Customer Lifecycle Orchestration: A Guide

Customer Experience|9 Minute Read

Customer Lifecycle Orchestration: A Guide

In an age of accelerated digital transformation, agility is a must for marketers. And customer lifecycle orchestration is the approach many marketers now employ to become more agile.

You may hear more about “customer journey orchestration” conducted with campaign management tools and marketing automation software than “lifecycle orchestration.”

But that approach is impossible. Why? Because the customer owns her journey.

However, marketing teams like yours can use customer journey data — from products or services bought to marketing messages engaged with — to inform your lifecycle program.

Specifically, this data — when used to orchestrate lifecycle activities to your target customers using certain marketing technology — can help you and your organization:

  • Recognize and interact with your customer base across channels in real time
  • Deliver highly correlated, one-to-one content and product recommendations
  • Provide exceptional, engaging experiences to build brand loyalty and affinity
  • Reduce wasted spend and optimize ads to improve return on advertising spend

The trick to thriving with your customer lifecycle orchestration efforts today?

Understanding the differences between the individualized, customer-centric technique and broader, more abstract journey-based marketing — and onboarding the right martech.

customer lifecycle orchestration

What is customer lifecycle orchestration? The marketing approach, explained

You likely already know about customer lifecycle marketing. (Or, as it’s also commonly referred to, customer lifecycle management). But orchestration differs ever-so-slightly:

  • Lifecycle marketing is the high-level, individualized marketing strategy. It entails the collection and analysis of audience data across systems and sources to help marketers develop and prioritize segments of prospective and existing customers to target via cross-channel marketing at various stages of the customer lifecycle.
  • Lifecycle orchestration is the inevitable one-to-one marketing evolution. All marketing-initiated interactions with current and potential customers correlate with where they are in their journeys. More specifically, interactions are a real-time response to where customers are in their journey and aren’t forced to follow a rigid, rules-based workflow.

Speaking on our recent webinar on how to deliver individual-focused customer experiences, BlueConic Director of Demand Generation Lauren Pettiglio put it perfectly:

“It’s really about the touchpoints and trying to reach as many of the right customers with where they are on their own unique journey, rather than trying to determine what all those journeys are and program them to keep pushing people to where the marketers think they should be.”

In other words? Customer lifecycle orchestration is the long-term play to:

And it’s proven to work for enterprise marketing teams at large-scale businesses across numerous industries today: from renowned retail brands to major media organizations.

Simply put, lifecycle orchestration enables companies of all kinds to react to customers’ changing behaviors and actions in the moment by presenting custom-tailored, timely marketing messages to them within a matter of minutes or hours — not days or weeks.

customer lifecycle marketing

Why lifecycle orchestration is the best way to build customer relationships today

Lifecycle orchestration is popular (and will only become more so among marketers) because of the fractured customer experiences consumers have historically had with brands.

Data silos have long precluded marketing teams from gaining the single customer view.

In turn, they’ve been unable to distinguish repeat visitors from first-time visitors or top prospects from paying customers in order to send the ideal messages to them at the perfect times. (In other words, they couldn’t be truly customer-centric with their activities.)

The end results? A poor CX for their customers, bad word of mouth from those buyers, a weaker business reputation, and — at the end of the day — lost revenue opportunities.

Thanks to the customer data platform (CDP), though, this comprehensive, single view of the customer through unified profiles is now possible. What’s more, everyday marketers can leverage said view to react to customers’ engagement in real time.

Take media and publishing brand America’s Test Kitchen, for instance.

The culinary-oriented company relies on BlueConic’s CDP to unify, analyze, and segment its first-party customer data for site visitors, magazine subscribers, TV show viewers, and other contacts in its database ecosystem and liberate that customer data across channels.

first-party data

With numerous types of prospects and customers in its martech environment, one of the company’s marketing leaders, Sarah Desmarais, has built several distinct segments.

These buckets help Desmarais discern which messaging resonates with her target audience (and which touchpoints are most engaged with) at each stage of the customer lifecycle.

During a recent MarTech East panel discussion, Desmarais elaborated on the benefits of using our customer data platform to help her orchestrate her lifecycle strategy:

“The CDP has really helped us with segmenting users into different paths and ensuring that we’re collecting how far along that path they’ve gotten.”

With this data on hand, Desmarais and her team know which marketing hits the mark with readers, viewers, and subscribers and which tactics (e.g., content and products recommended) to optimize to better move customers from one lifecycle stage to the next.

It should be noted each brand’s customer lifecycle marketing approach will certainly differ.

(After all, no two business models, even for companies in the same industry, are exactly alike. For example, the approach used by a subscription-focused retailer versus a media brand will vary, even though both ultimately want to spur more subscription renewals.)

However, the ability to deliver targeted marketing messages at various touchpoints to engage one’s audience and cultivate stronger customer relationships with them is the principal commonality among all brands with concerted lifecycle strategies.

customer lifecycle marketing

How unified data enables agility, flexibility for marketers’ lifecycle orchestration

Customer lifecycle orchestration can directly impact on acquisition and retention.

