What is a customer journey?
Let’s start our understanding of customer journey mapping by first understanding what is meant by the “customer’s journey”.
As suggested by the name, a customer journey is the progression of a consumer (initially a non-customer of a brand) in their journey to becoming a customer of the brand. Understanding the customer’s journey is an important marketing task because it demonstrates the connection between a target market consumer and their decision to become a first-time customer of the brand.
The more effectively we can understand this journey, the better placed we are to attract first-time customers, as well as more effectively meet their ongoing needs in order to increase the likelihood of the consumer becoming a loyal ongoing customer.
A consumer’s journey will include all interactions with brand touchpoints, such as gathering information, marketing communications, retailers and salespeople, product information, competitor offerings, talking to salespeople, word-of-mouth information, and so on.
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What is customer journey mapping?
Customer journey mapping is a visual technique designed to show the steps taken and sources of information accessed by the consumer in their progression to becoming a customer of the brand – that is, the customer’s journey as discussed above.
A customer journey map should include all brand touchpoints (exposures and interactions) whether or not they are communicated by the brand – and hence need to include: information from competitors, retailers, websites, social media, public product usage, product placement in movies, and so on. Please see the article on brand touchpoint examples.
While many customer journey maps focus upon the customer’s active decision process only, it is important to take a broader perspective when considering the customer’s journey. Whether or not a potential brand is a suitable purchase (that is, it is in the consumer’s evoked set) is usually built upon years of advertising exposure and indirect experience with the brand through others. For a good example of this brand awareness impact, please see the article on example brand touchpoints for Apple – as well as the article that outlines the three main phases of a customer journey.