Think of a customer journey as a detailed map that shows the full experience a customer has with your business. It lets you see every interaction they have with your company, even before and after they engage. By first understanding the customer journey, it will be easier to define your goals and use our automation tool to create the overall marketing experience you want to provide.
What is a customer journey?
A customer journey outlines the different steps your customers take to become customers. Without the customer journey, your marketing funnel couldn’t exist. A marketing funnel helps you market your products and services to customers based on where they are in their customer journey. For example, someone researching products is at the top of the marketing funnel or at the very beginning stages of their journey.
Ultimately, a customer journey map tells a story about how customers interact with your brand, including how they first discovered your business to whether or not they’ll make a repeat purchase. The journey lays out different interactions someone could have with your brand, although not every customer needs to use all those touch points before converting.
While not all customer journeys are the same, you can use your website and marketing efforts to easily guide customers through the journey by taking them through different touchpoints.
What are the phases of a customer journey?
Knowing the customer journey definition is only the beginning; now you must learn the different stages involved. 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:
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.
Congrats! You can now call that new future customer an actual customer, because they loved the ‘I Have the World’s Okayest Cat’ mugs you released 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.
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 be interested in, and help them understand when and how they might expect to hear from you in the future.
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.
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.
Advantages of a customer journey map
Customer journey maps are useful marketing tools that can help you better understand your target audience and use that information to lead them down a path to conversion. All businesses can benefit from having a customer journey map, so whether you’re doing B2B marketing or building an e-commerce brand, it’s good to know how customers interact with your company.
A few other advantages of a customer journey map include:
- Understand consumer behavior. Understanding how users interact with your brand can help you comprehend their motivations.
- Identify touchpoints. Identifying the different interactions customers have with your brand before making a purchase can help you create more effective marketing campaigns.
- Support your marketing efforts. Learning as much as you can about your customers can improve marketing performance by allowing you to shorten the customer journey and increase conversions.
- Improve the customer experience. With customer data, you can improve customers' experiences with your brand, making them more likely to convert.
- Predict how customers will behave. Customer journey maps help you predict what customers will do next, allowing you to market to them no matter where they are in the funnel.
- Boost customer loyalty and engagement. By creating a path for your customers and providing great experiences, you can keep customers coming back for more. This makes customer journey mapping an essential customer retention strategy.
How to build a customer journey map
Building a customer journey map is easy, and it’s an effective way to learn more about your customers.
To build your own customer journey map, follow the steps below.
- Determine your business goals. You’ll need to determine your goals before establishing the touchpoints for your customer journey map. Goals can include converting more qualified leads into customers, increasing brand awareness, and so on.
- Understand your customers. Gather data on your customers to learn about their behavior and uncover new ways to market to them.
- List opportunities for communication. Consider all the different ways you can communicate with customers, including social media and email marketing.
- Test your customer journey. Pretend you’re the customer and test your journey to see how you can make it easy for customers to convert after their initial touchpoint with your business.
- Refine customer journey map if necessary. Refine your customer journey map when there are changes to your business. Breaking down the map into stages can help you meet your customers’ needs no matter where they are in their journeys.
How does marketing automation benefit 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. With automation, you can automatically send an email during the consideration stage of their journey, reminding them of the products they were interested in and encouraging them to finalize the purchase.
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.
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. You can also provide information about how often they’ll receive marketing correspondence from your business.
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.
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.
To illustrate this, let's take a look at the 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.
Adding the right mix of rules and actions—including branching points and email—to a journey map can put new subscribers on the path to becoming 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.
Ways to use automated Customer Journeys
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 the 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
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 left 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 several 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'll help you send relevant messages and create more meaningful interactions.
Find success with customer journeys
Customer journeys are an important marketing tool to communicate effectively with your customers and lead them down a path to conversion. The easier your customer journey is to follow, and the more touch points you take advantage of, the better experience you can provide. Even after your customers have converted, deliver ongoing support and communication to retain them and promote brand loyalty.
Visualizing your customer journey is simple with Mailchimp. Using our Customer Journey Builder, you can start to learn more about your customers’ behavior and write a sales email that converts no matter where they are in the buying process.