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What is Customer Journey Mapping and Why is it Important?

You might assume the customer journey to be straightforward, from discovery to the checkout at a store or a website. On the contrary, customer journeys are never simple and never a straight line from point A to point B or in this case, from discovery to purchase. With the multitudes of channels available today, customer journeys are often convoluted and involve many more touchpoints than you might expect. Having a customer journey map can help marketers better understand what their customer’s preferences are and what touchpoints are working best. In this blog, we will look at what customer journey mapping is, how you can do it, and what benefits it offers. 

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What is Customer Journey Mapping?

In simple terms, a customer journey map is the visual representation of your customer’s journey to buying your product or service. It involves all the different ways the customer interacts with your company, including emails, social channels, website activity, store visits, and more. This provides business leaders across different functions with insights into how effective their strategy has been. For example, if an e-commerce company has been recording more cart abandons than usual, they might have to evaluate their product pricing or even their website strategy. 

Putting this map together, from your customer data and insights, is the process of customer journey mapping. This process can be very insightful and helps you step into the shoes of your customer and understand the journey from their perspective. It also helps you map out all the possible touchpoints, evaluate which ones worked well and lead to better sales. 

What are the Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping

The process of customer journey mapping can help you answer crucial questions and help come up with effective strategies across areas including marketing, sales, and product. The map gives you a complete picture of the experience you provide to your consumer and highlights the areas that are working and those that are not. 

Here are a few crucial questions that the customer journey map can help you answer:

  1. What are the key touchpoints that customers have with my company and how do they feel about these interactions?
  2. Do they face pain points during their journey, and which are the areas for improvement?
  3. How can I better identify and target specific customer segments or target audiences?
  4. How did the consumer learn about my product or service?
  5. What social channels do they use to interact with me?
  6. What pages did they visit on my website before making a purchase?
  7. Did they visit a physical store to evaluate the product before buying it online?
  8. What other brand affinities do my consumers have?
  9. How does the journey vary across different channels or touchpoints and how can these be optimized for better performance?
  10. Are there opportunities to improve the customer experience and what can be done to improve it? 

Answering these crucial questions can help you make better business decisions and stay ahead of rapidly evolving consumer buying behavior or preferences. The customer journey map not only enables you to improve your marketing and sales strategy but also identifies areas of friction or bottlenecks that could be contributing to lost sales. 

To stand out in a sea of competitors, customer journey mapping with insights from human movement data can help you offer a highly customized journey, both in your touchpoints and customer service as well. This is also called omni-channel marketing, which is crucial in today’s world where customers interact with your brand across multiple touchpoints.

How to Create a Customer Journey Map?

Before you look at creating the customer journey map, you need to understand if you and your team have access to the data that is needed to create one. The process begins with the identification of key touchpoints, which includes website visits, social media interactions, in-store purchases or store visits and interactions with the customer service team, and more. With all of the first-party data on your customers in one place, you can gain insights into your customer’s needs, preferences, and pain points. 

Customer journey maps can vary with your goals, the type of business, or even the product. But the process of creating the map would involve similar steps such as:

1. Set your goals: The first step is to always identify what you intend to accomplish with the customer journey map. Are you looking at improving your marketing communications or audience targeting or improving revenue? What do you want to understand from the customer journey map specifically? 
2. Identify, understand, and highlight target personas: Next, it is time for research. Identify and understand your target personas. This can be done in multiple ways including surveys, customer interviews or audience analysis. Audience analysis can not only help you understand your target personas but also identify potential new target audiences.  These have to be people who have either bought your product or service or expressed interest in them and have interacted with you through your touchpoints. Once you have understood their experience with your current processes, you can narrow your focus to specific customers who have had a specific type of journey as your customer. The customer journey map illustrates the experience of one consumer who takes a specific path or journey with your company, hence the need for a narrow focus.
3. Identify and analyze touchpoints: Focusing on the identified customers who have taken a specific path to interact with you, map out all the different touchpoints they used. This is an important exercise as it helps you understand This could include pages on your website, social channels, digital ads, or content syndication links. Based on the path taken by the customer you can understand if there are particular pain points such as whether they have struggled to get answers to questions or have had to wait for a response from your team. This is a particularly important step because, if done correctly, you can find answers to questions such as why there are more cart abandons, or why they exit a website page at a particular stage in their journey.
4. Take the journey: Now that you have identified the touchpoints for a particular type of customer, now it is time for you to take the journey yourself to understand the customer’s pain points or obstacles. This step will help you understand your customer’s journey and also determine pain points or opportunities for improvement. You can find out if there are too many steps or if an asset like FAQs or a ‘How to Guide’ can make things easier at a particular stage and more. At the end of the journey, you can make a list of things that need to be done and ensure these are implemented for a better customer experience in the future.
5. Create the customer journey map: Once the necessary changes are done, you now have an improved customer journey map. With this in hand, you and your team can better your current digital or organic campaigns or even your editorial calendar. The map however might always be a work in progress as customers evolve or you identify a better way of doing things. You can always update the custom journey map with a monthly or quarterly review.

The customer journey map is the most effective way to provide a good experience at every stage of the buying process for the customer. The insights you gain from this map can be used across teams including sales or customer success and in fact, could even be relevant to product teams as they work on the product roadmap. It is important to share the customer journey map, insights on customer experiences, and pain points across cross-functional teams to ensure your company builds a customer-first process. 

While you may think you know your customer well, new technology or data could reveal surprising new patterns and trends. That’s where a robust data intelligence platform providing real-time insights on consumer behavior trends and patterns can help. With this additional data, you can inform a customer journey map that uses insights from consumer data to visually represent the journey the customer takes to buy your product or service. 

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