The journey of your customers is crucial to the success of your business. If people have a poor journey, they are unlikely to utilise the products or services of a company again in the future. But how much thought actually goes into a customer’s experience in terms of  interactions they have with a business? Unfortunately there is a tendency to just focus on the sale, or the end result, rather than the path a customer takes to reach that point.

Of course it’s not always easy to get into the mindset of your customers, and sales strategies are constantly evolving too. When it comes to the sales funnel, it can be challenging to know what factors are causing delays or drop offs. In such situations, it can be incredibly helpful to have a customer journey map, which can help you see where any issues are.

What is a Customer Journey Map?

As the name suggests, a customer journey map is a visual representation of the path someone takes to reach the end goal, such as making a purchase. In most cases, a purchase would be the desired outcome, but sometimes a customer journey could end in something like subscribing to your newsletter, or joining a loyalty program. 

If you display a customer journey visually through a map, it can help you and your team better understand your customer base. You can get to grips with the motivations of your customers, and the map is furthermore something you can easily refer back to. In addition to this, a customer journey map can ensure everyone within the business is working towards the same goals, knowing where improvements can be made.

Things to Include in Your Customer Journey Map

In terms of what to include in your customer journey map, you’ll need to consider the most significant milestones in your customers’ journey, alongside what factors influenced them to get to that stage. For instance, a user could ask for recommendations for a product, and be directed to your business. They may then look at your website, as well as your social media channels, and read a few independent reviews. All of these steps happen before someone takes an action, but are important variables in the customer journey.

The main thing to remember with a customer journey is that, at the start of the journey, the customer will be trying to solve a problem when purchasing a product or service. These problems are often referred to as pain points. You therefore need to consider the emotions a customer would be feeling when they initially interact with your brand. Then ask yourself if any steps they’d take while visiting your site would alter these emotions, such as gaining a sense of relief at finding a solution. 

How to Create a Customer Journey Map

Once you’re confident about what you want to include in your customer journey map, you can start actually creating it! Though before you rush into it, make sure you have genuine customer opinions you can utilise for the map. There are some things about a customer journey that you wouldn’t be able to predict, so you might need to ask people directly, through surveys or focus groups. Although you can gain a lot of information from analytics platforms, such as organic visits and bounce rates, you won’t be able to discover the motivations or thought processes of your customers without speaking with them.

Once you have this data, you can then work out the definitive objectives of your customer journey map, as well as the places customers will interact with you. Ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve, and where your touchpoints are, such as your social media channels, your website, and third party review sites.

After you’ve worked out these specifics, you can try following your customer journey yourself, to check whether you’ve missed any steps. Any weak spots will also be found at this stage, like neglecting to put a call to action on a webpage. 

Using Your Customer Journey Map Effectively

After creating your customer journey map, you can use it to steer your marketing efforts in the right direction. We’ve looked at the three key steps to take below:

1. Research and Improvements

With a copy of your completed customer journey map on the wall, have a team discussion about how you’re looking to move forward. What steps can you take to improve the customer journey over time? Are any touchpoints underperforming? Work with your team to find solutions to any problems, and then run tests to determine which solution gets the best results.

2. Advertise Using a Variety of Channels

Ask yourself how customers find your business. Are they ready to make a purchase, or have they just stumbled across your website? In all likelihood, customers are using a variety of channels to reach your site. So you need to think about how your brand is advertised on each channel, making sure it’s consistent.

It’s also best practice to work out which channels are performing better, and the reasons for this. Then you’ll need to think about whether you should focus your efforts on the channels that have the best ROI, or if you should improve the journey for the underperforming channels, to see if you can get them up to scratch. 

3. Look at Your On-Site Conversion 

Your customer journey map should show you how customers behave on your site, as well as at what stage they convert. This information can be used to improve your current customer journey, and allow you to create new touchpoints along the way. For example, if those who have subscribed to your newsletter are converting better than other customers, try adding more calls to action encouraging people to sign up to the newsletter. Essentially, you should use the data at your disposal to increase your conversion rate.