Customer Journey Mapping: The Essential Guide (Templates + Examples)
You've just made your first sale on your e-commerce store, but in your post-purchase survey, you forgot to ask how the customer found your store. Sales are welcome, but you've no idea who the customer is, their buying journey, and their satisfaction level with your site.
This is where customer journey mapping comes in. Customer journey mapping (a.k.a user journey, buying journey mapping, customer experience mapping) is the process of understanding customers' feelings, goals, and pain points at every touchpoint -- instances where they interact with your business, from the start to purchase completion.
In this article, you'll learn everything necessary to create an effective customer journey map.
- The customer journey mapping process
- Stages of a buying journey
- How to create a customer journey map
- Examples of a customer journey map (B2B & B2C)
- Best practices and tools for customer journey mapping
- And much more!
- Customer journey mapping is the process of visualizing how customers interact with your business at every buying stage.
- The 4 main buying stages in a customer journey map are awareness, consideration, purchase, and post-purchase.
- The key elements in a customer journey map include the buyer persona, customer touchpoints, buying stages, action points, and the customers' feelings.
- Effective customer journey management involves different stakeholders, constant reviewing and updating, and using data rather than assumptions.
Why is Customer Journey Mapping Important?
We all know that understanding your customers benefits your business in many ways -- improved customer retention, conversions, customer experiences, etc. But the importance of customer journey mapping is best illustrated in a real-life case study.
Importance of Customer Journey Mapping: A Case Study on J.C. Penney
In 2012, former Apple retail executive Ron Johnson was appointed CEO of J.C. Penney. He was tasked to revitalise the dying brand and subsequently made many drastic changes, including:
- Replacing constant price discounts with everyday low prices (EDLP)
- Turn stores into destinations by introducing in-store boutiques
- Removed discount coupons and clearance sales
Ron Johnson's proposed strategies received full backing across the board. But one missing element resulted in a $4.3 billion revenue decrease at the end of the new CEO's first year.
The company failed to understand its core customer value.
JC Penney attracts customers hunting for the best deals. They scour online, interrogate friends and families, and compare discounts from different retailers. Their core customers -- middle-aged moms, valued getting clothes and household items at a good deal.
By implementing EDLP pricing strategy and eliminating discount coupons, JC Penney also eradicated customers' main reason for shopping there. Moreover, Ron Johnson did not conduct pilot tests with a limited audience before rolling out to the overall market.
It's easy to criticize in hindsight, but regardless, JC Penney's colossal failure resulted from a lack of understanding of customers' buying journeys, goals, and pain points.
Overview of the Customer Journey Mapping Process1
Creating an effective customer journey map requires understanding its process. The customer journey mapping process typically involves the following steps:
- Identify what information to collect
- Gathering customer insights
- Mapping the customer journey
- Optimizing the journey
- Regularly reviewing and updating the map
This is not to be confused with the stages in a customer journey, which is (usually) awareness, consideration, and decision.
Before you begin, take note that the perfect customer journey map does not exist. It's better to create a simple but effective buying map, and then optimize it over time as purchasing habits and market forces change.
1. Identify what information to collect
If you start customer journey mapping without knowing what information to collect, you'll soon become overwhelmed by the mountain of user data. This is where a customer journey template comes in, but there are as many templates as there are articles about customer journey mapping.
B2B and B2C customer journey map template
This template is highly effective because it is easily understandable even by people from non-marketing backgrounds. Moreover, the template is designed to be usable for both B2B and B2C industries.
Note: An effective customer journey map is one that makes sense to you. To that end, feel free to customize any part of the template according to your liking.
The Howuku team personally prefers this template because it breaks down the buying stages into several segments:
Some additional things you could add to the map for more detailed data analysis:
Identifying Customer Segments and Creating Audience Personas1
The next step is to identify your target market, which you can segment in several ways:
Demographics: Age, gender, occupation, family size, income, location
Psychographics: Activities, opinions, interests (AIOs)
Behavioral: Benefits sought, usage frequency & behavior, timing & occasion
We recommend identifying a target market based on a maximum of two segments. For example, millennials (age) on the West Coast (location). The reason is targeting too many segments will spread your resources too thin and thus ineffectively meet everyone's needs.
After identifying your target market, you'll want to create a buyer persona. This persona represents the average customer in a target segment. Your customer persona should be as accurate as possible and thus should incorporate real data to identify their:
- Pain points
Put yourself in the shoes of the target customer and go through each customer stage as they would. While it's tempting to make guesses, it's best to verify exactly how customers would behave through interviews and observations.
2. Gathering Customer Insights
You've laid out exactly what kinds of data you'll need; it's time to go out there and do some market research. Depending on your business needs and budget, you can conduct primary or secondary research to collect primary or secondary data. We recommend at least 20% of your data be qualitative because they provide deeper insights into customers' psyche.
Collecting Customer Data
As mentioned, you need a good understanding of real-time customer behavior and detailed customer insights to create an accurate user persona. Some ways to gather customer data include:
- Surveys: Surveys can be conducted both online and offline, making it a great way to collect data at scale.
- Interviews: Interviews with customers can provide more in-depth insights into their "buyer black box" -- their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
- Customer feedback: Customer feedback or user-generated content (UGC) are valuable because they represent real customers' experience with your business. You can collect them from social media comments, product reviews, and even your sales team.
- Analytics: Analyzing data from website and app usage, marketing campaigns, and sales transactions is a cost-effective way to get an overview of your customer touchpoints.
- Stakeholders: Ultimately, employees that frequently interact with customers know them better than anyone -- your sales team, product team, and other key stakeholders at the frontline.
Analyzing Customer Data
Once you have gathered a decent amount of customer data, it's time to analyze it. You want to skim through the data and identify recurring patterns and trends. Mainly, you want to keep an eye on the:
- Pain points throughout the journey
- Key goals to achieve at each stage
- Most frequently used touchpoints
- Customers' preferences and expectations at each stage
- How do customers feel about your business at each interaction
After you've answered these questions, you can use these insights to create a user persona that accurately represents their demographics, psychographics, behavior, pain points, and goals.
3. Mapping the Customer Journey
Once you've collected the customer data and crafted a buyer persona that accurately represents your target market, it's time to create the actual customer journey map.
By now, you should have a rough idea of the steps a prospect takes to become your loyal brand advocate. However, the customer journey map gives you and your team a better view of the buying journey, allowing you to spot weak points for improvement easily.
Filling out the customer journey template
First off, fill in the customer journey template with the collected data. While this template could serve as the customer journey map (it is, technically), you ideally want to convert it into a visual graph, as shown below.
Creating a Visual Map of the Customer Journey
A visual map is a summarization of the prior buying journey template into a more presentable look. We recommend showing the customer journey as a funnel because it's easily understandable, even among other teams without marketing knowledge.
Nobody wants to look at a table filled with lines of text, and certainly not your boss! You can use tools like Canva or Lucidchart, or our template above to create an easily understandable buying journey map.
And that's it! You've successfully created a customer journey map. However, effective customer journey management does not end here.
4. Optimizing the Customer Journey
As with all marketing techniques, customer journey management does not end after creating a nice-looking map. While they give you a bird's eye view of the entire customer journey, their main purpose is to enable marketers to optimize customer engagement for better customer experiences.
Identifying Opportunities for Improvement
It can be easy to get lost in marketing myopia and lose sight of your priorities. When improving the entire journey, always keep in mind what needles are you trying to move? What are your key performance indicators and business goals?
Then, start with areas that are lacking:
- Are there frictions or barriers in the buying journey?
- Are there reports of negative customer experience at key touchpoints?
- Are there market trends or opportunities you can but have not capitalized on?
- Why are existing customers switching to competitors?
Some key metrics that you should also prioritize:
- Customer retention rates
- Customer satisfaction scores
- Net promoter score
- Customer lifetime value
Implementing Changes and Testing
After identifying opportunities and weak areas to improve, the next step is to conduct testing before implementing it in the overall market. You can do so through A/B testing, user testing, or incremental experimentation.
A/B testing: Also known as multivariate testing, you determine the best variation by showing multiple versions to different, random customers.
User testing: Roll out the change to a limited number of customers that represents the broader market.
Incremental experimentation: Roll out the changes incrementally and improve along the way.
5. Regularly Updating the Customer Journey Map
Consumer purchasing behavior constantly changes with the market. External factors such as technology, government policies, and societal values catalyze these changes and marketers are expected to keep up with them.
As such, effective customer journey management also demands constant updating to reflect an up-to-date customer experience:
- Changing consumer behavior and preferences: Social influences, decreasing purchasing power, and environmental changes all have an effect on customer expectations. As a result, you may have to add new touchpoints or adjust the messaging to accommodate.
- Monitoring the competitive landscape: Stay abreast of new market entrants or existing competitors changing their own strategies. They usually indicate a response to market changes of which you may be unaware, and these strategies will also impact your own business.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of current solutions: Are your current solutions aligned with customer needs, including current and potential customers? This can be an opportunity to brainstorm new approaches or make adjustments to existing ones.
By regularly reviewing and updating the buyer journey map, you can ensure that it is aligned with the current needs and expectations. This leads to increased customer satisfaction and retention rates, as well as an improved bottom line.
Examples of Customer Journey Mapping
How potential customers become aware of your business, interact with your marketing channels, and become brand advocates differs for every company. Each buying journey is unique, even among competitors in the same industry.
Here are two examples from the B2B and B2C industry to inspire you.
B2B CRO SaaS Company
Consider the example of a B2B conversion rate optimization SaaS company that sells CRO platform online. The customer journey for this company could look something like this:
Now consider the example of an e-commerce retailer that sells environmental-friendly clothes to millennial women. Their customer map could look like this:
Best Practices for Customer Journey Mapping
Be clear about ownership: Clearly define the department in charge for every buying stage, what actions they took, and how to transition to the following stage/department.
Involve the customers: Let the customers be active contributors to the journey map; share the map with them, get their input, and interview them for granular insights into their thought processes.
Regularly review and update the map: The market changes constantly, and how we serve our customer base should be aligned with these changes.
Involving a diverse group of stakeholders: Get input from different internal teams because they may provide valuable insights. For example, involve your product team, every customer-facing staff, and even the C-Suite for a more detailed picture of the customer journey.
Customer Journey Mapping Tools
Traditionally, the customer journey was mapped using a whiteboard, post-it notes, and lots of marker pen scribbling. We recommend using digital tools from the start because it's easier to collaborate across cross-functional teams as well as connectivity with customer relationship management (CRM) tools.
Customer journey mapping software: Specialized platforms such as UXPressia are designed specifically for customer journey mapping.
Collaborative whiteboard platforms: InVisin, Miro, and Google Jamboard are perfect for brainstorming and drafting journey maps.
User experience research platforms: Tools such as UserTesting provide user testing and feedback features to understand better how customers interact with your business.
User behavior and analytics platform: Howuku is an all-in-one CRO platform that allows you to track website visitor behavior, and comes with A/B testing and traffic analytics features.
Creating a buyer journey map is a great way to get a detailed picture of how customers interact with your business. Having an overview of the customer journey timeline allows you to craft effective strategies and make informed decisions to improve the customer experience.
By having customer journey maps, you can also reduce friction throughout the customer lifecycle, as well as gain applicable insights into real-time customer behavior.
It does not end after creating the map; you must also regularly review and update it according to changing market factors.
Ultimately, the most effective customer journey design prioritizes function over form. Do what works for you and your business, and you're on the way to effective customer journey management.
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