User experience is everything. We’ve all been told for years. The only way for your company to survive and thrive in the future is to put the user first. We’re not talking about the user interface; it’s easy to design a pretty website and a nice shopping cart. We’re talking about delivering value at every step of the customer journey. This is the underlying principle of our own internal customer experience design framework. We believe that in order to resonate with customers, brands need to create an experience from the time consumers first hear about your brand, to when they are a customer and beyond. That’s the power of building a Customer Journey Map. As a business owner, you already know that the most important part of your business is your customers. But what do you do when you’re focused on growing your business and don’t have enough hours in the day to spend on understanding your customer experience?
What is a Customer Journey Map and Why is it Important?
A customer journey map is a visual representation of how a customer navigates your business from first awareness to purchase. It’s essentially your marketing blueprint and helps you to keep your focus on the customer throughout the process of developing an online presence and marketing strategy for your business. Ever thought about how your customers get from clicking on your first ad right through to purchase? If not, it’s high time you did. A journey map is an essential marketing tool for any modern business. Understanding the journey your customers make from first awareness to purchase allows you to direct them at every step of their journey with targets messaging and design. In this article we are going to walk you through how to create a customer journey map so you can start using it in your marketing as soon as possible.
1. Establish and Get To Know Your Customer Persona
Before you even think about mapping out your customer journey you first need to establish your customer persona. Now let’s dig down a level and start to paint a clear picture of your typical customer. This step is all about understanding your potential customer, so you can better craft the marketing messages that will win their business. This will involve building a detailed picture of your target customer, one that you can refer back to throughout all of the remaining steps of the marketing planning process. As we’re sure you know, effective marketing requires a deep understanding of the customer. In order to appeal to your target market, you need to know your customer’s demographics, and more importantly understand their behavior and attitudes. Understanding a customer’s demographics is relatively straightforward – it involves things like age, gender, race, location and income level. A customer’s behavior and attitudes however are a different story. A persona should be a complete description of your ideal customer – how they think, what they want, and what matters to them. Identifying and understanding your customer will not only help you decide what services or products you should offer but will also help you make decisions about everything from product/service design to marketing campaigns. Understanding how this information can help inform the design of your marketing campaigns is an important skill for any digital marketer to have.
2. Understand Your Buyer's Goals
Customer journey mapping has become a popular practice in the world of enterprise companies. It uses consistent branding and messaging across campaigns to build a memorable experience for customers. The buyer’s goal is the destination of your mapping process. The buyer’s goal is what you’re solving for your customer. Understanding what your buyer is trying to accomplish will help you focus your messaging, support their decision-making process, and provide the best possible experience for them. For example, a buyer’s goal for a sneaker store might be to look trendy – the business then chooses different messaging and create different website experiences than if their buyer’s goal were to find the cheapest shoes. Buying behavior can be significantly different between your marketing campaigns and sales. It is important to understand your buyer’s goals. Discover the motivations behind why your customers buy from you. Understanding these customer segments, you’ll be able to determine the best ways to reach out to them and be ready to provide a better customer experience. The first step in the process is to learn how to identify your customers’ goals and start mapping out their journey. This can be done through a thorough audit of your sales funnel as well as market research – search social media channels for mentions of specific goals to get a better understanding of your customers’ needs and pain points or create surveys and conduct interviews with customers and ask them to articulate their goals. Once you have a clear sense of your audience’s goals, begin brainstorming the various steps in the customer journey that will facilitate a solution to their problem and lead to the outcome they desire. Although your product may be the focus of your business, it ultimately serves a larger purpose for your customer. For example, the goal of a healthcare product might be increased energy, while the goal of a consumer product may be increased popularity.
Example: Let’s say you’re a small business that sells silver bracelets online. You might get an order from a customer who wants to make a birthday present for a friend. That indicates their goal is to share the bracelet and express an emotional connection. But if that same customer wants to buy something for themselves but they also want to gift the item later, perhaps for Christmas, then that means the goal is to save money. Having specific insights into the why behind your customers’ purchasing intentions as well as the results of your marketing campaigns will enable you to retarget your messages and show you what points in your funnel needs strengthening.
3. Phases Of The Purchase Journey
The purchase journey is one that all online businesses have to deal with. It’s an evolutionary process that has changed a lot over the past few years. Today, it’s inevitable that your prospective customers will research and evaluate your products and services. With 60% of consumers searching the internet prior to making a purchase, normal consumer habits have now been turned on their head with the advent of digital and mobile technology; this is resulting in a more complex purchase journey than ever before. With so many products, promotions and messaging, the consumer now surfs through channels – online, email, social media feeds, print ads – to find the product that best fits his/her needs. Therefore, for a brand to successfully influence a consumer’s purchase decision, they should consider how to verify if their marketing strategies are on track. To be able to audit the results and consistency of your marketing strategies, it’s important to understand the four main stages of the purchase journey. These are: awareness, consideration, decision and action. This is such an essential tool for tracking your customers at every stage of their purchase journey and a crucial part of a marketing strategy because it helps in knowing what content to provide at what time, what kind of personalization as well as other marketing decisions. The first two stages – awareness and consideration, are when customers are just becoming aware of the brand and the purchase is new to them. It is in this period that the brand has the chance to make a first impression and engage through content. Consumers only begin to become aware of your brand when they read something, see it, or hear about it. The average person is exposed to 3000 brand messages a day across all media. Ultimately your brand needs to reach consumers in order for them to consider it. It’s also important for brands to use this time to create and foster personal connections with their potential customers and social media following. One of the key elements of this phase from a marketing perspective is to understand what motivates customers at each stage and how you can leverage it to connect with your customer. The last two and most crucial stages, Decision and Action is when your audience have consolidated all the information they have captured about your service or product and are now ready to make the commitment to purchase. This is where your marketing efforts come together. Once the audience has researched the need and made the decision to buy, your messages will have helped build their trust in your brand. This is why it is crucial to get every touch point right – from your mobile website to your social media channels, to your physical store and brochures. Assessing their current levels of information, motivation and ability is never more important than in these stages, as it allows you to focus on the actions to take to ease their journey to completion. It’s critical that you set the trajectory of your purchase journey in order to engineer a buying decision, supported by the information you have gathered about you shoppers’ needs up to this point. It’s important to not let your potential consumers slip at this stage by not providing a streamlined way to complete their purchase. 49% of customers will not make a purchase after visiting a website that is not mobile-friendly and mobile users even have a higher cart abandonment rate of 85.65%. Getting caught at this sensitive stage where customers are asking themselves “Do I really need this?” or “Can I afford this” due to an overlooked deterrent risks your brand in losing them forever – the proverbial lost sale. With so much choice and information available online, shoppers have high expectations of your website before they even consider buying from you.