Customer Journey 101: What is the Customer Journey & Why is it Important for Your Business

Most organizations focus on creating better products and setting competitive prices to gain a stronger market share. However, these are not typically enough to help every business thrive. One integral aspect of business growth that many fail to emphasize is the customer itself. Customers fuel business growth, and that's why it’s essential to understand their needs and buying behaviors. One way to accomplish this is by mapping their customer journey.

Customer Journey 101

What Is the Customer Journey?

The customer journey is the complete lifecycle of a customer’s relationship with a business. It describes the process that they go through when interacting with your brand, from the moment they learn about your company (brand awareness) to the years of repeat purchases and deep customer loyalty. This process also includes deadends, where customers may stop and decide not to proceed with a purchase.

Mapping the customer journey is not a new concept in marketing. It’s a strategy that has been used for decades, but not many businesses use it to its full potential. In this rapidly shifting marketing environment, there’s a need to focus on more consumer-centric approaches. This is why the customer journey must be at the top of your marketing checklist.

Why Is It Important for Your Business?

Knowing the path that your customer follows to purchase provides meaningful insights into the customer experience. That experience takes center stage in successful marketing strategies, making it an essential focus for optimization. The customer's needs should drive every aspect of your marketing strategy from content through to exclusive offers. So, it's crucial to understand what consumers do and what they expect at each stage of the process.

By mapping out the customer journey, companies can better visualize where the roadblocks have occurred and strategize about how to overcome these obstacles. For example, if many prospective customers place items in their cart, but do not complete checkout, you can see that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. You can also see potential smaller hurdles that present themselves along the way. Perhaps a customer doesn't like a company's shipping charges, but they would have dealt with them if they offered a coupon or had a better return policy. Depending on how your journey is designed, this could be information that can be gathered and addressed over time.

Here are some of the most concrete benefits of understanding the customer journey:

More meaningful interactions

When you know what information your customer seeks and how they want it to be delivered, your interactions can become more meaningful. You’ll be able to understand their behavior, acknowledge their struggles, and empathize with them. This information will also help to guide your marketing team when determining which channels to use for various marketing campaigns to boost engagement. Ultimately, the information gleaned from a well-developed customer journey results in more successful business outcomes.

Improved customer retention

An analysis of consumer behavior will provide insights into how customers respond to the sales process. Use this information to eliminate gaps, remove pain points, and streamline the overall customer experience. The result is increased satisfaction, higher customer retention, and long-term relationships that foster more sustainable business.

Better content creation

When companies genuinely understand their customers and their typical path to purchase, they can speak to their needs, concerns, and interest at every step along the way. The customer journey provides the contextual information that brands need to craft and deliver high-quality content that connects with their audience. By assessing the customer experience, marketing teams can develop a glossary page of topics that customers are likely to be interested in—the type that immediately grabs their attention. Overall, this leads to a more targeted, engaging, and cost-effective marketing campaign.

Stronger, Faster ROI

The customer journey uncovers consumer insights that promote stronger and faster returns on investments across marketing efforts. Understanding how customers interact with the brand, guides the company's messaging and targeting, resulting in a higher likelihood of viewer interest. Businesses can optimize channels and craft better, more effective marketing strategies, resulting in more robust engagement, conversions, and ROI.

Reduced Costs

A well-documented customer journey can reduce end-to-end service costs by enabling marketing teams to focus their efforts on activities that matter. Brands can maximize the use of their resources by only investing in opportunities that align with their customers’ needs. This will help to avoid wasting time and money on efforts that don’t positively impact the customer journey.

Boosts in Sales

Knowing how your customers behave at every step of their journey with your company enables you to provide what they need at each stage. As their needs are met at each step, they are more likely to continue through the sales funnel until they eventually purchase. The easier that process is, and the more that they feel seen, the more likely it is that they will become repeat customers and excellent advocates for your brand.

How Do You Map the Process?

The customer journey map is a visual representation of the full experience that your customers have with your business. You can also think of it as a glossary page of their behaviors as they interact with your company.

The map is drawn from the consumer's perspective, keeping them at the center of all activities. The customer journey should be an actionable map that brands can use to enhance the overall consumer experience. It must include concrete steps that the company can take to improve its business processes and provide better service to its audience.

To create a customer journey map, start with these steps:

  1. Identify your target audience and their goals. Then, draw their journey lifecycle with your business.
  2. Make a glossary page or an outline of customer touchpoints, including your website, social media platforms, marketing campaigns, call centers, SMS interactions, sales reps, customer service, and technical support.
  3. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your current map. Highlight the successful aspects of the journey and analyze any gaps and pain points.
  4. List ideas about how to streamline the consumer's journey to provide smoother interactions and better service.

When creating your map, prioritize a consumer-centric approach. Focus on what the customer does at each stage of the journey. Also, keep in mind that journey mapping is not a one-time activity. You must continually analyze and revise your map, or redesign it entirely, to adapt to changing consumer needs and behaviors. Ready to get started? Learn more about the steps to create your customer journey map.

Customers Are the Heart of Your Business

Creating a customer journey map allows you to experience the purchasing process through the eyes of your customers and helps you understand their buying decisions. This information can be used to optimize marketing channels, streamline processes, and improve customer satisfaction. What you learn from the customer journey helps the entire company stay focused on what the customer needs and how to provide it, instead of merely thinking about how to sell products and services. Remember, customers should be your primary concern. When you put them at the heart of your business, growth becomes inevitable.