By Laia Cardona, on 19 May 2021
These days there are many steps and touch points along a typical customer journey. In the past, customers usually saw a few ads for a product or service, perhaps requested more information, and then made a purchase. Now, a typical customer journey can begin on Instagram, continue on Facebook Messenger, and go well past a sale with loyalty programs and trainings. For many brands, understanding how, why, and where customers interact with them can be quite a challenge.
Here we’ll define what a customer journey is, how to map a customer’s journey and the benefits it can offer when formulating and assessing your marketing plan.
What Is a Customer Journey?
A customer journey is defined as all the exposures and interactions a customer has with your brand from the first to the last. As mentioned, this can be across many different platforms. Today’s customer expects to have a cohesive brand experience and receive real-time, or at the very least, highly responsive support. In fact, 80% of customers consider their experience with a brand as important as its products.
So how can you deliver a consistent and compelling brand experience across devices and platforms along the whole trajectory of a customer’s journey?
What Is a Customer Journey Map?
A customer journey map is a depiction of all the possible steps a user might take on their journey with your brand. Having a customer journey map allows you to clearly understand and share the process with others. This map also helps make sure you’re not dropping the ball with a poor experience at any touchpoint. Additionally, a map can assist in discovering customer pain points and providing the right personalized message at the right time. Here are a few possible steps a customer might have on their journey.
A potential customer might first be exposed to your band while scrolling through Instagram. It could be a giveaway, an influencer collaboration or a product spot. What is their action now? Maybe they tap your profile and browse more of your Instagram content. Maybe they then click the link in your profile and go to your landing page, but then leave without taking further action.
Let’s say this same potential customer remembers your brand a week later and searches for you on Google. Now they visit your website and look for the product that initially caught their attention on Instagram. Next, they consider the product but the price is a bit high for them. They interact with your live chatbot and their questions are answered. They close the tab. Then your exit intent pop-up appears and offers them a discount in exchange for their email. This is another step on their customer journey.
Now that customer receives your email with a coupon code. Still, they don’t take action. The next week they receive your newsletter which features a link to your YouTube channel with a video highlighting the same product. They watch the video and finally decide that they want and need your product. Clicking over to your website from YouTube, they buy your product. You send them a thank you email which also contains valuable content about that product and perhaps exclusive deals as well as the opportunity to join your rewards program.
The new customer signs up for your loyalty program and makes another purchase. Now they’re earning points and have access to exclusive content and other benefits like 24/7 support.
From that first exposure on Instagram to your loyalty program, the customer has experienced the same branding and level of service and quality throughout. Your links and images weren’t broken, your chatbot was responsive and your emails weren’t pushy. At each step, the customer had a positive experience and was guided (not pushed) towards a purchase.
Benefits of Mapping the Customer Journey
The above chain of touchpoints could be more or less the typical customer journey. Based on this, a customer journey map could be drawn up. At each step, you can break down the possible actions a customer might take and why. These can be based on your different buyer personas which are segmented by age, location, interests, etc. For each persona there are typical actions and the corresponding responses from your brand. There are a number of software solutions which can automate your customer experience marketing. Let’s explore the benefits of mapping your customers’ journeys and delivering a memorable experience.
Refine and Optimize Your Marketing
Creating and using a customer journey map helps pinpoint customer pain points as well as where they might be dropping off. Having that visual or map of all your active touchpoints and what actions a user might take, combined with data of what’s actually happening, means you can create highly personalized omnichannel experiences. These insights also help you develop and shift towards an inbound marketing type of approach. With some time and tweaking you will have developed a well-oiled marketing machine that delivers each and every time.
Improve Customer Retention
Keeping existing customers is much cheaper than acquiring new ones. It’s also the key to sustainable business growth and profitability. If you can give your customers a consistent experience all the way through their customer journey you create loyalty and trust. Business is all about building relationships and having integrity, but so many companies fail to do that. Creating your customer journey map and developing your marketing based on a customer first ethos will naturally create more trust. A rewards or loyalty program then allows you to keep delivering value after a sale is made and encourages engagement and future sales.
Increase Engagement, Grow Your Following and Get More Conversions
By creating a customer journey map and really understanding how and why your customers interact with you, you will begin to see improvements all around. Personalized messaging leads to more user engagement on social channels and on your site. Engagement, like users sharing your content, leads to more followers. Both of these create momentum and interest that delivers more sign ups and sales.
A customer journey map is a blueprint that helps you gain a deeper understanding of what motivates your customers’ actions. This is knowledge that you absolutely want to have! What makes people buy and what drives them away? Are you delivering the right message at the right time to the right buyer? Having a better grasp of a customer journey is key to your inbound marketing plan and attracting qualified leads who then become loyal customers.