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Why Customer Journey Mapping Is More Than a Marketing Buzzword

Customer journey mapping. Marketing jargon or a valuable concept that leads to results? Here’s a quick explanation on what it is and how you can entwine it with your marketing funnel.

What is customer journey mapping?

Let’s start with what customer journey mapping isn’t — a marketing funnel. While they are similar ideas and sometimes mistaken for being integrable, there are some important differences you need to know. 

Simply put, a marketing funnel is a model of your company’s marketing process. Leads begin their journey at the top of the funnel and as they get closer to making a purchase, further down the funnel they go. It’s the journey from lead to customer — just a linear version. But as we know, a customer’s real journey is rarely so straightforward — in fact, it needs a map. 

The customer journey is the route a customer takes from their first encounter with your brand to their decision to purchase. If you think about yourself as a customer, your decision to purchase is rarely a one click, done deal. Customers today tend to meander, backtrack, and go in circles. So, unlike the marketing funnel, which focuses on a customer’s stage of interest in your business, the customer journey tracks the individual touchpoints a lead encounters before making a purchase. 

Every interaction — from visiting the website to opening an EDM — is a touchpoint. Many people return to earlier touchpoints as they evaluate a product or service, so the customer journey often loops back on itself instead of progressing in a linear way. In fact, most consumers need an average of seven interactions with a brand before they make a purchase. And with the right data, the customer journey can reveal important insights about which marketing campaigns are connecting successfully and which aren’t delivering.

Customer journey map meets marketing funnel

The great news about customer journey maps is they can be used to compliment your marketing funnel and deliver further insights for creating a better customer experience

Tracking customer journeys helps you to get into your leads’ heads. It helps you answer important questions, like:

  • How are they discovering your business?
  • How are they researching your brand?
  • What snags do they run into along the way?

Answering questions like these can help you design a more efficient lead-nurturing process.

Customer journey maps are also a good reality check for your marketing funnel. Try comparing your average customer’s journey to the model you use for your marketing funnel. Do they look similar? Does your marketing funnel’s progression make sense based on what you’ve observed real-life customers doing? If your marketing funnel needs some tweaks, use your customer journey maps to find out where the problem is. 

Remember, the customer journey is a detailed outline of every step a lead takes to become a paying customer, while the marketing funnel is a model that businesses use to market appropriately to leads at different stages of the buying cycle.

Even though they aren’t the same thing, they’re closely linked and should tell a similar story. Collect data on the touchpoints your leads encounter and use it to inform how you drive leads through your marketing funnel. Using these tools in tandem is a powerful way to target your marketing materials to the right leads while creating a smoother and more user-friendly path to purchase.

Hear from brands just like you and find out how they have used technology and different tactics to build long-term customer relationships. Visit the Moments Made by Marketers website.

Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organizational hurdles, and people behind business evolution. We also cover the tactics, ethics, products, and thought leadership that make growth a meaningful and positive experience.

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