Effective Customer Journey Map: Best Practices and Benefits

Effective Customer Journey Map: Best Practices and Benefits

Nearly 70% of online shoppers abandoned their shopping carts, leaving businesses wondering why potential customers would invest time exploring their offerings only to exit at the last moment. Understanding the complex and unpredictable customer journey is crucial in today’s competitive market. Customer journey mapping, especially in terms of user experience (UX), can help businesses comprehend this process, allowing them to make informed decisions to enhance customer experiences, boost conversions, and improve customer retention. This article provides a comprehensive guide to creating an effective customer journey map, highlighting best practices, and shedding light on the benefits of this strategic approach.

Customer Journey vs. Buyer Journey

Before delving into the process of creating a customer journey map, it’s essential to distinguish between the customer journey and the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey encompasses the entire process from pre-purchase to post-purchase, tracking the path from the customer’s awareness of a problem to becoming a product or service user. On the other hand, the customer journey focuses on the customer touchpoints where a brand meets its customers at various stages of the buyer’s journey, taking control of these interactions instead of leaving them to chance.

Customer Journey Stages

The customer journey typically consists of five key phases that customers go through when interacting with a brand or a product: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Retention, and Loyalty.

Awareness Stage:

In the awareness stage, customers have realized that they have a problem and a pain point to solve. At this point, a customer may not yet know that they need a product or service, but they will begin doing research either way.

During this stage of the customer journey, brands deliver educational content to help customers diagnose a problem and offer potential solutions. The aim is to help customers navigate their new pain points, not encourage a purchase.

Educational content may include:

  • How-to articles and guides
  • General whitepapers
  • General ebooks
  • Free courses

Educational content may be delivered via customer touchpoints such as:

  • Your blog
  • Social media
  • Search engines


In the consideration stage, customers have done enough research to realize that they need a product or service. At this point, they begin to compare brands and their offerings. During this stage of the customer journey, brands deliver product marketing content to help customers compare different offerings and, eventually, choose their product or service. The aim is to help customers navigate a crowded solution marketplace and move them toward a purchase decision.

Product marketing content may include:

  • Product listicles
  • Product comparison guides and charts
  • Product-focused white papers
  • Customer success stories or case studies

Product marketing content may be delivered via customer touchpoints such as:

  • Your blog
  • Your website
  • Search engines
  • Social media
  • Conferences

Decision Stage:

In the decision stage, customers have chosen a solution and are ready to buy. During this stage, brands deliver a seamless purchase process to make buying their products as easy and simple as possible. No more educational or product content at this stage — it’s all about getting customers to make a purchase. That means you can be more direct about wanting customers to buy from you.

Decision-stage content may include:

  • Free demos
  • Free consultations
  • Product sign-up pages
  • Pricing pages
  • Product promotions (i.e “Sign up now and save 30%”)

Decision-stage content may be delivered via customer touchpoints such as:

  • Your website
  • Search engines
  • Email

Retention Stage:

In the retention stage, customers have purchased a solution and stay with the company they purchased from, as opposed to leaving for another provider. During this stage, brands provide an excellent onboarding experience and ongoing customer service to ensure that customers don’t churn.

Retention-stage strategies may include:

  • Providing a dedicated customer success manager
  • Making your customer service team easily accessible
  • Creating a knowledge base in case customers ever run into a roadblock

Retention-stage strategies may be delivered via customer touchpoints such as:

  • Your website
  • Live chat
  • Email
  • Social media

Loyalty Stage:

In the loyalty stage, customers not only choose to stay with a company — they actively promote it to their family, friends, and colleagues. The loyalty stage can also be called the advocacy stage. During this phase, brands focus on providing a fantastic end-to-end customer experience, from your website content to your sales reps, from your social media team to your product’s UX. Most importantly, customers become loyal when they’ve achieved success with your product — if it works, they will likely recommend your brand to others.

Loyalty-stage strategies may include:

  • Having an easy-to-navigate website
  • Investing in your product team to ensure your product exceeds customer expectations
  • Making it easy to share your brand with others via a loyalty or referral program
  • Providing perks to continued customers, such as discounts

Loyalty-stage strategies may be delivered via customer touchpoints such as:

  • Your website
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Your products

What is UX Journey Mapping?

