This post was last updated on October 22, 2020.
Customer journey mapping gives you a lens in which to see the world from the eyes of your audience. There’s no better way to grow your brand than stepping in their shoes.
How easy is it for shoppers to interact with your company? How long does it take before they receive the support they need? Are they seeing content that’s relevant to them?
In this article, we take a look at the bountiful benefits of customer journey mapping and how such maps set the foundations to deliver contextual, personalized experiences.
1. Take your teams out of silos
It’s common to find organizations operating in silos – even successful ones.
That means working in isolation to one another, not sharing information, goals, tools, priorities and even processes with other departments within your business.
Problem is, fragments in your internal processes often lead to a fragmented customer experience.
For example, it often means inconsistencies where customer data management is concerned. One department may not have the necessary information about a customer or group of customers to make informed decisions and judgements.
But with customer journey maps, you’ll be able to see how all departments within your organization work together to address the needs of your customers.
In fact, customer journey mapping not only brings your departments together but also crafts an all-encompassing view of every customer interaction.
Which allows you to build detailed customer profiles, based on a mix of engagements across channels. Even after a purchase has been made, the data can be used to maintain engagement and even cross-sell or upsell relevant products.
Your customers want an enriching and seamless buying experience. Repeatedly.
By taking your teams out of silos, you’ll be in a better position to make this happen.
And you will remove unnecessary friction that was once scattered across departments, in turn creating a better environment for innovation and growth.
Marketers and product managers alike can learn a lot from interactions between customers and the customer support team – from improving features to delivering better content at each step of the decision-making process.
It’s worth keeping in mind that with automated visual commerce platforms, you can uncover the precise content that’s resulting in the most sales.
By pairing rich content intelligence with unique customer data, you can ensure that you always deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right individual.
2. Step into the shoes of your shoppers
Companies that consistently deliver the best-in-class customer experiences grow faster and more profitably, finds a McKinsey study.
In fact, these customer experience leaders are 80% more likely to retain customers, gain positive referrals, and don’t need to shell out so many marketing dollars.
But, if it’s so important, why do brands still miss the mark?
The story is one of ignorance. Most businesses are quick to convince themselves they deliver a “superior customer experience” – according to a Bain & Co. study.
Not just a good experience. A superior one. That’s some serious hard graft.
Bain & Co. then flipped the script and asked customers directly what they thought of these brands’ so-called superior experiences.
You can probably guess the outcome.
Only 8% believed these brands delivered on a basic customer experience.
The sad truth is that the breakdown between what a brand thinks and what its customers think can often be a critical issue – a make or break scenario.
And it’s more than a delivery gap. It’s a customer empathy gap.
The minute you join an organization, you’re no longer the target customer. Instead, you embark on a never-ending quest to see the brand from the customer’s point of view.
As a result, emotion and empathy are often missing from the customer’s experience.
Yet, it’s more important than ever to understand customer emotions. Most brands today compete on value, not price. Providing exceptional experiences ensures you stand out.
So, incorporating the emotional states of your audience into customer journey maps allows you to step into their shoes – and drive action from this empathetic insight.
While behavioral interactions can form the crux of a customer journey map, an essential part of the picture is missing unless emotion is also baked in.
You see, the emotions that your shoppers go through while engaging with your brand are correlated to their future behavior. Which impacts business growth directly.
Customer journey mapping enables you to better understand how a customer is thinking and feeling, in turn allowing you to raise emotions at key points in the buying journey.
Similarly, journey maps can help you to pinpoint moments of truth or moments of delight and make them a more enjoyable experience for your customers.
For example, with a visual commerce platform in place, you can work out the content that’s converting and cut out any assets that don’t contribute to the customer journey.
After all, being open to identifying the points of upset, frustration, or areas lacking in empathy for the customer is often the first step to improving them.
Ripping the bandaid off is key.
3. Fuel your content marketing strategy
More than two thirds of today’s brands say that creating or sourcing well-targeted, relevant content is their biggest optimization challenge.
That’s a key finding from an IDG Connect report, based on responses from more than 100 marketers worldwide that work at companies with a minimum of 1,000 employees.
At the same time, Segment’s Personalization Report has found that over 70% of shoppers ‘express frustration when their shopping experience is impersonal’ – while 44% will become repeat buyers after a personalized experience.
It’s clear that there’s a pain point here.
