8 min read

eCommerce: What is Customer Lifecycle and How to Use it for Your Online Business

Written by Andriy Boychuk
8 min read
Table of Contents

    In the context of eCommerce, what is the customer lifecycle? Why do you need it, and how will it help you in your marketing efforts?

    In this article, you’ll learn:

    • Different customer lifecycle stages and what they mean
    • How to use eCommerce customer lifecycle in email marketing to drive more sales
    • How you can leverage the understanding of customer lifecycle for other marketing activities

    From our experience, putting the customer lifecycle at the core of each email marketing campaign guarantees its success.

    In other words, when you are tactical and purposeful with your marketing strategies, you can understand your clients’ behavior better.

    Try these tips for your business today and see for yourself.


    What is the eCommerce customer lifecycle?

    The customer lifecycle is a process through which a person goes before buying something from your eCommerce and after the purchase.

    There are five main stages through which each person goes through.

    The five stages are:

    • Awareness
    • Consideration
    • Action
    • Retention
    • Advocacy.

    Let’s take a closer look at each one of them and discover how you can improve your marketing and customer experience at each stage.

    The Five Stages of the Customer Lifecycle

    Customer Lifecycle Stage #1 – Awareness

    When people learn about your brand, through Instagram, Facebook or even on a billboard, they are becoming aware of your company, and maybe they even get interested in it.

    It is the stage when they may go visit your website and if you are lucky enough – subscribe to your email newsletters. This is when everything starts from the email marketing perspective.

    It is the best time to take advantage (in a good way) of their interest and start a relationship by:

    • Sending a welcome email sequence
    • Setting up a browser abandonment automation.

    New visitors want to know more about your brand, so they are browsing and taking the time to discover your products. If you want to encourage them to buy from you in the future, then you can use email marketing to:

    • Introduce your brand, your company, your team, your values, and your style
    • Recommend products the subscriber seemed to have taken an interest in considering his behavior
    • Offer a first-purchase discount to encourage the subscriber to test your products
    • Offer your help or guidance. Ask the visitor, “How can we help you,” or “Have you ever been here before?”.

    Customere lifecycle stage 1: awareness with welcome emails.

    Customer Lifecycle Stage #2-3 – Consideration and Action

    The next two steps, consideration and action, go hand in hand.

    This is when your subscribers are already aware of your brand, they even are already regular on something, and they are considering buying from you again.

    What do they do at that stage? Two scenarios:

    • They decide to buy a product and check out
    • They don’t finish their purchase for a reason or another and let their cart abandoned.

    If the latter happens, then you will need abandonment cart automation. To sound like, “Hey, Mr. Client, you started the checkout process, but you didn’t finish your purchase. Here are the products you planned to buy. Don’t forget about them!”

    Cart abandonment email flows are perfect to remind your subscribers that there are stills items waiting for them. These types of emails usually have a high conversion rate.

    And once the purchase is finally done, you can now put into action other types of email flows that are pertinent at this stage of the customer lifecycle:

    • The thank-you email automation, to thank the customer for his purchase and give some information about delivery time and/or recommend similar products
    • The review request, to receive feedback to improve your eCommerce.

    Customer Lifecycle Stage #4 – Retention

    This is the stage when you try to convert a one-time customer to a two-times buyer. There is around a 10 to 20% chance that you will succeed. So the chance is very, very, very small. However, from two-time buyer to three-times buyer, your chances are like 30%, 50%, which is already a bit more promising.

    So you have to put a lot of effort to convert a one-time buyer into a two-time buyer.

    In email marketing, to have more returning customers and improve customer loyalty, we use strategies and automation such as:

    Let’s take a closer look at some of the above-mentioned strategies:


    Up-selling is a sales tactic used by a vendor to persuade a customer to spend more money by purchasing additional things or improved versions of what they were looking at previously.

    When you decide to send your up-sell email depends on your marketing plan. For instance, it can occur either before or shortly after the order has been placed.

    Usually, it’s common practice to send up-sell emails after customers have placed an order in order to re-engage with them later.


    Cross-selling is the practice of recommending related or complementary products to a consumer based on what they’ve already purchased.

    When you use a sales opportunity to market additional products or services to an existing customer, this is known as cross-selling.

    For a marketing example, imagine selling one of your business clients a website as well as live chat and form creating tools to go with it.


    An email sent to inactive contacts who have made purchases or registered to your email list but have not opened your emails is known as a win-back email campaign.

    The goal of a win-back email is to get people to interact with your emails and call-to-actions again.

    A strong win-back email on its own can be effective, but a series of deliberately prepared and targeted emails can be even more effective.

    A win-back email campaign is critical, since it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

    Sunset inactive

    Email sunsetting is the process of finding inactive subscribers who haven’t opened or clicked on your emails in a long time and devising a strategy to either re-engage them or remove them from your list.

    Running a well-thought-out sunsetting strategy can provide a number of advantages for your email marketing.

    This could:

    • Boost your email deliverability
    • Improve your open rates
    • Improve your click rates
    • Improve the overall engagement for your campaigns by having an active email list with users who are truly interested in your emails.

    Customer Lifecycle Stage #5 – Advocacy

    And the last but not the least stage is advocacy.

    You want your current customers to be marketers, salespeople.

    Giving pleased consumers the nudge they need to share your business with others is the key to turning them into advocates.

    Of course, you first have to have a great service or a great product, but when you do, you want your current customers to market it to other people.

    For instance,

    • Inquire about customer feedback on Google, Facebook, and other relevant third-party sites.
    • Create a referral program in which consumers are rewarded for referring friends and family to your business.
    • Building a community is also a great method to attract a legion of brand ambassadors who can help you grow your reach and deepen your brand love. Start by forming a social media community around a brand-related hashtag and highlighting user-generated material on a regular basis.
    • You may also create a client loyalty program and communicate with them on a regular basis. Creating a loyalty program is one of the most popular ways to do so! This is how it works: customers share links or some coupons with their friends, and receive benefits and discounts themselves for doing it.

    You can build better experiences if you understand how your clients’ views and interactions change as they grow more familiar with your brand.


    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the 5 stages of the customer lifecycle in eCommerce?

    The five stages of the customer lifecycle are Awareness, Consideration, Action, Retention, Advocacy. Knowing these stages and their meaning will help you understand your customers, their thoughts, hesitations, and needs.

    Why are the 5 stages of the customer lifecycle important to know?

    If you are aware of the stages of the customer lifecycle, you can predict the changes in your customers’ needs and send the right emails at the right moment. Your email marketing campaigns will get more precise and customer-oriented, which will eventually drive to better sales and engagement.

    What to do if a subscriber doesn’t show interest anymore during its customer lifecycle?

    The best solution is, after a few win-back emails, to delete the subscriber from your email list. This way, you will clean your list and improve your rates. However, before deleting someone’s email address, send them a last email to give them one more chance to stay.

    Talk email strategy with an expert