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Customer Lifecycle vs Customer Journey: Understanding the Differences

Customer Lifecycle vs Customer Journey: Understanding the Differences

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By 
Allen Finn
Last Updated:  
June 6, 2023

Imagine you are on a road trip. You have a destination in mind, but the journey is just as important as the endpoint. You encounter different landscapes, weather, and roadblocks along the way, each adding positively or negatively to your experience.

The same goes for a customer's journey with your eCommerce business. The customer journey and customer lifecycle are two crucial concepts in business, but they are often confused or used interchangeably.

In this blog post, we will delve into these two concepts, their differences, and their importance in eCommerce.

Customer Lifecycle

The customer lifecycle is the process of how customers interact with a business over time, from their first touchpoint to the end of their relationship with the business. It can be broken down into different stages, although the exact stages may vary depending on the business.

Awareness

The customer becomes aware of the business, product, or service through various channels, such as ads, social media, or word of mouth. For example, a customer may see an ad for an online clothing store on Instagram.

Reach

The customer visits the business's website or social media page to learn more about the product or service. For example, the customer clicks on the ad and visits the online clothing store's website.

Conversion

The customer makes a purchase or takes a desired action, such as filling out a form or signing up for a newsletter. For example, the customer adds items to their cart and completes the checkout process.

Retention

The customer is satisfied with the product or service and continues to use it. The business works to retain the customer and build loyalty. For example, the online clothing store may offer exclusive discounts or early access to new collections to its loyal customers.

Advocacy

The customer becomes a loyal fan of the business and promotes it to others through referrals or reviews. For example, the customer may share a picture of themselves wearing the clothes on social media and tag the online clothing store, or leave a positive review on the website.

A graphic depicting different stages of a customer lifecycle.

Importance of Customer Lifecycle in Business

Understanding the customer lifecycle is crucial for any business, as it helps them identify where they need to focus their efforts and resources to improve their marketing and sales funnel. By analyzing each stage of the customer lifecycle, businesses can determine where they are succeeding and where they need to improve.

For example, if you have a high customer acquisition rate but a low retention rate, you may need to focus on improving your customer retention processes. By doing so, you can ensure that your existing customers have a positive experience and are more likely to continue using their product or service.

How to Use Customer Lifecycle to Improve Customer Experience

With a customer journey mapping tool, businesses can understand their customers better and create a more personalized customer experience. By tracking the customer's journey across each stage of the customer lifecycle, businesses can identify areas where they can better serve their customers.

Awareness & Reach

Focus on building brand awareness through targeted marketing and advertising efforts and creating engaging content.

Conversion

Make the buying process easy and seamless for your potential customers, and offer incentives such as discounts or free trials to encourage them to try the product or service. Provide clear instructions and support to ensure that your customers can start using the product or service without any issues so you can max out your conversion rates.

Retention

Keep customers engaged through personalized customer interactions, relevant content, and excellent customer service. Also, reward loyal customers with special offers or exclusive content, and continually improve the product or service to keep them satisfied.

Advocacy

Encourage satisfied customers to share their positive experiences through referrals or reviews, and respond promptly to any negative feedback to address any issues, resulting in improved customer success.

Common Challenges in Managing Customer Lifecycle

One of the common challenges in managing the customer lifecycle is the lack of integration between different departments within your business. For example, the marketing team and sales team may focus on customer acquisition, while customer support and customer success teams focus on customer engagement and retention. This lack of team alignment can result in a disjointed customer experience.

Another challenge is the difficulty of measuring the effectiveness of each stage of the customer lifecycle. Businesses may struggle to identify which metrics to track and how to interpret the data.

Case Study/Example of Successful Customer Lifecycle Management

The case study focuses on ATTN, a marketing agency, and its eCommerce business client, Bones Coffee Company. The challenge that the agency faced was unreliable in-platform performance marketing reporting, leading to decreased performance and client frustration.

To solve this, ATTN implemented the Triple Pixel for client brands, providing attribution clarity and real-time insights for clients through the Summary page. They also used the Fairing post-purchase survey integration to further validate attribution data with customer survey responses.

As a result, they were able to profitably scale Bones Coffee's YouTube daily ad spend by +960% within 45 days, leading to a +701% growth in net profit from 2021 to 2022 and an 84% decrease in blended CPA year over year.

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Customer Journey

The customer journey is the complete end-to-end experience that a customer has with a business. It encompasses all the touchpoints that a customer has with the business, from pre-purchase research to post-purchase support.

The customer journey can be broken down into different stages, depending on the business and the customer's needs. Here are some of the common components of a customer journey:

Awareness Stage

Starting here, the customer becomes aware of a problem or a need that they have. They begin to research and gather information about possible solutions. For example, if a customer requires affordable stainless steel jewelry, they may start looking for online businesses that offer it.

Interest Stage

In this stage, the customer has become aware of the product or service and is beginning to develop an interest in it. They may start to research and gather more information about the product, its features, and its benefits. For example, using the same example of purchasing jewelry, they may start researching different brands, reading reviews, and comparing features and pricing.

Consideration Stage

Once the customer has identified the best option (your business!), they move into the consideration stage. In this stage, they begin to evaluate your products and jewelry designs. They may read reviews on your website, watch videos, or talk to friends and family to gather more information.

Decision Stage

In the decision stage, the customer is ready to make a purchase decision. They are ready to purchase their first jewelry piece from your business.

Importance of Customer Journey in Business

Customer journey analytics is crucial for businesses as it provides a holistic view of the customer experience. By understanding each touchpoint of the customer journey, businesses can identify areas of improvement and optimize their processes to provide a better experience.

