A customer journey mapping template helps you outline your customer’s buying process from beginning to end. It lists each step a prospect takes as they move toward doing business with you and reveals what they do, think, and need during that process.
With the buyer’s journey laid out in front of you, you can more deeply understand the customer experience, create more targeted marketing plans, and identify gaps where you may be missing opportunities or losing customers
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In this post, we review everything you need to know about customer journey mapping:
- What is a customer journey?
- What is a customer journey map?
- How to create (and complete) a customer journey mapping template
- How to future-proof your customer journey mapping template
We also include a customer journey mapping template you can use to outline your process, along with tips to help you create a roadmap to a more strategic marketing plan.
What is a Customer Journey?
Before you can fill out a customer journey mapping template, you must first have a deep understanding of how the buying decision process works.
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Knowing the path customers follow to ultimately end up buying from a brand helps you create a more useful and accurate journey map.
A customer journey typically flows through a purchase funnel with five stages.
5 Stages of the Customer Journey
In the awareness phase, a prospect becomes aware of a need. They begin seeking fulfillment of that need, a solution to a problem, or an answer to a question. During their search, they start to notice a brand for the first time. They become aware of the company, gain a broad understanding of who they are and what they offer, and start to see how the brand could help them.
The brand, in this phase, is working to attract attention, gain visibility, and show customers how they can help them reach their goals and get what they want and need.
In the engagement phase, a customer is already familiar with a brand, and they are learning more about them. The brand and the prospect have formed some sort of connection as the prospect gathers information that helps them in some way. The prospect may have followed the brand on social media, opted in for a newsletter, or signed up for a free trial or content upgrade.
In this phase of MOFu marketing or middle-of-the-funnel marketing, the brand treats prospects as warm leads. They nurture and engage them by providing additional information about their products and services.
By the evaluation phase, the prospect already knows that the brand can solve their problem or provide what they need. But they are still considering if the brand is the best available solution. They do research and compare the brand to others in the market.
Brands in this phase must help guide prospects toward their offerings by showing how they are superior or different from their competitors. They may provide supporting materials that show the results, outcomes, and benefits of choosing their brand.
During the purchase phase, the prospect turns into a paying customer. They have decided on a brand and are ready to buy. They just need the tools, process, and path to make their purchase.
To guide customers toward purchasing, brands must make it easy to buy in this phase. They should validate the prospect’s purchase decision with content that uses buying keywords and provide a clear path to purchase.
The customer journey does not end once the prospect makes a purchase. Customers at this point may need additional support or services, and they are also primed to buy again. Past customers are more likely to buy from a brand than new customers, so you should continue to engage buyers in this phase.
To keep customers connected, happy, and primed to come back again, brands should focus on customer service and retention marketing strategies in this phase. Create customer lifecycle marketing plans and remarketing tactics to bring customers back into the buyer’s journey.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
A typical customer journey map example includes the following:
- Customer journey (purchase process)
- Buyer personas
- Touch points
Customer Journey (Purchase process)
The buyer’s journey is a core part of a customer journey mapping template.
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It is the foundational process that connects with all of the other elements in the journey map.
Like the buyer’s journey, a buyer persona is a significant part of the customer journey map. It is a foundational element that helps guide and create other parts of your document.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional, extremely detailed description of a customer who will go through the buyer’s journey outlined above. It includes demographic, psychographic, and sociographic details that describe your ideal buyer from their age and income to their habits, beliefs, and core desires.
Before you complete a customer journey mapping template, you should start by creating a fully developed buyer persona. For help with creating this component of your journey map, download our free buyer persona template, review these 10 buyer persona examples to get inspiration for your own, or read more about common mistakes made with B2B buyer personas.
Actions are the activities the buyer does as they make their way through the buyer’s journey. They are actions that occur both in person and online. They may include:
- Performing a Google search
- Visiting a brand’s website
- Signing up for free content
- Signing up for a software demo
- Getting a free consultation
- Calling a business
- Following a social media page
- Visiting a store
- Signing up for a free trial
Questions and thoughts represent the internal dialog of the buyer as they go through the buyer’s journey. This includes any concerns and considerations the buyer processes along the way. Examples of their questions and thoughts may include:
- How can I solve my problem?
