Category Archives: User Experience

roadmap

A Quick Guide to Customer Journey Mapping

How many funnels have you made over the years? A dozen? Two dozen? More?! Same here. Funnels are what we do as marketers. You create funnels and you calculate your conversion rates from step to step, and there you have it. But what if I told you that funnels were the models of yesteryear? What if I told you…funnels just don’t cut it anymore?

BAM! Enter customer journey mapping. Fully-equipped with real customer data, behavioral stages, touch-points for interaction, cross-team resourcing, sentiment, and more. No more guessing what motivates customers to grow with your brand. Instead, uncover exact moments that help customers succeed, and allocate your efforts to encourage more of them.

Sound too good to be true? We think not! This quick guide to customer journey mapping with cover a number of important topics as it relates to providing the best customer experience. We’ll cover why they are important, what dimensions you should be exploring, the different visualization options, show off some examples, and then leave you with common challenges and how to overcome them. It’s a lot, so let’s get moving and jump right in!

What is a customer journey map?

A customer journey map is a framework that enables you to improve your customer experience. It documents the customer experience through their perspective, helping you best understand how customers are interacting with you now and helps you identify areas for improvement moving forward. Great customer journey maps are rooted in data-driven research, and visually represent the different phases your customers experience based on a variety of dimensions such as sentiment, goals, touch points, and more.

customer journey map definition

Instead of a traditional marketing funnel, many customer journey maps are not, in fact, linear. A customer can jump from one phase to another based on a number of factors. They will interact with some touch-points and miss others entirely. A marketer’s job is to understand the different moments of impact a customer could have when engaging with your brand and products, and then set those customers up to succeed through education, communication, and discovery.

This new approach to customer research is helping marketers everywhere better see the world through the customer’s eyes, which helps us serve them better. At BigDoor, we think this customer-centric approach to business is at the heart of reciprocal loyalty, and we are loving our adventures in customer journey mapping. Want to learn more? Here we go…

What is a customer journey map?

As mentioned above, traditional funnels tend to be very linear in nature. Because of that, they often feel very templated. We marketers have often inherited funnels when we take new jobs or new projects on. These funnels come with a number of assumptions about our customers, their needs, goals, and more. You know what is scary about that?

Every freaking thing. Truth.

A customer journey map is rooted in research and provides us the freedom to explore new “truths” about our customers. Since there is no “template,” they have to fit into they provide a great deal of freedom for us to explore. A customer journey map ultimately exists to improve the customer experience and these days that requires creativity. We need to revisit what we think we know, and really understand every touch point a customer has with our brands. This is at the heart of creating a better customer experience. But that’s not all customer journey maps are good for, here are a few others;

Customer journey maps help us develop the best product roadmap.
One of the biggest challenges a company faces is deciding what to build next. Most companies have lists of feature requests, bugs, new product ideas, new service opportunities, and more. Where do you invest? What gets bumped to the top? This is hard stuff.

tacks and map

When you map out how your customers explore your products, it becomes very evident where they are hung up and what they are missing. You literally start to see what they see, and from there you see the holes. It’s these “ah-ha” moments that should steer your product roadmaps. Don’t just build for the new ten thousand customers you hope to acquire, and don’t forget to build for your customers today. After all, 80% of your company’s future revenues come from just 20% of your current customers. To succeed in the future, you need to make educated next moves, and mapping the journey like this can help take out the guesswork.

Customer journey maps help us prioritize competing deliverables.
Similarly, these maps can help a company decide what should be the main business goal right now. Maybe it’s product enhancements? Maybe it’s improving your customer service team? Maybe it’s doubling down on documentation and education material? It’s through the mapping exercise that we can most clearly see the points of friction that face customers. This is low hanging fruit like you’ve never seen.

Rather than relying solely on your business intuition, you can navigate these tough prioritization decisions with real customer data, testimonials, feedback, and more. We’ve all been in those meetings where every team’s need is a P0 (aka “the most important thing ever), and the truth is that without the customer voice weighing in…that is actually the truth. But when you take the time to map our your customers’ hurdles, you can easily communicate cross team about what the business needs to be focusing on. It’s a win-win.