The customer journey is also an essential tool for customer retention. Businesses can identify potential pain points or issues that may cause customers to churn and address them proactively. Providing a positive customer journey can increase customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.

How to Use Customer Journey Mapping to Improve Customer Experience

Customer journey mapping is a tool used to visualize the customer journey and identify pain points or areas for improvement. Here are the steps involved in customer journey mapping:

  • Define the customer persona: Identify the customer's needs, goals, and pain points.
  • List the touchpoints: List all the touchpoints that the customer has with the business, from pre-purchase research to post-purchase support.
  • Gather customer feedback: Collect feedback from customers through surveys, reviews, or customer service interactions.
  • Identify pain points: Analyze the feedback and identify any pain points or areas where customers are experiencing difficulty or frustration.
  • Prioritize improvements: Prioritize the identified pain points based on their impact on the customer experience and the business's resources.
  • Implement improvements: Develop and implement solutions to address the pain points, such as improving website navigation, providing more comprehensive product information, or streamlining the checkout process.
  • Monitor and evaluate: Continuously monitor and evaluate the customer journey to identify any new pain points and make further improvements.

By using customer journey mapping, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of the customer experience and take proactive steps to improve it. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, which are critical for long-term success.

Common Challenges in Managing Customer Journey

Managing the customer journey can be challenging for businesses, particularly as the journey may vary depending on the customer's needs and preferences. Some of the common challenges in managing the customer journey include:

  • Lack of customer insight: Without a clear understanding of the customer's needs and preferences, businesses may struggle to provide a seamless customer journey.
  • Siloed departments: Different departments within a business may have different goals and priorities, which can lead to a disjointed customer journey.
  • Limited resources: Businesses may have limited resources to invest in improving the customer journey, which can make it difficult to address all the pain points.
  • Changing customer expectations: As customer expectations evolve, businesses must adapt to meet these expectations and provide a personalized, seamless customer journey.
  • Lack of integration: Different systems and technologies may not integrate seamlessly, which can lead to a fragmented customer journey.

Case Study/Example of Successful Customer Journey Management

Obvi, an eCommerce business, was struggling with unreliable in-platform data on Facebook and TikTok, which resulted in a significant drop in returns and marketing budget. Implementing Triple Whale's data solutions, such as the Triple Pixel, provided them with accurate data and insights into their customer journey, allowing them to optimize and scale marketing with confidence. As a result, Obvi saw significant performance growth, with a 117% increase in marketing and a 44% decrease in CPA. Additionally, they identified over 2,080 hours of time savings per year due to the elimination of tedious manual reporting.

Differences between Customer Lifecycle and Customer Journey

The customer lifecycle and customer journey are two different concepts, although they are often used interchangeably. The main differences between the two are as follows:

  1. Scope: The customer lifecycle is focused on the different stages that a customer goes through, from initial awareness to advocacy, whereas the customer journey focuses on the individual touchpoints and experiences that a customer has with the business.
  2. Timeframe: A customer lifecycle is a long-term approach, whereas the customer journey is more immediate and focused on the current experience.
  3. Objectives: It is primarily focused on maximizing customer value and retention, whereas the customer journey is focused on improving the customer experience and satisfaction.
  4. Perspective: Always remember it is viewed from the perspective of the business, whereas the customer journey is viewed from the perspective of the customer.

In summary, the customer lifecycle is a high-level view of the customer relationship, while the customer journey is a more detailed view of the customer experience. Both concepts are important for businesses to understand, but they serve different purposes.

Which Approach to Choose: Customer Lifecycle or Customer Journey?

When deciding which approach to use, businesses should consider several factors, including:

Business goals

The approach chosen should align with the business's goals and objectives, whether that's increasing revenue, improving customer retention, or driving customer satisfaction.

Customer preferences

The approach should be tailored to the preferences and needs of the target customer base, taking into account factors such as age, location, and purchasing habits.

Resources

The approach should be feasible given the business's available resources, including time, budget, and staff.

Stage of business

The approach may vary depending on the stage of the business's growth, with a new business focusing on customer acquisition and an established business focusing on customer retention.

Industry and competition

The approach should be informed by the competitive landscape and the specific challenges and opportunities within the industry.

The phrases "Customer Lifecycle" and "Customer Journey" melding together.

How to Integrate Customer Lifecycle and Customer Journey Approaches

While customer lifecycle and customer journey are distinct concepts, they are interrelated and should be viewed as complementary. By integrating these approaches, businesses can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the customer relationship and develop targeted strategies for improving the customer experience.

One way to integrate these approaches is to map the customer journey within the context of the customer lifecycle. This involves identifying the touchpoints within each stage of the customer lifecycle and analyzing the customer experience at each touchpoint. By doing this, businesses can identify pain points and opportunities for improvement at each stage of the customer journey.

Another way to integrate these approaches is to use customer feedback to inform both the customer lifecycle and customer journey. By collecting feedback at each stage of the customer lifecycle and analyzing it within the context of the customer journey, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of the customer experience and identify areas for improvement.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, both customer lifecycle and customer journey are essential concepts for businesses looking to improve the customer experience and drive growth. While they serve different purposes, they are interrelated and should be viewed as complementary. By understanding the differences between these concepts, businesses can develop targeted strategies for improving the customer experience and maximizing customer value and retention.

Learn more about Triple Pixel and how our team can help you make the most of customer lifecycle and customer journey data.

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