What is a customer journey and how do I create one for my business?

Business Tips

This post may include affiliate links. See my full disclosure here.

For those of us who already own businesses, let’s talk about finding new leads and converting them into customers…in other words, how to make more money! It doesn’t matter if you own a tiny online sticker printing shop or a massive brick and mortar clothing boutique, if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.

I love learning and teaching about the “customer journey” and it usually looks a little something like this:

  1. your target audience becomes aware of your brand
  2. after multiple touch points (maybe they see an ad, then their friend mentions you, and then an influencer they follow tags your brand), they’ll start paying attention
  3. they begin to follow you on social media, maybe sign up for your email list and/or opt in for a coupon or deal you’re offering
  4. at the right time (usually when the need arises and your brand is top of mind) they make a purchase and become new customers

Take a minute and ask yourself what your own journey has looked like as a customer of different brands. Sometimes they look nothing like this (like when my sister gushed all about Bombas socks one day and I immediately bought a pair) and sometimes they look much more drawn out than this (like how I listened to Jody Moore’s podcast for 4 years before I ever paid her a dime). But the point is, most of the time people will go through some sort of journey before they become the loyal customers you’re hoping for.

Marketing funnel stages

I’m going to teach you about a special business technique called a “funnel”. If you imagine a regular plastic funnel, it has a large opening at the top of the funnel and a smaller one at the bottom. Essentially, potential customers will follow this path as they learn about your business.

  1. When one of your advertisements is shown to a large population of people who have never heard of you (a “cold” audience), only a percentage of them will click on the link and show an interest.
  2. Depending on the ad, maybe they’ll enter their information into one of your opt-in forms (where you collect email addresses) and move further into your funnel. At this point they’ll be considered “warm leads” because they know who you are and because they’re on your email list.
  3. Of these, only a percentage will show further interest and open an email, click on a link to your website, or read one of your blog posts. Once they do, they’ll be considered a “hot” audience and a percentage of them will (hopefully) purchase an offer, thus exiting the small end of your funnel.

Kind of a cool concept, right?

The important thing to remember is that it takes a bit of a journey for people to become customers, so be sure to nurture them along each step of that journey. Additionally, only a very small percentage of people who stumble upon your ad or social media post will ever purchase from you. That’s the nature of business. However, with a well-functioning funnel, your ideal customers will continue to progress along the path to purchasing.

So what is an email marketing funnel strategy? It’s simply a way to move new leads or potential customers through your funnel (from brand awareness all the way through conversion) using emails and it’s probably the most proven marketing method to date. Don’t worry if this all sounds foreign and confusing you; let’s break it all down into the basic steps.

Email strategy

The first step to an email funnel is a lead magnet and an opt-in form. In plain English, that means that you offer something for free (a lead magnet) in exchange for someone’s email address (collected through an opt-in form). A lead magnet can be a text, video or audio file to communicate information, a coupon code, a free trial, or anything else a potential customer might be interested in.

The key to email marketing is that you essentially own a potential customer’s email address and can send them promotional messages whenever you need to. Instead of relying on the whims and algorithms of search engines and social media, you can direct traffic to your website any time you want. Building an email list is absolutely one of the most important and beneficial things you can do for your business marketing strategy.

So what’s the next step after these new subscribers get your lead magnet? Well, you should set up a series of emails to be sent out via your business’s email service provider (the software you use to send emails for your business; you can’t just use Google or Yahoo – see below for suggestions).

The first email should be a welcome message. It might thank the person for signing up for the freebie, tell them a little about your business and give them some valuable content like a tip or trick they might find useful. A welcome email is a great icebreaker and a way to introduce yourself, like you would when meeting someone in real life for the first time.

After that, best practices for an email sales funnel include scheduling 2-4 additional emails to be sent out over the next week or so, educating email subscribers about your business and telling them what sort of emails to expect from you. In these messages, you might address how your brand helps customers with common pain points (“tired of struggling with moody teens?” or “need help figuring out unruly hair?”) and the best way your product or service can help them. This series of messages is called an email sequence and can be entirely automated with a good email software.

In short, email marketing campaigns don’t have to be complicated, but as mentioned above, you’ll want to remember that you’re developing a relationship, not merely blasting strangers with your latest promotions.

Your email content will include a few key features: you’ll have a catchy subject line, intriguing and/or educational content and a call-to-action (also referred to as a CTA) that asks your reader to click through to the website, schedule a call or something else.

Email analytics

Once you’ve sent out a handful of emails, you’ll want to start paying attention to some analytics on the back end of your ESP (email service provider). Here are what those terms are and what they mean:

  • Open rates: the percentage of recipients who opened your email
  • Click-through rates: the percentage of recipients who clicked a link in your email
  • Conversion rate: usually the percentage of people who went on to purchase something thanks to a marketing effort
  • Unsubscribe rate: the percentage of recipients who opted out of your emails

A great way to understand how effective your email campaigns are is to take a quick look at these numbers, every time you send out an email. I usually email my subscribers every week, so before starting a new email, I take 5 minutes to look at these analytics for the email I sent out the previous week. I can tell how many people thought the subject line was interesting enough to open, how many were intrigued enough to click a link and how many used that email as a reason to unsubscribe from my list.

That being said, don’t read too much into these numbers. They’re a small snapshot into your readers’ minds and may not accurately describe the entire picture. For example, how many times have you seen a promotional email and unsubscribed just because you wanted to clean up your inbox, not because that email wasn’t relevant or interesting?

Email service providers

So what email marketing tools do you need to create an amazing email marketing strategy? Really, you just need an ESP that does everything you need it to. If you are a content creator (coach, influencer, blogger, educator, etc), then you’ll just need to be able to send plain text emails. If you’re an e-commerce shop owner, you might consider an ESP that allows you to connect your shop’s inventory to easily showcase products.

A few email service providers that I’ve used (or seen others use successfully): Convertkit (my favorite!), Mailchimp (great free plan), Klaviyo, Constant Contact, Flodesk (pretty templates and easy to use), ActiveCampaign and even Shopify which has a built-in ESP for businesses who host a shop with them.

I know this was a lot of information, but don’t despair! Take it one step at a time and before you know it, your marketing efforts will pay off. Then continue to treat your new customers right and they’ll become lifelong repeat customers whose lives are better thanks to your amazing business!

Need some customized help managing your mindset around business? Schedule a complimentary, mini coaching call with me here. Let’s make a plan to shatter some business and life goals, shall we?

previous article
next article

No Comments

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.