In this day and age, sales competition is worse than ever. Thanks to the Internet, you’re not just going against local competitors, but with others from around the world. It’s necessary to have an edge above everyone else. The best way to stand out is by offering excellent service and knowing your customers better than they know themselves. And building a great customer journey map is the first step toward making that happen.
Why You Need a Customer Journey Map
- The ultimate goal of a customer journey map is to streamline the entire sales process.
- You want your visitors to be comfortable in every step of their journey with your brand. Creating an accurate map of the entirety of their experience with your brand will allow you to see where you excel and where you need work.
- By looking into how your customers interact with you, step by step, you’ll find it easier to align your brand. It’s the first step into structuring touchpoints in a way that feels natural and easy for new and returning visitors. It’s the right track to creating long-term successful relationships with your customers.
- The map helps you track every interaction between you and your customer. In this current age of multichannel retail, this can be essential.
- Currently, you might not get why your customers behave the way they do. Why do they spend so much time doing research? Why do they add items to the shopping cart only to close the window soon after? Your customer journey map could keep you from losing a lot of business!
- The sales funnel has changed tremendously in the past few decades. Sales are no longer a straightforward and linear process. Since there are many more product choices now, buyers don’t go from A to B. Buyers may go back and forth or look into different channels, and it’s hard to understand this process without visual aid.
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
It’s a visual representation of the entire process a customer goes through with a company. This representation should cover every possible phase, from the moment they somehow become aware of your brand to the moment they’re holding the product in their hands.
A few key characteristics of a customer journey map:
- It’s a visual representation, built in a way that’s easy to read and understand by the company or team.
- It maps out the entirety of the current sales funnel, from awareness to purchase and perhaps even beyond.
- It deals specifically with the customers’ experience with your brand.
- It stems directly from contact with your customers.
How a Customer Journey Map Will Help Your Brand
Building a customer journey map will help you change the way you do business. These are the three most significant ways in which your sales experience can change:
- It’ll make inbound marketing easier. Inbound marketing is the most all-encompassing way to draw customers in current times, focusing on content, social media, branding and Search Engine Optimization. By mapping out how your buyers interact with you, you’ll be able to reach them where they are.
- You’ll be able to target your audience better. By knowing exactly how your visitors interact with you, you’ll get a better glimpse into who they are. Looking into where and how they touch base with you, and their pain points throughout the journey, you can understand them and what they require of you. When you understand your audience, it's easier to avoid targeting to an audience that’s too broad, which can waste money. You’ll know who to sell to, where and how, focusing your resources in marketing to the right people, without annoying them.
- In all, it’ll help build a customer-centric mentality in your company. When you get the way your customers approach your brand, you can better cater to them. You can set up your sales and marketing goals based on their wants and needs, and not the other way around. Every member of your team should have the customer journey map at their disposal, creating empathy. The buyer’s plight will be on everyone’s mind!
Building Your Map
Now that you’ve decided you’re riding the customer journey map wave, here are a few tips:
1. Set your objectives
Before setting up your map, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
- Why are you creating a customer journey map?
- What do you hope to get out of it?
- Who is the target?
- On what experiences do you want it to focus?
2. Build customer personas
It’s a good idea to have at least one customer persona in mind when building your map. We’ve talked about this tool here, saying it allows brands to understand large and homogeneous buyer groups.
In order to build buyer personas, you need to conduct research and, above all, talk to your customers. Gather feedback in any way you can, from polls to questionnaires to user testing. You’ll need data from real people, whether they’ve bought from you or have planned to do it.
Here are some questions you can ask them:
- How did you hear about the brand?
- What set our website apart from others?
- Did you perform any research on other sites? Which ones?
- Were you considering any of our competitors? Which ones, and why?
- What made you choose this product in particular?
- What are the issues you’re looking to solve with this brand?
- How much time do you usually spend browsing on our site?
- Have you ever added items to your shopping cart on our website and not made a purchase? Why?
- Did you purchase with us? What made you decide to do it?
- Do you find our site easy to navigate? What would you change about it?
- Have you ever used our customer support? How was your experience?
- Do you have any recommendations on how we can improve the buyer’s experience?
3. Become aware of your touchpoints
Touchpoints are the moments in which buyers directly interact with your brand. Knowing your touchpoints can help you see what your customers are doing. If you find they’re touching base with you less often, for example, it can mean they’re leaving your site too early. In all, looking into your touchpoints is an excellent way to see which sections of your site need usability improvements.
Some of the most common touchpoints:
- Your website. A site could be the primary interaction between you and your customers, as it’s where you want them to make a purchase.
- Your social media. Perhaps the second most important touchpoint, these channels allow customers to interact with your brand directly, asking what they need.
- Your paid ads.
- Email marketing, including newsletters.
- Outside review sites and blogs that may mention your brand. Perform a Google search on your brand from an incognito tab and see which pages talk about you. Verify them through Google Analytics to get a better insight of where your traffic arrives.
