The path to purchase may still revolve around some key stages, but the digital customer’s journey, and in fact the overall customer journey itself, has changed dramatically.
Consumers today are using multiple devices to learn, compare, share, consume and make purchasing decisions. Increasingly, the user experience and customer journey spans a number of touchpoints, from websites to review sites and social media, with every single experience impacting a consumer’s decision.
But just as the journey becomes more fragmented, consumers continue to demand consistency.
They expect companies to know who they are and what information they need, regardless of where and how the interaction takes place.
This is why more and more marketers are investing in consumer journey mapping to help identify opportunities like these.
These maps provide a detailed overview of the customer experience and how people interact with a brand at every touchpoint. But how do they help brands in real terms? We’ve highlighted six ways…
1. It helps you create more tailored experiences.
By mapping all the potential interactions and customer touchpoints that a person may have with a brand, marketers can design more effective, tailored customer experiences, while getting a better measurement of campaign effectiveness.
Detailed customer journey mapping also reduces the risk of overlooking individual customers, niche audiences or shoppers who have not taken the next step in the path in the sales funnel to purchase.
For creative agencies like AnalogFolk and Southpaw, consumer journey maps based on reliable data are valuable insights that were vital to paint an accurate yet clear picture of your consumers and create a digital experience that reflects that.
“Not only do the clients love to see these journeys, it helps everyone from the creatives to ourselves in planning to better understand our audiences”, says Sharmin Rashed, Junior Strategist at AnalogFolk.
2. It places the focus on building empathy.
Today’s personas are rich with behavioral, attitudinal and perceptions data together with the more traditional demographic information. By putting these different user groups into detailed personas at the core of your consumer maps, marketers can build empathy with their consumers – helping them to understand their mindsets, their perceptions and their motivations to better predict future behavior.
Airbnb is one brand that consistently places the focus on building empathy. Co-Founder and CPO Joe Gebbia explains how the team use storyboarding to consistently put their consumers at the heart of their strategy.
“We embarked on an ambitious project to map the entire guest and host terrain of Airbnb and we did it through illustration”, he says.
“We looked at key emotional moments of the customer journey and we drew them. We visualized them.”
“It has allowed our entire company to achieve a whole new level of empathy with our customers. “
3. It guides consumers towards purchase.
Ultimately, the aim of any marketing strategy is to move customers from awareness and consideration towards multiple routes to purchase, improving conversion rate overall. But every persona requires a different approach to every stage.
A customer buying unfamiliar technology may require a lot of information before they’re happy to take the next step, while a well-versed iphone enthusiast will move through the process a lot quicker.
Mapping enables marketers to harness a deeper understanding of people’s minds, understanding which stage each buyer is at, and what they need to move towards conversion.
Not only is this information helpful to guide your marketing team, but equally for the wider business to ensure the right message is always delivered to the right person, at the right time.
4. It identifies the critical touchpoints.
Putting yourself in your customer’s shoes helps you to understand them on another level and enables a business to plan its communications to match.
A good customer journey map template will identify which touchpoints are needed to help achieve those consumer-centric goals and customer needs, whether in-store via customer-facing staff, on the phone, via a website, customer service, or via website and digital strategies such as a brand’s YouTube channel, for example.
Every customer touchpoint presents an important opportunity to connect and engage with the customer’s experience both in the short term and long term, but some are more critical than others.
These ‘moments of truth’ are key milestones on any customer journey. For Joe Portman, Junior Strategist at Analog Folk, in-depth audience data is key to revealing these moments of truth:
“We don’t just use GlobalWebIndex within the strategy team – We could do some research into our consumers and pass that information on to the customer experience team who could create a detailed map plotted around this, outlining their pain points, their key moments of the day etc.
This is a really great use of the data and shows how audience insights bring value to an entire business, and not just one team.”
5. It helps identify the buying stages that need more attention.
A customer journey map is founded on real customer data such as website analytics, allowing marketers to continuously monitor their audiences and analyze their behavior.
This data can be used to validate or create customer journey maps and establish how long each stage of the buying cycle takes to be successful.
Are certain stages taking much longer than others for example, causing irritation to customers and preventing leads from converting?
By using audience insights to identify the areas that need more attention, you can dedicate more time and content to the right stages and deliver a consumer experience that really works.
6. It guides business objectives in the right direction.
Any gaps that emerge across the entire customer journey, from one end of the sales funnel to the other, can help to guide wider business decision-making and investment.
The journey map creates a framework, urging colleagues and departments to work together to improve the company’s overall performance and identify primary audiences via analytical research.
This helps outline to those outside the marketing team (such as internal stakeholders and front-line staff) why certain actions have been prioritized over others. It also helps to break down organizational silos and get the whole company focused on meeting the expectations and needs of their various target audiences.
The journey maps of every brand are as varied as their customers.
Inevitably there will be significant differences from one organization to another – even between direct competitors – whether due to varied business models, company structures or competitive strategies.
But one truth prevails above all: the most successful consumer journey maps are rooted in reliable data that reflects real people.