Updated: Jul 28, 2020
A customer journey is simply the steps a customer takes before they purchase your product or services, as well as the steps they take after purchase. Many companies forget about the after purchase path, however, it is equally important as the steps that lead to the purchase. This journey, when written down in detail, can help your team understand a customer’s needs, wants, and pain points—at the right time and place.
Example Customer Journey
To start our journey, let’s follow Roberta—the CMO of a wellness tech company. In 6 months, her company will launch a new, game-changing product and they want it to make a big splash at the CES Conference and across the wellness scene. She is looking for a health-focused marketing agency to help create booth visuals, lead generation strategy, an email marketing campaign, landing pages, and interactive social media content. Let’s step into her vegan, locally made shoes to see an example of a path that would lead her to discover my marketing services:
Roberta goes to Google and searches “marketing agency wellness”
On page one, JennyWoudenberg.com and a few other agencies pop up on Roberta’s screen (because Jenny Woudenberg and the other agencies excel at SEO).
Roberta clicks on a few websites and starts shopping around. However, after 15 minutes she gets called into a meeting for the rest of the day and forgets about the agencies she searched.
Later that night, Roberta is swiping through her Instagram stories and is intrigued by a sponsored Instagram story from JennyWoudenberg.com about wellness marketing.
The next morning, Roberta is on her daily positive affirmation website and clicks on a re-targeted ad from JennyWoudenberg.com about wellness marketing.
She checks out the website and provides her email address for a follow up.
Jenny follows up via emailing Roberta an offer for a free consultation.
Roberta has now developed a bit of a bond with Jenny and schedules a meeting.
Roberta meets with Jenny and they craft a brilliant and comprehensive game plan that makes her new product a must-have for all yoga teachers—her target market.
Jenny works hard to action the game plan and create a campaign that surpasses all expectations.
The product launch went so well that Roberta has recommended Jenny Woudenberg's marketing services to her friend Sarah who is about to launch a new drink that is a mix of coconut water and turmeric. Jenny built a user-friendly referral program and her friend’s company is now a partner.
In the example above, it is a good thing that Jenny drew out a detailed customer journey so she would know how to target someone like Roberta and eventually her friend Sarah. Now, before you continue reading, it is your turn to fill up your glass of coconut water and take off your shoes (figuratively or literally— I’d choose the latter) because you are putting on your customer’s shoes and going on a journey deep into their world!
How to create a customer journey map or timeline
In short, you will do the following:
Define: Set clear goals and a buyer persona
Locate: Map out the main customer touch points
Shift: Understand the motivations, questions, and obstacles that can move a customer forward or backward in their journey
Retain: Once the sale goes through, create a plan for how will you appeal to your customer’s emotions for retention and referrals
Be The Customer: Once your map is completed, take the journey yourself and make edits as needed
Define: All journeys have an end goal, and this is no different from a customer journey. Ask yourself: What is the end goal for this journey? What type of experience will the person have? Once you do this, you need to create a fictitious person that represents your average customer. Think anything that would define their journey such as their: education, location, economic situation, emotional pulls, interests, social media usage, etc.
Locate: Touchpoints are all the places that a customer can interact with your brand. This could be in your store or website, on a Facebook post, or roadside billboard. For your online touch points, run a Google search to note all of the places that mention your brand. You can dig deeper into this traffic by checking in your Google Analytics (or a similar tool) to make data-driven statements about your touch points.
Shift: Start by listing all of the actions, and the emotion that fuels the action, that a customer can take while interacting with your brand. Next, list out the obstacles and questions that could prevent a customer from moving forward on their journey. Understanding how you can make the journey easier for your customer can pay off in higher—and cheaper—conversion rates.
Retain: You spent all this time and resources getting a sale, now let’s work on keeping them coming back and gushing about your product to their friends. This part of the journey highly varies by brand, but the key is to put a strategic plan in place that seeks to build a lasting relationship with your customers. This could look like responding to an Instagram post they tagged your product in or sending them a nice email weeks later with a coupon for a new product they would love.
Be The Customer: While each person will have their own unique experience, it is still important to go on the journey yourself as a way to get to know your customer better and find any holes that need to be filled. Once you do this, analyze the results and revisit any roadblocks. Perhaps your website is too cluttered, your social media lacks CTAs, or your services have too vague of descriptions. All of this will help you make educated decisions on what needs to stay or go. Lastly, this map will forever be a work-in-progress and is something that should be revisited at least every quarter with all necessary stakeholders.
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