How do you address e-mail recipients based on customer life cycle?

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Customer life cycle is a frequently overlooked factor in achieving relevance in e-mail—especially in b-to-b messaging. The type of information recipients expect to receive from your e-mail program has a direct correlation to their stage of the life cycle. If you are just getting started in life cycle planning for your e-mail marketing efforts, here are three key areas to focus on:

1) New customers: What better time to start educating subscribers than when they are new customers or prospects? During this period of time, it is your duty to reinforce your value proposition. Let them know they've made the right choice in considering—or choosing to work with—your organization.

2) Active or loyal customers: This is the 80/20 rule in action: 80% of your business comes from 20% of your customers. Often those 20% are not recognized as your most valuable. This is the group that not only drives the revenue but is also most likely to evangelize on your behalf. Recognize them and thank them for being loyal. It's a great way to keep them that way.

3) At-risk or inactive customers: It is often easier to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one, so consider looking at your subscriber base to understand how engaged your recipients are. If you notice a sizable group that is seemingly disengaged, build out a re-engagement program to find out what it will take to get them back in to the fold. You won't re-engage everyone, but you will succeed with some, and that makes it worth it to make the effort.

You don't have to jump into the deep end with your life cycle program, but you should dip your toe in to the water and give it a shot. It is one of the most effective ways to increase your e-mail relevance and keep your customers engaged with your brand.

Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services at StrongMail (, a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.

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