customer loyalty

Marketing Automation: It’s Not Just for Lead Gen Anymore

Written by in Lead Generation on June 2, 2015

Most marketers realize that marketing automation is an amazingly effective technology for attracting new prospects and capturing new leads. And of course, when it comes to nurturing those leads and getting them ready to buy, marketing automation is practically indispensable.

But why stop there? What’s good for leads can be great for customers, too.

Let’s take a look at the ways marketing automation can help you go beyond lead gen and management to help deepen engagement with your existing customers, so you can improve relationships as well as revenue.

customer lifecycle

Looking at the Lifecycle

Most marketers are familiar with the arc of the customer lifecycle, although we often call the stages different names. But the idea is basically the same.

  • Attract  This is where you gain the attention of new prospects and create brand awareness in the minds of your target audiences.
  • Capture  Once you’ve managed to attract the attention of your prospects, you can earn their information with great content, and convert them into leads.
  • Nurture  Next you segment and nurture these leads to help them mature. Then score and qualify them to identify when and why to send them to sales.
  • Convert  Usually during this stage, the lead is handed from marketing to sales, where the nurturing moves to real-time and the deal gets closed.
  • Expand  Now you have the opportunity to ensure satisfaction and turn customers into brand evangelists.

In most companies, the earlier stages get the most attention.

It feels good to have the pipeline full of fresh new leads. But there’s a compelling argument for spending some time on the expansion stage of the customer lifecycle.

To begin with, it’s important to keep your customers loyal. It’s also a good way to upsell and cross-sell related products, professional services, and training. If you execute really well at this stage (and you’re lucky) you could also create brand ambassadors who will do your marketing for you.

And there’s also the revenue angle.

According to a report from Gleanster and Act-On, Rethinking the Role of Marketing, top performing marketing teams are more likely to take full control of the complete customer lifecycle.

They are going beyond awareness and acquisition to extend their focus to conversion, retention, and expansion. They spend more time and resources on building engagement with their existing customers.

Top performing marketers acquire 50% of their revenue from current customers, while average performers only achieve 30% of revenue that way.

Three Ways to Build Loyalty

Successful marketers are doing this today—and seeing the benefits right away.

Here are three real-world examples that demonstrate how marketing automation during the expansion phase of the customer lifecycle creates lasting and profitable relationships with customers.

personalized content

1. Personalization

The same personal approach that gets leads to convert is ideal for driving increased engagement with customers.

When you know exactly who they are and what they’re likely to want, you can deliver content they care about. And, that they’ll act on.

For LEGO Education North America, marketing automation made it possible to gain control over the customer journey. Brandee Johnson, senior marketing manager, noticed a difference right away.

“We’re able to do a variety of different things that speak to our customers and our target audience in a very personalized and customized way. We’re running multiple campaigns that allow us to make sure that we’re sending the appropriate message to our customers based on their interactions with us.”

Teachers and administrators receive customized content in their newsletters based on their job title, role, and the grade level they serve, while parents and guardians get different messages. This way, LEGO Education continues to have personalized conversations with customers, ensuring satisfaction and creating a foundation for long-term relationships.

2.  Automation

Setting up automated campaigns like drip and triggered emails can help onboard new customers, educate them, and deepen their engagement. It’s also a great way to continually get feedback on how your company is doing so you can fine-tune your approach and better meet their needs.

For example, Mikogo, a global screen sharing software company, uses automated programs to onboard new users and maximize customer lifetime value. The communication program is rolled out over a six-month period and contains four emails, in addition to the monthly newsletter that is sent to all customers.

Customers receive educational information to help them use their new solution, such as user guides, video tutorials, and FAQs. They also get additional promotions designed to create loyalty, as well as surveys and questionnaires to measure their satisfaction levels.

According to Andrew Donnelly, online marketing manager at Mikogo, it’s a winning strategy.

“The automatic emails are brilliant. We’ve been able to send friendly, personal emails from each of our account managers, so customers don’t even realize they’re part of an automatic campaign.”

3.  Scoring

A good lead scoring system watches online and offline buying activity, pairs it with demographic information, and helps sales teams focus their time and effort on the most likely buyers. Scoring is also a great way to measure customer behavior and determine if they’re ready for upsell and cross-sell messages.

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) started out using marketing automation to generate leads and increase sales. But they quickly discovered that the lead scoring features could also be used to improve engagement for current members.

Sales manager Drew Kondylas put it this way: “Keeping our customers happy is important, and the ability to measure that engagement is key.”

Using scoring, they’re developing a baseline of customer satisfaction and determining how likely their members are to recommend the GPCC to other businesses. They also plan to upsell services like advertising and special events, such as ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

As Drew says, “It’s really exciting to continue to not only drive sales and leads but also to move from purely a business-development focus to a long-term member engagement strategy.”


Marketing automation can also be used to promote loyalty programs that reward top customers based on behaviors. They can deliver “win-back” campaigns to at-risk customers who look like they might be ready to leave, or have already left.

The opportunities are endless—and so are the results you can see in your own marketing campaigns.

Are you using marketing automation throughout the customer lifecycle? Be sure to share your strategies in the comments.

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Lisa Cannon About the author: Lisa Cannon

Lisa Cannon is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. With over 25 years of experience as a creative writer, editorial director, and email marketer, she specializes in making complex, technical subjects easy to understand. She is currently a senior writer with Act-On Software, Inc., the leading marketing automation provider for small and mid-size companies.

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