How to Use the Power of Email to Enhance Your Customer Journey

Are you effectively harnessing the power of email to guide prospects and customers through the different stages on their journey with your organization? Or are there communication gaps in your customer sales cycle? We help you answer those questions in this month’s feature.

Step 1 — Map Your Customer Journey

A customer journey map is a great way to take a walk in your customers’ shoes as they interact with your organization. This involves getting down on paper all the touchpoints customers have on the way to conversion, identifying the connections between the touchpoints, as well as the reason actions were taken at each one.

By establishing the patterns in a customer’s buying journey, you can better anticipate his or her next action — and send the right marketing message at the right time — to ultimately get the desired response. In other words, a customer journey map serves as a valuable tool to give you a perspective of your customers’ needs, how well you’re meeting them, and where improvements are warranted.

The following are examples of the type of information you’ll need to create a customer journey map:

  1. The device used to initiate engagement with your organization, such as a specific mobile device or personal computer.
  2. The channel of engagement, such as promotional email, website, social media site, SMS, or pay-per-click ad.
  3. The information obtained and the action taken as a result, such as content viewed in an email or on a website, links clicked, or a document downloaded.
  4. The timing between each interaction, which can help to establish buying patterns.

Step 2 — Identify and Fill the Gaps in Communication

Not only does mapping a customer journey show you where to allocate resources to boost sales, but also it helps you find communication gaps in key stages of the journey. You can figure out what email communications should be added or modified to help drive customers to take the next step. While many of these email communications can be automated, you may find some interactions that prompt live touchpoints with sales representatives.

As you build your customer journey, consider the following types of automated email messages that are important in moving prospects and customers through the sales cycle. If you currently send these types of emails, also evaluate them to determine whether they motivate prospects and customers by consistently providing relevant and timely communications that build loyalty and grow sales.

  • Welcome emails — A prospect has initiated engagement with your organization by opting in at your website or through a social media site. You have that individual’s attention, so be sure to follow up promptly with a strong welcome email. Recipients expect welcome emails, so they frequently are opened. Some important things to include in your welcome emails are relevant information about your company and products, the opportunity to connect with your organization online and at social media sites, a request for subscriber preference data, and special offers to incentivize engagement and sales.
  • Trigger-based transactional emails — Not only do welcome emails traditionally experience high open rates, but other trigger-based emails do too. According to Marketing Sherpa trigger-based emails (such as thank-you messages) and transactional emails (such as receipts and order confirmations) also have high open rates of around 50%. In comparison, direct-marketing emails, which include email newsletters, typically have average open rates around 20%. So be sure your organization sends automated thank-you and transactional emails to your customers. In addition, take the opportunity to cross-sell in these emails by showing other products or services your customers may find useful. Also consider asking customers for a product review to use as testimonials in future email promotions.
  • Shopping-cart recovery emails — According to a recent study by eMarketer, shoppers abandon online shopping carts approximately two-thirds of the time. And despite marketers’ efforts, this rate has held steady for the past few years. Setting up an automated cart-abandonment campaign is one way to help incentivize prospective customers to complete their transactions. MarketingSherpa demonstrated that triggered shopping-cart recovery emails can help recapture up to 29% of abandoned carts, which translates into significant revenue for companies. In addition to providing a reminder that a transaction wasn’t completed, an abandoned-cart email could include an incentive to complete the purchase, such as a discount or free shipping.
  • Email newsletters — Email newsletters are a valuable tool for educating both prospects and customers about your company, products, and services. In addition to nurturing existing relationships, email newsletters that include relevant content and are sent on a regular basis can also be used to help grow your customer base. Check out this infographic on Pinterest to determine just how valuable an email newsletter could be for your organization.
  • Customer-appreciation emails — Send an email message to celebrate a subscriber’s anniversary with your company or acknowledge a customer’s birthday. These emails are a great way to stay top of mind with customers. And when appropriate, include a special discount coupon to help encourage a new transaction with your organization. Research conducted by Experian CheetahMail and reported by MarketingProfs showed that personalized email campaigns acknowledging customers’ birthdays or anniversaries generate higher open rates, transaction levels, and revenue compared to mass promotion mailings sent to the same subscribers. Open rates were approximately three times higher, for example, while transaction rates ran as much as about six times higher.
  • Reengagement emails — Use reengagement email campaigns to reignite interest among subscribers who haven’t made a purchase or engaged with your company over an extended time, such as 6 months. Also known as win-back emails, this type of campaign can renew relationships between you and your customers. Let customers know you miss them by offering an incentive to make a purchase or update their preferences. For a good example of a successful reengagement campaign, check out this MarketingSherpa case study.

New App Now Available to Help Build Successful Customer Journeys

So how can you most effectively use email to guide prospects and customers through the key stages on their journey with your organization? There’s an app for that! ExactTarget recently introduced a multi-channel building tool — Journey Builder Application. This new cloud-based marketing solution can help you map the digital interactions with your customers — including through email, websites, mobile, and social — to design and automate responsive campaigns based on the way they’re engaging with your brand.

Is Journey Builder the right solution for your organization? As an ExactTarget Silver Partner, FulcrumTech can answer that question. Plus, we can help you better understand your customer journey and find ways to effectively use email to optimize your marketing return on investment. Email us or give us a call at 215-489-9336 and get started today.

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