The Customer Journey have become major buzz words in marketing today. According to a report from Forrester, 63% of marketers currently use some sort of journey mapping, and this trend is expected to continue. Due to growing demand, there are many marketing technology tools that can help you create customer journey maps. Before you begin researching which tools are right for you, it is important to understand their purpose and why many marketers now consider customer journey maps an essential part of campaign strategy.
Previously, the focus for marketing and sales was mainly on the sales funnel. Many marketers created multiple sales funnels to address the needs and wants of their different buyer personas. These were generally visualized by a simple graphic like this:
In the traditional model, marketing was responsible for filling the top of the funnel, and sales was responsible for nurturing leads through to conversion. This model is still in use, however, customer behavior has changed. This made the sales funnel an imperfect way to visualize how individuals make buying decisions now. The shift is a result of how much online research leads prefer to do before ever speaking to a company. The clear-cut funnel now relies on both marketing and sales to guide customers through the entire sales funnel. Marketers increasingly use data from touch points to understand which content is successfully engaging leads in 2-way conversations. Sales works in conjunction with marketing, to ensure that qualified leads get personalized nurturing when necessary.
In this new environment, the idea of the customer journey has developed to address the “story” told by marketers behind a brand or a product. Stories are told through multiple touch points that leads will have with your company before converting into a customer. The story unfolds, and technology tools work to gather data that can be visualized into customer journey maps. These touch points can be any number of items, such as the way an individual interacts with your website, your social media profiles and any other online collateral created by your company.
This data on customer behavior helps businesses make value-driven decisions about their marketing and sales tactics. Customer journey maps also indicate where different buyer personas, or segments of your targets, could be better served. To put it in a simplified way, the customer journey map improved a major weakness of the sales funnel: it makes marketers think about the entire purchasing process from the buyer’s perspective. Better prospecting and personalization have resulted from companies who shift to this model. Naturally, customer journey maps also do not end with a purchase. They can be designed to continue nurturing customers after a purchase, which will help to create brand loyalists and evangelists.
Another added advantage with customer journeys, versus a simple sales funnel, is that they can also visualize the different journeys leads will take. This sounds complicated, but with the right tools in place, it can simply be an additional part of data collection and analysis in your marketing toolkit. Knowing the different journeys taken by leads has incredible benefits for your marketing and sales team. By analyzing all these different journeys over time, patterns will begin to emerge. These patterns will allow you to eventually predict customer behavior, shift the stories told with your content, and improve the customer experience for higher conversion rates. There is no guess work, and no assumptions are being made as was the case with the sales funnel.
Here at Vbout, when we created our Customer Journey tool, we held an internal contest to see which member of our team could come up with the most creative customer journey.
To better understand customer journey maps, here are two examples created by our team for hypothetical companies and journeys:
This journey is designed to email daily task reminders to employees. It starts with a greeting email and a link to an on-going scrum sprint in JIRA (our project management tool). Right before lunch time it then sends a "bon appetit" email including a recommended meal for the day at nearby restaurants. This is pushed to another journey that sends the notices, and in a real-world example, this could be an external app that is linked to your customer journey. It also sends a reminder email for activities which include materials and links for the suggested activity. This is another journey as well that is linked to the main one. At the end of the day, one final external journey linked to the main one, sends an email requesting that the individual record their productivity by clicking some links provided. This process is automated and it repeats every day except on holidays.
This is a journey created for students who are applying to universities. As with any journey, the beginning must be set off with a particular "trigger" that causes the rest of the activities to start. In this case, the trigger is a specific date for their entrance exam. When they signup, they will receive an email asking for the details and the date of the exam. The following actions are then triggered by dates around this event, and the journey can go one of two ways depending on what action the individual takes. For instance, the next action is triggered based on two actions taken by the student: 1. Those who open and read the first email 2. Those who don't open and read the first email.
For category #1, those who opened the first email, a second email is sent two days prior to the exam.
For category #2, those who did not open or read the email, the same email sequence is triggered but the difference is that an email is sent one week before the exam to inform applicants that the exam will be in one week.
After the event, in this case the exam, the journey continues. A third email is sent few days after the exam to the applicants who passed. This email will show them the details about when the first semester starts, their courses chosen, teachers for each course and the credits.
A fourth email is sent 3 months later to the first two students who got the highest grades congratulating them and offering 20% off their tuition fees for the second semester.
Finally, students will be pushed to another journey which is going to be the second semester and where another email sequence is created for a different student journey mapping.
How should you get started mapping out your customer journeys?
Based on the points above, there are a few simple steps to start formulating your journeys:
For more detailed, step-by-step instructions on building customer journeys using marketing automation software, we created this video to guide you through our own customer journey tool.