How to Create Customer Journey Maps You Can Actually Use

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Customer journey maps tell the story of how people behave when interacting with your brand across different touch points. Creating a journey map helps businesses make sense of consumer behavior—ultimately helping to improve and optimize the user experience. 

Lots of “experts” out there make this process way too complex.

At Crazy Egg, we take a simple and logical approach to creating customer journey maps–we cut out the noise and get straight to what matters.

How to Create a Customer Journey Map from Scratch (In Just Four Steps)

With a customer journey map, your business can easily visualize all of the steps and experiences a customer has with your brand. Framing this experience as a story helps put yourself into the shoes of buyers so you can better understand their wants and needs at every stage.

Using a visual representation of your customer journey provides a bird’s-eye view of every potential turn or action someone can make while interacting with your brand.

Then you can make critical changes to your marketing and business strategy to improve the customer experience based on all potential scenarios. 

Step 1: Create Content for Each of the Five Purchasing Stages

The first thing you need to do is understand the five stages that drive every purchasing decision—awareness, consideration, conversion, retention, and loyalty. 

Then, you need to have a good mix of quality content that appeals to buyers at different stages of the purchase process.

Here’s a closer look at the types of content you should have for each of these five stages:

Awareness — The goal here is to create content that attracts leads and encourages them to become customers. People in this stage may not even know what products or services you provide yet. So you’ll need to create educational and informative content, like a variety of blog posts, podcasts, ebooks, explainer videos, and social media campaigns to help boost awareness.

Consideration — By now the customer knows who you are and what you offer. You can use content like case studies, webinars, testimonials, and product comparison guides to help steer them toward your brand over market alternatives. 

Conversion — All content in the conversion stage should directly trigger the consumer to make a purchase. Highly targeted email campaigns, free trials, free demos, and cart abandonment campaigns all fall into this category. 

Retention — Retention content should always deliver some kind of value to your existing customers while also keeping your brand top of mind. At this stage, you could encourage users to download your mobile app or send them emails with helpful tips for getting the most out of your products or services. You can also create promotional content to encourage upgrades and cross-sells. 

Loyalty — At the loyalty stage, everything you do should be about getting your retained customers to spend more money and increase their purchase frequency. Aside from creating customer loyalty programs, you can also develop referral programs at this stage that allow your best customers to become your biggest advocates. 

Five stages of the purchasing journey plus different types of content to create for each stage

We’re just barely scratching the surface here with the types of content you can create at each stage. That’s because this content will look really different depending on your industry and what you’re selling. That’s really a much larger topic that falls outside the scope of this guide, so let’s get our focus back to the journey map. 

The goal of this step is to ensure you’re drawing in people from all parts of your conversion funnel.

If you’re missing content at different stages, spend some time to create high quality content that fills those gaps. This is super important, and it’s ok if it takes a while. 

Step 2: Map Out All of Your Touch Points

The first step was identifying all of the content you have already and making sure you’re reaching people at every stage of the funnel–this next step involves laying them all out and organizing them into touch points.

Touch points are broader than pieces of content. Rather than an individual piece of content or asset, it’s a group of assets that share the same goal. A touch point could also be an interaction instead.

Here are some examples:

Social media ads — Simple and quick ways to boost awareness while customers are scrolling in a non-buying mindset. 

Homepage — Should clearly articulate who you are and what you do, so the visitor understands your brand in a matter of seconds. 

Landing pages — More specific product or service verticals that get reached as a visitor progresses further down your funnel.

Someone else’s social media posts — People might see your brand mentioned on social media by another customer or another business you’ve partnered with. 

Third-party reviews — Either on specific customer reviews platforms (like Yelp or Tripadvisor) or in long-form blog-style reviews from third-party websites. 

Your own blog posts — People can land on these pages through your organic SEO efforts or if you’ve sent them to a new blog though an email campaign or social media post. Unlike third-party reviews, in total control of what’s being said on your own blogs. You may have different types of blog posts, like top lists, comparisons, tutorials, or something else entirely. You can break these different types into individual touch points if each type has a different goal in mind.

Inbound phone calls — Customers and prospects can dial your call center for sales, support, or general questions. It’s important to give them this option, and it’s worth setting up a virtual call center even if you have a small or one-person business. 

In-store or face-to-face — In many instances, customers visit your store with the intention of buying something. However, some face-to-face interactions may be accidental (like a shopping mall, where a buyer just happens to pass your store while browsing from something else). 

Email — These can come in all shapes and sizes, like a newsletter blast to your entire subscriber list or a targeted cart abandonment email to specific users. 

