It’s time for the return of our email marketing automation blog series. In chapter 8, we’re taking last week’s customer journey mapping theory and helping you put it into practice.
You now know why customer journey mapping matters. But before you dive headfirst into initiation, you need to learn how to wield this newfound power.
Whether as part of an automated email marketing campaign or any other aspect of sales or marketing, the customer journey is dictated by the buying lifecycle.
As always, we’re going to bust this jargon and help you get to grips with these concepts so you can seize control of your customer journey.
Your customer journey map and the circle of life
The customer lifecycle maps out the stages a user goes through on the path to becoming a loyal, paying customer.
This lifecycle takes them from their first encounter with your brand to the first, second and third purchase form your business (and beyond). This is the marketing world’s circle of life, if you like. And it makes for a foolproof starting point for customer journey mapping.
There’s ample room for customising your own customer journey map based on the nuances of your customers’ shopping experiences.
But let’s start with 5 basic steps that are pretty much universal to any business.
Step 1: acquisition
First things first: this is the moment a user becomes part of your brand community, so to speak. This might mean joining your all-important mailing list, for example. We hope this isn’t a rare occurrence for your business, as fresh blood in the form of new subscribers is the vital first step towards converting window shoppers into fully fledged customers.
A killer welcome campaign is the key to making an immediate and memorable first impression on new signups. This may seem more like a nice-to-have than a necessity, but, in saturated markets, going the extra mile is a must. Naturally, the most efficient and effective welcome campaigns are automated. They leverage tried and tested strategies to drive maximum engagement from the word ‘go’.
This is also your first and best opportunity to gather data on user profiles, behaviour and preferences. Construct your welcome campaign with care, and each email sent will return valuable insights on how best to communicate with your audience in future.
Step 2: consideration
This crucial phase sees would-be customers weigh up their options. They haven’t quite committed to a purchase yet, but they’re toying with the idea. During the browsing process, there’s only so much you can do. Your product range or service suite will have to speak for itself.
When curiosity gets the better of them, though, your opportunity to swoop in and nudge sales over the line presents itself. Adding products to an online basket is a clear indication of interest. The abandonment of that cart shows there are some objections the user can’t put out of their minds, though – at least for now.
In the second instalment of this blog series, we explored the fundamentally flawed logic of cart abandonment emails. Sure, they have their place in the wider context of email marketing, but be warned that cart abandonment is a symptom of customer abandonment. Focus your efforts on removing would-be customers’ objections rather than falling back on the ‘oops – looks like you forgot something!’ approach.
Step 3: purchase
Huzzah! The sale is made, the payment is processed – your work here is done, right? Wrong.
An email marketer’s work is never truly done, and it certainly doesn’t end at a completed purchase. In the immediate, you’ve got the post-purchase aftercare to contend with. At a minimum, this should include:
- A thank-you email triggered upon purchase
- A series of helpful order updates throughout the shipping process
- A follow-up email asking customers how they’re enjoying their products (once they’ve been delivered and a customary week or so has passed)
Customers don’t want to feel like they’ve been used and abused. Their custom should be valued, and that value should be communicated clearly. Treat them right and this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Step 4: retention
No profitable business was built on one-off purchases. The secret to sustainable revenue is to charm customers into not only buying once but buying time after time after time. It’s an established fact that it costs substantially more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Loyalty marketing is the lifeblood of business, and your golden ticket to long-term customer retention. There’s no quick fix for holding on to valued customers. it’s a labour of love, but the fruits of that labour make it all worthwhile.
From exclusive discounts and freebies to red hot content resources and product previews, there are numerous ways to show your mailing list some email love. Just make sure to keep their needs and expectations front of mind. When making any decision on your loyalty marketing strategy, consider whether the perks are worth the financial investment your customers are making in your business.
Step 5: re-engagement
Some customer relationships go off the boil – it’s a fact of life. The defeatist business owner would call these unfortunate incidents a failure. The optimistic email marketer, on the other hand, knows this presents an ideal opportunity to rekindle the spark.
Re-engaging your subscribers can result in revenue you thought was lost forever. There are discounts, special offers, new product releases and all manner of other lures you can use to reconnect with old flames from your subscriber list.
Some customers like to be coddled. You can make them see how much they mean to your business by staying in touch, keeping them sweet and making sure they’re the first to know about any exciting updates or offers.
Removing the roadblocks from your customer journey map
So, you’ve got your customer journey map in your mind’s eye. This is the archetypal path your customers will take from meeting your brand to taking that relationship to the next level.
As a business owner, though, you’re probably all too aware of what they say about the best laid plans. Like it or not, some potential customers will stray from this perfectly mapped path. The key is not to write these off as anomalies. Instead, try to diagnose what’s stopping window shoppers from becoming paying customers.
Data, as always, is a hot commodity for email marketers. Gathering behavioural data – particularly on deviations from the typical customer journey – will help you artfully segment your audience and target each member of your mailing list based on patterns in their behaviour.
You can’t remove the roadblocks to conversions without understanding the psychology behind them. There are countless potential customer journey mapping obstacles that could be wreaking havoc with your conversion rate, but here are a few of the primary culprits we’ve seen in the past:
Before you’ve brought a would-be customer into the fold, they’re still likely to be playing the field and assessing their options. Your competitors might have lower prices, a more extensive product range or a higher average customer rating, for example. Any one of these decision-making factors could see you lose business to other key players in your marketplace. Make time to analyse data on customer drop-off (and go out of your way to generate user feedback) so you can refine your messaging and remove customer objections.
Without a smooth, streamlined path from your website’s entrance through to the end of the checkout process, you can expect a decent proportion of users to abandon their search along the way. The same is true of your email marketing strategy. The customer journey must be logical, intuitive and easy to navigate at all times. As ever, data is your friend here. Dig deep into your website’s on-page engagement data to identify areas that see high exit rates and low session duration metrics. Where you find clues to experiential roadblocks, take action and measure the results of your activity.
There are also times when would-be customers simply lose the motivation to go ahead with a purchase. While you can’t possibly eradicate this for good, you can take a proactive approach to email marketing and leave no stone unturned. At every stage of the customer journey, ask yourself whether you have a targeted campaign in place to keep users engaged and motivated to buy. Where there’s evidence that members of your mailing list are losing interest – such as the presence of a recently abandoned cart – build a re-engagement campaign into your strategy. Staying in touch means staying on their radar. Give potential customers no option but to remember your name.
Harness your data, but don’t forget human nature
We couldn’t end things here without a final word on the importance of holding on to that human element. Data makes the automated email marketing world go round – but every shred of data in your possession tells a story about how real-life human beings interact with your business.
Don’t lose sight of the many human motivations, behaviours and preferences that lead you to buy. Your data tells you what users do. Human experience tells you why.
Get your free 14-day trial of the Websand platform today to unleash the power of your customer data and build an automated email campaign made by human beings for human beings.
See you next time.
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