Creating a Better Customer Journey Map

By Madison Taylor
January 8, 2021
Push pins in geography map

It can be a challenge to get inside the minds of your customers. But developing a successful marketing strategy requires non-stop effort to understand how your customers make decisions, what they prioritize, and what factors lead them to purchase.

A crucial part of that process is understanding the buyer’s journey — the series of steps that your customers take between first becoming aware of your product and making the final decision to purchase.

Tracking the customer journey has become more complicated in recent years, given the fragmentation of the digital space. A comprehensive, integrated marketing strategy might include a dozen social media channels, various marketing emails, paid ad placements, organic SEO, and physical collateral like mailings and OOH advertising.

With so many potential touchpoints, it’s challenging to establish which points of contact made a difference on the path to a purchase. A customer journey map serves to address this challenge. In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know to build one.

Why Journey Mapping Matters

A journey map is a diagram or outline of the key events, customer touchpoints, and areas of friction or concern from prospective customers’ perspectives.

Spelling out the journey map in physical, visible form has several essential benefits:

  • Collaboration: building a journey map should involve input from several different departments in your company. If the map is created in a brainstorming session, you can include valuable insights from multiple perspectives.
  • Sharing: beyond the marketing department, your colleagues in sales, customer service, and customer success will find a journey map valuable. Sharing this document between all relevant departments will help keep everyone informed on where they can provide value during the customer journey.
  • Consistency: if your customer journey isn’t documented and mapped, you risk inconsistency and disagreement between departments about the finer points of your strategy. Creating a master document, especially if you can show changes in real-time, will prevent those disconnects.

Why You Need a Journey Map

Many marketers believe that a customer journey map is unnecessary as long as they have detailed buyer personas and understand their customers’ needs and pain points. But a granular understanding of the customer journey allows for a much more targeted and precise approach to your marketing. For example:

  • Better inbound marketing: outbound marketing is often overly broad, involving targeting a wide swath of potential customers to attract the select few who are likely to convert. By creating a customer journey map, you can discern what your customers find most useful about your company and site, then create content accordingly to draw them in and usher them toward a purchase.
  • Better customer targeting: your customers’ demographics will always be incomplete if you’re not also well-versed in their psychographics. Creating a detailed customer journey map will offer you insights into how your customers make decisions, their priorities, and their incentives to purchase.
  • Better customer retention: 33 percent of customers will leave a brand after one bad experience, a completely untenable number for any subscription-based business. Customer journey mapping, especially mapping the onboarding and education process, can highlight the customers most prone to churning before they become unreachable.

With a shared customer journey map across sales, marketing, customer service, and customer success departments, your company can create goals focused on what customers want rather than educated guesswork. By mapping out every step of the customer experience from initial awareness to post-purchase support, you can align goals across departments to create a more coherent, efficient marketing machine.

How to Create a Customer Journey Map

A customer journey map starts with clear goals. Consider your buyer personas and business goals, asking yourself whose journey is most important in the short term. You can map multiple journeys for different products or customers as long as you delineate what each map intends to accomplish.

The next step is research. Questionnaires and surveys are useful tools in defining your personas’ goals. Avoid market research — instead, survey your actual customers and prospects who have specifically interacted with and expressed interest in your company. Ask them:

  • How did you hear about our company?
  • What attracted you to our website?
  • What problems are you trying to solve?
  • How long did you spend on our website?
  • If you’ve purchased from us before, what was the deciding factor?
  • If you chose not to purchase from us, what deterred you?
  • How easy was it to find what you were looking for on our website?
  • Have you ever needed customer support from us? How helpful was it?

Ask questions specific to your products, industry, and buyer personas for a more detailed picture of how your customers interact with your company and online presence.

Based on your research, make a detailed list of touchpoints for your target personas. These touchpoints should fall into two categories: the channels you know your customers are using, based on their responses to your questions in the previous step, and the touchpoints you believe they should be using.

These lists of touchpoints are crucial for building insights into your customers. If your customers aren’t using specific touchpoints that you think they should be, try to identify why.. Is it because those touchpoints aren’t useful, or because your customers aren’t finding them? If your customers are using a high number of touchpoints, does that mean that their journey is too complicated and that your materials aren’t nudging them down the funnel?

Consider all the possible ways your customers might encounter you online: your website, social channels, email marketing, third-party review sites, and other channels where you maintain a presence. Conduct a web search of your brand name and take stock of the pages that mention you, then cross-reference those pages against your Google Analytics to determine if they’re actually driving traffic to your website.

Finally, think about the obstacles that might prevent your customers from making a purchase. Cost is one of the most common reasons that an interested prospect will look elsewhere, but concerns like shipping time and compatibility with existing systems can deter customers as well.

Building the Map

Your customer journey map will speak to nearly every aspect of your company, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of every customer touchpoint. You might find that your map highlights areas of weaknesses — if conversion is high, but customers are churning shortly after purchase, your customer success department likely needs to improve its onboarding strategies.

An essential step in testing, take the journey yourself. Google a question relevant to your product or service offering. Is your company showing up in those search results?. Read one of your company’s emails and click on the CTA — is it immediately obvious where you should go next?

Finally, make the changes you need to adapt your materials to the journey you’ve mapped out. If your customers want to conduct research on your blog but aren’t moving down the funnel, you might need better CTAs or clearer navigation.

Trust the process. The purpose of building this journey map was to gain a better understanding of the way your customers think. The information you’ve gathered came directly from your customers — no matter how seemingly insignificant the changes may be, you can be assured that they’ll be effective because they come directly from your customers.

Talk to Madison Taylor Marketing

Your map will evolve constantly. Your customers, product, and business are always changing, so it’s advisable to check in on your map every quarter to ensure that it’s still an accurate description of your customers’ journey. If you add new products or target a new set of customers, you’ll need to create and adapt new maps for them, too.

Building and maintaining customer journey maps can be overwhelming, which is why you should recruit the help of the experts at Madison Taylor Marketing. We’ll conduct a holistic examination of your business, your customers, and your goals to create a journey map that’s tailored to your exact specifications. Ready to get started? Get in touch today.