User Journey Mapping: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

By Miriam Kung | 1 Oct 2019
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When you think about your user journey and user journey map, the first thing that may come to mind is your product onboarding flow.

But it's equally crucial to track your user journey from a customer acquisition perspective - from the moment they find out about your business, to all the steps that led them to become a great customer using your products.

A map is a visualization of an area, usually somewhere on our planet Earth 🌎, and shows the relationship between different elements in the environment. In the same way, a user journey map is a visual representation of the relationship between your users and your business.

More importantly, a user journey map acts as your product growth compass - it guides you on the marketing channels, onboarding tactics, and UX flows that bring in lifelong customers who'll tell others about your products and services. Aka the ultimate customer who keeps on giving πŸ’.

In this beginner's guide to a user journey, we'll take you through:

  • What a user journey map is
  • Why a user journey map is beneficial
  • How to analyze your user journeys
  • Examples of a user journey map for B2B and B2C companies
  • Tools that track your user journey

By the end of this article, you'll understand why it's critical to map and track your customer journeys, and have some new ideas and tools for getting started right away!

What is a user journey map?

A user journey (also called a customer journey) is a series of steps someone takes to engage with your business via your website, mobile app, and/or offline experience, in order to use your products and services.

A user journey map is a visualization of all the steps and touchpoints a person takes during their process of using your products and services, from first discovering your brand, to becoming a customer, to turning into a product evangelist.

It's usually broken down into multiple stages and goals which map to different parts of your marketing funnel or Product-Led Growth flywheel (which we're big fans of!).

Here's a look at a standard Product-Led Growth flywheel from Appcues:

Image source: Appcues

The core steps of your user journey typically map to key stages in this flywheel.

We'll define each stage, and give some example steps a PixelMe customer might take:

  • πŸ‘‹ 1. Activate: Generate brand awareness and interest so people can find out about your products and services. Example: User searches for a marketing attribution tool in Google, then clicks on a PixelMe blog post that leads them to our website.
  • βœ… 2. Adopt: Turn potential prospects into first-time customers trialing your products. Example: User signs up for a PixelMe demo. After the demo, they sign up for a free trial.
  • πŸ™Œ 3. Adore: Convert people trialing your products into loyal product users. Example: User connects their data from Segment, Facebook Ads, and Google Ads. A day later, they create their first segment and funnel. When the 7-day trial ends, they pay for a subscription. They watch 2 onboarding videos, and login to track their attribution 3x/week over the next month.
  • πŸ₯° 4. Advocate: Organically create customer evangelists who spread the word about your brand. Example: User writes a 5-star review on Capterra 3 months later, and signs up for our referral program.

Why understanding your user journey is key

The lifeline of any type of business comes down to a few major KPIs: revenue, customer growth, and retention.

And the gateway to each of these, is understanding your customer journeys and their experiences with your brand and products throughout their lifetime. By doing so, you can reverse engineer the paths that bring in your best customers, and replicate those strategies. Similarly, you can figure out when and why people drop off in their onboarding flow, to prevent churn.

A user journey map also lets you pinpoint customers' goals, needs, and struggles. This helps you build stronger customer experiences, and create stickier products that foster long lasting relationships with your company.

From conducting hundreds of customer research sessions at PixelMe, and tracking our customer journeys with products analytics tools & marketing attribution, we've discovered 4 takeaways:

  • 🧠 Design onboarding that maps to their mental models: Many times, the product onboarding flow you designed and a user's mental model may not line up. Tracking the sequence of steps customers actually take can help reveal any changes needed.
  • πŸ”‘ Solve key user pain points: Just like relationships in life, your user journey will also involve highs and lows and can guide your product direction based on their pain points. On the flip side, it can help you promote features they love to new customers.
  • 🀩 Find the aha moments: Depending on your company, it may take anywhere from minutes to weeks for someone to experience that aha moment - when they're ramped up and find value from your products. Make it easy for people to reach the aha's as quickly as possible.
  • πŸš€ Optimize every touchpoint: Learning about the channels and campaigns that bring in revenue, will let you optimize your efforts and budgets. For example, we've seen adding FAQ links directly in the product and providing live chat support are key during onboarding.

How to properly analyze a user journey map

When putting together your user journey map, it's important to outline what your team's goals are, so you're designing flows that drive outcomes you care about.

From there, customer research is really the key to building an effective user journey map. Both qualitative calls and sessions to understand your customer's thought processes, as well as quantitative outreach, such as surveys and forms to aggregate and validate feedback at scale.

To get started, we'll outline each of these 3 steps in more detail:

  1. Define your customer personas
  2. Map out your user journey stages
  3. Implement measurement & tracking along each stage

Step 1: Define your customer personas

Understanding your customer is really the core of your business. So it's important to have a clear picture of the types of customers you want to target after doing customer research and market research about your ideal audience.