Who wouldn't prioritize rubber ducks?
Who wouldn’t prioritize rubber ducks?

Customer journey maps help us plan for hiring and team expansion.
This is a great additional benefit that many of us forget about. Once you know where your main points of friction are and you’ve prioritized the projects that will have the greatest impact, you can hire and expand teams accordingly. Too many organizations let resource bottlenecks alone determine what positions to open up, but what if you are investing in the wrong area? What if your limited resources are going to the wrong team to have the biggest impact on your customers — the very people keeping you in business in the first place!

Terrifying, right?! A great customer journey map will require a great deal of investigation into what is working, what isn’t working and what needs to happen to keep your customers engaged and invested in your brand. What better information than this to help steer you on how to grow your company to best serve them? Not much. It’s like customer data gold…if customer data gold existed.

Customer journey maps help us bring different teams together for a common goal: the customer experience.
It seems like an obvious one, but man is this hard. Like, really hard. We’ve all been there. We get caught up in the day to day. We have our own team goals – increase that count, hit that metric, drive that margin, and so on and so forth. But hold up; what about the customer experience? Wouldn’t is be great if the entire company has something to point to as the beacon of customer experience conversation?

The customer should be the #1 priority of everyone at your company.
The customer should be the #1 priority of everyone at your company.

It sure would, and that’s where the customer journey map comes in. These documents should be at the nucleus not of just one team, but the entire organization. They are as important and cross-team relevant as your company revenue goals and your customer personas. Everyone should be well-versed on what your customer is asking, what they need, how they feel at different points of the journey, and most importantly, what the company can be doing to deliver an exceptional experience. Putting these documents at the heart of the conversation helps every team work toward a common goal — and the best goal at that — the customer’s happiness.

What does a customer journey map include?

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of it all. As a reminder, there is no official template to point to based on your company’s goals the specific stages and dimensions of those stages may differ, but there are some best practices to look at when mapping out your customer’s journey. All in all, the visualization is less important than the information you include (although the more clearly you layout the info the better, obviously).

Here are some of our best practices when it comes to exploring customer dimensions in your customer journey map.

#1: Nail down your personas: Oh, personas. You’re so fun and so important. If you haven’t yet taken the time to identify your customer personas, you should start there. Here at BigDoor, we’re hoping to create a guide soon on how to tackle this important feat, but for now, here is a great resource to help you get started. Once you have personas built out, you can jump into mapping each persona’s own journey.

#2: Create customer stages: This is probably the most important piece for you to decide: what are the behavioral stages your customers go through when getting to know your product, service, and brand? What is the step-by-step experience for a customer? You can also include a non-customer stage in here if you’d like (which can be very useful in helping you move them into the customer bucket).

Some common customer stages include: discovery, research, explore, choose, purchase, and advocate. Don’t over-think these. Start simple. You will collect lots of data moving forward to help you refine these phases. Here is an example of what it could look like and also an example of what we use here at BigDoor.

customer behavior phases

Here at BigDoor we see our customers as having to discover us, then we usually see them move on to comparing us (both to competitors and to building internally) and then they move on to the sales cycle where they get to know the ins and outs of our products. During this consideration phases they move on to a commitment (contract signed), and from there our team of loyalty experts works to expand and build out partnerships that last. By outlining those phases we can begin to understand what customers need as they move through this journey.

#3: Know your customers’ goals: Although it may seem backwards, this customer journey map isn’t about your company’s goals; it’s about your customers’. Your map should identify these clearly by customer phase, and then you’re able to see what touch-points are needed to help support customers in reaching those goals. If they are seeking education about a product and you fail to have a education resource touchpoint, that is a mismatch. Your customer goals should be laid out clearly, because you can only accomplish your goals if your customers complete theirs.

Here, you can see the questions our customers have at each phase and how we back those out to a customer goal for each phase. This helps us better answer their needs with our touch-points.

customer goals by phase customer journey mapping

#4: Identify touch-points: During the stages, have you identified what are the different moments of interaction you have available to connect and engage your customers as they try to reach their goals? Think of this as your customer “needs” as they try to accomplish what they are hoping to accomplish. This includes moments that happen off site, onsite, through marketing, in person, and over the phone. Some of these touch-points are more critical than others (often called “moments of truth”) and the goal is to map these out and then work to create them more often in your favor.