Live chat Live chats are often prompted when a customer has questions about a product, order, or problem. But it can also be initiated by your business using a chatbot to encourage further interaction while a visitor is navigating your website. 

Billing — Each time you send an invoice or automatic payment receipt to your customer, it counts as a touch point. 

There are literally dozens of different potential touchpoints for your business. The list above is a good starting point, but make sure you go through all of the possibilities for your business.

To map them all out, we recommend Figma because it makes it really easy to stay organized–plus, you can use it for free. You can use whatever tool you want (pen and paper, Canva, etc.), just make sure each touch point you identified has its own box. 

From there, tie all the pieces of content you identified or created in step one to your touch points.

Mapping out CrazyEgg touchpoints and content

Step 3: Tie Everything Together & Fill in the Gaps

By now, you should have a box for every touch point and all the content or assets you have for each one. Now, it’s time to map out how a customer will get from each touch point to your end goal.

For many businesses, the end destination is making a purchase. However, it could also be subscribing to your newsletter, clicking an affiliate link, buying a specific product, signing up for a free trial, or filling out a form.

Basically, how will a customer get from touchpoint one to the action you want them to take?

If they land on a blog post at the top of your funnel (the awareness stage), how do you get them to buy something from you? Shoving offers in their face isn’t going to work because they aren’t ready. You need to guide them to the consideration stage first. You could link to comparison guides, webinars, or case studies instead. And then within those, you can start showing offers as they get closer to the conversion stage.

Different touch points may have different end destinations, too. If someone’s calling you for help with something, they don’t want to buy anything–they just want help.

Your end goal may be providing an excellent experience so they’ll recommend you to their friends.

It’s all about understanding where they’re at in the purchasing process based on how they’re interacting with you. Then planning out how you’re going to nudge them towards an end goal.

This is where Figma really comes in handy. It allows you to visually map each journey from start to finish and add all of the content you need along the way. 

Full customer journey map of someone landing on a CrazyEgg info post or social media ad

Visualizing this makes it much easier to identify gaps and truly understand how customers flow through your business.

You’ll eventually come up with a bunch of different intended customer journeys that clearly outline the various paths someone can take from each touch point.

Now that you know what you want each journey to look like, you can update your content and touch points to ensure they’re all working harmoniously to get customers to the next step you want them to take. This could mean reorganizing your brick-and-mortar store, updating your landing pages with more direct calls to action, removing sales language from top of the funnel blog posts, training your call center agents, writing scripts, or something else entirely.

Step 4: Map Alternative Customer Journeys

Not every customer journey will do what you expect them to. Even if you’ve mapped out several intended journeys, some of your customers will break all the rules and create their own paths. 

That’s totally ok. 

But you should try your best to anticipate these variations. Even if a customer doesn’t do exactly what you want them to, you can map out alternative routes to ensure you don’t lose them. From there, you can create new content that will guide them back to your desired path or create completely new journeys for them.

For example, say you originally anticipated that someone would see a social media ad and then take one of four paths—click the ad, click your social profile, Google your website, or just keep scrolling. 

But what if someone decides to go straight to YouTube and search for a video demo or review of your product instead? You can account for this by creating YouTube videos yourself or encouraging affiliates to create them for you.

Here’s another example: say someone subscribes to your email list. Most of your existing map may assume that this person wants to receive email communication from you.

But what happens if they opt out after the first message? You could try retargeting them on social media or a well-crafted opt-out email designed to bring them back in.

7 Ways to Use Your Customer Journey Map

Your customer journey map is done. Now what?

You can apply some different strategies to truly get the most out of your customer journey map, and these seven tactics are the best places to start. 

Create Buyer Personas for Different Touch Points

Buyer personas that will help you zero in on who your customers are and what they want. The more detailed your personas are, the better.

The secret here is to think of your customers as human beings as opposed to numbers or data points. By humanizing your personas, you can get a more holistic picture of what they’re looking for—and then use that to further improve your journeys. 

Here’s an example buyer persona:

A buyer persona to enhance your customer journey map further

Do you see how realistic and detailed this is? That should be your goal with each persona. 

Based on Max’s occupation, you might assume that he’s more likely to interact with your brand via live chat. Whereas another persona of an elderly woman who isn’t as tech-savvy may be more likely to get help by calling your main phone number. 

Create as many personas as possible for as many touch points as possible. 

Get Really Targeted With Your Messaging

Once you understand exactly who will be interacting with different touch points at each phase of the journey, you can begin speaking directly to those individuals. 

For example, you’ve mapped out how someone could potentially land on your ebooks landing page. From there, you might even have different personas or maps to specific ebooks. 

So your CTAs and value propositions for downloading, “How to Create a Mobile App” can be different from your “How to Get More App Downloads” ebook. 