A UX journey map illustrates how customers experience their journey toward a specific goal or action. While the term “UX journey mapping” can be used interchangeably with “customer journey mapping” for tracking the path to purchasing a product or service, it can also be applied to map the journey towards other objectives, such as using a specific product feature.

Importance of Customer Journey Mapping

Mapping the customer journey is essential because it provides insights into the complex decision-making process customers go through. This journey starts when customers become problem-aware and involves multiple touchpoints, external factors, and interactions with the company. For many customers, their experience with a company is as important as its products, making it crucial to optimize this journey to improve customer satisfaction, conversions, and retention.

Key Components of a Customer Journey Map

A customer journey map typically includes the following components:

  1. Buying Process: Charting the customer’s path from first contact to the final purchase.
  2. Emotions: Identifying the emotions customers experience at different stages of the journey, can help address negative emotions and pain points.
  3. User Actions: Detailing what customers do in each stage of the buying process, such as downloading resources or engaging in webinars.
  4. User Research: Identifying where and what customers research when taking action.
  5. Solutions: Brainstorming ways to improve the buying process to minimize customer pain points.

Steps for Creating a Customer Journey Map

1. Use customer journey map templates.

Why make a customer journey map from scratch when you can use a template? The offer includes templates that can help you map out your buyer’s journey, a day in the life of your customer, lead nurturing, and more. Utilizing these templates can help your sales, marketing, and customer support teams learn more about your company’s buyer persona. With this deeper understanding, you can come up with improvements to your product and provide a better customer experience.

2. Set clear objectives for the map.

Before you dive into filling out your customer journey map, you need to ask yourself why you’re creating a map in the first place. What goals are you directing this map towards? Who is it specifically about? What experience is it based upon? Based on this, you should create a buyer persona. This is a fictitious customer with all the demographics and psychographics representing your average customer. Having a clear persona helps remind you to direct every aspect of your customer journey map toward them.

3. Profile your personas and define their goals.

Next, you should conduct research. Some great ways to get valuable customer feedback are questionnaires and user testing. The important thing is to only reach out to actual customers or prospects. You want feedback from people interested in purchasing your products and services and who have either interacted with your company or plan to do so. Some examples of good questions to ask are:

  • How did you hear about our company?
  • What first attracted you to our website?
  • What are the goals you want to achieve with our company? In other words, what problems are you trying to solve?
  • How long have you/do you typically spend on our website?
  • Have you ever purchased with us? If so, what was your deciding factor?
  • Have you ever interacted with our website to make a purchase but decided not to? If so, what led you to this decision?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how easily can you navigate our website?
  • Did you ever require customer support? If so, how helpful was it, on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • Can we further support you to make your process easier?

4. Highlight your target customer personas.

Once you’ve learned about the customer personas that interact with your business, you’ll need to narrow your focus to one or two. Remember, a UX journey map tracks the experience of a customer taking a particular path with your company — so if you group too many personas into one journey, your map won’t accurately reflect that experience. When creating your first map, it’s best to pick your most common customer persona and consider the route they would typically take when engaging with your business for the first time. You can use a marketing dashboard to compare each and determine the best fit for your journey map. Don’t worry about the ones you leave out, as you can always go back and create a new map specific to those customer types.

5. List out all touchpoints.

Begin by listing the touchpoints on your website. Based on your research, you should have a list of all the touchpoints your customers are currently using and the ones you believe they should be using if there’s no overlap. This is essential in creating a UX journey map, as it gives you insight into your customers’ actions. If they use fewer touchpoints than expected, does this mean they are quickly getting turned away and leaving your site early?If they are using more than expected, does this mean your website is complicated and requires several steps to reach an end goal? Whatever the case, understanding touchpoints can help you understand the ease or difficulties of the customer journey. Aside from your website, you also need to look at how your customers might come across you online.

These might include:

  • Social channels
  • Paid ads
  • Email marketing
  • Third-party review sites or mentions

Run a quick Google search of your brand to see all the pages that mention you. Verify these by checking your Google Analytics to see where your traffic is coming from. Whittle your list down to those touchpoints that are the most common and will be most likely to see an action associated with it. Consider the following touchpoints as you create your UX journey map.

