What was the last thing you purchased?
How much time passed before you clicked the "buy" button or walked into a store to purchase? How many websites, advertisements, emails, and other stores did you explore before eventually reaching for your wallet?
It's safe to say that any given path taken by customers is far from straightforward. Especially when on average we see 6,000 to 10,000 ads a day! Only a small number of shoppers make a purchase immediately, and every brand faces the task of adapting their eCommerce marketing approach to anticipate the online and offline movements of buyers.
That’s where an ecommerce customer journey map comes into play. It is a visual representation of the stages and touchpoints that customers can go through when interacting with any business, that provides insight into how they move through your marketing funnel. They are essential for a business to understand and implement, as they provide insights into the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.
“What is a customer journey map? It is a visual representation of the stages and touchpoints that customers can go through when interacting with any business, that provides insight into how they move through your marketing funnel.”
Not only that but effectively mapping out your customer journey will show your customers’ needs, enable the optimization of the customer experience, enhance retention, increase conversion rates, direct targeted marketing initiatives, and identify opportunities for innovation. By effectively implementing a customer journey map into your business practices, you are simplifying the way customers can reach your brand and ultimately set them on the path to convert much quicker than ever before.
Now, what actions can you take to maintain a competitive edge? Let's delve deeper into what the ecommerce customer journey entails and how you can effectively map out your customer's path to making that coveted purchase.
Understanding the Customer Journey
While it’s not common, there are instances where a customer will take a straight path to purchasing your products. They’ll search, see your ad and if it was successful enough, make that purchase at that very moment. However exceedingly rare that may be, it does happen.
Realistically, what you’ll find more often is that customers bounce around to so many different touch points before they decide to make a purchase. You’ve probably done the same yourself. Search for a product, search for reviews, log off. The next day you see a TikTok or Facebook ad of a similar product then forget why you needed that product in the first place (it happens!). Then weeks later when you’ve finally mulled over all your options from all the ads you’ve seen, you purchase the intended product.
This is the very reason why you need an effective customer journey map. You want to ensure that every step your customers are taking leads back to you. You need to capture their attention and feed them into your marketing funnel so they make that final purchase from you and not your competitors. By aligning your strategies with the customer's journey, businesses can deliver personalized experiences, provide relevant information at all touchpoints, and address specific pain points, ultimately enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
This knowledge is what will set your business apart from your competitors as it should effortlessly bring in customers to your business. One of the best ways to start this process is to have a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool in place. CRM software is designed to monitor and oversee customer relationships. It keeps track of interactions among a business, its potential customers, and its current clients. CRM software consolidates essential customer details such as contact information, history, and transaction summaries into a streamlined and up-to-date record.
“CRM or Customer Relationship Management software is designed to monitor and oversee customer relationships. It keeps track of interactions among a business, its potential customers, and its current clients.”
Through the analysis of your CRM data, you can uncover the pivotal touchpoints, channels, and actions that impact your customers' decision-making process and overall satisfaction with your business. Also by segmenting your customers into distinct personas according to their unique traits and objectives, you can then use that data to develop tailored journey maps for each audience grouping.
No matter the size of your business, you should be able to find one that works for you, you may even already be using one! If you’re an ecommerce company currently on Shopify, you already have a ton of data about every single past purchaser at your disposal. Or if you are a Klaviyo user, they also store vast amounts of data that you can utilize to start you off on your mapping adventures! (We even discussed how you can use your Klaviyo data in our previous blog here!)
With all this information at your fingertips, let’s jump into what exactly you’ll need to start creating your customer journey map!
Components of a Customer Journey Map
1. Awareness Stage
In the awareness stage, customers are focused on resolving a problem and actively searching for a solution. They engage in research, gather information, and seek answers on their desired product or service. To initiate their journey with your brand, it is crucial for customers to become aware of your existence. This highlights the significance of understanding how customers discover your brand, whether through search engine optimization (SEO), word of mouth, social media, or targeted ads. By identifying the customer's path to your doorstep (virtual or physical), you can effectively attract and engage them.
