Marketing Automation

The Art & Science of a Customers Email Journey

By 5 March 2019 March 6th, 2019 No Comments

Every relationship is a journey, one marked by interactions, communication, and satisfying milestones. Customer and brand relationships are no different.

Your customer’s experience with your brand can make or break your relationship with them, and if you forgo strategizing and planning your customer journeys, then you may well lose plenty of potential loyal, returning clients.

As much – if not more – attention needs to be put into the marketing journeys of existing customers than your business puts into acquiring new leads and sales. Why? Because focussing on returning customers has a great ROI.

For starters, repeat customers are more likely to shop with you over, and over. After just one purchase, a customer is 27% more likely to make a second purchase. After a second and third purchase, they’re 54% more likely to come back and buy again. That’s a sizeable rate of return.

And when it comes to bang for your buck, repeat customers have a 60-70% chance of converting. Much higher than prospects, and even warmed up leads. For this reason, already existing customers are a great source of ongoing sales – and they require less time, effort and money to convert; a win-win.

In light of all this, spending a chunk of your marketing resources on your already existing customer base is an obvious imperative for any business. We’re going to talk about one of the core ways to keep your customers warm, and ready for conversion, by using customer email journeys.

What is a customer email journey?

Your customer email journey makes up all the email touchpoints of your overall customer experience. Whilst the general journey encompasses all interactions between the customer and your brand (across multiple marketing channels), the email component speaks to the email communication parts of the journey.

Email is a core component of a customer journey, because email has a higher ROI than other marketing channels (such as social media). Emails can be relevant, and timely – which is important in a day and age where most people are inundated with impersonal promotional content at every corner.

In a loud world brimming with marketing, email can be an extremely personal and valuable channel for your contacts, and as such is the main avenue from which you’ll be targeting your customer base.

How to build a customer email journey

The first step to building a customer journey, email-centric or not, is to map out the current experience any of your clients have with your brand.

What touch points do customers have with your brand when:

  • They first discover your brand
  • They make their first purchase
  • They’re in between potential purchases
  • They’ve made a repeat purchase
  • They interact with your customer service
  • They interact with your website
  • They attend your events

Imagine yourself in your customers shoes, and figure out what the current customer journey already looks like. From there, you’ll have a basic map you can then work on improving with full awareness.

Who is your customer?

Before building a strategy to inform your customer email journey, it’s important to fully know your audience.

If you haven’t already, your brand needs to build a buyer persona.

A buyer persona is an example profile if your average customer. It should include demographic details, their needs, wants, and why they are drawn to your brand, and how they most likely interact with you.

There are plenty of buyer persona templates out there that you can use to give structure to this part of research, but this is definitely a step you can’t skip. Knowing who your target customer is will drive and inform your strategy, content, and of course – the overall email journey.

Defining a customer email journey goal

When you’ve properly understood your customer’s behaviour, existing brand interactions and overall persona, it’s time to decide what you want your email journey to achieve for your business. What results will you measure to decide upon the success of specific email campaigns and touch points? How will you know that your customer email journey is working?

Your goal can be simple, such as increasing engagement (which can be measured by reviewing publication reports and noting click throughs, conversions, and opens). Or it can be a bit more specific – perhaps you want your email journey to turn second time buyers into third time buyers, or more generally turn all first time buyers into second time buyers. Whatever your goal, make sure it’s measureable.

Designing your customer email journey

Hopefully you’ve mapped your existing customer journey, so that these next questions (to help you design your journey) are easy to answer:

  • What funnels drive traffic to convert? Where are your new customers coming from?
  • What interactions and steps do potential customers take before purchasing?
  • What interactions does your customer undertake once they’ve decided and made a purchase?
  • What touchpoints happen between your brand and customer post-purchase, or inbetween purchases?
  • What funnels drive repeat customers to make repeat purchases?
  • What interactions and steps do repeat customers make before making a repeat purchase?

You get the idea!

After answering these questions for your customer experience – as it currently is – it’s time to identify touch point gaps. These are gaps in the journey where prospects and potential repeat customers ‘drop off’, due to lack of interaction and engagement with your brand. These gaps need to be filled, and in the case of an email journey, they should be filled with automated email campaigns.

What automated email campaigns should be part of your customer email journey?

Before getting into it, if your company has yet to take the marketing automation plunge, then let us convince you to do so. Using a marketing automation platform will enable your company to properly build out a customer email journey as a full, seamless, automated workflow. Without a marketing automation platform, your brand is going to find it very difficult to properly execute a customer email journey.

Now, let’s look at some examples of potential touch point gaps, which can be automated to prevent customer disengagement:

  • Abandoned cart / incomplete conversion campaigns
    • Has a potential customer made it clear through their behaviour that they intended on making a purchase that they ended up not completing? Create a campaign with details about the abandoned purchase, with an incentive to purchase (such as a discount). This email can trigger to send based on the behaviour ‘clicked link to visit product landing page, but did not convert’ or ‘added items to cart, but did not check out’.
  • Automated transactional emails
    • If your customer takes actions with your brand, keep their attention and engagement by automating relevant transactional campaigns which send to customers after specific actions. For example, a thank you for shopping with us email which sends an hour after a purchase is made. This ensures that transactions are not dead ends in your customer journey.
  • eNewsletters, company updates, informational digests
    • Keep your brand fresh in the minds of your customers by sending valuable updates and niche information in the form of newsletters, updates, and digests. These can be set up in advance and sent based on how long a customer has been part of your customer base mailing list. Or they can be sent fresh, in regular intervals.
  • Engagement reward campaigns
    • How do your customers know that your brand values them? By rewarding highly engaged customers, and repeat, loyal clients, you help to incentivise long term trust in your brand. Engagement reward campaigns are triggered to send to highly engaged contacts (or repeat customers) and usually incentivise ongoing engagement with special offers, VIP events, and more.
  • Re-engagement campaigns
    • As for those customers who’ve ‘dropped off’, they need loving too. By using an Engagement Scoring tool, you can isolate customers with low engagement rates. Automate campaigns to send to these disengaged customers, to try to get them back onto the engaged customer journey trajectory. Re-engagement campaigns may experiment with subject lines to improve open rates, high-value content to improve click throughs, and may give special offers to encourage repeat purchases. Find out what works for your disengaged customer base.

There’s an art and science to designing successful, seamless customer email journeys.

The science involved is all about the research done to properly understand the customer and their experience, whilst the art is about thinking up creative ways to improve and automate touch points.

Whether you love crunching numbers, or you’re more of an intuitive marketer who loves to think outside of the box, mapping and designing a customer email journey can be rewarding. Most of all, a well designed customer email journey is rewarding for your customers; ensuring that they stay happy, trusting, warm, and ready to engage.

Want to design, build, and automate your customer email journey with ease and expertise? Get in contact with the experts at Swift Digital, or give us a call on 02 9929 7001.