46 Marketing Pros and Customer Experience Experts Reveal the Most Important Considerations for Businesses When Getting Started with Customer Journey Mapping

Customer journey mapping is an important step in gaining an understanding of how your prospects and customers interact with your company from the initial contact to engagement, purchase, and beyond. But in the age of digital media, there are myriad channels through which a prospect can be introduced to a new business, various points through which they can engage and interact with companies, and even multiple means for purchasing products or services in some cases. That makes customer journey mapping all the more important, because the path to purchase is no longer a simple, straight road.

But what should you know if you’re embarking on customer journey mapping for the first time? If you’re not an experienced pro at mapping the customer journey, the process can become overwhelming, and you might end up with a customer journey map that falls short of painting the full picture – and building a successful customer journey map is vital to keeping customers happy.

To help you become a mapping master, we reached out to a panel of marketing professionals and customer experience experts and asked them to lend their expertise by weighing in on this question:

“What do businesses need to take into consideration when getting started with customer journey mapping?”

Meet Our Panel of Marketing and Customer Experience Experts:

·         Sean Martin

·         Aaron Norris

·         Leslie Handmaker

·         Jennifer Martin

·         Gene Caballero

·         Swapnil Bhagwat

·         Leigh Dow

·         Keith Johnstone

·         Vanya Babanin

·         Michael Steinberg

·         Shep Hyken

·         Lisa Custer

·         Victor Clarke

·         Ling Wong

·         Angela Zade

·         Chip Bell

·         Mark Paetz

·         Kevin Sides

·         Melanie Guinn

·         Becca Le Blond

·         Mark Smith

·         Larissa Pickens

·         Shahara Wright

·         Daniel Davidson

·         Pete Abilla

·         Bob Clary

·         David Scarola

·         Shay Namdarian

·         Meryl K. Evans

·         Jacob Dayan

·         Haley Gong

·         Elena Lockett

·         David Weaver

·         Jessica Thiele

·         Christopher Antonopolous

·         Evan Harris

·         Alex Reichmann

·         Steve Pritchard

·         Amy Kilvington

·         Khalid Saleh

·         David Freund

·         Braxton Wood

·         Steve Mintz

·         James Thomas

·         Brooke Kelly

·         Sunil Thomas

Find out what our experts had to say below about what you need to know to effectively map your customers’ journey.

Sean Martin

@DirectiveAgency

Sean is the Marketing Manager at Directive Consulting.

“The best tip I have for mapping customer journeys is…”

To start tracking the amount of time users are spending on the specific posts you are tracking via different channels and platforms. For example, if you have a webinar on YouTube and a transcribed blog post on your own website, see which one generates longer view time and stronger engagement. With omni-channel traffic coming from all different types of venues, you need to know how to optimize towards the channels that are producing the most sales qualified leads and actual revenue.

Aaron Norris

@aaronnorris

Aaron is the Vice President of The Norris Group.

“Customer mapping should happen every year…”

The customer journey has gotten more and more complex with social media channels and the proliferation of noise. We were one of Microsoft’s first small businesses to adopt CRM in the cloud. The purpose of going to hosted CRM was for cloud backup, succession planning, and to better track how customers were entering into our systems. I have three very distinct funnels and not all came in through internet channels. We needed on place to track activity. At the end of the day, we wanted to uncover conversions and where they came from exactly.

So, things businesses need to consider:

1. Solid benchmarking: Have systems in place to make certain your capturing the data correctly. Example: we spend tons of money on paid ads. How are we bifurcating that traffic next to SEO and our content marketing strategies so we can see what is really working.

2. Regular review: I build it into my annual review in the Spring in my off season. Five year ago, we had given up 26 weekends to speak at a number of state and national events. I was shocked to find that live events were third in line when it came to conversions. It was higher on direct leads, but those that actually did business with us came from two very different sources. I was able to save our weekends with no drop-in conversions the following year. We focused more attention and energy on what was really working.

3. Optimize: When you’re able to figure out what strategies are working, the final goal for me is figuring out how to get them down the funnel faster. What service or something special can I do to turn them into raving fans and clients faster. The old adage is that it takes seven impressions for a consumer to make a buying decision is dated. Some experts are now claiming it’s three times that amount because of distraction and noise. We never really have a prospects complete attention.

The above mainly focuses on prospect mapping but that of a customer can be even more crucial, especially in the age of social media. We survey our customers constantly and build into our CRM work flows opportunities to engage with each client four times per year. It’s about building strong relationships.

Leslie Handmaker 

Leslie Handmaker is a digital marketer based out of Denver, CO.

“Marketers should first understand…”

What the pain points are for their customers and what influences their purchase decisions. Once these are identified content can be categorized into one of the stages in the funnel: Consider, Evaluate, Buy, Post-Purchase, and Bond. If there are gaps in the content, new content can be created to align with the appropriate stage. Content in the Consider and Evaluate stages should be optimized for organic search to bring in new site visitors. Lastly, each piece of content should have a strong call to action to get the user deeper into the funnel.

Jennifer Martin 

@ZestBizCoach

Jennifer Martin is a 5-time business owner, a Business Coach, the Founder of Zest Business Consulting and author of the upcoming book, Loving Your Business to Wealth. She helps Small Business Owners, Leaders, and Managers understand how to build a thriving profitable businesses and meaningful personal lives while spreading more love in the world.

“Generally the goal of creating a customer journey map is…”

To identify how a customer will interact with you, your team, and your product or service
from their initial interaction through to the end of their relationship. If outlines what I call the customer touchpoints which can in turn be milestones for your sales or customer service representatives and create a system for creating both a scalable and systematized process for providing an excellent customer experience.

A great way to identify all the touchpoints is to bring together your team and talk though all the variables. Will they call or e-mail? Walk into a retail store or experience your company online? Or be contacted by a sales rep? After an initial contact what is the follow up process?

Once you have the basics you’ll create a road map, if you will, showing the route your customers will take to and beyond their purchase with you.

There are a number of ways you can document the process.

