Use these 6 Customer Archetypes cut through the noise of personalization advice and develop meaningful strategies for customer retention.
Conventional eCommerce “thought leadership” will tell you that each of your customers is a unique snowflake with distinct preferences, desires and moods. And therefore, the only way to grow is to be everything to everyone, preferably using expensive marketing personalization technology.
That’s only partially true. I’m not going to try to deny that we’re all unique individuals with our own needs. But that isn’t actionable advice, it’s just a way to scare people into buying software. It is possible to identify some meaningful groupings of customers that will help focus your strategic efforts.
I find it helpful to view the customer file through the lens of archetypes. In psychology, archetypes are patterns that are hard-wired into the human subconscious which explain patterns in our behavior.
There are six major archetypes in the typical consumer brand’s customer file. I’m going to explain them all, and I’m going to do it with memes.
Customer Archetype 1: Casual Customers
Who are they? Customers who have only placed one order with your brand
What is their MO? These are the fuckbois of your customer file. They have decided to give your brand a shot. But you are one option in a sea of options. The further away you get from that first purchase date, the less likely they are to come back again.
What % of your L12M customer file?
- In a healthy, growing business: around 40-60%
- In a relatively new business: >70%
- In a stagnant business: <30%
What is your challenge? Winning the second order in a sea of noise and competition. You can think about loyalty later.
Customer Archetype 2: Curious Customers
Who are they? Customers who have placed 2-4 orders with your brand
What is their MO? Congrats, you’ve progressed from “it’s complicated” to “defining the relationship”. These customers have decided to come back, despite a sea of other options. But they’re not loyal yet–they have less than a 50% chance of coming back to you again.
What % of your L12M customer file? 20-30%
What is your challenge? Moving them down the path to loyalty by winning additional purchases.
There are no best practices here. You may need to use merchandise, marketing or promotions to get the job done. You also need to work hard to uphold your promise–aka don’t piss them off with operational issues.
Customer Archetype 3: Loyal Customers
Who are they? Customers who have greater than 50% probability of returning for a subsequent purchase. Every business has a different loyalty inflection point (run the numbers!) but for most it happens after 4-5 purchases that take place within 1-3 years.
What is their MO? Loyal customers are much more responsive to marketing than the average customer. If you run a test on your email file, these are the customers who are going to drive the bulk of the response. But they’re not so loyal that they will stick around if you dramatically change your product, price, or positioning.
What % of your L12M customer file? 10-20%, although it could be higher in an extremely well-run or “hot” brand.
What is your challenge? Getting the most out of a good thing and potentially transforming them into Biggest Fans.
You want to preserve this group’s perception of your brand while making them feel special. It’s easy to expose this group to every sale and promotion you run, dragging their lifetime value potential down. This is where personalization can really shine.
Customer Archetype 4: Biggest Fans
Who are they? Customers who love everything you stand for and will go to war for your brand.
What is their MO? These are your evangelists. They’ve been in your customer file for years. They have multiple orders. They will withstand almost any change in price or positioning, as long as you don’t change the core of what resonates with them.
What % of your L12M customer file? If you don’t have a compelling brand positioning and narrative, this number will be zero. Even if you do, these will probably be 1-5% of your customers.
What is your challenge? Leverage their unique gifts without getting distracted by this shiny object. Most of your customers will NEVER become this loyal, and they are a VERY SMALL segment of your business.
Customer Archetype 5: Gamblers
Who are they? Customers who are absolutely addicted to sales and promotions.
What is their MO? They shop you for the dopamine rush of scoring a sick deal. You acquired them during a sale–probably a clearance sale. They will only ever shop with you during a sale.
What % of your L12M customer file? It depends on how aggressively your brand uses sales and promotions. This number is unique to every business, and it’s critical that you don’t let it get too high.
What is your challenge? Identify these customers, accept them for who they are, and find a way to leverage their unique preferences. Also–limit your future exposure.
Customer Archetype 6: Disengaged Customers
Who are they? They shopped your brand, probably only once, and then either had a negative experience or moved on to the next.
What is their MO? They’ve ghosted you. They may still be in your email file, but they’re not opening or clicking. This is what happens to many of your Casual Customers in the absence of a customer nurture strategy. But it could happen to any of your customers.
What % of your L12M customer file? Think of this group as an overlay that sits on top of all the others. At any given time, 50% or more of customers who were active in the last 12 months may be disengaged, or trending towards disengagement.
What is your challenge? Developing strategies to engage the other five customer archetypes so that this audience doesn’t grow too large. Creating reengagement programs to win back as many of these customers as you can.
Hope you enjoyed my sick memes. These six customer archetypes are the building blocks of effective Modern Lifecycle Marketing strategies that will help you grow your brand profitably.