_ Article

How to create a customer journey map in 9 steps

Understanding your customers’ needs and pain points throughout their journey, starting from their entry point in your sales funnel, is crucial for establishing a solid customer relationship. This allows you to better manage expectations and map their journey with you in advance and be prepared in terms of actions to take. 

Understanding your customers to the extent of predicting their needs and reactions may seem like a difficult task at the start. However, in the data-centred business sphere, we operate in nowadays, intelligence sourced from the different channels used by your customers could be your greatest asset in identifying behavioural patterns. 

Nonetheless, that can only be achieved if “customer experience” is the main focus of your strategy, regardless of the channel you’re using or the action you’re putting in place.  And that is exactly where customer journey mapping comes into play. Consider it a framework that allows you to stay on track and keep your eyes on the goal. 


What is a customer journey map?

Technically speaking, a Customer Journey Map is a visualisation tool that helps you “map out” or draft a sketch for your customer experience. A sketch closer to data-based information and actions than an ideal of what you’d hope for the customer experience to be. It’s a graphic that represents all of the steps customers take to move forward in their journey and how you can be present at every step, enhancing their experience.  

The practice of digital customer journey mapping should be leveraged to help your marketing, sales, and customer service teams enhance customers' experiences. Instead of playing a guessing game about what your customers need, you can create a map to anticipate their expectations, foresee any pain points they might present along the way and connect more with them in a personalized manner.

As shown in the graphic below, a customer journey map enables your business to identify and visualize the steps your customers typically go through which constitutes the map. Moreover, the map should highlight the different touchpoints you may have with your customers, which also represent the key moments in their journey when you should connect with them. 

Other than that, customer journey mapping also provides your business with valid insights that you can leverage in constructing your marketing strategy. It is also very useful in highlighting your clients’ perceptions and interactions with your company.   

To do so, you can use Actito as it provides your business with customer journey mapping functionalities and support, along with tracking each customer's behaviour on various channels of communication. Besides collecting data, offering insights and anticipating possible future steps of customers with the help of artificial marketing intelligence.

Benefits of digital customer journey mapping

Despite its increased complexity, digital customer journey mapping is a worthwhile endeavor for your team. When you get it right, it helps you with all of the following.

Retain existing customers 

You spent time and money earning a customer’s business. Keep loyal customers around longer with better content and service informed by your customer journey map. Since customer retention is cheaper than new client acquisition, this is a boon for your budget, too. 

Master multichannel marketing

Multichannel marketing doesn’t have to be a far-off dream. Digital customer journey mapping simplifies your touchpoints in one easy-to-digest visual.

Preserve marketing resources 

Your audience needs to see specific types of content at every stage of the customer journey. Don’t waste time and money creating content that your customers don’t enjoy. Customer journey mapping helps you make the most of your resources by sharing the right content at the right time. 

What are the customer journey steps?

Before you create a digital customer journey map, you should understand the five customer journey steps customers take to become loyal brand followers. This will help you personalize their experience with the right content and touchpoints, for better results.

 1. Awareness: At this stage, customers usually realize they have a problem and start looking for solutions. This is when they learn about your company for the first time (via blog posts, social media posts, etc.). 2. Consideration: Customers dig into the details of your product or SaaS company. They compare prices and check reviews, but are not ready to commit yet.

3. Decision: Customers are ready to take action. If they find your solution efficient, they’ll become a paying customer at this point.

4. Loyalty:  Happy customers become loyal customers. They continually support your brand and never waver in their dedication, which is great for your brand image.

5. Advocacy:  A loyal customer can recommend your software or product, spread the good word and thus become an advocate of your company, whether through an official referral program or word-of-mouth within their network of friends.

To be able to move your customers throughout their lifecycle, it's important to know them by understanding their needs. To do so, don't forget to check out our series on building a customer-centric strategy!


9 Steps to create your customer journey map

Realistically, the sales path a customer is embarked on is never straight on. Although there is always a starting point and a finishing line, customers often go back and forth numerous times between the different stages of their customer journey. Especially if the sale process is a complex one, or if the product/service suite is an exhaustive one. Hence the importance of mapping out your customers' journey maps.  

With different customers come different behaviour patterns, different preferences for means of communication and different interactions with your brand in general. The assessment of these elements would eventually construct the general picture of the customer journey map. In order for the latter to be as accurate as possible, it’s mandatory for your assessment to be data-driven and to be comprehensive of all channels. 

Therefore, we introduce you below to the different steps you need to include in your strategy when constructing your customer journey map:

1. Set your goal

The first step to take is to try and answer the following questions: 

  • Why do you need digital customer journey mapping? 

  • How can you evaluate the efficiency of your customer journey map? 

  • How can you relate to customers' experiences within your customer journey strategy? 

Answering these questions, will not only help you frame your strategy but also struct and define your approach according to a goa, which should always be the main vector for your actions. 

2. Identify your buyer personas

You can’t create a customer journey map without a thorough understanding of your customers. Hence, the importance of detecting and categorising the different buyer personas that may (or may not) go through your sales funnel. 

In order to profile your buyer personas you can use various sources of data such as: 

  • Feedback forms

  • Surveys

  • User testing

  • Split testing

  • Databases

  • Customer journey analytics

You can also use software solutions that are able to connect to your sales or customer service solutions, to better understand your existing customers. 

Note: most businesses have 3–5 buyer personas.

3. Determine your buying process

Determining the different steps and actions that will lead your customers eventually to take the plunge and conclude a purchase is a key element in constructing an accurate customer journey map.  

What does your buying process look like? How do people go from hearing about your company to ordering your products or engaging your services?

