How to create an effective customer journey map: Warning, don’t try this alone.

If you own a business or are in a position that is responsible for making sure customers know about your brand, you’ve probably put some level of thinking into answering this question: How do you want customers to engage with your brand?

Responses to this question have probably been used to strongly influence your marketing strategy and drive where you advertise, promote and place your product. It’s a great question to start with, but the question you should really be asking is: How do my customers want to engage with my brand?

If you can anticipate how your customers want to engage with your business from brand introduction to long-term customer, then you can identify key touchpoints where customers come face to face with your brand. Visualizing and documenting these touchpoints and the experience they bring to the customer is known as a customer journey map.

Creating a customer journey map requires you to consider the priorities of your customers instead of the priorities of the business. It puts customers front-and-center in your creative thinking. The end result is a powerful visual that will give you a big picture view of what your customers are doing before, during and after their experience with your brand. Their journey probably won’t be linear and you may have multiple customer journeys to consider depending on your audience segments. Understanding their journey may be complicated, but it will pay off in helping you increase conversions, curate effective content and positively impact customer satisfaction.

Retrace Their Steps

So what do you need to create your own customer journey map? Data, cross-team input and objective thinking. Investigating and uncovering insights from these sources will help you retrace your customers’ experience from awareness to purchase.

1. Data

Data, we talk about it a lot – what it is, where it comes from and what to do with it. A data-first approach to mapping a customer journey is crucial to the credibility of your journey mapping. You need hard facts to guide you, and there are multiple sources of data you can tap to get them:

  • Website analytics
  • In-store and e-commerce sales records
  • CRM/marketing automation tools
  • Loyalty/rewards programs
  • Digital marketing
  • Social media
  • Mobile app
  • Internet-connected devices (i.e., smartwatches)

Chances are you have tapped many of these data sources to develop buyer personas. Buyer personas will give you a jump-start on your customer journey mapping because they ensure you know who is taking the journey – their demographics, beliefs and behavior. Go beyond the personas and use them to anticipate your customers’ feelings and experiences along their paths to purchase.

2. Cross-team input.

Customer journey mapping isn’t something that should be left to the marketing department alone. Sales, customer service, in-store staff and senior management should all have a voice in the exercise. Insights gleaned from these stakeholders are invaluable because they interact directly with your customers. Unfortunately, a lot of organizations don’t make the time to include groups outside of marketing or the customers themselves.

The more people you invite to the table, the more complicated and long the discussions get. So don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to collecting input from every group. Just like you would focus your messaging for each of your customer segments, you’ll want to focus your questions for each department. What information about a customer’s behavior can they provide that no one else can? Figure that out and be extremely clear with your teams as to what you want to learn from them.

3. Objective thinking

Customer journey mapping allows you as a brand or marketer to not only identify your customers’ shoes but to wear your customers’ shoes. If you go through the entire exercise and never kick off your own shoes, then you never put on your customers’ shoes. It’s a simple, tried-and-true piece of advice – put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Don’t think like a marketer. Don’t think like a brand. Think like a customer.

At Vela, we know how hard it is for some brands and businesses to find the time or resources to “think like a customer,” So don’t worry yourself with trying to tackle it all. Instead, call us. We will gladly wear your customers’ shoes for a while and then give them back, along with a mapped out customer journey.