Predicting user behavior has been a time-tested strategy to sell, upsell, and cross-sell in online and offline businesses. It’s the reason we have candy racks near the checkout, get a ‘surprise’ discount in ads right after we visit a website, or see the ‘request a quote’ button on every webpage.
To know what value customers expect from you — and why they’d want to choose you over your competition — you must understand what clients do at a certain point of interaction with your business. Creating a customer journey map (CJM) helps here a lot. In this article, we’ll outline the benefits of having a user journey map, discuss it in the context of e-commerce, and give a few working tips on how to create one that will work for your business. Let’s start with the basics.
What is customer journey mapping: definition, use, and benefits
A customer journey map, also known as a user experience (UX) map or user journey map, visualizes end-to-end client interaction with your brand during every touchpoint offline or online. The process of mapping out covers the actions that your client or prospect is supposed to take. More importantly, it includes their feelings, incentives, reactions, and everything else that falls under the umbrella of experience. This experience is crucial, and here’s why:
- 86% of buyers will spend more on the company’s products/services if they get the expected positive experience
- 32% will never buy anything if they have at least one negative experience with a brand
- 76% will switch the brand after having a negative purchasing experience
- Customers may spend up to 25% more of their planned online shopping budget if they enjoy an exceptional experience
- 72.9% of worldwide online e-commerce income is generated by mobile commerce (m-commerce)
The big question is how to know what customers would expect from interacting with your brand? A customer journey map helps to figure it out.
Use of a customer journey map
The primary use of UX mapping is to see your business through the client’s eyes and make sure that your offer meets — and exceeds — their expectations. But there are a few other reasons why companies want to create a customer journey map.
- To identify the pain points. This is crucial for online or hybrid businesses hiring in-house or outsourced teams to build or integrate an e-commerce platform. Once you see your website/platform navigation through your client’s eyes, you’ll pin down any issues or confusing details. On the upside, you’ll have a chance to fix them before your clients notice them.
- To know your customer better. While your platform may serve all kinds of clients across continents, they do share certain buying behavior, needs, or expectations. Creating user maps based on each buying persona profile will empower you with the knowledge of how to cater to their specific needs and spend less along the way.
- To understand what features your platform should have. Online businesses and e-commerce platforms have different touchpoints with prospects than offline brands. You need to know where to put a promotion banner, what data to collect to deliver personalized deals and discounts, and what gamification elements to add. Once you know it, you can create function fields in your platform.
The reason number two — knowing your customer better — makes probably the strongest case for building a customer journey map. Let’s explore it further.
Benefits of UX journey mapping
User maps will empower you with the customer vision of your brand. But in this vision, your brand will be given a ‘siloed’ attention. In reality, it won’t get as much focus — especially if prospective clients don’t know anything about you yet.
Experience with your brand is part of the client’s constant interaction with the outside world. If someone abandons their cart, it doesn’t necessarily mean they dislike your product, or there’s something wrong with your website — sometimes, it’s just a matter of choices and priorities. For example, a busy mom might put her order on hold to change her baby’s diaper or leave your website to calm her toddler’s meltdown. The key takeaway is that you can never know the reason behind an incomplete purchase.
Limited knowledge is something to remember once you decide to create a customer map, especially if you think you can find an answer to every ‘why.’ UX map won’t help you with this, but here’s what it really does:
- It helps understand where to expect intervention. Let’s go back to that busy-mom case. If she abandoned the cart halfway, you could send a personalized email as a reminder to complete the purchase. Try offering a small discount valid for X hours, too, to give a little push and improve her experience with your brand.
- It helps see what self-service features to include. Even if you don’t provide customer support yet or it’s on the way, you must solve any issues your early clients might have with your platform — or help them do it on their own. FAQ and chatbots are the most affordable solutions now, but you need to anticipate issues before they happen. And that’s what mapping is for.
- It helps get more insights into how you’re (or could be) different from your competition. Suppose you and your competitor sell the same product for the same price. What would make prospects buy from you? Personalized experience. To deliver it, you need to know their expectations. How to identify them? By mapping the client journey and doing competitive research.
- It helps notice where to implement innovations. Expectations depend heavily on trends and disruptive technologies. For instance, 57% of consumers wouldn’t recommend a brand with a poorly built mobile app or unfriendly mobile website. The reason is that they value their time and, knowing how convenient and easy mobile shopping can be, set the bar higher. Moreover, 66% of customers expect the brands to know their needs and expectations. Customer experience mapping shows you where to introduce innovations that your prospects look forward to.
That’s all good, you’ll say, but what if your e-commerce platform is developed by an outsourced agency? How to make sure that the platform you’ll get offers a smooth online shopping experience for your clients? Here’s how IT Delight approaches this.
7 steps to create a customer journey map for e-commerce business
Merchant accounts and e-commerce platforms come in different shapes and forms. Two companies on the same budget can build two platforms with completely different functionalities — and completely e different customer journeys. How do we know that we’re on the right path? We consider three major factors:
- Information we get from the business (buyer persona profiles, marketing strategy, expected geography, clients’ problems that the platform is supposed to solve, competition analysis, etc.)
