A customer journey map is a visual representation of how a customer acts, thinks, and feels through the buying process. You can use this map to understand how and why customers behave the way they do. With these insights, you can create a sales and marketing strategy that better meets customers needs. Read on to learn how to build and use a customer journey map.
If you skip to the end of a book, you’ll know where every character ends up. But without reading the middle, you won’t understand what took place. A story can’t occur with just a beginning and end—you need the journey between. The buying process is like a story. Analytics show you where each customer ends up, but to understand why they got there, you must examine the buyer journey.
A customer journey map helps you visualize a customer’s experience from point A—their pain points—to point B—their purchasing decision. When you know what leads people to one decision versus another, you can tailor your business strategy accordingly.
A customer journey map is a tool that helps you track a customer’s behavior through the buying process. The map includes the customer’s thoughts and feelings about their problem, as well as the corresponding actions they take.
Once you know who your customer is and why they make decisions, you can better tailor your business and marketing strategy toward their interests.
Simply put, customer journey maps help you:
1. Identify and understand which customers are interested in your product or service.
2. Tailor your messaging so customers understand the benefits of your product or service.Free marketing strategy template
A customer journey map has six components that—when observed together—give you a clear picture of why a customer behaves the way they do. While these components are all relevant to a customer journey map, they don't necessarily happen in order.
The buying process: Start by outlining what you know about your customer’s buying process. How do they move from awareness to interest to eventual purchase?
Customer actions: Customer actions focus on the specific actions your customers take. This can include actions like reading an article, downloading an ebook, or requesting a sales demo.
Customer touchpoints: Different from user actions, touchpoints are company-focused. What does your company do to engage with your customers? These may include posting an ad on social media or distributing an email newsletter.
Emotions: For every action your customer takes, they’ll have a specific thought or feeling tied to that decision. Knowing these emotions provides the “why” for customer behavior.
Pain points: Pain points drive a customer to purchase your product. They either have a problem to solve or want to fill a need in their life.
Expectations: Customers looking to fix their pain points will have certain expectations for what they’re seeking. This is how they narrow down their product search.
When you analyze customer actions, make sure you’re taking all six elements into account. For example, emotions happen throughout the entire process, whereas pain points and expectations typically influence the buying process.
You’ll map the customer journey by working through each action your customer takes and assigning emotions to accompany them. Marketing and sales teams often use customer journey maps to assess their current strategies and improve them. You can also use customer journey maps when developing new marketing or sales campaigns. That way, your customer stays front of mind.
Use the steps below to build a customer journey map. Consider the different stages of the user experience, from their first interaction with your company to their last.
Any time you begin a new project or build a new tool, you’ll need to set objectives. When you know what you want to accomplish with your map, you can move through the development process with clarity. Your customer journey map objectives may include:
Determining why customers abandon their carts
Understanding what makes a customer commit to a purchase
Identifying areas where you can influence the customer journey
When setting objectives, pull together a cross-functional team to provide insight. Make sure to ask individuals on the sales, customer support, and marketing teams about how they perceive customer behavior. By incorporating everyone’s viewpoints, you can round out your goals and achieve greater success.
Buyer personas—also called customer personas—are fictional customers that represent your target audience. The persona profiles who the customer is, what they like and dislike, and their general motivations or frustrations. By looking at a buyer persona, you’ll have the information you need to tell your customer’s story.
Target market: Women
Target audience: Mothers
Buyer persona: Daniela Vargas, 32, married with one child.
The target market for your product may be women, but if you serve all women, you’ll still have various audiences. By building out a fictional persona, your team can more easily empathize with your potential customer and create messaging that’s relevant to them.
Your marketing and sales teams likely have multiple buyer personas—one for each type of person who buys your good or service. After all, people have unique buying experiences depending on who they are. Therefore, you’ll need a unique journey map for every persona.Read: Empathy maps: How to understand your customer
Customer actions focus on every action the customer takes, while touchpoints are the vehicle for those actions. Touchpoints can include interactions before a customer finds your website or once they’re on your website. Use analytics from past customers to assess how the buyer from your target audience might interact with you online.
Customer touchpoints outside of your website:
Social media posts
Customer actions outside of your website:
Searches for your website on Google.
Navigates to your website from a paid ad on Google.
Clicks your website link from a social media post.
Navigates to your website from an email.
Opens your email but doesn’t take action.
Likes your social media ad but doesn’t go to your website.
Customer touchpoints on your website:
Website landing pages
Customer actions on your website:
Puts items in their shopping cart.
Stays on a page for a specific period of time.
