Understanding the customer journey is an essential part of helping people achieve their goals. For this reason, many companies are trying to create customer journey maps that show the behavior and decision-making processes of their buyers.

Unfortunately, in today’s omnichannel business landscape, it can be daunting – if not impossible – to create a map that depicts the entire customer journey. After all, some clients are very open about their motivations and desired results, while others are less willing to open up. Some customers prefer to interact through face-to-face conversations, while others rely on non-verbal forms of communication such as email, social media, or text messaging.

With so many personas, goals, motivations, and communication styles to consider, how can you ever develop a single document depicting the customer journey? One way to do this is to start small and develop your customer journey map over time.

Below are three mapping exercises that you can use to use CRM data in developing different types of customer journeys for your business.

1. Define your ICPs and personas

Customer journey mapping is a waste of time until you have a very specific understanding of your ideal customer. First, clearly define your ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and personas before getting into travel mapping. If you don’t have an ICP or personas, consider the following questions:

  • If you could only sell to one industry, which one would it be?
  • What is your primary niche in this industry?
  • What are the firmographic characteristics of your ideal client in your ideal industry and niche? (i.e. sales size, business area, number of employees, etc.)
  • Which of the companies you’ve worked for in the past have been less than ideal? Why?
  • With which people (job titles, responsibilities) does your company interact?
  • Which job titles tend to make decisions about your products or services?
  • Which gatekeepers and other stakeholders are involved in the buying process?
  • Who are the actual users or consumers of your offers?

There is a lot to consider when developing your ICPs and personas. You may not have all the answers, and that’s normal. Use your CRM data and generate reports to answer the tough questions. Your sales team is also a reliable source of first-hand knowledge that you can use to validate your assumptions. Gather all feedback and simplify it for the next step.

example: A manufacturing company that makes and sells assembly line equipment could theoretically have numerous ICPs and personas. However, for customer mapping purposes, it can be beneficial to focus on one industry at a time, especially if buying patterns and customer service requirements vary significantly from one industry to another. Instead of trying to force all industries into a single card, it would be better for the manufacturing company to develop one card for the automotive industry, one for the healthcare industry, and so on. The first step would be to list the ICP and person (s) of each industry as follows:

2. Analyze CRM data for closed deals within each ICP

Once you’ve defined your primary ICPs, it’s time to use data from your CRM to identify trends that are the same for each trip. Drill down using tags or custom fields and quickly identify winning deals that fall within your target ICP. Make sure you set a date range that provides enough meaningful dates.

Do you notice any similarities? Things to look for can be:

  • Similar interactions on the way from awareness to closure
  • Content that has been downloaded frequently or viewed on your website
  • Marketing emails that helped move business forward
  • Leading sources responsible for a significant percentage of deals closed
  • Typical customer buying processes and the people involved
  • Objections raised during the sales cycle
  • Average time it took to complete each deal
  • Details on completion and implementation

Note: Looking at closed lost deals can also be insightful, but you may not need to do so if you have enough closed recovered data.

Use actual business data for a more complete view of the customer profile. Going back to our previous manufacturing example, the company’s automotive ICP might look something like this:

Analyze CRM data for closed deals in each ICP

3. Create your customer journey map

Now that you have enriched your ICPs and personas with reliable data from your CRM, you can now start creating a basic customer journey map. What is the best format for your company? There is no one-size-fits-all template that works for every industry and every use case. Here are some tips for designing a simple but effective customer journey map:

Lattice structure

Most customer journey maps are graphical and have horizontal and vertical axes. Above the grid, it is important that your ICP and yourself are clearly defined. If you’ve developed fictional personas with names and photos, this might be a great place to use them. Remember that each card should be specific to a Persona / ICP combination. If you need to map multiple customer journeys, start with the most important person. If certain cards are very similar, you can always combine them or remove them later.

Horizontal axis

The horizontal axis of your chart will most likely align with certain stages customers go through from pre-discovery to satisfied customer. Using your internal sales pipeline terminology might work, although it is better to describe the stages from your customer’s perspective. Instead of “initial discussions” you can also use the term “research provider”.

Vertical axis

Some customer journey maps try to put as many criteria as possible into the vertical axis. This can result in an overwhelming experience that defeats the original purpose of the assignment. Define three to four important criteria as the starting point for your y-axis. Customer actions, customer feelings and thoughts, and frequent objections are good examples. You can always add more later.

Example customer journey map

Based on our previous example, here’s what a simple customer journey map could look like. You can build this into a document or table and give it to a designer to improve later. The main goal is to get your basic facts down on paper asap:

Persona: VP Process Engineering – Plastics (Automotive ICP)

Note that the last line of the card has space to collect notes and ideas to optimize each stage of the customer journey. This example lists the development of “automated onboarding workflows” as a way to help the customer achieve their goal during the implementation. Using a tool like Insightly Marketing can be an intuitive and effective way to automate various aspects of the customer journey – from initial awareness to returning buyer.

Build better customer journeys

As the business world moves faster than ever, smart companies are realizing the importance of creating accurate and actionable customer journey maps.

Not sure how to start? Keep it simple Rely on data that is already in your CRM. Instead of worrying about design effects, focus on the business impact. And once you’ve created your customer journey map, use it!

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