By Iryna Kandrashova
Customers are the lifeblood and the driving force of your business. And knowing how to keep them happy can make or break your bottom line. However, the stats reveal that up to 80% of customers feel that retailers do not get them as individuals, which leaves them unhappy — and understandably so. But there is no surprise here. Stuck in old ways, traditional e-commerce sites are more about business, and not the customer.
To build a truly customer-centric digital experience, you need to put yourself in your users’ shoes. That’s where customer journey mapping can help. The primary objective of a customer journey map is to gain a deep understanding of your buyers’ needs and wants at every step of the way. Armed with this knowledge, you can better address customers’ pain points and convert prospects more effectively.
Now, let’s see how to do customer journey mapping the right way in order to maximize value for your clients and improve conversions for your website.
Create actionable customer personas
First things first, and to start with user journey mapping you need to create personas for your customers. A customer persona (also known as a buyer persona) is a fictitious prototype with key traits and characteristics of your target user. Think of it as a generalized representation of your ideal customer. Well thought-out and detailed personas go a long way towards letting you get into your customers’ heads — no more guesses or assumptions.
Depending on your business, you can segment your target audience into multiple personas for greater accuracy and a better effort-to-return ratio on your initiatives. Once you’ve defined your segments, hone in on buyer profiles by adding demographics, discovering preferences, goals, motivations, priorities, and more to create a truly insightful persona. Needless to say, the more detailed your personas are, the more personalized you can get with your marketing activities.
To get an idea of what to include in your persona profile, here is a cheat sheet with questions to ask. Feel free to add new sections to describe your particular personas.
High-quality personas are always based on deep research, both qualitative and quantitative. Best practices include on-page surveys, exit intent pop-ups, in-person or phone interviews, competitor analysis, web analytics, and more — leverage a combination of these methods to create actionable customer personas grounded in solid data and facts.
Map out customer journeys on your website
Sophisticated customer personas are a starting point for mapping out user journeys through your website. Essentially, a customer journey map is a visualization of how visitors are progressing in their experiences with your brand. And it can be done in many forms — diagrams, charts, illustrations, or spreadsheets — whatever you are most comfortable working with.
A customer journey includes all touchpoints that a visitor has with your website — from initial discovery and first contact to after-sales support and long-term engagement. To pin down these interactions correctly, you need to know what stages your customers pass and, more importantly, how they move because their paths may not be linear.
When it comes to customer journey mapping, there is no one-size-fits-all as multiple personas will interact with your website differently. Not to mention that different businesses will also have their unique processes and flows in place.
A good place to start is to define the scope of a customer journey — you can choose to focus on a high-level flow or zero in on a separate stage, like onboarding or delivery, to see where you successfully meet your customers’ needs and where there is a room for improvement. Identify interactions throughout that scope and group them into distinct stages. Think of each stage as a subgoal in reaching the final customer’s objective in their journey.
Depending on the form you choose, your end result might look like this.
To create a truly powerful narrative, align each step of the path with a customer’s emotions — pain points, frustrations, and moments of delight. These emotions act as the driver and the motivation of a buyer’s actions. And granular understanding of these factors will help you make value-driven decisions that would improve the overall customer experience.
Restructure your website based on persona behavior
Now that you know — and actually see on a customer journey map — the inspirations and challenges of your target audience, you can move to optimize the touchpoints and orchestrating a stellar online customer experience.
Customer journey maps offer a unique opportunity to look at your website through your clients’ eyes. Now, do your customers easily find what they want? Is the flow smooth and navigation simple enough? Keeping this perspective in mind, you can craft processes and encounters to remove friction from interactions, redesign the most meaningful touchpoints, and proactively address customers’ pain points.
Another thing to remember is that consumer behavior is constantly changing in no small part due to technological advancements, and your website needs to evolve, too. For that, revise your customer personas and their journeys on a regular basis to keep them up-to-date and delight your users with modern digital experiences.
To be effective, website optimization needs to go hand-in-hand with gathering valuable analytics data. A/B testing is a tried-and-true way to gauge customer feedback and support data-informed decisions — by varying different elements of content and design you can see what is really working and how to improve your conversion rate.
To wrap it up
With an estimated 12 to 24 million e-commerce sites in the world, customers expect more than just products to buy or services to procure — they are looking for well-crafted, seamless, and highly personalized online experiences.
Customer journey mapping is an effective marketing tool that can help you with that. By creating data-driven buyer personas, you can get deeper insights into your customers and nurture the right audience through a better-targeted approach. Those brands who successfully mastered customer journey mapping stand to benefit from increased satisfaction rate, reduced churn numbers, and improved bottom line.
Iryna Kandrashova is a head of marketing at UXPressia, a user experience platform that allows you to сreate, export, and share customer journey maps, personas, and impact maps online. Iryna is keen on traveling (there are still some opportunities even now!), prefers an active lifestyle and amateurish sport. You can get in touch with her on LinkedIn. @UXPressia.