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Understanding the Email Marketing Customer Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide

Mastering the Email Marketing Customer Journey for Long-Term Success

This post will explore how you can leverage the customer journey to create irresistible email marketing campaigns. 

We’ll delve into practical tips and best practices for maximizing the potential of this powerful marketing channel, from capturing leads to nurturing relationships. 

So, let's dive in and discover how to make every step of your customer's journey count in your email marketing efforts.

Table of Contents

Understanding the Customer Journey in Email Marketing

First, it’s vital to understand precisely what we mean by “customer journey” and what the stages of that journey are.

What Is Customer Journey in Email Marketing?

When marketers use the phrase “customer journey,” we’re referring to the path a customer takes from when they first encounter your brand to when they become a loyal long-term customer.

What Are the 5 Stages of the Customer Journey?

Understanding the Email Marketing Customer Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide

Most marketers divide the customer journey into five stages:

  • Awareness: The customer knows they need a solution and encounters your service or product.

  • Consideration: The customer is actively seeking information and comparing solutions, weighing your brand against your competitors.

  • Decision: The customer signs up for a service or purchases a product.

  • Retention: The customer has begun their experience with your brand and is continually deciding whether to stick with that choice or make a different one.

  • Loyalty: Your customer has bonded deeply with your brand, possibly even becoming a brand ambassador and referral source.

What Are the 7 Stages of Customer Journey?

Understanding the Email Marketing Customer Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide

Sometimes you will see the same journey broken into seven stages instead of five.

  • Out-of-Market: Customer discovers they have a problem and maybe casually seeking a solution.

  • Trigger: Something happens that makes the customer ready to act.

  • Initial Brand Consideration: The customer is compiling information on potential solutions from different brands.

  • Active Evaluation: Customer is evaluating the pros and cons of each brand’s products or services.

  • Purchase Decision: The customer makes a choice and commits to it.

  • Experience Stage: The customer is evaluating their choice. Does this product/service solve their problem? Is it easy to use? Is customer service easy to access?

  • Loyalty: A happy customer becomes a committed user and advocate for the brand.

Building an Effective Email Marketing Strategy

Understanding the Email Marketing Customer Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide

How do you create a customer journey email marketing strategy in email marketing? You need to create targeted emails aimed at each stage of the journey and then use automations to deliver them at the right time.

  • Awareness stage: Focus on providing valuable content that educates and introduces your brand.

  • Consideration stage: Highlight your products' or services' benefits and features to help potential customers make informed decisions.

  • Decision-making stage: You can offer special promotions or discounts to encourage them to take action.

  • Retention/Loyalty stages: Focus on nurturing customer relationships by sharing helpful resources or offering personalized recommendations.

To automate this process effectively, you can use email marketing software to set up triggered emails based on specific actions or time intervals. This ensures that your emails reach customers at the right moment in their journey.

Why Trust Us? Lauren Haas is a serial entrepreneur who has launched several successful businesses. She uses her marketing know-how to serve clients through her boutique content marketing agency, Main Street Marketing Mix.  

Email Marketing Customer Journey: Key Steps

Now that you have a clear picture of what a customer journey email marketing strategy is, let’s break down step by step how to implement it into your email marketing.

Stage 1: Attracting and Capturing Subscribers

To get your email marketing messages in front of your target market during the awareness stage, you’ll need to grow your email list as much as possible. There are several ways to do this.

  • Use social media to promote your email list.

  • Offer lead magnets (ebooks, checklists, webinars) that will be irresistible to your target audience.

  • Ask your readers to refer people who might be interested in your list.

  • Get other businesses to recommend your email newsletter.

  • Run paid ads to promote your list.

  • Make sure your emails are hosted online and SEO optimized.

If you’re using beehiiv to manage your list, you’ll find most of these features built into your dashboard. That’s because beehiiv is a platform designed specifically for promoting growth.

Stage 2: Building Relationships through Personalized Welcome Emails and Automations

Understanding the Email Marketing Customer Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide

Carefully crafted welcome emails and thoughtfully designed onboarding sequences will establish a strong foundation with your leads as they progress through the customer journey.

Use automations and list segments to create personalized messages that resonate with your audience's specific needs and interests at any given time.

For example, consider building a long-term welcome series that unfolds like this:

  • Customer receives a welcome email when they sign up, telling them what to expect from you.

  • After being on your list long enough to receive some newsletters, they receive a survey asking for their input about what they’re receiving.

  • In that survey, you might also gather some information that helps you sort the reader into the right interest group segment so future emails are more personalized.

Stage 3: Nurturing Prospects Through Personalized Content

By leveraging segmentation and dynamic content, you can create a more tailored and engaging experience for each audience member.

Segmentation means dividing your audience into groups based on demographics, behavior, or preferences. This enables you to deliver dynamic content that resonates with each segment's needs and interests. 

For example, a travel agency might have different segments for families, single travelers, and seniors. Or a software company might divide its audience into general prospects, people who’ve signed up for a trial, and regular paid users.

Choose meaningful segments that will let you deliver customized messages to specific segments, considering their unique pain points and motivations. 

Stage 4: Maximizing Conversions and Retention

Understanding the Email Marketing Customer Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide

Although most of your emails are serving the “consideration” phase of relationship-building and brand education, you always want to be moving toward the decision point when the prospect becomes a customer (or the existing customer buys from you again.)

Special deals or limited-time offers create a sense of urgency and exclusivity that can boost your engagement levels. Whether it's a discount code or an exclusive product launch for email subscribers only, these promotions serve as powerful incentives.

Make sure that each email has a clear, compelling call to action (CTA). You might want to restate your CTA more than once in a longer email, so it appears early in the message and again at the end. But avoid confusing your reader by requesting different actions.

Also, think of your email newsletters as a way to build community around your brand. For example, when Mady Maio launched her Camber travel app, she knew she needed to foster a community of superfans to make it succeed. So, she started a newsletter on beehiiv. Fast-forward to a year later, and Maio has grown her local newsletter to over 8,700 subscribers with an incredible 71% open rate!

Stage 5: Analyzing and Optimizing the Email Customer Journey

The email marketing cycle doesn’t end when the customer makes a purchase.

Keeping customers coming back should be a top priority for your business. That's why implementing effective customer retention strategies is essential. From loyalty programs to personalized recommendations, there are various tactics you can employ to keep your customers engaged and loyal to our brand.

Also, keep an eye on how your email campaigns are performing. By examining metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates, you can gain valuable insights into what resonates with your readers and make informed decisions to optimize your email content and design.

Customer Journey Email Marketing: Closing Thoughts

By crafting personalized emails that align with each stage of the customer journey, you can nurture strong relationships with your audience and drive conversions.

Automated email sequences triggered by specific actions or milestones help your business deliver timely and relevant content at each stage of the customer journey. At the same time, segmenting your list lets you speak directly to individuals with highly personalized messages.

Understanding the Email Marketing Customer Journey: A Step-by-Step Guide

The beehiiv dashboard gives you all the tools you need to deliver the right message at the right time for each stage of the journey. 

If you’re not already using the beehiiv platform, give it a try and see why it’s one of the fastest-growing platforms in email marketing. 

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