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The Five Stages of the Customer Lifecycle: Mapping the Journey for Success

Mrinal Parekh Mrinal, Senior Product Marketing Manager at CleverTap, excels in B2B strategy, market planning, and product launches. Proven success at Razorpay and Amazon.
The Five Stages of the Customer Lifecycle: Mapping the Journey for Success

Marketers are always concerned with the customer lifecycle and the customer journey. And while these terms may seem synonymous, they are different in terms of who creates them and why. 

Customer lifecycle maps are designed by marketing and sales teams, showcasing the ideal way for customers to engage with the brand, while customer journeys are based on the actual actions and interactions users have with a particular brand. A customer lifecycle designed by the brand and an actual customer journey from discovery to advocacy might be quite different. By recognizing this key difference in perspective, brands can design a delightful customer experience.

The different stages every customer goes through with a brand is known as the customer lifecycle, which comprises: 

1. Reach / Awareness
2. Acquisition
3. Conversion
4. Retention
5. Loyalty

The Five Stages of the Customer Lifecycle

Let’s explore the different stages of the customer lifecycle and how you can efficiently manage each stage to ensure lasting retention and boost ROI.


Often known as the stage of discovery or awareness, this is the first stage in a customer lifecycle, when a potential user becomes aware of the brand and what it offers. At this stage, your aim as a marketer is to pique the interest of prospective users and drive them towards the app or website. This can be achieved by creating engaging content that describes the value of your brand and crafting an omnichannel marketing strategy to disseminate this content. 

The point of this strategy is to be present where your prospective users are by using a variety of channels such as digital ads, social media, search engine marketing, blogs, podcasts, videos, and more. By using a variety of omnichannel marketing channels, you can reach potential users wherever they are and increase the chances of them discovering your brand.

CleverTap’s A/B testing feature allows you to experiment with different marketing messages, promotions, and campaigns to pick out the ones that work best with your target audience. 


The goal here is to convince prospective users to download your app, sign up for a free trial, or subscribe to your newsletter. If the user creates an account, this will help you to capture their contact information, demographics, and preferences, as well as secure permission to communicate with them, bringing them further into the sales and marketing funnel. Push notifications with a free trial or a limited-time discount can be sent to alert prospects who have visited a website but have not signed up yet. 

Be sure that your onboarding process is easy and straightforward. Don’t ask for too many details, and offer social logins to make it easier and quicker for users to sign up. Content-rich in-app messages can be used to welcome and onboard new users and help them navigate within the app. 

To learn more, read our guide on The Art of Onboarding Mobile App Users


Conversion is when a registered user becomes a paying customer. At this stage, users are already receiving emails and notifications from you, and it’s now time to nudge them into making a purchase by providing value and assuring them of convenient and trustworthy interactions with your brand.  

With the help of real-time analytics, you can track customer behavior and tailor offers that push them towards conversion when they are active in your app. Sending personalized, relevant and timely notifications to users at the moment of intent — such as a discount or promotion — can motivate them to convert. 

For more details on conversion, read our whitepaper How to Write Push Notifications That Engage & Convert.


Most successful brands have a loyal fan base that keeps returning for more. Think of global names such as Amazon, Instagram, Facebook, and Spotify. Returning users — as opposed to new users — are more likely to purchase a product or service from a brand they’ve already done business with. 

At this stage of the customer lifecycle, which is also known as post-purchase, your aim is to engage with existing customers and upsell to them. Send personalized offers to users who have an abandoned cart or haven’t made a purchase after browsing. Encourage them to return and complete the purchase.  

To increase customer lifetime value and mitigate churn, you need to keep existing customers engaged, provide constant value, and resolve complaints swiftly. 


The fifth and final stage in the customer lifecycle is loyalty, when an existing customer turns into a brand ambassador. This stage is also known as advocacy or referral, when customers turn into genuine fans and start to promote the brand to friends and colleagues. 

This level of brand loyalty and advocacy can be achieved by rewarding users for their business and encouraging them to spread the word by creating a loyalty program that offers discounts and incentives. Creating a tier-based loyalty program that offers different benefits depending on the customer’s rank to encourage more buying and referrals. 

Navigating the Customer Lifecycle With CleverTap

Mapping the customer lifecycle is like guiding a traveler through his or her journey. Each stage comes with a set of new challenges and opportunities. With the right strategies, you’ll successfully navigate this path to achieve sustained growth and customer loyalty. 

CleverTap is an all-in-one engagement platform that helps businesses by providing powerful tools for behavioral analytics, omnichannel messaging, product experiences, and loyalty programs. Tailor your marketing based on customer lifecycle stages to create a data-driven approach to customer engagement. Use actions that are optimal for each lifecycle stage with Customer Lifecycle Management to boost CLV and profitability with automated segmentation with RFM. Businesses can also use CleverTap’s lifecycle optimizer feature to get guided frameworks to understand your user base and move them from one lifecycle stage to the next.


The Art of Onboarding Mobile App Users

The Art of Onboarding Mobile App Users

Make a great first impression for lasting customer relationships. Understand how to onboard users for your app using CleverTap.

Download Whitepaper


Last updated on March 29, 2024