A customer journey map is a visual representation of the buyer’s journey from the customer’s perspective. The map helps you to understand the customer’s experience with your business across all possible touchpoints; whether it is on your website, social media, livechat, email, or other channels. With this knowledge, you can optimize your business and marketing processes to improve customer retention and boost conversion rates. So in this article, we will look at how you can build a customer journey map, examples to follow, and the best practices to ensure success.
Let’s get started.
On the surface, the customer journey looks like a simple linear process – from point A to B.
Point A, the company offers a product or service. And at point B, the customer purchases the offer.
In reality, this is not the case. There are several touchpoints from when the company promotes a product to even after the customer makes a purchase. And the more touchpoints there are in the customer journey, the more complicated the map can become.
For example, a customer sees an advertisement for a brand’s product on social media. This is the first touchpoint. The customer then clicks on the ad and lands on a sales page. This is the second touchpoint. They like the products and make a purchase. That’s the third touchpoint. If the brands send them a thank you email, this is the fourth touch point. And if the customer signs up for the brand’s newsletter, this will be the fifth touchpoint and so on.
So a customer journey map will help understand how the customers view your brand and their experience during each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Here are some other benefits of creating a customer journey map.
Marketing strategies are divided into outbound and inbound marketing.
Outbound marketing involves reaching out to your customers to get them to buy your product. It includes the use of TV ads, cold calling, email blasts, billboards, display ads, etc. On the other hand, inbound marketing involves the use of content and social media strategies to raise awareness for your brand, get people to show interest in your offerings, and eventually make purchases.
Outbound marketing is ineffective and costly. You are casting your net widely with the hope that you reel in some customers.
By contrast, inbound marketing allows you to leverage different types of content to engage and attract your target customers. It helps you to gently nurture customers as they pass through the buyer's journey while gradually increasing their interest in your brand and boosting customer engagement. Using inbound marketing strategies will help increase conversions and retention. And by creating a customer journey map, you will be able to identify the content that your customers are interested in and the touchpoints where the content will be most effective.
The customer journey map gives you insight into your customers' experiences while dealing with your business. You will be able to see what they are satisfied with and the areas where there is friction. With this strategy, you can optimize your customer service process to proactively assist customers before they even reach out to you. It can be something as simple as creating a knowledge base with self-service articles that customers can browse through when stuck using your product.
Improving the customer experience is necessary for a successful business. The fewer friction customers encounter, the less likely they are to go to your competitors. In fact, 33 percent of customers will consider going to another brand after one poor experience.
Touchpoints vary by customer. For instance, older customers might arrive at a website from Google searches while Gen Zers from social media. Gen Zers might prefer to watch fun video content on social media while older customers might prefer written content that explains the product in detail.
A journey map will allow you to visualize the different types of customers you have, their experiences with your brand, and the kind of content that is most effective for attracting and educating them.
Before you create a customer journey map, you need to first understand the different stages a customer goes through before making a purchase. Here are the five common stages:
Regardless of your business type, you will follow the same steps for building a customer journey map. Although you may have different touch points and may target different buyer personas, the principles of a customer journey map remain the same.
Before you create your map, you need to first understand who your average customers are. You will do this by creating buyer personas.
Buyer personas are a fictional representation of your target customer. It gives you a clear picture of who your audience is, their pain points, and how they make decisions. Understanding the buyer persona will allow you to create customer journey maps that are personalized to your audience and effective.
Here is an example of a buyer persona.
The best way to start creating your buyer persona is by interviewing your current customers. You can send out surveys or use in-person interviews.
Along with general demographic data like gender, age, job title, location, level of income, and marital status, here are some good questions you can ask during the interview:
Questions like this serve as customer feedback and will allow you to better understand who your customers are.
A touchpoint is anytime a customer or prospect interacts with your business during the customer journey. Every touchpoint is an opportunity for a business to turn a potential customer into a loyal customer.
On the customer journey map, the touchpoints will be displayed chronologically – from before the customer makes a purchase to after the purchase. These touchpoints will give you insight into your customer experiences as well as the performance of your sales and marketing teams. For example, if your customers go through a lot of touchpoints before making a purchase, it might mean that your sales and marketing processes are complicated. This can lead to poor customer experience.
Another example is from a company’s customer journey that spanned 3 months. At each touchpoint, the customers reported at least a 90 percent satisfaction rate. But at the end of the customer journey, the satisfaction rate dropped to 40 percent. After mapping their customers' touchpoints, they found out that they weren’t onboarding customers efficiently. This led to customers having problems when using their technology. Although they were making sales, the business kept losing customers due to improper onboarding and a lack of technical support.
By mapping your customer touchpoints, you will identify the areas you need to work on to offer customers an all-around positive experience. Highlighting potential roadblocks in your customer journey will help you create strategies to mitigate them.
Examples of touchpoints where customers can interact with your brand include your website, social media, paid ads, email marketing, company events, point of sale, review sites, customer loyalty programs, customer onboarding, customer loyalty programs, customer success programs, and product catalogs.
Here are some places you can get data on customer touchpoints:
Additional reading – Customer Experience: 5 Trends That Are Changing The Game
By now, you should have a good understanding of the evolution of your customers as they move through each stage of the buyer journey. The next step will be to collect data on your customer experiences and the obstacles they encounter. Analyzing this data will show you the areas where your customer needs aren’t met.
And at each stage during the customer journey, three main factors can cause friction and reduce the customer experience.
