Customer Journey Map: A Guide to Transform the Customer Experience
Heard of customer journey mapping? When understanding the digital customer journey, it’s super useful in getting to know your customers and the steps they take with your brand. As a marketer, you’re left with a challenge to ensure you’re delivering a consistent, pleasant customer experience across different stages of the customer journey. But how can you keep on top of all your digital touchpoints and channels? Visualizing these paths in a customer journey map helps you and your team identify key areas that need improvement to make informed optimizations that create a smooth customer experience.
Not sure where to start? We’ve broken this down for you in our complete guide to customer journey mapping!
Table of contents:
What Is A Digital Customer Journey? Why Is A Customer Journey Map So Important? Digital Hugging and Immersive Experience How Do You Create A Customer Journey Map? Recap: Getting Your Digital Customer Map Right
What Is A Digital Customer Journey?
A digital customer journey is the collection of digital channels and touchpoints a customer goes through with your brand. It sums up the steps a consumer takes when interacting with your brand directly or indirectly across the different customer journey stages of browsing, comparing products, and purchasing.
Generally, these are the standard customer stages, but they can begin before the consumer feels the need for your product or service and starts browsing. It also extends to post-purchase, when the satisfied customer buys more of your products and refers to friends.
Having different checkpoints is complex but highly insightful to a business. Imagine if the process was composed of only two steps: you wouldn’t know what does and doesn’t work. Having several steps and touchpoints in the customer journey helps you better understand your customer personas to create a pleasant shopping experience.
Why Is A Customer Journey Map So Important?
A sale is often hard-earned as shoppers undertake several actions before purchasing. Mapping out the journey to identify what areas can be optimized is essential for a better customer experience. For instance, targeting your customer with the right message but at the wrong time in the journey would not just be a wasted effort; it could slow the customer’s progression in the journey or even make them quit and look elsewhere.
Customer journey mapping makes it easy to locate where your marketing is underperforming, to understand what can be optimized to improve the customer experience. But to get an accurate picture, it’s important to map this using customer data to tick the boxes for creating a consistent and seamless experience for every persona.
Using customer data helps you to address any pain points. To do so across different channels, you need a good customer journey map (CJM) that enables a shared understanding in your cross-functional team.
You can use your cloud-based multichannel marketing platform as a customer journey mapping tool – and it’s often the best way to build a customer journey map. By harnessing the data provided at each touchpoint, it gives valuable insight to enable end-to-end insight-led customer experiences.
A journey mapping template can start from an experience map and a service blueprint template. But keep in mind that each stage of the customer journey may change, so testing and iteration are necessary to make the template evolve.
Customer journey maps are helpful to provide a superior user experience (UX) that results in higher sales and customer retention. It also helps get sign-off from the senior leadership and the buy-in of different stakeholders, especially if the company has an outside-in or customer-focused strategy. A journey map doesn’t apply only to the frontstage and customer-facing role in the organization but to the overall strategy and product development.
So, how can you optimize the UX and make consumers feel understood at every step of the journey? How can you optimize your journey map to address your customers’ pain points right when it’s needed? How can you get mapping right?
First-party data and digital hugging are good first steps.
Digital Hugging and Immersive Experience
Digital hugging gives a 360-degree personalized experience to every customer across every relevant channel and touchpoint. When addressing a journey map template, keep this in mind because superior customer service to every user is becoming the new standard, even for e-commerce.
Ask yourself, what is your current state in relation to customer service? What buyer personas and users are you overlooking?
Digitally hugging consumers was often considered utopic and idealistic in 2019, but now it’s another story as marketing changed in 2021. Nowadays, thanks to technology and AI-driven multichannel platforms, it’s possible to go beyond that idea and offer hyper-personalized customer experiences. But how can it be applied to mapping?
First-party data is the key to adding digital hugging to your customer journey map. By collecting data and putting insight first, before even taking action, it’s possible to deliver insight-led customer experiences. These are the present and future of marketing among retailers and e-commerce, as insight-led customer experiences help you to reach your customer in the right place, with the right message, at the right time. This is essential, as timing is at the essence of delivering a fluid, seamless customer journey and superior user experience.
By integrating insight-led customer experiences into your marketing strategy, you’ll be able to gather data on customer behavior and go beyond psychographics. It allows you to adopt a customer-focused approach in all the different stages of the journey and harness the full potential of your omnichannel platform. The end-user then benefits from a superior experience, from the “exploring your brand” stage to the “post-purchase” phase.
Think about your current customer journey mapping template and service blueprint. Are you using data at each stage of the customer journey? What is the current state of your buyer personas? Was your service blueprint based on them? What type of data did you use when defining your users?