1. On paper using mind map tools or box and arrow diagrams.
2. Using your team to identify each step your customer will take and having each person pretend to be a step in the entire process.
3. Using 3 X 5 white cards (like in Story boarding) where each card is placed on the board in chronological order.
4. Via free software like Canvanizer or PowerPoint.

When you are creating your initial journey map you want to make sure, like any newly created or documented system, that you recognize that it is a work in progress and that you (and your team) will be making updates (as necessary) over time.

If the end game is happier customers who buy from you consistently and who become company evangelists, then your journey map will change over time as you learn more about what your ideal clients need or want.

Gene Caballero

@YourGreenPal

Gene is the co-founder of GreenPal, which has been described as Uber for lawn care.

“What a business needs to take into consideration when creating a customer journey map is…”

To pick the easiest tool possible. So much time can be spent on trying to learn how to use the functions and all the bells and whistles. Sign up for the free trial and do a quick overview of how these tool works. If it is too confusing, move on to the next one.

Swapnil Bhagwat

@swapnildigital

Swapnil Bhagwat is Senior Manager – Design & Digital Media, implementing marketing, social, content, digital, web and design strategies for the group companies. He is an MBA graduate with work experience in the US, UK and Europe. Swapnil has worked for more than a decade across a range of businesses for the global markets.

“Customer journey mapping is…”

An effective tracking mechanism that helps marketers identify the exact moments along the consumer’s lifecycle that help customers succeed. The journey goes from attraction, interaction, engagement to finally reach the stage of conversion. Using this information, the marketing experts can allocate precise efforts at those points that can encourage more of them.

However, in order to initiate a viable customer journey mapping, marketers have to get equipped with authentic customer data and identify the specific touch-points for customer interaction along with the precise behavioral stages under which they can categorize the customers. Once they have identified each of these, they can get started with customer journey mapping.

Leigh Dow

@LeighDow

Leigh Dow, CEO of 48 West Agency, has over 25 years of Fortune 100, political, global event, and international technical marketing experience. She tenaciously provides clients with expertise in crafting creative PR and marketing strategies that deliver top-tier placements, engage influencers and significant Return on Marketing Investment. Leigh has received numerous awards for her PR and marketing efforts, including the American Marketing Association 2015 Spectrum Award for her work with Super Bowl Central and a 2016 PRSA Copper Anvil Award for creative event activation.

“There are 4 key things you should consider when entering a customer journey 
mapping exercise…”

  1. Don’t enter the exercise with preconceived notions of what the journey map will show. It may be easy to force data to fit a hypothesis, but do not fall into this trap, because you will miss obtaining an accurate picture of the customer journey.
  2. Prior to the start, identify the goals of your customers when theyinteract with your company. This will help frame their intent andsubsequent journey with you.
  3. Consider identifying customer segments and/or personas and building aunique journey map tied to each group. Depending on your business, eachsegment may have a completely unique and separate journey with your company that will need to be mapped so that you are able to identify all the relevant areas of value and non-value.
  4. This may seem obvious, but customer perspective is critical – youcannot create a successful map in a customer-free vacuum. Make sure youinclude customer input in at least one review phase of your customer journey map to validate your results.


Keith Johnstone

@peaksales

Keith Johnstone is the Marketing Manager of Peak Sales Recruiting, a leading B2B sales recruiting company launched in 2006.

As Marketing Manager, Keith leads all marketing activities and has successfully grown revenue and lead volume every quarter. He plays a key role in driving Peak Sales Recruiting which leads the industry with a success rate 50% higher than the industry average, working with a wide-range of clients including boutique, mid-size and world-class companies including P&G, Gartner, Deloitte, Merck, Taser and others.

“A customer journey map sounds simple…”

Build a diagram that illustrates the steps each customer segment goes through when engaging with your company, be it a product, intangible solution, online or retail experience. However, marketers, sales leaders, and customer success executives often only examine the activities, questions, and barriers end-users have along the sales funnel. They neglect to include the motivators – those emotions and feelings every customer has to keep them advancing through the funnel. Motivators are an especially important stage in the customer journey since many journeys are non-linear – different variables such as price, peer groups, or religious factors can influence a consumer to either jump journey stages or remain in one for an extended period of time.

The time that each customer spends at each stage of the journey is another critical factor business leaders need to consider when building their journey maps. Time plays a critical role because it influences what marketing and sales activities take place during each stage, which significantly impacts go-to-market strategies and budgets.

Vanya Babanin

@vanya_babanin

Vanya Babanin is reputation and brand management consultant in Central Eastern Europe, regional lead for Bulgaria of the European Association of Communication Directors and honorary professor in brand management at New Bulgarian University. Large experience with multinational brands like Mercedes-Benz. academic background (PhD MarCom & Semiotics, Master Economics, Master PR).

“Here’s what works best for the first customer journey mapping initiative from my point of view…”

Segment your target market and profile every segment. you must map separately for each one of the segments. Remember: the journey does not start or end with the purchase decision. Combine all brand touch points with every single action of the customer – starting with the brand recognition and recall through brand knowledge and ending (a cycle), possibly with customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, or possibly with becoming an ex-customer (and reasons why).

Try to visualize (or at least define) as much as possible about influences and dilemmas on-the-way. Do not take the click traits to use customer journey mapping tools until you have a pretty clear idea of all the steps, touch- and pain-points during the decision and consumption process (possible with visualized interfaces).

Get into as much detail as possible. For insights, use deep interviews with real customers, customers-to-be (but who are not) and ex-customers. If available for your business model, also use online tracking tools and projective technics, such as experience diaries, daily-routine or bubble-fill-in situations.

Stay focused on your main tasks to find out as much as possible for the drivers and pain points, facilitators and obstacles in the process of knowing, consuming and getting attached to your product and service. (It will be helpful if you manage to do so also for your main competitors.)

Michael Steinberg

@Beamium

Michael works in Business Development for Beamium.

