How to Build a Customer Journey Map
Your customer journey map is the visualization of the customer journey stages. It’s where you’ll assess what assets you have available for leads in each stage and if those are meeting their needs. It’s not as simple as just filling in the blanks, though. Creating a useful map requires forethought, research and strategy.
Step 1: Analyze Your Audience
You’ve probably heard that you need to “do some research” and “understand your audience” to create an effective marketing campaign. That’s true. But to create a tool that’s truly effective, you have to take it one step further and analyze what you find in that research.
If you’re an established business, you probably already have a buyer persona or ideal customer profile (ICP) that your marketing team uses to inform their strategy. This is a great starting point! In a customer journey map, you want to build on that foundation and analyze when and why those people interact with your brand.
Are your leads coming to you at the very beginning of their search for a solution? Do they find your brand along the way? Do they want to learn more about your industry or your services specifically?
These are just a few questions that will help you analyze your audience and determine their motivations. The more you can pinpoint their thought processes, the more valuable your customer journey map will be.
Step 2: Assess Their Behavior
The next step is to assess how those motivations translate into behaviors. What action steps are leads taking with your brand throughout their journey? Linda recommends using two sources for finding these answers: Google Analytics and your sales team.
In Google Analytics, she suggests assessing:
- What pages people are visiting the most
- What sources they’re coming from (social, email, organic, direct, etc.)
- Popular user flows
- Click-through rates on lead generators and other buttons
“All of these analytics will give you a good idea of how people are interacting with your website and what channels are bringing in the most users,” Linda explains.
The second source with a wealth of information about a prospect’s behavior is your sales team. They’re on the front lines, interacting with prospects and answering their questions every day. They often know where a lead came from and the steps they’ve taken before a sales call.
“Salespeople are always a good resource,” Linda says. “They’re in close contact with the customer before they buy and can usually give good insights into what steps leads are taking.”
As you gather this information from Google and your team, make notes in your map so you can clearly see how certain behaviors align with different stages in the journey. This will be a huge help in the next step.
Step 3: Identify Needs
Now that you have a full picture of who your audience is, why they’re interested and how they interact with your brand, you can start optimizing their journey. In this last stage, you’ll take an analytical eye to the data you gathered in step 2 to assess what leads need to stay in your pipeline.
Linda recommends a few tactics to accomplish this. First, she suggests looking closely at what website pages users are viewing to assess their information needs in different journey stages. “New users visit the about page a lot, but returning users not so much. They already know who you are, so they’re usually looking more for what solutions you offer.”
She also urges businesses to dive into user flows and search terms on their website. This gives you an idea of where they’re going on your website, what they already know and what they want to know. It will also show you if they’re searching for the same thing multiple times, which could signify they aren’t finding an acceptable answer.
Another tactic Linda recommends is social listening — watching social media channels to see how people talk about and interact with your brand. This can provide powerful insights into why leads decide not to purchase from you, what their unmet needs are and what they expect from your brand. You can assign these thoughts and feelings to the appropriate stages of the customer journey.
Lastly, Linda calls you to bring in your sales team again. “Sales can tell you what pain points are regularly coming up in various stages of the journey. They can also assume some things based on their knowledge and previous experiences with how clients have moved through the journey in the past.”
After employing all three of these tactics, you should have a solid list of notes in your journey map. Finally, it’s time to start coming up with some solutions.
Step 4: Fill the Gaps
Imagine your sales pipeline is a literal pipe (because why complicate the metaphor?). Every need you identified in the previous step is a hole in that pipe. So what happens when you turn on the water? Yep; it sprays everywhere, you’re soaked and barely anything comes out the other side.
The last step in building your customer journey map is plugging these holes so the other end of your pipeline is a veritable fire hose of lead conversion. And the good news is that this is a super simple task — just meet your customers’ needs in each stage of their journey.
To determine how you’ll meet their needs, Linda offers this advice:
“It depends on what their issue was at each stage. You need to see what are the things they needed from you that you couldn’t provide at that moment, and find ways to deliver it to leads when they reach that stage. That way you’re answering their questions before they even have to ask.
“Once you know what questions they have and what they’re looking for, you’re prepared to start creating that content and putting it right in front of their eyes.”
Linda notes a few ways you can accommodate information needs for each pre-purchase journey stage:
- Awareness: quality web content, whether it's blogs, homepage copy or even product and service descriptions, and a seamless user experience on your website
- Consideration: automated email series that tackle questions they’re likely to ask about the product or service they’re considering and opportunities to get custom answers from your team
- Decision: comparison guides or videos from your sales team showing how your services compare to competitors and pricing information
- Retention: resources, guides or links that demonstrate your value as a partner and your commitment to their success
- Advocacy: continuing the relationship even after they convert by providing information relevant to their unique problems
As you match solutions to customer needs in each stage, add them to your customer journey map. You’ll use your visualization to inform your marketing campaigns so you can ensure all your efforts are working together to move a lead toward a purchase decision and keep them happy after they convert.