Lifecycle marketing isn’t just for the B2C set. Client nurturing seems to be an afterthought for many professional service providers, but this powerful marketing strategy should not be overlooked.
What is lifecycle marketing, you ask? Simply put, it is a series of marketing campaigns that targets your clients beginning with client acquisition and continuing over time as your clients’ needs evolve.
Messages such as birthday greetings, welcome letters and rewards program updates are all part of your lifecycle messaging. Communications like these mutually benefit you and your clients because they provide tailored touch points between your in-person meetings, and they can also help you call attention to your add-on services. These campaigns help you foster trust, educate your clients, nurture relationships and offer added value for your clients.
If you haven’t yet tapped into the muscle behind lifecycle messaging, there are a few steps you’ll need to take:
- Identify existing clients in your marketing database
- Have a process in place for updating converted prospects into client status
- Have a process in place for encouraging new clients to opt-in to your email program (make email acquisition part of your new client engagement process)
- Include each client’s inception date in your marketing database member records
- Consider identifying your clients’ dates of birth, wedding anniversaries and other important dates
- Flag other identifiers such as geographic location, event attendance, income level, marital status, services utilized, and so on
- Consider ranking and flagging clients by hierarchy (such as silver, gold and platinum level clients) in order to identify groups for loyalty reward program messaging
In the beginning…
Your new clients are still getting to know your business and may need some help getting their feet wet. Help the “new guys” get acquainted with you by sending them a welcome campaign. Consider dripping out a series of messages to new clients that plug them right in to everything that makes your business great. Here’s an example of how your client welcome campaign could look:
- Week 1: Welcome to our firm! Thank you for choosing us. If you ever have a need, here are all the ways you can connect with us…
- Week 2: Have you accessed our client portal yet? Create your login today. Here are the details…
- Week 3: Getting to know our firm: here are three important things you might not have already known about us…
- Week 4: Did you know? We do more than just [SERVICE]. Here are a few folks you can get in touch with if you ever need [SERVICE, SERVICE, or SERVICE]…
The next steps
Send out email reminders to your clients recommending that they check in with you for annual meetings as important deadlines loom. Some service providers have predictable dates such as payroll tax or federal and state tax filing deadlines that apply to groups of their clients on the same calendar date. Others reach out to clients on a periodic basis based on a client’s acquisition date, such as estate planning check-ins that may occur about every 18 months. In both cases, utilize your email marketing database for your client lifecycle marketing and remind your clients about important deadlines and upcoming meetings.
Other important reminders for clients
Use your messaging to remind clients about new information like extended office hours, office closures, holiday hours, new office location announcements, contact information updates, new professional staff members and so on.
Keep it personal
Lifecycle marketing can put a smile on your clients’ faces in the form of birthday greetings, anniversary congratulations, holiday messaging and other personal touches from your firm. These messages have little to do with your actual business, but have everything to do with telling your clients, “We remember you, and you are important to us.”
Offer loyalty perks
Loyal clients are excellent referral sources and excellent opportunities for add-on service sales. They should be rewarded for sticking with you. After you have identified client inception dates and ranked your clients into hierarchy, map out a reward program for each tier of clients. Longer-term and/or higher net worth clients could receive larger rewards, while your lower tier clients might receive fun perks like a coffee mug or USB flash drive with your firm logo. These loyalty rewards should be separate from your annual holiday gifts and should specifically include a message thanking your clients for their loyalty. You could even encourage more office visits by inviting clients to pick up their loyalty gift during their next meeting at your office.
You can use your email messaging to keep in touch with lost clients. When you loose a client to another firm, that doesn’t necessarily mean the client wants to ditch your newsletter. Let them unsubscribe if they wish, but otherwise leave them on your list and flag them as a former client. Clients sometimes leave for simple reasons like competitive fees. When deal-hunting clients discover that cheaper is not always better, your newsletter could be there to help remind them that you’re still available.
When one of our clients went with another CPA firm in 2009, I put them on our email newsletter distribution list and used that to stay in contact. Recently, I called my contact to touch base, was able to get a meeting right away and re-engaged the lost client. My contact said that he had kept up with the people and events at the firm by reading every issue of our email newsletter, which impressed him. He told me that he took the meeting because of our email newsletter. About 70% of our growth in 2011 can be attributed to this one client, and our email newsletter was a significant influence on obtaining the business.”
~Jeffrey Baer, CPA, CEO, Baer & Edington LLC
Also identify your inactive users. Clients who display dismal click activity and lackluster engagement in your messaging can actually hurt your deliverability. Consider developing a brief campaign to reach out to inactive users. Here are some ideas:
- We’ve missed you! Let us know what we can do better. Fill out this 60 second survey…
- A note from us: Here’s how you can get the most out of your email newsletter…
- How often do you want to hear from us? Take a moment to update your sending frequency here…
- We’re updating our records. Please take a moment to send us your most current contact information…
- Have you downloaded this report yet? Only our valued clients have free and full access to this resource…
If your inactive clients remain unresponsive after your re-engagement campaign has completed, promptly remove them from your list in order to keep your email deliverability in ship-shape.
Keep the lifecycle living
Lifecycle marketing can be a thriving part of your client communication programs. Map out a strategy for reaching your clients at important touch points in their relationship with your firm. A robust client messaging program fulfills your clients’ needs for information, helps you fill your pipeline with add-on sales and increase client retention rates.