Imagine travelling to a country for the first time by yourself.
Without a guide or some sort of map, you’ll definitely get lost.
The same thing happens when you don’t map out your customers’ journey; you’ll get prospects lost because they won’t find it easy to equate your business to the solution they’re looking for.
Worse, you’ll lose them to competitors who have their customer journey mapped out already. And you’ll understand this better as you proceed with this guide.
Without a customer journey map, you can’t easily plan out the interactions potential customers should have with your business that will convert them into customers. In other words, you can’t engage with your audience, effectively.
And besides that, you won’t be able to easily strategize what they should do after buying your product. Should they be advocating for your business? Should they join an online community of your existing customers? These are some questions you’ll be able to answer with a customer journey map.
But let’s define what it really is – just to be sure we’re on the same page:
What’s a customer journey map?
To put it simply, a customer journey is the process a potential customer goes through before, during, and after making a purchase from you.
It covers all the customer journey stages from the time they hear about your brand through the period they’re considering your product or service, to even after they’ve bought from you.
Unfortunately, your customer’s journey isn’t always linear.
A prospect can visit your site, add a product to cart or start filling your contact form, go through your testimonials page, and leave for days before coming back to finally make a purchase.
To understand this better, let’s look at this example: Mr A needs to buy a pair of affordable, high-quality blue shoes. There are a couple of places (Google, Amazon, etc.) that he could go to start his buying journey, but he chooses Instagram. He searches Instagram, scrolls through the feed, and sees a page that promises what he’s looking for.
Impressed by the product descriptions and their page’s aesthetics, he clicks on their website link and lands on their homepage. Then, he browses through their page and, that’s right, sees a blue shoe.
There, Mr A becomes a customer of the brand he’s bought the product from.
This is an example of a simple customer’s customer journey, and mapping it out visually helps you create your customer journey map.
But a customer journey can be much more complex than this simple illustration we just gave, depending on the nature of your business and the complexity of your product or service.
The image below is an example of a customer journey map; it can be simple or complex based on what you include, the time frame, and your type of company.
By now, you probably have enough reasons why you should be mapping out your customer journey, but if you’re still not certain you need it, here are three other reasons you should consider:
Three major reasons why you need a customer journey map
Smart business owners use customer journey maps. Research reveals that companies using customer journey maps have a 54% greater return on marketing investment than those that don’t.
Even more, the chart below shows a side-by-side comparison of brands that use customer journey maps and others that don’t. You can see that in every area compared, brands that use customer journey have a higher percentage than brands that don’t.
With a good customer journey map, you can:
Reason 1: Improve your customers’ experience
Brands with superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than their competitors that don’t.
Since a customer journey map is a visual representation of your customers’ journey, you’d be able to see their experience with your brand and improve on it. When you do this, your customers will have a seamless experience buying from you.
And the more seamless their experience with your brand, the more sales you get; no wonder 43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience.
Reason 2: Reduce cost and increase sales
Brands that use customer journey maps reduce costs and increase sales. A study by the Aberdeen Group shows that such brands experience more than 10 times the improvement in customer service costs and a 21% yearly growth, while brands that don’t actually experience a decline in growth at -2.2%.
The same research shows that brands that use customer journey maps enjoy an average sales cycle that is 18 times faster, with 56% more revenue from upselling and cross-selling efforts.
Reason 3: Improve your inbound marketing efforts
Mapping out customer journeys requires you to research your customers. And as you do customer research, you get better at creating content that’ll attract them to your brand.
As a result, building customer journey maps strengthens your inbound marketing efforts. With inbound marketing producing 54% more leads than outbound strategies, it’s definitely worth it to invest in knowing your customers so you can serve them better content.
How to build a customer journey map
Customer journey maps differ for every business. For instance, a B2B business would have a different map than an ecommerce brand or a consultant.
But you should follow these 7 steps to create the right customer journey map for your brand:
Step 1: Create your buyer persona
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your potential customers.
Ideally, you need to create your buyer personas based on what you know about your existing customers. Here’s an example of a buyer persona from Brightspark Consulting.
The data you have about your existing customers is what helps you understand your potential customers as well.
After you’ve determined your buyer persona, map out the journey you want that persona to take to become a customer.
Step 2: If you have more than one buyer persona, map out a journey for each one
Your business can have more than one type of customer. But you need to build a journey map for each one to keep your marketing and sales strategies simple. Having a journey map for each customer will also help you personalize your business for each customer.
So once you’ve determined your buyer personas, decide what their journeys would look like before they become a customer and what happens after they do.
