Do you know what every customer’s experience with your company should be like?
Picture this: you’re at your favorite barbershop or hair salon. Every time you walk in, smiles greet you as you’re ushered straight to your favorite stylist. They already know your usual cut, trim, or color preference, and you rest easy knowing you’ll leave the shop looking great and get your money’s worth. You’re so proud of the end result you might even post a picture to Instagram and tag the company to bring them more customers!
In the B2B realm, making this happen means understanding the customer journey and mastering journey mapping. After all, Accenture says, 75% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a company that knows their name and purchase history, and even recommends items based on that history.
If you’re struggling to consistently replicate this experience with your buyers, it’s a telltale sign that you may not understand their customer journey. Ignorance might be bliss, but in marketing it’s foolishness. You need to know where customers have been, where they’re at, and where they’re going throughout their time with you. If you don’t, you’ll never serve them correctly. It’s that big of a deal!
If your understanding of customer journey and journey mapping is a little hazy, we’ll give a thorough explanation and steps to plan one, which will also show once and for all why it’s so important. Bonus: we also have a customer journey map template to make it easy to get started!
Sign #1: You know the definition of customer journey
A B2B customer journey is the route a buyer takes throughout your company to reach the sale. From when they first hear about your product or service through a colleague or an advertisement, to when they check out your website for the first time, visit your social media pages, and first meet with a sales rep all the way up to when they finally make a purchase and even beyond.
A customer journey is never linear; instead, think of it as a winding path with zig-zags, loops, downturns, and increases in activity at every touchpoint. A touchpoint is anywhere a buyer can receive a message or interact with your company. Did they see your ad on a billboard? Touchpoint. Signed up for the monthly newsletter? Touchpoint. Did a sales demo with an SDR? Touchpoint.
A potential buyer can spend minutes, days, weeks, or even months at a single touchpoint while they make a purchasing decision. When a buyer is learning about your product or service, never forget you’re not the only one they have on their radar. They’re judging you. Hard. They’re judging your brand, your website, your reputation, your interactions on social media, and most importantly, they’re pitting you against your competition. Weighing your brand against others and evaluating which one is more trustworthy and deserves their time and money.
Sign #2: You know a customer journey map is more than just a picture
A customer journey map is a process of visualizing where, when, why, and how your customers move throughout your business, this is also known as ‘journey mapping. You make a map to take a walk in their shoes, understand why they visit certain touchpoints and learn how to make their experience shine so they can become more loyal, bring in more business and never leave you for your competitors. You also create one so you can consistently deliver the best product or service, helping them move quicker without too much hesitation or back and forth between touchpoints until they make a sale. A good customer journey map tells you about the relationship they have with touchpoints, explores the psychology around why they make each decision there, and what their motivations, emotions, and hesitations are. The map is intel.
Sign #3: You know how journey mapping will affect the entire company
Journey mapping doesn’t just impact marketing teams. The information you’ll mine will help improve service across every department in the company. You’ve included everyone with direct access to your customers in the mapping process, and departments keep working together as they analyze data.
Benefits of a map include:
- Clearly see and analyze behavioral patterns with a customer journey map.
- Make customer journey optimization easier by identifying pathways and discovering areas to shorten buyers to the sale.
- Hyper-personalize your service across several departments including marketing, sales, and customer support.
- Lower customer churn by finding key touchpoints where buying decisions are made and ensuring buyers are fully informed and supported by sales reps.
- Reduce bad customer experiences with journey mapping by recording touchpoints where buyers report inconveniences and complaints.
- Maximize your marketing efforts by spotting similar behavioral patterns in customer segments and tailoring your campaigns to increase conversion rates.
- Bring in more revenue with an account-based marketing tactic, like tracking the journey of high-value customers to understand their buying needs and motivators and get more business out of them.
- Empower your B2B customers by ensuring the correct information and resources are always available at every touchpoint for them to make a decision.
How to map a B2B customer journey
A B2B customer journey map is quite different from a B2C one. One key difference is how much more data you need to convert a decision-maker compared to a consumer. To learn, check out our article on the B2B vs. B2C sales process. Coming up, let’s go over how to create a B2B map.
Set one business goal for the map
As you can see in the list above, there are a ton of reasons you might make a customer journey map: increase retention, decrease customer complaints, shorten the buying cycle, learn about a specific customer segment, and more. Start with one clear objective before creating a map; remember you can always make more maps to cover different objectives. For example, you may want to learn why a significant portion of your customers leaves your website after only one minute, as you know this is hurting sales. In this case, mapping their website journey will identify which pages may be running slow or lack information and need to be updated.
Pick a target audience and begin research
In this step, you’ll first need to identify who to target for your map. If you already have customer segments established, it’s best to analyze one large group at a time, learning as much as you can about their behavioral patterns. You could also choose to focus on one single customer at a time. Either method will help your marketing and sales strategy be more focused and effective. Next, you want to enrich your customer database and CRM systems. This means you have basic firmographics (industry, job role, company revenue), and demographics (age, salary, race) updated and fresh. The more of these data points you have, the better. Lastly, you’ll need psychographics (things like interests, hobbies, motivators, and frustrations), which are gathered through customer surveys and feedback.
List out all touchpoints and analyze customer pathways
Remember that a touchpoint is anywhere customers interact with your company. Some touchpoints include online and radio ads, billboards, Facebook groups, LinkedIn direct messages, that new shiny lead capture form you just added to your website… Once you have a list of all your touchpoints, start analyzing how your buyers interact with each one. List out the actions they take and the actions you want them to take. Do you notice there’s a higher conversion rate on cold calls vs. cold emails? You’ll also want to look at the relationships between touchpoints. Do customers move from LinkedIn DM to a sales call quicker than an email to a sales call? These questions will help you understand their pathways and can help your customer journey marketing.
Discuss your findings and improve customer experience
Get together and discuss your findings within departments and all together. This is where the work really gets done. Look at:
- Current and fleeting trends
- Common behavior patterns
- Touchpoints where customers are falling off
- The most common pathways
- Areas where the customer journey is unpleasant
Focus on improving your customer’s experience, building trust, working to solve your initial problem, and getting to the sale as soon as possible. You may also want to discuss gathering and updating technology (like a B2B prospecting tool) and resources to conduct better customer research, data management, and customer journey mapping.
Take a walk in a customer’s shoes
Don’t just theorize what working with you is like for customers—go on their journey yourself. You can test out sales demos, sign up for your own email marketing campaigns, watch webinars and more to see what it’s really like going from touchpoint to touchpoint.
- A customer journey should be a seamless, enjoyable experience at every touchpoint in your business. Customers should leave feeling satisfied and loyal to your brand.
- Journey mapping is the only way to truly understand your customers’ relationship at different touchpoints, the psychology behind every action, their emotions, and more.
- When customer journey mapping, use a template to guide your team and ensure you’re recording the right information to reach your goals.