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Customer Lifecycle vs Customer Journey — Is One More Important Than the Other?

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Due to their sheer number and diversity, marketing concepts can be pretty confusing. Customer lifecycle and customer journey are no different.

Understanding these two notions is instrumental to the long-term success of a business. Comprehensive knowledge of the two can enable a company to implement effective marketing and user optimization strategies. Doing so will increase the chances of turning potential customers into repeat buyers and loyal advocates of a brand.

On the other hand, an improper application of these two concepts can affect a company’s conversion rate and influence the customer experience at each stage of the marketing and sales funnel. 

So, customer lifecycle vs customer journey. Which one should you pay more attention to? Well, the answer will be revealed in our latest article. Let’s dig in and see what the solution is. 

Customer Lifecycle and Customer Journey at a Glance

When it comes to understanding marketing concepts, we find that the best way to clear the air is by starting with some good old definitions. So, let’s look at customer lifecycle and customer journey separately before we see them in action together. 

Customer Journey Explained  

The problem with customer journey is how often the term is used incorrectly. Unfortunately, most marketers use it to describe any form of customer business interaction. 

The reality though is different. The customer journey represents all customer interactions and experiences with a brand from the very first contact to the last.

These experiences can be classed into three different stages: 

Awareness 

This is when a customer starts to look for solutions to a problem. After the initial research, be it through search engines or through a paid ad, they can come across your business. This represents the customer’s first interaction with your brand. 

Consideration 

It is at this stage that a customer has clarified their pain points, located a solution, and is now weighing up your product offering. This is when a customer consumes content the most as a way of doing more in-depth research. This will, ultimately, influence whether the customer progresses to the last stage in their journey.   

Decision 

This is the make-or-break time. The customer feels that they have done enough research, looked at the options available, and have decided that your product is the solution to their problem. All there is to do now is to add it to cart and checkout. 

What Is the Customer Lifecycle?

Essentially, the customer lifecycle represents how you, as a business, manage existing touchpoints and direct customers through the marketing and sales funnel. It represents the framework you should use in order to understand how a customer typically progresses through the sales process.

Engaging in the customer lifecycle management process allows you to understand how your company reacts at each stage of individual customer journeys. For example, should a customer locate your brand through a paid ad on Facebook, it would mean that they have entered the awareness stage of their journey. Conversely, if we look at it through the lens of the customer lifecycle framework, the same customer would be placed in the acquisition stage. 

Speaking of stages, let’s have a look at what these are in terms of the customer lifecycle:

Reach 

This stage is the first interaction a customer has with your brand. It can be through social media, your website, or through a Google search.

Acquisition 

This is when customers actually start to interact with your business. It can happen through an online browsing of your website or an actual visit to one of your stores.

Conversion 

This one is pretty straightforward. It represents the moment when a potential customer actually makes a purchase and becomes the newest member of your customer base. 

Loyalty 

This stage is all about tracking how long a customer remains active. This is when you should employ the average lifetime value metric. It represents one of a few key metrics we advise you to monitor. It basically allows to you calculate the retention period and measure how loyal a particular customer is. 

Advocacy 

This is when you have reached the goal of most companies out there. To transform existing customers into strong brand advocates. Their voice and promotion is the best tool a company can have in terms of marketing.

Customer Lifecycle vs Customer Journey — Key Differences

Though similar in some aspects, there are some key differences between a customer journey and a customer lifecycle. We’ll focus on the main two in this section of the article. 

Customer Journeys Have a Determined Beginning and End

Most customers have a specific goal and problem they need to solve. Once they have done so, their journey with your business will end. Of course, should they have another objective and your organization can help them achieve it, provided that you have supplied a great service the first time round, they will start their journey all over again. This being said, it is important to note that it is a whole new journey. 

On the other hand, a customer lifecycle, as its name suggests, does not have a clear end. 

A Customer Journey Aligns With Their Goals 

As we mentioned earlier, a customer journey is designed from the point of view of customers. Whereas, a customer lifecycle is more attuned to the business interests of a company. 

In real life, no customer has a goal of going through your company’s entire lifecycle. More often than not, their journey will only intersect with some of the stages we discussed earlier.   

