Cookie Settings
We use cookies on your device to enhance your experience. Some information may be shared with third parties.

A Marketer’s Definitive Guide to Mapping a Customer Journey

Show and Tell on Sep 24, 2021

satisfaction review screen on smartphone

When you think of your target buyer personas, can you think of their pain points and motivations? What is their intent and how do they make their purchases? 

Customer Journey

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again ... customer journeys are convoluted and messy. Why? Customers can easily hop on and off their buying journey whenever and wherever they want, making selling and marketing in the digital and analog worlds no easy feat. Understanding this hop-on/hop-off customer journey is crucial to executing sales and marketing strategies to meet customers in their moments of intent when and where they choose. 

What is the Customer Journey?

SurveyMonkey sums it up best:  
“The customer journey is the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with your company and brand. Instead of looking at just a part of a transaction or experience, the customer journey documents the full experience of being a customer.” 

In other words, the customer journey (also referred to by some marketers as the ‘user’ journey), is a roadmap used to map out the entire customer experience – from the moment a customer becomes aware of your brand to the final purchase, and all the touchpoints they have with your brand along the way. 

Why should I care about the customer journey?

It’s simple: mapping the customer journey is about nurturing your target audience’s experience to ensure that no lead falls through the cracks. By fully understanding the customer experience, you can create tailored solutions and experiences that help to answer questions and provide more value to your end consumer in each of their "moments of intent” (click here if you don't know what we mean by this). 

The customer experience is the most important factor in whether or not a potential customer will continue working with your business. According to Salesforce, 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business. Having customized experiences will not only increase the likelihood of each consumer who will fulfill your desired action (make a purchase, fill out a contact form, etc.), it will also help you gain a better understanding of your target audience and uncover any problematic areas that need improvement.

The relationship between customer journey and the marketing funnel

Of course, as we think through our customer journey, we will also want to take into consideration the sales/marketing funnel. A marketing funnel (also known as the sales funnel) is a model of your marketing and sales process from your company’s point of view. Leads start at the top of the funnel and work their way down to the bottom of the funnel as they get closer to making a purchase.

Usually, a sales funnel is broken down into the following stages: awareness, interest, consideration, intent and purchase. Some businesses have started to include customer retention/loyalty as a crucial step at the bottom of the funnel. However, most businesses like to focus on more broad categorizations, breaking the funnel down into three main parts:

  1. Top of Funnel (TOF)
  2. Middle of Funnel (MOF)
  3. Bottom of Funnel (BOF)

Understanding your sales/marketing funnel allows you to categorize your leads and customers based on the relationship they have with your business.

Customer Journey Funnel

Though these two concepts are closely related, they aren't the same. The customer journey details every step necessary for a new lead to transform into a paying customer, while the marketing funnel is more of a business model used to market appropriately to leads at various stages of the buying cycle. The longer your sales cycle is, the longer your average customer’s journey will most likely be.

Customer journey maps and the marketing funnel are similar tools and can be used to complement one another. Your marketing funnel tells you how leads are interacting with your business: use this information to understand what kind of information or assistance a lead likely needs at any given time.

For example, say you are a financial institution looking to gain more leads on mortgages. Prospects and leads who are at the top of your funnel will likely be looking for information about your business or the topic in general – which means that they would likely value FAQs, or a blog article explaining your unique selling proposition (learn about that, here). Whereas leads at the bottom of your funnel may find more value in intent-rich content, such as a mortgage calculator or informational how-to blog posts on specific topics (ex. first-time mortgage checklist). 

Tracking the customer journey, on the other hand, helps you to get into your leads’ heads. It helps you answer important questions, like:

  • How are leads finding my business?
  • How do prospects research my brand?
  • What barriers do they run into along the way?

The best way to discover the customer journey (and its various touchpoints) is thinking about the entire purchasing process through the lens of a new customer, someone who has never experienced your brand before. 

Tip: This can be difficult to do. You’re an expert in your business/industry and you ‘live it’ every day, so taking a neutral stance is tough. Helpful hint: try going through the experience with an industry/company you are not familiar with; or, ask a friend or peer who is not as familiar with your brand to provide some clarity on their thought processes.

Steps to Create a Customer Journey Map

1. Create specific objectives for the map.

Towards what goal or goals are you directing this map and consequently your desired customers? What experience is this based upon?

2. Flesh out your customer personas and SMART goals.

As we recommend with any client strategy, you must create detailed buyer personas and conduct discovery research. What you think may be wildly different from the actual experience customers get? If possible, directly ask your customers what their experience is like with your company with questions such as:

  • How did you hear about us?
  • What stood out to you about our company?
  • What made you decide to purchase with us?
  • Did you ever require customer support?
  • Is there anything we can do to further support you to make your experience more seamless? 

3.  Pick your target audience.

Once you’ve outlined your different personas, narrow your focus to one or two of them. Remember, your map tracks the experience of one customer who’s taking a very particular journey with your company.

4. List out all possible touchpoints. 

Touchpoints are all the possible places that your customers can interact with you. This could be your website, your social media, ads, bricks and mortar, sales team, client service, etc. This is a crucial step in creating your journey map as it provides you with insight into what actions your customers are performing and what objectives they may be encountering.

5.Conduct a content audit .

At each touchpoint, you’ll need tailored content to help nurture the desired outcome of your journey map. Since your map is going to touch almost every part of your organization and your inbound marketing, it’s important to take stock of what resources you already have and what you’ll need to overcome any barriers and create the optimal customer experience. That means taking an audit of all your content: blog articles, social media, sales enablement pieces, website, client service scripts, emails, chatbot flows ... the works.

 6. Final review and launch.

Once you have your map completed, make sure you do a final walkthrough and take the customer journey yourself. If everything checks out, you’re good to launch, and most importantly, track and analyze your results. If your customers’ needs aren’t being met, the results will quickly show.

This is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of project. Optimizing your customer journey requires regular review and updating as you learn more about your clients and move into more niches.

Going through these steps will help you design a more efficient lead nurturing process and a better overall experience for your customers.

Let the journey(s) begin.