If you’ve been in marketing for any length of time, then you already know how effective email can be when it comes to building trust with your prospects and customers so you can increase sales and bring in more revenue.
One of the most efficient and effective ways of using email marketing to help achieve your business objectives is by charting an automated customer journey.
What is an Automated Customer Journey?
This simply refers to a series of emails that automatically get triggered whenever your customer or prospect performs a certain action.
This could be signing up to join your mailing list, making a purchase, or anything else.
In fact, automated emails are responsible for generating a healthy portion of email marketing revenue, but surprisingly, a lot of marketers still don’t use automated journeys.
That’s mostly because many are under the impression that creating an automated customer journey is hard or that it takes too many resources, too much time, or requires vast experience.
Sometimes they just don’t know where to start.
The purpose of this post is to help you to quickly and easily create your own automated journey whether you’re just starting out or if you’ve been doing this for quite a while but have never got around to automating your customer journey.
Using Email to Support Your Customer Journey
Being able to support your customer journey using email marketing is easy once you get the basics right.
Whether you’re selling products or services, all purchases begin with a need, desire, or problem – a job that needs to be done. After your prospect identifies what they want and the results they’re hoping for, they begin a journey to achieve that goal.
Depending on which industry you’re in, some customer journeys can be short and simple, but others are long and complex.
Your job as a marketer is to guide customers through the journey and provide them with information and value at every step of the way so they can make better-informed decisions that more effectively lead them to the outcome that they want (that is, your product or service).
Keep this in mind: People don’t buy ¼-inch drills because they want ¼-inch drills. People buy ¼-inch drills because they want ¼-inch holes!
So as a marketer, there’s no need to relentlessly drive your product when in fact your focus should be to address the real need of your customer. By showing the customer that you really do understand their needs, they will, in turn, see the value in your products or services.
How to Map the Customer Journey
You can do this by identifying the different steps customers take during the journey and creating several touchpoints for each of those steps where you can provide value to those prospects and customers, effectively guiding them from one point to another throughout the process.
It’s vital to utilize multiple marketing channels when coming up with these touch-points because customers tend to look at a lot of different places throughout their journey.
A particular channel might work perfectly for one point in the customer journey, yet at another time it might work poorly.
This is why it’s important to test and optimize your campaigns so you can account for this.
For instance, say you’re in the dog training niche, and you sell anti-bark collars for dogs. You could begin research for your customer journey by looking at consumer purchase behavior online.
If possible, you might even survey some purchasers to gain a deeper understanding of motivations, time frames, decision-making methods, and so on.
After completing your research, you might end up with a customer journey that looks like this:
1. Problem: Neighbors are threatening to report barking dog and this might result in a fine.
2. Job to do: Stop the dog from barking
3. Customer Journey:
- Step 1 – Search online for ‘how to stop the dog from barking’
- Step 2 – Discover anti-bark dog collars
- Step 3 – Compare bark collar products
- Step 4 – Make decision and purchase
This customer journey is relatively quick and it’s also very simple. All of this could take place in a period of just a few days.
This is something that you need to consider before you create your touchpoints.
Yet another important consideration you need to make is the motive driving each action so you are able to create targeted content that will have the most impact during each phase of the customer journey.
Once you’ve identified the job you ideal customer needs done, and once you’ve mapped out the typical journey, it’s time to guide them through it while demonstrating your value. And this is where email marketing comes in.
Creating Touch-points through Email Automation
As long as you have a powerful email marketing platform to work on, creating touchpoints is going to be an extremely easy process for you.
The best email marketing software these days has lots of tools to offer that will help you at every step of your customer journey, including:
- Web forms for capturing potential customer information
- User-friendly email creation tools or pre-designed templates to choose from
- Automated emails triggered by specific activities or engagement with your brand
- Retargeting using Google ads integration, etc.
Continuing with the dog training niche example, the touch-points when dealing with the potential customer (the dog owner) might look like this:
- Social media posts and Google ads targeting people who have barking dog issues.
- Various content on your site that helps customers learn about their options.
For instance, you might have a blog article titled ‘3 ways to stop your dog from barking’ with an anti-bark collar product available to buy online.
- Web form for signing up to a newsletter (weekly, fortnightly, or monthly) for dog owners.
- Shopping cart sign-up that has a tick box for receiving the newsletter.
- A ‘Thank you’ email for those who sign up.
- An email invitation to an upcoming training course on ‘The best way to train your dog to stop barking’
- A follow-up email containing more information or product comparison with links back to your site and your products.
- A social media or Google ads remarketing campaign to help guide the prospect back to your site.