Things to consider:
- Social media
- Paid advertising
- Search engine results
- Word-of-mouth or referrals
Customer Emotions: Curiosity, intrigue, interest.
Customer Motivations: Finding a solution, exploring options.
Questions customers may ask themselves: "What is this product/brand?", "How can it benefit me?", "Are there alternatives?"
2. Consideration Stage
In the consideration stage, prospective customers are actively exploring various solutions to the questions they were asking in the awareness stage. For instance, if they are interested in adopting a healthier eating lifestyle, they might search Google for different diets and recipes to achieve their desired goals. During their search, they may come across the concept of a meal kit delivery service and recognize it as a viable option to introduce healthier food choices into their daily routine.
Once they have identified what course of action they will take, they delve deeper into exploring their alternatives. This may involve conducting even more Google searches, scrolling social media, or seeking feedback from friends and family. This presents an opportunity for you to attract their attention through engagement strategies.
Things to consider:
- Website visits
- Product pages
- Comparison sites
Customer Emotions: Deliberation, evaluation, cautious optimism.
Customer Motivations: Assessing value, comparing features, seeking social proof.
Questions customers may ask themselves: "Is this product right for me?", "How does it compare to alternatives?", "What do others say about it?"
3. Decision Stage
The decision phase is a critical moment in the process, where customers make the final choice of which company or product will address their problem. It is crucial to effectively convey why your specific product or service is the ideal solution for them.
While you might consider the decision as the journey's endpoint, there is still the execution phase to consider. During this phase, your ecommerce brand must fulfill the commitments made, ensuring that your marketing, delivery, and customer service efforts are all well-aligned.
Things to consider:
- Shopping cart
- checkout process
- payment options
Customer Emotions: Excitement, anticipation, uncertainty.
Customer Motivations: Making a purchase, getting a good deal, reducing risk.
Questions customers may ask themselves: "Should I proceed with this purchase?", "Are there any discounts or promotions?", "Is my payment secure?"
4. Post-Purchase Stage
While making a single purchase is positive, having a customer who becomes a repeat buyer is even more valuable. Retaining customers is the key to long-term success in business.
Customer retention occurs when customers are highly satisfied with their experiences. Consistently providing an excellent experience every time poses another challenge, but it is crucial because it leads to satisfied customers spreading the word among their peers.
Things to consider:
- Order confirmation
- shipping notifications
- product delivery
Customer Emotions: Satisfaction, relief, anticipation (for delivery).
Customer Motivations: Receiving the product, confirming the purchase decision.
Questions customers may ask themselves: "When will my order arrive?", "How can I track the shipment?", "What if I have any issues with the product?"
5. Loyalty and Advocacy Stage
After successfully making a sale, fostering repeat business, and having customers advocate for your brand and your business can reap the greatest benefits from the long-term value of a converted customer. Brand loyalty manifests when customers actively engage with all your touchpoints and willingly contribute to the growth and success of your business. If you’re looking for more in-depth customer retention strategies, we discuss them in more detail in a previous blog article.
Things to consider:
- Follow-up emails
- customer support
- loyalty programs
Customer Emotions: Gratitude, trust, enthusiasm.
Customer Motivations: Building a long-term relationship, receiving rewards, sharing positive experiences.
Questions customers may ask themselves: "Are there any loyalty rewards for future purchases?", "How can I refer friends and earn benefits?", "How can I provide feedback or leave a review?"
Depending on your industry these stages and emotions may vary. As with all things, you should aim to make a customer journey map that fits into your business within its specific context and knowledge of your target audience. Doing so will allow you to better understand and cater to customer needs at each stage of the journey. So let’s actually create a map together using the above information.
Creating a Customer Journey Map
Step 1: Define your target audience.
Identify the specific customer segment or persona for which you want to create the journey map.