How Do You Create A Customer Journey Map?
Step 1: Use your sales funnel to define the buying process
When state mapping or customer journey mapping, keep in mind what steps and conversions are strategic for you. But always remember to adopt a market-oriented view and optimize your customer experience by understanding their pain points while including the steps they’re most likely to take.
Customer journeys may vary according to different circumstances, such as industries and business models. Here you can find an example of the stages of a simplified standard customer journey.
The prospect has a need and starts their journey by browsing the web, social media, and physical locations, searching for a solution. At this stage, your prospective customer may even be asking their friends, family members, and colleagues for an opinion, and your brand advocates will give them one.
When journey mapping, think about what the touch points are at this stage. How can your prospects find you in the digital space? Through paid ads? Do you have strong SEO on your website? How are your offline and online presence connected?
The awareness stage is the second step of the journey where the prospect becomes aware of your brand. They know your brand potentially offers the solution to their problem, but you’re not exactly shortlisted yet.
Although this is just the beginning, the awareness stage is critical, and you should consider a strategy to attract attention best. Insight and testing also play a key role here, for example, combining first-party data and A/B testing.
Retargeting campaigns are a strategy you should also consider when journey mapping this step. Your prospect knows about you, but you have to continue to generate interest.
If there’s a strong match between your product being a solution to your prospect’s pain points, they’ll start feeling interested in your brand. But remember, you’re highly unlikely to be the only one at this stage, so the competition is still on!
At the awareness and interest stage, the digital experience is often self-serviced as the customer interacts with your digital touchpoints on their own. By optimizing the user experience at this point, it can significantly increase the likelihood of the customer transitioning to the purchase stage.
When building your user journey map template for one user persona, it’s essential to conduct user research. How can your brand stand out? What usually pushes the user to continue the journey? Maybe a free trial?
At this stage, email marketing nurture, web push notifications, and follow-up retargeting campaigns are a must to nudge your prospect into becoming a lucrative customer.
Finally, the prospect has made their first purchase from your brand and turned into a customer. However, this is not the time to talk about profits in a B2C or D2C context because the first purchase is usually a small one. It may have even made you lose money because of ad spending or special offers and discounts used. So, why bother? Because the goal of the first sale is opening the gate to repeated back-end sales.
Consumers that have made one purchase are 27% more likely to return. While that may seem a little low on the return rate, you’ll have a 54% chance of making another sale if they return again with a second or third purchase. Therefore, customer satisfaction and collecting precious first-party data for personalization are the goal when executing the first transaction.
Another crucial task here is measuring what happens after your visitor buys. If you’re not collecting actionable insights from your customers’ purchasing behavior, you’re missing additional revenue. By gathering and analyzing purchase data, you can provide tailor-made offers that new customers will find hard to refuse.
As you’ve read in the previous step, post-purchase is the stage where you make the real profit. But how do you achieve this?
By putting insight in the middle of the process, you can maximize customer retention and repeated sales. With insight-led customer experiences, of course. Give your customers what they want, when they want it. Customer retention must be one of your key priorities since a 5% increase in retention rates will increase your profit by 25% to 95%.
If you’ve got insight-led customer experiences right at this stage of the journey, your customer will have fallen in love with your brand and become a strong advocate.
Advocates will not only defend your brand, but they’ll promote it on social media and through their daily interactions, for example, with friends, family members, and colleagues.
People interacting with your brand advocates will have a booster in their customer journeys and value their friend’s opinion as more trustworthy than an ad – even if that opinion is still very biased. Can you guess why? Because advocates love your brand!
Word of mouth or WOM doesn’t just give your brand extra quality positive exposure. It’s also the best PR – not to mention that being exposed to good advocacy may even make the prospect skip a few steps in the customer journey, which speeds the process up. The best part? Word of mouth is free advertising.
Here you’ll be tempted to put a stop to your journey map. But the journey map never ends, and it is an iterative process, so keep the cycle open!
Based on your KPIs, inside each category, you will add the different touchpoints, communication channels, conversions, and steps relevant to your customer.
Another point to consider is that the journey is sometimes non-linear, and not all customers need to start from “browsing” and follow every step. A browser may stumble into your brand without searching for it, especially in a B2C or D2C context. For instance, a prospect can watch your video on YouTube simply because their feed suggested it; social media algorithms are particularly clever in identifying a potential need even before the prospect realizes it.
This brings us to a bonus step in the customer journey you should be aware of.
In this step of the CJM, the prospect is not yet consciously aware of their specific need. But through first-party data, you can make them so. For example, knowing about their hobbies, activities, or previous purchases can give you a precious opportunity to cross-sell or upsell. Here is where your brand advocates come into play since consumers are likely to share similar needs with people close to them, such as friends, relatives, or even colleagues.
