Customer Lifecycle Management - A beginners guide

Most of the businesses have this as the number one goal - How to keep their users happy and loyal? And then then we worry about things like making money, keep the business sustainable, growing the business etc.
This article talks about user lifecycle management - right from acquiring the customer to the product experience and customer satisfaction. The article will focus on different methods and tools we can use to manage each piece of the system. We would also explore creative ways to improve customer experience. The article is written with user journey in mind for any product.
Here are some of the list items of the user lifecycle (which i will deep dive into). I will try and keep a keen eye on the tooling aspects and the metrics which can aid us -
  1. Customer acquisition - Top of the funnel
  2. SEO strategy and landing pages conversion
  3. Product experience - Funnel optimization and conversion
  4. Drip campaigns (Email/SMS/App notifications)
  5. Customer satisfaction - NPS ratings and feedback  

Customer acquisition:

Each business needs customers. That’s the basic essence of running a business. There are different medium of acquiring your customers -
  1. Organic/Direct - Users who search for related content/services land on your platform. This is usually the best type of traffic since the the user has higher intent. For eg. someone searching for ‘Team outing in Bangalore’ might land on Thrillophilia. This is the game of SEO and content, if you have well indexed and meaningful content and well optimized landing pages. The Google page rank/ website ranks will increase over time and you will get good quality of inbound traffic.
  2. Referral - This is the traffic coming from partner channels or from the URL’s posted on other sites. If there is cross linking of your website on other websites, this will lead to higher website rank and will also lead to more referral traffic.
  3. Social - Traffic coming from social sites like LinkedIn, FB, Twitter etc. This is the area where it is not easy to build great communities, but a very important space to have a good social presence and acquire more customers.
  4. Affiliate channels - A lot of businesses are relying on affiliate channels to acquire more customers. Here you tie up affiliate agencies who send emailers through different channels with your product message/communication and then you pay per lead. Quality of this traffic is not often great, but still giving it a shot and exploring yet another way of acquiring new customers.
  5. Email - Users who are coming back to your site through the emails you send to your user base. This is a great channel to get the retention number higher and decrease the churn rates. You should have great email marketing calendar to keep the users engaged and drive up the product usage.
  6. Paid Search - The marketing efforts on paid ad campaigns on Google/FB etc. show under the Paid Search and this helps you track at a rudimentary level the marketing spends on PPC/PPI/PPL channels. (Pay Per Click, conversion, lead of impression).
  7. Display - Display ads which you my run on different websites where chances of acquiring customers is more. For eg. running ClearTax ads on MoneyControl or ET Business site. This is another paid channel.
Tooling to manage the top of the funnel (acquisition):
Google Analytics is one of the best options for this. It shows you the nature of the traffic - source, device level and demography level data and helps you identify which channels are working for your company and where do you need to invest more. GA also allows to create reports and it’s easy to automate these reports. GA also provides real time view of the traffic and user behavior. Here is a how a sample GA acquisition view look like:

SEO and Landing Page optimization:

Great products usually acquire business through organic, direct channels which is contributed by word of mouth. Traffic through organic channels in the best and doesn’t need paid marketing. Organic traffic is the best sort of traffic since users are looking for specific info and intent is higher. Now it is important to capture the user details when they land to your site and also provide rich and meaningful content.
These are SEO tools like SEM Rush, Google Webmasters, Google Keyword planner etc. which provide you a good understanding on how does your website rank for different keywords. This also provides you an idea for what keywords are users searching. You will get to know your website rankings and average page position for different keywords.
Next step is to map these keywords to your landing pages (Webmasters provides this view), this lets you look at keywords which lead to traffic to your page. Look at various metrics like bounce rate, click rate, user actions on the page to see if the page is performing well. Also, it is very important to see the landing page has relevant content, for example if users are searching for ways to save electric bill and it lands on a page which sells electric fans, will likely piss off the user and lead to a higher bounce rate. So it is very important to add the correct meta tags/descriptions to your landing pages.
Another important thing is to keep a track of your top landing pages (from the Acquisitions tab in Google Analytics) and see if the pages are performing well - both from an engagement angle as well as conversion angle (signups/logins/guide downloads etc.). Another good practice is to create a site map and connect the pages well so that it is easier for the users to navigate from one page to another. Also plan for ways to get the user email, capture and nurture leads from the inbound traffic. This can be done by giving away things like guide books, info manuals etc.
Thus, the game of SEO, content, Landing Pages and conversions (signups/login etc.) is really important for a business to monitor and constantly improve upon. Since the investments made in content and SEO, go a long way in building a sustainable business. By taking care of this piece well, you can acquire the best quality user with the least amount of resources!

