In this day and age of customer experience, succeeding as an eCommerce business entails way more than just having the finest products on display in your online storefront.
Without understanding precisely what your customers expect and desire at every touchpoint in their buyer’s journey, you'll stay far from achieving optimal sales.
But you can’t get inside the customers’ minds, can you?
Plus, with the average cart abandonment rate hovering around 70% across industries, how can you lessen the hurt from the fact that the bulk of your almost-customers spent quite some time adding products to their cart only to close the tab and leave? How can you shorten a prospect’s path from being a visitor to a customer?
Creating a customer journey map helps with all this. Essentially, a customer journey map gives you a better grasp of your customer’s experience across the various touchpoints in their buyer’s journey, thus helping you optimize your cart conversions and revenue.
Keep reading to learn the what, why, and how of creating the perfect customer journey map.
From visiting your eCommerce store for the first time (say, via social media) to receiving an order confirmation email after a purchase, the customer journey considers all the interactions a person has with a business to achieve a goal.
A customer journey map is a compact visual representation of a customer’s overall experience with your eCommerce brand. It helps you look at your business, content, and processes through the customer’s eyes, so you can visualize their shopping experience as they move through the different stages of your sales funnel.
There are several types of customer journey maps, including:
The most commonly used journey map format, current state maps help you visualize the actions your customers presently undertake and the emotions they experience while engaging with your eCommerce brand.
Here's what they look like:
Once you have a current state map, you can consider visualizing what an ideal customer journey would look like if you filled the gaps at suboptimal customer touchpoints. Unlike current state maps, future state maps are focused on your business’s vision and long-term strategic goals.
Here's what they look like:
Cue “Every Breath You Take” because this journey map gives you a chronological visual representation of the customer’s journey in their day-to-day activities (with or without your company’s involvement). These maps can help identify unmet customer needs and give you fuel for new marketing campaigns.
Here's what they look like:
It’s rarely as simple as a customer becoming aware of a product you offer, visiting its product page, and making a successful purchase.
People tend to be indecisive, and the typical customer journey isn’t linear from point A to point B — rather, it’s a cyclical, multi-channel trek.
With customer expectations at all-time highs, your end-to-end brand experience needs to be seamlessly connected across channels and teams, so customers can pick up where they left off and move toward a sale.
Here are just a few of the many benefits of creating a customer journey map:
According to recent Salesforce research, 76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments. What’s more, 66% of customers expect brands to understand their unique needs, yet another 66% say they’re usually treated like numbers.
So, in short, if you wish to empathize with and exceed the modern customer’s growing expectations — and not make them feel like mere numbers — creating a customer journey map is certainly a worthwhile investment of your time.
Before you dive head first into creating your eCommerce customer journey map, you must gather some intel about your potential and existing customers.
Here are a few things you might add to your customer journey map:
Essentially, you want to include as many touchpoints (instances where customers can form an opinion of your business) as you can in your customer journey map to unravel more opportunities for improvement in the buyer’s journey.
With the what and why of customer journey mapping clear, let’s dive into the steps involved in creating a useful customer journey map.
What is the exact purpose of your map? Without setting a clear objecting behind its creation, it may not have a tangible impact on your customer experience and bottom line.
Identify the audience segment you’re mapping the journey for. Don’t group too many segments into one — be specific about who you’re creating the map for.
Work with your customer-facing team members who touch different areas of customer experience, such as social media marketers and customer service reps. To set a SMART goal, gather their unique perspectives and insights about different areas of your current customer journey, where you can make improvements, and how you will measure those improvements.
Based on this, build a buyer persona — a fictitious ideal customer profile with all of their demographics and psychographics listed out. A clear persona helps you orient every aspect of your journey map towards customers. To create an accurate persona, the next step is to...
What better way to learn about your customers than to profile them directly?
Here are some methods and sources to get insights from your current and prospective customers:
And here are a few valuable questions you can ask:
Integrate all these qualitative and quantitative insights from real customers into the buyer persona you build.
While your customers are the best source of input for your journey map, at times, they themselves aren’t aware of their exact pain points.
They might feel that something is missing or isn’t quite right — without being able to pinpoint exactly what’s not working for them.
In such cases, consult your salespeople and customer service reps. They can help translate customers’ vague descriptions into actionable information that you can comprehend and work on. Furthermore, your customer support team can also share specific instances of customers reporting unique or one-off issues that you can take into account in your journey map.
As mentioned earlier, buyer touchpoints are all the places customers engage with your brand — website, social media, paid ads, email marketing, business review platforms, phone calls, etc. — before, during, and after a purchase.
Listing out as many touchpoints as possible is a key step in creating the customer journey map because it gives you insight into what actions your customers are performing.
For this, look at your business from the customer’s perspective and walk yourself through their journey step-by-step. Include all the things (actions, obstacles, emotions) touched upon earlier.
As an eCommerce website, in particular, looking into your Behavior Flow report and Goal Flow report inside your Google Analytics can be invaluable in visualizing the path your visitors take to complete a conversion.
Now, it’s time to organize all the data gathered about your customers into an elegant visual — be it a table, a timeline, a fishbone diagram, or whichever format you feel fits the bill. Any format is fine, as long as you include all the customer touchpoints, actions, roadblocks, emotions, channels, and the assigned ownership of a touchpoint (marketing, sales, design, customer service, etc.).
You can use the tabular current state format (courtesy of HubSpot) we shared earlier or use an online collaborative data visualization tool like Lucidchart or Miro. Let your team collaborate on the map by letting them comment or edit it directly. Also, customize your map’s various elements with different shapes and colors for easier visualization and analysis.
With the customer journey map ready, the final step is to analyze it to find gaps in the journey, poor transitions between stages of the funnel, and notable pain points that you must prioritize.
Take note of all the resources that go into creating the customer experience, such as CRM software, chatbot, customer service tools, etc. This will help determine if you need to invest in additional tools such as a profitable A/B testing program or find better alternatives for existing ones to help your teams improve the customer's journey.
Present your map’s analysis to all relevant teams to bring everyone onto the same page about the areas that need to be improved and how each member will play a part in enhancing the customer journey.
For example, you could have your developers make changes to the website (such as boosting the page load speed or simplifying navigation), marketers write longer product descriptions for better clarity, or perhaps your customer support reps respond faster to customer inquiries on social media.
Regardless of how big or small the changes are, they’re almost certain to be fruitful as they are driven by data from customers and their pain points.
Lastly, note that creating a customer journey map isn’t a one-and-done deal. Your customers’ expectations are constantly evolving. You’re likely introducing new products to your eCommerce store. Thus, review and test your customer journey map every quarter or six months to detect gaps and opportunities to further refine your customer journey.
The better you know your customers — their pain points, emotions, desires, and needs — the better you can sell to them.
By shifting your focus to the customer’s POV, you can create a more compelling and satisfying customer experience. Additionally, a customer journey map serves as an elegant framework to identify engagement and enhancement opportunities, improve customer acquisition cost and advertising ROI, and boost conversion rate and internal efficiencies.
With an ecomOS like Triple Whale, you gain insights into all the metrics that matter to your eCommerce store’s growth. Get centralized clarity into every customer purchase from a variety of customer touchpoints (search, social, email, and what have you!).
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