The road to conversion is a long and winding one for most companies, but that’s probably because they don’t have a customer journey map. But wait, what are we talking about here?

In a nutshell, a customer journey map is a visual representation of the journey your customers take to achieve some goal. This goal could be a purchase and maximize your conversion rate, of course, but it could also be some other positive outcome such as signing up for a free trial or your newsletter, sharing the word of your brand or your content, and much more.

The point of your customer journey map is to give your marketing strategy some much needed direction, and your sales teams a way to maximize the potential of every lead on every online and offline touchpoint. Without it, you’re in the realm of guesswork, which you need to eliminate if you want to win at marketing, sales, and all customer-focused processes.

Now that you understand what it is and why it’s important, here are the key tips that will help you create a comprehensive customer journey map, and take your business to new heights.

Start with Detailed Buyer Personas and Their Goals

Customer and market research represent the foundation of almost any marketing and sales processes nowadays, and they should be the foundation of your customer journey map. After all, you need to truly understand your target demographic and what motivates your customers in order to be able to lead them on this journey.

Keep in mind, though, that this journey will look slightly differently depending on what you’re trying to achieve and according to the buyer’s intent (much like using search intent) upon coming into contact with your brand. Some people want to buy, some want quality content, and others are comparing their options – their journeys are not the same.

Because remember, according to Salesforce, 80% of customers now consider their experience with a company to be as important as its products. To create a positive experience for the individual, you need to know where they are in their journey.

With that in mind, make sure to understand these different types of customers. Identify who they are based on age and gender, nationality and location, as well as their socio-economic background. Then start digging deeper.

Use market research and online behavioral data (more on that in a bit) to craft detailed personas. Aim to understand the following:

  • What drives and motivates your customers.
  • What they’re trying to achieve.
  • What pain-points they’re facing.
  • What values and causes they stand for in life.
  • What kind of brand interaction they’re looking for.
  • What social media channels they use and why.
  • What inspirational figures they follow online.
  • What brands they trust.

Understanding all of this will prove invaluable in optimizing the entire brand experience, but most importantly right now, in creating a detailed customer journey map.

Take Customer Testimonials to Heart

You need to listen to your customers. There’s no one that understands this journey better than they do, and your goal should be to tap into the knowledge that your customers possess. In other words, listening carefully to what your customers have to say will uncover the pain points, desires, goals, likes and dislikes that you can use to create a laser-focused customer journey map.

You can start by collecting feedback with a customer satisfaction survey that will ask meaningful questions and strive to understand the “why” behind customer behaviour. Those who have interacted with your brand will have no problem answering a few engaging questions, but you need to inspire them to take the survey in the first place.

Why should you do that, exactly? Because 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and as much as 72% of them say positive reviews and testimonials have a positive effect on brand trust.

To do this, you’ll need a powerful CTA with a value-driven statement. When asking a customer to take a survey, don’t focus on your brand, rather appeal to their good side. For example, you can inspire them to take a survey by making them “help other customers achieve their goals” (feel free to steal that part) by answering a few questions.

Follow that up with a short statement, explaining that you want to act on their feedback and improve your service. When they take the survey, simply plug the answers into your customer journey map once you have collected enough data from a large-enough survey pool.

Identify Key Touchpoints and Start Strategizing for Each

Do you know your customer touchpoints? Do you know where your customers can interact with you in the online world to achieve a goal? In their journey, different customers will take slightly different paths. Some will choose to interact with you on your website, others will give feedback on Instagram or get in touch for purchasing information – and then some will send you an email.

Remember, you can’t force a customer down a path they don’t want to take. You need to map out all the online touchpoints and optimize the customer journey map for each. Here are some touchpoints to keep in mind:

  • Your website’s chat, DM, or phone service.
  • Paid ads on social media and Google.
  • Email communication.
  • Social media communication.
  • Third-party review sites and platforms.