Step 2: Use data to understand customer behavior
While most marketers are often tempted to design digital customer journey maps based on experience and gut feeling, the best way to build one is by using first-party data.
When customer journey mapping, data (especially first-party data) helps you understand your customer behavior and create customers personas. It can also give you insight into how and when to act and what marketing channel to use. An advantageous type of first-party data is website cookies, and this is something you should optimize, especially if you must comply with GDPR (here’s a read if you want to find out more).
Using this data to create customer personas combined with a customer journey map to visualize every touchpoint with your brand is highly beneficial. Yet, most marketers are using data incorrectly.
The traditional marketing process is formed by “data >> execution >> analytics”. However, putting insights at the core helps you to act with the correct timing, using: “data >> insights >> engagement“.
Savvy marketers are going beyond by using multichannel marketing combined with analytics. Ultimately, they’re using customer insights to optimize the customer experience on their websites and other marketing channels. This is the essence of insight-led customer experiences – and you must always keep this in mind when customer journey mapping!
Step 3: Develop the touchpoints of interactions with your customer for an immersive 360-degree experience
You’ve just seen the importance of data in driving insight-led customer experiences across different marketing channels. But how do you implement them?
Once you’ve designed your customer personas and digital customer journey map based on the first-party data and insight you’ve collected, it’s time to create a strategy and map the workflow.
When setting workflows with the help of your multichannel marketing platform, don’t forget to create and apply tracking links to see where the traffic to your website is coming from to assess the performance of each channel you are using. You’ll be able to explore what channels need a strategy change, where you should double your investments, and whether you get customer journey mapping right.
Step 4: Implement your customer journey map
Develop an easy-to-use customer journey map template for each user persona to share with your team and internal stakeholders, and visualize every touchpoint in the proper order. It needs to be very clear and easy to use for compliance toward a data-driven marketing approach.
The process must be easy enough for your customers to ensure an optimal UX. Remember that you don’t go from 0 to a sale in one step; you must keep the essential steps and touchpoints because at each step in the funnel, you may lose a part of your prospects.
Even if you’re tempted to jump straight into the action, you must track every touchpoint and step of the journey with a tracking link (e.g., social media posts, email marketing, landing pages, blogs, etc.).
Ask yourself, how does your customer interact with your digital touchpoints? How can you optimize your journey map accordingly? By doing so, you’ll understand what the bottleneck of your campaign is, and a slight improvement of 1% can create a massive impact in the long run.
Step 5: Interpret the data and optimize your campaign
On average, 97% of your website visitors won’t buy, and 70% of the prospects who reach the final purchase stage will abandon the cart. Unless you’re a real wizard of course. Data is particularly useful here, such as when implementing retargeting, emails and paid ads, or email marketing campaigns to nurture your leads.
As you can see, mapping doesn’t finish here. Once you’ve tested your customer journey map, you should track where customers are leaving their journey. This way, you can either see what is potentially broken or think about your retargeting strategy and the marketing assets to apply on those steps. Yes, you could think about a generic retargeting strategy that’s fit for all, but especially in B2C and D2C, you should tailor it as much as you can. Consider using cookies, and first-party data to understand and segment your customer behavior.
Recap: Getting Your Digital Customer Journey Map Right
Customer journey mapping is essential in helping you and internal stakeholders visualize the steps and touchpoints that the customer goes through while walking in their journey. The customer journey map must be based on customer data, especially first-party data, to ensure an effective UX. It usually gets designed starting from a specific persona, because – from persona and persona, the journey can vary.
To visualize the customer journey and start your journey map, you can use a customer journey map template and collect first-party data to design user personas and your own journey map – per every customer segment, of course.
The more data you collect, especially in the testing and optimization phases, the more you will be tempted to design further segments and journey maps, especially when creating retargeting campaigns. This can be a beneficial practice, but of course, don’t get lost too deep in details if you don’t have the resources to hyper-personalize your marketing for each one of those segments. So, think also about how many market segments, customer personas, and journey maps you can realistically create and serve.
Want to get a better view of your customer data insights?
Many brands don’t really know who their customers are; they don’t really know how they shop, how frequently they shop, and why they bought their product. As an insight-led customer experience platform, the Mapp Cloud is an all-in-one platform that can help you get to know your customers better, run customer-centric marketing and act on real-time customer behavior. We make it easy to help you combine customer data with optimizations to enhance the customer experience to see how our platform can help you raise your marketing to another level!
This article was first published by MAPP. Permission to use has been granted by the publisher.