A user or customer journey, sometimes referred to as a Journey Map, is the pathway a person follows as they discover a product, service, or brand, learn about it, consider spending money on it, and then make a decision.
Not every user journey ends in a purchase or conversion.
Our goal here is to improve on that, to understand the user's journey better so that we can give them the information or the encouragement they need to pull the trigger and become a customer.
Let’s look at a few simple examples of a user journey.
User Journey Example #1: Starbuck Chuck
Chuck is downtown and he wants a cup of coffee. His journey might look something like this:
- Chuck becomes aware of his need/desire for coffee.
- He finds himself in a downtown area and has several choices.
- He looks around and sees a local cafe, a Dunkin Donuts, and a Starbucks.
- He considers proximity to his current location, prep time, and container quality because he has to walk briskly and doesn't want spillage.
- He knows Starbucks coffee comes in a solidly closed cup with a heat sleeve. He's not sure about how the other cafes fare on cup security.
- He thinks Dunkin Donuts might be faster, but he chooses Starbucks because he's more confident in the containers they offer.
User Journey Example #2: Diddy Diana
Diana needs a new mp3 player for her morning jogs. She is in the parking lot of a strip mall with a Radio Shock, a Family Dollar, and a Target. She knows most mp3 players these days are bluetooth only, but she wants a hardwired headphone jack.
- Diana considers pricing. She believes she'll find the least expensive models at Family Dollar, but she knows the quality will be questionable.
- She has seen what they have at Target, and she knows that all their mp3 players are Bluetooth.
- She figures her best chance will be at Radio Shack, where they tend to have a wider range of electronic equipment.
These are quite fast and simple examples of the user's journey. A more in-depth example would include online searches for information, asking a store employee for information, looking up reviews, comparing the competition, and more. It also includes the use of your website, the availability of information, the quality of images of the product in question, and so on.
How to create an accurate user journey
To create an accurate user journey, you need to map customer journeys with well-established customer profiles and entry points. A customer profile is an outline of a personality type, income level, interest/pain-point, and so on. The entry point is how they become aware of your brand. In the two above examples, both had street-level entry points, but others might be an online search, a word-of-mouth recommendation, and so on.
You should have a catalog of known customer demographics that shop with your brand. Now, you will need to consider all of the entry points each profile might approach from, and generate their user journey. After that, you'll need to refine the journey maps you come up with so that you know how best to help them along the way.
Your goal is to take control of the user journey as much as possible. You want to reduce or eliminate the incidence of questions going unanswered, offers not made, options not understood, and so on. Now, let's look at the user journey in-depth.
The Stages of the User Journey
Looking at the examples above, it should be clear that each user journey is unique. But no matter what customer profile you're dealing with, or what their point of entry is, there are still some basic, overarching stages of the customer journey. They are:
Your goal at each phase of the journey is to improve the chances of purchase and retention. Every point on the journey has a connection to every other point, especially when we're trying to maintain customer loyalty and drive them through retention, back through another phase of awareness, evaluation, and so on.
In the awareness phase, the user becomes aware, or becomes aware again, of the product or service, usually as a response to a need or desire. The awareness phase can follow a previous purchase. The user may decide to choose another brand based on the experience of a previous purchase, so we see how the journey is a cycle. The retention phase is aimed at bringing the customer back to this phase when their need arises again.
Here, the user looks at the virtues and the flaws of your brand and any other brands also up for consideration. Pricing, value, customer service, the effect of branding, communication, and so much more come into play here.
At this point, the user has looked at the relevant differences between the available options. If there is any information about your product or service that has not been delivered at this point, it could mean losing the sale.
Here, the user either makes a purchase or does not. This is far from the end of the journey. Keep in mind that they may be buying because another brand is not available to serve their needs at the moment. This means customer service should be on point, additional information like future updates should be offered, and any discounts you may have on offer should be extended.
If they have never bought with you before, this is your chance to retain their loyalty. It's a good idea to check in with them if possible, ask for feedback, tell them about improvements and updates, and try to discover ways to improve their satisfaction in the future. When they re-enter the awareness phase, you want the chance for improvements, and friendly and complete customer service to follow them into the next round of consideration.
How to improve a user’s journey
The key to getting the most out of the user's journey is to know your customer as thoroughly as possible. This is why a customer profile and all of the possible entry points into the journey are important to understand and define your customer journey. You want a fulsome, complete, and accurate profile of each category of demographic that shops for the products or services you offer.
Then you need to know and anticipate each possible entry point into the user's journey. Consider Diddy Diana once more. Suppose she entered the user journey from her home computer. She would see more options more prominently displayed, and because we know she doesn't want to wait long for delivery, she is likely to go to the store that has what she wants on hand at the moment. So we can see that the customer profile, the entry point, and what you have on your shelves should all flow into a coherent equation for each customer profile you have on file.
Customer Profile: Customer X wants product Y for need/want Z
Entry Point: Customer X enters the awareness phase at the following points:
- On foot
- TV Ad
- Roadway Proximity
Available Value Offer: When the customer enters the awareness phase, do you have what they want on offer? If not, why not? If you don't have what your customer profile tells you they want, you will lose them at the awareness phase.
Understand that how they enter the user journey will determine how much help they will need along the way to make a purchase.
Build User Journey Maps
These are flow charts or diagrams that take the needs, wants, and habits of a given customer profile and follow it through a user journey from the entry point, to retention and back through again. Ideally, you want a journey map for each user starting at each point of entry.
Naturally, you're going to need several versions of each user journey map, each with different paths based on entry point, previous experience, and so on. Your goal is to be able to answer questions and anticipate questions that a given customer might need to be answered before he or she will move on to make a purchase. After that, it's about keeping them informed about brand updates, future offers, loyalty rewards, and the like.
When it comes to keeping that retention phase loop-shaped and directing them back to the top of the journey, it's all about communication. You need to be able to let them know how you are improving, what new products/services you have on offer, and get them hooked on rewards and discounts.
That is where Mailchimp's Customer Journey Builder comes in. Mailchimp is a full service email list marketing service, bringing newsletters, updates, and everything you need to keep your customers engaged and satisfied. Remember, the customer journey doesn't have to end with the purchase, and Mailchimp is here to make sure it doesn't.