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How to create digital customer journey maps the modern way

Before we jump in, can you answer this trivia question: Which marketing technique has been around for a hundred years and is still going strong? Hint, look at the title of this blog for the answer.

If you guessed customer journey mapping, you’re correct. For over a hundred years companies have been mapping how and where their customers interact with them on the path to making a purchase. Visualizing the digital customer journey enables all teams to collaborate on creating a smooth and compelling experience, one that leads to more revenue, increased satisfaction and greater loyalty.

How digital customer journey maps are created today

If you’re wondering how to create a customer journey map, the steps below will walk you through what organizations today are typically doing.

  1. Profile target customer persona(s): Who are they and what are they trying to accomplish?
  2. Identify the touchpoints: Where do they interact with you and what actions do they take?
  3. Understand customer emotions at each stage and what’s top of mind

And, once the foundation is visualized and laid out, the following steps can be taken to improve the journey:

  1. Take the journey yourself
  2. Identify obstacles and pain points
  3. Highlight key areas where improving the experience will drive better results

Once you put this all together you have a powerful tool enabling you to improve the overall customer experience.

But, in the era of e-commerce, javascript and smartphones, why are we creating our customer journeys based on a model developed when computers were programmed with punch cards? To answer that question let’s go back in time over a hundred years ago.

Customer journey mapping for the pre-internet world

The current method of creating a customer journey is based on the purchase funnel, first defined over 100 year ago. A purchase funnel is a consumer-focused marketing model that illustrates the theoretical customer journey your buyers take. With a big.emphasis on theoretical. Even with data from focus groups or surveys, the standard customer journey map relies on assumptions and anecdotal evidence.

In a world where tracking data was non-existent, products were straightforward physical goods and customers had limited choices it makes sense to define up front what the customer journey should be. Despite advances in retail tracking, this is still the best we can do for journeys in the physical world or for that matter on other digital platforms

But when it comes to your own digital platforms – your website and mobile app- you have a wealth of information at your fingertips. You might already be using it in your digital marketing efforts. Why not take advantage of it to build better customer journey maps?

More data, smarter algorithms and better visualizations

The typical web session has over 1000 events. Web tracking software can locate every click and tap, which pages are visited and time spent on each element. Combine that behavioral data with user data such as device, demographics and previous interactions and you no longer need to theorize who your buyers are and what they are trying to accomplish. You know because you can see it all in real time, for every single user visiting your website or mobile app

What’s the upside to this approach? You will see first hand what they are trying to accomplish and know exactly where improvements to their experience will drive your business goals. No more subjective, anecdotal and limited data points to based assumptions on.

Real world example: Understand the audiences behind the device

Let’s take an example from our favorite pet food provider Purina. They launched a new website for their personalized pet food subscription service. Almost immediately they noticed less customers completing the quiz on mobile devices compared with desktop and wanted to know why users were dropping off.

Comparing the behavior of users visiting the site on mobile vs. desktops revealed these two audiences were actually at two different stages of the customer journey. The mobile users were exploring, coming in from social media to check out this new exciting offer. They were not yet ready to commit. Whereas desktop users were typically coming to complete a purchase or manage their subscription.

To match the expectations of the mobile audience Purina simply changed the location of where they asked for the visitor email address. This resulted in a higher quiz conversion for the mobile users and ultimately more sales.

How can you build your own digital customer journey maps to get to valuable insights like this one?

4 Steps to creating more accurate, up to date and insightful digital customer journey maps

1. Capture: Track and index all events and interaction on your website or native mobile app. This data ideally should be available in near real time and searchable by free text.

2. Analyze: Leverage advances in AI and big data analytics to automatically analyze the data for pain points, such as struggles or technical issues.

3. Visualize: Get a birds eye view of how your customers flow through your site to spot common patterns, high revenue areas or unusual abandonment spikes.

4. Elevate: Integrate the visualization with business KPIs such as revenue, customer satisfaction scores or engagement metrics.

Tips for continued improvement

Incorporate A/B testing and voice of customer data to continuously refine and streamline your customers’ journeys. For example, you can filter the map to show only customers with positive sentiment and then try to drive more traffic down the happy path. Or you can follow the downstream effects of a particular test variant to see which version has the most long term impact.

Getting started with customer journey mapping

It may seem like a big jump, but the good news is you can get started mapping a few journeys with basic tools like Google Analytics. When you are ready to upgrade to 100% of your journeys for your entire audience, consider more advanced digital experience solutions that will include the ability to do much of this work automatically. Learn how Glassbox can help with your customer journey mapping today.