- What products/services solve my problem?
- What other options are there for this product/service?
- How much does this cost?
- Is this worth it?
- Can I find this cheaper?
- How do I buy this?
Touch points are the platforms and connections the buyer comes in contact with as they go through the buyer’s journey. These touch points may exist in person and online, and they may be branded or through a third party. Examples of touch points include:
- Social media profiles
- Print brochures
- Blog posts
- Guest posts
- Interactions with salespeople
- Product demos
- Product displays
- Product packaging
Opportunities are the options your brand has at each phase of the buyer’s journey to connect with the customer, improve their experience, and help them through the process. This is where you list the marketing strategies you can use to maximize your reach and improve your ability to connect with customers during each phase.
Content is an extremely effective tool for marketing, for brand awareness, engaging customers, and improving experiences at each phase of the buyer’s journey.
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So in addition to identifying general opportunities, you may want to create a section specifically for identifying opportunities for using content to improve and optimize the customer’s journey.
Pro Tip: You don’t always need to create brand new content from scratch. When you repurpose content, you can stretch your production and get more from your efforts.
How to Create (and Complete) a Customer Journey Mapping Template
Now that you understand the elements of a customer journey, let’s go through the customer journey mapping process.
You can use our customer journey mapping template as you go through each step. Click here to download it now.
- Identify the buyer persona you want to focus on. Include relevant details that explain who the buyer is and what they want and need.
- Fill in the actions the persona takes as they go through the buyer’s journey. Include each step of the process. How do they get from the beginning to the end of the journey?
- For each action, consider the questions and thoughts the buyer is having during the activity. Put yourself in their shoes. What is going through their mind? What are they thinking? How are they feeling?
- List the touch points the buyer comes across at each step of the process. As they take action, what are they seeing from your brand or from other brands? What tools and platforms are they using?
- Once you get a full look at the journey a customer goes through on their way to buying, identify places for improvements. How can you improve the experiences and better guide buyers? What touch points are missing? What marketing opportunities can you leverage?
- Get specific and look for content opportunities. List the types of content you can create to improve the process and guide the buyer through their questions and concerns.
With this information, you will have a detailed outline of the process a customer goes through as they make their way toward doing business with you. You’ll also gain insight into what you can do to improve that process and get more customers to the end of their journeys.
How to Future-Proof Your Customer Journey Mapping Template
Filling out this customer journey mapping template is just the beginning. Use these tips to improve the information on your map and create a reliable guide for your long-term marketing plans.
Focus on one buyer persona at a time.
A mistake that many brands make is wanting to target multiple or varied personas in one customer journey mapping template. This approach may feel like it is saving you time, but it can actually make your process less effective and strategic.
The more specific you can be about your personas and their unique buyer’s journeys, the more effective and accurate your mapping process will be.
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So start with one specific persona. Build out their customer journey map. Then go back to develop other journeys that match additional personas.
Use data to develop your personas.
Accurate personas are imperative to creating a useful customer journey map. So don’t rely on guesswork while creating your persona. Research to dig into the details and really learn about your audience.
To learn about your audience:
- Interview current customers
- Survey prospects and ideal customers
- Talk to your sales staff
- Engage in social listening
- Analyze your sales data and online analytics
Alexa tools can help you gain insights into your audience. Using the Audience Overlap Tool, you can learn more about the interests of your target audience. Enter the URL of your site or up to 10 of your competitors and receive a report of sites that your audience also visits. From this data, you can learn about your audience by seeing what other sites, topics, and platforms interest them.
With the Site Overview Tool, you can collect demographic data on the users of specific sites. Enter the URL of a site and receive a report on the audience’s age, gender, education, income, and more.
Pro Tip: For deeper research on your audience and industry, use these sites for market research.
Make sure you’re asking the right questions.