Funnel optimization and Drips (Email/SMS/App notifications)

This is my favorite part of the customer product journey. It essentially means how to help (and handhold) users navigate through the product, ensure they have a great experience and enabling them to use the product in the most optimal way. This ensures that users have higher retention and frequency of usage is more. This process is done at multiple levels -
  1. In-the-product journey - Provide chat help, have FAQ’s placed, provide tool tips in the product, helpline or email support options etc.
  2. Email and notifications follow up - This is the part where we use data and automate the messaging part to bring back the dropped-off users back to your system. Let us look at an example:
Assume you have a website, where users can create custom T-shirts (with the design options you provide) and then order the T-shirts. Now first step you do is to enable data logging for each customer activity. Ideally a good process is to break the product experience into a funnel, to visualize the data well, it can be something like:
  1. User logs into the product
  2. Picks up a T-shirt design
  3. Picks up a design palette and starts creating the custom T-shirt
  4. Finalizes the design
  5. Looks at the payment and sizes options
  6. Add the final design to the cart
  7. Checkout and payment
Once all the data logging is into place, you will get a lot of insightful data. How much time a user is spending on each step, how many sessions do users take to create the designs and the payment. How is the conversion rate from signup to the payment. Once these steps of the funnel are identified, you will get to know how is the funnel drop off rate. Which points in the system are customers dropping off the most? You should also talk to a few customers to understand why did they drop off and what improvements does the product need? So there are two main ways to improve the funnel conversion at this step -
  1. Make changes to the product
  2. Run drip campaigns
Now, once you identify the key drop-off points or the key funnel engagement events. You can create automated campaigns to target users. For eg sending emails to users who users who left after leaving their design in progress. Subject line could be “Your custom T-shirt is waiting for you.” What is important is to time these emails well (say 24 hours since no period of activity). And the emails should be targeted, for ex if someone finalized the design and added the t-shirt to the cart should get a message that “Your T-shirt order is almost done!”. Do not spam the user with too many emails/notifications, but custom made messages during stages of the customer journey, actually go a long way in improving the product conversion.
There are tools like Mixpanel which let you easily automate this process. Or you can integrate your database (which provides the capability to automate the email sending logic) some email sending API’s like Sparkpost, Sendgrid or Postmark and automate these drips.

Customer satisfaction - NPS ratings and feedback  

It is really important to measure customer satisfaction after a user uses your product or service. Keep the feedback form/survey simple and focus on key questions only. A good idea is to use a 5 Point Likert scale and ask the your how satisfied is he/she with the experience? Then follow the Likert scale question with an ‘Open text’ feedback question on How could the service/experience be improved.
Add the feedback survey across your product lines/segments and keep a track of the NPS scores.
NPS (Net Promoter Score) = (No. of promoters - No of detractors)/ no of responses
Promoters - Users who give us a rating of 5 on a scale of 1-5 or 9,10 on a scale of 1-10. Detractors - Rating of 1,2,3 on a scale of 1-5 or rating of 1-6 on a scale of 1-10. Rest of the users fall under neutral category.
A good NPS can be anywhere above 60% (it depends on business to business).
Next important point is to regularly monitor the open text feedback - this gives you great insights on what your users like about your product and what is the feedback of users with lower scores. Promoter feedback helps you identify your product USP, messaging for marketing communication and the negative feedback always helps in improving the product.
Other than the product NPS ratings, always important to track the social channels to see what users are posting about you and constantly monitor the customer sentiment.  
Hope the article was worth a read. Leave your feedback in the comments section :)
PS: The article was first published on my LinkedIn account: