What Is a Customer Journey Map (& How to Create One)
Understanding the customer journey is crucial to your digital marketing strategy.
A customer journey map will help you do just that.
Your customers’ journey and every aspect of their interaction and experience with your brand needs to be a smooth ride from start to finish.
It’s the ultimate key to customer satisfaction that results in repeat (and referral) business!
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
Mapping your customers’ journey is about creating a visual illustration.
Where they come from, how they come to your site or business, and how, where, and when they buy from you.
It shows you all the touchpoints a customer has with your business so you can make every step of the customer’s interaction with you as flawless as possible.
The more clarity you create on this map, the better you will avoid the pain points that can arise — and keep the customer from giving up on their buying journey!
The Importance and Benefits of a Customer Journey Map
There are many important benefits of a customer journey map.
1. Puts the focus on inbound marketing.
In other words, your customer journey map is about serving up wine and cheese to those who are looking for it, appreciate it, and will pay for it.
You know what it is about your digital product or service that interests them and helps them.
It’s about getting the attention of your target audience from the start, and sales will inevitably result.
2. Find your target audience.
Without detailed information on your target audience (aka customer demographics and psychographics), you could be leaving money on the table.
And, worse, wasting money and time on targeting customers who are not a good fit.
Spend time and effort on your entire customer journey analysis — the payoff will be well worth it in customer satisfaction, customer retention, and customer loyalty, as well as profits.
The journey map will help you tailor a great customer experience from the first customer interaction to the last.
3. Make customer service proactive.
There is absolutely nothing like proactive customer service from a brand when you’re in the first stages of the buying cycle.
When a brand understands the customer’s perspective, it’s the kind of trigger that opens wallets almost instantly.
A customer journey map helps you provide exactly that — the visual illustration of the customer’s lifecycle and customer expectations help you plan to be unforgettably excellent by:
- Avoiding scenarios that make it difficult for the potential customer to get information, buy, or query a product.
- Add personalized touches at key points in the entire journey to surprise and delight them.
- Creating an impression of reliability and consideration for customer needs.
- Make the customer aware of additional support, bonus offers, or discounts where applicable.
4. Improve customer retention.
As you can see by now, the benefits of customer journey mapping make a ton of sense, especially to retain a loyal customer.
When you use this tool, it becomes easier to identify how to keep your customers returning, referring, and enthusiastically loyal.
Think about it — the fewer pain points customers experience when interacting with your brand, the easier it is for them to return to your brand more often than your competitors.
A poor user experience makes one in three customers contemplate switching to another brand!
When you monitor customer behavior along the user journey, you can proactively avoid problems that would cause them to leave.
It may sound like fussing over details, but even a small improvement in customer retention rates can have a major ripple effect on your profits.
5. Make your company customer-centric.
Your customers are (or should be!) the center of your business world.
But, the more your company grows, the more challenging it can be to define what that should look like on a practical, ground-floor level.
This makes customer journey mapping even more important because every department can see the role they play throughout the customer lifecycle and remember to align their goals and actions accordingly.
Share the clear customer journey map with your entire organization, showing every step of the customer journey, from initial attraction to post-purchase support.
And, yes, this concerns marketing, sales, and service departments.
How to Map the Customer Journey
1. Pin down map objectives.
What is your goal in creating a customer journey map?
Do you just want an overall picture of your customer's journey, or do you want to improve a particular part of that journey, such as the awareness stage?
Determining what you want from the map will help you plan what customer feedback and data to get and focus on.
For instance, you’ll look for different information and solutions depending on whether you want to improve the customers’ inquiry phase, buying phase, or after-sales support and continued marketing.
If you are focusing on a specific product or a launch, you’ll want to create a buyer persona to get a clear perspective on exactly who you will market to.
2. Research your personas to see what makes them tick.
How do you go about creating a useful buyer persona?
Simple — do some customer research using a survey or social media platforms, or both.
Ask your existing customers directly about their experience with your company. Use questions like:
- What is it like for you to do business with my company online and in person?
- What do you enjoy most about this company?
- Do you have any problems finding information on products or services that you’re looking for?
- What solutions are you looking for that we don’t yet provide?
- Is there anything else you’d like to tell us we can improve on?
- Is the order and buying process smooth enough?
- Do you feel supported after the sale if there are any queries or issues?
Questions like these, along with requesting simple details such as their family and socio-economic status, personal goals, etc., will help you form a buyer persona of your ideal customer.
3. Map each buyer persona.
As mentioned earlier, you likely have about three general customer personas. You can use their demographics and psychographics to create an individual customer journey map for each one.
This additional detail is a resource you can use for more targeted marketing campaigns and messaging to each one and is worthwhile.
4. Narrow the focus to your target customers.
After you’ve developed your buyer persona(s), further your customer research and create surveys with questions targeted to those particular personas for more detailed feedback.
The further you go, the deeper your understanding of your target customers and the better your ability to serve them with excellence.
Understanding the people who buy from you is the key to customer success.
4. Itemize the touchpoints.
Customer touchpoints are the moments where customers engage with your brand.
This could be engaging with ads, commenting on social media posts, emails or thank-you notes they receive after purchasing, etc.
Add these touchpoints (and their intended goals) to the relevant stages of your customer journey map to help you get feedback on your customer experiences at each of these touchpoints.
Actions performed by your customers
List the actions your customers perform at each stage of the journey, such as:
- Google keywords and phrases they use to find your products/services/business
- Sending inquiry messages or emails
- Reading customer reviews and testimonials
- Price comparison
- Purchase — ordering, paying online or in-store, receiving the product or service, getting support
Emotions and motivations of your customers.
List all the emotional reasons customers buy your product or service — negative and positive.
Include practical reasons, such as problems they are looking to solve — information, entertainment, pain relief, improvement of a situation or relationship, etc.
Obstacles and pain points of your customers
This part is crucial. List all the reasons customers may hesitate to buy from you.
This can include looking for more information, price comparison, speed of delivery, customer service, etc.
Then, create a solution to each pain point.
5. Inventory your resources.
Now that you have a clear idea of where problems and obstacles are in your customer’s journey, it’s time to take stock of how you can address them.
Start by listing what resources you have available in terms of time, money, staff, skills, software and tools, etc.
Then, list what you need in order of priority so you can start equipping yourself.
(Pro Tip: To save loads of time — and money — use marketing automation tools to collect customer data!)
6. Put yourself through the customer journey.
Imagine you are the customer — put yourself in the shoes of each customer persona, and proceed through each stage of the customer journey.
Note your experience and any hiccups at each stage.
You should even go so far as to complete a transaction to ensure that the whole checkout process and confirmation of orders work smoothly.
7. Tweak your website accordingly.
Based on everything you’ve learned in all the previous steps, review your website and the sequence of pages and tabs customers go through.
Tweak and optimize wherever needed.
For instance, update and lengthen some product descriptions with better keyword phrases, add more product images, group relevant sections together for ease of access, etc.
Make sure all the links your customer is likely to click on work well.
8. Update your map periodically.
Every three to six months, review each stage of your customer journey again and update the map, the touchpoints, details on customer personas, and info related to new products and offers accordingly.
Remember, information that is out of date will immediately start putting a dent in your customer service.
Visual reminders are everything for staff members who often multitask and have their hands full in busy seasons!
(Pro Tip: Track the success of your marketing efforts by using customer journey analytics tools like Google Analytics.)
9. Talk to your customer support.
This is another useful and often overlooked method to improve your customer journey maps.
Your customer support team will have reliable feedback for you regarding your customers’ most frequently asked questions, needs, problems, comments, and opinions on your products.
Ask your customer support team for input on what they can and should improve to make the overall customer experience more satisfying and memorable.
They can also help implement the best ideas and track your results!
Time to map your own customer journey
It’s time for you to map your own customer journey for a better customer experience.
Start at the first step and keep going until you have a clear visual of all the things that need attention throughout all the customer journey stages.
Hold your finger on the pulse of your business, on what’s working and what’s not.
The end goal? Customer success = Business success.