Your audience will engage and buy more if you provide relevant, targeted content.
Customer journey mapping then, underpins the success of your content marketing.
By taking a look at the customer journey, you end up mapping out the flow that each customer group takes when making a purchase and in their post-purchase behavior.
In doing this, you will unravel a number of pain points, barriers, and smooth areas of each customer journey, which allows you to address them as needed.
You’re probably more than familiar with the traditional marketing funnel, creating top to bottom funnel content – but this approach is static and not flexible enough to represent the process of the buying journey.
After all, the customer journey is rarely linear.
Instead, it’s more beneficial to focus on the four main stages of the circular customer journey when mapping content to journey maps.
These are the consideration, evaluation, moment of sale, and post-purchase stages. It’s worth keeping in mind that your customers may go through more or fewer stages.
While we won’t go deep into the definitions as we’re sure you know them (if not, have a read of this), use your findings from the customer journey map to uncover what your customers are thinking, feeling, and doing, as well as the touchpoints they experience.
Then, map out the touchpoints on a scale of negative to positive feelings.
Doing this will help you to pinpoint areas that you can use content to solve problems, answer questions, inspire, or otherwise make your customer journey easier.
As each customer’s journey is individual, you’ll need a full 360° view of your customers – that includes demographics and behaviors, as well as attitudes, values, desires, motivations (i.e. psychographics) to create relevant, personalized content.
Once you have personalized the content opportunities that you identified earlier in the process with psychographic profile data, you can then target new and returning shoppers to your website.
Right now, the most common methods to deliver these personalized content experiences are through advertising, email and keyword targeting.
But what about your website? The most important channel of them all?
While the technology hasn’t been there until recently, with a data-driven visual commerce platform you can create personalized buying experiences by delivering precisely the right content, at the right time, to the right individual.
And you can do so through your website, email, and your app.
That’s not all though.
Such solutions enable you to identify which content is having the most impact on sales.
So, you can prove your content’s ROI easily, cut out what’s not making a financial impact, and use real sales insights to guide your content marketing strategy.
4. Create a smoother experience
Customer interactions don’t happen in a vacuum.
Rather, your customers engage with your brand through many different channels – and at many different stages of their buying journey.
And no matter what, they expect a smooth experience with your organization.
One of the benefits of customer journey mapping is that it helps you to pick out where you may be falling short, and where silos exist within your company.
In fact, viewing the journey from the lens of your customers gives you the ability to pinpoint any areas where you may be missing interaction points.
According to McKinsey, this can be achieved by making sure that you “understand how customers navigate across the touchpoints as they move through the journey” – providing the right information at the right place and time to minimize confusion.
Some examples of missing interactions may include:
- Nurturing emails
- Being added or removed from an email list
- Triggering a workflow
By identifying holes in your processes and filling them with effective touchpoints, you can create a smooth, seamless, and consistent buying journey.
5. Predict customer behavior
As a marketer, your focus is on predicting and influencing customer behavior.
That means everything from personas to adverts, landing pages to emails, has one primary goal – persuading your visitors to act while preparing for their next action.
So, you need to know what motivates your audience both in the present and the future.
Customer journey mapping enables you to gain a much better understanding of your customers needs, wants, goals, emotions, and actions.
As a visual and data-centric representation of the story of a customer’s experience with your brand – from their first interaction to a long-term relationship – you can predict and influence customer behavior, which in turn optimizes conversion rates.
In fact, learnings can be retrieved from customer maps to develop best practices and anticipate the type of content likely to be required by your shoppers as you introduce new product lines or modify existing ones.
Although not exclusively to do with customer journey mapping, keep in mind that customer journey analytics should form an important part of the end result.
By combining behavioral data with marketing metrics, you’ll gain a much more detailed understanding of your customers’ needs, as well as insights to inform decision-making.
The starting point for personalized experiences
While the benefits of customer journey mapping are plentiful, helping you to perfect the ideal customer experience, not every customer will go down the same path.
Providing personalized buying experiences is key.
Customer journey maps can do a lot of the legwork for you, but as every customer is an individual, you need to be mindful of how to deliver the right content at the right time.
Data-driven visual commerce combines content intelligence with rich customer data, creating contextually relevant one-to-one content experiences throughout your website and other marketing channels.
Which allows you to drive sales and build long-lasting relationships with your customers.