Buffer provides a great guide and template on building a customer persona. Key customer persona criteria to consider:

  • Industry & Role
  • Demographics (age, gender, etc.)
  • Location (country, city, etc.)
  • Goals & motivations
  • Pain points
  • Online and offline behaviors

Here's a sample of a PixelMe customer persona, a fictitious person named Charles πŸ™β€β™‚οΈ:

  • πŸ™‹β€β™‚οΈIndustry & Role: Marketing Head of a B2B SaaS company.
  • πŸ‘¨β€πŸ’» Demographics: Male, age 29, with an undergraduate degree.
  • πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ Location: Based in the United States, in the urban city San Francisco.
  • πŸ™†β€β™‚οΈ Goals & motivations: Launch marketing plans that bring in loyal customers, automate marketing reporting, optimize their budgets.
  • πŸ™…β€β™‚οΈ Pain points: Can't easily calculate ROI across marketing channels, spends a lot of time pulling together data from many sources, doesn't have a clear sense on the impact of paid vs. organic efforts on customers.
  • πŸ’β€β™‚οΈ Behaviors & values: Tech savvy, early adopter of tech products, prefers chat and email over phone, values dependable products with great UI and customer support.

Step 2: Map out your customer journey stages

This can be done by documenting all the channels and touchpoints used along each stage of your user journey.

We adopt an approach that maps to the different stages of a product-led growth flywheel, but there's multiple frameworks you can use, such as AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action).

During user journey mapping, it's a good idea to have team inputs across your company, to setup a successful, collaborative map: Teams from Product, Marketing, Customer Success, Sales, and more.

For example, here are some potential touchpoints for Charles and PixelMe customers, along with a simplified user journey example:

Step 3: Implement measurement and tracking along each stage

This is the foundational step for setting up your user journey map for success. It'll give you data-driven insights that feed into company-wide strategies and decisions, and show you where and how to optimize your flows across Product, Marketing, Customer Success and Sales.

It can be divided into 2 groups:

  • Acquisition journey: Setup tracking for all the touchpoints taken to acquire a new user.
  • Onboarding journey: Setup tracking for all steps a first-time user takes over their lifespan.

During the customer acquisition journey, marketing attribution plays a key role in showing your customer paths, and revealing which channels and campaigns contribute to customer growth by measuring their ROI and LTV.

During the customer onboarding journey, tools that provide product analytics and a view of your customer sessions allow you to analyze your user flows, behaviors, and track when people drop-off.

A combination of all of these platforms will provide a solid understanding of what's working and what needs to be changed in your user journey map to match your customer needs and desires. By implementing ongoing tests, you can then build optimal experiences for potential, new, and existing customers.

Examples of user journey maps

When mapping out your user journeys, you can get creative with how you design your visuals. Such as starting with simple post-it notes or whiteboarding your flows across various stages before migrating it into a chart. As long as they're digestible and actionable by various teams at your company, for making better business decisions.

We're providing 2 examples below for a B2B as well as a B2C company, when looking at different stages of the user journey.

B2B SaaS user journey example

If you're a B2B SaaS company like us at PixelMe, here's an example of our user journey map for the new user acquisition flow.

Our goal below is to increase free trial signups, by providing a variety of ways for people to discover our brand, get in touch with our team to learn more, and making setup as frictionless as possible.

B2C E-commerce user journey example

If you're a B2C E-commerce company, here's a simplified example of a user journey map showing a potential purchase flow for Horizn Studios, an innovative smart luggage brand.

Horizn Studio's goal below is to drive repeat purchases from existing customers. For example, keeping them engaged through contests to win a free luggage via friend referrals, promoting 48 hour flash sales, and sending a loyalty voucher to upgrade to the latest generation of their luggages.

Here's one sample of a Christmas contest they promoted, along with a 15% discount code via email, as one step in their user journey.

Email subject line: Our gift to you: win a luggage set for Christmas

Creating multiple campaigns to increase engagement and driving loyalty through contests, referral programs, and exclusive offers, are a great way to bring customers back, create delightful customer experiences, and increase revenue.

Tools that track your user journey

Marketing Attribution (for analyzing user acquisition)

  • Bizible: B2B attribution for enterprise companies, that plugs right into Salesforce.
  • Glew: All-in-one E-commerce analytics, business analytics, and attribution planning platform.
  • AppsFlyer: A leading mobile app analytics attribution provider.
  • PixelMe: The first Customer Attribution solution with granular segmentation, funnels, and cohorts to show your customer journeys that lead to the highest ROI & LTV.

Product Analytics (for analyzing user onboarding)

  • Mixpanel: A leading product analytics platform for tracking how customers use your products.
  • Amplitude: A strong product and behavioral analytics platform for tracking how customers move across your website and products.

Customer Sessions (for analyzing individual-level acquisition & onboarding)

  • FullStory: A digital customer experience platform, that shows powerful video replays of user sessions, captures product usability and error states, and more.
  • HotJar: A website behavioral tracking tool, with heat maps and analytics on how visitors use your site. It also lets you collect user feedback and helps convert visitors into customers.

Start creating winning customer experiences

In life, they say it's all about the journey. The same can be said for your brand - it's all about the customer journey and how they experience your products and services.

Great experiences are what lead to happy and loyal customers who willingly tell others about your company, creating a viral loop that helps you generate even more great customers.

So to figure out what drives the best customer experiences - start mapping away your ideal customers and their journeys, and track each of their steps with tools across marketing attribution, product analytics, and customer sessions! πŸš€

Want to track your user journeys? Sign up for a free PixelMe trial πŸŽ‰. Or just message us from the blue chat icon in the bottom-right corner to talk to us live! πŸ’¬

If this article was helpful and you want to supercharge your marketing with similar content, subscribe to our PixelMe newsletter πŸ₯³

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