How to Define Your Email Marketing Customer Journey – With Examples and Strategies

email marketing customer journey visual cover

The email marketing customer journey shows the methodical steps a prospect takes toward conversion. It includes the potential buyers’ entire lifecycle, from the awareness stage to post-purchase and beyond.

Think of a customer journey like a road trip; it represents the path from the starting point to the destination. At each stage, you tailor the messages and offers to meet their unique needs. 

But it’s not as simple as it sounds — to define your customer’s journey properly, you must track every interaction a prospect takes with your brand, from encountering your brand to conversions. 

Understanding how important the purchase path is, we’ve created a guide to help you accurately map them, show you how to strategize, and give you tips to create viable customer journeys with examples.

What is a Customer Journey?

A customer journey paints the entire experience a prospect goes through with your brand. Multiple touchpoints help you build a strong relationship with recipients as they convert. A touchpoint is any interaction with your brand, such as visiting your website or engaging with your marketing emails.

There’s no timeline for when they will reach the conversion stage and become loyal followers. For example, a prospect might be on the top of the email marketing funnel for years until they decide to purchase. At the same time, someone else could immediately convert after receiving one email from the sender.

Each brand’s email customer journey can look different and depends on the products, marketing methods, and audience demographics. Regardless of how you use it, the email journey is vital to understand your subscribers’ needs and behavior.

The Importance of Customer Journey

Knowing where your potential buyers are in the journey can lead to clarity for users and yourself in terms of customer experience and loyalty.

Customer journey is critical for several reasons such as:

  • To enhance customer experience: By mapping the journey, you can gain insights into customer interactions and tailor your brand messages accordingly.
  • To improve customer engagement: A well-designed email customer journey encourages active engagement throughout their lifecycle stage.
  • To increase conversions and sales: Guiding recipients through their journey can avoid friction, address pain points, and incentivize them to act, increasing conversions.
  • To build brand loyalty: Solving customers’ pain points and being there for them helps increase brand credibility.
  • To gain a competitive advantage: Brands prioritizing purchasers can gain an upper hand in the market. 

Designing a good customer journey will help you tackle weak spots in their brand experience, helping you build effective campaigns that solve common challenges. 

Email Marketing and Email Customer Journey Map

Your customer journey map represents a comprehensive view of subscriber feedback from various steps in their journey, especially in email marketing.

Email marketing and journey mapping work in unity and help:

  1. Build relationships: Emails can be more personal and help build lasting customer relationships. Personalized and targeted messages foster trust and loyalty.
  2. Encourage lead nurturing: Different email campaigns help nurture and guide leads through the sales funnel. 
  3. Drive awareness: Email marketing can help introduce potential buyers to your brand and create a seamless purchase experience.
  4. Retain customers: Email marketing facilitates constant communication, unlike website pop-ups. You can send email campaigns in intervals and maximize your brand impact.

Email marketing is a straightforward way to nurture your target audience with personalized content based on their actions. Effective email campaigns start with visualizing your customer journey through journey mapping.

Email Customer Journey Map: Everything You Should Know 

A customer journey map helps you visualize the various touchpoints a person goes through with your brand. It helps you get into your customers’ heads and understand what people think, how they react, and what motivates their decisions.

There’s no rule to visualize this data — you can use marketing funnels, circular mapping, or the infinite loop journey map. Optimizing your email marketing campaigns is critical regardless of how you represent this data.

Essential Components of a Customer Journey Map

A customer journey map consists of key components that address the overall recipient experience. You must consider every detail regarding marketing touchpoints in the customer journey.

Here’s a breakdown of the key components you must have in your customer journey map:

  • Customer personas: Develop detailed profiles of your target audiences, including demographics, preferences, goals, and pain points. It’s critical to know customer motivation and behavior to craft personalized experiences.
  • Stages: The number of stages can vary according to your brand goals and customer profiles. Each stage represents a distinct subscriber interaction with your brand.
  • Touchpoints: Take note of touchpoints across channels — it can be social media, website visits, or customer service interactions.
  • Pain points: Identify pain points across touchpoints and how to navigate them. It could include product selection, checkout process, or website navigation issues.
  • Goals and objectives: Define the goals of the customer journey map — are you aiming to increase conversions or improve subscriber satisfaction? It’s important to align your journey map with specific goals.
  • Data and insights: Analyze customer data to understand the behavioral process and common pain points.
  • Cross-channel consistency: Ensure consistency across marketing channels and devices. Whether customers interact with your brand online or offline, consistency in messages and branding is key.

Apart from these components, you must know what prevents recipients from moving to the next stage. Maybe they found something better or couldn’t get through to the checkout page. Understand the obstacles to build a proper email marketing customer journey.

