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How to Do Digital Customer Journey Mapping in 5 Steps

Customers might have relied on a sales rep to make decisions once upon a time, but today, all of your buyers educate themselves. They read reviews, watch videos, and visit your website. 

Digital channels make it possible for customers to engage with you, but this long, meandering process means it takes more time and touch points to convert every prospect. 

Despite this complexity, customers expect you to personalize their experience: 36% of retail shoppers want more personalized experiences. How can you do that at scale? 

In a world that expects 24/7 personalization, you need to get a holistic view of the customer journey. The best way to do that is with customer journey mapping. Learn how to create a map of your own and check out our three real-world examples of customer journey maps.

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What is digital customer journey mapping?

Digital customer journey mapping is a visualization tool that helps you understand and plan for the customer experience. It’s a graphic that represents all of the steps customers take to convert—and how you can be there for them at every step.  

Digital customer journey mapping helps marketing, sales, and customer service teams empathize with a customer’s experience. Instead of guessing what your customers need, you can create a map to anticipate their needs and delight them at every turn.  

A solid customer journey map will document all of the potential micro-interactions a consumer has with your brand, whether via social media, email, or your website. While digital strategies make it a cinch to connect with consumers, the endless opportunities for connection make multichannel marketing more confusing and complicated. That means digital customer journey mapping will look longer and more cyclical than pre-digital customer journey maps. 

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 touch points to get results.

 1. Awareness: The customer realizes they have a problem and starts to look for solutions. This is where they’ll learn about your company for the first time (via blog posts, social media posts, etc.). 

2. Consideration: The customer digs into the details of your product or service. They compare prices and check reviews, but are not ready to commit yet.

3. Decision: The customer is ready to take action. If they like your solution, they’ll become a paying customer at this point.

4. Loyalty:  Loyal customers not only advocate on your behalf, but they also become a customer for life. They continually support your brand and never waver in their dedication, which is great for your bottom line.

5. Advocacy:  A delighted customer encourages others to choose you, too—whether through an official referral program or word-of-mouth marketing to their friends.

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How to do digital customer journey mapping in 5 steps

Not sure how to create a customer journey map for your business? Follow these five steps to do digital customer journey mapping for your unique situation. 

1. Have a goal

Why do you need digital customer journey mapping? What’s the point? Don’t ask your team to dedicate hours of time to a customer journey map without understanding your motivation.

Maybe you need to sell more of your high-margin products. Or maybe you want to use the map for a new product launch. A goal will help you create a customer journey map that actually serves your business needs, which translates into higher ROI. Always start the customer journey mapping process by understanding your ultimate “why”.

2. Create buyer personas

You can’t create a customer journey map without a thorough understanding of your customer. If you haven’t already, create buyer personas for your business. But don’t guess what your customers need: Let real-world data inform your personas for more accurate journey mapping. 

This means sourcing customer information from: 

  • Feedback forms

  • Surveys

  • User testing

  • Split testing

  • Databases

  • Customer journey analytics

You can also connect with your sales or customer service team to understand your customers. Since these employees interact with customers the most, they have a better idea of what it takes to satisfy your audience. 

Most businesses have 3–5 buyer personas. Instead of creating one generalized customer journey map for all of your personas, create one map per persona. If your team is facing a time crunch, choose your most important or profitable persona first. 

3. Define the buying process

What does your buying process look like? How do people go from hearing about you to ordering your products? You need to define how every customer touch point ultimately leads to brand advocacy. To do that, you have to list all potential customer touch points and the customer actions that accompany them.

List all customer touch points

Regardless of where they find you, all customers touch on several major milestones in their relationship with you. To define your buying process, you should list every point where you have direct contact with a lead. This 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 to see where most of your leads come from. This will help you see which touch points lead to the most customer interactions.

Look at customer actions

Now that you’ve identified all of your potential touch points, list the actions that customers take at each of these touch points. This will give you a high-level idea of how customers ultimately move from the awareness stage to advocacy. 

Every business is different, but here’s how this might look: 

  • 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, DM you, or share your content with their friends. 

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

This can take some time, but try to list all of the potential ways people could interact with you at every touchpoint.

At this point, you’ll need to fit each potential customer action into the five stages of the customer journey. For example: 

  • Awareness: Customers visit your website, read a blog, or see your ads. 

  • Consideration: Customers request a demo, subscribe to your email list, or DM you on social media. 

  • Decision: Customers set up a call with your sales team or make a purchase online.

  • Loyalty: Customers join your VIP rewards program to earn points on every product they purchase. 

  • Advocacy: Customers share your content with their friends or join your referral program. 

This will create a framework for your buying process, which is the major structure for your customer journey map. 

4. Find the 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 burning, immediate problems that they need to solve. When you know a customer’s pain point, you have a direct window into their emotional needs, which can help you create just-in-time content to assuage their needs. 

Pain points will change according to the customer’s touch point and stage of the buying process. For example, Awareness-stage consumers might feel pain points like a lack of knowledge or time. Look over your touch points and specify your customers’ pain points at every stage to understand their immediate needs. 

5. Map the customer’s pain with your solution

The final step of digital customer journey mapping is to match a customer’s pain point 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, but this will help you connect with more customers when they need you the most. 

However, keep in mind that customer journey mapping isn’t just a marketing tool. You should use it to improve every aspect of your business, including customer service, sales, product design, billing, and more. 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.

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. 

Remarketing

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-actito

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.

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