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How to Create a Customer Journey Map in Three Steps

This is part two of a two-part series on customer journey maps. To learn what exactly a customer map is and why it matters, take a look at part one.

It’s time to throw out the playbook on creating customer journey maps. As we outlined in “What is a Customer Journey Map,” your user journey map should reflect the reality of what your customers WANT to experience, rather than your idealized definition of their journey.

Use the data you have from your website, customer community and other channels to identify the content and digital touchpoints that play a role in their journey, and then identify where customers are bouncing to other websites and failing to convert. Try to optimize the website pages as much as possible so customers and prospects are getting the information they need from each channel and content. Your role as a marketing and website team is to enable your customers to explore and discover, not direct them to your next offer. More traditional marketing campaigns, based on the assumption that customers and prospects need to be given marching orders, are no longer going to cut it. Your approach to customer journey mapping needs to reflect this new reality.

In truth, you may end up with more questions than answers when you begin your customer journey map project – and that’s OK. This gives you a starting point to highlight where your data analysis gaps are and can be helpful when you evaluate your marketing and website technology stack.

#1 Identify your key personas.

How to use quantitative data for customer journey mapping

Use your existing customer data to understand who your different segments of buyers are, what they’re buying, and why. Focus first on what the quantitative research can tell you, from your customer surveys and demographic data to marketing automation information.

Even your internal site search analytics will provide important clues to what your customers want to find when they land on your website with different products. What questions do they have? What content is most helpful before, during and after a purchase?

How to use qualitative data for customer journey mapping

Then, start looking at your qualitative data from customer surveys and representative focus groups. Conducting user tests, gather panels or even interviewing users is not always possible but some tools can give you valuable qualitative data. For a website or app, you can use a session recording software such as Lucky Orange or Inspectlet can give you valuable insight of how your users interact with your digital properties and highlight recurring pain point they have with your site or conversion funnel.

Try to merge your qualitative understanding of your customers with your quantitative.

#2 Use data to match content with customer intent and behavior.

What do customer journey maps look like?

Just search for “customer journey map images,” and you’ll see a whole slew of different versions of what customer journey maps look like. These examples, while interesting, provide a generic version, but you need to make your customer journey map reflect the reality of your customers’ experiences and interactions.

Customer Journey Maps Examples

Customer journey maps come in all shapes.

How to create your own customer journey map framework

Try to build your own user journey map with the data you have, using the existing resources and images you find online as inspiration, rather than gospel, for how you are building your own. Most customer journey maps group content like this:

  • Awareness. Your prospect first becomes “aware” of the problem they face and your solution. They may see some tweets, emails or references from friends on the issue.

  • Comparison. Especially for larger purchases, prospects will start to research their purchases. This is where the content they consume will be pulled from many different sources. Expect them to look at your customer community, review sites including video review on YouTube, website, product documentation site, social media channels and more when researching the purchase.

  • Purchase. With the right information, they’ll be ready to make the purchase. It’s important to keep in mind that a difficult purchase process often contributes to delay at this stage.

  • Repurchase/engagement. A customer-for-life is the goal here. You’ll want to make sure that your customers are able to self-serve and find answers quickly and easily, as well as understand adjacent products that may be of interest.

As you map out the stages for key personas, you should also map out their motivations and abilities at each stage, à la the Fogg Behavior Model, and how they align with your current strategy. What are they hoping to achieve? How motivated are they at each stage? What is their ability? What will trigger them? Try to keep these, as much as possible, grounded in the data that you have. At that stage, we’d recommend using whiteboards, sticky notes, large paper sheets or even online whiteboarding tools such as Miro. The goal is to make sure you have all the room you need to add write or dribble ideas and draw connection lines.

#3 Identify the obstacles in the way of your customers’ journey.

This is where user experience research, click maps and other design-focused research will come in. Your goal is to identify the blockers to enable your customers to move to the stage that is most appropriate for them. Here are a few common blockers:

  • “I didn’t find the answers I needed.” Customers today expect the information they need to be right at their fingertips; this is where a powerful site search solution comes in. They are most likely using the search box to find these answers, and a generic search experience without tailored recommendation will be too difficult for them to overcome.

  • I had to start over with my questions and didn’t have the time.” Stop treating the experience in each channel as completely separate from other channels; the data and interactions in those channels need to inform the other channels. Your customers have a limited attention span and you need to use all of the data you have.

  • I want to hear from a customer in a similar situation.” With the advent of social media, we’re social beings. Who shops online without checking the star count and reading reviews? This is a great case for investing in a customer community and providing customer feedback in every experience, or making case studies and customer storytelling a central piece of your strategy.

Pro tip: It is better to have no data at all than bad data. If you think your team may be going off assumptions and gut feelings, redirect your project as soon as possible. There’s nothing wrong with “guessing” at your personas, but only if you’re able to check those guesses later with data.

Defining your customer journey is a lot of effort, but it’s worth it especially if it exposes areas you may be overlooking as you try to optimize your online store. Now, more than ever, your customers are in control of their own journey.

One easy place to start is with the self-service portal. You will have more data from your customers, including purchase history, demographic data, and more, that you can use to understand how they engage with you when they need to find answers about the product or solution they purchased.

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