Brands must do more to embrace customer lifecycle

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For all brands managing the customer lifecycle – rather than simply a one off transaction – is a challenge. A new survey suggests that many B2B organisations could be doing much more to understand how their marketing efforts should be supporting the customer lifecycle, missing out on revenue as a result.

Marketing professionals in 750 companies were surveyed in the last quarter of 2014 and first of 2015 by Gleanster Research, on behalf of Act-on Software, to understand how they perceive and support customer relationship management.

The report, Rethinking the role of marketing,  found that too many B2B organisations still treat the customer lifecycle as a series of handoffs between departments such as marketing, sales and service, rather than viewing it as a continual process. However it did find that the only function to consistently allocate budget to all stages of the customer lifecycle was marketing.

The data challenge

When it comes to managing the customer lifecycle it showed that access to existing customer data was the biggest challenge for marketers at 95%, followed closely by marketing alignment with sales at 90%.

Old technology hampered 80% of respondents while 73% said that they struggled with internal skills and expertise. 60% said they didn’t collect the right customer data and just over half (58%) admitted that their processes were inefficient.

The research did show that top performers are more likely to tie their marketing objectives to the entire customer lifecycle – particularly in areas such as customer retention, customer satisfaction and up-sell revenue. The top three metrics used to measures success for top performers were response rates (93%), sales accepted leads (88%) and sales qualified leads (87%).

Customer retention

Top performers focus on retention and expansion in contrast to average performers who are more focused on awareness and acquisition – instead the top performers not only gain customers but want to keep them, understanding that retention and expansion is where revenue is more profitable.

The customer lifecycle is important but is has to be led from the top if it is to be successfully managed. “Customer lifecycle engagement is fundamentally broken for most B2B organisations because it’s still a series of handoffs between siloed departments – marketing to sales to service.

"For the customer a great deal is lost in translation, for mid-size B2B organisations revenue is left on the table. Someone has to own the customer lifecycle or it will continue to be a fragmented and cobbled together mess of sub-optimal technologies and processes,” says the report.

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