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The business benefits of customer journey mapping

  • 7 min read

Customer Journey mapping is a term that is increasingly being used within the marketing industry, the but definition of what exactly it means is still very much in dispute. Many commentators refer to Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) in a way that is more user experience design (UX) such as what web layouts optimise the customer’s progress through the site and reduces the number of clicks to sale. While UX is important it is only a facet of what Customer Journey mapping really is and does not scratch the surface of the business benefits that can be realised when done correctly.

True Customer Journey Mapping involves defining your audience’s buying journey towards a commercial goal. Here you put yourself in the shoes of your audience/prospective customer and identify what their real world pain points and circumstances are that could trigger them to start searching for a solution in which you could help them with. You then carefully map all the information your audience is going to need to facilitate their thinking and take them on a psychological journey where they will then be receptive to your sales messages to purchase your product.

This approach is in stark contrast to the way many businesses create their current communications. They often start with the product they have to sell or commercial goal they have to achieve, work out what they want to say about this product and then think about the audience and channel they want to communicate to them with last. Unsurprisingly the effectiveness of this approach is limited as the communications are coming from the businesses’ perspective and not the customers, and often does not contain all of the information required to enable your audience to move forward to purchase, resulting in them going elsewhere.

In contrast, effective Customer Journey Mapping should not only map the audience’s journey from initial engagement through to sale but also on to post sale, which is rarely the case many businesses take today. Mapping the journey through to post sale helps define where your audience could potentially head next and also what communications they would need to receive based on the journey they took to get there i.e. it makes their end-to-end experience contextually relevant.

When Customer Journey Mapping is done effectively the sorts of benefits you can realise as a business are:

The ability to engage customers through their entire journey (and increase lead volume)

Almost all consumers now perform a large amount of their buying journey online doing initial research, reviewing social media comments, looking at professional reviews, user reviews, websites, product demos, etc. Typically, all of this research is done via google, which brings up a myriad of different sites each with their own biases in influencing the audience in some way. But what if you mapped out all of this content and created it so that it was all available on your own content hub and online properties? Customer Journey Mapping allows you to do just that by mapping out all the key pieces of information your audience will need and informs when to serve it to them to move them along their journey. Using this approach means your audience does not have to go elsewhere to find all the information they need as it is one place, meaning you do not lose them. When your audience can have their entire journey with you without the need to go elsewhere, it allows you to capture data on your audience engagement throughout their whole journey and understand them better, but more importantly you get influence them towards your commercial goal. This ability to maintain your audience brought about by CJM then increases your volume of leads moving through to your commercial goal, improves your search ranking as you have more of the content your audience wants, which ultimately makes you more profitable.

The ability to improve internal alignment

Almost every business suffers from internal silos. This is where different parts of the business who all have responsibility in communicating with customers in some way, are not aligned and instead behave based on their own department/siloed objectives. The social team for example may be measured on how many views, likes or shares they can get but not on what the audience do after they have engaged on social media. The campaign team are measured on open rates and click through rates but then do not really care where the audience go after they have clicked through. The web team are measured on the number of website hits and bounce rates… you get the idea. With all of these silos operating independently of each other yet all of them communicating with the customer, results in a disjointed and often conflicting journey for the customer with lots of comms and content duplication. By mapping your customer’s buying journey and using this as the backbone for all of the individual silos to organise around (i.e. the customer which is the shared point of interest), will mean all communications are lined up, each team knows their role in the customer journey and as such can eliminate duplication, reduce cost and improve customer satisfaction.

To attribute marketing spend to sales

Often seen as the marketing nirvana by many, being able to attribute sales to marketing activity is vital for any modern business. Whilst digital has enabled better tracking, data privacy laws and an explosion in new digital channels has in fact made attribution harder than ever. This is why you get the ‘last click attribution’ effect where literally the last thing the customer clicked on before the sale is recorded as the cause of sale without knowing what other comms influenced the customer prior to this. However, by effectively mapping your customer journeys from initial marketing engagement through to sales engagement and then on to post sales engagement, you will be able to track where and when your customer engages along each map. This will then allow you to easily see what elements of the journey contributed in moving an audience through to sale, empowering you as a marketer to see where you should focus your attention moving forward and what your audience needs to help them move along on their respective journeys.

To predict future sales

With the above in mind in terms of being able to attribute marketing activity to sales activity through customer journey mapping, it will also enable you to predict future sales. If you map out all of your customer journeys and track their progress along them you will be able to see clearly which journeys, comms and content are most relevant to your audience, which has the highest level of conversion and what the typical conversion levels are for each journey. As time progresses this data will improve and allow you to see that if you invest in a certain part of the journey to generate more leads, then based on your journey conversion rates, will lead to X number of sales. For the first time businesses will be able to predict with a great level of accuracy their marketing spend against sales delivered and future sales performance based on marketing expenditure.

In summary: Customer Journey Mapping is crucial for every modern marketer

Customer Journey Mapping (CJM) is much more than defining a user experience.  CJM is where you define the audience’s buying journey from their perspective and not your own. Doing so allows you to provide them with the content and communications they need to move along a seamless and joined up journey that moves them ever closer to your commercial goal. When done effectively it will provide a benefit to your customers as you have helped them find a solution to their problem in an efficient and helpful way. At the same time it will align your internal siloes and increase the number of customers created. This will also enable you to predict future sales and ultimately achieve the marketing nirvana of attributing marketing activity directly to sales.