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What is a Customer Journey Map and Why Does It Matter?

You’re driving down the busy highway in bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hour. You look up and see a billboard…with a giant QR code. What’s wrong with this picture?

In essence, it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the customer journey, expecting that based on the limited information able to be provided on a billboard, the prospect or customer will look over, pull their phone out of their pocket, open (or possibly even have to download) a QR code scanner app and position the phone just so to capture the QR code…while driving.

The context and content of the message provided to the customer or prospect needs to line up with their motivation, behavior and context. Yes, the QR code example is ridiculous, but this is happening, although on a smaller scale, in many customer journeys, but marketers and CX professionals just don’t know it.

This is where customer journey mapping comes in. This first post will walk you through what customer journey maps (CJM) are and why they matter, and the second part of the series will focus on how to build a customer journey map, which will be posted on March 6.

What is a customer journey map?

Customer or user journey maps come in many different formats, but at its core, journey maps is a visual representation of every experience and interaction your customers have with your brand from first hearing about your product to the ongoing relationship after the purchase. Your map should be all-encompassing, informative and detailed – and empower your marketing and CX teams with the crucial insights into where you need to focus to optimize the journey for each of your key buyers’ personas.

Ideally, your journey map will map every single touchpoint and interaction your prospects and customers have with your brand, as well as the intent and motivation of your customer. However, don’t fool yourself into thinking that customer journey maps are perfect, linear, step-by-step sequences.

How customer journey mapping has evolved

Why bother creating a customer journey map? Simply put, the customer journey has changed. More and more, these visual tools are becoming completely necessary for CX professionals to navigate an increasingly complex and ominustomer experience. With the proliferation of tools and channels at customers’ disposal, understanding their journey and their motivations enables you to meet their needs.

Customer journeys today look very different than they did before the rise of mobile apps, context-aware technology and search engines. Before, mapping the user journey meant seeing a linear progression of steps from initial introduction to product to purchase and re-engagement. Now, with the explosion in digital content and proliferation of channels, customer journeys are no longer linear. Between customer communities, product documentation sites, social media, review sites, and more, there is just too much content to consume before a purchase for a customer to follow a simple linear path – and the customer journey map allows you to evolve your understanding as well.

The science behind customer journey mapping

Before we get into how to map your customer journey, we first need to understand the science behind the decisions we make as consumers. There are many different psychological studies that have gone into creating customer journey maps, but we’d like to highlight one in particular: the Fogg Behavior Model.

Behavior Scientist BJ Fogg founded the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University and introduced the Fogg Behavior Model in 2007 to explain why humans change their behavior and how to create conditions to influence them to change their behavior.

What is the Fogg Behavior Model?

In a nutshell, the Fogg Behavior Model postulates that Behavior = motivation x ability x trigger. Essentially, when motivation, ability and a trigger occur at the right moment, a change in behavior will occur.

There is a relationship here between the different variables. In graph form, it looks like this:

The Fogg Behavior Model Graph used to explain customer journey mapping


You want to keep your consumers in the upper right throughout their journey: high motivation for a task that’s easy to do with the appropriate trigger.

The 3 Elements of the Fogg Behavior Model Explained

If you are missing any of those elements, which is something a customer journey map can help you uncover, you are potentially missing out on a conversion or valuable behavior from your customer. It’s important to also keep in mind that as marketers, we need to let customers be in the driver’s seat of their experience. Trying to tightly control the journey will not lead to the results you want to achieve.

Let’s review the elements of the formula:

  • Motivation: How much does your customer really want to make a purchase? Can you increase that amount? How attached are they with your offerings and brand?These answers explain the motivation of each buyer, and are key  for every stage of the customer journey.

  • Ability: This is where context comes in. How able are they to find the right content? Is the process difficult or requires multiple steps? The more your prospects have to do to complete the desired action, the higher the motivation and trigger needs to be.

  • Trigger: Why do they need to do this now? Anyone who has written email for a limited time only promotion understands this one. Is it enough of a trigger to move them toward purchase? Keep in mind: the trigger has to be appropriate to the behavior and mindset changes along your buyer journey. Your desired behavior may be for the prospect to meet with a salesperson, but that may not be appropriate if they have had no previous contact with your company. Instead, you may want to try to trigger them to read an educational blog post about a topic related to your product.

For instance, if you are offering a commodity product at a standardized price. There’s not much motivation for your prospect to purchase it, especially from you. However, if you increase their ability by reducing the friction by answering all of their questions in a customer community or if you trigger them at the right moment with the right content, you will win the customer.

Gathering Data for your Customer Journey Mapping Workshop

It’s best to rely on data for your understanding of motivations and abilities. Some of this can be collected via surveys, A/B testing and customer interviews, but marketers and CX professionals will also be able to understand quite a bit just by looking through their own analytics on users’ behavior throughout their website. Looking at the most common page paths of the users who end up leaving your website without converting (for the pages that are designed to convert) will provide some clues as to where the content is not meeting your visitors’ expectations.

Similarly, you will be able to use your search usage data to build your customer journey maps. By understanding the questions that your customers have after viewing certain pages, before exiting your site without purchase, before purchasing will empower you with crucial insights into where to optimize the messages and better match up the motivation, ability and trigger.

Many companies are starting their customer journey map by focusing on their self-service portal first. With a defined audience (and one that is valuable), this can provide some “quick wins” before investing in a longer term project.

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