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5 Simple Steps for Creating Successful Customer Journeys

5 Simple Steps for Creating Successful Customer Journeys

Here are the five key steps that will help marketers transform the way they plan customer journeys.

“It takes too long to launch a journey.”

“How do we prioritize the messages we’re sending to our customers?” 

“We have a solid process for sending campaigns, and we know we need to start building journeys, but we don’t know where to start.”

I hear questions and comments like these regularly. If you can relate, you’re not alone.

As a marketing consultant in our Marketing Cloud Services organization, customer journeys are my jam. Think of journeys as a series of interactions customers have when they interact with your company and brand. I help Salesforce customers create strategically sound journeys and transform the way their teams approach the process of creating them.

Based on my experience guiding customers across industries, I developed five key steps that will help you transform the way you plan customer journeys, reduce frustration, and start seeing results faster.

1. Kick some cooks out of the kitchen 

Shifting your organization’s approach from ad-hoc campaigns to automated, multi-touch journeys is an exciting and often highly visible process that gets a lot of leadership attention. Lots of people want to be involved, and many don’t want to hand over control. But the reality is that having too many cooks in the kitchen slows decision-making and progress.

How do you combat this? First, designate a leader. Empower them to make decisions and give approval, and draft a journey implementation team to do the work. Use a RACI matrix to assign roles and responsibilities, and this will provide clarity and structure for your work.

2. Start simply and build

Don’t let perfect be the enemy of done. A simple journey that takes you six weeks to launch will give you the chance to learn and iterate long before a complex experience that takes you a year to get off the ground. The temptation is to think big, but you should start simply.


Choose low-hanging-fruit experiences first. Go for easy wins such as existing automated messages you can test and expand, transactional communications, or regularly sent ad-hoc emails you can automate. 

Create simple journeys of just two or three touchpoints. Launch the first version of the experience quickly and start learning from it immediately. 

Start with data sources that are easy to access. If you’ve already configured a data connection in Marketing Cloud, that’s your ideal starting point.

Graphic with examples of varying customer journeys complexities in marketing cloud

3. Prioritize and focus

Having a vision will keep you on track and help you prioritize new opportunities. Create a vision considering three main areas:

  • Customer experience: What customer experience do you want to create? What are the gaps in the experience today that you can address?
  • Long-term vision: What does the brand vision dictate?
  • Fiscal-year goals: What are the business goals and priorities for this fiscal year? What about for this team specifically?

As word gets out in the organization that you’re having success with your new journey approach, opportunities and requests will start trickling (or pouring) in. Create a process for accepting new projects and ideas — rigidity won’t allow for growth — but always come back to the vision and priorities to evaluate best fit and resourcing.

Consider a process to control the flow of new requests that includes:

  • Regularly scheduled open-forum meetings (e.g., quarterly or bi-monthly) where your journey team will accept new, well-formed proposals.
  • A standardized project intake form with the details and requirements needed before work can begin.

4. Craft each journey around the four pillars of strategy

Mapping journeys — whether at a whiteboard or within the application itself — is fun! But before you get to that, do your homework. It will save you time in both mapping and building.

Go back to your vision and develop a measurable goal for this specific journey. Then plan around the four pillars of strategy:

  • Audience: Is your audience narrow or broad? Who is the specific target?
  • Data: What do you have? What do you need to access? What do you want to plan in the long term?
  • Content: Can you make use of what you already have? What do you need to create? Consider content that is both in the journey itself and post-click.
  • Channel(s): What channel makes the most sense for your audience, message, and timing?

5. Lean on your resources

Take full advantage of all the resources you have at your disposal to learn about journeys and troubleshoot.

Transform your customer journey strategy

Follow these five steps, and you’ll begin transforming the way you plan and build journeys. With a defined team and responsibilities, a vision and prioritization method, and strategically sound planning for each journey, you’ll be able to spend more time improving your customer experience and less time battling organizational obstacles.

Want more hands-on help? Check out Success Cloud and get personalized attention from strategic, technical, and product experts who can work with you every step of the way.

Amanda Miller

Amanda Miller is a Marketing Consultant with Salesforce Marketing Cloud. She partners closely with her clients and specializes in developing strategic marketing plans that enhance their customers’ experience and drive measurable results. She pushes her clients to challenge their status quo and be best-in-class leaders in their industries. She finds particular joy in helping create order and structure out of complexity. In her seven years at Salesforce, she has worked with organizations from all industries, including FedEx, Best Buy, HSN, Enterprise Holdings, and Ubisoft.

More by Amanda Miller

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