If there's one piece of advice every marketer swears by, it's "think like your customer".
And they aren't wrong!
A company’s customers are its most important asset, and creating products and services that aim to solve customer's needs should be a company's most important business objective.
However, when it comes to marketing campaigns and advertising efforts, many of these strategies go unnoticed because of one reason. The company, while designing its campaigns, and by extension, its product or service, does not put itself in its customer's shoes. More specifically, teams fail to understand how a lead moves from one stage of the sales cycle to the next — and why some touch-points convert better than others.
This is where Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) comes in.
As per definition, Customer Journey Mapping is creating a representation of customer interactions with a company. The more accurate and granular your CJM efforts are, the better you will be able to understand your customers, what they're looking for, and whether they're convinced enough by your brand's products to make a successful purchase.
A customer journey map involves elements that may look simple and low-effort at first glance, but involve lots of sharp research and groundwork.
To better explain this, let's take the example of a sustainable clothing brand, EcoFashion. The marketing team at EcoFashion has identified the need for a robust CJM and conducts research across various brand touchpoints.
P.S. Touchpoints are points in a customer's journey where they come in contact with marketing efforts by a brand, such as an email campaign, pop-up ad on social media, cold call, or billboard.
They identify 3 main elements of a CJM -
Identifying the different stages that a customer goes through while opting for a brand's products is essential for marketing efforts targeting to hook in customers as per their needs, and the brand's goals.
Stage 1: Awareness
Stage 2: Consideration
Stage 3: Engagement
Stage 4: Purchase/Transaction
Stage 5: Retention
For example, in the very first stage of the customer journey, the brand wishes to create a noticeable brand presence, something that the customer will keep in mind the next time they shop for clothes. They opt for billboards with a powerful message, one that urges a viewer to opt for more sustainable clothing options. If this touchpoint is effective, the customer moves down the sales funnel onto Stage 2.
Another example -
For the last stage, retention, the brand's goal is to ensure continuing purchases by their customer. The customer's need is to find a brand that they can rely on for the long term. Email newsletters, loyalty points, exclusive early access to products, etc, all work towards retaining a customer.
Pro Tip: Personalization is more important than you think it is.
Over 70% of buyers feel frustrated when their customer experience is impersonal and one-size-fits-all in its approach.
Creating buyer personas is the best way to understand your audience better, and chart efforts that are personalized, well-targeted, and boost sales traffic in the long run.
A thumb rule that one must follow - every buyer persona undergoes a different experience while considering a brand's product or service. Creating separate customer journey maps for every persona is the best way to drive more engagement, and boost marketing efforts.
Here's an example of a customer journey map made for a buyer persona.
The only way a brand can ensure their target audience's successful conversion to that of a buyer is to visualize the entire journey, identify gaps and leaks in their marketing funnel, and work towards fixing the overall consumer experience.
The biggest make-or-break factor of customer journey maps is how well a brand identifies its audience's feelings and actions at each stage of the funnel/each touchpoint.
Here's an example of how one can identify the customer's emotions, and fix their overall sales process to ensure the customer is not weary, frustrated, or angry with their decision to opt for a particular brand. Is the customer weary after visiting your home page and leaving the site before checking out your "About" or "Products" page? If yes, it's time to optimize your home page and website copy.
CX, or Customer Experience, is the greatest determiner of brand success. The happier and more satisfied your clients are, the better your products perform, bringing in more revenue, through repeated purchases, as well as new leads, thanks to word-of-the-mouth marketing by your current customers to their network.
Mapping out the customer's journey, right from their engagement with a touchpoint to their experience after purchase, along with their goals, needs, and emotions at every stage of the journey is key to understanding your customers better.
Customer experience is inversely proportional to the number of hassles and glitches they face as a potential buyer for your brand, and directly proportional to how smooth the entire process is.
Building a customer-centric company is the best investment one can make, and creating customer journey maps is the best way to make sure your customers are all smiles!
Marketing can be a tricky field to navigate, especially if one doesn't have their customer's needs in mind while creating campaigns and marketing goals.
Customer journey maps ensure optimal use of your marketing efforts, because of the detailed analysis of the customer process that it provides. Instead of combing through the entire funnel, trying to figure out where a campaign went wrong, one can simply refer to a customer journey map, and work on the stages that show low customer engagement and satisfaction, and large drops in the number of users that enter the next stage of the funnel.
Put simply, the better you understand your target audience, the more effective your marketing effort will be.
While it may look easier to chart just one type of CJM, the key is to know the different types of maps and use them according to your campaign needs. Below is a short guide to the 3 most commonly-used types of CJ maps -
Here are a few steps you can follow while designing a Customer Journey Map from scratch.
The key to building a robust customer journey map is by asking for lots of feedback from your customers, as well as the customer experience team. Make sure to ask specific questions such as
These questions provide answers that are much needed while figuring out customer pain points, preferences, and steps that can be taken to improve overall CX, all by creating a CJM
If you design a customer journey, you must explore it yourself, through the eyes of a customer. Built a new payment gateway? Test-order a product yourself. Designed a new website? Explore all the sections of the site (on different devices and network speeds) yourself. Released a new product demo or discussion forum? Invite your team to test it out and give feedback.
Once you design a CJM, you must make it a point to optimize it at regular intervals. A stagnant CJM fails to provide insights that you wish to obtain from your latest campaigns, ad efforts, and customer engagement efforts. Revisiting and optimizing your CJM on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis is the best way to ensure an updated, seamless CJM.
Ever wondered how much relative value each of your marketing touchpoints holds while working towards customer acquisition? Enter attribution. Factors' attribution model assigns a certain amount of relative importance to each of your touchpoints, such as your banner ads on search engines, organic reach through company blogs, social media marketing campaigns, or referral programs, to name a few.
This attribution helps marketing teams study and understand which touchpoint is making the most amount of impact on their target audience, and by extension, contributing the most to the brand's sales funnel.
Using attribution, one can understand which efforts yield the best results, and which sections in the CJM need work and possibly more investment.
The "People" feature helps visualize the customer journey for the brand in a seamless, clean, visual manner, to help marketing teams and professionals better understand the amount of time their audience spends with each of their touchpoints.
Is your audience spending more time on the blog page, and then immediately going on to schedule a demo for your product? If so, it may be time to scale up your blog efforts.
Understanding what your target audience spends the most time on, and understanding their journey from one point to another is an extremely useful tool to craft a leak-proof CJM.
One of the most helpful features for a marketing professional designing a customer journey map, the "Funnels" section helps them craft a unique funnel, one that can be customized to study customer behavior across various pages on the company's website, or stages of their marketing campaign.
This feature is particularly useful while reverse-engineering new strategies. For example, if one notices that a higher number of visitors schedule a demo after reading a blog on a certain topic than visitors who visit a blog on another topic, they can form hypotheses for their upcoming blog posts and utilize the maximum amount of website traffic according to the insights this feature provides.
In a nutshell, "know thy customer" is the most important piece of advice a marketer must keep in mind, especially when designing a customer journey map. A CJM is an excellent way to integrate efforts across sales, marketing, and product teams to better understand their target audience, its needs, and wants, and create an experience that is beneficial to both the customer and the company.
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