Do you want them to find your blog post on social media, read it, discover your product/service, and sign up for it? Or do you want them to find your ad on Instagram, check out your product, and buy it?
These are only examples. You can map out your customers’ journey however you want based on what you know about their preferences. But ideally, you need to break their journey to becoming customers into stages.
Step 3: Divide the customer journey into three stages
At this point, you have an idea of what your potential customers’ preferences are.
The next step is to identify what they want to achieve with your brand at different stages of their buying journey. ( A buying journey is the same as the route prospects take to becoming your customers.)
There are three stages a potential customer typically goes through before becoming a paying customer:
Stage 1: Discovery
At this stage, the buyer has a problem that needs to be solved, so their goal is to find some content or tool that can help them solve that problem.
Using the buyer persona you’ve created, you should be able to discern what channel the potential customer would take at this stage to figure out how to solve their problem — so you can position your content or product there for them to find it.
For example, will they be looking for some design inspiration on Pinterest? Do they typically search Google? Based on what you know, you can meet them at this stage and get them familiar with your product or content.
Stage 2: Consideration
Once they see your brand, they would want to explore your website and social media pages to see if your business is the right fit for what they’re looking for.
At this point, they may or may not be ready to buy from you. But whatever the case, you want to make sure to collect their emails so you can follow them up. With their emails, you can send them helpful content and get them to make a purchase decision.
Stage 3: Decision
The last stage is their final decision. After considering all things, they then decide if you’re the best fit for them. At this stage, you need to prove to them that your business can provide the solution they’re looking for. Show them case studies, testimonials, and any other proof you have to convince them to become customers.
Knowing their goals at each stage will show you what they expect to experience so you can make it happen.
Step 4: Use the right tools
Using the right tools will make your customer journey mapping quicker and less daunting. You can use the tools below to help you.
- Survey Monkey: This tool lets you create surveys for your customers. With it, you can get feedback and ask your existing customers questions that’ll help you build your customer journey maps.
For example, let’s say you run a survey that asks them, “How did you find us?” Their answer will show you how new customers will be finding your brand — so you can better position your business.
- Crazy Egg: Crazy Egg is a heat mapping tool you can use to determine the areas your customers interact with the most on your website and their movements before taking action.
This software shows you what the user clicked on, pages they visited, and how far they scrolled. You use it to decipher the goals of your customers.
For example: When a user visits your website, you’ll be able to see the purpose of their visit and if they achieved it.
Did they come to read a blog? View your price? Does the user come back over time? If yes, why?
The best part is, it can be integrated with Survey Monkey and Google Analytics. So you can send surveys and emails to the user based on their action, and also view their profile.
- GetResponse: GetResponse is an email and marketing automation software that lets you enhance your customer journey map by running paid ad campaigns, collecting your prospects’ emails, and nurturing them with messages and automated replies based on certain triggers and actions they take.
- Google Analytics: This is a digital analytics tool that’ll allow you to see in-depth details about your visitors — location, pages they visit, and their movements on your site. This tool helps you build your buyer personas based on the kind of users that visit your website.
Step 5: Determine what you want to show on the map
Finally, here’s where you decide how your map should look and what you’re looking to put in it.
For the most part, you simply need it to depict the possible current states of your buyer persona and what they’ll be trying to do next until they discover your business.
Ideally, you need your map detailing things like:
- Who your customer persona(s) is or are
- Types of materials or content they typically look for when they need your product or service
- How they’ll find those materials on your website or social media pages
- How they’ll go from your website to making a purchase
- What happens after they make a purchase
That’s pretty much it. Of course, these maps are slightly different for most businesses depending on several variables. But all in all, they have information similar to what we’ve outlined above.
Step 6: Go through the journey yourself
After creating the map, actively go through your customer’s journey.
Log in to the sites your potential clients may come from and take the actions they are likely to take there.
Go through the steps you want them to pass through to become customers and see how smooth or complex the journey is.
Step 7: Make the required changes
Improve, improve, and keep improving because customer behavior is always changing. Review the map monthly, bi-monthly, or however you see fit. And tweak, add, and remove what needs improvement.
The customer journey map can be tedious and tiring to make, but it’s worth it.
Here are the major takeaways from this article:
- Customer journey is the total sum of the experience your prospects have when they interact with your brand before and after they become customers.
- Customer journey maps help improve your customers’ overall experience and your brand’s inbound marketing strategy reduces the cost spent on customer service and increases sales.
- When building your journey map, you should:
- have a buyer persona.
- map out your customers’ interactions with your business.
- plan how their interactions will lead to more sales for you.