Customer Journey Mapping: What Is It and How To Get Started

Rapid changes in the way a consumer experiences your brand has meant that understanding the behaviour of your consumer is more complex and more important than ever. 

This is where the customer journey helps you fully understand how people interact with your brand – right from the time they first hear about you to finally buying from you and recommending you to others.

The concept of the customer journey has been around for a while now, although many businesses are yet to recognise the value to their business. In this blog post, we’ll start with how customer journey mapping can help you maximise your marketing dollars and then provide insight into how you can get started.

Before we do that, here’s a handy definition of what customer journey mapping is:

A customer journey map is an illustration or diagram of all the touchpoints your customers have with your company, online or off.” (Source: CXL).

Why is Customer Journey Mapping Important?

A visual representation of every experience your consumer has with your brand can really highlight areas where you are performing well, as well as those areas which may require more focus.

It tells the full story of a consumer experience with you, from initial awareness of your product/brand, through to post-purchase activities. 

Customer journeys can be quite complex, depending on the product or service you are selling and the audiences you are targeting, but the benefits are worth the time taken to develop one. Stepping into the shoes of your consumer can provide great insight and perspective for a business. 

A solid, well-researched consumer journey can assist in business growth and revenue through:

  • Ensuring the customer conversion journey is efficient, seamless and in a logical order or identifying which gaps need to be filled.
  • Deeper knowledge of your target consumers, knowing what problems they are trying to solve and thereby what to implement to take them to the next step in the buying process and ultimately through to purchase.
  • Better focus and direction in building marketing strategies, allowing you to concentrate efforts and expenditure on what matters most to maximise effectiveness
  • Highlighting any silos within the business that are affecting the consumer experience.
  • May help identify new target audiences
  • Greater insights that can assist in better decision making across the wider business.

Here’s an example of how we used customer journey mapping to uncover an opportunity for a client:

We assisted a new client recently with developing a customer journey, as previously they didn’t have one. They already had target consumers but hadn’t yet mapped out all their marketing activity.

Through our discussions, we identified that the client was investing in PPC campaigns that were providing comparison information to their clients, but were not running enough material to build brand awareness and trust.

We recommended prioritising SEO content generation that would more effectively communicate to the pain points of their target audience and how they were uniquely positioned to solve them.  

They were worried about a limited budget, but once we fully mapped out all their existing activity, it came to light that they were already creating content for an existing EDM list, that could easily and cost-effectively be repurposed to drive more top-of-funnel awareness.

Related reading: Know how Conversion Optimisation Can Improve The Performance Of Your Wider Digital Marketing Campaign 

How Do I Develop an Online Customer Journey?

If you are an existing business and do not yet have a customer journey map, a great starting point is to logically map out existing touchpoints in order from the first to the last.

If you have offline touchpoints, such as:

  • Trade shows
  • Physical stores
  • Customer service department
  • Outdoor advertising 
  • Direct mail

Include these, as online priorities need to be aligned with offline goals.

At Reef, we recommend dividing touchpoints into 3 key areas – awareness, consideration and decision, based on what action you want your consumers to take. 

Not only will this keep the flow logical and focussed, but it will also assist in developing the goals for each phase that will lead a consumer onto the subsequent step.

Compare this map with what you know about your target consumer and look for any gaps – are your touchpoints in a logical order from a consumer perspective, do they reach consumers where they need it, does your communication speak to their motivations and pain points in a way that convinces them to take the next step? 

Inevitably there will be areas of inconsistency, obstacles or even gaps, which is great, as these will set directions for future improvement strategies.

Things Not to Overlook When Mapping Your Online Journey

Online customer journeys can be complex, leading you to miss touchpoints or steps. Here are a few things that tend to fall through the cracks but are important to aligning customer goals:

  • Don’t forget to include call centres, chatbots, or physical stores if you offer these services. They are a very important part of the journey and are often one of the best sources of customer insight. They handle consumer feedback and queries directly and you may find a solution to an online problem by speaking with one of these areas. 
  • Do not overlook the importance of post-purchase touchpoints. Feedback, referrals and ratings are all valuable windows into a consumer’s motivations and pain points and how successful the journey has been. Learnings here can be utilised to strengthen the pre-purchase strategies.
  • You should also take some time to benchmark the consumer experience against your brand values and promises. Have you promised a certain experience but find you aren’t delivering that? Depending on your product, service or type of business. You need to understand where these mismatches are happening and start to fix the issues – and the map helps you do this.

To learn more about how you can design your marketing strategy around the customer conversion journey, read this in-depth blog that shows you ways to move more people through the funnel.

How do I Know if I Have Got the Mapping Right?

Like many experiences in marketing, the only way to know if you are doing the right thing is to trial it! It will not be perfect the first time and needs to be a constant work-in-progress. 

A first run will lead to changes that will, in turn, lead to new opportunities, so reviewing on a regular basis will always identify new opportunities for improving your customer journey further. 

The best thing of all is, no matter the size of the changes you are making, they will be effective in driving business growth, as they will be coming directly from an identified weakness in the customer conversion journey.

Fix a pain point, move a customer along the journey and toward the ultimate goal.

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Customer Journey Mapping: What Is It and How To Get Started

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