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Why You Need to Get a Life(cycle) Email Marketing Program

As cliché as it sounds, lifecycle emails done well can build a long-lasting relationship with the recipients. They are a crucial driver for conversion and business growth.

Look at the statistics:

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Lifecycle campaigns achieved more than double the conversions than all triggered emails (8.6% vs. 4.2%) in the first quarter of 2018. They also bested each type of campaign – activation, reactivation, and browse abandon.

Lifecycle #email campaigns achieved 8.6% conversions vs. 4.2% of all triggered #emails. @yesmarketingus Share on X

The best email marketers increasingly are switching to the more relevant and recipient-focused lifecycle campaigns. Instead of sending batch-and-blast emails, they send emails based on the stage the person is in – the first sign-up with the brand, the first purchase, ongoing interactions, and the dormant.

They appreciate the value of segmentation based on the lifecycle as well as other elements. A 2017 study by Mailchimp shows that segmented campaigns perform a lot better than the non-segmented emails, including:

  • 31% higher open rates
  • 64% higher unique open rates
  • 37% lower unsubscribes
Segmented campaigns earn 14.3% higher open rates than non-segmented #emails. @Mailchimp via @cmicontent #research Share on X

Develop parameters for lifecycle marketing

You first must detail the parameters of your lifecycle email marketing program, from segmenting to email designs.

How do you segment your audience based on its customer journey?

Start with these five categories: new subscribers, new customers, active subscribers/customers, dormant subscribers/customers, and re-engaged subscribers/customers.

To develop more complex segments, consider additional parameters like demographics, geographical location, past purchases, products browsed for, and resources downloaded.

What is the campaign designed to achieve?

The goal should be tailored to the segment/stage. For example, your request of a new subscriber should be different than your ask of an active subscriber.

Your request of a new #email subscriber should be different than your ask of an active subscriber. @imkevin_monk via @cmicontent Share on X

What behavioral triggers will inspire the recipient to enter and exit every messaging stream?

While the campaign goals are based on what the brand wants the recipient to do, the behavioral triggers relate to what the recipient would want to do. Map your communication appropriately. For example, new subscribers might be interested in an offer of a relevant white paper and be willing to provide more information about themselves to access it.

What relevant content will be sent?

Lifecycle emails follow the marketing triad – sending the right message to the right person at the right time. Personalize the emails according to the segments and strive to build a credible brand reputation. For example, a new customer would be pleased to receive an email about how to maximize the use of your product.

TIP: Don’t forget to pay attention to the email design. Adhere to the basic principles to ensure that your subscribers will look at the relevant content and, ultimately, follow your triggers.

Don’t forget to pay attention to the #email design, says @imkevin_monk via @cmicontent. Share on X

With that said, let’s get down to some helpful examples for executing lifecycle email marketing.

Follow the lifecycle – stages with examples

First stage: New subscribers

New subscribers are your website visitors who provided their email address in return for something. This group includes prospects who may have started the purchase process but did not complete it.

TIP: According to Optimove, 80% of the prospects complete the first purchase on the day they register, with another 7% doing so within the first week of registration. Aim your prospective buyer emails to encourage a purchase within the first seven days.

A welcome email goes a long way in building a strong relationship with a new subscriber. Its main goal is to let the readers know about your resources and entice them to learn more. Send a series of welcome emails to aid brand recall. Additionally, you can offer a welcome bonus on their first purchase.

A welcome #email goes a long way to build a strong relationship with a new subscriber, says @imkevin_monk via @cmicontent. Share on X

Example: Smart Insights, an educational platform for marketers, sends a perfect welcome email. It’s personalized from an individual at the company. It promotes the top resources for free members (i.e., the recipients).  It then offers a trigger – a call to action button explaining why a premium subscription is valuable – followed by client testimonials. It would, undoubtedly, foster a sense of trust with the reader.

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Smart Insights then sends a follow-up welcome email offering a discount to its membership.

Second stage: New customers

Prospects who make a first purchase on your website are considered new customers. Research shows that only 15% of first-time online customers will become repeat buyers. But they will account for one-third of online shopping revenue and spend on average three times more than one-time shoppers.

Only 15% of first-time online customers will become repeat buyers via @yotpo. @cmicontent #research Share on X

Make your email marketing invaluable to these first-time customers so they continue to interact with your brand. For example, show them how feedback affects your site’s content or products – and ask for their input. Offer an incentive to purchase again.

Example: BuzzSumo nurtures its new customers by letting them be in the know by sharing its latest relevant blog post. 

Third stage: Active subscribers/customers

Active subscribers/customers generally downloaded multiple resources, purchased your premium product, or are repeat buyers. They are loyal to your brand and could become evangelists who will bring new subscribers and customers to you.

TIP: Further segment your active group based on the resources downloaded, pages visited, keywords searched for, products purchased, etc.

You must make this group feel special through loyalty offers and bonuses. Send limited-time offers and exclusive invitations. You could ask them to be interviewed and include their responses in a new blog post.

Make active subscribers feel special through loyalty offers & bonuses, says @imkevin_monk via @cmicontent. #email Share on X

Example: Mantis Research and BuzzSumo send an invitation email to their engaged audiences asking them to participate in a survey and invite others to do so as well.

Fourth stage: Dormant subscribers and lost customers

Subscribers who have not opened or clicked your emails in awhile are classified as dormant. Customers who have not made another purchase in a considerable period are referred to as lost customers.

The longer the inactive time, the tougher it is to revive them. That’s why you should break down this segment based on last date of interaction: 90, 180, and 360 days ago.

These audiences can be won back with the help of re-engagement emails. Let them know that you value their association with the brand and remind them about the valuable resources you offer. You could send a “you-may-have-missed” email identifying your top-performing pieces since the last time they interacted with your content. Recapitulate the features that help you stand out from your competitors and compel them to purchase from you.

Example: Use a sense of humor to win back your inactive audience. At my company, we used an astronomical innuendo by personifying EmailMonks as an astronaut lost in the universe of the subscriber’s inbox.

Fifth stage: Re-engaged subscribers and customers

Subscribers and customers who come back after a long time are re-engaged. They could be back because of your lost-stage email. Or they could have returned because of another marketing campaign or attractive offer.

While they are not as new to you as a new visitor (Stage One), you must put in a similar effort to re-welcome them and turn them into an active audience.

Give these customers detailed insight into bonuses, interesting offers, and relevant deals that they might not know about.

Example: Though designer and author Ales Nesetril sends this email after the purchase, you could do something similar with your re-engaged customer audience. Send an email when they re-engaged with tips on hidden, secondary, or newly identified benefits they might have missed with your content or product.

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Get on with lifecycle marketing

The highly audience-centric focus of lifecycle email marketing makes it key to generating maximum ROI from email. Not only does it drive audience retention, but it kindles quality engagement with prospective and existing subscribers and customers. Lifecycle email marketing enables you to hit the content marketing trifecta – delivering the right content at the right time to the right people.

Active content marketers get valuable insight to help their careers and their brand’s marketing every weekday with the CMI newsletter. And they are among the first to get the latest industry research, news, etc. Subscribe today or suggest to your peers that they should sign up. 

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute