Lifecycle Marketing in a Bear Market

Cory Smith
November 11, 2022
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We’ve read a lot of news and LinkedIn posts recently about what’s happening in the tech industry regarding growth, funding, and employment. A lot of the news sounds bleak – layoffs, cutbacks, and tight spending are on the table for a lot of brands right now. 

Lifecycle marketing isn’t exempt. While historically, email (and now, SMS) have been strong performers even in a recession, there are ways to think about your Lifecycle program that may be different than how you considered them in the past if you’re chasing revenue in today’s economic climate. 

Consider the Discount

The strategy of offering discounts to potential customers in order to get them to buy something is as old as commerce itself. From cutting a deal at an open air market to giving a unique promo code to new users, merchants know that customers like deals. But in an economy where funding isn’t as readily available as they once were, discounts aren’t as economically viable as they once were. 

In a tight market, it’s tempting to start putting everything on sale, all the time. But slim margins may push a business into a corner long-term. The customer you want is one who loves and buys your product because it’s good, not just because it’s available. 

This is a time to push loyalty based discounts instead of engagement based discounts. While you might have had big sales in the past, consider building out your loyalty program to reward users for continuing to purchase from you. 

Play the long game

Retention – getting users to come back after they’ve purchased once – is an even more important element to understand if you’re forced to be more budget conscious. 

Along with Loyalty, there are ways to get users to come back again and again to purchase from you. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there is no silver bullet to retention.

What works for one user may not for another, so rather than doing one thing that increases revenue in a big way all on its own, you may have to do a dozen small things that work together to build a quality retention program. 

Think, for instance, about segmentation: If you strive to send the right email to the right person at the right time, that means not everyone gets everything, and segmentation can help you solve this problem. You can send certain campaigns to users who may need to replenish, or who are in the window where users typically re-purchase, or who might be more apt to shop a certain product than another product – and these kinds of signals bait the hook to catch the right kind of fish rather than a mess you’ll have to throw back to sea. 


List cleaning is not sexy, but in a time where every dollar counts, it might be worth considering cleaning your database. With many Email Service Providers, you pay for the number of contacts you store in their database. 

How many users are in your database who provide little to no value back to your brand? Are you able to provide value to these users? Test a reactivation campaign, and for users who don’t engage and have been on your list for ages and haven’t engaged or purchased in a long time, consider deactivation. 

It can be hard to let go of users knowing that there’s a remote possibility that they may purchase someday, but if a user has been on your list for 2 or more years and isn’t paying attention, the odds that they start paying attention – especially in a more difficult economic time when people may have less money to spend – are slim. 

Beware of “set it and forget it”

If you’ve ever worked at a company that had to go through cutbacks, you know that there are some things that don’t get done the same way as they used to. It’s tempting to look at Lifecycle Marketing – specifically those things that are running and generating some revenue. You may think, “this is automatic, I’ll just set it and forget it.”

Do not do this! If you’ve set something up and it’s generating some revenue, there’s likely potential that it can make even more revenue for your brand. If your welcome series is doing a good job of onboarding new users and getting them to purchase, think about how to optimize that series.

Do you have products sitting in your warehouse that you can’t move? Put them in the welcome series and see if new users are more likely to purchase them. Does your welcome series’ performance fall off a cliff after a certain number of days or messages? Consider tightening up the timing of the messages or adding additional messaging that can help sustain the momentum you have at onboarding. Are your subject lines tired? Test new ones!

A program left on its own will stagnate or plateau over time, and if you’re looking to grow, this is bad news. Use a critical eye on anything that’s running and look for opportunities to make those programs work harder for you. 

Get another perspective

It’s not a secret that in the agency world, part of what we do is sales. We’re always looking to work with brands that give us the opportunity to provide strong value. 

One of the most important virtues an agency can bring to the table is perspective – the team you work with should provide a wealth of experience that you don’t have so that they can innovate and help grow your brand. In a time when being cost-conscious is front of mind, it may seem counterintuitive to spend money on an outside resource, however, these outside resources can often multiply the knowledge you have rather than just adding to it. 

Whether you work with an agency or a consultant, seek out the perspective that may be able to transform your business, even in a time when the economy may not be in sync with your goals. 

Cory Smith

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