“In order to properly map your buyers’ journey…”

You need to understand the exact use case you are aiming for. Especially among new businesses and start-ups, it is common to have various or undefined use cases. This will normally result in an inaccurate buyer`s journey. When you define the exact needs you are covering, you can better understand the awareness, consideration and decision steps your prospects take before purchasing. For us at Beamium, it was really helpful to write specific blog articles that would address each of the steps prospects take until buying a product. It is a useful technic to dive deep into your prospect’s perspective and thus understand the whole process from a 360° point of view.

Shep Hyken

@Hyken

Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling author who works with companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees.

“Many companies create a journey map that focuses on the frontline touch-points…

That’s just the start. Behind most touch-points are impact points that happen behind the scenes. For example, if a passenger checks luggage at the airport, they may deal with the agent at the ticket counter. The passenger watches the agent put the luggage on the conveyer belt. The next time the passenger sees their luggage is at the baggage carrousel at the destination. What the passenger doesn’t see are all of the people who picked up the bag, scanned the tag, put it on a luggage cart, put it on the plane, etc. There were lots of people who potentially impact the touch-points. So, as a journey map is developed, include all of the frontline touch-points as well as all of the impact-points that drive the frontline experience. Done well, you’ll see every department, and therefore every person behind the scenes, has some level of impact on the customer’s experience.

Lisa Custer

@FireflyConsult

Lisa Custer is a Principal at Firefly Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that specializes in innovation and operational excellence and is headquartered in Austin, TX. She has over 25 years of experience in all aspects of process management and continuous improvement.

“Customer journey maps focus design and development efforts with regard to how a customer uses a product or process. Truly understanding…”

The customer’s needs, feelings and emotions is the key to delivering exceptional products, processes and services. Knowing this and uncovering those “aha” moments focuses design teams to deliver that superior customer experience for not only today’s customers, but future customers as well.

Customer journey maps are a visual representation of the interactions of customer with a process or series of processes to deliver a product or service. This map focuses on the touch points of the customer with the process and articulates on what the customer needs are at those touch points. Beyond just needs additional layers of information are added to represent what the customer is feeling or what the customer motivation is at those touch points. From the business standpoint, layers of business needs and technology are added. Having all of the information in one place really benefits the design team develop processes and products, while balancing both voice of customer and voice of business.

Victor Clarke

@clarke_inc

Victor is the Marketing Quarterback for Clarke Inc. He delivers epic marketing truth every day for his clients. Victor provides real solutions for real businesses. If you want the marketing pretty boys, he is not for you.

“There are 6 steps to mapping your customer’s journey…”

  1. Be Helpful

60% of a buyer’s decision is made before they will officially reach out to a sales representative. If you want to connect with them earlier in their “journey” (which is very advisable because it will make the deal easier to close) you cannot start off with a sales conversation. Instead, you want to be a resource and help the buyer fully understand their challenge or opportunity to be addressed. They will talk about symptoms and you can share what you’ve seen or experienced in their industry. This helps you gain trusted advisor status and can set you up for referrals.

2. Qualify Your Leads

In 2012, the Marketing Benchmark report by Marketing Sherpa found as many as 61 percent of B2B marketers sent leads to salespeople without any qualification. This means a lot of time is wasted by salespeople writing emails and making phone calls. Cold calling or even cool calling is practically futile unless you apply strategy #6.

Instead, you should have a documented description of a sales qualified lead. List the indicators that say a lead is sales ready. A solid marketing system can send you good leads, but only if the system understands what you are looking for. If you don’t have structured marketing support, use strategy #1. You’ll never sell to another unqualified lead again.

3. Use Win-Win Scenarios

If everyone gains from the sale, it is easier to close deals. It also extends the length of the relationship. Look for ways you can apply win-wins regularly with customers and prospects. For example, we like to notify clients of the savings that are possible with bundled printing. It helps us gain more print jobs while also reducing the cost. This is passed to our clients. For us, bundling opportunities are a great reason to reach out and see if others need something printed. They like saving money, and during those conversations, we often discover additional needs for our service.

4. Talk About Results, Not Product

It’s one thing to be an expert in what you are selling; it’s another thing entirely to relay the value of a service or product to a potential buyer. In B2B the bottom line is what really matters. You have to understand their goals, challenges, plans, and timeline in order to position your services as a solution. In many cases, an analysis stage in your sales process is necessary to demonstrate how far the prospect is off in their status quo. Use an evidence based sales-pitch and build a case for what’s possible in their organization.

5. Know Your Potential Customer
Buyers these days are a lot pickier about who they listen to in a B2B context. The expectation is you have researched their industry and business, and can speak directly to their interests. Once you’ve got their ear, they are more willing to listen to a sales presentation. If you gain advisor status they will even ask you to help them make important decisions. The biggest factor is timing. Watch for events that might trigger their willingness to modify their outsourcing. These include changes in their organization, pivotal events, and situations that impact their clientele.

6. Have Great Follow-up

If you do what you say and follow-up, you’ll close more deals. It can only be accomplished through discipline, using a process, and the support of technology. If you aren’t using a customer relationship management system (CRM), then get one. It’s critical for tracking conversations and setting up reminders for yourself to take action.

If the timing is not right for your prospect, get permission to follow up. Use calendar invitations for meetings to ensure they aren’t forgotten. Send follow-up emails the day of the conversation. Always be on the lookout for a helpful blog post or ebook that you can send their way to maintain your advisor status.

Ling Wong 

@slideberry

Ling Wong is a Content Strategist + Creative Content Creator. She has 15 years’ experience in online marketing and is Hubspot Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing and Email Marketing Certified. She helps coaches, consultants, service professionals and small businesses apply these best practices to their specific business models and circumstances to increase conversion.

“Take stock of every touchpoint and get clear on where your potential customers are entering into your world…”

How well they know your brand, how well they know about your topic of expertise, and how well they understand where they’re at in solving their problem or challenges. Then you can answer these questions for every step: what do they need to know about you, the subject matter and the solution to this problem, in order for conversion to happen? The answer to these questions will guide the strategy for each of these steps in the customer journey.

Angela Zade

@arzade

Angela is a digital marketing executive with Evus Technologies, a venture builder located in Las Vegas, NV. The cornerstone of their marketing strategy this year involved customer journey mapping.

