Understanding the Customer Lifecycle

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Understanding the customer lifecycle

We often talk about the customer lifecycle when discussing triggered emails and when to send the most appropriate email to a customer. Understanding the customer lifecycle is a crucial aspect of email marketing, ensuring that the right message is delivered to the right customer at the right time. So what are the main stages of the lifecycle, and what should you be sending at each stage?

Welcome Email

First of all, it can be used as a method of validation, ensuring that you have captured the correct email address. Secondly it’s a great opportunity to begin the relationship with your customer and set the expectations of what they have signed up for and what they can expect to receive. Additionally, welcome emails can be used as an opportunity to capture more data from your customers, allowing you to send them more relevant content. Finally it’s a great opportunity to generate some buzz around your brand, not forgetting the potential sales opportunity whilst your customer is engaged.

First purchase or enquiry stage

Where emails are captured during the purchase process, but that purchase is not completed you have an opportunity to break down some of those barriers stopping the customer from going further. For a retailer, perhaps this might be concerns over delivery costs or credibility – this is where cart recovery can be extremely useful at overcoming these concerns and recovering sales.

Another example may be in the travel industry, maybe someone has requested a brochure or enquired about certain dates. With a complex decision to be made by the customer, a series of emails over the next couple of weeks which educate, recommend and guide the customer around your offering can help to maximise the chances them placing a booking with you.

Next purchase

Once the customer has purchased for the first time it’s time to get them thinking about buying from you again. The chances are that the longer the time after their first purchase, the less likely they are to buy from you again. Don’t just dump customers into a pot with all your other customers and expect them to respond well. Think about targeting recommendations for their next purchase based upon the last, and incentivise the customer to make that next step on the path to being a loyal customer.


The majority of first time customers won’t buy from you again, however they are far more likely to buy from you than new visitors to your site.  Therefore after an appropriate amount of time without activity since the last purchase incentivise them with a personal and unique discount code. Chances are, many will become lifelong customers after feeling valued by a great shopping experience.


Giving customers reasons to buy from you again and again requires a well thought out programme. Where email should support this is by making sure at all times you are talking to them in a personalised, relevant way. It’s not so much a case of coming up with a reward points scheme or emailing exclusive offers but making sure that in every email you send there is something of interest for the customer.

About James Lucas

Former Senior Marketing Executive at Emailcenter UK Ltd, a leading provider of email marketing software and solutions.