Below, you see some examples of our customer touch-points we use at BigDoor, and you get a sense of just how many opportunities we have to reach our customers and help them succeed, no matter what phase they are in:

touchpoints for customer behavior phases

#5: Leverage data and time frames when possible: As mentioned above, a customer journey map is founded on real customer data. You should be surveying your customers, pulling from your customer analytics, and leveraging as much data as you can to identify your phases, touch-points, customer sentiment, etc. Another great thing to include when possible is the time frame; how long does each phase usually last? How long do some touch-points take to be effective ones (e.g. how long are your most successful customer calls)? The more specific you can get when mapping out the landscape, the more successful this data will be for you when making business decisions.

#6: List what teams are involves and how much effort is required: For each different phase, you will see gaps in what your customer needs are and what you have available for them. This will begin to highlight what you need to work on as a company. It is sometimes helpful to list out what teams are best suited to resolve these gaps and also what level of effort is required to resolve each gap. By doing this right in the journey map, your teammates can easily understand why you might prioritize action items over others moving forward.

Hopefully the above steps give you an idea of where to jump in when kicking off your first customer journey map. Remember – not all journey maps are the same. They will differ significantly based on your business model, your company structure, and your approach to it all.

The important part is to add as much real information as you can to best understand; what do customers need? How can you help them succeed? And where should you be investing more to provide a better customer experience? From there, the rest will fall into place as you get into it.

What challenges will you face?

Like any big cross-team project, customer journey maps will likely create a few challenges for you. Doing something for your company that is as important as customer journey mapping or personas or roadmaps always bring with them their own bag of challenges.

gloves

Let’s run through some of the common ones we’ve seen and address some tips for facing and overcoming those challenges.

This is not linear. No matter how much you want it to be, things won’t be as black and white, or as tidy as the funnels of yesteryear. So embrace the “all over the place” nature of a customer journey map, because that is where the magic happens.

Focus less on how pretty it is, and more on how valuable it is. Inevitably, someone from design will see this project and want to jump up in there. Suddenly, the conversation will turn to legends, color codes, formatting, and more. Avoid the rabbit whole that is visualizations and bring it back to the data. If you have valuable data, the visualization is just a vehicle for the valuable story.

Position your map as a living document, not one that’s set in stone. Don’t get caught up in making it perfect or exhaustive in nature. Start primitive and build from there. This is not meant to be something you do and never touch again. You will update as you collect more information and as your business grows. Position it as such and you’ll see much more buy in from other teams looking to weigh in as it evolves.

Lets wrap this party up

So there you have it – a quick guide to customer journey mapping. I know we covered a lot today, but hopefully this gives you a place to get started. The truth is, a project like this can be very intimating. I remember avoiding maps and personas for the longest time as past companies — afraid I wasn’t qualified or that I’d screw up and ruin our business in the meantime. But tackling these big internal resources can be the most important work we do as marketers and product marketers.

guy walking across the line

In addition to the steps and suggestions above, I thought it would be great to include some of our favorite customer journey mapping resources here so you can check them out. If you have others, feel free to leave them in the comments.

10 Tips for Creating a Customer Journey Map – CMO.com
Improving UX with Customer Journey Mapping – SixRevisions.com
CX Journey Mapping Toolkit – DesigningCX.com

Good luck with your mapping, and let us know how it goes. *high five* #yougotthis

Why Marketers Should Care About UX

The role of a marketer has grown dramatically over the last few years. As the KPIs we’re responsible for expand, there’s been a shift in the skills today’s marketers not only need to familiarize themselves with, but master. Marketing through user experience is one of these disciplines. 

Traditionally, user experience has been confined to website design. However, we at BigDoor see it as any touch point allowing a customer to interact with your brand – even before they’ve made their first purchase and are still in the consideration phase. User experience includes the on-page experience of your website, the functionality of the emails you send out, the ads you display around the web, the way you present yourself through social channels, and even those t-shirts you sent out to your power users last week.

