Article first published in June 2017, updated July 2019
Having a strong understanding of your clients’ different customer journeys is crucial to maintaining a strong relationship with your clients’ customers. The more targeted and personalized each touchpoint or email feels to a customer, the more engaged they will be with your clients’ brands.
Sending highly targeted emails per customer journey can be time-consuming if sent as one-off campaigns. Advanced marketing automation tools help to streamline the customer journey touchpoint process and will allow your clients to connect with all of their customers in an efficient and relevant way.
In this guide, we will first discuss what customer journeys are, and will then explain how marketing automation plays a role in connecting customers to your clients.
What is a customer journey, and why is it important?
Customer journeys take into account what a customer’s experience is, beginning from the time that a customer first becomes aware of a brand, through the time that they purchase a service or product, and hopefully, the journey doesn’t end there.
The goal for brands is to acquire new customers and retain the customers they already have—one of the best ways to do this is by managing different customer journeys. For example, one customer journey can exist for someone who signed up for your client’s newsletter for the first time, and a different customer journey can exist for a customer who decides to extend their existing monthly subscription.
Many agencies that design customer journeys for their clients will first identify which personas make up their client’s customer base, and then they will determine which stages exist within a customer journey.
According to Daniel Newman, CEO of Broadsuite Media Group, you need to know your customers’ different personas, goals, and what actions a customer needs to take in order to reach their goal. This will determine the different touchpoints throughout a personalized and targeted customer journey.
Some agencies decide to create customer journey maps and then use their analysis to discover where there are gaps in communication and where their clients’ succeed in customer satisfaction. According to Goran Paunovic, Creative Director at ArtVersion Interactive, “Journey mapping…encourages stakeholders to consider the customer’s needs, wants, emotions and questions, and [creates] the path to fulfill those needs.”
The main things to consider when developing and analyzing a customer journey is to look at what customers feel, expect, and need at each stage of the journey. A customer might need to feel seen and appreciated after first signing up for a newsletter, and they will need to feel understood and heard later on in the journey when they are seeking an effective solution to their problem.
It’s important to be in touch with the customer from start to end of their journey and throughout the different stages to make sure that they feel valued, heard, and engaged. McKinsey&Company believes that doing so can “enhance customer satisfaction, improve sales and retention, reduce end-to-end service cost, and strengthen employee satisfaction.” Not only will customer journeys keep your client’s customers engaged—but they will also drive increased ROI.
How does marketing automation come into play? Email journeys
Marketing automation emails that are sent in customer journeys are based off triggers defined by an email marketing tool. This is known as an email journey. When each customer takes a specific action, a marketing automation tool will send that customer a relevant email that you designed for your client.
These tools also allow you to define what each trigger is, which will vary from client to client and journey to journey.
These tools allow you to design different customer journeys and create the content for each email in every stage of the journey. This is different from sending one-off email campaigns to a list of customers.
When designing behavior-triggered emails, the emails are automatically sent out based on the segmented lists you built and the stage in which each individual falls under within their journey. This saves time and increases relevance and personalization. In fact, studies show that automated emails get 86% higher open rates, produce a 196% increase in click-through rates, and generate 320% more revenue than standard promotional emails.
How do you do customer mapping?
Combining the ideas of customer journeys and email journeys may sound a little complicated at first, but they really aren’t all that difficult thanks to customer mapping. The process of customer mapping combines the customer journey with an automated email journey to create an outline of the content your customer will be receiving during their journey. A typical customer email journey map will look something like this:
The different stages and touchpoints in an automated customer journey
It’s important to determine how many touchpoints should be involved per customer journey and what the content should be at each touchpoint.
When we explored customer journeys earlier this month, we explained how there are three basic stages customers go through when exploring a brand. The first stage involves casual visitors who are not customers yet but are interested in your client’s offers. The second stage involves active subscribers who are enjoying their first experience with your client’s business. The third stage involves people who are more interested in becoming customers and should be guided toward making a purchase.
Each stage has different customer journeys containing relevant content that will promote engagement and interest. For example, stage 1 should receive 5-10 emails in their journey, while stage 3 should receive 3-5 emails in their journey.
To learn more about what the content of these journeys should be, you can read more here.
Just how effective is email automation?
While some believe that email marketing and email automation may be losing favor to the use of social media, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Yes, many businesses are turning their attention to social media for lead generation and traffic, but once those leads have consented to joining your email list, you need the right tools to communicate with them.
