The customer journey today has become an increasingly personal path. Consumers have the power to research their own pain points and potential solutions themselves. Brands who want to understand how customers progress need to have a guide, and that is the role of the content journey maps.
Modern buyers appreciate personalization. Nearly a third of consumers report that they wish their shopping experiences were more personalized than they already are. To provide this personalized experience, however, brands need to have a better understanding of what customers want to see at each stage — they need to know who their buyers are and what they experience the closer they get to making a purchase.
The importance of consumer journey maps has risen in response. Here is what our community should understand how this strategy and the process of designing one for your organization.
Understanding the importance of customer journey mapping
The value of customer journey maps lie in their ability to help everyone throughout the organization understand how prospective customers go from leads to customers. Journey maps force organizations to dive in depth into this path, giving them greater insight and a better idea of what prospective customers want to see at each journey maps stage as they get closer to making a purchase.
Customer journey maps explore questions related to what customers want to know at each stage. It allows the marketing and sales team to know the types of inquiries they will receive and the types of content they should produce. Journey maps also help the brand understand how customers feel, which offers greater insight into the type of interaction they want to have. Brands will find it significantly easier to create customer-first experiences armed with this information.
Perhaps even more importantly, these customer journey maps can be used across departments and throughout the organization. Everyone at the business will find it easier to remain on the same page regarding customer expectations and wants. When a new lead lands on the sales team’s desk, for example, they will have a far greater understanding of the process and emotions this individual went through during the early journey maps stage of their purchase process, helping them to create a more tailored experience for the prospect now.
The journey maps improvement in the customer experience will also help the business better identify potential holes in the customer experience. They will find it easier to identify gaps that might hurt their ability to coax new leads through the journey towards conversion.
Similarly, all of the departments can work together to ensure that a person going through this journey encounters the right user experience at each journey maps stage. People will provide better service. For example, those who work in UX will better understand what brings new visitors to the site, what they feel, and what they want to see. This will improve their ability to create a highly-effective website.
Getting started with customer journey mapping
Now that the importance of customer journey maps have become clear, let’s explore how to create an effective map that will improve your ability to engage with your customers.
Review your customer personas
You likely have already built customer personas for the rest of your marketing efforts. If you have not, this should be your first priority of starting your journey maps. Explore the core questions about your customers that let you see why they choose your brand and what pain points they want to solve. Ask questions such as:
- What brought you to our site?
- What problem did you want to solve?
- What motivated you to buy with us over our competitors?
- How helpful were our sales representatives? How could they have been more helpful?
These personas will give you ideas about the people you want to bring into your buyer’s journey and thus help you understand what they need and want to see from your organization.
Research how customers move through your journey maps
Now you want to analyze how your existing customers have gone through your buyer’s journey. You want to gain a better handle on the path they took, including the touch points they engaged with, how quickly or slowly they went from their first interaction towards a purchase, and what motivated them along the way.
Begin by looking at your website data. You should be able to gain a good idea of where your customers originated, such as whether they came from the SERP, a paid ad, social media, or a direct visit. You may use the StoryBuilder feature in BrightEdge to help you easily visualize this important information.
At this stage of your journey maps, you also want to see how customers behave on the site. Look at the rate of new and return visitors as well as how long customers spend on the page and the bounce rate.
In addition to your internal site data, take your inquiry outside your site to sources such as social media. Look at customer engagement rates on these channels and what they most likely want to see as they engage with your brand. At this journey maps stage, consider the questions they ask and the information they seem the most interested in obtaining.
The information you gather from this journey maps data should then be combined with interviews and anecdotes from customers to ensure you have a firm picture of customer behavior. For example, make sure that your bounce rate is not low because customers have trouble navigating your site and they have to jump around to multiple pages to find important information.
Ask your customers questions such as:
- Did you have trouble finding important information on our website?
- Did you need to speak with our customer support teams at all? Were they able to help?
- What objections did you need to overcome to purchase from us? Can we do anything to help more with this process?
- What were the most useful types of content and engagement you received from us during your buying process?
- How did you feel at each stage of the buyer’s journey? How did we help? How could we help more?
List your important touch points
List out all of the different important touch points you have with customers throughout the buying process. Do not neglect any of the channels where customers might engage with you. In this stage of your journey maps, think about website, email marketing, social media, and conversational touch points that your customers progress through as they get closer to making a purchase.
You want to map out when customers will likely reach these touch points, so you know what stages of the buyer’s journey they will likely enbody. When mapping out the touch points, consider both your interviews and conversations with your customers as well as research into consumer behavior to make the best projections for when touch points will be reached.
As you map out the touch points, also include how customers felt during the different stages of your journey maps. Record their likely questions and emotions that you want to address as they progress. Align their questions and feelings to the content you expect them to consume.
Watch customers move through your journey maps
Now that you have built your customer journey map, you need to test your ideas to see how well it aligns with the actual experience of your customers.
When a new lead lands on your site, use journey maps to note their persona and the path they take. Compare their engagement with touch points and how they interact with your brand to your expectations.
Watch for evidence of the lead stalling throughout the process. See how well your organization meets the needs of the customer as they progress through the journey. Once this customer converts, speak with them about their experience during the buyer’s journey and ask about any unexpected events– such as delays in progression– and see if you can make adjustments to better assist the buyer.
Analyze and adjust your journey maps
Now that you have your customer journey maps, along with evidence as to your maps’ accuracy, see if any adjustments need to be made. If customers do not follow the path you outlined, adjust your path or your strategy to better align them. Take into account what customers quoted as presenting problems for them and make changes to your marketing and sales process to better accommodate these needs.
Your customer journey maps will guide your organization as you work to improve your customer engagement. As you better understand how customers move through their journey as well as the questions, emotions, and obstacles they encounter along the way, your business will find it easier to nurture leads and produce the sales and marketing engagement they want to see using journey maps.