“Before we could map the customer’s journey, we had to take a serious look at…”

Who are customers were. We created detailed customer personas prior to mapping. This gave us the ammunition to understand what our clients’ pain points were, and where they’d hit challenges or setbacks during the buying process; thus the map was born. My advice for anyone embarking on customer journey maps is to first create customer personas complete with pain points and frustrations identified first.

Chip Bell

@ChipRBell

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker on innovative service and customer loyalty. He’s also authored several best-selling books, with his newest book being Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service that Sparkles. He can be reached at ChipBell.com.

“As the co-creator (with Ron Zemke) of Customer Journey Mapping over 30 years ago (we called it a Cycle of Service back then), I can say the three biggest challenges are and have always been…”

1) Not getting the customer’s active involvement in critiquing and verifying the map. When leaders say “we know what our customers go through, they are wrong for two reasons. First, as insiders we know too much and make erroneous assumptions about what customers know. It is like a physician saying, “I know what my patient is feeling.” After 90 days as an employee, one is blind to the details customers see. Too much of our experience as an employee becomes the wallpaper of work we take for granted. And, we too often think of maps as a process map when it is an experience map (the customer’s).

2) Assuming the map is static! Customers are always changing. Today’s fad is tomorrow’s antique. Journey maps must be constantly tested and updated.

3) Assuming each step in the journey has equal weight in customer’s evaluation of their experience. A major hotel chain found that 75% of a guest’s total assessment of their entire stay was what happened at check-in.

Mark Paetz

@HigherEdGrowth

Mark Paetz, Director of Quality Assurance at Higher Ed Growth. Higher Ed Growth (HEG) is a full-service marketing agency specializing in post-secondary education. HEG uses proprietary technology, like EduMaximizer, to deliver targeted enrollment leads to for-profit and nonprofit education clients.

“Everything comes back to the customer experience, and a positive experience starts with…”

Engagement along crucial points in the buyer’s journey. One of the best ways for businesses to do this? Make sure to have the right technology in place. It’s important to have customer experience tools that will monitor the many channels that customers choose to use, capture user behavior and provide in-depth analysis, allowing the company to continually improve the experience — like reducing call handle times. It’s a sure way to identify and address the common pain points for your specific audience. In addition, with select functions now automated, these tools often shift and redefine traditional team member roles and require departments to collaborate differently. So, proper on-boarding with clearly defined expectations is a must.

Kevin Sides 

@TheShipMonk

Kevin Sides is the CMO at ShipMonk. Data is useless until it’s applied. As the CMO, Kevin is the conduit between raw data and how it can be applied to engage, inform and impact the company’s buyer personas.

“ShipMonk’s marketing funnel looks like this…” 

Acquisition – How do we get customers to our site?
Activation – How do we get them to sign up?
Retention – How do we get them to stay?
Revenue – How do we make money?
Referral – How do we use those customers to get more customers?

Starting with the gap from customers visiting our site and signup up for our service. We utilize a few different tools to enter them into a journey. Our live chat and eBook are at the forefront of the mix. We use these to get more information on who they are and what pain points they are having. Once we get their contact information, we enter them into a journey decided upon by the sales person or the lead form they filled out. For example, if they are fulfilling orders in-house, we’ll send them information on how to transition to outsourcing and the benefits associated, free consultations, signs to outsource, etc. If they are using another fulfillment center, we’ll sell them on what ShipMonk specifically does better. If they are just getting started we’ll give them information on how to get started themselves and when to consider outsourcing.

Once we get customers to sign up our focus is solely on retaining them. It cost 5-7 time more to gain a new customer than to retain a current customer so this is very important. We send milestone emails and rewards each time a customer reaches a certain amount of packages shipped and we check it every few months to make sure everything is going as they’ve hoped. We proactively try to stay ahead of issues before they boil out of control.
This is all done through marketing automation and timed in a behavioral journey.

Revenue – We have partners who have services that benefit our customers and if we see an opportunity that would benefit our customers first, we’ll enter them into another journey to promote a partner service. If they aren’t interested we remove them from the journey immediately and move on. Our goal is to help our customer sell and ship more packages. If they sell more we ship more.

Referral – It’s pretty simple: if you have a good product or service people will be willing to let other know and write a review. The problem is most people are extremely busy and don’t think to write a review unless they are unhappy. We use journeys to remind customers of the review and what it would mean to our business.

Melanie Guinn

@ZGM

Melanie is a brand analyst and strategist, and president of Zander Guinn Millan (ZGM), which she co-founded in 2006.

“When getting started with customer journey mapping…”

Businesses need to think of the journey as reflective of who they are, what their customers are experiencing and ultimately expecting, in terms of their products and offerings.

They should consider each and every brand touch point that a customer will encounter. This will include the beginning or awareness of the brand, the actual experience(s) of the brand and finally the follow up or brand loyalty that a company is hoping to build.

Taking into account all audience personas, how they behave and engage with the brand (in-person or digital) and whether or not they come back to the brand are vital to understand if the customer journey is as powerful as it can or should be.

Becca Le Blond 

@FMOutsource

Becca is a content specialist at customer care outsourcing business FM Outsource. Her days are spent writing about the latest trends in customer care, and watching funny dog videos on YouTube.

“When constructing a journey map…”

It’s important to remember that it isn’t just your customer care team that influence your customers’ experience with the business. The initial discovery and continued awareness of your brand is shaped by the marketing team, so it’s important that their messaging is in line with the tone your operators use. But, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you only need to consider departments with an external face. For example, HR will have an influence (they are responsible for hiring and supporting your teams after all).

A full map needs to consider the influence of every single team within the business. Not only will that help you to nail down how a customer is influenced by any business changes, it helps these departments understand how they’re affecting your consumer base, and therefore your bottom line.

Mark Smith

@Kitewheel

With over 20 years of global experience in Marketing Applications and Analytical CRM, Mark Smith is a leader in building, growing and managing successful companies. He is currently in “innovation mode” as the President of Kitewheel.