You will need to think about who exactly your customer base is or what type of person you want to attract to your business. Think about things like what are your customers' pain points, and objections? What would be a motivator to purchase? Am I creating any obstacles for them that could impact this journey? Let’s say you have a business that primarily sells women’s clothing and you want to attract more customers to your summer products.
Step 2: Understand customer emotions.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes and consider the emotions they may experience at each stage. These emotions could range from curiosity and excitement during the awareness stage to satisfaction and loyalty even by the post-purchase stage.
When you are updating your map, consider how these emotions may evolve throughout the journey.
Step 3: Identify key stages.
Determine the main stages that your customers go through when interacting with your business.
We’ve discussed in the previous section the most common stages, but remember your business is unique and so are your customers. What exactly are they looking for and how can your business adapt to further capture their attention?
Using the key stages we’ve already outlined, let’s continue!
Step 4: List touchpoints.
Identify the touchpoints or interactions that occur at each stage.
In our case here, a friend suggested that your store has just restocked a bunch of cute summer items. So the customer visits your website and likes what they see. They end up purchasing multiple items from you, and using the data from their purchase, you can then send them personalized recommendations that will add nicely to their collection!
With actual data on hand, you’ll want to eliminate any uncertainties in the journey and not rely solely on word-of-mouth to attract your prospective customers.
Step 5: Establish / Gather resources.
It is crucial to assess your existing resources (what does your current tech stack look like) and identify the areas that require the most attention to optimize the customer's journey.
For instance, if your map reveals that your team lacks adequate tools for effective customer follow-up, you can recommend investing or switching to a CRM that can handle all of your needs, such as Klaviyo! Which will allow you to create an email flow that will automatically follow up with customers. (i.e setting up an abandoned cart flow)
Step 6: Take a stroll through your map!
Designing your map is just the beginning; your work doesn't end there. The most crucial part of the process is in analyzing the outcomes.
How can you enhance customer support? Why were the customers' needs unfulfilled? These are some of the questions you should be able to address using your finalized map, that all boil down to becoming the customer yourself and being able to put yourself in their shoes to determine how they would think and react.
The entire exercise of mapping the customer journey remains theoretical until you put it into practice. For each persona, trace their journey by examining their social media interactions, reading their emails, and conducting online searches.
Step 7: Validate and refine.
Share the customer journey map with stakeholders, or team members, to gather feedback and insights. Validate the accuracy and relevance of the map based on real customer data, feedback, and observations.
If you want to track exactly where your conversions came from, Google Analytics is a great free tool that can offer a lot of necessary information to help you make informed decisions when it comes to updating your journey map down the road. It can also help pinpoint where customers may be dropping off in their journey with you.
Alternatively, websites like Hotjar can show you “heat maps” of your website, which can visually tell you how customers are interacting with your webpages.
When tools like these are used in conjunction with another you can make the necessary refinements and updates to ensure your maps accuracy.
Customer journey maps are iterative and should be regularly reviewed and updated as the customer needs and preferences evolve. This is normal for any business with evolving trends and products that don’t stay the same year to year, but can also be applied to companies that update their policies or even redevelop their website. Continuous monitoring and refinement will ensure that your customer journey map remains relevant and impactful in guiding your overall business's interactions with customers.
Successful Ecommerce Customer Journey Map Example
We recently discussed the main talking points of a successful ecommerce customer journey over on our Twitter. The idea of centering your specific map around the customer and their needs is pivotal to success. Let’s take a look!
Not every map needs to be as detailed nor look the same as another, it all starts with just asking yourself “How would a customer find my brand?”. Once you can identify that, you already have your starting point.
Using the Customer Journey Map for Marketing Strategy
After everything we’ve spoken about, you can see why employing a customer journey map for your marketing efforts can offer numerous advantages for your business. By developing a comprehensive vision of the customer journey and personalizing it, you can deliver a more captivating and tailored experience to your customers.
The number one use of the customer journey map is Personalization.