To reliably do so, though, lifecycle orchestration requires unified, first-party data.

With a pure-play customer data platform such as BlueConic in place to steer your lifecycle orchestration ship in the right direction (i.e., act as your central marketing hub), you can connect all other tools and technologies in your martech stack to the platform.

This enables complete data unification into a system with a single, intuitive UI — and, in turn, the ability to easily and efficiently adapt to changing customer behaviors.

With unified customer profiles at the core of a CDP, marketers aren’t forced work within the limiting confines of their specific execution tool or the data that lives within them.

For instance, they wouldn’t have to depend on a campaign management tool, which can only ingest segments after they’ve been created in another system and are loaded manually.

Marketing teams who use BlueConic as their customer data platform of choice can utilize our robust Lifecycles feature to orchestrate daily tactics to their target audiences:

customer lifecycle orchestration

With Lifecycles, these marketing professionals have the flexibility to define the criteria that make profiles eligible for specific lifecycles and each stage within them.

Then, they can designate a set of custom-tailored touchpoints for customers or prospects.

These are essentially interactions with the brand that can span multiple marketing channels. For instance, it could be personalized interactions on a website or mobile app, emails sent from an email marketing platform, or digital advertising through Facebook or Google.

Using real-time, cross-channel data, including data ingested from other teams’ tech (e.g., customer success or customer service), they can adapt to customers’ changing journeys.

Data points like open tickets or a poor NPS score ingested into the CDP can then inform a campaign management tool, for example, to suppress an upsell email campaign to a specific customer with a service ticket open. And all in real time.

Now, marketing is the department responsible for setting up customer lifecycles and associated touchpoints at each stage of the lifecycle to best engage their audience.

But teams across the organization can also gain valuable insights from lifecycle data.

For instance, profiles in a specific lifecycle or lifecycle stage can be passed to other tools.

In this example, you might pass customer profiles within a particular lifecycle or lifecycle stage to business intelligence solutions or analytics platforms to better understand buyer or subscriber behaviors or insightful patterns within these cohorts.

BlueConic customers can even immediately send orchestration data (e.g., new data that reflects an individual’s transition from one lifecycle stage to the next) to AI Workbench, which can then inform and update predictive models, like those that calculate CLV scores.

All in all, the ability to link all customer touchpoints and use that data across the business for both marketing and non-marketing purposes is a significant value-add for brands.

customer journey marketing

Which marketing technologies you need to implement a customer lifecycle strategy

“We have both a campaign management tool and journey-mapping software in place. We’re all set with martech to get our customer lifecycle orchestration efforts up and running.”

It’s easy to think this, particularly when you have systems in place from vendors who, for years, have claimed they help marketers best connect with and convert target customers.

The truth, though, is a lot of integration work (days’ or weeks’ worth) is required to make these various legacy marketing tools understand a customer’s complete identity.

And that legwork (which mandates IT assistance) just isn’t worth the effort today.

Moreover, these solutions have morphed considerably from an era where being customer-centric meant knowing which campaign to which a customer should be added.

Now, with more customer data available (and customers readily providing that data to brands), they expect personalized interactions across channels in real time.

What is worth the effort is onboarding a centralized database where a customer’s identity not only lives (and is based on all consented data collected about them), but is constantly, dynamically updated to reflect their most recent behaviors and engagement.

what is customer data platform

An important note: You don’t need to eliminate all legacy martech from your stack to get going with orchestration. As Pettiglio explained in our lifecycle marketing webinar:

“It’s not necessarily about ripping and replacing. It’s about using the data you already have and making it work harder for you so you can work harder for your customers.”

We get it: Change is hard.

We love our marketing tools. We use them for years. They become a comfort, of sorts — systems we know how to use and maybe even have mastered over time.

But the majority of them — including and especially restricting, dated campaign management solutions — were built for specific outbound marketing functions.

While connecting them to a CDP adds a layer of intelligence to campaign management tools, only CDPs can actually help orchestrate cross-channel lifecycles.

To sum up: You must look at the bigger picture regarding your lifecycle marketing strategy.

Adding a CDP to your stack and having readily available, unified profiles can help you adapt more quickly to changing customer behaviors and other macro-economic factors.

Working with a unified profile — and being genuinely customer-centric — can also help mitigate risks associated with consumer data regulations like GDPR and the CCPA.

Sure, it may take you time to learn the ins and outs of a new technology system or determine your brand’s unique customer lifecycle orchestration philosophy altogether.

But the long-term benefits of moving to more proven martech like a CDP to better build and sustain customer relationships vastly outnumber the pros of sticking with the status quo.

Watch our lifecycle marketing webinar to get in-depth insights into how you can orchestrate more individualized marketing activities geared toward your customers.

customer lifecycle orchestration

See what BlueConic can do for you.