Common Barriers to Customer Journey

The following barriers are common for all marketing channels, especially email marketing.

Your customers could face the following:

  1. Motivational barriers: When they decide they don’t need or want your product, they won’t likely move past the awareness stage. You must build a rapport and show customers that you understand their pain points and that your product can solve them.
  2. Experiential barriers: Expected buyers might have faced issues with similar products or categories in the past. Even though the barrier is not related to you, you should slowly build confidence in them through proof.
  3. Temptation barriers: They may constantly be tempted to find a one-click solution — you need to provide enough evidence and showcase competitive advantage. Exclusive offers and time-sensitive promotions may help overcome this barrier.

Understanding these barriers will help you properly utilize customer journey maps in email marketing.

Assessing this data is also vital to deploying the right email marketing strategy

A smart customer journey mapping starts with the emotional essence of your brand and extends to the following factors.

What Makes a Good Email Journey Map?

Every customer is different, and so are their journeys — a good email journey map will highlight the various pathways the recipients can take. It should also include potential roadblocks to increase the likelihood of having more people at the destination.

Look at the key characteristics of a customer journey in the table below.

CharacteristicsWhat They Do 
Customer-centric focusA good journey map focuses on the prospects’ emotions, preferences, and needs.
Comprehensive understandingThe map must have an outline of all customer touchpoints from awareness to post-purchase and re-engagement stages.
Visual representationDiagrams, charts, and graphs help communicate the complex structure of the customer journey.
Empathy The journey map must focus more on customer emotions, including their feelings and experiences with your brand.
Customer emotions Consider the emotional state of the buyers at each point of the journey and how it might affect your overall marketing goals.
Iterative and adaptive The journey map is flexible and changes overtime based on the customers’ preferences and behavior.
OpportunitiesThe map should outline opportunities to delight potential prospects at various touchpoints, such as personalized recommendations or exclusive offers.
Measurable outcomeA good customer journey map must contain measurable KPIs to evaluate performance and refine strategies.
Characteristics of email marketing customer journey

Email marketing and customer journey form the perfect partnership to provide the best customer experience.

To effectively map your subscriber journey, you must consider these 6 stages. We’ll also look at email journey examples for each of them.

Stage 1: Awareness 

The first step is to inform people of your brand’s existence and mention your value proposition. Give them a way to discover their needs for your product or service.

Your potential purchasers could have found you through a Facebook ad, a website pop-up, or through Google. Your job is to get their email addresses to warm them up for a future purchase. For example, if you find that many discover your brand through blog posts, include an email sign-up form on your blog post.

A Warm Welcome From E-commerce Senders

This welcome email from E-commerce Senders is straightforward — it starts with a ‘Thank you’ message and introduces the team behind the scenes. By mentioning the email addresses and contact names, the brand nips customer concerns at an early stage. 

Ecommerce Senders Abandoned Cart Email
Ecommerce Senders Abandoned Cart Email. Source

Stage 2: Consideration

At this stage, customers are evaluating their options — they might read reviews, seek more information about your brand, or compare pricing to a competitor.

Buyers typically search Google 2-3 times before making a decision. Customer experience adds weight to buyers’ decision-making — 86% are willing to pay more for a great experience. They are also more willing to pay for expensive items when pricing is concerned. 

VidAngel: Streaming Something This Weekend?

By highlighting the benefits, VidAngel convinces buyers that they deserve their dollars. Although there’s no direct competitor analysis, the brand ensures it provides the best for the price point.

For people new to VidAngel, the platform guides them to the best performing content.

VidAngel Streaming Abandoned Cart Email
VidAngel Streaming Abandoned Cart Email. Source

Stage 3: Purchase

The purchase stage is about reassuring recipients about their decision to purchase from you. 

They finally hit the ‘Purchase now’ button and land on the ‘Thank you page.’ From here, you need to provide a pleasant post-purchase experience and invite them to purchase more.

Send them welcome emails, information on how your products solve their pain points, and discounts.

Chatters Salons — Get it Before it’s Gone

The purchase stage is where the buyers make the final decision — abandoned cart emails are a great way to keep customers in line with their favorite items. Chatters Salons uses simple language to communicate about the cart items.

Chatters Salons Abandoned Cart Email
Chatters Salons Abandoned Cart Email. Source

Stage 4: Retention

In this stage, your goal will shift to retaining the customer. Most are particular about speed, convenience, and friendly service, over 70% in importance. They are also more likely to stay engaged when you focus on these core demands through email marketing.

Busuu – It’s Your Busuuversary!

At some point, customers may reconsider their choice to purchase from you. This is a good time to send discounts and special occasion deals to keep them engaged. Busuu gives 60% off for a 3-month anniversary and mentions their premium plan and features.