6. Customer Actions

List your customers’ actions throughout their interaction with your brand. This might be a Google search for keywords or clicking on an email. You may wind up with a long list of actions, and that’s fine. You’ll get a chance to rationalize your information later. It’s important to recognize when customers are expected to take too many actions to achieve their goals. Reducing the number of steps a customer needs to take can feel risky but pays off in higher conversion rates.

7. Customer Emotions & Motivations

All marketing is a result of cause and effect. Likewise, every action your customers take is motivated by emotion. And your customers’ emotions will change depending on which part of their journey they’re at.A pain point or a problem is usually the emotional driver of your customer’s actions. Knowing this will help you provide the right content at the right time to smooth the customer’s emotional journey through your brand.

8. Customer Obstacles & Pain Points

Get to know what roadblocks stop your customer from taking their desired action. One common obstacle is cost. For example, one of your customers could love your product but abandon their cart upon discovering unexpectedly high shipping rates. Highlighting these potential obstacles in your customer journey can help you mitigate them. For example, you could provide an FAQ page that answers common questions about shipping costs.

9. Determine the resources you have and the ones you’ll need.

Your customer journey map is going to touch on nearly every part of your business. This will highlight all the resources that go into creating the customer experience. So taking inventory of your resources and the ones you’ll need to improve the customer’s journey is essential. For example, maybe your map highlights that your team doesn’t have the tools to follow up with customers properly. Using your map, you can advise management to invest in customer service tools to help your team manage customer demand. By including these new tools in your map, you can accurately predict how they’ll impact your business and drive outsized value. This makes it much easier to convince gatekeepers and decision-makers to invest in your proposals.

10. Take the customer journey yourself.

Just because you’ve designed your map doesn’t mean your work is done. This is the most critical part of the process: analyzing the results. How many people click on your website but then close out before making a purchase? How can you better support customers? These are some of the questions you should be able to answer with your finished map. Analyzing the results can show you where customer needs aren’t being met. By approaching this, you can ensure that you’re providing a valuable experience and making it clear that people can find solutions to their problems with your company’s help. The whole exercise of mapping the customer journey remains hypothetical until you try it out yourself. For each of your personas, follow their journey through their social media activity, reading their emails, and searching online.

11. Make the necessary changes.

Your data analysis should give you a sense of what you want your website to be. You can then make changes to your website to achieve these goals. Perhaps this is adding more specific call-to-action links, or it’s writing longer descriptions under each product to clarify its purpose matter how big or small the changes are, they will be effective as they directly correlate with what customers listed as their pain points. Rather than blindly making changes in the hopes that they will improve customer experiences, you can feel confident that they will. And, with the help of your visualized customer journey map, you can ensure those needs and pain points are always addressed.

How often should you update your customer journey map?

Your map should be a constant work in progress. Reviewing it monthly or quarterly will help you identify gaps and opportunities for further streamlining your customer journey. Use your data analytics along with customer feedback to check for any roadblocks. Keep all stakeholders involved in this process, which is why you should consider visualizing your maps in a collaborative tool such as Google Sheets. Additionally, consider having regular meetings to analyze how new products or offerings have changed the customer journey.

Types of Customer Journey Maps

There are four primary types of customer journey maps, each serving a unique purpose:

  1. Current State: Visualizes the customer’s current actions, thoughts, and emotions during interactions with your company, providing insights for continual improvement.
  2. Day in the Life: Shows the customer’s experiences in their daily activities, with or without interactions with your company, helping identify unmet customer needs in real life.
  3. Future State: Visualizes what customers will experience in future interactions with your company, based on their current experience, illustrating your vision and setting strategic goals.
  4. Service Blueprint: Starts with a simplified version of one of the above map styles and adds factors like people, policies, technologies, and processes responsible for delivering the experience, helping identify root causes or steps needed to attain desired customer journeys.