So, what do you do when a customer reaches you through one of these touchpoints, how do you proceed from there? There is no single answer for all of these, so your customer journey map will need to branch out at this point to cover each touchpoint.

For example, a customer who clicks on your ad should go to a relevant landing page. A customer who sent an email should get a personalized response with a concrete solution. A customer who sends a DM on Instagram should be able to complete an action right there in the chat.

This is all a part of an omnichannel sales and marketing approach.

Use a Website Tool for Continuous Customer Feedback

Sending out surveys is one way to get valuable information for your CJM, but you also need to capture more data with a dedicated feedback feature on your site. Using a website feedback tool is a quick and effective way to incentivize a visitor to leave a quick rating, share their thoughts in one sentence, or even leave a detailed review. You can adjust the parameters of the tool to your needs, and you can use it as an exit pop-up or let it sit comfortably on every page on your site.

The choice is yours, but the important thing is that you use an automated feedback feature to capture as much data as possible. Even simple ratings can prove valuable if you ask the right questions.

After all, research shows that recommendations drive customer decisions and purchases, so it’s important to ask for their feedback.

A common mistake marketers make is asking a question that leads nowhere. For example:

“How satisfied are you with our service/brand/website/communication/products?” is a question that leads nowhere and tells you nothing about the customer’s journey.

On the other hand, if you were to ask a more concrete question like: “How many stars would you give us based on our last interaction”, you would get an indicator of how the conversation went. So, be as specific as possible with your questions.

Use your customer journey map to figure out where you’re stuck, and then derive concrete questions that will solve specific challenges on the map.

Let the Map Show the Key Resources You’ll Need

Building a detailed CJM is a lengthy process, but don’t worry, it will be worth it. As you’re building the map, it will start revealing more and more answers, and you will be able to start forecasting based on the data within. For example, as you’re building the journey for the customer, you will start noticing that different challenges and pain-points require different resources.

To understand their journey and to start guiding them on the right path, you will need to invest in new resources in your marketing, sales, or support departments. For example, maybe your CJM will reveal that your marketers need a better CRM (customer relationship management) tool to avoid roadblocks and nurture leads, and guide people down the funnel.

The same goes for your sales department, while your support agents might require backup in the form of an intelligent chatbot to deliver prompt service.

Spy on Your Competition

When in doubt, take a look in your competitor’s backyard. Researching your competition is an essential part of building your CJM, because the things they’re doing right and especially the things they’re doing wrong can prove invaluable for your brand. This is your opportunity to improve on their best practices and identify the common mistakes they’re making in order to avoid them altogether.

There are numerous ways to spy on your competition and get valuable company information to feed into your CJM, including:

  • Researching their websites.
  • Researching relevant forums.
  • Looking for press releases and review articles.
  • Analyzing their social media behaviour.
  • Getting in touch with their past employees.
  • Leveraging B2B databases.

With information on your top competitors, you can go ahead and optimize your CJM to provide the solutions your shared customers need. After all, you are targeting the same people.

Take the Customer Journey Yourself

On a final note, don’t finalize your CJM before walking the path in your customer’s shoes. Too many companies make the mistake of going to market with a new solution that they never tested out themselves. Don’t be one of those companies, instead, take the journey yourself to optimize their experience. Because after all, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

Create a mock sales cycle and have an employee take the journey on one of the touchpoints. Throughout the process, you will be able to identify new pain points and problems in the journey that you were not aware of when creating the map.

This will allow you to continuously test and optimize to eliminate hurdles and maximize customer success. In the long run, doing this will also allow you to elevate your customer retention strategy, which will ensure people keep coming back for more.

Wrapping up

Creating a customer journey map is an important step in crafting high-performing sales, marketing, and support strategies. It’s also the only way to truly optimize the entire brand experience. Make sure to use these tips to gather valuable information, gain an understanding of your target demographic, and start guiding your customers towards the best possible outcomes.

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