Broadcast emails used to be the method chosen amongst email marketers, which meant sending out the same email to everyone on your list. Now, your email subscribers demand to be treated as an individual, so email personalization is vital, and email automation is the best way to simplify the personalization process.
When combined with email list segmentation, automation can turn your email marketing strategy from so-so to unstoppable.
To show you just how effective email automation is, we’ve collected some recent statistics to back up why marketers need email automation to have a solid email marketing strategy.
- Automated emails get 119% higher click rates than broadcast emails – Epsilon
- Marketers who use automation see up to 50% conversion rates – eMarketers
- The top reported benefit of email automation is to create more and better quality leads – Pepper Global
- Event-triggered marketing, such as email automation, can potentially save 80% of your direct mail budget – Gartner
- Research estimates that there is around a 15% savings on creative production with marketing automation – Gartner
- Custom automation workflows have the highest click-through rate of any automation workflow at 17.27% – Omnisend
- Companies who automate their emails are 133% more likely to send messages that are more relevant to consumers – The Lenskold and Pedowits Groups
- 80% of marketing automation users state that they saw an increase in the overall number of leads & 77% had an increase in overall conversions – Invespcro
4 Examples of automated customer journeys you can implement for your clients
Creating automated customer journeys can be an intimidating task when marketing teams think about all the varying types of subscribers they’ve accumulated. To assist in your creative process, we’ve compiled a list of automated customer journeys that could (and should) be included in every email marketing team’s arsenal.
1. Welcome email
When customers first sign up for your client’s newsletter or purchase a service, this behavior should trigger a welcome email and be sent out automatically.
These campaigns are also known as lead nurture campaigns since a new lead tends to sign up for a brand’s newsletter or another email list prior to making a first purchase.
Through the use of a welcome email campaign, you can nurture your lead and slowly encourage products or services that may suit their needs instead of outright pushing an initial purchase on them.
Many agencies decide to send special offers in welcome emails, which encourages users to explore your client’s products. You can also include fun content with tips and tricks they can use when learning about your client’s brand. You can decide to include 5-10 emails in this initial stage spread out across the month in order to promote engagement
You can also include content with tips and tricks subscribers can use when learning about your client’s brand. You can decide to include 5-10 emails in this initial stage spread out across the month in order to promote engagement through offers and storytelling content.
Source: Really Good Emails
2. Reminder emails
Reminder emails are most relevant to existing customers who need to follow up with your client’s brand. This could include scheduling follow-up appointments, renewing a subscription, or taking a survey. This is a great way to re-engage with current customers by sending them a quick call to action.
You may want to have just a couple of reminder emails set up in this journey in order to prompt them to take action, while also providing them with useful content that relates to their next step.
For example, if they’re being reminded to renew a subscription, you might want to include what’s different about the new subscription model versus the old one.
Source: Really Good Emails
3. Milestone offers
Milestone emails can include anniversary offers or new VIP offers. These emails are based on triggers and can depend on where someone is in their journey. Sending relevant and personalized offers helps to build a relationship with your client’s customers, and also encourages them to make purchases.
These offers are especially useful because they encourage customer loyalty. Only your client’s most dedicated customers will receive these emails. These journeys send the message that the more loyal a customer is to your client’s brand, the more offers and benefits they will receive.
Source: Really Good Emails
4. Re-engagement emails
These “We miss you” emails target customers who seem to be at the end of their customer journey. As discussed earlier, the goal is to make sure a customer journey continues after the purchasing process and that customers remain engaged with your clients. One of the best ways to re-engage with customers is by understanding what their expectations are, why they became unengaged, and how you can appeal to their needs.
Customer journey mapping can really come into play here when designing these automated customer journey emails. Sending dynamic content, solutions to their problems, engaging stories, and offers can help to re-engage distant customers.
Source: Really Good Emails
When creating customer journeys, you need to take into account the different stages that exist in each journey and how these stages vary by segmented lists or personas. Pay attention to customers’ feelings and needs in each stage of the process.
Marketing automation not only saves time, but it also increases relevance, efficiency, and revenue. The more you can focus on building strong relationships; the more effective your automated customer journey campaigns will be.
Email automation isn’t just good for sending relevant information to your email subscribers, it can also be used to learn more about your customers, and we share how in our blog on the topic. Check it out.