“The goal of customer journey mapping is…”

To provide your business with a visual template for how it should interact with customers across digital and physical channels, and detail how those interactions should vary based on the personalized nature of the customer. It’s important when getting started to focus on a few key elements that will get you up and running as quickly as possible.

When getting started with customer journey mapping, your journey maps should be based on customer behavior, data from your tech stack and the touchpoints that are most vital to your business at a user level. A bit more on each of these:

Data: Leverage the data that is available to you in order to better understand your customers. This includes feedback you receive from customers, first party data from your CRM system, and third-party demographic information. The more data you have, the more
informed you will be for the rest of the process.

Customer Interactions: It’s important to understand the engagement or lack thereof that potential customers have with your company. Do they have specific preferences for items you sell? What are the biggest drivers when it comes to sales?

Touchpoints: Businesses have a multitude of ways to reach customers and for customers to reach businesses, such as websites, social media, and physical locations. As a team, you need to narrow down the big list of touchpoints into the 4 or 5 that consistently produce the most interaction.

Now that you have all of your potential inputs, you can use those to inform your journey map. As a basic example, if you know that younger male customers tend to buy sneakers through your website, you should ensure that touchpoints such as your site’s homepage direct that demographic towards sneakers. In general, the input data you capture as a first step will be vital to determining how customers of different types experience and interact with your business.

Larissa Pickens

@FloatDesignCo

Larissa Pickens is the owner and creative director of Float Design, a studio specializing in digital design for beauty and lifestyle brands. She received her MFA in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design and has worked with brands such a Calvin Klein, Conde Nast and Estee Lauder.

“One of the first places that I like to start is looking at online reviews…”

They’re often surprisingly detailed with information on the customer’s touchpoints with the brand, the deliberation process, and subsequent satisfaction or frustration. Often there’s even basic personal information included in these reviews.

From there you can get into deeper research with surveys, analytics and social media but reading 5-10 detailed reviews gives you a good baseline to understand how customers are interacting with your brand.

Shahara Wright

@theCEOeffect

Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara works with business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.

“The one thing businesses need to take into consideration when getting started with customer journey mapping is…”

The actual experience of the customer and not the intended experience. Generally speaking, every business thinks they have decent customer service and deliver a good experience for the customer. However, the journey to get the end product should be the priority when it comes to customer journey mapping.

For instance, if you sell an online product and it is easy to buy (i.e. search and click), business owners tend to stop there. However, what is the process to find the website and item? What is the process if you have questions about the item? What is the process if you have a complaint or need to return something? How easy or difficult is it to communicate? All of those questions are a part of the journey and should be included in the map.

The point of the map is to recognize the gaps between the customers’ intended experience vs. the actual experience. I realize that I have said that twice but it bears repeating. Without understanding that, you have a map that leads to nowhere.

Daniel Davidson

@ByDanCo

Daniel has been in love with design and marketing strategies for the last two decades. He is a husband to a champion of a wife, a proud father, and the founder of By Dan Design Co., a premium web design agency that specializes in online marketing strategies.

“One mistake I see happen all the time when mapping out the customer journey is…”

The preoccupation with the bottom of the funnel decision maker. Most businesses default into the assumption that the person they capture at the top of the funnel, the start of the buyer’s journey, is the same person who will be the decision maker at the bottom of the funnel, the end of the buyer’s journey.

Whether you’re selling B2B or B2C, you need to take into consideration that your top of the funnel prospect may not be your decision maker at the bottom of the sales funnel.

Pete Abilla

Pete Abilla is the Founder and CEO of FindTutorsNearMe.com, where they’ve matched over 52,000 parents and tutors.

“Here are the steps I took in employing customer journey mapping…”

1. Draw the steps of the process. This is the first step.

2. Then identify waste in the process such as waiting, rework, and also mistakes.

3. This layer is key: the author must identify the feelings associated with waiting. For example, a process step might have an average wait time of 6 minutes, then after waiting, the customer has to share his information again. This information is important – but also important is how the customer feels that s/he has to share his name, birthday, address, and account number, again and again.

4. Then, summarize the key steps that can be improved – either reduce wait time, eliminate rework, etc. If a step cannot be eliminated, then find a way to make the pain hurt less. For example, waiting sucks for everybody. But, you can make the wait be less painful by providing entertainment, feedback, etc.

A customer journey map shouldn’t be wall art – it should be marching orders on what exactly to do to improve the customer experience.

Bob Clary

@IntelliBright

Bob Clary is a Director of Online Engagement for Intellibright.

“While there are many components to building a customer journey map, one thing businesses need to consider is that…”

They may not know their customer as well as they think. That is, they shouldn’t make assumptions in the mapping process.

Many businesses believe they know who their customer is, and why they do what they do. But getting an outside perspective into their data can help them separate their opinions and facts.

David Scarola

@TAB_Boards

David Scarola is the Chief Experience Officer at The Alternative Board. He has over 20 years of product development and technology experience across many different industries including telecommunications, hospitality, healthcare and financial services.

“Yes, it’s important that your customer journey map is transparent to you and your team, but more importantly…”

It should be transparent to your customers.

When the team at IDEO was hired to help the DePaul Health Center in St. Louis create a less stressful emergency room experience, they created a roadmap of what patients could expect – from intake to discharge. When patients were given the information upfront, they felt more comfortable moving forward with the health center’s services.

Let customers know where they stand. If they’re going to be on hold for customer support, let them know (or find a service that will let them know) how much time they can expect to wait. When you, your, team, and your customers are all on the same page about the customer’s journey, you can provide the most up-to-date information and best service possible.

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Shay Namdarian

@shaynam85

Shay is the GM of Customer Strategy at Collective Campus based in Australia and Singapore. Shay has launched several startups and helped drive customer experience and innovation across large organizations in industries including retail, utilities, financial services and legal services.

“The number one consideration for any business when it comes to journey mapping is the customer…”

It all starts with the customer. Projects that fail to understand their customers are usually projects that fail. The Founder of Intuit, Scott Cook, said it best: Empathy is not just about
walking in another’s shoes. First, you must remove your own.

