Customers are complex. What drives them? What bothers them? What encourages them? And what convinces them to choose you over your competitors? Without a clear framework in place, answers to these questions remain nuanced and theoretical.
Here’s where customer journey mapping can help.
A customer journey map visualizes the entire customer experience with your company — from awareness to deal won, and sheds light onto why your customers behave the way they do at every stage of the sales cycle.
As we will see, customer journey mapping proves to be beneficial in acquiring more customers, faster — and retaining them for longer durations of time.
Here’s what this guide to customer journey mapping covers:
Especially in B2B deals, customers rarely make purchase decisions on an impulse. Instead, they spend significant time identifying pain-points, researching solutions, comparing alternatives, and freeing up budgets before finally becoming paying customers.
Customer journey mapping can be defined as the visualization of interactions that a buyer has with a company across the entire sales cycle — from awareness to deal won to retention. Customer journey mapping provides valuable insights to refine the overall customer experience, drive conversions, and improve customer retention rates.
In short, the customer journey map encapsulates this buyer experience. This journey can be broadly divided into: pre-conversion, onboarding, and post-conversion.
Each of these segments can be further broken down into granular customer touchpoints that the marketing, sales, customer success, and product team are responsible for.
There’s no one right way to go about customer journey mapping. But at its core, customer journey mapping works by consolidating and visualizing an otherwise complex, non-linear sales cycle.
With this framework, go-to-market teams can identify how customers behave, what their preferences are at each stage of the sales cycle, and what helps or hurts conversions.
As you might have guessed, plotting this customer journey map involves compiling data from a wide range of touch points across the sales cycle.
Without the right tools and techniques, tracking these touch-points across channels, campaigns, offline events, website, CRM and more can be a daunting task. More on how Factors.ai can ease this process later.
While every business involves its own unique customer journey, a few key elements remain constant across the board. Here’s a breakdown of what you should look to include in your customer journey map.
Firstly, connect the dots between relevant data sources across campaigns, website, MAPs and CRM. This is to understand where your customers are coming from and how they’re engaging with your brand across the sales cycle.
The average B2B sales cycle can be broken down into the following stages:
Based on the data collected from the previous point, gauge how customers behave at different stages of the sales cycle.
Let’s say that the data suggests that during the awareness stage, buyers look to learn more about the problem they’re facing. At this stage, educational material such as ebooks or webinars may be more relevant to customers as compared to bottom of the funnel material such as comparison articles or case-studies.
B2B deals tend to be perceived as unemotional, objective transactions. However, at the end of the day, B2B businesses still sell to people — buyers and users — within a business. Accordingly, it’s important to consider the sentiment of leads and buyers during every stage of the customer journey.
For instance, the problem-awareness stage may involve frustration or confusion that we should look to minimize with useful content and personalized outreach. The solution-decision stage may involve feelings of relief or happiness which should be maximized with reliable customer support and relevant documentation.
Carrying on from the previous point: For any negative sentiment, there’s probably a pain-point or problem behind it. Identifying these pain-points at various stages of the customer journey will help create pointed, relevant customer experiences that look to solve user problems.
As previously mentioned, we can look to solve challenges and paint-points along the customer journey to reduce or eliminate any points of friction. This will ensure smooth sales conversions.
Creating a customer journey map, especially without the right tools, can be an unintuitive and daunting task. Why then should businesses care to go through all this effort?
The overarching reason for B2B teams to create customer journey maps is because of its positive impact on customer experience, conversion, and retention. Breaking down the customer journey into broad stages with individual objectives simplifies, and ultimately improves, an otherwise convoluted customer journey.
Here are a few specific ways in which customer journey mapping benefits the customer experience, which in turn benefits your businesses’ bottom line metrics.
Customer journey mapping helps identify how different messaging, content, topics and themes resonate with your target audience. While marketers tend to have a hunch about this, qualifying a hypothesis with data helps scale efforts confidently.
Targeting a broad audience isn’t effective or scalable in the long run. Customer journey mapping sheds light onto which customers are actually interested in the value of your product. This helps refine the characteristics of ideal customer profiles and allows marketing teams to go after targeted, high-intent audiences.
The customer journey map charts a course all the way into the product and its end-users. This provides valuable insights into who the product is helping most, and how it’s helping them.
With this end-to-end view of the customer journey, it’s clear to see where to improve the customer experience, even within the product. This is invaluable information given that a third of Americans consider switching to an alternative after a single poor experience.
Ultimately, improving the customer experience means improving customer retention. Which in turn lends itself to stronger pipeline and up-selling opportunities.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of creating a customer journey map from scratch.
The first step is to determine why you’re constructing a customer journey map. What’s the objective? Whose customer experience are you looking to improve? Based on this information, define 1-3 hypothetical buyer personas that represent your ideal customer profile.