- Standard technological practices and trends (tools, solutions, and innovative technologies)
- Our expertise (we worked with businesses across industries and can recommend the best fit for yours)
The more information the agency gets from the business, the greater their chances of creating a customer journey that would resonate with a potential buyer. An accurate journey is the foundation of a personalized approach. Here are seven simple steps that describe how we create a customer journey map.
Step 1: set a clear goal of creating a CJM
We deal with customer journey mapping when we need to a) create an e-commerce platform from scratch or b) redesign/improve/integrate the existing one. Each case will have its specific goal. Do we want to assess what was wrong with the previous version or to ensure that a new platform allows personalized interaction? With a clear goal, you’ll understand how to improve the customer journey and increase touchpoints with your platform.
Step 2: create buyer personas’ profiles
There is always a target client group that you build your e-commerce platform for. We strongly recommend doing a survey or research, engaging real clients rather than a testing group. The following questions will help you put together buyer personas:
- What is your clients’ buying behavior?
- What emotions does your brand want to evoke?
- How do people start using your website? Are they redirected from a social media channel, web/printed ad, or referral program?
- What convinced them to purchase from you?
- What was their experience with your previous website/mobile app/web app?
- What issues did you notice with the website?
This persona generator tool can help you get a general overview of your clients. The questions above will customize the journey in the context of interaction with your specific business.
Step 3: make a list of touchpoints
Touchpoint is every instance when a customer makes a certain opinion about your brand. When we talk about online shopping, it means every interaction with your e-commerce platform. Here’s a list of things to pay attention to:
- How smooth is the page-to-page transition?
- How long does it take to load the page?
- What information does the product page display?
- How reachable are the FAQ, Customer support, or Chatbot buttons from any page the customer’s on?
- Can your clients jump between pages and come back to the one they just visited?
- How fast does your website version open from social media ads or emails?
- What would be customers’ options if they didn’t know how to place an order or needed assistance?
- What reaction would you expect from them if some features didn’t work and there were website issues?
The question list can go on, but it’s best to focus on those relevant to your business, buyer persona, and journey mapping.
Step 4: create user journey for the whole platform and individual pages
Customer journeys visualize how every page of the platform functions autonomously and in connection with the rest of the website. Miro has proven to be a go-to tool for visualizing the user flow. It has an extensive library of mapping templates (including a customer journey map template) that would help you build a logical, hassle-free, and personalized user experience. While working on it, don’t forget to use insider information from your client, as well as stats and best UX practices for e-commerce.
Step 5: think about maximizing touchpoints
The more interaction from the prospect side, the more chances they will end up buying from you. Your customer journey example should consider all possible scenarios of how your clients can interact with your brand online. Step two is to make sure that your platform supports those interactions.
For example, you can develop a product page and give it a generic name, like “Sneakers.” Or you can take a customized approach and name it “Designer Sneakers,” or go further and create different pages for different brands of sneakers you sell. In the latter case, you’ll allow the search engine to index your page and show it whenever a user types “designer sneakers” in the search field. A pro tip: think about all the instances of how a customer can end up on your website. Is it a referral link, cross-platform, or through an email newsletter? This will help you predict pain points and smooth out the interaction.
Step 6: Identify differentiation moments
Technological progress has given powerful marketing tools to satisfy the ever-growing consumer demands. Just having an online store isn’t enough anymore for clients to purchase from you, let alone stay loyal to your brand. For some, the availability of customer support will become the decisive factor; for others — payment solutions that your business offers or the experience of using your website.
How to determine what drives people to purchase from you and what are the decisive factors for your buying personas? Use all kinds of data and stats to test your assumptions. Tap into quantitative and qualitative datasets on sales, clickstream, and loyalty. It’s also helpful to do competitor research and see what features can help your website stand out.
Step 7: revise and modify
So, a customer journey is nice and ready. You identified the key touchpoints, pain points, and unique offers. Does it mean they will remain the same a year from now? No. First of all, your competitors are not sitting back. They’re trying hard to catch up, so sooner or later, your unique selling propositions will no longer be unique. Plus, your company might introduce other channels to reach your platform, so your customer journey will change, too. How to keep track of what’s going on from your client’s perspective?
Revise and modify the client’s journey after introducing a new feature or product release. For example, if you add a virtual try-on feature to your e-commerce website, you need to add this touchpoint to the list of interactions and see how it might affect the existing client journey.
When hiring an agency to build an e-commerce platform for your business, double-check that creating a customer journey is on its to-do list. Then developers would know what kind of interaction your prospects expect and how to make your website meet their expectations and offer a smooth shopping experience. We at IT Delight always prioritize it when developing e-commerce platforms because we know all too well — building an exceptional user experience starts with understanding user needs and expectations. Contact us, and let’s talk about delivering the best shopping experience to your clients through your platform.