To best understand the customer, organizations need to develop personas. Really get into their shoes so you understand how they behave (including likes and dislikes) and why they do what they do. Although everyone is unique, these customer profiles provide guidance and input for the journey mapping.

It is also imperative that businesses understand their customer lifecycle. I often see companies make the mistake of only focusing on the obvious customer touch points (such as interactions during purchase). Don’t be one of them. Make sure to look at the complete customer lifecycle, from awareness (how do your customers find out about you?) all the way to post-purchase (what happens after the customer has bought your product?).

Businesses need to remove themselves from the day to day operations and look at the big picture to ensure successful customer journey mapping.

Meryl K. Evans

@merylkevans

Meryl K. Evans, digital marketing maven, is a content and social media marketing mad scientist who’s always cooking up formulas for clients’ digital marketing efforts. She helps with content planning and creation to bring clients’ stories alive and help them connect with their spectators.

“Most companies’ buyer’s journeys are some variation of this…

  • Awareness: Prospect has a problem or symptoms of a problem.
  • Consideration: OK, I know what problem I have. What are my options?
  • Decision: I know which option I want. Now which product or vendorshould I choose?

You want to avoid sharing product-related information with people in the awareness stage. They’re not ready for that. Such information goes to those in the Decision phase — not Consideration. Make a spreadsheet of all your available content — everything from blog posts to white papers. Make one column the Buyer’s journey and indicate whether the content is for Awareness, Consideration or Decision.

Build personas to help you know where to find prospects and how to serve up the right content at the right time using the right means. That’s the short version.

Jacob Dayan

@communitytaxllc

Jacob Dayan is partner and co-founder of Chicago-based Community Tax, a national provider of tax resolution, tax preparation, bookkeeping and accounting services. He previously worked on Wall Street as an options analyst and as a foreign exchange trader. Jacob holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

“When mapping the customer journey, it’s important to think about more than just the touch points…”

Make sure you also consider how you will calculate a return on investment for your efforts to reach the customer at each stage. If you use radio ads to generate awareness, social media to influence consideration and paid search to drive traffic to your website, how much credit will you assign to each channel? Remember, attribution is far from an exact science. There are several models – first-click, last-click, linear, etc. – and none is perfect. But think about which one makes the most sense to your business and go with it. The good news is that Google Analytics provides fast and easy ways to credit all your channels and compare the effects of different attribution models side by side. It’s probably a good idea to explore this functionality before you start mapping the journey to see how you might consider attribution throughout the process.

Haley Gong 

@Haley_Gong

Zhe (Haley) Gong, International Marketing Executive at Webpower, discovered her passion for online communication when she studied at the Johns Hopkins University in U.S. Now, Haley together with her team in Shanghai, strive to provide marketing automation solution to international companies wishing to reach and engage their audiences in China.

“When designing a customer lifecycle with email, an important note is that…”

It’s not always about selling. Make use of greeting email/welcome email/ reminder email to bond with your customers and show your care.

For example, send your best wishes via email on a customer’s birthday. Include coupons or special offers in the letter. You can also ask him/her to redeem the offer in store, so as to attract foot traffic.

Similarly, trigger a welcome email immediately after someone signed up. Send you warm greeting and introduce a bit more about your brand. Furthermore, because people’s interest towards your brand is high at this stage, you can also include a form to ask for personal details in this email.

Lastly, if someone purchased a product that requires regular maintenance (e.g., a car), don’t forget to send an email to remind the customer of the product check.

Elena Lockett 

@FMOutsource

Elena is a PR Assistant at FM Outsource. She is constantly looking for press opportunities for the business, whether it be entering awards, attending events or getting FM featured in relevant articles online and in print.

“When considering getting started with customer journey mapping…”

It’s important to know what gaps you’re trying to identify. That could be gaps between devices when users moves from one to another, gaps between departments which could cause customer frustration or gaps between channels so when moving from social media to webchat. As a business you need to establish your goals and objectives. A few examples of these could be:

  • What are the goals of the website?
  • What are you going to do with the customer journey map?
  • Is this necessary to improving your business?

It is also vital that you define your target audience before you start as it’s unrealistic to accommodate every customer within a customer journey map. Focus on your largest customer group from the start and segment as much as possible.

David Weaver

@vintagecashcow

David Weaver is the Co-Founder of Vintage Cash Cow.

“Customer journey mapping is so important for any company…”

Traditionally companies have created products they think their customers want. Then the marketing team goes about framing these products in a way that makes consumers want them. It feels like a bit of a ‘suck it and see’ approach which is unpredictable in terms of pay-off.

Instead, customer journey mapping looks at your brand, product and processes through the customers eyes and their literal journey through your funnel. A successful customer journey map will give you real insight into what your customers want and any parts of your product, brand or process that aren’t delivering.

Jessica Thiele

@VL_OMNI

Jessica Thiele is the Marketing Manager at VL, an integration partner for over 200 active omni-channel, ecommerce, and EDI businesses across North America.

“Many businesses approach the customer journey as an afterthought to pretty front-end designs…”

The logic is almost, ‘if it’s attractively laid out, then business will come.’ In reality, businesses should approach the customer journey centered on a single question: what kind of experience does your business want to engender with your customers? This, combined with gathering broad consumer expectations (think the ‘Amazon’ customer experience – customers now have a minimum expectation of what a check out process, for example, should be).

From there, it’s a matter of mapping out the customer journey in relation to the data movements and technology back-end before you even think of designing the front end. This informs everything downstream — how your applications and data should be tied together, what systems and processes need to be in place, and what the front end UX (user experience) needs to be. Also, don’t run on the assumption that the customer order cycle is
circular and error-free; also plan for when things go wrong (because inevitable, no matter how careful your planning, things will go wrong!).

Christopher Antonopolous

@FindYourYeti

Christopher Antonopolous is the owner of Measured Results Marketing (MRM) a marketing consulting and implementation company that works with businesses to build and optimize their Demand Generation Ecosystem®. The organization supports marketing professionals by ensuring their entire marketing technology footprint works together to support its initiatives.