This is a fairly obvious example, but you can break it down at a granular level for all campaigns by simply referring to your journey map. This will ultimately help increase your conversion rates

Monitor Your Most Important Metrics

This is another instance where the metrics you track will vary slightly based on your business type. For example, B2C ecommerce KPIs will be a bit different from a B2B SaaS product. 

But you’ll want to look at traffic, leads, conversions, sales volume, revenue, opt-ins, subscribers, email bounce rates, open rates, average order volume, etc.

You can also zoom in on channel-specific metrics. For example, you could look at something like page sessions, average time spent on page, or page-specific conversions without worrying about sales. This could help you correct any potential UI design mistakes that have a domino effect on the KPIs that drive sales. 

What needs to be on each specific landing page to target potential buyers landing on it? Your customer journey map holds the answer. 

Update and Optimize Existing Content

You don’t necessarily need to re-create every piece of content from scratch. Instead, it’s easier to identify existing content that just needs to be tweaked to target customers based on what they need to see in that particular buying phase

Maybe you already have really good blog posts explaining how to use your products. But existing customers may not necessarily be using organic search to find tutorials. 

So you could turn those into emails that get sent after a product has been delivered to focus on buyers in your retention phase. Or maybe you add tutorial videos to your product pages to provide more information to customers in the consideration stage. 

Be More Strategic About What You Create

Your buyer persona can help provide you with a blueprint for content creation. Rather than just blindingly deciding to write more blogs or increase your social media posting frequency, you can refer to your customer journey map for inspiration. 

Looking to fill content gaps is the most obvious place to start. But even after those gaps have been filled, you can continue expanding on your content to cover your most frequently traveled journeys or create content that covers your less traveled paths.

In either scenario, you’ll know who you’re speaking to and why. It’s much more effective to create content that speaks to a narrower group as opposed to your entire customer base. 

A/B Testing for Continuous Improvements

You can run A/B tests at every stage and with nearly every touch point throughout your customer journey. 

These tests are great for validating a particular hypothesis, but they can also be used to just make your content better. Why settle for what’s working if you can squeeze even more juice out of it?

Beyond A/B testing the obvious stuff like email subject lines or landing page CTA buttons, you can take this a step further and run tests on what content should be served up for various touch points. 

You might think a customer subscribing to your email list from a particular landing page should be sent a whitepaper as the first message. But maybe you experiment with sending them a video introduction instead. 

Add New Customer Journeys as Needed

Your first round of creating a customer journey map wouldn’t and shouldn’t be your last. 

There will always be new journeys to map out, especially if you’re continuing to expand and launch new products or services. These launches are always a good time to assess your existing journeys and add new ones. 

Just make sure you’re always being actionable with your journey maps. Creating them but not using them is a wasted effort. So don’t just add more for the sake of adding them. Each additional journey needs to serve a purpose. 

Best Practices to Keep in Mind

Here are some pro tips and best practices to keep in mind as you’re creating your customer journey map and implementing it:

  • Make it a team effort—working with sales, marketing, and service departments to get everyone’s input. 
  • Don’t be afraid to get hyper-specific. Once you’ve mapped out a particular journey for a certain persona, it’s ok to go really deep with those touch points even if it means neglecting other buyers. You can eventually target those other buyers separately.
  • Think outside the box. Rather than focusing on how you want or hope customers will behave, get creative and think up some unconventional steps they might take along the way.
  • Use data to back up your claims or strategies whenever possible. For example, visitor data from Google Analytics can be really helpful when creating buyer personas.
  • Prioritize user experience with every touch point and at every buying stage. 
  • Keep your branding the same across different touch points. While your buyers might have different wants or needs, your branding should always stay consistent. 
  • Make sure your journey maps are organized and easy to read. Things can get complicated when you start adding lots of variations, which is why using a tool like Figma is super helpful.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they’re thinking. Rather than trying to guess what it’s like to be in their shoes, you can use surveys and run tests to actually see what they’re thinking.
  • Take the customer journey yourself. Go through each stage of the map to see if it makes sense. This is the best time to brainstorm alternate routes. 
  • Make sure your journey map is shareable and can be easily accessed by your entire team.
  • Start small and focused. Don’t worry about having everything mapped out on day one. Start with what can get you results, and you can always add more later. 
  • Use a low-fidelity map when you’re getting started. Don’t worry about the map looking perfect right now. Get what you need diagrammed, and you can have someone fix the aesthetics down the road. 

As a former English major, Steve is a firm believer in clear, educational and entertaining content. He's a big fan of Gary V, Seth Godin and Jay Acunzo.

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