How Customer Journey Mapping Guides Brand Growth


Lines connecting different bubbles containing photography of a customer at different emotional stages

Building any kind of business strategy begins with an understanding of your customers and their needs. Because if you don’t know to whom you’re selling, it’s nearly impossible to know what to sell them and how to go about selling. This is the intersection of business and design, and that’s where customer journey mapping comes in: it can help you understand your audience and better tailor your strategy to their needs. 

At its core, customer journey mapping is a method of developing empathy for your target audience. When you successfully do that, you can better serve them in the short-term, and build up trust in your entire brand in the long-term. Now, let’s break down the basics of customer journey mapping, why it’s important, and how it can positively impact your business.

What is Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer journey mapping is a process that helps you better understand your customer’s experience throughout the buying process, and how that might impact the ways they interact with your company. By charting out their entire journey, we can pinpoint gaps in service, identify key opportunities for improvement and optimize the total customer experience.

It’s not just a generalized idea of your audience, either. Proper customer journey mapping relies heavily on buyer personas that represent an insightful view into the minds and behaviors of your target audience. They are archetypes and demographics of a specific customer or prospect you’re aiming to attract or are already actively engaged with.

A buyer persona might include detailed information about their everyday habits, their hobbies, their level of education, and/or their personal and professional goals. You can use a variety of different methods to build these personas, but they always rely on research into your actual customers to develop an understanding of what they need. This might require surveys, interviews or other data collection methods.

Once you’re equipped with buyer personas, you can begin the process of mapping their journey as a prospective customer. Maybe you’re interested in the steps they take to buy a particular product, or how they seek out a type of service. Either way, at each step of their journey you want to identify their goals and any related pain points.

Knowing their goals helps you identify areas where you may be able to step in and meet their needs, thereby building trust in your brand as a reliable solution provider. When you can do this consistently, it elevates your brand and builds confidence in the fact that it can deliver on its promise. That leads to repeat customers, brand advocates and ultimately long-term growth.

Knowing your customers’ pain points helps you find opportunities to provide a uniquely strong experience that addresses issues they’ve had with other brands. This is key for differentiating your brand from the competition and will communicate that you understand their challenges and are there to assist.

Remember, your brand exists in the customer’s mind and is made up of their perceptions and experiences with your company. If you can understand their drivers and the problems they’re facing and address those accordingly, it can do wonders for your brand’s reputation in the marketplace, leading to more conversions and satisfied customers who are more likely to become advocates of your brand.

Why is Journey Mapping Important?

It can be easy to assume that you know your customers and know them well; this is especially true if you have an established brand and have served your customers for a long time. But in today’s rapidly-evolving market, audience behaviors are constantly changing the way in which they interact with brands. Those changes should be reflected in your strategy in order to keep up with your customers’ needs. 

It’s important to remember that you are not your audience. Many companies "think" they know who their customer is. But it's typically based on a narrow viewpoint.  Building personas widens that view and opens up opportunities. It's not just about what they buy, it's HOW they buy, WHY they buy, and why they DON'T buy. Journey mapping can help identify where the prospective customer may drop out of the buying journey and thus address these potential issues before they become a lost opportunity.

Nowadays, users expect to have more customized experiences when they engage with brands. While the degree of personalization differs by generation, almost all customers are becoming more accustomed to brands who understand who they are and are better able to help them in personalized ways. Customer journey mapping helps you understand the different phases of your target audience’s experience, which in turn helps you tailor and deliver touchpoints that will resonate with their unique needs and feelings.

Not only does journey mapping help build empathy with your audience, but it also optimizes the experience to increase the likelihood of getting them to convert, purchase, join or engage with your brand. It helps identify sticking points to produce desired results and charts a path towards reaching your corporate goals, which in turn generates revenue and strengthens brand value.

Without journey mapping, you run the risk of creating websites, campaigns or total brand experiences that feel disjointed and divorced from your customers’ expectations. Users can tell when you don’t understand their needs, and will be quick to move onto the next option.

Where do I start?

As with most initiatives, journey mapping begins with a significant amount of research. Like we mentioned above, all journey mapping is based on a clear understanding of your audience through buyer personas. Companies should look to gather as much data as they can on their audience, and begin building detailed personas that help you visualize the type of people you want to engage.

If that data isn’t yet available, you can start with a hypothetical picture of who your audience is. But it’s crucial to back that up with data as soon as possible and confirm its accuracy with diligent research.

Once you have a solid understanding of your audience, you can start to define the scope of your journey map according to their goals. If the purpose of your journey map is to improve the efficacy of a specific campaign, maybe you’re primarily looking at a specific phase of the customer journey and determining how best to target it. 

On the other hand, if your goals are more omnichannel or span a longer period of time, then your customer journey mapping should break down each phase of the journey and how your messaging changes according to the stage at which they encounter your brand.

No matter the scope of your journey mapping, the goal should be supporting that customer in their decision-making. It’s all about figuring out where your audience is, and matching your message to the particular phase of their journey. Building these experiences will help customers approach you at the moment that makes the most sense for them.

Building a brand experience

At the end of the day, your brand is defined by the experiences you provide to your users. When that experience is thoughtful and researched, it results in customers who can trust your expertise. When it isn’t it can lead to dissatisfaction and reduced brand equity. 

BrandExtract builds value by inspiring belief in people and organizations. We align your brand strategy with your corporate strategy to create exceptional opportunities for growth. To learn more about how your branding and marketing can meet the needs of your audience, reach out to a strategist today. Or, browse some related resources from brand experts: