Email Marketing Lifecycle—Your Customer’s Journey
Your relationship with your customer has a lifecycle, and how you control that journey will determine how successful that relationship will be.
It used to be that a successful business was one that had multiple generations of family members shopping with them for many decades. The world has changed, to be sure, and in our fast-paced, multitasking lives, products and businesses come and go fast. Consumer loyalty is challenged, and competition for a family’s dollars is fierce.
But in spite of these challenges, ways have emerged to create relationships, not just sales, with your customers, and your email marketing campaigns can play a major role in that relationship development. The result can be active customer engagement, more word-of-mouth advertising, and ultimately, more consumption of your services.
One of the problems with email campaigns is that they often treat all customers the same, regardless of their interest level and position in the sales cycle. As part of this journey, your customers can be separated into distinct categories such as prospects, active customers, and lapsed customers. Each of these categories represents a different level of engagement and requires a different email marketing approach.
First impressions can be hard to change. That’s why it’s so important to make a great first impression for your brand as you start engaging with your customers through the email channel. There are quite a few ways to make your prospects feel welcome. For example, your campaigns for prospects may include a welcome message and a promotion.
Once your prospects have become customers, you can consider them active, which requires separate rules of engagement. Here are a few ways to engage with your active customers:
- request for review of a recent purchase
- recommendations based on past purchases
- invitation to join your loyalty program
- notices of new products
- upcoming event notices
- special promotions
A lapsed customer is one who has not engaged with your brand within the past 6 to 12 months. This can vary, depending on your industry (vertical). Your lapsed customers require a different approach. Here are some ways to turn them back into active customers:
- Make attempts to identify the reasons for their lack of participation.
- Let customers tell you what’s relevant to them, possibly through a preference center.
- Include special promotions and incentives as part of your win-back campaign.
Many services offer a way to automate your customer engagement process using what have become known as autoresponders. An autoresponder is a service used on a list of customers who have asked to participate in your email marketing campaign. The system stores as many emails as you like and sends them out in any frequency and spacing you determine. This is a great way to automate contacts with your customers and to be sure that you stay in touch on a regular basis.
However, it is important that the messages you create follow the change in your customer’s needs throughout your lifecycle of contact with them. You might even choose to have three different autoresponder lists corresponding to your categories of customers. For example, one list could be new customers that just joined your list. Another list could be those customers interested in a particular product line. One group could get one set of emails in a specified frequency and another group could get a different set.
Here are some important elements to consider when crafting your autoresponder messages.
- Follow all the best practices to insure deliverability. All of the techniques discussed in previous posts in this blog apply to your autoresponder messages. Design your mailings with all those principles in mind.
- Even though your customers asked to be on your list, it is a best practice to send them another opt-in message as your first mailing. This is known as a “double opt-in” approach.
- Use personalization in the email. Using your customer’s name can be helpful, but you have other information at your disposal as well. Today’s mobile analytics services can provide you with your customer’s location, their interests, and a variety of other personalized pieces of information.
- Have your welcome mail give them real ideas about how to make the best of their engagement. Tell them how to use your service and that you welcome comments from them.
- Give success stories and case studies. Make it about real people. Always be answering the question that everyone has on their minds: “What’s in it for me?”
- Have your messages acknowledge the time of year such as holidays, seasons, etc. For example, Mother’s Day is May 12 in 83 countries around the world!
It is easy to store dozens of email messages that get sent to your customers on a regular basis. But be sure that they are addressing your customers’ changing interests and needs throughout their lifecycle.
- Gone are the days of batch & blast, or a one-size-fits-all approach.
- As a marketer, you must use all of the available information you have for each customer to provide a more personal experience.
- Triggered email marketing campaigns drive return on investment (ROI) and increase relevance.
- Remember, the more personal and relevant a message is, the more likely your customer is to open and click the email, as well as the next one you send. Nora Aufreiter, Julien Boudet, and Vivian Weng in their blog for McKinsey and Company, remind us that the volume of email marketing messages was forecast to be 838 billion in 2013. It’s more important than ever to personalize your triggered emails based on past engagement with your company’s emails or website. McKinsey reported that a financial institution increased revenue from targeted emails by 20 percent when they began personalizing.
- The objective is to build engagement, and triggered messaging does this.
Using the automation tools available to us today can help build lasting relationships and help turn lapsed customers back into active ones.