Now that you’ve identified your touchpoints, you can delve a little deeper into each of them.
- List all the actions your visitors take. Now that you know where customers interact with your focus on how they do it. Gather as much data on this as possible; you might end up smoothing the list out in the end. Gathering data will help you figure out if customers are taking too many actions in one or several steps of their journey.
- Figure out what your customers go through emotionally on each step. Every single action above comes from a particular emotion. Your customers’ emotional journey will change depending on which action they’re taking, and knowing that can help you place the right content in the right places. You want your customers to associate you with positive emotions, as that’ll drive them around your site, hopefully, more than once.
- Figure out hiccups along the way. Often called pain points, these are the obstacles your customers face throughout their journey. For example, they may meet an unexpectedly complicated checkout process. One way to solve this is by eliminating any unnecessary pages or information to streamline the experience.
4. Decide on a Type of Customer Journey Map
There are four types of customer journey maps to choose from, depending on what you want to do with it:
- Current state journey map. The most commonly used map, as they look into how your customer journey looks like right now. These maps allow you to see what your visitors currently go through when interacting with your site. Current state maps are great to pinpoint present-day issues, and also continually fix them.
- Day in the life journey map. This map visualizes the customer’s entire day, including everything from actions to emotions. The actions included in this map don’t necessarily involve your company, but they help you get behind the mind of your customers. Because this map showcases the day-to-day lives of your customers and your issues, these maps are great to get ahead of your customers’ needs.
- Future state map. This map visualizes the actions, thoughts, and emotions of customers in any future interactions with your brand. You need a current map to build this one, as it’ll depend on how things look right now. The future state map is perfect for setting goals and picturing how you want things to improve after making changes to the current state of things.
- Service blueprint map. This map can stem from a simple version of the previous three models. You then add the specific factors that make each step of the last map work, such as employees, policies, technologies, and sub-processes. The best time to use this kind of map is to identify what needs to be done, specifically, to reach a specific customer journey in the future.
5. Check Your Customer Journey
Once you've set up your customer journey map, there’s still plenty of work to do. At this point, when you can start analyzing the results of the data you’ve mapped out, and you should start asking questions.
- How can I improve each step of the customer journey?
- Are visitors taking too long on a particular moment of their journey?
- What can I do to help customers more?
Generally speaking, this is the point in which you use the information to improve details. You view specific issues by seeing them as a whole, and what weight they have on the entire journey. Follow your buyer personas’ journeys, every step of the way, to figure out how you can do better. Go beyond the theory for truly effective mapping!
6. Change Whatever Needs to be Changed
You came, you saw, and now it’s time for you to conquer. With all this information at your fingertips, you can now streamline your customer journey. You have a sense of how your website looks, and what you want it to look like in the future.
At this point, make all the changes you need to make your visitors have a more pleasant experience when shopping on your site.
It’s essential to keep working on your customer journey map at all times. Don’t let it become a once-in-a-lifetime thing, but instead use it as a tool to continually improve your processes. You can set up a monthly or quarterly meeting with your team to discuss making improvements to your map.
Journey Map Examples
A B2B map should show the team the different stages of the business-to-business customer journey. The map above shows a strategic overview of how customers can engage with the company at different stages. Remember that this should be easy to read for all team members, so they know where to focus in future interactions.
In the map above, you can see that there are five main points where the two businesses:
- Awareness. The client begins to look up the right product to fulfill their needs.
- Research. Potential customers look for solutions on different websites and brands.
- Looking at the details. Customers or clients wonder about the nuances of the product or service they’ve pre-chosen.
- Purchasing decision. Customers go back to previous options and do one final review. At this stage, it’s important to reassure them of what they’re getting.
- Post-purchase support. The business has trusted you with its brand, and it’s essential to keep the company in the loop.
Future B2B Map Example
On this map, you can see the outline of what this company is trying to get their customers to feel in the future. While based on the current way things work in the company, it’s mostly a way to envision wishes. Through this map, the company showcases precisely how they want their customer map to go, including its touchpoints, devices, and characters.
This diagram was made to visualize what the company’s aiming at, in a way that’s easy to follow by all departments. With this in mind, everyone can work towards a common goal, in their specific way.
A far more detailed map than the ones above, it shows what’s happening in front of the customer and the “invisible” occurrences during their journey. This all-encompassing diagram is a comprehensive look into every touchpoint between customer and company.
Every action taken by the customer and the employees comes with its thorough explanation. This level of specificity allows for a more in-depth analysis of what’s working well and what needs improvement. It’s an easy way to find the essence of an issue and solve it in the immediate future.
Current State Map Template
When using this template for a B2B customer journey map, you may face phases corresponding to the sales funnel: awareness, interest, desire, action, and perhaps even unwrapping. Take into consideration factors like customer thoughts and feelings, their specific actions, touchpoints and, of course, possible improvements.
Bright Vessel specializes in creating custom digital marketing solutions for all kinds of brands across industries. Find out more about our services on our website, or contact us directly!