Knowing your customers has and always will be the first rule of business.
That’s the only answer to the question: “Why is customer journey mapping important?”.
Whether online or in-person, a business that fails to do this won’t last for long. That being said, it’s impossible to ignore how the way we shop has changed and how it has affected what we need to know. A good customer journey map can fix that.
Getting to know your customer’s journey is integral to getting the most out of your eCommerce website. Not only does it help you learn about how users are arriving at your store, but it also provides you with a solid foundation to build your marketing campaigns upon and can lead to an increase in revenue.
What is customer journey mapping?
Customer or user journey mapping is what it sounds like. It’s a visual map that charts the complete journey an individual customer takes as they make a purchase and makes a note of how they interact at various touchpoints within your business.
A typical website user map will show you everything from what type of device a customer is accessing your site from, what channel drew them to your site, what delivery option they chose, and what payment method they used.
Going even deeper, a customer journey map can also include a customer’s behaviour outside of your site before, during and after the buying process.
Why is it important to map the customer journey, and how can it increase revenues?
User journey mapping is critical because looking at your site through a customer’s eyes forces you to see it how they do. This is the best way of finding out if you are meeting your user’s expectations, which can highlight areas for improvement that will lead to a more positive user experience and higher conversion rates.
Let’s run through an example: You run a business that sells t-shirts, and you’ve just launched a new range that you are advertising via targeted social media ads.
After creating a customer experience map, you notice that visitors are arriving through the ads.
Once on your site, the customer flicks through product images, takes a look at the delivery options and then goes searching for product reviews on your website and social media accounts.
Whilst on your site, your customer takes advantage of a pop-up that offers first-time customers a discount if they sign up to your mailing list. A week later, your customer revisits your site after receiving an email, at which point they take advantage of their discount and make a purchase.
The customer journey map has displayed the whole customer experience to you; you can begin to look deeper. On the day, the email pushed the customer towards converting, but they wouldn’t have received the email if not for the pop-up, and they wouldn’t have received the pop-up if your advertising hadn’t taken them there.
Moreover, they may not have converted without seeing good reviews that they had to look for externally.
This is just one journey, but it can already give you an idea of where improvements could be made. Of course, more customer journey maps will be needed before you can build a holistic picture of your customer experiences.
Still, the process is worth it as 91% of consumers claim that a positive experience makes them more likely to return.
Everything has to be omnichannel
A key takeaway from the example above is that you have to view every point the customer interacts with your business as one entity because this is how they see it.
Your site developers, marketing team, physical warehouse and customer service team could be based a million miles away from each other. Still, ultimately it makes no difference to your customer who sees it as one experience with one business.
Appreciating this allows you to view the bigger picture and better identify the areas that matter and where your efforts should be focused.
How to start customer journey mapping?
Set your goals
The first thing you have to do when starting the customer journey mapping process is clearly defining what you want to achieve. Customer experience mapping gives you vast quantities of analytical information, and trying to address all potential areas for improvement in one go will lead to a whole host of new problems.
Start building your customer journey maps with an area of focus in mind. This could be something as specific as seeing how many people are enlarging your product images to something as general as working out how long customers contemplate a product before they even search for it.
What stages of the customer journey do you want to consider?
You have to remember that someone browsing your site started the buying process before they even got online. Because of this, it’s essential to decide how much of the customer journey you want to take into consideration.
Are you just going to look at the behaviour that happens whilst they’re online or take a step back and look at the broader picture that takes their offline behaviour into account?
Whatever you decide, having a clear start and endpoint in mind is crucial to create customer journey maps successfully.
Decide what personas you are mapping for
It’s impossible to create a strong customer journey map without taking into account different people’s behavioural and emotional tendencies. Decide what customer personas you would like to look at and base your customer journey maps around them.
How to gather data?
Remember that user journey mapping is all about getting to know your customer. So, it’s unsurprising that the best place to gather the information you need is from your customers themselves.
The most effective way to do this is through interviewing your targeted customers directly. Whilst this may seem like a hard sell, it is by far the best way to get a definitive picture of their internal thought processes and offline behaviour.
Businesses have long used incentive-based focus groups and interviews to garner high-quality customer feedback and whilst relatively high cost and labour intensive, it clearly delivers results.
Any other form of customer feedback you have access to can also be helpful. Reviews, conversations with customer support, social media comments etc; are all useful resources in understanding your customer personas.
If you are a new business and do not have access to a bank of such material, this can be done by checking what your target audience is saying online and the types of discussions they typically have on social channels.
Although much less precise, the Behavioural Flow and Goals Flow reports in Google Analytics can give you a general overview of how visitors are accessing your site. The advantage here is that you have a basic idea of where your strengths and weaknesses are so you can tailor your targeted questions around them.
The downside is that it fails to take persona into account, and you have to do more legwork to gleam results from the information.
Something to remember
Just like all methods of conversion rate optimisation, the customer journey mapping process takes time and dedication to achieve longer-term benefits. It’s a building block process that will take a certain amount of trial and error and some interpretation but following the aforementioned advice is a solid point to push off from.