The Customer Journey: it’s something all marketers will have most likely come across at some point in their careers, but why is it so often overlooked or dismissed? Understanding the thought process of your customer is a crucial part of developing an effective and relevant email marketing campaign. Getting to know these five simple steps could be the key to your email marketing success.
What is the Customer Journey?
In short, the Customer Journey describes the thought process and actions of your customer from finding out about your business (i.e. initial contact) up until becoming a loyal customer (after-sales.) It should be the aim of every business that all customers are able to complete all five steps of the process. This can mean different things for every type of business (e.g. B2B or B2C) but, on a whole, the main goal of every business is to attract and keep customers. This cyclical process is a great basis for your email marketing strategy, and it’s good practice to ensure every email you send is reflective of one step of the Customer Journey. Let’s get started!
Step One: Awareness
Awareness. This is the first step of launching your email marketing campaign. Before you can convince a customer to purchase a product/service, you first have to make them aware that the product/service in question exists. One great opportunity to incorporate awareness into your email strategy is by creating a welcome email. Welcome emails give first time/potential customers a quick overview of your brand, who you are as a business, and what you can offer the customer. This is the first step in establishing a buying relationship with customers. Of course, because this is a cyclical process, you also want to reach out to existing customer. Emails advertising a sale, new product range, or a product launch are all examples of how to reflect awareness in your email campaign. Here is a great example from Lyft. This design clearly introduces the service and explains to customers what they can expect when using it. We also love that they have included a preview of the app – the more relevant information, the better!
Step Two: Consideration
Naturally, consumers are cautious. We want to be sure that, first of all, the product/service will meet our expectations, and secondly, that we are getting the best deal available. Nobody wants to pay more than required! With this in mind, step two of the Customer Journey is about convincing your customer to choose you rather than competitors. There are several ways you could go about this:
- Testimonials: One way to convince your customers that your product/service is worth their time and/or money is by including testimonials from other satisfied customers. Even if we don’t like to admit it, most of us are at least partly influenced by the opinions of others, and good reviews can work wonders for customers in doubt! In fact, reading a good review can often be the deciding factor in the decision to buy. Try including quotes or snippets of reviews in your email to show customers what they can expect from your product/service. This simple yet effective email from Kate Spade includes customer comments for the advertised products – bonus points for the animation!
- Incentives: Sometimes, we just need a push in the right direction before we make the decision to purchase. A lot of the time, this is made a lot easier by the inclusion of a special offer or a sale. If the customer notices the product is on sale or has a great offer attached (e.g free shipping or free gift with purchase) this can often encourage them to buy. With this sweet email design, J Crew are going the extra mile to convince customers to purchase in their sale. A sense of urgency is also generated by including the term “final sale styles.”
- Eliminate the competition: One super important aspect of marketing is to be aware of your direct competitors. The chances are, if your customer is looking for a product (i.e. a new laptop) they will not have just looked at your business, they would have checked out your competitors too. While we wouldn’t recommend you mentioning competitors in your email campaign (particularly in a negative manner!), we do advise you to be one step ahead of the game. Find out your USP (unique selling point) and use it to set yourself aside from other brands on the market. List the unique benefits of your product/service and your customers will see that you’re the top choice!
Step Three: Purchase
It’s true to say that most businesses are sales driven, and a customer clicking through to make the purchase on your website is, understandably, the ultimate goal for many of you. But how much thought have you actually put into your email design to make this step of the customer journey as straightforward and effective as possible? An over-complicated purchase process is the last thing a customer wants to experience, and is often the cause of abandoned shopping carts. To make your email purchase-friendly, bear in mind the following…
- Make sure the information about the product is accurate. The last thing a customer wants is a surprise when they get to the checkout. Don’t be deceptive. Make sure the price is current and up to date, shipping information is correct, and, most importantly, the product you are advertising is in stock!
- Make sure all images and mentions of the product on offer are linked to the relevant page on your site. This saves the customer time and means they don’t have to put in too much effort to find what they are looking for on your website – something which can be very frustrating for consumers!
- Make your CTAs (call to actions) clear and easy to find. Our guide on CTAs should help you some more on this. The customer needs to be able to quickly identify how to purchase the product/service. If they can’t find the CTA, the chances are, they’ll look elsewhere.
- It’s also a good idea to include a phone number which customers can use to get in touch with you if they have any queries about the purchase. Anything you can include to make this step easy and stress-free is a bonus!
Nordstrom make the purchase process easier than ever in this example which pretty much sums up all of the above points:
Step Four: Retention
Ok so your customer has purchased the product, yay! Does this mean your work is done? Absolutely not! As a business, you should make it your aim to establish a relationship with your customer and keep them coming back for more! If you forget about your customer as soon as the transaction is completed, you’ll miss out on opportunities to engage. One idea to promote customer retention is by sending a thank you email after purchase. A standard transactional email is one thing, but thanking your customer means you are going the extra mile to show them you appreciate them. Try including a discount voucher for money off their next purchase to encourage them to return to your site. Reengagement emails also fall under this category. It’s important to reach out to customers following a purchase and stimulate their interest in your business all over again. Amazon do a consistently good job here with their classic “re-purchase email” in reminding customers of products they have previously purchased in order to encourage them to reengage.
Step Five: Advocacy
Last, but definitely not least, comes advocacy. This step refers to customers publicly showing appreciation for your product and attracting new customers in the process – social media engagement, product reviews, and recommendations are all common examples of this step of the Customer Journey. You can use your email marketing campaign to reach out to customers and encourage them to become advocates for your brand (either consciously, or subconsciously.) By including social media call-to-actions in your emails, you’re letting your customer know that you have a voice on multiple platforms. If your brand has a lot of active followers on social media, it looks impressive to new customers – particularly if you engage with them. Encourage your email subscribers to follow you on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook to demonstrate their advocacy for your business. If they need an extra incentive, a giveaway can do the trick! If social media isn’t your cup of tea (here’s why we think it should be), you can also reach out to customers and inspire them to rate your business or write a review for you. As mentioned previously, testimonials are great at winning over new clients and if your customer is satisfied with your product/service, they should be more than happy to get on board! In this example from Nasty Gal, customers are encouraged to share the email with a friend and in doing so, are subconsciously advocating the brand through a personal recommendation – genius!
We hope we’ve inspired you to always stay focused on the customer journey when planning your email marketing campaigns. If you remember to always refer back to the five steps, your emails are sure to be more relevant and effective for your business.
Until next time,
Your Mail Designer 365 Team