“Customer journey mapping all begins with…”

Understanding the needs of your customer. When the needs are understood, it’s critical to set up the backend processes to effectively nurture and communicate with the customer throughout their buying journey.

According to the Online Marketing Institute, 73% of leads that are passed from Marketing to Sales are not ready to make a purchase.

So what does this mean? It means you need to bridge the gap between Marketing and Sales by implementing a lead nurturing strategy. An effective strategy will enable you to engage, educate, and share valuable content with leads as they move through the sales funnel.

Personas

Understanding your ideal customers and developing buyer personas is critical for creating quality content that acquires and retains customers. By understanding your customer’s specific needs you can tailor your message appropriately.

Lead Scoring

Scoring leads or attaching a numerical value to a lead is at the core of any lead nurturing strategy. Differentiating between quality leads and those who are just perusing your site is extremely valuable information. In order to effectively set up a lead scoring system there must be a collaborative effort between both Marketing and Sales. Together the teams will identify qualification criteria and assign point values for various activities. This system will then help marketers determine how to best communicate with the prospect moving forward.

Segmentation

Leads only want to see information that is relevant to them. Marketing campaigns need to be specifically targeted to address those needs. This is accomplished through list segmentation. Your business goals will dictate how you go about segmenting your lists.
Over time and by tracking your campaigns you’ll be able to tell what types of segmentation work best for your audience.

Closed Loop Communication

To achieve success and provide customers with the best experience there must be a closed loop communication process between Marketing and Sales. Marketing needs to provide Sales with all acquired lead intelligence to help make the sale, and Sales needs to document their follow-up activity in the CRM and share all feedback they receive from the customer about the marketing they received. Tracking all of this information will provide invaluable insights for future campaigns.

Defining the customer journey and implementing a strategic lead nurturing strategy is the key to successfully turning browsers into buyers.

Evan Harris

@EquitySd

Evan Harris is the co-founder and CEO of SD Equity Partners, a San Diego based money lender specializing in fix-and-flip loans. He places a heavy focus on making sure his customers get the best experience while working with his team.

“To get started with customer journey mapping, there are two important things you should do…”

Anticipate Customer Questions

Before beginning the customer journey mapping process with a new customer, it is essential to approach the task from the customer’s point of view. This tactic allows you to anticipate questions the customer might ask throughout the process and preemptively address those questions. Not only will this enhance your customer journey map, but it will ultimately allow you to improve the customer’s experience.

Assess and Adjust

Even after you complete your first customer journey map, your job is just beginning. It is important to learn from previous customer experiences, what worked well and what didn’t. Use this information to adjust future customer journey maps so that you can continue to improve your customer’s experience and ultimately grow your company.

Alex Reichmann

@iTestCash

Alex Reichmann is the CEO of iTestCash, where he supplies retail products for businesses all across the United States.

“As an online business owner…”

I always monitor my websites bounce rates and user engagement. You can do this by keeping track of your Google Analytics or using a user tracking program like Mouseflow. By doing this you can tweak your web pages as necessary to try to get your website visitors to
spend more time on your site and do a better job at leading them to a landing page whether you want your visitors to buy a product or sign up for a newsletter. This can be applied for any types of online businesses to keep your visitors engagement as high as possible on your website.

Steve Pritchard

@giffgaff

Steve Pritchard is the Search Content Manager at giffgaff.

“Before you begin customer journey mapping…”

It is essential that you know as much about your users as you possibly can. Gathering as much existing research you already have on your customers is the best place to start. A
great way to get users to volunteer information via social media; reach out to them by asking for their experiences using your company and see what you can learn from the information they give you.

Walk yourself through the customer experience; for example, if you are an ecommerce business, take yourself through the shopping process, from finding a product to the checkout process. Your map should cover the entire journey, especially distinct parts where the customer interacts with the organization. For this reason, taking yourself through their experience is the best way to make sure your mapping covers all the key parts of their journey.

Amy Kilvington 

@InteriorGoods

Amy heads up the Marketing team at Roman Blinds Direct, one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of designer window dressings.

“The first stage of customer journey mapping is simple…”

Identity your demographics. It is impossible to establish customer behavior, touch points and timeframes without knowing who your customers are. And that doesn’t just mean a general idea of their age and income; in order to create an effective customer journey map, you need to know these personas down to a T. You can paint this picture by utilizing analytics data, surveying your audience and even conducting interviews. Key points to consider include age, sex, education background, geographic location, household composition, employment status and hobbies.

Khalid Saleh

@khalidh

Khalid Saleh is the co-founder and CEO of conversion optimization company Invesp, a leading provider of conversion rate optimization solutions.

“Customer journey mapping is necessary and important for any businesses…”

As it helps identify and consider the various touchpoints visitors go through to purchase a product or sign-up for a service. However, many times these journey maps are created without any real actionable takeaways. This makes the document quite lovely to look at, but useless in practice. Each touch point or bottleneck in the process needs to be coupled with actionable insights that can be applied to mitigate the issues the customer experiences.

Another area that business should focus on when creating the customer journey map is considering all the different persona types and business stages because not all visitors come with the same motivations. Not all potential customers are at the same buying stage .So creating a map that takes into consideration the different types of customers, their tendencies based on persona type, motivations, barriers, concerns, and buying stages will give you a better sense of what actions to take for every customer type.

Finally, consider the questions that the customers may have at any touchpoint. Now in order to know some of this information, it would be useful to do a lot of qualitative research to get a sense of some of the questions the customers have. It’s also important to note that not all customer journey maps are created equal. Each business journey map is unique to that particular business. So when a business considers getting started, although there is so much information and even templates out there, think about your business and the unique aspects that dictate customer flow, motivation and consideration.

David Freund

@junto_digital

David Freund is the Director of Web Development with Junto, a hyper-efficient traffic generation and web development service. When he’s not managing the day-to-day client work, you can find him exploring the Rocky Mountains by bike or board.