“User experience” can be defined as: any interaction a customer or potential customer has with your brand. As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure these experiences work together.

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 4.13.00 PM

In this post, we’ll focus on why marketers should care about online user experience (i.e. how your customers and fans interact with your brand around the web). Maybe someday in the future we’ll write about tangible user experience, which tends to look more like this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-24 at 3.18.14 PM

This cat is having a bad tangible user experience. 

Ready? Here we go!

Great UX: Drives customer loyalty

As a marketer, driving loyalty through each section of your customer funnel is a hugely important task. Providing customers with a good user experience can help you reach this goal by driving loyalty organically wherever your brand appears on the web. A few points to focus on when evaluating current UX include:

Consistent messaging. What does your brand’s messaging look like? When users are targeted with multiple messages across web from your brand, it often leads to confusion, not loyalty. Be consistent with the singular message you want users to connect with your brand, rather than using multiple channels for a variety of messages.

Lean on your company’s goals to create a bite-size message that can be laced in with any online experience, including through social channels, paid advertising, content creation, and on your site. If you provide your users with a direct message to stand behind no matter where they are interacting with your brand on the web, users are more likely to feel “at home,” which helps drive loyalty through the roof.

MailChimp is a great example of consistent messaging. No matter where they are on the web, you’ll get a sense of who they are, what their product does, and the type of community they foster.

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 9.15.23 AM

Responsive design. By now, we’ve all heard how important offering a responsive design across multiple interfaces is. But I’m going to reiterate, just one last time: responsive design is key to offering a successful, consistent user experience. Users are engaging with your brand across their many devices, and the more familiarity your brand offers through mobile, desktop, and tablet engagements, the easier and more delightful your user experience will become. If you shut channel(s) out by focusing only on one or two platforms, a large segment of your users won’t feel the love your brand is putting into their experience.

Loyalty is driven through responsive design by allowing users to complete familiar actions on any device they choose. The easier you can make interacting with your brand from desktop to mobile to tablet, the more loyal you users’ interactions will be.

Great UX: Creates strong advocates

Advocates are the best type of customers to have; are you cultivating them through your online experience? UX can drive advocacy in many forms, but here are a few big ones:

Social engagement. When a user has a positive interaction with your brand, are they able to share it with the world? If not, your user experience is causing you to lose advocates. Provide a way for users to share the interactions they’ve had on your site, like sharing content, making purchases, and engaging with your brand.

Another piece of the social engagement puzzle is user experience on your social channels. Although you can’t alter the design and functionality of your Twitter or Facebook page, you can definitely control the feel of it through the content you publish, language you use, and your frequency of interaction. A few examples of poor user experience through social channels include:

  • Publishing content that doesn’t line up with your brand message. You know that blog post you read and loved about the latest workout trend? Unless your company focuses on fitness, forgo sharing it on your company’s social networks. Keep the content you share consistent with your brand messaging so followers and fans have a sense of what to expect from that channel’s user experience.
  • Using language that doesn’t fit your brand. Your brand is a story, and the way you deliver that story is through content. Be sure that the language you use stays consistent with the formality (or informality, if you’re into that sort of thing) with your brand. Keep your voice throughout any social interaction you have to ensure users experience UX consistency.
  • Sporadic or infrequent engagement. Every brand has the one (or two, maybe three) social channel that has turned into a deserted wasteland. Once in awhile, it might be tempting to publish a few pieces of content to that channel, and then it goes dark again for another few weeks. This offers a terrible user experience for any customers trying to interact with your brand on that channel as social media is merely a medium for connecting brands and users 1:1. If you decide to create a social channel for your brand, stick to your decision and be sure you have the resources to upkeep the page.

Referrals. When a customer refers a friend to a brand, there is a certain “seal of approval” that goes along with the endorsement; referrers have taken a significant stand on how they feel about your brand and the experience that goes along with it.

Offering a good user experience directly ties to whether or not people are going to share your brand with their inner circles. People want to refer others to beautiful, engaging brands. If you offer a user experience that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-23 at 12.47.48 PM

…you can expect your referral bucket to look something like this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 3.30.15 PM

It’s simple psychology. People typically don’t want to share things that might diminish their credibility, and supporting a confusing user experience does just that. Give your customers something to advocate by providing them with a streamlined, sharable user experience.

