can slack off, however. Make sure the experience of the actual sale itself is as frictionless as possible, using clear and welcoming language. At this point, your customer service becomes a part of your marketing strategy; increased satisfaction will help customers bypass the Disengagement stage and increase their average lifetime value.

Content for the purchase stage:

  • Landing pages.
  • Welcome/onboarding emails.
  • Product/service tutorials.

Themes to cover in your content:

  • Ease of use.
  • Support options.
  • Customer satisfaction.

Post-purchase

Just because a client made one purchase doesn’t mean they’re ripe for an upsell or rebuy. This is the part where marketing makes a huge difference, as you can either re-engage the customer or let them drift off into disengagement.

Remember when I said that customer service is now a part of your marketing strategy? That’s exceptionally true during the Post-purchase stage. Your touch points with them are the key to a renewed contract, a second purchase order or a continued subscription. Keep up the great service, and you’ll build a kind of loyalty that’ll keep your clients coming back.

Of course, you still want to create content for this stage, too. Instead of trying to get that initial conversion, however, you need to address additional concerns customers have now that they’re invested in your brand.

Content ideas for the Post-purchase stage:

  • Email newsletters.
  • Blog roundups.
  • Case studies of repeat customers.
  • Any of the earlier content types that detail a new feature or service.

Themes to cover in your content:

  • New products or processes.
  • Additional features.
  • Industry news.
  • Helpful use cases.

Advocacy

You started building customer loyalty during the Post-purchase phase. Now, it’s time to kick that loyalty into overdrive. The more customers you turn into brand advocates, the fewer you have going through the Disengagement phase. You want as many clients as possible praising your company, sharing your business with their industry partners and mentioning you in their content.

And what better way to achieve those goals than to develop strong emotional connections?

Content ideas for the Advocacy stage:

  • User-generated content.
  • Exclusive discounts for long-term customers.
  • Photos or videos that feature customers engaging with your brand or product.

Themes to cover in your content.

  • Appreciation.
  • The success of your business.
  • The success of their business.

Combining customer lifecycle marketing and automation

I get it. Everything I listed above sounds like a lot of work. It is, but there’s a way to make things easier. Smart marketing automation is your ticket to addressing all stages and aspects of the customer lifecycle (yes, even the personalization bit). Automate your welcome and nurture emails, drip campaigns, newsletters and social posts. Use event triggers to connect with contacts after they perform a specific action, like downloading a white paper. Use templates for cold emails, especially during the early stages, to make content creation faster.

Lifecycle marketing and customer relationship management go hand in hand. Both focus on increasing conversions and retention, building your business a strong, solid customer base and a community of brand ambassadors advocating on your behalf. Remember, the stronger and more compelling you make the customer journey, the easier it is to turn casual users into hardcore brand enthusiasts.

Autumn Green is a Brafton writer living in Chicago. She thought she wanted to be an artist growing up, but her time in college taught her that writing is much more fun. On the weekends, you can find her browsing museums or buying cookbooks.