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You Ask, I Answer: Why Map Customer Journeys?

John asks, “If the customer journey is different for every person, why bother trying to map it?”

The presumption is that the customer journey is a wide open field of possibilities, when it’s more like a densely wooded forest. There are a limited number of rational pathways to conversion, and mapping both the probability and the journey itself – especially today – is worth doing. Watch the video for some examples.

You Ask, I Answer: Why Map Customer Journeys?

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, John asks if the customer journey is different for every person, why bother trying to map it? So that’s a good question.

Because it is true that customer journeys, maps, and customer journeys do have all these different ways people can take towards conversion and trying to force people down a rigid funnel, where they must do each step in sequence is nowadays largely a futile effort.

Now the reason for that is pretty simple.

It has a lot to do with this thing.

You can be in multiple stages of different journeys just within a single device.

I have seen people back when you were allowed to go shopping at malls and stores, talking to friends on their phones, video chatting with them, and having you know holding a piece of merchandise asking their opinions and having them do some research on Their own.

And you know, that person for one vendor is at a certain point in the journey and another vendor is at a different point in the journey.

And so it can be a very complex thing.

You can be at points in the customer journey and move backwards, right? So real simple example, you’re, you’re looking at a new device or some new gadget, and you’re at the consideration phase, like, wow, this this thing looks really good, looks really cool.

And then you read a review of it, like, ah, actually got really bad reviews.

And you go back to like the research phase, right? And so you can be, you can move forwards and backwards and inside of a customer journey.

Now, that said, that is at the individual level.

The presumption in the question is that a customer journey is a wide open field of possibilities, and you can move any direction you want, you know, it’s like being in a video game, right? You can go anywhere you want, and there’s no clear direction that somebody goes and that’s not true.

When we think about customer journeys, there is there are a limited number of ways you can rationally buy a product, right? There’s a limited number of opportunities.

There’s a limited number of just ways you can do that.

It’s kind of like we talked about in the martial arts a lot.

Yes, every single person is different.

Yes, there are hundreds of martial art styles.

But in the end, there’s only so many ways you can punch somebody in the face that aren’t that are logical and rational, right and effective.

And so, with customer journeys, the exact same thing is true.

There are only so many rational reasonable ways that you can take towards conversion and that is something that you can understand in the aggregate.

There’s an apocryphal tale of a university and I someplace supposedly in the Midwest, I’ve never actually got an answer as to whether this happened or not.

But it seems reasonable.

And the story goes, they did not put down any sidewalks on new campus lets students walk everywhere they wanted for a year and then paved over the most warm pathways in the grass.

And supposedly the campus feels more natural.

Well, extending that logic to customer journeys, if you were to know how somebody traversed either your website or how somebody traversed all the channels that are out there, towards conversion, you looked at the most walked on ones, you might get a sense of, hey, here’s how people make the journey to conversion.

And there’s a couple different ways you can illustrate this.

Let’s actually go ahead and bring this up here.

So this is a customer journey analysis.

This is a very simplistic one, where we are just looking at the channels that lead to conversion the most.

So in this chart here we see organic search for my website drove almost 80% of traffic.

Now, there are some debates.

I think it’s a reasonable questions I should be asking my website if this was a major commercial enterprise, I would be at substantial risk because 80% of our traffic comes from one source That’s not a good thing.

Good definitely did diversify my traffic sources.

But putting that aside, I see my newsletters as number two, medium calm and number three, Twitter at number four, and Bing and number five.

So I have five of the most popular pathways most popular channels that lead to conversion eventually.

Now, is that the last thing that they did? No, not necessarily.

But at least from here, I can see, these are the things that if I have to figure out how do I budget, how do I resource, what should I focus on if I want to double down on what’s working, in this case, pretty clearly I should be doing a lot more organic search.


Now if we wanted to make that even more fancy.

This is a version where we have the exact same numbers but in software in web analytics software in particular.

You can look at the the steps somebody takes on that Their journey and then just count up essentially, how many times does this appear? The first third of the journey, how many times has appeared in the second third of all those steps? How many times does appear in the last third.

And what we see here is that organic search for me tends to peer towards the beginning.

Whereas email and social tend to peer towards the end.

And so people discover my site through search, stay in touch with email, and then come back to do important stuff through social media.

That’s important that tells me from a messaging perspective Hey, your messaging on things like social media, it’s okay for you to have you know, more closing language in in my content because it tells me that people are ready or more ready to convert from those than they are from say, like organic search, or even email I have to give some thought here to my email marketing, should I be pressing that hard to get people to convert? Or should I be nurturing? The relationship with the intent of eventually using social media to get them to close.

So these are two examples of customer journey maps that I built for my website.

This is actually a service that I offer through my company Trust Insights.

If you’re interested in having this done for your company, go to Trust insights.ai.

I will tell you right now, it is reassuringly expensive.

So it will do a good job of giving you the strategic blueprint you need for what’s working, and how it’s working.

But to go back to John’s question, there are only a certain number of ways as you can see here, where people convert, right, that journey is not completely irrational, right? And there’s not traffic everywhere and people just wandering off on their own.

There are distinct sequences that people take towards conversion and those distinct sequences are things that we can know and address and serve at 90 95% of our audience.

serve them well.

By investing properly by messaging properly in the channel groupings, where it makes sense to do so.

And understanding what it is that we should be doing more of I should potentially be diversifying a bit, right? Maybe I should do a little bit more email, maybe I should try some ads.

I am doing well, organic search, I need to continue to do well and stuff.

So that want to double down on what’s working and want to shore up the stuff that isn’t working to the extent that we can.

So that’s why you would do customer journey mapping.

That’s why you bother trying to map it because it can give you aggregate insights that can guide your strategy.

If you have follow up questions about customer journey mapping, leave them in the comments box below.

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I’ll talk to you soon take care want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems? This is Trust insights.ai today and let us know how we can help you

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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