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Effective customer journey maps and how to create them


by Adobe Communications team


Mapping your customers’ journeys can feel daunting. There are many steps involved, and you may even need to create different maps for different types of customers.


Once you learn to break down the journey mapping process step-by-step, however, creating customer journey maps becomes not just manageable, but simple. This post explains what customer journey maps are, why they’re important, how to create them, and how to make them as effective as possible.


As you'll learn, there are a variety of resources available to help create customer journey maps. The more you leverage them, the faster and more efficient your mapping process will be.

  • What is a customer journey map?

  • The benefits of using customer journey maps

  • How to create a customer journey map

  • Optimizing your customer journey map

  • Customer journey map resources

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a visualization of the steps your customer goes through during the process of engaging with your company. It’s visual storytelling that helps you understand and optimize customers’ experiences with your business.


Most customer journey maps are designed chronologically, meaning they represent the customer experience as a timeline of events. But in reality, customer journeys — the series of steps from brand awareness to customer loyalty — are often not linear. Instead, customers follow a cyclical, multichannel set of steps as they engage with your business. For example, they may make purchases online as well as offline during the same period (if you operate both types of sales channels).


Customer journey maps need to account for the nonlinear nature of customer journeys, even as they also represent customer experience in a chronological fashion. To achieve the right balance, journey maps should include:

  • Customer touchpoints. Every time your customer has some type of contact with your brand, even if it’s indirect, that touchpoint should be noted on the customer journey map.

  • Customer moments of truth. Customer moments of truth happen when an event changes a customer’s perception of your brand. These are pivotal engagements and should be noted as such on the customer journey map.

  • Customer pain points. Barriers or challenges that a customer experiences when interacting with your brand — such as hiccups in digital sales tools or delayed shipments — should be included on the map so you know how such events correlate with overall brand perception.

  • Desired actions. Your customer journey map should note the actions you intend for customers to take, such as engagement with content or the completion of a purchase.

  • Completed actions. Note the actual actions your customers take so that you can determine how often their behavior aligns with desired actions. When your customer journey maps include all of the above information, you end up with holistic information that can help you deliver maximum benefits.

The benefits of using customer journey maps

Understanding your customers’ experiences is critical. Investing in the customer experience leads to revenue increases in 84% of cases, according to research from Dimension Data. And PwC reports that poor customer experiences are the primary reason that people sever brand loyalties.


Increasing return on investment (ROI) and building a stronger brand are definitely sufficient goals, but how does customer journey mapping do it? Journey maps provide detailed benefits, including:

  • Targeted customer insights. The more you know about your customers, how they behave, and what they like and dislike, the better you can optimize marketing and sales processes.

  • Increased customer engagement. Customer journey maps provide insights you need to create the kind of interesting and informative content your customers want to see, improving the effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts.

  • Higher customer retention. Satisfied customers are return customers. According to Zendesk, 61% of customers will abandon your brand after just one bad experience, but on the flip side, 71% of customers buy more from a brand they trust. Optimized touchpoints. Some customer touchpoints are more successful than others, and customer journey maps help you identify the most effective ones. They may reveal, for example, that a certain ad channel is associated with low rates of engagement — so to address that, you could redirect your marketing spend to a more effective touchpoint.

  • Better customer focus. Mapping the customer journey helps to place customers at the forefront of your company’s operations and get ahead of challenges that could undercut their experiences. For example, if you are expecting a customer surge, you can proactively inform your customers of the expected delay and launch alternative resources for them.

  • More new business. The more you know about the journeys of your current customers, the better positioned you are to expand on what works to engage new types of customer personas through campaigns tailored to them.

  • Fewer business silos. Customer journey maps help every department visualize its respective impact on the customer experience. In turn, these maps help increase cross-unit functionality with regard to serving customers. In short, customer journey maps help stakeholders from a variety of business units to understand customers better — and that drives success across the business.

How to create a customer journey map

Successful customer journey mapping can be broken down into five key steps.


1. Set goals

First, you need a clear goal. Rather than creating a customer journey map just to create one, decide what you are hoping to accomplish through the map, which customers you are targeting, and which types of experiences you want your maps to highlight. In addition, your goals for creating the customer journey should reflect your overall company goals, such as increased revenue or improved customer retention.


Be sure to also decide on relevant metrics you can track as you create and use your customer journey maps. Setting clear goals is worthless if there’s no standard for measuring them.


2. Define your personas

Determine which customer personas you want to target when creating maps.

If you don’t have well-developed personas, or you need to update them, you can get the insights you need through surveys, interviews, testimonials, reviews, and feedback from customer relations teams. These teatend a good perspective on the pain points that lead to falloffs during the buying journey.ms to have


The more specifics you can collect about who your customers are and what they want, the more effective your customer journey maps will be.


3. Determine your touchpoints

Identify the touchpoints that you’ll represent on your customer journey maps. Touchpoints are any point of engagement between customers and your brand, and they are the foundation for your customer journey map.


Consider all of the places where the customer may interact with your business. Be sure to factor in indirect engagements, like reviews of your brand that customers read on third-party sites, in addition to direct touchpoints that you maintain. Each and every touchpoint can drive customer conversion, so it’s critical to represent all the possibilities.


4. Map the current buyer journey

Once you’ve identified your customers and touchpoints, you can map the steps that buyers follow on their way to making purchases. Be sure to represent every variation on the buyer’s journey, including different types of sales channels, multiple product versions, and small-volume as well as large-volume purchases.


5. Map the ideal buyer journey

The journey you want customers to take may vary from their actual journey, especially if you release new products or services and the desired buyer journey changes as a result. Be sure to represent the ideal buyer journey alongside actual buyer journeys on your maps.


Optimizing your customer journey map

Creating customer journey maps is a huge step toward increased visibility into the customer experience, an enhanced ability to reach new personas, and better cross-unit functionality within the business. No customer journey map is ever truly “done,” though. They need regular reviews and updates to keep them optimized.


Whenever your product or service offerings change, your customer journey maps will need to change too. Likewise, whenever you detect new types of customer roadblocks — challenges related to pricing, brand credibility, or product functionality — you’ll want to add them to your customer journey maps.


You can also optimize these maps by investing in tools that automate omnichannel marketing. These tools can make it more efficient to generate and update customer journey maps, especially in cases where customers engage with your business through multiple channels at once.


Customer journey map resources

Although creating customer journey maps may seem complicated at first, they’re actually quite simple once you break the process down into manageable steps.


Adobe Analytics can help you optimize both online and offline interactions so that you can optimize your customer journeys using data to create comprehensive customer journey maps. Likewise, Adobe Customer Journey Analytics can help you to visualize cross-channel customer interactions.


The better your ability to automate the process of tracking and interpreting the customer experience, the more efficient and effective your customer journey mapping process will be.

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