The Lifestyle Loop in Your Inbound Marketing Plan

By Scott Anderson Miller

The Lifestyle Loop builds on the frameworks of the Purchase Funnel and Buyer’s Journey in your inbound marketing plan — which, by the way, is by no means obsolete. The Lifestyle Loop adds definitive dimension beyond the traditional sales funnel when connecting people with your product. Your communications reach beyond the basic steps in a continuous loop designed to attract and reattract; to engage and reengage.

Essentially, this is relationship marketing that connects with your future and current customers well beyond the times they are actively walking down any given purchase path. New considerations from the Lifestyle Loop include:

  • Consumers are dynamic individuals: Humans are fickle, with changing needs, moods, and motivations. Regularly connecting with them with on-point messaging at the right time creates ongoing interactivity between the consumer and your brand, and not just at the point of sale.

  • The marketplace is more dynamic and interactive: People have instant access to massive amounts of information and may just as easily shut your message out with the click of their mouse. The Internet lowers the barriers to entry for competitors, allowing nimble companies to outmaneuver your efforts.

  • Marketing actions cause consumer actions and reactions: Your valuable content, when organized and disseminated correctly, directly causes consumer action. With the ease of social sharing, one consumer action may influence other consumer actions, eventually causing a chain reaction among many people. Messaging that goes viral is the ultimate consumer chain reaction.

  • The purchase path or Buyer’s Journey is not rational and, therefore, not linear: Lewis’ Purchase Funnel is simplistic and inaccurately portrays the purchase path of today’s consumer. With instant access to multiple websites, customer reviews, and price-shopping, the purchase path looks more like a maze than a straight line.

  • The buying cycle does not end with a single action or purchase so the first purchase is not the ultimate goal, it’s merely a point in the Customer Conversion Chain: With the Lifestyle Loop, the goal isn’t to create a mere customer; it’s to create a Lifestyler who lives your brand, influencing others to do the same.

  • Space and time affect consumer behavior: Where and when you connect with prospective and repeat customers matters. Having presence at that exact moment and point when a consumer is ready to purchase increases conversions.

  • A customer can be valued beyond dollars spent with you. Value may also be derived by influence: Influence matters today. Whether it’s an individual blogger or an aggregate of customer reviews, customers wield influence way beyond mere dollar transactions with your company.

These concepts behind the Lifestyle Loop are important for inbound marketers because we can now consider:

  • Marketing to the individual rather than the masses.

  • Greeting consumers on their terms and their needs rather than yours.

  • Creating multiple conversions and multiple consumer reengagement opportunities.

  • Customers can become loyal customers and loyal customers can become Lifestylers.

  • Recency and frequency of marketing messages can now be timed based on consumer behavior and real-time actions.

  • Return-on-investment (ROI) potential is higher after the first action (purchase).

The following figure shows the Lifestyle Loop’s multiple points of contact along the consumer purchase path.

The Lifestyle Loop.

The Lifestyle Loop.

The Lifestyle Loop model assumes a multi-dimensional relationship between a person and product. With this model, customer relationships are defined by consumer interaction with your brand over time and by your subsequent brand responses based on those interactions.

Creating meaningful interactions at multiple points on the purchase path elevates your customer relationships above the merely transactional. For a few, these relationships evolve into the ultimate customer relationship. These are the people who connect with your company and products on such a deep level, they actually live your brand. These are the Lifestylers.

Characteristics of a Lifestyler include:

  • Brand loyalists

  • Often early adopters of your new products

  • Experience your brand as a part of their identity — a Lifestyler “lives” your brand

  • Influences others through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

  • Is sometimes a public figure or someone who actively participates in public forums

  • Are important because they may cause customer chain reactions of product awareness, acceptance, and purchases for your company

Lifestylers’ value is more about their influence than on the dollars they spend. The following figure shows how a Lifestyler’s influence can cause a brand movement through a chain reaction by encouraging others to live your brand. This may be the most powerful form of marketing because the messaging is articulated by fellow Lifestylers rather than the brand, resulting in unmatched credibility.

Lifestyler chain reactions.

Lifestyler chain reactions.

The Lifestyle Loop describes your dynamic consumer and their non-linear interactions with your website, your content, and your brand. Connecting and reconnecting with these consumers at key conversion points encourages positive interaction, and results in positive outcomes. For the Lifestyler, these outcomes may mean special offers, perks, or experiences. For you as a marketer, it’s a matter of cultivating customer relationships (not relations) that contribute to achieving your business goals.

Understanding the Lifestyle Loop and practicing marketing under its tenets implies:

  • There are multiple points of entry for a consumer’s first connection with your company.

  • Consumer movement along the purchase path from first connection to purchase and repurchase is vertical.

  • Consumer movement along the purchase path between different product Purchase Funnels is horizontal.

  • Persona profiles connect with brands based on different sets of criteria. (That is, buyers, say, connect with a brand differently than end-users.)

  • Purchase paths, as well as the length of time from first contact to first contract, vary by profile.

Inbound marketers who follow this model plan build relationships before, during, and after the initial transaction. Of course, inbound marketers can apply the Lifestyle Loop in both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) situations. The model also applies to non-business entities seeking non-purchase actions such as donations to a non-profit, votes in a political campaign, or numerous other situations.