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User Journey Mapping: An All-You-Need-To-Know Guide

What do all treasures have in common? A map! A map is what gets you to your goal. Be it immense riches, the Holy Grail, or customer delight. In this article, Buffalo soldiers teach you to make your own map and read others. How to make a pathway for your user and to document his entire journey. The more touchpoints, the better. If you think that the user journey ends at him making the final sale. You are quite mistaken. It begins much before even approaching you and remains long after the life cycle of the product. The sooner you map the journey, you can introduce ways to enhancing it.

We’re all quite familiar with the boon and the bane that is Google Maps. If you tell us you’ve never gotten lost while journeying from one place to another, either because Maps wasn’t working, or because you couldn’t understand the directions it was showing you- we’d ask you how it feels like being God’s favorite?

Maps help you understand what routes to take, based on what your destination is.

Of course, the destination we’re referring to here is your brand, and the map is the User Journey Map. You need to understand your customers’ journey when they decide to engage or interact with your brand, and you need to map this out to make suitable strategies.

Let’s break these words down:

What is a Customer Journey?

Customer Journey Maps are visual representations of the process that your current or prospective customers go through to achieve their own individual goals with your brand. You need to understand your customers’ preferences, their needs, and their pain points, and having a customer journey map is what helps.

User Journey Mapping

You need to map out your customers’ experiences with your brand, from their first-ever engagement that will hopefully turn into a long-term relationship.

Most customer journey maps usually start as excel sheets outlining the key events, touchpoints, customer motivations, and customer pain points. This information is combined with detailed visuals that describe a typical experience with your brand.

Customer Journey Maps are important because they break down your customers’ journey into different phases of the process, and you need to align these different steps with the goals that they’re trying to achieve.

Customer Experiences should always be a priority for any brand- and everything you do should be in an effort to solve their problems so that their long-term goals are achieved, with the help of your product/service.

Creating the User Journey Map: Step-by-Step

Maps can be tricky and confusing at times, and a lot more effort goes into making them than what you could anticipate. But fret not! We know just how to go about it, and we’ll tell you!

Step 1: Set the Objectives!

The first question you need to answer for yourself is your objective behind making the user journey map in the first place. Who is the map about? What experience convinced you to make the map?

Every aspect of your customer journey should be directed towards your target customer. Which brings us to our next step.

Step 2: Creating the Marketing Personas

Marketing personas lay down the groundwork for all your content development strategies. But what exactly are these personas we talk of?

Customer personas are a fictitious representation of your ideal customer within the targeted demographics or psychographics.

Personas essentially help you in identifying what your target customer is looking for, and can play an important role in journey mapping.

A persona resulting in a good user journey map should ideally define and describe the following points:

  • Age Group
  • Location
  • Income
  • Title
  • Expertise

Buffalo Soldiers Tip! You should analyze your website data and the current customers’ data to find out what they are engaging with and how they are behaving. You can also read more about creating marketing personas here.

For an accurate and efficient map, it is best to stick to your average, most common persona and step into their shoes to understand the route they would take when engaging with your brand.

Step 3: Determine the Touchpoints

How many places can your customers communicate with you? Those are your touchpoints, and you should list these down, based on research about your current customers’ interactions with your brand. Go a step further, and also list down the potential touchpoints, that you want them to be using.

This step gives you an insight into the actions that your customers are performing. These touchpoints are not limited to your website alone, they can also include:

  • Social Media Channels
  • E-Mail Marketing
  • Third-Party Mentions
  • Sales Team
  • Customer Support Team
  • Paid Promotions / Outbound Marketing

You need to ensure that the number of steps your customers have to take to engage or interact with you is kept to a minimum.

Buffalo Soldiers Tip!

Dig deep into trying to understand your customers’ emotions, and what motivates these emotions. Find out the pain points that might be acting as obstacles in their journey to perform their desired action.

Step 4: Elements of the Map

There are typically four types of customer journey maps

There are different benefits to each type, and you can choose the most suitable type of map according to your specific objectives.

Current State Map

The most widely used type of user journey maps, current state maps visualize what your customers currently feel in terms of their actions, their emotions, or their thoughts when they engage or interact with your brand.

If you want to continuously keep making improvements to the user journey, you should select this type of map.

Day-In-The-Life Map

These maps visualize the current experiences of your customers in their daily lives, irrespective of whether they include your brand. These maps help you in determining the pain points of your customers in real life and are best for when you want to address the unmet needs of your customers.

Future State Map

These maps visualize your perception of your customers’ actions, emotions, and thoughts when they interact with your brand in their future engagements. These are recommended when you want to map out your vision of these future interactions and want to set specific objectives with regards to that future vision.

Service Blueprint Map

These maps begin with a basic, simplified version of one of the above-mentioned map styles. Then you layer on the factors you have determined would be responsible for delivering the experience you want your customers to have. These maps are the best when you need to identify the steps you need to take to achieve these desired future customer journeys.

Buffalo Soldiers Tip! Take note of the resources you already have, and also of the resources, you would need to create the user experience you have envisioned.

If there is a flaw in a particular resource, make sure to update and optimize it at the earliest.

Step 5: Take the Journey as a User yourself

The analysis of your results is key in achieving your goals. Your map should be able to tell you where your customer needs are being met either in a dissatisfactory way or going unmet completely. By taking the User Journey yourself, you can find out where you are falling short.

Your data analysis should give you a sense of what you want your customers’ touchpoints and their journey to be. Correlate the changes required in your process, with the customers’ pain points; and then systematically address these changes instead of shooting arrows in the dark.

Buffalo Soldiers Tip!

Make your map a constant work-in-progress. Review it at regular intervals to identify gaps and opportunities to streamline the customer journey as much as possible.

Take customer feedback to understand what’s working and what isn’t, rather than relying solely on data analytics.

Wow! Customers sure need a lot of attention, eh? Well, you know how the saying goes, “The customer is king.”

We know how brand engagement works, and we can help you chart out your customer map in a way that helps you achieve your brand goals, reach out to Buffalo Soldiers and we’ll tell you how to go about it!

Author avatar
Kahni Kashiparekh