Busuu Abandoned Cart Email
Busuu Abandoned Cart Email. Source

Stage 5: Advocacy

In this final stage, satisfied customers become your brand advocates; they become repeat buyers and recommend your brand to others.

However, these buyers don’t make extra efforts to spread the word. So, your email marketing must provide these shoppers with the necessary information to get them to spread the word.

Ghia — If you Prefer to Shop IRL

Encouraging customers to follow you on socials or attend a drinking game increases the chances of them becoming your brand advocates, eventually. Ghia invites purchasers to get outside as well as follow them on their social media channels. 

Ghia Customer Engagement Email
Ghia Customer Engagement Email. Source

Stage 6: Re-engagement

Sometimes, customers may have reasons to stop engaging with your brand or using your products. Maybe they’re dissatisfied, or they forgot about your brand. In this case, you need to re-engage them through personalized offers and content.

Koala Eco — Last Day to Save 25% Off

Get creative to encourage disengaged customers to return to your brand, just like Koala Eco. The brand uses urgency techniques to increase interest. A clean email design with a simple CTA helps them gauge the information immediately.

Koala Eco Abandoned Cart Email
Koala Eco Abandoned Cart Email. Source

Understanding your customer needs is primary throughout these stages — create relevant touchpoints and deliver personalized content. You can opt for various email marketing methods to provide the best customer experience at each stage.

Strategies For Each Customer Journey Stage

To make it easier for you, we’ve gathered the best marketing strategies for each stage of the customer journey. 

Here’s a neat overview.

Customer Journey StagesMarketing Strategy 
Brand awareness Welcome series: Send a welcome series to introduce new subscribers to your brand.
Educational content: Create educational content to attract potential clients.
Storytelling: Share compelling brand stories, including journey, mission, and values to captivate the audience’s interest and attention.
Consideration Product highlights: Highlight your product’s unique features through high-quality visuals and compelling narrative.
Customer testimonials: Share feedback and reviews from satisfied clients to demonstrate social proof and alleviate concerns.
Comparison guides: Send comparison guides or product demos to help them evaluate their options and make a decision.
Purchase Limited-time offers: Incentivize purchase decisions with limited-time discounts and deals.
Abandoned cart email reminders: Encourage customers with personalized reminders about the items in their shopping carts.
Transactional emails: Send prompt order confirmation and post-purchase emails to keep buyers informed and engaged.
Cross-sell or upsell: Refer to complementary products to increase the average order value.
Retention Follow-up surveys: Identify areas for improvement using surveys and post-purchase feedback.
Loyalty program: Invite satisfied customers to enroll in the loyalty program for extra rewards.
Re-order reminders: Send reminders and offers for repeat purchases.
Advocacy Referral program: Encourage recipients to refer their friends or family through rewards.
Exclusive VIP offers: Provide exclusive offers to new products/services for loyal customers and brand advocates.
Re-engagement Deals and discounts: Incentivize potential buyers to return to your brand through compelling deals.
Create scarcity: Personalize email campaigns and promote scarcity through timed offers.
Email marketing strategies for the customer journey 

Ensure you pay extra attention to customer experience — 17% of customers can leave a brand because of one bad experience. That’s why strategizing according to customer data becomes vital; let’s see how!

How to Use Data to Map an Email Customer Journey

Using correct data can lead to behavioral insights that help increase your email marketing metrics. 

Here’s how you can use data to effectively map an email customer journey.

Segment Your Customers

Segmentation strategies help you send customized email content to each of your audiences, resulting in more targeted communication. You can find common touchpoints that audiences use to interact with your brand and use them to map your customer journeys.

Here’s how you can incorporate segmentation into your email marketing journey:

  • Identify segmentation criteria: Whether it’s demographics, psychographics, or behavioral data, choose a criteria for segmenting your audience. 
  • Segment customers at each stage of the journey: Segment subscribers based on their familiarity with your brand. Do this for every stage of the customer journey to map out more personalized experiences.
  • Create tailored content: Develop targeted email content for each audience segment. For example, send welcome emails to new subscribers and exclusive VIP offers for re-engaging inactive customers.
  • Utilize triggered emails: Set up triggered emails based on your segmentation criteria. This way, you can send automated email messages as and when a customer interacts with your brand.
  • Test and optimize: Continuously monitor your segmentation strategy based on performance metrics and customer feedback.

Find Your Brand Strength

Email tracking and A/B testing will help you harness the points in customer experience. One stage could work better than the rest, so it’s important to capitalize on these insights to drive better results.

Positive engagement, high click rates, and conversions are signs that your segmentation strategies are working. Focus on these data points to address potential recipient pain points and emotionally connect with them.

