How do you keep your customers coming back, and better yet, turn them into advocates for your brand? Customer activation is the key – let’s talk about what a customer activation strategy is, its benefits, and how to create one.
A customer activation strategy encompasses the steps you take to motivate customers to move on to the next stage of their lifecycle as fast as possible.
Customer activation strategies target a variety of users, including:
Currently active customers
Previously active customers
Customers who have recently returned
Many times, these people will move through the customer journey without additional help, but customer activation gets them there faster.
For marketers, setting up a customer activation strategy is about creating an impression on their customers to help move them through the customer journey. There are three ways to get them moving, and one of the most difficult tasks is determining how to handle each customer:
While it might sound simple – there are only three options, right? – when you’re dealing with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of customers and each one is in a different stage of their lifecycle with their own personal preferences, it’s not always easy to make the right decision.
Creating an activation strategy is the first step toward making the right choices and getting your customers moving through the customer journey.
Besides the obvious benefit of generating more revenue as your customers return or become repeat buyers, let’s look at some of the other advantages that implementing a customer activation strategy can bring to your business.
Obtaining new customers costs 5x as much as re-engaging with your existing ones. Creating a customer activation strategy is not only a cost-effective way to bring customers back into your sales funnel and move them through their lifecycle, but it also means that you can spend less time and money worrying about acquiring new customers.
When you retarget existing customers with a customer activation strategy, you already have some insights into their behavior and interaction with your brand. This means it’s easier to make targeted, personalized offers to them, resulting in higher conversion rates and, ultimately, higher return on investment compared to other marketing tactics.
Over time, your current customers will likely bring more value to your brand and make more purchases compared to new prospects. If you can keep them engaged with an effective customer activation strategy, their lifetime value will increase, bringing you more and more value.
Here are five steps you can take to activate your customers:
Activating and re-engaging is about more than getting value out of their relationship with your brand; it includes the value that they get from you. Sixty-eight percent of customers will pay higher prices for products and services from brands that offer exceptional customer service – but delivering that high level of value throughout their lifecycle can be challenging.
A customer activation strategy starts with getting to know your customers, but simply having their information isn’t enough. So, how do you turn your customer data into something actionable? By creating and maintaining buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a way to gain insight into your target customer. Each persona you create has the ability to capture unique traits about your customers that you can use to activate and engage them. Buyer personas capture everything from your customer’s demographics to their wants, needs, and motivations that lead them to make a purchase. For your customer activation strategy, you’ll want to create a minimum of three buyer personas targeting the three groups we mentioned earlier: current customers, previous customers, and newly returning customers.
While you can create additional personas (and it may be beneficial to do so), each one must be managed by your marketing team – each buyer persona needs relevant content to support it. Activating your customers becomes easier when you give them a reason to re-engage with your brand by offering content that matters to them based on which buyer persona they fit into.
Traditionally, creating and maintaining buyer personas relies on obtaining your customer’s demographic data and updating the rest of their information based on how they react to your content and marketing strategies. However, by tracking and monitoring their online behavior to obtain their behavioral data, it becomes much easier to determine what their next step in the lifecycle is.
Sending irrelevant content to your customers during your activation strategy can have negative effects ranging from unsubscribing from your email list to never doing business with your company again. Tracking their behavior and gaining insights into their browsing habits and social activities is one of the best ways to create effective buyer personas for your customer activation strategy and learn what channels you should be targeting them on and what content they want to see.
If you’ve already come up with your buyer personas, you’re on your way to creating a customer journey map. This is an important part of a customer activation strategy to retain and re-engage with your existing customers. You’ll want to create a customer journey map for each of your buyer personas.
Making your customer journey map starts with setting an overall goal, like customer activation. After establishing your buyer personas, you’ll go on to defining your buying process and customer touchpoints to determine which actions they take on which channels. Next, you’ll address their pain points and create a multichannel customer journey map to route them to your solution. We’ve created a detailed guide on how to map your customer journey—learn more here.
Your customer’s stage and speed are two things that you can use to influence their movement through the customer lifecycle. Let’s look at their stage first.
Identifying your customer’s stage means determining where you want them to be in the sales funnel and where you don’t. Find the stages that they spend too much time in and work to move them out and through the funnel faster. Some stages to look at include customers who make a single purchase and don’t return, make a second purchase months or years later, or engage with your brand but don’t make a purchase at all. Even when they’re not buying, it’s important to pay attention to them.
Increasing the speed at which your customers move through their lifecycle is the essence of a customer activation strategy. Engaging with them at each stage of the customer journey and encouraging them to continue moving through to become an advocate for your brand is the end goal. The final stage is advocacy, where your customers start sharing your brand with their family and friends, leading to new customer acquisition with little effort.
The best way to obtain this is by creating content and marketing campaigns that follow your customer journey map, guiding your customers to the solution to their pain points and leading them through their lifecycle.
Let’s take a look at some different customer stages and which activation strategies you can use to keep customers engaged with your brand.
To move prospective customers through their lifecycle, your customer activation strategy should consist of reaching out to them with relevant content about your brand. This includes free resources like informative blog posts, newsletters, and promotional content like one-time discounts and free trials.
Your new customers who have made their first purchase can be either the easiest or hardest to move to the next stage of their lifecycle. Many companies make the mistake of concentrating on other customers once someone makes a purchase, but it’s important to keep recent buyers engaged and prove the value of your product or service. Activate these customers by asking for feedback, giving them promotional offers, and providing updated use cases for your service.
You should also have a customer activation strategy for customers who made an initial purchase and never came back. Engage them with personalized emails about the new products or features you offer, reach them through the right channel you identified when creating a customer journey map, and give them an incentive to come back.
Repeat customers are every marketer’s dream, and it’s easy to ignore them when creating a customer activation strategy—don’t make that mistake. You still want to nudge them into becoming a brand advocate. Keep in touch about new products, updated features, and current promotions through multi-channel marketing.
This is how you want all of your customers to end up: loyal brand advocates. But even once they’re there, you can’t take them out of your customer activation strategy – you need to keep them engaged and nurture your relationship with them. This means showing them appreciation by acknowledging their loyalty, sending them personalized promotions, and thanking them through email or on social media.
Your customers cross your path across multiple touchpoints all throughout their experience with your brand. Each time this happens is an opportunity to turn a potential customer into a recurring one and a recurring one into a brand advocate. A platform designed for customer activation can help you get a full view of your customers, map out their journey, and create a customer activation strategy to move them through their lifecycle faster.