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Understanding the stages of the customer lifecycle: Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, Loyalty, and Advocacy

To enhance your ability to acquire and retain customers, it’s crucial to comprehend the stages involved in a customer’s journey. This journey involves the process of customers getting acquainted with your business, developing an attachment to your products or services, and ultimately becoming a loyal supporter of your brand.

Navigating this complex process requires a keen understanding of the customer’s perspective as they progress through each stage of the journey. This is where the customer life cycle comes into play. By executing targeted marketing initiatives that guide customers through each stage of the life cycle, you can effectively expand your business and boost customer loyalty.

What is customer lifecycle?

The customer life cycle refers to the series of stages that a consumer undergoes on the path towards becoming a devoted customer. This journey encompasses all the interactions that a customer has with your company, starting from the initial point of awareness and extending to the establishment of an enduring relationship.

Understanding the different phases of the customer life cycle allows you to determine the most effective methods to acquire new customers, as well as develop strategies for retaining and strengthening their loyalty to your business. By nurturing customers through these stages, you can increase their lifetime value, and it’s useful to map out this process in a visual representation called customer journey mapping.

It’s essential to note that the customer life cycle is an active process that demands your business’s constant engagement to guide consumers through each stage towards the ultimate goal of becoming a loyal brand advocate.

Customer lifecycle stages

There are five distinct stages that make up the customer life cycle. Although we’ll outline each stage below, it’s important to note that customers may move back and forth between stages, and sometimes even revisit previous stages. For instance, a customer may evaluate the value of a new product offering, even if they have previously purchased products from your company.


The first stage in the customer life cycle is the awareness phase, where the customer becomes aware of your business offerings. At this stage, customers may discover your business through various means, such as using a search engine, coming across an advertisement, or getting a referral from someone else.

Since all customers start at the awareness stage, it is crucial to make sure that any outreach to potential customers gets done in a coordinated, planned fashion. This is often the most expensive stage from a cost per acquisition perspective, especially if you use ads to raise awareness among your target audience of consumers.

To maximize awareness, you should take time to consider your options based on your budget and objectives. Some tips to help include collecting data, trying different tactics, and testing them one at a time until you have a body of data that helps you identify the ones that work best in terms of meeting your objectives.

If you want to set up a website, for example, you’ll need to set up tracking software like Google Analytics to identify where consumer traffic is coming from. This data collection can also be as simple as asking customers how they heard about your business.

As part of your outreach, it’s important to have a small business marketing plan that includes product positioning and marketing proposal, especially if you have to sell your plan to others in the organization. It’s also important to consider your target audience, and which marketing tactics will likely work best to reach them. By doing so, you can maximize the effectiveness of your awareness efforts and bring customers into your sales funnel.


During the consideration phase, consumers are gathering information about your business and weighing the benefits of your offerings against those of your competitors. They are evaluating whether your solutions fit their needs, including their budget and desired outcomes, and assessing factors such as ease of use.

Consumers rely heavily on information from your website and may also consult consumer review sites, social media, and contact your business directly to gather information. This is the stage where consumers may enter your sales funnel as a prospect or lead. To encourage this, your website should engage with the customer in a genuine way and make it easy for them to provide their contact information.

A marketing campaign can also be used to move consumers from the consideration stage to the purchase stage. It’s important to have an integrated marketing campaign to avoid disjointed outreach, given that the consumer is already aware of your company.

To maximize consideration, it’s important to personalize your communication with the customer. Respond to emails using their name and offer the ability to sign up for a free newsletter to capture their contact information. Ensure that the newsletter and subsequent outreach are personalized by referencing their name and tailoring the content to their interests.

To make this phase a success, leverage a CRM to inject personalized messaging at scale and track customer interactions. Provide access to information that helps customers make decisions about your products or services, such as case studies and customer testimonials. Consider offering a benefit for entering your sales funnel, such as a discount on their first purchase.


The Purchase stage marks the point where a prospect turns into a customer, having evaluated your offerings and decided to make a purchase. However, even at this stage, it’s not guaranteed that the purchase will go through. For instance, an e-commerce customer may abandon their selection in your website’s digital shopping cart, or if your website’s purchase process is unclear or cumbersome, the customer is more likely to give up.

To maximize purchases, it’s important to analyze your purchase workflow to identify and fix the points where customers are dropping off before completing the purchase. Additionally, every purchase should be acknowledged with a thank-you email, which can be automated using a CRM. This helps deepen the customer relationship and encourages repeat business.

Other ways to maximize purchases include collecting data on the types of customers who make purchases using sales tracking software, such as a CRM, Google Analytics, or advertising platforms. This data helps to find more customers like them to target during the earlier stages of the customer life cycle.

To remove barriers to purchase, consider adding chat functionality to your website, which allows customers to ask questions and receive instant responses. Look for chat software that can automatically respond to frequently asked questions and direct harder questions to your team.

Finally, if you run an e-commerce business, consider using e-commerce software that automatically follows up with customers who abandoned items in their digital shopping carts, reminding them to complete their purchase.


The process of retaining customers involves building stronger connections with them after they’ve made a purchase, in order to increase the likelihood of repeat business. You can achieve this through follow-up communication, reminders, and promotions sent via email.

To keep customers engaged with your business, it’s important to suggest related products and provide regular updates, such as promotional discounts or news about your company. By using various marketing channels to stay in touch with customers, you can keep them connected and interested in what you have to offer.

To maximize retention, you can use several techniques. Firstly, provide customers with any necessary onboarding support, such as online tutorials or training. Secondly, offer ongoing support and service by proactively reaching out to customers and providing helpful documentation. Personalize your communication with customers by basing your outreach on their past purchases, and use a CRM to scale this approach. Finally, encourage additional sales by offering targeted follow-ups that are known to generate a response, such as discount codes, without overusing this technique and causing customer fatigue.


The final stage of the customer journey is advocacy, where customers become enthusiastic supporters of your brand and promote your business to others. This can include sharing positive reviews online and recommending your business to friends and colleagues.

Brand advocates can help you generate additional sales and expand your customer base, making them a valuable asset to your business.

To maximize advocacy, it’s important to cultivate brand loyalty through special perks and incentives. Consider creating a loyalty program that rewards customers for shopping with you, as Starbucks does with their free drink and food item offerings. Alternatively, for service-based businesses such as dentists, a referral program that rewards customers for bringing in new business may be more appropriate.

Building brand loyalty takes time and effort, but it’s worth it to turn your customers into dedicated advocates who will help your business grow.

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