Customer Journey Mapping: What It is, and Why Your Business Needs to Do It


Ever wished you could read your customers’ minds?

Customer journey mapping can help provide that insight. According to some industry reports, it might even boost your return on marketing investment by more than 50%! Here’s a closer look at customer journey maps, including: what they are, the benefits they may offer your business and how to get started with customer journey maps to identify how to help your customers reach a purchase decision as quickly as possible

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer journey mapping is a visual representation of the many steps your customer may move through when deciding to buy from your business. An effective customer journey map has a defined beginning and end. It also identifies the customer’s goals, needs, and pain points throughout the journey. Additionally, the map can take into account that a customer’s decision-making journey may not be a linear process.

What’s the Benefit of a Customer Journey Map?

Between the time a customer has interest in a product to the time they purchase, a customer may make many mental detours. The more you understand about their process, the better equipped you are to be able to give them the “nudge” they need to buy from your business. Mapping the customer journey can provide you with insights you need in order to provide customers with contextually relevant messages, offers or information based on their point in the journey. Additionally, mapping may help indicate where roadblocks may exist that prevent customers from deciding to buy.

How Do You Create a Customer Journey Map?

Customer journey maps can be created on a large piece of paper, in a spreadsheet, or using a free downloadable customer journey template like this one provided by Interaction Design Foundation. Whatever format you choose, follow these steps to simplify the process:

Build personas of your customers and prospects.

Your customer personas should include:

  • Demographic Information – demographic information is the socio-economic characteristics of your customers. Demographics include information such as age. gender, income, occupation, education, geographic location, and marital status. Demographics, basically tell you “who” your buyers are.
  • Psychographic Details – psychographic details are psychological attributes of your customers. Psychographics include information such as hobbies, interests, values, concerns, etc. Where demographics tell you “who” your customers are, psychograpics tell you “why” your customers buy.

Your profile does not need to be longer than one or two paragraphs. The intent is to provide a “day in the life” snapshot of who you think your customer is, and what you think they value. Take a look at this example persona featured by Venngage:

Source: Venngage


Validate/refine personas based on real data. 

Once you’ve written customer personas, test your knowledge. Interview a cross-section of existing customers and prospects. This will give you a clearer perspective of the many types of audiences your business serves. It will also provide a deeper understanding of their motivations for potentially buying what you sell. Conduct focus groups, distribute surveys via email or social media, interview customers by phone, or use a combination of tactics. Once interviews are complete, revise your personas as needed to reflect the deeper insights your research revealed about audience needs, wants and values.

Examine your customer touchpoints.

Touch points are the many ways your customers and prospects engage with your brand; touch points may include your website, social media networks, online advertising, your brick and mortar environment, phone, mail, and email.

Three Rooms provides a great breakdown of key touch points – many of which you may not even have thought of as actual touch points!

Source: Three Rooms

Now that you have a full understanding of customer touch points, think of the ones that your customer experiences. What actions occur when they do encounter those touch points? How could you potentially adapt your touch points to remove obstacles the customer experiences in the current buying journey? The fewer touch points the customer has to experience to reach a resolution (ideally, buying what you sell), the more effective your marketing efforts become. Effective marketing leads to a better customer interaction with your company becomes,  increasing customer satisfaction in the long term.

Map your customer journey.

Using the personas you created as a guide, start your customer journey map with the customer’s realization of a need, want or problem (this the beginning of the journey); the journey concludes with the customer’s resolution of the problem.

As you build your map, consider what processes or messages your business could adjust in order to help customers come to a buying decision more quickly. Some businesses, for example, may find that automated chat features on a website can quickly address customer questions, reducing buyer hesitancy. Others may find that providing competitor pricing for the same product convinces customers to complete a purchase.

Your customer journey maps are unique to your business.  Your map can indicate ways to better serve prospects and customers.  It can also increase the value of your marketing investments while improving the customer experience. When you’re open to the insights your customer journey maps reveal, you may find that your business has opportunities to gain a competitive edge and transform customer interest into action that you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

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