Customer journey mapping in real-time

Customer journey mapping should be more than a pretty picture.

Of course - the process of mapping out how a customer’s experience is (and should be) can help align every customer-facing team and operation. "It’s the customer first!"

But once those teams have gone back to their desks, back to their part of the organization - how does your pretty picture fit into theirs?

Where is your customer journey map in Salesforce?

How does your customer journey map power marketing automation?

How does support and success lean on your customer journey map to guide their decision making?

It doesn’t.

Customer journey mapping isn’t broken. It’s just half of the puzzle.

Hull - Customer Journey Mapping - Journey Mapping vs Operations

The customer journey needs to be brought into real time - into real life.

But before showing you how to bring your CX into real time, first let’s dig into what journey mapping is and how it helps us.

What is customer journey mapping?

A customer journey map is a visual representation of every action and interaction between you and your customers.

By drawing a visual diagram - “mapping it out” - it can help focus and optimize each customer-facing team from product, sales, marketing, customer success, support, and so on.

This is a key tool in user experience design - there are many deep dive guides into producing customer journey maps.

But what do you do with a customer journey map?

Once you’ve built your customer journey map - maybe with some special mapping software, what next?

The best customer journey mapping tools and visualizations just help you produce a really intricate picture. But…

How does your customer journey act in real life?

How do you build your customer journey?

How do you and your teams react?

The challenge is to move from the abstracted map visualization to real life interactions. Thankfully, each of these interactions leaves a trail of data.

Customer journey maps come ALIVE with data

At every lifecycle stage, and jump between stage, data can be captured. This data helps form the real-life picture of each customer’s journey.

Let’s take an example…

Four stages of a customer journey; awareness → consideration → purchase → adoption. Of course, different customer journeys will have different variations.

What does that data trail look like…

At every lifecycle stage, and jump between stage, data can be captured. This data helps form the real-life picture of each customer’s journey.

Let’s take an example…

Four stages of a customer journey; awareness → consideration → purchase → adoption (of course, different customer journeys will have different variations).

What does that data trail look like…

Data trail from the awareness stage

As someone first comes aware of your company, they’ll leave their first “fingerprints” on your company.

The first website visit to drop a a cookie for analytics tracking.

Perhaps they’ll follow you on social media.

Or subscribe to you via email.

They’re not looking to buy yet, but they’re aware.

Data trail from the consideration stage

You can see when someone moves to the consideration phase with the frequency and types of interactions.

Viewing key website pages like product and pricing pages. Repeatedly.

Higher levels of engagement with emails, perhaps opening multiple times or forwarding around their company.

They might engage with live chat.

If you have a free trial, perhaps they’re testing your product out there.

As they move towards purchase, this data trial of engagement increases. Eventually sales gets involved, with leads becoming sales opportunities, responding to meeting requests, and moving towards the purchase.

(Sidenote: Linking increasing engagement, especially with product usage data, can drive highly qualified leads to sales).

Data trail from the purchase stage

Simply, the key event here is the setting up of payment, billing, and account creation. Again, this is a data trail.

This also needs to be recognized in other customer-facing systems including your product, your messaging tools, and so on.

Data trail from the adoption stage

The final stage of our simplified customer journey looks at adoption.

If your product has many users, how many of those users signup? Are their invite emails successfully sent, opened, clicked, and converting? How many of those users remain active?

Whatever the key features within your product, have they been used at least once? Have they had “successful” usage? (e.g. Downloading Dropbox and successfully syncing your first file).

It’s clear there’s a common customer journey here.

Imagine NOT being able to control the customer journey.

All these user actions prompt reactions.

If someone has questions or problems during signup, purchase, onboarding, or whenever, how do you and your team react to that?

A customer journey map on its own is NOT the answer.

You need to be able to capture the data and profile each customer, then use that data to react.

Real-time customer journey implementation

Your customer journey is the start - this tells the customer’s story.

But implementing and optimizing your customer journey means your customer-facing teams - sales, marketing, support, success - need to have the tools, data, and strategy at their fingertips to react.

There are four stages in implementing your customer journey map:

First, you need to capture each (lead and) customer’s progression through your customer lifecycle. You need to capture this trail of data from each person and account, and add it to your customer profile.

This way, you have the full context on every profile to react according to who they are, what they’ve done, who they work for, and where they are in your customer journey.

Hull - Customer Journey Mapping - Journey Profiling

Second, you need to pair your customer journey with your messaging strategy. Now you have your customer profiles, what messages do you plan on sending? This can quickly get overwhelming - for multiple types of users across every stage and “jump” in your customer lifecycle. This is why you need a content map to manage your personalized content.