Best Practices for Customer Journey Mapping

To create an effective customer journey map, consider the following best practices:

  1. Set clear objectives for the map to avoid scope creep and ensure the map serves a specific purpose.
  2. Survey customers to gain insights into their actual buying journey, as their experiences may differ from your assumptions.
  3. Consult customer service representatives to understand frequently asked questions and potential pain points.
  4. Create a separate UX journey map for each buyer persona, as different customer segments may have distinct journeys.
  5. Review and update the journey map after every major product release to account for changes in the customer journey.
  6. Make the journey map accessible to cross-functional teams to foster a customer-focused mentality throughout the company.

Benefits of Customer Journey Mapping

Creating and implementing a customer journey map offers several benefits for businesses:

  1. Focusing on Inbound Marketing: Customer journey maps enable companies to attract customers through inbound marketing by creating content that aligns with customer needs and interests, resulting in better engagement and conversions.
  2. Targeting Specific Customer Bases: Understanding the customer journey allows for precise targeting of demographics and psychographics, avoiding wasted efforts on a broad audience.
  3. Proactive Customer Service: Journey maps help companies anticipate customer needs and pain points, enabling proactive customer service strategies to improve satisfaction and reliability.
  4. Improved Customer Retention: By identifying and addressing pain points, businesses can reduce customer churn, as even a slight increase in retention rates can lead to significant profit growth.
  5. Customer-Focused Mentality: Sharing the journey map across the organization instills a customer-focused mindset among all departments, aligning efforts to improve the overall customer experience.

A Customer Journey Map is a visual representation of the steps and experiences a customer goes through when interacting with a company or brand, from the initial point of contact to post-purchase support.

Customer Journey Maps are important because they help businesses understand the customer’s perspective, identify pain points, and make data-driven improvements to enhance customer experiences, increase conversions, and boost customer retention.

The typical customer journey stages include Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Retention, and Loyalty. These stages cover the customer’s path from recognizing a problem to becoming a loyal advocate for a brand.

To create a Customer Journey Map, you should start by setting clear objectives, profiling customer personas, highlighting touchpoints, and mapping out the customer’s actions, emotions, and obstacles. It’s often helpful to use templates and gather data from customer surveys and feedback.

The Buyer’s Journey Map covers the entire buying experience from pre-purchase to post-purchase, while the Customer Journey Map focuses on the touchpoints where a brand meets customers throughout their buying process, aiming to control and optimize these interactions.

There are four primary types of Customer Journey Maps: Current State, Day in the Life, Future State, and Service Blueprint, each serving specific purposes like continuous improvement, understanding customer needs, setting strategic goals, and identifying root causes.

Customer Journey Maps should be reviewed and updated regularly, typically on a monthly or quarterly basis. This allows businesses to adapt to changing customer behaviors and continually enhance the customer journey.

The benefits of Customer Journey Mapping include improved customer experiences, increased customer retention, focused inbound marketing, precise targeting, proactive customer service, and fostering a customer-centric mentality within the organization.

Customer Journey Maps should be shared across the organization and made accessible to relevant teams. You can use collaborative tools or platforms where different departments can access and contribute to the map. Holding regular meetings to discuss the map and its findings can also help ensure its accessibility to all teams.

Insights from a Customer Journey Map can be used to make data-driven decisions, optimize touchpoints, reduce pain points, enhance marketing and sales strategies, and improve the overall customer experience. It provides a roadmap for addressing customer needs and concerns at every stage of their journey.

Yes, Customer Journey Maps are versatile and can be applied to various industries, including retail, e-commerce, healthcare, financial services, and more. The principles of understanding and enhancing the customer experience are applicable across different sectors.

Yes, Customer Journey Maps can and should account for different customer segments. Creating separate maps for distinct buyer personas allows businesses to tailor their approaches to meet the unique needs and expectations of each group.

Success can be measured by tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as improved conversion rates, increased customer satisfaction, reduced churn, and higher customer advocacy. Regularly analyzing these metrics will help assess the effectiveness of your journey mapping efforts.


Creating an effective customer journey map is a crucial step in understanding and optimizing the customer experience. By following best practices and continuously updating the map, businesses can enhance customer satisfaction, drive conversions, and improve customer retention. A customer-focused mentality and targeted marketing strategies also emerge as valuable outcomes of this process, ultimately benefiting both companies and their customers.

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