Evaluate Competition

Competitor research will tell you which areas need more focus and improvement. Conversion rate optimization is a valuable tool to analyze how customers behave on your site. CRO also tells you which content is more engaging and where they are likely to drop off.

Use competitor analysis along with email marketing reports to improve customer experience and overall returns. Measure your email journey for a more detailed report, such as the ones below.

The Key Metrics to Measure Email Customer Journey

The email customer journey is similar to measuring other email marketing campaigns. 

The 5 basic metrics to measure are:

  • Open rates: The open rate shows how well your subject lines perform. A higher open rate indicates that your emails are grabbing customer attention, while a lower rate may signal areas for improvement.
  • Click-through rates: This metric shows the effectiveness of your content, links, and CTA. Analyzing CTR shows which content resonates most with your audience.
  • Bounce rates: Bounced emails can occur due to invalid email addresses or technical issues. Monitoring this metric shows the accuracy of your email list, ensuring emails reach your intended audiences. It’s critical to keep your email lists updated and clean — Campaign Refinery’s automatic email list cleaning tool eliminates unwanted and harmful email addresses, retaining your email deliverability and sender reputation.
  • Subscribe rates: More subscribers means you have high-quality email content that recipients find useful. A high subscribe rate shows that recipients trust you enough to give their email addresses.
  • Unsubscribe rates: Monitoring this rate shows the impact of your email content and frequency. High unsubscribe rates could indicate that your content or email timing does not align with your audience’s preferences and expectations.

You can also track website visits, page scroll length, customer lifetime value, and subscriber satisfaction rates to understand your audience better.

How to Utilize Customer Journey Map for Email Marketing?

Email marketing is an ongoing communication with your subscribers, which means your customer journey must align with your email communication. 

Here are 3 best ways to do it:

  • Branded email templates: Once you understand what resonates the most with your audience, you can create branded email templates to showcase your strengths. This will also help you show polished brand identity in all your correspondences.
  • Automated email campaigns: Customer journey mapping can help you find out the best ways to connect with customers — you can then automate your email campaigns to send relevant and personalized content to subscribers. For example, with Campaign Refinery, you can choose different email marketing campaigns from the campaign library and automate them based on smart goal triggers. You can also set up Evergreen Flash Sales to create scarcity and increase conversions.
  • Email tracking: Use tracking tools to gather relevant customer insights and implement the data in your email marketing campaigns. You can use specialized tracking tools or your ESP’s built-in analytics dashboard. Campaign Refinery provides users with a clean and single-view analytics dashboard that contains all the information at a glance.

To make the most of your email marketing, you should learn to tackle customer support and experience. 

How to Make the Most of Email Customer Journeys

The buyer’s journey is never linear — it frequently intertwines with multiple touchpoints. The best way to win customers is to anticipate their needs even before they tell you. This means providing proactive support — solving customary issues before they become problems.

Here’s how reactive and proactive customer service differs.

Reactive Customer Support Proactive Customer Support
Handles problems as they occur.Anticipates common challenges and aims to stay prepared with solutions.
Longer wait time for recipients.Focuses on accessible solutions; lesser wait times.
The customer initiates the conversation.Business initiates the conversation
Less empathetic and customer-centric.Revolves around subscriber emotions and pain points.
Reactive customer vs. proactive customer service

Further, immediate customer attention can increase interest in your brand. The most important attribute for customer experience is 75% faster response times and 55% consistency across channels.

This means the longer you take to reply, the less likely a recipient will engage. Customer experience can make or break your brand image, and it’s critical to follow all the attributes that lead to a valuable outcome.

For example, Campaign Refinery offers dedicated expert support for issues or concerns the users may have — the reply time is usually within a few hours.

For this reason, use automated email software to schedule and send email campaigns based on each customer touchpoint in the journey map.

Gain Human Insights Into Your Email Marketing Customer Journey

Customers are people, just like you and me. Looking past data and numbers to form a lasting bond with them is important —  you need to put yourself in their shoes to understand their needs better. 

Check for reliability, relevance, and automate your email campaigns for higher conversions. Data and automation are your best friends if you want to align your email marketing strategy with your customer journey.

Campaign Refinery helps you collect relevant data, segment subscribers, map customer journeys, and set up various email marketing funnels. You can also send personalized emails by setting goals to define your desired outcome for your email campaigns.

But first, you’ll need to attract the right audience. We can help you with that as our founder Travis Ketchum wrote a stellar guide on increasing open and click rates for your lead magnets.

Download the Lead Magnet Multiplier Course now, and learn to attract newer audiences and boost your sender reputation like never before.

If you want the most out of your email marketing, we’re here to take care of the nitty-gritty details for you — apply to become a Campaign Refinery client and upgrade your email marketing revenue today!

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