This occurs when your product's UI interferes negatively with the customer’s experience. For example, the checkout button on your website is missing, or the form fields on your website are too long.
Throughout the buyer journey, customers go through a variety of emotions. These emotions can be positive or negative. Negative emotions will lead to friction. For example, emotional friction can occur when your customer service reps handle support poorly. This can leave the customer frustrated. Generally, you want customers to have positive emotions when interacting with your business.
Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort customers need to perform a task. When the cognitive load is high, it leads to increased cognitive friction. Customers won't interact with your brand because it requires a lot of effort on their part. Your goal should be to minimize cognitive load.
Take for example, Uber. They are successful because they reduce the cognitive friction required to book a ride. All customers have to do is order on the app, call the rider, and wait for their ride. And by including a map showing how far away the rider is, customers have less anxiety and are more patient. Uber improved their user experience by reducing cognitive friction and making the ride-hailing process easy.
So collect data and customer feedback on the different places your customers experience friction during the customer journey. With this information, you will be able to develop solutions to provide a smoother user experience.
After you gather all of your data, the next step will be to design the map. There are different ways you can design a customer journey map. Here are some of the key ones:
This is the most common type of customer journey map. This map visualizes the current experience your customers have when interacting with your product or service at each stage of the customer journey. It is designed to include things like customer actions, feelings, thoughts, and considerations. This map type is best when you want to identify current customer pain points.
Here is an example of a current state journey map from a USA.gov case study.
The first part of the map shows each stage of the customer's journey. Next, we are shown the different activities the customer did and the touchpoints involved at each stage. The customer’s emotion is shown using emojis. And connected to the emojis are the feelings and needs of the customer at each stage of the journey. The last section of the map details the potential opportunities for improvement.
This is used to visualize how you want your customer journey to look like in the future. To create a future state map, you should first have a solid current state map as it will serve as a foundation for future speculations. This map format is best when you want to explore ways to create new customer experiences or when you are creating a new product.
Here is an example of a future state map created by Iris Tong Wu.
Along with the normal things included in a current state map like customer actions and touchpoints, this map includes proposed changes that will be made to the customer journey. In this example, the customers are students of Carnegie Mellon University.
This map allows the university to be proactive when developing processes to improve the student’s experience from when they get admission to when they arrive at campus. The final section even includes possible scenarios that may occur at each stage of the customer’s journey.
This map visualizes the daily experiences and activities of the customer. You can use this map to visualize your customer’s routine, activities, experiences, and pain points during the day – even if they occur outside of your company. With this map, you will be able to identify which time of the day your product or service will be most valuable to the customer.
Here is an example of a day-in-the-life customer journey map from an airline business.
This map helps you visualize all the things that need to happen backstage before the customer journey begins. Where a normal journey map focuses on the actions and experiences of the customer, a service blueprint looks at it from the perspective of the organization and its employees.
This map format is best for optimizing your organizational processes or when you want to create solutions for specific roadblocks in the customer journey.
Here is an example of a service blueprint of a hotel business from Miro.
In this map, you can see different actions that employees will have to take for every customer action. This will allow employees to have a clear understanding of their tasks at each stage of the customer journey so as to improve the customer experience.
You need a clear strategy to remove guesswork when creating a customer journey map. Apply these best practices so you can effectively map your buyer's journey.
Before you start mapping your customer’s journey, you need to first define the goals you want to achieve with the map. Maybe you want to increase your conversion rate by determining where in the user journey prospective customers get frustrated and drop off. Or you want to understand your customers better so you can optimize your product to better serve their needs.
You can also use your business’ KPI goals to determine what metrics you will track with the map. Examples of KPIs goals can be increasing conversion rates, satisfaction metrics, or engagement statistics. These KPIs will also help you measure the performance of your strategies at each touchpoint once you start using the results from your map to optimize the user experience.
Customer demographics and psychographics play a key role in determining how customers interact with a business. If you try to create a one-size-fits-all map for every buyer persona, you will miss the opportunity to create a good customer experience for different types of buyers.
Maybe your Gen Z customers prefer to interact with your brand on social media and will like you to continue to engage with them on their favorite platforms after purchase. Understanding your different buyer personas and creating unique maps for them will allow you to create personalized marketing strategies that are more effective.
Do not create a customer journey map for your business in isolation. Collaborate with the teams that interact with customers at every touchpoint or stage of the customer journey. Include the perspective of your sales, marketing, operations, and customer service teams.
At each stage of the buyer journey, there are different KPIs you can measure to determine the effectiveness of strategies you implement after building the customer journey map.
Here are the KPIs to measure:
It’s important that you review and update your customer journey map as you add new products or services to your business. Just a slight change to your business process can create a roadblock that will negatively impact your bottom line. For instance, in the process of redesigning your website, you might make your navigation menu too complex leading to higher bounce rate. So you need to update your map when there are any changes in your business process, market/industry, or customer behavior.
A digital asset management (DAM) platform offers businesses a centralized system to organize and access all of their media assets in one place. It allows organizations to streamline the production, management, control, and delivery of marketing content and rich media.
So whether it is on your brand’s websites, social media channels, or e-commerce store, a DAM platform like Wedia allows businesses to support the customer journey by providing consistent and personalized customer experiences across all touchpoints. Wedia does this through functionalities like:
Ready to improve the performance of your content as the customer moves through the stages of the buyer’s journey? Learn more about Wedia.
And that's it!