Buyer personas should be based on a combination of firmographic features like industry, revenue, and headcount as well as user-specific characteristics like role, department, tech-stack, etc.
After defining your hypothetical “perfect customer”, it’s time to survey your actual prospects and buyers. This is mainly to close the gap, if any, between how you believe your customers think and how they actually think.
Here are a few questions to ask prospects and customers:
While asking customers where they found us and how they like our product is all well and good — it’s rarely sufficient. For one, B2B sales cycles last several weeks, if not months. It’s hardly fair to expect customers to remember the exact social media post that drove them to your website.
For another, subjective interviews are often riddled with bias and leading questions. To avoid inaccuracies in data, it's crucial to independently track touch-points across campaigns, websites, MAPs, CRM, and other relevant sources for objective analytics. With this, we can find answers to questions like:
Consider the sentiment, pain-points, and solutions that are associated with every customer action in order to understand motivations and tailor marketing efforts efficiently.
For example, if a page on “Identifying website visitors” seems to be driving a lot of conversions, this may be a pressing pain-point or use-case to your audience. In this case, tailoring outbound efforts and organic social with more content on visitor identification may be fruitful.
So far, we’ve defined who we want to sell to, identified what current customers are thinking, and tracked how these customers are interacting with our brand.
Based on this goldmine of information, we receive a rough idea as to how we can better allocate resources. For instance, maybe mapping out this data reveals that webinars seem to perform disproportionately better than paid social at driving high-intent visitors.
Alternatively, this customer mapping exercise may also reveal a dearth in specific tools that could help accelerate sales velocity – email automation, customer service management, etc.
The reallocation of resources that follows these insights will ultimately result in the first iteration of the customer journey map. A design that encapsulates who your ideal buyers are and the ideal path they’ll take to become paying customers.
At this stage, we’ve crunched a whole lot of customer data and allocated resources to optimize the customer journey. But this is just one half of the puzzle. Analyzing and iterating based on real-life results is crucial to the success of a customer journey map.
Look to answer questions like:
This is where the customer journey map graduates from theory to practice.
Using learnings from the analyses of the customer journey, run a wide range of experiments to test specific hypotheses at every stage of the sales cycle.
Perhaps reworking ad copies, repositioning CTAs on the website, investing in a customer service tool, updating the onboarding flow result in improved customer experience and conversions.
Rather than relying on intuition or guesswork, use the customer journey map to identify and iterate on strengths and limitations with data-driven insights.
Ideally, the customer journey map should be revised every month or quarter to stay aligned with every-changing customer behavior.
In short, a customer journey map considers every measurable interaction that a customer has with your business from awareness to consumption. A user experience map, on the other hand, only considers how customers use the actual end product.
It’s important to distinguish between the two because, especially in B2B deals, the buyer is often different from the end-user. While there’s generally significant overlap between the two concepts, user experience is a subset of customer experience.
For example, a CMO reads a blog and attends a demo through a website before purchasing your software for her content marketing team. While the CMO might be thoroughly impressed with the material she’s interacted with, the content marketing team may actually be disappointed with the software.
While a customer journey map will consider this case end-to-end, a user experience map will only highlight the limited usage of the software by this content marketing team.
Here are four ways in which Factors.ai can help map out your customer journey:
Factors unifies customer journey data across campaigns, website, and CRM to present an interactive timeline of touchpoints at a user and account level. This is an especially powerful tool for account-based marketing teams to track how users from their target accounts are progressing through the sales cycle.
Factors uses industry-leading IP-look up technology to identify up to 64% of anonymous website visitors — even without a contact form submission. This provides valuable insights into which accounts are visiting your website and how they’re interacting with pages and content.
This firmographic and intent-data helps shape the buyer personas for your customer journey map as it sheds lights onto how different types of companies interact differently with your brand.
As previously mentioned, measuring the right touchpoints and tying it back to revenue manually is, to say the least, a chore. Multi-touch attribution on Factors helps connect the dots between conversions and pre-conversion touchpoints. Compare a range of attribution models based on the nature of your business to quantify the impact of marketing effort on pipeline and revenue.
Path analysis is similar to timelines in that it provides an intuitive visualization of various accounts and users traveling through different paths along the customer journey. The difference is that path analysis reflects aggregated user behavior rather than a specific account’s journey.
This is helpful when testing hypotheses, running experiments, or gauging customer behavior on a larger scale.
And there you have it! A complete guide to customer journey mapping — and how Factors.ai can help construct your customer journey map. Interested to learn more about Factors? Book a personalized demo today!
Get the latest best practices in Marketing Analytics
delivered to your inbox. You don't want to miss this!!