Understanding your customers is a key component of your inbound marketing strategy. By having a grasp on your target audience’s shopping patterns, wants, needs and communication styles, you will be prepared to target your key audience, deliver optimal service and garner more business.
One way to better understand your customers — both existing and potential — is to create a map that visualizes the entirety of their experiences. By building a thorough customer journey map, you’ll understand where customers interact with your brand (a.k.a. touchpoints) and where you can communicate with them throughout the buying process. In order to create a detailed customer journey map, you’ll need to cover five important points.
Before delving into your map, you’ll want to establish clear objectives. Determine what you want from your customers and what you hope developing this map will reveal about them and your brand. Beyond your own aims, you’ll also want to determine what your customers’ goals are. What do they want to achieve at the end of the buying process?
By shedding some light on the answers to these questions, you’ll be equipped to create buyer personas. These fictional personas will be based on research that includes surveying your real, existing customers, and will establish the unique desires of your ideal clients. After building out a few buyer personas, you’ll be able to start mapping their customer journey.
There are many occasions when a potential customer might interact with your brand, both online and in person. These interactions are known as touchpoints. When creating your customer journey map, you will want to list all of the most likely places that customers might come into contact with your brand. You can find this data by polling existing customers, using analytics tools, or by doing searches for your brand online.
Think about the social media boosting you’ve done, look into the analytics on Facebook ads, AdWords promotions and Instagram campaigns. Find and document any media coverage you’ve received or any tags or @ mentions that your brand has garnered online. Document these touchpoints on your map. While you’re at it, this is also a good time to map out any potential touchpoints you hope to build into your process in the future.
By determining these points of contact, you’ll have a greater understanding of any roadblocks that may get in your customers’ way during the buying journey.
While you’re discovering touchpoints, you’ll discover areas where customers are getting lost or misled, as well as any missing areas where you can interact with your customer. There will be many ways to discover that you’re losing the interest or engagement of your clients. Maybe you’re finding that online shopping carts are frequently abandoned, or people aren’t spending much time on your site at all. Maybe you aren’t getting any traction on your social media ads or not garnering any interest in promotional content. Maybe your products or shipping fees are simply priced too high. By looking at these roadblocks, you can begin to address the issues by simplifying processes, pulling out confusing navigation or trying different methods of marketing. Be sure to notate your newfound roadblocks on your customer journey map.
Now that you know what obstacles are getting in your customers’ way, you can attempt to mitigate these issues. Note the ways you have or intend to minimize or remove these obstacles on your map and outline the new way that a customer will navigate the buying process. This will give you a clear view of how the roadblocks obstructed the simplified journey and how a new, improved navigation will make for a more streamlined customer experience.
Once you have mapped and improved your ideal customer journey, you’ll need to test it. Navigate your customer journey as one of your personas would and ensure that no new obstacles arise. Even once you have discovered and established a streamlined journey, don’t be tempted to rest on your laurels. You should continue to re-evaluate your buyer personas and customer journey map on a regular basis. Your processes will likely change along the way, as will the way your customers interact with your company, so keep it fresh and keep listening to your customers.