How to Map a Customer Journey
An ecommerce customer journey map shows the path of buyers leading to an online purchase. Analyzing those journeys helps merchants understand how shoppers find the site, what they do on it, and what they want to achieve at each step.
Imagine a visitor to an online store looking for a new pair of shoes. The journey map would show everything he does — searching for shoes, reading reviews, adding a pair of Nikes to the cart, and checking out. The map might also show the shopper’s emotional state at each step or phase, such as excitement when he finds the perfect running shoes or frustration if the website is confusing.
Creating this sort of map — often on a spreadsheet — helps ecommerce marketers discover what makes customers happy and what problems they face while shopping. It’s an opportunity to improve the buying experience and thus generate more conversions.
To build an ecommerce customer journey map, start with four regions:
- Before the purchase,
- During the purchase,
- After the purchase,
Create these regions on a spreadsheet or a specialized tool such as Figma. Under each region, add the stages a shopper might go through.
Next, consider the stages a shopper might go through for each region. These stages could differ for every business, but there are some commonalities.
In the “Before Purchase” region, a shopper likely:
- Discovers or recognizes a need,
- Becomes aware of the product,
- Researches and evaluates a product,
- Considers potential merchants.
Think through these steps and add them to your customer journey map.
Next, identify touchpoints in each stage of customers’ journeys. Example touchpoints include ads and content marketing. Some touchpoints are beyond a merchant’s control, such as medical devices from a physician’s diagnosis.
Touchpoints occur in various combinations and may be repeated. A prospect could see an ad before she realizes the need for the product.
In the context of each touchpoint, ask a series of questions about the shopper. Answering these questions should provide insights into improving the customer journey.
- What is the shopper doing?
- What is the shopper trying to accomplish?
- Where is the action taking place?
- What is the shopper thinking or feeling?
- How will we move the buyer along the journey with our store or product in mind?
Let’s consider each of these questions in turn.
What is the shopper doing? At each touchpoint, consider shoppers’ actions. Is the shopper browsing products, reading reviews, interacting with ads, or watching a product demo video? From this behavior, identify the best ways to engage and improve the buying experience.
What is the shopper trying to accomplish? Think about the shopper’s motivations for each touchpoint. Is she trying to learn about a product, compare options, find the best deal, or obtain support? Understanding those objectives will help meet prospects’ needs and expectations.
Where is the action taking place? Identify where the touchpoint occurs, such as the online store, social media, email, or search engines. Knowing where the interaction takes place can help optimize the experience and ensure a consistent and seamless journey across channels.
What is the shopper thinking? At each touchpoint, consider the shopper’s thoughts. Is he excited about a new product, frustrated by a complicated checkout, or confused about a promotion? Understanding shoppers’ thoughts can identify pain points or negative emotions.
How will we move the buyer along the journey with our store or product in mind? For each touchpoint, think about how to guide the shopper to the next stage of the journey. This may involve providing helpful information, personalized recommendations, or exceptional customer support. Proactively addressing shoppers’ needs increases the likelihood of conversion and long-term loyalty.