What are the phases of a customer journey?
A customer journey is made up of phases, which are the distinct stages a customer passes through as they’re guided to take specific actions. The phases you include will depend on your business goals.
Do you want a user to adopt a new app you’ve released? Are you looking to get inactive newsletter subscribers to read your emails? Is your aim to turn occasional shoppers into regular, loyal customers? All these marketing paths require a strategy for getting your customers from point A to point B.
Most customer journeys will usually account for these phases:
- Awareness. This is how someone discovers your company, usually through a search engine or your paid advertising efforts. Let’s say your new future customer sees an ad for your latest line of ‘I Have the World’s Okayest Cat’ mugs, and they click through to your website to learn more about the brand and product. Now your business is stored in their memory.
- Acquisition. Congrats! You can now call that new future customer an actual customer, because they loved the ‘I Have the World’s Okayest Cat’ mugs so much that they bought one. Not only that, they also signed up for your email list through a form on your site so they can be the first to learn about any new merchandise.
- Onboarding. Now that you’ve acquired a new customer, you can send them a series of emails to make them feel welcome, showcase other stuff in your store they might want to buy (like matching ‘I Have the World’s Okayest Cat’ coasters), and help them understand when and how they might expect to hear from you in the future.
- Engagement. This refers to how you can get customers to regularly use your product or service, shop at your store, or read your content. Consider using email, social media, in-product messages, and personalization to make your customers’ experience more enjoyable.
- Advocacy. Make your customers so happy that they’ll recommend your brand to others. This is probably one of the best ways to get new customers.
Once you’ve established the phases of a customer journey, you can plan the touchpoints you’ll use to connect with customers at the right moments.
What does marketing automation mean for the customer journey?
Marketing automation uses technologies that eliminate the need for you to send one-off emails or set up other marketing efforts every time you need to connect with customers. Basically, you set up an automation to execute your strategy the way you want, and it’ll do the marketing work for you.
Since automations are usually powered by if-then logic, they adapt to match the individual paths your customers take.
For example, before making a purchase people might read your website, consider what product they want, sleep on it, and eventually go back to buy. This wandering route is different for everyone.
To make sure you’re connecting with customers when it makes the most sense—while still being able to run your business—there are marketing automation tools to help you do just that. Here are a few ways automation can help you build lasting relationships by connecting with customers at each step of their journey with your business.
1. Connect with new fans
When someone expresses interest in what you have to offer and enters their email address in a subscriber pop-up form on your site, you can send them a welcome email to introduce yourself—and give them a reason to stick around.
2. Sell more stuff
When that contact starts to move toward a purchase, such as putting something in their cart without checking out, you can set it up so they receive an abandoned cart email from you.
Meanwhile, you can send occasional reminders to prospects that haven't interacted with you in a while. Retargeting ads and emails, for example, remind people about the great stuff they saw on your site. Chances are, at least some of them are still interested and will take action if you reach out.
3. It cultivates a trusting 2-way relationship
When you deliver relevant content to your customers, you show them that you care about them. The more you target your communications, the more they will trust you to keep providing high-quality products or services. You can even use automation to send coupons or other discounts to people that meet certain criteria for loyalty or spending.
What is a Customer Journey in Mailchimp?
In Mailchimp, a Customer Journey is a marketing automation tool that lets you visually map dynamic, automated marketing paths for your customers. Depending on the phases you want customers to pass through—discovery, acquisition, retention, etc.—you can choose the starting points and other unique interactions to engage your customers every step of the way.
Any marketing or purchasing paths that you want to use your data to create can be mapped out with the Customer Journey builder, which allows you to target specific users and focus on what will get them to move from one point to another.
A simple example we can use to illustrate this is a welcome journey that people will enter when they sign up to receive your marketing. You’re probably familiar with welcome emails and have heard us talk about their value a bunch. The concept of a welcome journey is the same: greeting new contacts and introducing them to your brand.
A journey should include emails, but it also differs from an automated welcome email in 2 key ways:
- People don’t just trigger an email once they’ve met the criteria of your starting points. They’re added to and start a path that’s customized for them.
- You can plan what actions you want new customers to take throughout this journey and where you want them to end up.
By adding the right mix of rules and actions—which include branching points and email—to a journey map, you can put new subscribers on a path to become loyal users and customers. Branching points help make the journeys you build for your customers more dynamic and adaptable, taking customers down If/Else paths based on specific behaviors.
You can also use a Customer Journey to tag new contacts based on insights that are important to your business. This will allow you to track customer interests and send more relevant marketing content later.
What do automated Customer Journeys do?
You’ll want to have a strategy before you dive into mapping a journey. Think about how you want customers to start a journey and where you want them to end up. This will help you choose from more than 20 starting points that will kick off a customer’s journey based on marketing activity, e-commerce activity, dates and special events, and more.
This will also give you an idea of what rules and actions you should include to move customers to the end goal you have in mind.
Let’s elaborate on the welcome journey we discussed earlier. This journey will have 2 starting points that will let you target 2 types of new contacts: people who just signed up to your audience, and people who are tagged as ‘New Customers.’ Customers who fit either of these descriptions will start the journey.
