If you’re following the SaaS business model, then you know that all of your profit comes after the first 12 months of a customer’s time with you.
Customer acquisition costs can be high, but the longer you retain that customer, the bigger your margin grows.
Typically, customer success or support are the team(s) responsible for ensuring customers stick around – but there’s a role for marketers here too. These teams are often looking at the customers at the account level whereas your lifecycle marketer (or customer engagement marketer) is looking for trends, lifecycle stages, and programmatic opportunities amongst your customer base.
Let’s break it down.
What does a lifecycle marketer do?
There’s a lot of overlap between what a marketer who focuses on lead generation and a lifecycle marketer do. Campaigns, or programs, are often a large part of the job, and it ranges:
- Referrals, loyalty, or advocacy programs
- Upsells and cross sells
- Communicating price increases/changes to invoicing
- Increase product engagement/usage
- Product education and awareness
- Driving community engagement
- Customer focused events
- Ongoing customer comms, such as a newsletter (of course partnering with your product marketer on this)
- And the big one, contract renewals
Then we’ve also got the actual content or collateral creation for all of this, including reports, decks, emails, even blogs or web pages. Finally, they look for work that can be automated – just like regular marketing there’s a bunch of tools at their disposal to get this kind of work done.
Where a lifecycle marketer will really shine is in that one-to-many approach, so your customer success team can focus on the one-to-one.
When is it right to hire a lifecycle marketer?
Some of the examples above might be things your team is already doing in other roles.
Onboarding is a great example of this – you might have a product manager solely dedicated to onboarding, or you might have a customer success team that only onboards customers then hand them over. If those team members have a huge amount of work on their plate, and they have valuable work they’d be better off putting more time to, it might be time to hire a lifecycle marketer.
Another example is contract renewals. If you’re overwhelmed when it comes to renewal time, or maybe you’ve got a bunch of contracts that have finished and the customer is now rolling month by month, this might be something you give to a lifecycle marketer to solve via customer campaigns, and lift that load from your customer success team.
If there’s a kind of “looming” task that is going to touch a significant portion of your customers at one (pricing change, sunsetting a product, implementing quarterly business reviews, introducing an advocacy program, and so on) this might be something you want to give to someone who isn’t responsible for an account.
Your customer success team members will always prioritise a customer who’s reaching out to them or who needs something – as they should. But that means these projects that aren’t directly linked to a single customer often fall between the cracks and get pushed out.
In-house, freelance, or agency?
Lifecycle marketing is deep in the relationship. I would strongly recommend this be an in-house role. If you’re at the stage where you have this need to be met, it’s likely you’ve already got a marketing team, so getting a specialist is the next step.
They need unfiltered access to product usage metrics, contract and billing info, and most importantly, your customer success team.
How to know you’ve made a good hire
Much like SEO hires, the projects a lifecycle marketer works on can take a while to bear fruit. But there are obvious skills and signs that a good hire will have:
- They’re collaborative
- They see both customers and customer success as “their customers” 3. They have the one-to-many approach, and look to fill big holes, not little ones 4. They’re creative, and know how to use excitement to drive action
- They care about long term customer retention
A bad hire will feel like they’re just not hitting the mark on what your customers need, or they won’t be proactively sharing their work with the customer facing team to check “would customers find this helpful?”
The biggest sign is ultimately how your customers react. Do they love the new materials? Do they mention it to customer facing teams? Are they finding it helpful, insightful, or educational?
Measure your customers’ enthusiasm to all the new attention they’re getting to really get a vibe check on your hire.