Clicks an ad on your website.
Leaves your website.
Abandons their shopping cart.
Completes a purchase.
Make a timeline of these touchpoints to use as the foundation of your buyer’s story. With this visual representation, write down each customer action associated with the touchpoints.
You should now have a timeline of how your customer got from their awareness of your product to their final action—whether they decided to purchase or something else. Divide the timeline into stages based on the buyer’s journey.
Awareness: The customer realizes they have a problem that needs solving and determines that your product or service may be the solution.
Consideration: The customer considers whether to buy your product or service.
Comparison: The customer may compare your product to others on the market.
Decision: The customer decides that your product is best.
Purchase: The customer buys your product or service.
Retention: The customer likes your product or service and returns for another purchase.
Advocacy: The customer likes your product or service so much that they recommend you to others.
Your first three touchpoints may fall into the awareness stage, while the next two may move into the consideration stage. Not every customer will move through these stages seamlessly, but these transitions can show you where to improve.
To complete your journey map, write a step-by-step storyline to fill in the gaps between your touchpoints. Since you know the background of your persona, use what you know to explore what they were thinking when they initially searched for your product. If the customer abandons their cart, consider how they went from being interested to jumping ship.
Your customer will have unique thoughts to accompany every action or situation of their journey. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and try to understand how they feel. Emotions are hard to determine, but with support from your buyer persona, their touchpoints, and your storyline, you can make confident assumptions.
Your completed customer journey map will show you turning points where a customer hesitated to buy your product or abandoned it altogether. For example, a customer that goes to your website but bounces quickly has made it to the awareness stage but may not move into the consideration stage.
Assess what customers need to move between these stages and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly. In this scenario, ask the following questions:
How long did they stay on our website?
Did they move past the homepage? If not, why not?
What are the weaknesses in our homepage?
How could we improve our homepage to engage customers?
If a customer bounces from your website after viewing the homepage, then the first impression you’re giving them may not be strong enough. It’s possible that your homepage design isn’t intuitive or your content doesn’t stand out. By examining the turning points in your map, you can find ways to make the next customer’s journey more linear.Free marketing strategy template
In this customer journey map example, Sally’s pain points are that she struggles to stay organized at work. As Sally makes her journey from problem to solution, there are various touchpoints that guide her. For example, she decides task management is a good solution because she’s heard success stories from friends. She then sees a social media ad for a project management software company that influences her to consider the company’s brand. Sally’s emotions throughout the buying process explain how she processed each step.
Company: Project management software company
Scenario: Sally needs a task management solution to get organized and improve her work performance.
Expectations: Easy-to-use tool, holds her accountable at work, affordable solution
1. Realizes she has an organization problem at work
2. Determines task management can solve the problem
Touchpoint: Word of mouth, radio/TV/print
Corresponding emotion: “I need to solve this problem.”
3. Sees social media ad for task management software
Touchpoint: Online ads
Corresponding emotion: “This product looks interesting”
4. Compares software to others on the market
5. Reads user reviews of software
Touchpoint: SEO, blog
Corresponding emotion: “What tool best fits my needs?”
6. Decides your product is worth trying
Touchpoint: Customer reviews
Corresponding emotion: “Did other users like this product?”
7. Goes to software website and signs up for trial offer
Touchpoint: Blog, website
Corresponding emotion: “This looks like the best option, I’ll try it."
8. Purchases software once trial period is complete
9. Recommends software to coworkers
Touchpoint: Email, website, word of mouth
Corresponding emotion: “This tool is worth the investment. I should tell my team.”
Customer journey mapping is beneficial because it gives you a new perspective on how customers act, think, and feel when interacting with your brand. Other benefits include:
Inform your customer service: When you can see your customer pain points clearly, you can use them to better support customers and improve their experience.
Eliminate ineffective touchpoints: The customer journey map will show you which touchpoints aren’t working. If a customer interacts with your brand but doesn’t move forward in the buying process, then you may need to adjust that touchpoint.
Focus strategy on specific personas: The customer journey map helps you find a strategy that works best for one group. When you create a map for each target audience, you can customize your strategies for each one.
Increase understanding of customer behavior: Understanding your audience is crucial to selling products or services. The journey map shows you how customers behave and gives you insight into why they behave that way.
You can make maps for the current state of your customers or a predicted future state. Both types of customer journey maps can help you learn the customer’s perspectives.
Your maps can serve as a resource for marketing and sales teams. Once you create one, store it in an accessible place so others can reference it. When you keep your map digital, you can also change it as your audience changes.