Harnessing The Power Of The Customer Journey In Your Marketing

Marketing is not like tag. After one touch, your lead isn’t “it” and they aren’t likely to jump on your bandwagon. Marketing is more like a kid tapping his mom over and over and over again because he really wants that candy bar but his mom really wants to leave the grocery store without making a scene.

The reality in marketing is that almost all prospective customers need more than one touchpoint before they buy. But not annoying touches like the kid in the grocery store. Not spam email, not cold calls, not aggressive social media ads.

All of the experiences a prospect has with your brand should be strategic. They should guide them through the process of becoming a customer and work together to drive that prospect toward a sale. If you’re thinking, “Wow, this sounds like it requires a lot of coordination,” then you’re 100% right.

That’s why you need a framework, and we highly recommend the customer journey. Organizing your marketing within the context of your customer journey allows you to coordinate all of your marketing efforts to create more impactful solutions that help you convert leads and drive revenue.

Linda Quezada is one of our marketing consultants and resident customer journey experts. She walks us through what a customer journey is, how it’s different from other lead-converting tactics, the steps to build your customer journey map and ways to implement the journey in your marketing decisions. Let’s dive in!

Map Your Customer Journey

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What We’ll Cover:

Why Choose the Customer Journey?
How to Build a Customer Journey Map
Making Marketing Decisions
Align Your Efforts, Convert More Leads
Chapter 01

Why Choose the Customer Journey?

First and foremost, what is the customer journey? In short, it’s the series of steps a potential customer takes with your brand that leads them to a purchase decision and their experience with your brand after they become a customer. (Fun fact: that second part is what distinguishes it from a buyer’s journey.)

There are five stages in the customer journey that show you both where a lead is in your sales funnel or pipeline and what information will be most useful to them. The first three encompass the pre-purchase experience and the last two reflect post-purchase.

We like to plot each stage of the customer journey on a map to visualize the customer’s entire experience with a brand. That allows you to see their progression through your content, their pain points, what information they need at each stage and what channels will best reach them. We’ll cover these points in more detail later.


As you can imagine, dialing into what your customers are thinking and feeling as they interact with your brand is a pretty powerful tactic.

“We know that at different stages, different customers need completely different things,” Linda explains. “So instead of just communicating random information and hoping something resonates, the customer journey map shows you exactly what a lead needs to stay in your pipeline.”

This specific information gives you insights on how to position your marketing and when to implement specific tactics, which breeds the three major benefits of the customer journey:

  • #1: Stop losing leads. Plain and simple. A customer journey map allows you to deliver the exact information and experience a prospect needs to feel confident continuing their relationship with your brand, which keeps them in your pipeline and boosts your conversion rate.
  • #2: Fix your pipeline. We’re not saying it’s broken; it just might need a little TLC. Most businesses have gaps or misalignments in their sales pipelines that cost them leads day in and day out. The customer journey map helps you identify those areas and choose solutions that will drive revenue.
  • #3: Retain more customers. If you’ve tracked a prospect’s journey, then you know exactly what they’ve been through and what they expect from you after they become a customer. This allows you to tailor their experience with the services and information they need to solve their problems.

“Customer journey maps are really great for customer retention,” Linda says. “You already know what they've been through and what friction points they might be experiencing. With this information, you can provide better service. Information is power!”

Now it’s time to reap those benefits by building your own customer journey map.

Chapter 02

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.

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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.

Build Your Journey
Download our free customer journey map template to get started.

Chapter 03

Making Marketing Decisions

You analyzed customer motivations, assessed their behavior, identified their needs and created solutions to fill the gaps in your pipeline. What now?

Now you need to implement this information in your marketing strategy. Linda notes, “Once you know everything that a prospect has issues with and what they’re looking for, you have a very clear idea of the content you need to create and the specific channels you need to put that content on.”

The goal of your efforts, of course, is lead conversion. We identified five components of the customer journey that contribute to most lead conversion:

The customer journey map helps you assess each of these areas and find which needs to be optimized to convert the leads in your pipeline. There are certain key considerations for each component:

  • Communication: How does your content, copy, messaging, emails, etc. communicate your solution to potential customers? Is your message consistent across all platforms?
  • User experience: Is your website user-friendly? Is information easy to find and pages easy to access and navigate?
  • Engagement consistency: How often do you reach out to leads? Are you a consistent presence or only popping in every and now then? (Hint: You want to stay top of mind throughout their journey, usually with email sequences.)
  • Lead generation activities: What lead generation tactics do you use? Are they working well or lacking? Do you get high-quality leads or regularly have to parse through and qualify leads yourself?
  • Conversion opportunities: Are you asking for the sale at the right time in the customer journey? Are you giving people multiple opportunities to “opt-in?”

Your customer journey map should help you answer all of these questions and identify where the biggest gaps or misalignments are in your strategy. This is an invaluable insight. It means the difference between spending thousands of dollars changing everything — and potentially losing the return from methods that are working for you — and focusing specifically on your problem areas to align your existing efforts with more effective solutions.

Chapter 04

Align Your Efforts, Convert More Leads

The customer journey is your ticket to aligning your sales and marketing efforts so they seamlessly support prospective customers as they get to know your brand. It gives you deeper insights into why you’re losing leads and allows you to fill those gaps in your pipeline with the right tactic for that customer journey stage.

Stay tuned next week, when we’ll discuss how to match your content to each of the customer journey stages.

If you’re looking for something to read in the meantime, check out our tips for using HubSpot’s Service Hub to create a great customer experience.

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