Your customers want to feel special and know exactly why they should purchase from your brand and not a competitor. When you use your data from the customer journey map, you can create tailored messages that cater to your customers specific needs and desires. For example, during the consideration stage, providing relevant product information, social proof, and competitor comparisons can help nudge customers towards making a decision.
You can also choose to offer customized offers. Based on the loyalty stage, you can create personalized offers and incentives that cater to pain points. For instance, offering a discount on a product left in the shopping cart can encourage a customer to complete the purchase.
The second best use case for the customer journey map is Retargeting.
According to Spiralyrics, retargeted users are more likely to convert by almost 70%! With all the data acquired from going through the process of creating the customer journey map (and also using a CRM) you can easily identify who your target audience is. From there you can create retargeting campaigns that target things like: abandoned carts, niche interests, customer look-alike lists, engaged users, and the list goes on.
Also if you look at the retention stage, after a customer completes a purchase, insights can guide your retargeting efforts to drive repeat purchases or cross-selling. For instance, based on the customer's previous purchase, retargeted ads or email campaigns can suggest complementary products or provide loyalty rewards to encourage ongoing engagement.
The understanding of the customer's context, motivations, and preferences at different stages all play a fundamental part into creating an effective marketing plan. This knowledge allows you to deliver highly relevant and personalized marketing messages. By tailoring marketing efforts based on journey map insights, you are able to foster long-term loyalty from your customers.
Challenges and Solutions in Customer Journey Mapping
Ok I’ve been praising customer journey maps for over 2500 words now, and you have to be even a little bit curious by this point to try to create a map for yourself. Speaking from experience, when creating the map earlier, I can safely say that if you don’t have enough data points, this is going to be a challenge for you. In fact, there are several challenges that could arise, but you should not let anything discourage you from trying.
Some common challenges are:
Limited data availability
Obtaining comprehensive and accurate data about customer behaviors and interactions can be a challenge. However, as we’ve previously mentioned, starting to use a CRM tool (like Shopify or Klaviyo) will greatly help in gathering data.
You can also use any analytical tools you may have at hand already. If you are already running ads, you can definitely use the data from them to build out a buyer person and create your customer journey map from there.
Another thing you can do to collect data is to survey your current customers.This can help fill gaps in quantitative data and provide a deeper understanding of customer needs. It’s also a great touchpoint if you offer an incentive for filling out the survey that can lead to a sale. (i.e offer free gift with purchase or coupon code)
Keeping the map updated
Customer journeys evolve over time, and maintaining up-to-date maps can be a challenge, especially if your products often change, which can result in a change of core audience.
You do not need to continuously analyze and update the customer journey map every time new data comes in (that wouldn’t be very cost effective!). You should work towards implementing processes to periodically review and refine the maps to ensure they remain accurate and relevant depending on your businesses specific needs.
Internal collaboration and alignment
If your company has multiple departments, collaboration between different teams can be a challenge. You should be doing your best to include all teams (such as marketing, sales, customer service, and product development) to collaborate on the mapping process. A shared understanding of the customer journey map is essential for your company to function as a whole.
Your business should establish regular communication channels and processes for sharing customer insights. This promotes collaboration, ensures everyone is working with the same understanding, and facilitates a customer-centric approach.
When you are able to tackle these challenges head-on and implement some of the practical solutions provided, you can develop a customer journey map that is precise, enlightening, and impactful to your everyday business. And then you’ll be a master marketer to your audience!
Wow, that was way more words than I thought I needed to explain the customer journey process.
Given everything learned here, the best way to start thinking about your specific customer journey, is to really get into the minds of your audience. Who are they, what do they like and what problems does your business or product solves for them in their daily lives?
Once you’re able to answer those questions, solving their pain points and implementing retention strategies will ultimately result in a lot of happy returning customers who are brand-loyal to your business.
If you’re looking to create your own map and (thought this blog was way too long to read) still don’t know where to start, please get in touch with us today! Our dedicated team of growth marketers are a contact form away from helping your business be its best self.