- A ‘Forgotten something?’ email for the customer if they selected products but didn’t make a purchase.
- A ‘Need more information?’ email containing a link to relevant articles on your blog as well as customer support access.
- A promotional email offering an incredible deal on one of your products.
As you can see, it’s possible for this prospect to make their purchase any time during this journey.
The automation series can be set up to seamlessly change direction once that customer has made their purchase or if there’s any other trigger to indicate that the prospect has become a customer.
Post-Purchase Customer Journey
The automation series which supports the customer journey driving them toward their first purchase is sometimes called an onboarding series.
But even after they have made their purchase of your product, there are a lot of ways you can still stay in touch with your customer.
Say the dog owner in our example has purchased your anti-bark collar, your next step could be to set up another automation series catering to customers who have bought your products.
You can segment these customers as little or as much as you want.
You automation series might look something like this:
- A ‘purchase confirmation’ email sent upon purchase.
- An email for letting them know ‘Your purchase is on its way!’ once it’s been shipped.
- A ‘How’s it going?’ email after they’ve received their product. Here you can also include recommendations for other products that may interest them, or request a review of your product.
- A business newsletter containing valuable content and linking back to your site.
- Email notifications of any new products, promotions, events, news, etc.
I think you’ve seen, by now, that there are countless possibilities with automation.
All you need to understand is that you will get the best results when you gain a firm understanding of your customer’s journey.
Here Are Some More Ideas for Email-Supported Customer Journeys
1. The Birthday Journey
Who doesn’t love a birthday message?
Particularly if it comes with an incredible promotion.
Telling your subscribers on their special day that you appreciate them is great, but you can also consider other dates which might be important to your business or industry, such as anniversaries.
You can set up a journey triggered by that date to tell your subscribers ‘thank you’.
2. The Feedback Journey
Once a customer has made a purchase or interacted with your business, feel free to ask them about their experience.
This is something a lot of marketers are afraid of, but it’ll actually provide you with a chance to discover more valuable information that can help you improve your business.
It also helps to ensure that your customers feel respected and heard. A few days after converting your customer, set up a customer journey which sends requests for feedback, reviews, or a survey.
3. The Promotional Journey
By now you’re probably aware of exactly what your customers are thinking and looking for as they are moving through your funnel.
You can consider creating a customer journey which anticipates your prospects’ pain points, as well as the weak points in your sales funnel, so you can keep them moving forward toward a conversion.
Such promotional emails are extremely effective not only in the short term, but they also keep your business top of mind for your customers which helps to increase sales and boost loyalty over the long term, too.
4. The Reminder Journey
These days everyone leads such busy lives that a lot of important stuff keeps falling through the cracks.
You can set up a series of reminder emails to help your customers and subscribers recall important dates, deadlines, etc. so you can keep your product, business, event, or whatever else it is top of mind.
Just make sure that you don’t send bland reminder emails. You need to do your best to include helpful information that will be of interest to prospects and customers.
5. The VIP Journey
It’s always a good idea to find ways of rewarding your most valuable customers. After all, your business would not be successful without them.
A great way of building a cult following so you can keep your customers happy and coming back for more is by implementing some kind of reward system or a VIP journey.
You can create a series of emails that you send to reward customers each time they hit any major milestones.
This could be anything such as leaving their 50th review, spending a certain amount on your website, or whatever else the case may be.
As long as it makes sense for your business it will let your customers know that you are paying attention, and it will encourage them every day.
6. The Re-Engagement Journey
It doesn’t matter how phenomenal you make your email marketing program, there’s always going to be some subscribers who are just not that engaged.
Don’t just shrug your shoulders and leave them on your list. Instead, create a separate segment then send re-engagement emails as a way of trying to reconnect.
You can send a friendly note or a great offer to remind those subscribers of the reason they signed up in the first place.
This might work to recapture the excitement they initially hadn’t to be on your list. Even if the subscribers don’t engage or reconnect with you, you’re still able to purge your list so you can keep it fresh.
Remember, more engagement means improved deliverability of emails.
7. The ‘Next Steps’ Journey
The welcome series is easy for most marketers to grasp. When introducing yourself or your products to new customers or new subscribers, it’s obvious that you need to explain your products.
But keep in mind that there are other ways your returning customers might also benefit.
One such method is by creating a ‘next steps’ email series for them. You can design the journey to explain how your customers can take your products to the next level.
Or you can show how other customers are taking advantage of everything your business has to offer.
What’s your next step?
How are you going to make use of the information you’ve learned here to create or enhance the journey for your customers?
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Updated: Originally published June 12th 2019