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Sales • Mar 1st, 2023 • Guest Writer

The Customer Journey Map Explained

The right customer journey map can help you understand your target audience members.

For your brand to succeed, you need to understand your customers as deeply as possible. That can only happen if you can find a way to get into their mindsets and understand what they experience, feel, and want as they journey through your brand from start to finish.

This is where customer journey maps come in. Today, let’s discuss what a customer journey map is, why it’s important, and how you can craft one for your brand.

What Is a Customer Journey Map?

A “customer journey” can best be thought of as the process through which a customer interacts with a brand to achieve a goal. That goal can be making a purchase, signing up for an email newsletter, or subscribing to a service.

A customer journey map, therefore, is a hypothetical or predicted pathway that a theoretical customer will take from becoming aware of your brand to achieving their goal. It’s a roadmap you can use when trying to predict the behaviors and needs of your target audience members, such as whether they’re tough spenders, whether they’re susceptible to bully offers, etc.

what is a customer journey map

Say that you want to target a new user demographic and sell products directly to them. You’ll create a customer journey map to determine the following:

Where those customers are most likely to become aware of your brand

How those customers will interact with your brand leading up to a purchase

When the customers will most likely make a purchase

What the customers will do post-purchase, etc.

A typical customer journey map will include five primary elements:

The buying process, which is a breakdown of all the significant milestones in a theoretical customer’s journey

User actions, which break down what exactly a user does at every stage in the buying process

Customer emotions, which break down what customers likely or “are supposed to” feel at each stage in the customer journey, such as anticipation, curiosity, etc.

Pain points, which are associated with negative customer emotions, like unexpected credit card fees that often reach higher than 3% per online transaction. You should add pain points to your customer journey map to identify which potential roadblocks or speed bumps a customer might meet so you can solve them before your buyers encounter them.

Solutions, which include any of the fixes you want to implement into your customer journeys based on the insights you receive from your customer journey map

It’s also important to understand touchpoints. Touchpoints are any instances where a customer might make an opinion about your business, such as deciding to make a purchase, clicking away from your site, etc.

Why Create a Customer Journey Map?

A customer journey map can help you to better understand how people interact with your brand from their perspective. That’s especially important when starting a business, as this will allow you to get to know and manage customer expectations.

By putting yourself in the metaphorical shoes of your customers, you’ll understand:

How your website or storefront looks in the eyes of a customer

How easy it is to purchase from your brand

Why a customer might want to make a purchase from your brand at all

Whether there are any major pain points or issues you need to correct to maximize profitability, etc.

In a broader sense, a customer journey map can be helpful because it visualizes the complexities of a customer’s thought processes and actions into a basic diagram that you can use as guidance. Visualization is important for many things, like data analysis and decision-making; it’s the same when it comes to customer journeys.

How To Make a Comprehensive Customer Journey Map

Now that you know what a customer journey map is and how it works, let’s break down how to create one step-by-step.

Set Objectives and Profiles

First, you’ll want to set clear objectives for the map. When designing a customer journey map, determine:

What you want to learn

What you need to achieve

How the map will help you achieve your goals

Once you’ve done this, be sure to incorporate any target audience persona data or understandings. For instance, if you already know that your target audience has certain demographic attributes, incorporate them into the customer avatar and you will “walk” down the customer map from start to finish.

By understanding your objectives and the profiles of hypothetical audience members, you’ll be better equipped to utilize your customer journey map to maximum effect.

why create a customer journey map

List Touchpoints

Next, it’s time to list all the touchpoints or areas where a customer can form an opinion about your brand within the sales funnel. Common touch points on a customer journey map include:

When the customer becomes aware of your brand, such as through brand awareness ads

When a visitor reaches your retail store or online shop

When a customer puts an item into their shopping cart or visits a product page

When a customer decides to make a purchase

When a customer receives their product or takes it home to use it

List all the touchpoints so you know the potential instances where your customer may run into a problem. Then, you can better anticipate pain points and solve them ahead of time.

Determine the Elements You Want To Show

At this stage of creating a customer journey map, you should also identify any extra elements you want your map to show, like advertisement interactions, purchase potential, etc. Your map can be as simple or as comprehensive as you like. Just remember that more complex customer journey maps can be a little harder to parse visually, so simplicity is usually better if you have to choose between them. 

Take the Customer Journey

Once your customer journey map is outlined and ready to go, it’s time for you to take action. Specifically, you should take the customer journey by putting yourself in the mindset of a prospective buyer and interacting with your brand as a newcomer.

Visit your retail store or click on your online website. Pretend you are a customer and look through your brand’s materials and offerings as if you don’t know anything about it. Then go through the purchase process, either entirely or just up to pushing the “buy” button. The odds are that this experience will help you understand what your customers see and feel when they interact with your brand better than any other exercise. 

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Iterate and Adjust

Once you’ve outlined your customer journey map and taken the customer journey at least once, you can iterate and adjust both the map and your brand operations.

Say that you take the customer journey and find that checkout can be painstaking or annoying. You can then use that information to revamp your checkout screen and make buying something much easier and simpler. That’s a good thing, too, since almost 70% of shoppers abandoned their carts in 2021!

In this way, your customer journey map helps you directly improve your brand and your customers’ shopping experiences.

Wrap Up

The right customer journey map can help you understand your target audience members. Armed with this information, you can market more effectively to your target consumers, make your store more navigable and interesting, and sell more products or subscriptions. Good luck!

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