WTF Is An Automated Customer Journey? Use the SCORE Method
WTF is an automated customer journey and why do you need to worry about it? How does marketing automation apply to email marketing, and why on earth are we still using the term ‘customer journey' when we mean something else entirely?
Grab yourself a hot cuppa and sit comfortably because you're about to find out the answers to these (and even more) questions that are keeping you up at night!
Let's do this.
SOME EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: (0:27) Join our FREE Facebook Group. (5:02) What's a customer journey (or buyer's journey?) (9:02) What is an email marketing journey? (12:59) Attraction stage - growing your email list. (17:20) Consideration stage - educating your email list. (21:31) Think about your 'core content' strategy. (25:23) Purchase stage - selling to your email list. (28:02) Selling automatically with email marketing. (35:18) How can you automate the email customer journey? (37:02) Subject line of the week.
What's the customer journey (or buyer’s journey)?
You see, we're talking about the ‘customer journey' or ‘buyer's journey' here today, but it's probably the wrong phrase. It's what all the marketing books call it, but we're very much talking about someone coming into your world and joining your email list here (and all that comes after).
So this makes them a subscriber or a prospect, not necessarily customers (not just yet). The ‘customer journey' technically only kicks in when someone buys from you, but we're looking at what happens before this.
So what you're about to read is to do with taking someone from the stage of awareness (finding out you exist) all the way to the purchasing stage (when they buy from you and become actual customers). But everyone calls it ‘customer journey', so let's go with that.
What is an email marketing customer journey?
When you add email marketing into the mix, you can think of the journey someone goes through from being a stranger, then a subscriber, and eventually a customer. We have a very trackable, direct response journey that takes people from strangers to customers using emails, and that happens in 3 phases:
- Awareness or attraction, which, in the world of email is about building and growing your list.
- Consideration. This is about educating your email list.
- And purchase, which is about making the right offers and getting the sale.
While these sound like very separate steps, they're not! And they can't be – they shouldn't be viewed in that way. Because when someone joins your list, you can't just leave them for a while with the promise to be back with some consideration content later. It doesn't work that way. So don't create standalone pieces of content that each sits in one stage – you want each element to work together.
By using email marketing, you can merge awareness into consideration and then consideration into purchase very easily. Because as soon as people give us their email addresses and join our list, we can give them consideration content and make offers with every email they get.
The reason why marketers get results when putting subscribers through an email marketing journey is that they are foreshadowing the final outcome and ultimate destination – i.e. to sell! And in order to do that, you have to attract the right email subscribers who are going to buy from you. So use the right language to bring them in!
It's also worth remembering that people don't buy in a linear way. This idea of a ‘customer journey' seems very linear – people start at awareness and end up at purchase. But it's not like that – people join all 3 stages all the time.
What is an example of an email marketing customer journey?
Attraction stage – growing your email list
During the attraction stage, you’re seeking out problem-aware people. These are people who know they have a problem and have stumbled across the thing that your lead magnet or landing page offers. This is great because it feels like it might fix their problem, so they give you their email address to receive further support through your lead magnet and then via your emails.
At this point, they're paying attention because you seem like someone who can help them. And this means that the consideration stage has also begun. In fact, it probably started the minute they read your landing page! Can you see how the stages overlap? And by the same token, inside your emails, you can also make an offer, which might take them through the purchase stage straight away. The journey isn't linear because people are in all 3 phases at the same time.
Take our podcast, for example. We share our ideas, have discussions, show people what’s possible, and give inspiration. But we also show them how to take their learning to the next level and how they can make things easier and quicker for themselves by subscribing to our email list or getting results by joining our membership The League.
And BOOM! We hit all stages at once. We don't even mean that this happens in quick succession – we mean that it literally happens at the same time.
This also means that someone could enter our world at the final stage of this ‘customer journey'. Some people join our business by signing up for our email writing agency, which is our highest-touch offer. So we have to make sure we are set up to allow the people to enter at the beginning stage but also at the last one.
Consideration stage – educating your email list
Because we've established that all stages happen at the same time, you can look at your ad copy as consideration content too. Because let's imagine that running ads drive people to your landing page and to download your lead magnet. Ultimately, that ad copy is quite educational if you do things the way we do. It educates people about the end result. So you're bringing people in for the first time, but they are quite educated already – you're taking them through the consideration stage at the same time as you're covering the awareness stage.
And that education ‘journey' continues through your lead magnet (or your webinar, for example) and the copy in your emails. Your subscribers go through an email campaign journey that is educational but where you also make offers. And that means some people might go through to the purchase phase straight away.
Interestingly, when someone becomes a customer, it doesn't mean your job is done because they've completed all 3 phases. The education piece continues because you want to sell them the next thing!
This is where we look at things differently. We use email campaigns containing content that will educate the subscriber (consideration) but in a way that intentionally moves them towards becoming a customer (purchase). This is an important distinction because it differs from the overwhelming concept that you have to deliver value to your email list for a long time before you can make an offer and have people (one day, maybe) buy from you.
For example, we plan the content for our podcast strategically with the aim of getting discovered (attraction), but we cover all phases of the ‘customer journey'. We give value and information and don't hold anything back – so we cover the consideration phase. But we also always make an offer at the end for people to join our membership and buy (purchase). And the same goes for the content of our emails.
Think about your ‘core content' strategy
So aim to create regular core content (a podcast, blog posts, YouTube videos, etc) – anything that covers the awareness stage and encourages people to join your list. Doing this elevates your status and gives you authority, and you want to run that type of content alongside campaign-driven content that's designed to educate people on the need for what you sell.
For example, you may share stories, case studies, videos, or PDFs. And the fact someone gives you their email address means they're interested in that topic. It tells you that you should sell them a particular thing from a particular angle. In reality, a lot of what we share is sales material (aimed at the purchase stage) dressed up as valuable content. Because we always teach first – in an email, a video, a webinar, etc. – but then transition into an offer. So consideration and purchase blend into one.
You want to make sure your business is structured in a way where you have:
- Long-term nurture and education for people who are slower to buy.
- A way for people who are ready to buy now to move quickly and become a customer straight away.
When we launch something, we have customers who already know they want to buy from us, and they're just waiting for the cart to open. Others need a bit of time to consider their options, so they'll go through the consideration stage before buying. But we also have people who took years before joining The League despite being in our world from day one. And there's nothing wrong with that – people prioritise and buy differently.
Purchase stage – selling to your email list
When it comes to this traditional idea of a ‘customer journey', it feels like there needs to be a point when you suddenly start selling to your email list. But as we've already established, it doesn't work like that because the 3 stages don't work separately. You need to keep people in motion.
People buy for different reasons so your job is to always come up with different angles to sell the same thing. Some people will respond well to a discount and others to a bonus. For example, our highest-converting campaign is The Golden Cloak, which uses a bonus and gives people a great deal. Some people buy because there’s reverse risk and others because of social proof or social status. The key is to surround people with different reasons to buy based on their personal situation.
Even when joining our membership, some people want email marketing campaigns while others want coaching. So different aspects and features of what you sell will appeal to different people.
Selling automatically with email marketing
The way we do this in the practical sense is by having an email campaign that we run automatically – the Tell Me More campaign. When someone clicks on the links in our emails and checks out the sales page for The League 3 times in the space of 60 days, we stop them from receiving any other emails and put them through this specific sequence instead.
Why? Because we know they're interested. And this campaign gives them more information to help them make a purchase. And this is exactly why what we have is an ‘automated customer journey’. We don't do this manually. Instead, we identify people who've shown the highest level of intent and are ready to move to the next stage.
It's also worth pointing out that the journey never ends. Sure, if someone comes across your business today, they’re becoming aware of you, so you can’t repeat the awareness stage over and over. But the other phases (consideration and purchase) keep happening all the time. You want people to perpetually go through the consideration phase with education and through purchase by selling to them. You want people to keep buying from you! So you need to keep talking about things that help overcome objections and reverse the risk of making a decision.
Email marketing journey best practices
Embrace vertical email marketing
We always recommend people embrace this idea of vertical email marketing rather than horizontal email marketing. And by that, we mean that you can cater to where people are on the journey with you. If you think of a subscriber relationship mind map, rather than a customer journey, you can move people through this map by deepening the relationship you have with them.
People join your email list because they might want to overcome a specific problem. If you chain emails together where every email deals with a different problem (this is what we call horizontal marketing), you're just guessing which email is going to hit. And in the meantime, you have to hope people stay engaged. Instead, embrace vertical email marketing and meet people where they are.
Address people's specific problems
We do this by giving people a quick survey when they join our email list using a platform called Response Suite. We ask people what their biggest problem is right now out of some examples. Do they want to grow their email list and get customers for the first time? Or maybe they want existing customers to buy again?
Depending on what option they choose, we then send them a bunch of emails to show how we can help. We don't make them go through emails that talk about problems that aren't priorities for them. We ask them what their biggest challenge is right now and address that through emails. That way, we help them solve that problem with a combination of educational content while also making them offers that will move them from consideration to purchase.
Let's also remember that no one is reading all the emails you send, so you have to send a lot more emails than you think to have the impact you want. Plus, the journey isn't linear, you're not always automatically moving people forward. Sometimes, something you said in an email may unknowingly trigger an objection in someone. So instead of getting one step closer to buying your product, they go and consider something else. And until you address that objection, they’re not going to buy.
In fact, people might unsubscribe and re-subscribe over and over before they’re ready to buy. We’ve had that more than once. People will leave because they’re not in the right headspace to consume your content. And it's better (for them and for you) that they join again when they’re ready. It happens more than you think, and it’s part of this non-linear journey.
How can you automate the email marketing customer journey?
So when automating your customer journey, you need to think about this from the perspective of a subscriber – not a customer. And to do that, we use a system called SCORE. It’s an acronym, and it describes the 5 stages of taking people through an automated email marketing customer journey.
It’s the process that happens on autopilot from the moment someone joins your list that ensures everyone is taken care of so you can make sales consistently and predictably. In fact, the SCORE email engine allows you to make more sales every day without having to ever launch another offer! It’ll be the biggest asset in your business. So if you’re not already there, check out all the details of our membership The League, and come and join us.
Subject line of the week
Today’s subject line is “Can we buy you a coffee?” with the little coffee cup emoji. This works because we took a common expression from the offline world and applied it online to a place where it doesn’t make sense. How can we, the people you don't know and who send you emails every day, buy you a coffee in real life?
It’s all about taking a thing out of context and making it weird. It triggers a different type of curiosity (one that doesn’t make any sense) that makes people want to go and find out what's going on. So think along the lines of something you’d say to someone in real life who you know quite well and apply it to your subscribers. Try it out!
Useful Episode Resources
FREE list to improve your email marketing
If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. We put together this list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here.
Join our FREE Facebook group
If you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber, we can help! We know your business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. We share a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.
Try ResponseSuite for $1
This week's episode is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.
Join The League Membership
Not sick of us yet? Every day we hang out in our amazing community of Email Marketing Heroes. We share all of our training and campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you're looking to learn how to use psychology-driven marketing to level up your email campaigns, come and check out The League Membership. It's the number one place to hang out and grow your email marketing. Best news yet? You can apply everything we talk about in this show.
Subscribe and review The Email Marketing Show podcast
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