This blog will outline everything you need to know about creating customer journeys. We’ll offer a background on this concept, and then guide readers as to how they can create their own customer journeys to drive meaningful traction.
Competing in a tough market, today’s brands can’t afford to slack — they’ll be forgotten. Only the best brands win, the ones who deeply understand their audience. That’s where customer journey mapping comes in.
This marketing framework visualizes your customer’s path as they interact with your business. It examines your audience’s needs, wants, emotions, and pain points, to find ways to optimize the buying journey.
Needless to say, creating a journey map for your audience can be game-changing, offering invaluable insights on how you can earn more customers — but only if it’s done right. That’s exactly why we’re showcasing step-by-step what it takes to create a winning customer journey map.
Let’s dive right in!
Set a Clear Objective
The first step in crafting any effective customer journey map is defining its goals. Start by simply asking: What do I want to get out of this? Some common objectives include:
- Identifying pain points in the customer experience
- Uncovering new ways to engage your audience
- Recalibrating teams around a unified customer perspective
- Assessing product-market fit
Define a concrete purpose now since it will act as the compass guiding each step of your mapping process. Pick something with a sharp, narrow focus; you won’t be able to solve every customer challenge under the sun.
One or two core objectives can oftentimes provide the most value since it maximizes attention on solving a few items. This clarity will ensure your map yields actionable insights.
Define Your Personas & Target Customers
Now that we’ve identified our goals, let’s move to crafting personas — these are just groups of like-minded individuals in your audience. You don’t necessarily need to segment every persona in your audience. Just like with the previous step, narrow your scope to anywhere between three and six user personas; these will be your core personas, or champions.
You want to develop a detailed understanding of these champions, so start building out granular representations of your core personas. You can leverage multiple sources to achieve this, such as market research, first/second-party data, historical interactions, and more.
Outline all those details, and then take it a step further. Start brainstorming the goals, challenges, and values for each champion segment. Really dig deep into this step so that your customer journey map has quality information flowing through it.
Personas are the lens through which you will view the journey, so take time to develop robust profiles for each champion. The more detailed and specific the personas, the better.
Define Stages, Goals & Touchpoints
Next, we must start defining the logical stages of our customer journey map — from the first interaction through purchase and beyond. There are five primary stages of the journey:
It’s best to assign different metrics and tangible goals to help quantify your brand’s performance at any one of these stages. This will help calibrate all mapping and analysis in line with what success looks like.
For instance, the awareness target might be 10K site visits per month, while the purchase goal might be achieving less than 2% cart abandonment. Take this a step further by outlining what actions customers aim to take at each stage as well.
Once your stages have been laid out, it’s time to catalog touchpoints. Consumer touchpoints are avenues of engagement where a brand and its audience interact. This occurs on several main channels — email, web ads, brand sites, social media, etc.
Start an inventory to keep track of all your touchpoints, making sure to group them by stage for easier analysis. Then, pick out which are most impactful to the customer experience, considering both qualitative and qualitative factors.
- Which gets more impressions?
- Which invokes user emotion?
- Which maximizes engagement?
Avoid making assumptions at this step; instead, let data guide your priorities.
Gather Data From Customers
Now, it’s time to start investigating.
We’re going to reinforce our research by directly speaking to customers. Start by selecting key members from each of your champion personas, at various points in their customer journey, and interview them deeply. Ask about their goals, questions, emotions, and pain points at each touchpoint in the customer journey. These answers will either confirm or contradict your initial hypothesis, so take action accordingly.
After initial questioning, get curious. Ask what delights or frustrates your consumer about the journey. What matters most to them? What do they care about when it’s time to make a purchase? The goal is to uncover systematic truths about your champion segments, giving way for opportunities to better serve their needs.
Find Pain Points & Friction
Once thorough research has been completed, those findings must be analyzed. Curate all your findings and look for any signs of a pain point, friction, or frustration in the buyer journey. One effective strategy can be to analyze stages with high fallout (i.e., where customers commonly abandon the journey); these usually indicate a pain point.
When you identify such a stage, figure out exactly what went wrong. What misalignment is occurring between what the customer wants and what you are delivering? Is the offer positioning weak, so people aren’t clicking through? Maybe the checkout experience is clunky and confusing, leading to high abandonment.
Conduct a root cause analysis for every point of friction you find.
Identify Areas for Improvement
Whatever problems the last step uncovered will now be addressed. If you dig deep enough into the data, solving your pain points becomes clear and straightforward.
If the solutions don’t come to you right away, take time to brainstorm. Look for ways to revitalize broken touchpoints, starting with the poorest performers first. Don’t forget to keep your original objective in mind; how can you take actions in line with that goal?
Prioritize solutions with the greatest potential impact, but don’t overlook the power of a small tweak. Little things can make a big difference in winning customers. With journey mapping, making the customer experience even a bit better can set your brand apart.
Perfecting the sales funnel isn’t about delivering a perfect product, but rather in communicating that product’s value to the customer. So, optimize how you convey your brand. This may demand a reevaluation of your strategy — do what’s necessary.
Journey mapping can often reveal gaps in a brand’s offering, a disconnect between what’s needed and what a brand currently provides. Use those apparent shortcomings as a spark to do better; they’ll empower your brand’s growth and improvement to develop new innovations that better meet your customer’s needs.