“While journey maps can (and should) take a wide variety of forms, the end goal is always the same…”

Find and resolve the pain points of your customers…a.k.a. friction.

This powerful visualization and storytelling tool helps your team to better understand and address your customer’s  perspective  as they experience your product or service. Mapping out the touchpoints and ANY possible friction throughout your  customer’s journey will help to reveal potential pain points from an unbiased perspective.

Braxton Wood

@thebraxtonwood

Braxton Wood is a small business expert who consults online businesses and solopreneurs on how to save time and increase sales using marketing automation and proven inbound marketing tactics.

“One purpose of customer journey mapping is…”

To ensure the customer is delighted with your product or service so that they see tremendous value and have a reason to stay with you. So I always start with the question, “What is the customer trying to solve for?” And then once that is identified, ask yourself the question, “What about our product/service could be a barrier to that?” In researching the answers to the latter, I’ve uncovered a lot of key points and bottlenecks in my process that, once eliminated, dramatically increased the overall lifetime of my clients.

Steve Mintz

@CLMPrescript

Experienced in many verticals and across a range of marketing functions from digital and direct to planning, analytics and research, Steve Mintz is a marketing technology expert diagnosing ailments impacting your marketing technology and operations and prescribing solutions to drive growth in revenue and retention.

“The biggest consideration businesses need to take into account when getting started with customer journey mapping is…”

To identify the goals and objectives, not only for your product or service, but for your customer journey initiative. And don’t forget the customer’s goals and objectives- what problem is it that they are trying to solve? Inability to identify these key components of the project up front often leads to wasted effort and failure to build a useful journey.

Once you’ve established a direction, go through all your past qualitative and quantitative voice of the customer research to pull out relevant insights and identify gaps in your understanding (especially to determine those outstanding questions that need to be asked with additional research to fill in the holes in your understanding).

Only after these steps have been started should you proceed with listing and mapping the current journey, building personas and the empathy map, and then brainstorming ideas to optimize the journey.

James Thomas

@jthomas_44

James Thomas is the CMO of Allocadia, the leader in Marketing Performance Management, with more than 10+ years’ experience leading enterprise marketing teams. He previously led marketing functions at organizations including SAP and Talemetry. In his role, he helps marketers gain insight into marketing performance to make better business decisions.

“Many organizations start with the information they have in their marketing database…”

But this is a mistake. When you consider journey mapping with customers, you must start with the personas of your target buyers.

Break down this universe into a segment small enough to handle in your analysis (even if that’s just 3 or 4 types of people you are attracting or wanting to attract).

Consider all the touchpoints you have with that type of customer (or better yet want to have) and align those touchpoints to where that customer is in their buying experience. Are they just becoming aware of you? Are they investigating or comparing you to competitors or different alternatives? Are they already a customer?

If you use a marketing automation system you can track a lot of data, but never all of it since things like referrals or even social media shares can be harder to track – be sure to consider that as well.

Draw a map of your customer touchpoints and then start to plot where you are spending money on marketing at each of those levels. This is where most marketers make a critical mistake. They only think about the results, not the investments.

If you don’t understand the investments, you will never know where you are truly impacting the business. (i.e., you could be wasting a lot of money spending on areas that don’t impact revenue and drive positive ROI.) Using a Marketing Performance Management system can help track and analyze all your investments across the customer journey.

Finally, don’t forget about your existing customers who are likely to buy again. Consider them a different persona and make sure you have a plan to support their particular journey. Make them fans. Help them refer and buy more.

Brooke Kelly

@DelphicDigital

Brooke Kelly is a Business Analyst at Delphic Digital. With triple B.A. degrees in English, Comparative Literature, and Japanese from Penn State University, and a Masters Certification in Business Analysis from Villanova University, Brooke adores quality user experiences. Fluent in Japanese, she relates it to computer programming languages as, “They all rely on proper context and syntax – just another puzzle to solve! Isn’t it awesome?”

“When creating customer journey maps, it’s important to consider not just major actions, but…”

Major transitions, as well. Often times, understanding the impact of jumps between devices and channels can be just an insightful as analyzing basic actions of the user. Going from a mobile to a desktop experience, for example, or understanding how and when users move between social media and websites, can lead to a more complete understanding of where the entire user experience has room to improve.

Sunil Thomas

@suniltom

Sunil Thomas is CEO of mobile engagement and analytics technology provider CleverTap, a company he cofounded to help app developers to better use their data to create more personalized experiences across devices and platform.

“Regardless of what your app or website is about – e-commerce, banking, dating, music, etc. – there are a handful of things that you want users to do with it…”

For example, do you want them to register? Buy something? Create a playlist? Message someone? Write reviews? Refer friends?

The first step of mapping your customers journey is to simply list these things and mark them as milestones of the customer journey. Identifying 5 to 10 key milestones is a great start.

The second step is to map your customers to identify and isolate customers who are stuck at different stages of this map. For example, you might uncover that you have a large number of users who launch the app multiple times but have not yet registered, hence stuck on the first milestone. You might users who have registered, but not yet purchased anything, which could be the 3rd milestone, and so on.

The third step in order to make these user segments actionable is to trend them over time. As days, weeks and months pass you want to know your biggest bottlenecks i.e. the hardest milestones before which a majority of your users get stuck. By analyzing these trends over time, you can see where users are getting stuck in their journey, then work toward a resolution.

The fourth and final step is to take action on these trends. You want to get more and more users to cross more and more milestones within the journey and that will be good for your business. Generally speaking you have 2 tools to help your users — one is your product and the second one is messaging. Product improvements that simplify, that make more intuitive, faster etc. will help your users. Messaging, i.e. engaging your users with timely, relevant messages across channels like push notifications, SMS, email will help your users too — it just might be the friendly nudge they were looking for to forge ahead on the map.

The bottom line is, no matter what your app does, there are specific goals you need it to achieve. Every important action from download or install to click or swipe could be a milestone. Laying these out, identifying the key ones and mapping them forces you to think about each step, understand how they relate to each other and fix roadblocks that may be in the way of your users.

What’s your process for mapping today’s complex customer journeys?