The “Customer Journey.” It sounds very philosophical, maybe even a little grandiose. But it’s more than an abstract concept that deep-thinking marketers ponder as they swirl their glass of wine. Rather, it’s a thoroughly studied and well-defined psychological path that prospects follow between first learning of your products and services and ultimately purchasing them. And understanding how to effectively move your prospects from start to finish can have a dramatic effect on the success of your marketing efforts and your company.
The best way to make the customer journey more tangible, and therefore more easily managed, is to map it. In its simplest form, the customer journey consists of three steps:
Within each of those steps are multiple experiences that shape the path that the prospect follows, each of those experiences created by specific marketing touchpoints. Your map should include as many of these experiences and touchpoints as possible, and the effect they have on the journey.
Plotting the Customer’s Course
Before you can create your map, you first need to have a thorough inventory of every piece of “content” you use to entice, educate, and influence your prospects. In other words, you need to understand your touchpoints. This includes everything from white papers and case studies, to email text, to web pages, to printed materials.
If you’ve developed your content wisely, you’ll already have a spreadsheet of every item that notes when it was created and lasted edited, who created it, what its purpose is, etc. If you don’t have everything recorded, now is the time. Creating a customer journey map is a good idea if only for the benefits of having to produce a detailed touchpoint inventory.
Then, you need to gather every piece of intel you can on how your prospects behave and why they behave the way they do. There are two components to this data.
- The first is statistical. Website flow tracking and content download trends, both available from a marketing automation tool like HubSpot, are two key areas to review. Reactions to your social media efforts (new followers, likes, etc.) should also be evaluated.
- The second is anecdotal. Data is important, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Did an email recipient fail to respond because the content wasn’t relevant to his needs? Because he had been emailed too often and was irritated? Or because although the content was excellent, he was simply overwhelmed with tasks when he received it? The only way to answer these questions is to reach out to your prospects and customers.
Creating Your Map
Customer journey maps can take any form that makes sense to your organization. Often they are produced as infographics. However you choose to portray the path, the key is to make it easy to understand how people move from being prospects to customers, and what factors are involved in making that transition most efficient and effective. Be honest about your challenges as well. If the path gets a little bumpy in spots, be sure to note that. You can then focus your efforts on smoothing out those areas.
To get the most value from the time and energy you invest in creating the map, you should make it widely available. Everyone in your company has an impact on the customer journey in one form or another. Seeing that impact depicted visually helps each staff member keep the importance of their role top of mind.
Need some guidance in creating your customer journey map?