Hull - Customer Journey Mapping - Content Mapping

Third, you need to send precise, custom messages to prompt the next actions across every “jump” in the customer lifecycle. Using your customer profile data and your content map, you can create and implement your lifecycle marketing lifecycle strategy. This is how you and your teams can react to your customer lifecycle.

Hull - Customer Journey Mapping - Profiling + Content Map into Tools

Fourth and finally, you need to be able to orchestrate engagement across multiple teams, channels, and touchpoint. Your messaging and lifecycle marketing doesn’t exist in isolation. You need to be able to coordinate your reaction to the customer journey.

This is the most difficult part.

Hull - Customer Journey Mapping - Orchestrate Tools (1)

Turn customer journey mapping into customer journey orchestration

If your customer journey map is the maze, then customer journey orchestration is how you prompt different messages and actions to guide a customer towards success.

The challenge is all these different prompts and messages need to come from different teams and tools.

  • Your marketing teams create the website, email, and
  • Your product team designs in-app messages
  • Your sales team controls all sales communication

All these different tools and teams, and the customer data between them, needs to be shared and coordinated - “orchestrated” - to deliver the customer journey you’ve mapped out.

Let’s look at three examples.

1. Dis-engaging ads after the purchase is taken

An easy way to waste ad spend and frustrate customers is to sell to a sold customer.

It makes sense to target someone late in the consideration stage of the customer lifecycle with enticing offers - but as soon as they buy this must be disengaged. Why display discounts and offers to someone who has just bought - could you promote something else?

The challenge is this data sits in multiple places:

  • The payment system (like Stripe)
  • The CRM (like Salesforce) which records the sales opportunity as closed won
  • Every other tool, including your ad audiences.

Your payment system, sales opportunity in your CRM, and ad audiences need to be in sync together if right conditions are met - “orchestration”.

2. Product qualified leads for sales

Popular amongst data-driven teams with a trial-based sales model, product qualified leads are trial users who are showing they’re getting significant value already, and are likely to buy.

All and any product usage data isn’t useful. Typically, only specific events signal real value. Create project is more interesting than Login, particularly if executed multiple times in a short period of time. This data is usually captured and stored in an analytics tool or product database.

However, sales works in a CRM like Salesforce. CRMs aren’t built for parsing streams of analytics data.

To orchestrate a product qualified leads process, analytics events need to be captured, counted, and computed into a format that can be successfully synced to your CRM for sales to take action with. For instance, projects_created > 2 AND users_invited > 5. This transformation and orchestration of trial customer data makes product qualified leads possible.

3. The Reveal Loop for retargeting companies who visit your website

The Reveal Loop is a complex orchestration for turning website visitors into a list of prospects, then enrolling them in account-based marketing programs.

It works by using a reverse IP lookup to identify the company from which a website visitor is from. Then, using this company name to prospect for individual people. Finally, this list of prospects is sent to your CRM and messaging tools to engage them with highly personalized sales outreach.

The challenge here is website visitors are captured in an analytics tools, the data enrichment for identifying companies from IP addresses and prospecting for individuals is in another tool, your CRM is another tool, as are your messaging tools. And all the data is in different forms. Again, this takes complex orchestration of data to work.

Customer data management is the key to orchestrating your customer journey

Across all three examples, there’s a common challenge.

Unless you can combine, transform, and sync data between all these different tools and sources, you cannot orchestrate your customer journey across your customer lifecycle.

You need a customer data management strategy to tie all your tools, teams, and data together.

Aligned teams and tools mean you can orchestrate the customer journey you’ve mapped out, instead of having individual teams optimizing just for their chunk of the whole puzzle.

How to create your real-time customer journey map

If you’ve already researched your customer journey and drawn out your customer journey map, then your next step is to bring it to life.

Your customer journey leaves a trail of data. Your first task is to capture this data and add it to customer (and account) profiles.

Next, you need to develop a messaging strategy to target each person with highly-personalised, highly-engaging messages wherever they are in their customer journey, to prompt them to take the next step.

Third, you need to mould your customer journey and messaging strategy into a lifecycle marketing strategy. This is how you’ll nurture customers throughout the customer lifecycle.

Finally, you need to work out how to orchestrate your teams, tools, and data to deliver your lifecycle marketing strategy and customer journey.

Ed fry
Ed Fry

Growth at Hull, working on all things content, acquisition & conversion. Keynote conference speaker. Previously employee #1 at (acq. HubSpot). If you've questions or ideas you want to talk to, let's chat on on Twitter or LinkedIn. 👇