 That’s exactly the kind of questions you need to come up with answers to. In a nutshell, it will allow you to define how every customer touch point ultimately (and hopefully) leads to brand advocacy. To do so, you have to list all potential customer touchpoints and customer actions.

Your company must be able to evaluate, search for information, pre and post-purchasing decision, to create a well-defined buying process for your consumers. Take into consideration all the different buyer personas you have identified before, and the different scenarios of buying processes each results in. 

4. Set your touchpoints 

Touchpoints are where & how customers and prospects interact with your business. These are pivotal to the customer experience they end up having with your company.

By setting your touchpoints with consumers you’ll have a clearer buying process which will lead to accurate customer journey mapping. The best way to keep track of these touchpoints is by noting all interactions. It can be as big as filling out a contact form or as small as scrolling past your posts on Instagram. 

Here are some customer touch point examples:

  • Your website

  • Social media

  • A physical store

  • Billboards

  • Promotional products

  • Advertising

  • Reviews

  • Emails

  • Search engine results

  • Blogs

  • Word of mouth

  • Direct mail

  • Phone calls

  • SMS marketing

  • Coupons

If you aren’t sure where to start, use your website analytics tool first to identify where most of your leads come from. This will help you see which touchpoints lead to the most customer interactions. Keep in mind that touchpoints differ from one business to another depending on your product or service. But they also differ from one buyer persona to another, depending on their typical customer journey map.

5. Identify customers' actions 

After you’ve identified all of your potential touchpoints, it’s time to list the actions that your customers may take at each one of these touchpoints. This will give you a high-level idea of how customers ultimately move from the awareness stage to advocacy via different channels: 

  • Your website: Customers can subscribe to your email list, read your blogs, or request a demo.

  • Social media: Customers can interact with your content, follow you, message you, or share your content with their friends and network.

  • Advertising: Customers can view your ads passively or click on them to learn more about your products and services. 

This can take some time, but try to list all of the potential ways people could interact with you at every touchpoint to make sure that you leave no gaps behind that can generate an interesting opportunity for your company.

A software solution such as Actito can be of great use when it comes to tracking behaviour and providing insights and analytics regarding every customer’s action across multiple communication channels.

6. Find buyer’s pain points

Once you define the buying process and create a framework for your customer journey map, you need to add the buyer’s pain points at every stage. Pain points are a customer’s immediate problems that need to be solved. 

When you know a customer’s pain point, you have a direct window of communication to tackle the challenge they’re facing and answer their need. Which can help you create just-in-time content to satisfy their needs. 

Pain points change according to the customers' touch points and the stage they’re at in the buying process. For example, Awareness-stage consumers might present pain points such as a lack of knowledge and lack of time.

7. Align customer pain points with your solution

The key step of digital customer journey mapping is to match customers' pain points with your solution. 

For example, if their pain point is that they can’t find high-quality accounting services within their budget, you can match that customer with a lower-cost service. 

You’ll need to offer a different solution for each pain point.

8. Update and improve 

One of the key steps is adapting and constantly improving your customer journey map.

Customer journey mapping isn’t just a marketing tool. You should also use it to improve every aspect of your business, including customer service, sales, product design, billing, and more importantly, customer experience.

You can always rely on your customer journey analytics to see where buyers fall out of the buying process to figure out what solutions would help them the most and anticipate their movements.

9. Experience the customer journey yourself

It’s necessary for you to go through your already set customer journey map in order to understand and relate to what potential clients would feel.

Therefore, experiencing the customer journey map is very valuable to test what you’ve drafted in terms of essential steps and the accuracy of your mapping.

To give you a competitive edge, we have put together a customer journey map canvas for you to help you map out the different stages whilst keeping a comprehensive overview of the different components and entities!

How to automate your digital customer journey mapping

Customer journey mapping is an effective way to attract and retain your ideal customers. The problem is that it requires a lot of attention and hands-on work. In a market where you’re strapped for resources, you need mapping to happen as automatically as possible. Don’t worry: You can easily execute your customer journey map with these simple tasks that are ripe for automation. 

Product recommendations

Product recommendations generate 70% more conversions. If you sell eCommerce products, automation can pull customers through the different stages of their journey more efficiently, offering upsells and cross-sales that boost revenue for less work. 


Just 2% of customers convert when they first visit an online store. Connect with shoppers when they’re ready to convert by automating your remarketing campaigns. Whether via email, display ads, or social media, remarketing automation will bring more customers from the Awareness stage and into the Decision stage. 

Email automation 

Your team doesn’t have time to send manual emails to every customer. Use email automation to set up a sequence for new customers or for abandoned carts—the sky's the limit. This makes it easy to give customers stage-specific content tailored to their pain points without any manual input from your team. 

Some businesses use multiple platforms to automate their digital customer journey, but if you want something simpler, try Actito.

Automate your digital customer journey mapping

In business, everything comes down to customer experience. You can have the best marketing and the most innovative products, but you’ll always lag behind your competitors without a personalized customer experience. Create a customer journey map to have more empathy for your customers and anticipate their needs. Follow the five tips above to create your own customer journey map for better marketing and a stronger business. 

But a customer journey map is just the beginning. You need enough marketing horsepower to actually execute your plan. If you’re trying to do more with fewer resources, try Actito. See how we make consumer activation possible at scale.

About the author


Véronique Buhler

Head of Corporate Marketing

Veronique has been fortunate enough to live and breathe marketing technology for 15 years on both sides of the English Channel. Her lifestyle is heavily influenced by English culture, music is certainly no exception. You can find her trying out new recipes, taking part in an art workshop, or exploring the fascinating world we live in.

Eager to learn more about the customer journey?