Illustration for article on user journey mapping
July 2, 2019 by Mark Brownlee

User journey maps: An introduction for marketers

User journey maps are commonplace in the world of user experience and website design.

Increasingly, though, they are also making their way into the world of marketing and sales. They have becomes something of a buzzword. And for good reason.

User journey maps give marketers a window into a perspective they should never forget: Their audience’s.

This gives them insight into how they can design campaigns that best connect with a given audience.

What is a user journey map?

A user journey map provides a window into how audiences go from being a stranger who is unaffiliated with your brand to a convert who has reached the specific goal you’ve set for them.

For software providers, that could be becoming a fully-paid customer.

For non-profit member-based organizations, that could be becoming a dues paying member.

For government departments, that could be making people aware of an important new health initiative.

Whatever your goal, there’s a user journey map that can help you attain it.

Why user journey mapping matters

User journey mapping is essential because it helps ensure marketers keep their audience’s needs front and centre when designing their marketing strategy.

Often it’s too easy to get wrapped up in strategies and tactics that sound cool but don’t contribute to your end goal of trying to reach your intended audience.

User journey maps usually take the form of a visualized journey – or “map” if you will – that makes the audience’s journey easy to understand and follow.

That means anyone on your team – from marketing to others who are pitching in on campaigns – can follow the intended journey you’ve set out for your audience.

How to get started in user journey mapping

Do some research

The more detailed you can get in your research, the more effective your user journey map is going to be.

What does that look like here?

It means reaching out to actual customers or audience members and to employees in your own and other departments – whoever you can talk to gather insight into your audience’s journey.

This is also a great opportunity to mine whatever data to which you have access.

Poke around any analytics tools (such as, for websites, Google Analytics), marketing automation platforms (such as MailChimp) or customer relationship management systems (such as Salesforce).

That should give you another element of insight to inform your user journey map.

Consider interaction points with your organization

The points at which people interact with your organization on the way to your conversion goal are essential components of any user journey map.

How are people discovering your organization?

At what point do they first interact with you?

How do they get to the conversion point you’ve set out for them?

By visualizing how (and where) these take place you can begin identifying gaps and developing a plan for making the process as smooth as possible.

Map out problem points

A big part of user journey mapping is making it easy to see where people are likely to disengage from your organization, get frustrated or otherwise lose interest in your conversion goal.

When you have a visual of the user journey to reference, you can see where people are most likely to drop off.

Maybe your website is slow, which makes it likely that your audience members will stop their journey on the way to conversion.

Maybe your software company has poor customer service, which means that people are signing up for an initial subscription but then dropping off after that.

Maybe the tool you offer has a steep learning curve, which means your audience is unwilling to go through the process of figuring out how to use it.

By setting these problem areas out in advance, you can look for ways to smooth over these rough spots on the way to conversion.

Conclusion

User journey maps are an essential way to keep your audience front and centre when developing marketing campaigns.

How will you use them to connect with your audience — and make sure you don’t lose them along the way?

Mark Brownlee is a digital marketing strategist in Ottawa, Ontario.

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