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Your business needs more customers, but you’ve encountered a roadblock. You can’t spend more money on advertising unless you get more customers, but getting more customers requires more marketing dollars — and the cycle continues. This is where lifecycle automation can help.
First, let’s get some clarity on what this means. While automation is using technology to perform tasks or processes without human intervention, lifecycle automation refers to automating and optimizing customer interactions at every stage of their journey throughout an entire product or service’s lifecycle (e.g., from acquisition and onboarding to engagement and retention). Lifecycle automation encompasses a broader range of activities and stages compared to general automation and is designed to enrich the customer experience and maximize business outcomes.
Sounds pretty powerful, right? It is — and yet it’s also one of the tools most consistently underused by small businesses. Here’s why it’s important and when you can get the most from it.
If you’re not yet convinced that customer experience has a clear business impact, maybe this will do the trick. Research has found that companies that invest in improving their customer experience have seen, on average, a 42% improvement in customer retention, a 33% improvement in customer satisfaction and a 32% increase in cross-selling and up-selling.
Those are some compelling statistics, giving you all the reasons you need to prioritize customer experience. Lifecycle automation fits into this by ensuring every customer gets a personalized, excellent customer experience in a predictable, trackable way.
For example, your team won’t forget to follow up if you automate sending notes reminding prospects to schedule an appointment. Or, after a purchase, you can automate sending an invoice to your customer and set up automatic reminders to pay it. After you’ve delivered a project or service, you can also automate review requests or recommendations for another purchase.
When applied well, lifecycle automation can increase sales without increasing advertising costs and free your team to focus on more important tasks.
Lifecycle automation has three phases: Collect Leads, Convert Clients and Create Fans.
1. Collecting leads
In the collect leads phase, you’ll aim to get the attention of your ideal audience and capture their contact information so you have permission to follow up with them. This includes targeting people (by criteria like interests, behaviors, demographics or location), attracting them with great content (e.g., videos, ebooks, infographics or blog posts) and capturing their information (through a web form, often in exchange for a free consultation or premium content).
For example, one independent pharmacy we have worked with grew revenue by 20%, despite facing big competitors, by engaging patients through automation. Their Collect Leads stage strategy involved setting up an iPad in the lobby to gather walk-in information, which was delivered to their CRM via a landing page with a form. This made it possible to follow up with people who didn’t become customers immediately.
2. Converting clients
In the convert clients phase, you’ll make your product or service the obvious choice when the leads you’ve attracted are ready to buy. You can start by engaging them through an automated campaign, offering an irresistible deal, closing the sale and using automation to communicate next steps.
The pharmacy mentioned above succeeded in this phase by implementing an automated welcome campaign. They also segmented their list to nurture relationships through emails personalized to customers’ medical conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular issues.
3. Creating fans
Finally, there’s the create fans phase, often overlooked by small businesses. You can turn this phase into a goldmine by delivering on your customer commitments, providing additional value that delights customers and encouraging referrals by creating incentives for customers and partners.
Before implementing lifecycle automation, the independent pharmacy referenced above had around 15 to 20 Google reviews. Now, they have close to 500 reviews due to consistent follow-up, and the highly personalized service automation allows them to deliver to their community.
When you set up lifecycle automation, you’ll never lose a lead, and each customer will get the right messaging to move forward in their customer journey no matter what stage they’re in.
When you need lifecycle automation most
It’s never too early to set up lifecycle automation, but it works best when you’re starting to see revenue growth in your business. You’ll see the most impact if you already have a sizable contact list and a reliable way to ensure it keeps growing (e.g., a solid lead generation strategy).
As you can imagine, lifecycle automation becomes crucial when you have more customers than you feel you can serve and respond to individually. When your business starts losing potential customers because you’re not getting back to them fast enough or creating an accidental bottleneck that’s holding your team back from moving sales forward, lifecycle automation is a must, not a maybe.
Lifecycle automation allows you to invest time that would be spent on one-off communications to customers in things you most enjoy doing — serving customers, developing new services, or spending time with friends and family. For entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses while also making the most of their time, customer lifecycle automation is the way.