You know you want to send these customers an email to make them feel seen and special, but you want to hold off until they’ve shown a little more interest in your business. By setting a wait rule, you can pause customers from moving forward in their journey until they buy a product from your store.
In your map, you can follow the wait rule with branching points that create 2 different paths for customers to taked based on whether or not they bought the product. If they did, they’ll go down the ‘yes’ path where they’ll receive a thank you email. You’ll also want to tag them as VIPs, so you can continue to send them content that makes them feel that way.
If they didn’t make a purchase, they’ll go down the ‘no’ path, which is an opportunity for you to follow up with a discount or some other deals that will get them into your store. Hopefully you’ll be able to add that VIP tag to these customers soon enough.
How do automated Customer Journeys work?
Customer Journeys are composed of starting points, rules, and actions, which you’ll arrange on a journey map. This map is a visual representation of all the possible paths your customers can take, and it gives you a clear idea of where they are and where they’re going. You’ll also see stats for each of the individual interactions you’ve included in your map, like how many people are waiting in a queue.
After you design your map and activate it, qualified customers will be added through a starting point. When customers reach the actions and rules you’ve set up, we’ll automatically do the “work” for you, like sending an email or moving customers down an If/Else path.
So if you create a Customer Journey that includes the starting point “buys any product,” the rule “delay for 1 week,” and the action “send email,” this means that any contact who buys a product from your store will receive a follow-up email after a 1-week delay.
Here’s a breakdown of the elements that make up your Customer Journey maps:
- Starting points. A starting point is the action or event that adds customers to a Customer Journey. Each journey map can have up to 3 starting points, but customers can only enter through 1 of these points.
- Rule. A type of interaction point that defines how and when a customer moves along a set path.
- Action. A type of interaction point that tells our system to perform a task, like sending an email or adding a tag, when a customer reaches it in their journey.
- Branching points. A rule that splits customers down 1 of 2 paths based on the conditions you choose.
- Wait. A rule that tells us to prevent customers from continuing down a path until they take a specific action or an event occurs.
- Delay. A rule that tells us to prevent customers from continuing down a path for a period of time that you specify.
- Send email. This is a type of action. We’ll automatically send customers an email that you’ve designed.
- Add or remove a tag. This is a type of action. We’ll add or remove specific tags you’ve created outside of the Customer Journey builder to your contacts.
What are 5 essential Customer Journeys to create?
Of course your needs for setting up automated Customer Journeys will vary based on how your business functions and scales, but there are a few key workflows that can help any small business build and maintain relationships with their customers. Create Customer Journeys to:
- Greet new customers & introduce your brand. First, you need to onboard new people who start following your brand. A great first impression is key to establishing a long-lasting relationship. Begin with an email that thanks people for signing up and provides information they need to know. Show customers you care about getting to know them by sending a survey to discover what they’re interested in, so you can customize your marketing to fit their needs. You can also use this journey to measure how often your contacts want to hear from you and when they’re most likely to engage.
- Reunite shoppers with their carts. The truth is that some research shows that 69% of e-commerce shoppers abandon their carts before checking out. If you don’t have an abandoned cart automation setup, you’re missing out on a lot of easy sales. Shoppers who have abandoned a cart have already expressed interest in your brand; they just need a nudge back to your store to finish buying. With a journey, not only can you set up an automated email to send when someone abandons a shopping cart, but you can use the flow to highlight other stuff you sell and keep customers coming back.
- Re-engage customers who have lost interest. There are a number of ways you can win back inactive customers—it just depends on what type of engagement is most important for your business goals. You can set up a journey that customers will start when a specific amount of time has passed since they last bought something from your store, or you can target customers who haven’t opened any of your last 5 email campaigns. From there, you can decide what interactions will get these customers to fall in love with your brand again.
- Ask for product reviews or feedback on your service. When someone buys a product, that’s the perfect time to reach out and make a connection. Get their thoughts on the order and shipping process. Check in on how they’re liking their purchase. And don’t forget to include a coupon for other stuff in your store they’re sure to love.
- Organize your contacts based on their interests and levels of engagement. Use a Customer Journey to help manage your audience based on insights that are important to your business. Make behind-the-scenes changes—like adding and removing tags—that will help you send relevant messages and create more meaningful interactions.
Read more about automated Customer Journeys
Build automated customer journey maps that deliver unique experiences to each of your contacts. With Mailchimp’s new marketing automation tool, you can find your most engaged customers, learn what they’re interested in, and be there for them when it counts.
In this article, you’ll learn more about Mailchimp’s Customer Journey feature, which helps you build dynamic, automated marketing paths for your contacts. Create a journey map with multiple starting points, branches, and unique actions so each of your contacts has a personalized experience.
Use Mailchimp’s Customer Journey builder to create unique, automated marketing workflows that add tags based on contact behavior, send relevant emails, and accomplish other important tasks for you.
Every Customer Journey begins with a starting point that will add contacts to a workflow based on the conditions you’ve set. You can add up to 3 starting points to target contacts based on different levels of engagement and manage more complex automated journeys within a single map.
From making a purchase to abandoning a shopping cart to signing up for your marketing, we have all the automation starting points you need to ensure that you’re engaging with the right people at the right moment. Every automation needs a beginning—choose what works for your business.
See how Mailchimp's free marketing automation tools compare to the competition.