When planning a customer journey map, it’s important to list the questions your ideal buyer asks as they go through the purchase funnel. You may already know some of their questions. But as with buyer persona data, you can’t rely solely on your instincts and assumptions.
Make sure you’re asking (and answering) the right questions. Do a competitor keyword analysis to find the top keywords and phrases your audience is using and searching for.
Use Alexa’s Keyword Difficulty Tool to inform your process. Enter a topic or phrase and receive a report with similar terms that you may want to target. Each keyword includes a relevancy, popularity, and competition score so you can find the best low-competition keywords to target.
Identify the best opportunities.
The goal of filling out a customer journey mapping template is to develop better marketing strategies and insights. To ensure that you fill the opportunity and content section with good ideas, keep the following concepts in mind.
Look for ways to improve customer experience. Go through the buyer’s journey from the perspective of the customer and imagine experiencing exactly what the customer does. (You can even take it one step further and actually go through the steps outlined in the journey to get a real look at the path.) Identify ways to upgrade and improve the customer experience at each step.
Improve or add touch points. Consider every touch point the customer comes in contact with. What touch points need improvements? What touch points are missing? What touch points are most effective at moving prospects forward in their journey? Consider where the customer may need additional help or resources that currently aren’t available. And consider how you can drive more customers to the content that has been most effective.
Identify marketing opportunities. As you look at each touch point and platform the customer comes in contact with, consider which might have marketing potential. Look for places where your customer spends time or platforms they come into contact with. Identify ways you can connect with them in those places.
Identify content gaps. Review the content you currently have, and look for gaps where you are missing opportunities to target popular topics and keywords. Identify places where customers need content and information, but you fail to provide it.
To find keyword gaps, use Alexa’s Competitive Keyword Matrix. Enter your site along with up to nine of your competitors. Then use the Show Keyword Gaps filter to show untapped keyword and content opportunities.
The tool produces a report of top keywords that are driving traffic to your competitors, but not to your site. Use this as a guide to find terms and topics you should target in your content strategy.
Use strategic content in each phase of the funnel. It’s not enough to merely have content for each stage of the customer journey. To use content to move buyers through the funnel effectively, you must use the right content in each stage. Review your content to ensure that you have content to serve each phase of the funnel.
- In the early stages of the buyer’s journey, use top-of-funnel content that helps customers answer their questions and discover ways to solve their problems. Develop blog posts, infographics, videos, guides, checklists, and social media posts.
- In the middle stages, provide consideration and evaluation content that helps customers see that your product or service is right for them. Publish landing pages, case studies, and e-books. Also, provide free product demos and webinars.
- Near the bottom of the funnel, use content that helps guide prospects to purchase. Create content that focuses on conversions by targeting buying keywords that show purchase intent.
Consider where your competitors appear in the journey. While most of the customer journey map relates to your brand, reflect on where customers come in contact with your competitors during their journey. Look at the experiences, touch points, and content that your competitors use in their process and find ways to differentiate your brand and stand out.
To compare your online presence with your competitors, use Alexa’s Site Comparisons Tool. Enter your site along with up to nine competitors to see how your site traffic, keywords, reputation, and audience demographics compare to each other.
Use what you learn to direct your marketing objectives. Once you develop your customer journey map, don’t just review it and file it away. Use what you learn to drive all of your upcoming marketing objectives. The best marketing strategies are created from good data and insights.
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So use your customer journey map not just as a tool for seeing the path your customers take, but also as the path that your marketing strategy will take.
Support Your Marketing With Our Customer Journey Mapping Template and Research Tools
Customer journey mapping allows you to more deeply understand your customer and the path they take on their way to doing business with you to help you create more informed, and effective marketing plans. With our free customer journey mapping PDF, you can create a strategy that will more effectively connect with and convert your audience, and grow your business.
Get the best data to fill in your customer journey map by using Alexa’s SEO and competitive analysis tools. Sign up for a free trial of Alexa’s Advanced Plan to access the tools mentioned in this post along with other robust audience, competitor, and keyword research tools.