Mapping Your Customer’s Journey
There’s an old school of thought that says businesses need to insert themselves into people’s lives in order to be seen. It’s called interruption marketing. Businesses are interrupting a person’s life to talk about their product.
Today’s buyers are smarter than that and businesses are too. In today’s world, consumers challenge businesses to enter the picture at the right time and in the right place. To do that requires knowing and understanding what the buyer is going through and how they’re making a purchase. It’s about knowing the customer’s journey.
What is a Customer Journey?
The customer journey is the path they take from start to finish when deciding to buy from your business. This journey tends to happen in four core stages—awareness, consideration, acquisition, and engagement.
The starting point is when they first become aware of a need. This awareness is often triggered by a pain point or struggle that requires a solution. It’s at that point that they turn to your industry for help.
As they start to dig into the various options available to them to solve their pain point, they will move into the consideration phase. It’s in this phase that they’re comparing and contrasting your business against competitors trying to decide which company to buy from.
Once the customer decides to buy from you, they enter the acquisition phase. It’s during this phase that they take out their credit card and make their purchase.
Their journey with your business lasts long after they make their purchase. This part of their lifecycle with your company is known as the engagement phase. It’s where they’re engaged with your business as they reach a resolution. It’s also during this phase that you cultivate loyalty by deepening the relationship with your company.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map takes each of these areas and maps them out from start to finish. Below each stage of the journey, you are able to identify what’s happening during that stage and create a roadmap of their path to purchase.
There are many components you can include as you document what’s happening on the journey from awareness to engagement but they all tend to boil down to two things: where is a person interacting with the business, what device a person is using, and how is the person experiencing at that point of interaction.
Within each stage of the customer’s journey, they will interact with your business in several locations. For example, in the awareness stage, the person might “touch” or encounter your business on social media through an ad, in a search result, or on your website. During the consideration phase, the person might touch your business in an email, on your social media profiles, in a brick-and-mortar store, or again, on your website.
As you’re creating your customer journey map, document the most common places a person sees or engages with your business at each stage of their path-to-purchase from you.
We live in a multi-screen world where we look at our smartphones while watching television or look at our computer screen with a TV screen in the background. The device we use directly impacts how we perceive the world around us and how we engage with the businesses we encounter. By understanding which device a person is using at each stage of the journey, you can better understand where and how to interact with your customer, increasing the chances of them buying from you.
The experience part of your customer journey map is sometimes called an empathy map. This is what the person is thinking, feeling, saying, or doing at each stage along the way. By outlining how a person is feeling at each stage, you can get a better idea of what their struggles are and how your business can solve that for them. It makes your communications clearer and more powerful every step of the way.
Some customer journey maps also include a customer experience score. This score is difficult to calculate because it takes into consideration so many qualitative metrics, such as opinions, thoughts, and feelings. It can be done with the inclusion of in-depth metrics and analytics, but that requires heavy data science and research, so it’s often left off the customer journey map entirely.
Creating Your Customer Journey Map
As you start to outline your customer journey map, break your customer’s journey out into the four main stages. Then, drill down in each stage to uncover where people are looking and what they’re experiencing at each stage. By outlining this, you can get a better idea of what your buyers need along their path to purchasing from you.