Customer Journey – The Role of Email Marketing in the Buying Process by

What is it that your customers really want from you? This simple question might confuse many email marketers. There are more and more advanced tools for collecting data, which allow us to track customer behavior (both online and offline), but can we make proper use of it?

Use a customer journey map to find out what your customers want from you at various stages of the purchasing process. It will help you choose the best marketing solutions and design a perfect marketing strategy for your brand.

 

Customer journey

A customer journey map is one of these incredibly useful things when it comes to developing a marketing strategy that brings results.

The customer journey is the entire process of customer interaction with your brand. It starts when a person hears about your product for the first time, then goes through the phase of collecting information about it, choosing the right model or version, and making a purchase – ’til as a delighted customer they recommend your product to the people around.

Depending on the industry, type of product, and your target audience a customer journey map will look different. Try to define and carefully analyze all the touchpoints – your brand’s points of customer contact in order to better understand your customers’ journey.

 

How to prepare a customer journey map?

Recently I’ve read a step by step guide to building customer journey maps on the ConversionXL blog. The author points out that you should start the process of preparing a customer journey map by creating a customer persona – a research-based modeled representations of who your customers are.

Building customer personas can help improve the way you communicate with your customers, so it’s a good idea to devote sufficient time to this activity. The more precise the customer persona, the easier it is to define the touchpoints with your brand – each moment of interaction between the customer and your brand make an occasion for a certain marketing action.

Google has divided the customer journey into four stages (awareness, consideration, intent, and decision) and defined two roles of marketing channels. Depending on the chosen marketing channel it can either assist the customer in the path to purchase or serve as the last interaction – the final step before buying a product.

 

Where is email on the map?

Email is neither the first nor the last touchpoint between a customer and your brand in the path to purchase. However, it might be a powerful marketing tool before, during and after the purchase.

It enables you to build reputation as an industry expert, provides customers with unique product features,and the presents benefits of using your product. It helps to establish and nurture relationships with customers and it might encourage your subscribers to go to a website or a landing page that allows purchase.

  • Before the purchase you can present your offer. Make your customer remember your brand and know all the features that make your product different from the competition.
  • Send messages with an appropriate offer and a clear call to action that will encourage your subscribers to buy the product.
  • After the purchase you should carry on fostering the relationship between your brand and customers. Prepare campaigns inspiring loyalty and enthusiasm. Experiment, try to include non-standard actions – email marketing allows you to track your efforts, produce detailed statistics of your campaigns and optimize your strategy for your target audience.

CustomerJourney

Example touchpoints on a customer journey map

Let me give you an example of a path to purchase using an underdeveloped buyer persona – John (I definitely recommend to take time and thoroughly profile yours). Don’t worry, if the purchasing process of your product looks different – it’s just an example to show you how useful a customer journey map might be:

  1. John recognizes a certain want or need – he starts to look for products that will fulfill it.
  2. John researches and compares available products and services online.
  3. He comes across various websites. He is looking for reliable information on the particular product or service – he reads company blogs.
  4. John starts to develop a certain view on the products available on the market. However, he needs more information – he subscribes to a few promising newsletters.
  5. Based on the collected information he becomes more aware of his personal preferences. He can distinguish between the companies on the market and recognize the experts in the industry.
  6. At some point he is able to point out the product he is interested in.
  7. He is ready to make a purchase and waits for the right moment.
  8. He buys the product.
  9. He receives a thank you message with useful tips on how to use the product properly.
  10. After some time he receives a message encouraging him to share an opinion on the purchased product (that is a wonderful occasion to get valuable customer feedback – think carefully about what you want to ask).
  11. John receives another nugget of useful information about the product he had bought. No commercial content, only valuable information that turn a satisfied customer into a true fan of a brand.
  12. At the right time John receives information about related products and accessories that he might find interesting.
  13. From time to time he receives an individual promo code and a discount, each time he recommends the product to a friend.

 

Matching your customer’s needs and automation

Email allows you to segment your subscriber list and diversify your actions to meet the needs of each separated group. You can adjust your strategy to the preferences of certain groups and increase the efficiency of your email marketing campaigns.

Email marketing automation is another significant feature you should remember about. You can program most of your messages so that they are automatically sent at a certain time (e.g. subscriber’s birthday) or triggered by a certain action (e.g. purchase). This way you can reduce both the time necessary to manage a campaign and the workload – one person will be able to coordinate several email marketing campaigns.

 

Summary

A a well-designed customer journey map can be priceless. It will help you recognize which touchpoints require educational content and which ones need a product offer. If your resources are scarce, a customer journey map will help you distinguish the critical touchpoints – where certain actions must be taken – from the ones that can be handled later on.

Such a map can help you enormously with preparing an email marketing strategy that brings results. It will help you understand the purchasing process and make the best use of all your email marketing activities.

What is your experience with customer journey maps? Can you share some practical tips? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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