Customer Journey and Lifecycle Used Together  

Even though there are some key differences, you will achieve the most success when you invest in both of these processes together

Let’s take a hypothetical example that shows exactly how the customer lifecycle and journey can work together for the betterment of your business. 

A potential customer comes across your services. They can do so either through online research, paid ads, or word of mouth. The main point here is that the customer is now in the awareness stage of their journey, and they start interacting with your brand. 

At this point, the customer might start browsing your online presence. Now is the time for your educational material to cater to the questions the customer might have as they move through the stages of their journey. 

Should they decide that you are a credible source, the next step would be for them to enter your marketing and sales funnel. This is the moment you can place the buyer in your customer lifecycle. 

As the customer completes different actions, such as signing up to your newsletter, downloading a brochure with your services, or submitting a contact us form, you will gradually move the buyer according to how strong a lead they are. Doing so will allow you to tailor your messaging and make it more sales based. 

Working together, the customer journey and lifecycle frameworks can help with sales optimization and improve your conversion rate. 

The easiest way to wrap your head around all of this is to see the customer lifecycle as a segment of your customer’s journey in which you, as a business, actively appeal to the customer’s needs.    

Improve Your Customer Lifecycle and Journey With Collabo Creative 

Alright, we talked about them, showed how important they are, and showed how they can help your business. Now what? Of course, this is not the end of it. We don’t want to wrap up the article without letting you know that we are here to help you out. 

We mentioned this before. These two marketing phrases are seemingly easy but once you really dig deep, you can be left confused. Let alone fully understand how to adapt them to your own business. 

Over the course of more than a decade, we have developed a few services that are designed to help you understand your customers, design your very own customer journey map, help you with customer journey optimization, and get to grips with your company’s customer lifecycle. 

If these objectives sound like something you need help with, then our approach can help. What is it based on? Well, it is a three-pronged method focused on: 

 How might these work you’re asking? Let’s find out!

Persona Development 

Understanding customers just by looking at statistics or demographics is simply not enough. Data can only tell you so much. If you really want to understand the behavior and thinking of your customers, then you truly need to get inside their heads. 

For this, you need detailed customer profiling. You start the process by creating a persona for each category of potential customers you have. This will allow you to tap into the rich story that is their lives and will give you access to the beliefs and thoughts they hold most dear. 

This is what we are trying to do when it comes to persona development. To give you VIP access to what your customers truly need and look for in a company they would like to do business with. 

Experience Mapping

Satisfied customers equal repeat business is what we always like to say. And repeat business converts into growth for your company. 

The most effective way to achieve customer satisfaction is by truly understanding where they are coming from, what their needs are, and what behavioral pattern drives them. How can you gain such insights? The easiest way is by developing a customer journey map. 

This is what we can do for you as part of our experience mapping service. We can look at your customer base and create a detailed customer journey map so that you can draw in and retain quality customers. 

Journey Mapping Training 

You might be thinking by now that a customer journey map sure sounds good in terms of truly understanding the experience your customers go through when they interact with your brand. However, you also might be telling yourself that it is all well and good developing a journey map but surely the needs of my customers change over time. Would I have to do another journey map each time my buyer’s needs and behavior change? Of course, the answer is a resounding yes. Can this quickly become expensive? If you use consultants each time, then yes, it can become costly pretty fast. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can train your customer experience team so that they can develop customer journey maps in-house. We handcraft our workshops in half-day, full-day, or two-day intensive programs. This way we can make sure that people at any level can walk out of our workshops confident in their ability to draw a journey map themselves. 

Bottom Line  

Now that we are at the end of our lesson on the customer lifecycle vs customer journey debate, we hope that you have come to realize that one doesn’t truly work without the other. 

For the most effective retention strategies and customer success, you will need to use the two concepts in tandem. Each one will give you the most valuable insights into your customer base and help you turn some of them into loyal customers.   

We have dedicated a lot of brain power and effort to designing services that can give you the key to unlocking the secrets of journey mapping and customer lifecycle management. 

Contact us today and let’s see how we can help you understand your customers at a much deeper level. 

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