How to build your own customer journey
“It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.”
You’ve probably heard this cheesy, wrongly-attributed quote while planning a road trip or a hiking adventure. Planning a marketing strategy may not be as sexy as a vacation up the Pacific coast, but that quote rings just as true for us advertising folk. On any road trip, choosing your destination is the easy part: “I want to arrive in Denver on Saturday.” Same goes for marketing strategies: you simply choose the result you want to see from your consumers—donations, sales, downloads, etc.
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What takes more meticulous planning is exactly how you’re going to get to that destination (ex: stopping for gas, lunch break, driving shifts, etc.). In terms of your business, The James Agency recommends building a Consumer Journey Map. This will put you in the mind of your target audience and help you understand their thoughts, frustrations, and how to better keep them moving on their journey toward conversion.
The result: a marketing foundation that your internal teams can build upon for perfect alignment across all consumer touch points.
It can be difficult to know where to start, but don’t worry! We’ll walk you through exactly how to complete a customer journey map. Consider the following questions as you fill out each section:
Emotional state: What is my consumer thinking and feeling in this stage? What has changed since the last stage and what causes them to feel this way?
Consumer action: What is my consumer doing in response to their emotional state? What sources of information are they viewing?
Company goal: What do want to see happen for your company in this stage?
Touch points: Based on those goals, what marketing tactics/channels can connect you with your consumer?
Opportunities: What can you do to improve this experience for my consumer?
Step 1. Awareness
Once our consumer needs something, make no mistake: they’ll research their options. With an average individual estimated to receive anywhere between 4,000 to 10,000 brand messages daily, it is important to identify how we can spark their curiosity and pull them into our marketing funnel.
Example: Let’s say we decide to open a lemonade stand. Kelsee, my consumer, needs a refreshing drink to help her cool off. She immediately searches for options nearby on her phone or as she’s driving. We want her to discover our stand through Google, social media and traditional advertisements, so we’ll run targeted brand awareness campaigns across multiple channels: paid search, social media influencers and on a nearby billboard.
Step 2. Consideration
Once our target audience knows that we exist (hooray!), they’re going further explore our business and see if we’re a good fit for them. Now’s our opportunity to educate our consumer on the product/service, highlight benefits and address any of their questions.
Example: Kelsee wants to know more about my lemonade stand. She visits my website and social media to look into aspects of my business like proximity, pricing, flavors and on-site experience. We’ll answer her questions and concerns by including content like menus, pictures, and reviews from satisfied customers.
Step 3. Comparison
Although similar to consideration, comparison is slightly different. Once our consumers know about us, they’ll compare our business with competitors. It’s important that we stand out from the dreaded “sea of sameness” and our brand is consistent across all channels. If there are any inconsistencies, our consumer may get confused or doubtful and pick someone who’s doing it better.
Example: Someone just opened a lemonade stand across the street from mine. Rude. Kelsee is feeling uncertain about my brand, so she’s researching her options. She’s reading reviews, comparing social media accounts and looking for special offers. To stand out against my new competitor (in a good way), We’ll utilize public relations to capture earned media attention and provide an objective, third-party opinion on my lemonade. We’ll also offer Kelsee a first-time purchase discount if she signs up for my emails!
Step 4. Conversion
This step could be considered the “destination” for your consumer, but the experience doesn’t stop at the win. In many cases, this may be seen as a large validation for your service/product. It should be your goal to reinforce your consumers’ positive experiences and build their loyalty for retention. Conversion looks different across different industries and may be drawn out beyond a single transaction.
Example: Kelsee just purchased a tall glass of my lemonade. At this point, she’s feeling excitement and relief knowing she made the right decision. Her conversion was simple: she bought a drink. But she’ll also be interacting with my staff and sitting on-site for the experience. We’re going to reinforce her decision by ensuring her experience matches my promise. If Kelsee signed up for our emails, further campaigns for specific promotions (i.e. new flavor launch, holidays, etc.) will drive more conversions within our funnel.
Step 5. Advocacy
With all the time and attention we put to getting our consumer through the journey, it’s important that we keep our customers coming back. Even better: we encourage them to become advocates. Advocacy helps bring more like-minded consumers into the funnel, facilitating steady company growth. Word of mouth has always been a powerful business-driver and in a digital world, our reputation matters more than ever.
Example: The relationship with our lemonade consumers is strong, so their satisfaction shows in their actions. They’re sharing their refreshing experiences with friends, posting reviews and tagging pictures of our brand on social media. After Kelsee’s experience, she posts a picture of her delicious lemonade on Instagram with the brand’s hashtag. We’ll amplify her post across multiple channels like Facebook and Twitter as near real-time proof that our lemonade is the best around.
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And there you have it — we’ve successfully mapped a consumer’s journey! We’ll let you in on a little secret: The James Agency does this for a living and would love to help you map one out for your actual audiences. Whether you’re running a little lemonade stand or a five-star resort, we’re here to look from the lens of your prospective consumer and help you grow your business.
Author: Garrett Frierson is Partnership Development Coordinator at Scottsdale-based The James Agency. Garrett graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northern Arizona University, earning a Strategic Communication degree with a double emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations. After graduation, he joined TJA and dived into everything new business as an intern. Now, Garrett’s role as a coordinator is to connect business owners and marketing executives to all of TJA’s services. He is responsible for elevating a prospective client’s experience and continuously optimizing internal sales processes. Learn more at www.thejamesagecy.com.