Your most important marketing tool in 2017: Customer Journey Mapping

by Olle Jarenfors, October 28, 2016

Introducing the “what”, “why” and “how” of your most important tool this year: mapping out the buying journey of your customers, simply referred to as “Customer Journey Mapping”.

Being a B2B Marketer I have done my fair share of funnel diagrams. Trying to measure anything from the number of visitors from a single ad to the total amount of revenue that can be attributed to the entire marketing department, drawing funnels of sequential data has kept me busy (and occasionally up all night).

Imagine my skepticism when I stumbled across Joanna Lords article on this new trend as she claims that funnels are the models of “yesteryear” and that they just don’t cut it anymore.


What Is Customer Journey Mapping?

What will take its place as the marketer’s favorite tool you ask? Enter Customer Journey Mapping. “Fully-equipped with real customer data, behavioral stages, touchpoints for interaction, cross-team resourcing, sentiment and more” Lord writes. Instead of having to guess how customers are motivated by looking at aggregated flows of leads we should now work towards uncovering exact moments in our customers journeys towards achieving their goals successfully through your services or products, and thereby allocate more effort to encourage others to do the same.

The definition of a Customer Journey map is as follows: It is the framework that maps out the stages of your customer’s lifecycle. It enables you to improve your customer experience through helping you best understand how customers are interacting with you now and what areas to invest in moving forward.

Simply put, a customer journey map tells the story of the customer’s experience: from, our sometimes even before, the first contact, through the process of engagement and into a long-term relationship. You can design a customer journey map to explain the entirety of your customer’s journey in broader strokes, or you can create focused, more detailed maps of specific, critical parts of their journey.

Either way, what it always does is identify key interactions that the customer has with your organization, describing the different feelings, motivations, struggles, questions, and more that one or many different personas have throughout the buying journey.


Why Should You Create Customer Journey Maps?

In one sentence, customer journey maps put the customers needs and desires at the top of the organization’s mind.

With all the changes that social media, mobile devices and the web have had on buyer behavior we must focus our efforts on trying to understand our customer’s experience from the outside looking in at us, instead of the other way around.

Going back to what I wrote before about funnels; from a managerial perspective the customer journey map will not settle for seeing where in the buying funnel a potential customer is, but also provide insight as to why. What has brought the customer this far, what might motivate her to go forward, how can we help her move forward.


How To Create Your First Customer Journey Map

Step 1: What are your customer personas?

A word that deserves its own set of blog posts. Here is a good one from Element – Revenue Science specialists from Nortal, and here is an external one that I like. If you are new to the concept of personas, make sure you understand that your customer personas are different roles, not necessarily divided by title or job description, but rather by what position a person takes in the group that will buy your service or product.


Let’s imagine a company selling B2B SaaS (Software-as-a-Service). In this case it is common that different parts of the management team take on different personas during the buying journey. Someone is usually the main sponsor of the deal, in this case quite often that would be the Marketing Manager. At some point in the buying journey there will also be other personas involved; someone in charge of spending, someone in charge of the IT landscape that the product must fit into, and usually someone in charge of signing the contract in the end, just to name a few.


Step 2: What are your customer stages?

Quite possibly the most important step of the process for you decide upon. What are the different behavioral stages of your customer’s buying journey. I have seen customer journey maps with anything between 2 and 23 stages. It all depends on the complexity of your buyers and the usability you want to create when designing it. If you tend to include every possible outcome, please keep your end goal in mind and try to simplify. You want the entire organization to better understand your customers, not feel confusion. The image below depicts four simple stages that make a good base for you to start with and build on as you go.


Going back to our B2B SaaS Company, these four stages would work as a good base. It is likely that one or several of the before identified personas will go through these stages. Not all of them will come into the picture from the first phase. Perhaps it is just the sponsor persona that is doing the research, and perhaps the person in charge of budget won’t come in until the final purchase phase. But it is important to understand that all of these phases add up to a more complete picture of your customer’s buying journey.


Step 3: What are your customer’s goals?

In each stage of the customer journey each persona has different goals. What are they intending to accomplish in each phase and what will make them move forward to the next step? Important to point out, although it might sound obvious, is that you must not refer to your goals but rather how your customers achieve “success” in each phase. You can only accomplish your goals if your customers accomplish theirs first.

Step 4: What are your customer’s touchpoints?

Now that you’ve uncovered what personas you have, what phases they are going through and what each of these personas goals are, you must investigate what possibilities you have created in order for them to achieve this goals. What tools have you made available for each persona in each phase – on site, off site, through marketing, in person or with other means.

Step 5: What data do you have about your customer’s behaviors?

Looking back at the steps before, all these decisions should not be based solely on guesswork. Bring in your customer and lead analytics to identify your stages, touchpoints, and what seems to be working in order to create desired activity. The more specific you can be whilst determining these factors the more use you will get out of your customer map. Another important use of data in your customer journey mapping is trying to understand how long each stage takes. How long is the typical customer in the research phase before moving on to the compare phase?


Hopefully these steps will get you started with your own customer journey maps. If you are looking to learn more about how to create effective and successful customer journey maps, do not hesitate to contact us here at Element – Revenue Science by Nortal.


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