3 Tips for Mapping the Customer Journey


by Ellen Valentine

Use these three insights for visualizing, designing and mapping out the customer journey in order to effectively increase engagement across multiple channels and platforms.

The way customers engage with brands has changed. Customers no longer move from point A to point B in a linear fashion. There are many twists, turns, and hiccups along the journey. As marketers, we must adapt to this.

How do you move from pushing out campaigns in your own time frame to a more “customer first” approach? Is it possible to consistently create perfect moments by meeting customers at each stage in their journey to present the best content, at the right time, on the most appropriate channel?

A customer journey, or a buyer journey, is all of the steps a prospective customer goes through to engage with a company as they consider a product or service. Every step and all interactions a potential customer experiences are part of their customer journey. The ideal result is that as a brand or company, you offer a unique, helpful, frictionless experience for your buyers. Mapping the journey, as well as all of its possible pit stops, is essential to marketing success. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Remember: Everyone Is Different

For most of us, our businesses, customers, and potential customers are not identical. Different people take radically different paths when contemplating solutions, making selections, and following through with purchases. The same people may also consider other product sets that are made by the same company in different ways. Even though individuals are unique, the exercise of discussing and formulating a map reflective of your customers’ journeys will help your team see the common stages and processes that they go through while interacting with your brand.

2. Enter: Customer Journey Mapping

Once you begin to do a detailed analysis of your company’s customer journey, you will probably find it easiest to summarize all of the possible interactions into a customer journey map: a handy visual representation of all of the steps and stages that customers and prospects experience.

This is where buyer personas come in. Using your personas and buyer interview details, begin to outline both an “as is” state of the customers’ journeys. Also, include a desired view of what you and your buyers would like this journey to be for users. If different personas experience your brand in unique ways, you may want to construct different customer journey maps for each one.

3. The True Customer Journey: A Multichannel Experience

Think of yourself as a consumer. All of the technology we interact with and use daily could potentially be used in each one of our own purchase decisions. Consider facilitating a customer journey that is able to accommodate multichannel interactions.

Don’t leave legacy methods like phone calls and direct mail behind; these avenues can be stalwarts in delivering a great customer journey. Other channels involved could include your website, smartphone apps, social media, engaging content in the form of an eBook or blog, an in-store visit, and a stadium visit. When designing your customer journey, it is important to keep in mind that the more channels you are able to effectively integrate, the more you will be able to oblige the varying preferences and diverse needs of customers.

Fortunately, there are tools available, like IBM’s Journey Designer, that help simplify the customer journey mapping process. Remember to loop in organizations outside the marketing department, such as customer support or e-commerce, to ensure you’re accounting for every single interaction a customer has with your brand. Visualizing and designing the customer journey will prime your business for success.