How to Map Your Customer’s Journey in a Way that Will Not Kill Your Content Reach
Customer journey mapping is an incredibly powerful, yet somewhat elusive tool. It will never leave the abstract realm for some marketers and entrepreneurs. Just like the creation of buyer personas, customer journey mapping may remain underdeveloped – a fact that will interfere with its effectiveness.
Understanding what customer journey mapping is exactly and knowing how it can impact your marketing will play a vital role in the development of the right strategy. As content is becoming increasingly important for effective advertising, the connection between it and journey mapping will have to be explored in intimate detail.
What is Customer Journey Mapping and Why Is It Important?
Before moving on to actionable ideas for effective mapping and content creation, let’s debunk some myths and provide a clear definition of what it really is.
At its heart, a customer journey map is a diagram. It traces the steps that people go through in order to engage with a company and eventually buy a product or build a relationship with the respective brand.
The aim of the map is to trace every single experience and interaction a customer or a prospect has with the brand. Sounds easy but identifying every single type of interaction is far from a simple task. Additionally, the importance of correct mapping is huge because it can have a profound effect on every single advertising and communication approach.
Customer journey mapping makes it easier for the business to step into the shoes of the buyer. How do potential clients hear about a product or a service? What are the biggest challenges that customers face during the process? What are the best ways to address these problems? This is just a fraction of the questions that can be answered via effective journey mapping.
This being said, does customer journey mapping produce tangible benefits as far as marketing effectiveness is concerned?
A recent report on customer journey mapping suggests that the return on marketing investment is 54 percent higher for companies that engage in mapping. Additionally, the understanding of the customer’s journey leads to a 10 times improvement in customer service. The sales cycle becomes faster and the company improves its online reputation through effective tracking of the customer’s experience during every step of the way.
While customer journey mapping is so profound, it still remains abstract and many companies have no idea how to carry it out. Only 34 percent of companies have undertaken CJM in 2015 (hopefully, things have gotten better since!). Even these attempts aren’t delivering adequate results because journey mapping isn’t taking place in the best possible way. Seventy-two percent of people questioned in a survey said that CJM efforts of companies have missed their needs.
These numbers show that CJM is important, yet sophisticated process that many companies don’t know how to utilize. Making the most of it is all about a thorough approach. If you don’t have a lot of experience with CJM and you still haven’t found out how it’s going to affect your advertising/content creation efforts, keep on reading for a more thorough explanation.
The Different Types of Customer Journey Maps
There are various different types of CJMs out there. There’s no universal formula and choosing one format or the other will depend on the specific needs of your business and the type of data that you’d like to acquire about prospects.
A few of the most common customer journey maps out there include the following:
- Emotional journey map: the map focuses on the thoughts and the emotions of the buyer during different phases of the journey (research, interacting with company reps for the first time, testing a product, buying, etc.).
- Channel map: this map focuses on the most prominent platforms that customers may decide to utilize to communicate with a business. Each platform comes with its specifics that will affect the parameters of the interaction and the coming stages of the customer journey.
- Current state map: it provides an illustration of what a customer thinks, feels and does right now. It highlights the existing strengths and weaknesses of the business, as well as its communication strategy.
- Service blueprint map: this is a future state journey map. Based on the current state map, it introduces some improvements and predictions for changes in patterns of behavior/interaction that result from communication changes.
- Customer lifecycle map: it takes a deep look at every phase of the relationship between a customer and a company.
To create such maps, businesses will have to collect a ton of useful data about their clients. Some of the steps to be followed include the following:
- The creation of a detailed buyer persona
- Quantitative research, contextual inquiries, collection of online data and customer surveys
- Assessment of actions – what are customers doing during every single stage
- Assessment of barriers (for example, why does a company website have a high bounce rate? Why do people refrain from interacting with a Facebook page?)
- Using this context, identify areas of improvement
Customer Journey Mapping and Content Creation: Essentials to Remember
As you can see, customer journey mapping can have a profound impact on content creation. You’re trying to assess the entire process from the client’s point of view. Content is one of the key marketing elements. Thus, you have to make sure that your content is useful and targeted (appealing to the specific audience in question).
When trying to identify a niche and appeal to the respective persona, you risk decreasing the reach of your content and making it too narrow. In order to make CJM a useful part of the process that will have a beneficial effect on content creation, you will have to focus on a few key essentials.
Identify Possibilities for Personalization
Generic content isn’t going to do the trick in this day and age. The potential for personalization is one of the key CJM aspects to explore.
Who is the potential buyer? What’s their main goal? How can you use information to further the development of the relationship between brand and buyer? Try to answer these questions before moving forward with content creation.
Know What the Buyer Wants to do
Every single customer has specific goals and needs. Learn more about those, whether you rely on surveys or analytical data. Some potential buyer goals may include:
- Checking out the options the market has to offer
- Getting insider information that can lead to more profound choices (does the buyer need a certain product? How can the respective product address their specific need?)
- How is product A different from product B – effective comparison
- How a company’s product addresses the needs of the client
- Building a stable relationship with the brand
Create Content that Will Help Customers Achieve Their Goals
You can create tons of different types of content. By examining some of the client goals mentioned above, you will choose the content types and the topics that are a good match.
How-to guides, for example, could be used to inform potential buyers and help them choose the right product out of all options. Infographics are ideal for showing them how product A is different from product B. Social media content is readily accessible and it can be used to establish a stable relationship between buyer and brand over the long run.
Create Content for Every Single Stage of the Customer Journey
The customer journey consists of several distinct stages – awareness, consideration, purchase, service and loyalty.
Content has to be created for every single stage. Obviously, the content that people will consume during the research stage is not the same as the content they’ll need once they become loyal customers. Personalization increases with every next stage. Start with broader, informative guides for the awareness and the consideration stage. Loyal customers will be much more focused on exclusivity and “insider information.”
Know that the Sale of a Product isn’t the Ultimate Goal
Don’t create content that’s overly promotional and aimed at helping you sell. Whatever the outcome of customer journey mapping is, focus on informative content. Informative content is essential for building a relationship with prospects and buyers. If you invest in the emotional connection and the long-term attachment of prospects, you will also get to see an improvement in your financial results. Selling more products, however, should never be the final outcome of CJM and content creation.
The Lesson: Content for Every Stage of the Journey
The final takeaway is that CJM helps you pinpoint different phases in the interaction between brand and client. You can’t rely on one and the same content during each of the stages to accomplish your marketing goals.
Changing the topic itself isn’t enough – you will also have to change the format and the depth.
If your current goal is building your reputation and getting more people to learn about your brand, you can’t rely on excessively specialized content that will appeal to loyal customers. Such an approach will cull your reach. Remember that the vast majority of purchases today begins with online research. If you’re into this stage of the process, focus on general industry information. As you move down the line with your customer journey process, you can rely on depth and complexity to further the relationship development and build your reputation as an authority in the respective field.
Chief Content Officer
Annie has 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.
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