Great UX: Drives purchases

Many of our marketing goals tie back to the overarching reason our businesses exist in the first place: to make money. A strong user experience helps pave the way to increasing your number of purchases. Here’s how:

Less friction. Smoothing out steps in your checkout process is imperative to increasing online sales. With as many as 59.8% of potential customers abandoning their shopping carts, alleviating the friction points in a checkout process through better user experience is an action marketers just can’t afford to miss.

Take a look at your current checkout process and analyze data on where customers are abandoning their potential purchases. Once you locate the pain points, they can be redesigned and tested to see which actions increase completed transactions. Supporting a fluid UX during checkout is easy money that you might already be missing out on.

Amazon’s one-click ordering is a fantastic example of shortening up the checkout process through user experience. It allows customer’s to purchase items with only one click of a button to complete their order, without making them enter any extra information each time they purchase. What’s easier than that?

Accelerated customer engagement. People – online and offline – tend to flock to experiences that are intuitive and rewarding. The easier and more intuitive your customer experience is, the more customers you can expect to engage with your brand online, and to ultimately buy your products/services.

The king of simple, purchase-driving user experience is Apple. They’ve kept their design, product messaging, and even color flow consistent throughout every part of their brand, which spurred a revolution. Think through your friends and pinpoint the one (or multiple) that own every Apple product on the market. Do these people just tend to gravitate towards Apple products? Not likely. The Apple user experience is so fluid that it drives purchases beyond what a normal customer would spend on similar products. Apple may not be perfect, but when it comes to user experience, they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 3.19.49 PM

Great UX: Increases discovery

The Internet is a tough place to be if your user experience isn’t keeping up with the competition. The push to be found through search is getting harder, directing users around your site once they find it is tricky, and lowering your bounce rate is more important than ever. Luckily, user experience is here to help you increase your chance of discovery in a few areas:

Across the web. It’s easy to get lost in the SERPs, especially if your user experience is operating at a sub-par level. Not only does a solid user experience benefit users, but it also benefits search engines that crawl your content. Clearly presenting your brand through on-site content, blog posts, site maps, and other pieces of crawlable data can help the search engines figure out who your company is and what you should be ranking for. We won’t go into any SEO tips, but this article offers an awesome high-level overview at just how intertwined UX and SEO are.

In your on-site content. A good user experience directs visitors around your page by easily navigating them through desired actions. The more intuitive a page is, the better the chance of the user has at following the expected actions on the page. Although you can’t always count on users following your planned actions 100% of the time, you can nudge them towards what you want them to discover on your site through an intuitive, simple user experience.

Strong on-page UX can also help increase inbound leads for your sales team. The easier you make your content forms to find and fill out, the more inbound buzz you’ll find coming your way. Win-win!

In conclusion

User experience is so much more than design, and it’s time for marketers to familiarize themselves with the expanded world of UX when applying it to their campaigns. The more user experience and marketing mesh together, the more beautiful and seamless your customers’ overall experience with your brand will be.

Do you have any other tips for leveraging the power of UX in your marketing strategies? Let me know in the comments!

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What Trust Signals Matter Today?

Marketers understand the importance of trust. It’s a big deal. Consumers are wandering the web looking for peace of mind as they take chances on products and services. It’s no longer just advantageous to be delivering on trust signals; it’s the expectation.

But what trust signals matter today? What should we be testing on our homepages and product funnels? It’s true that what used to work might not carry the same amount of weight as it once did. Consumers have changed, and so have their requirements around what trust looks like on a website. Let’s explore.

Back in the day

In years past, the list of trust signals were pretty standard. Websites needed to invest in some, hopefully all, of the following:

  • Well-written copy
  • Easy-to-navigate page layout
  • Clear and polished brand design – logo, byline, etc.
  • Contact info present and persistent throughout the site (phone number and/or email)
  • Counts (this could include number of customers, clients, number of an event accomplished, etc. Getting numbers up that were increasing consistently was certainly appreciated.)
  • Case studies and downloadable documents supporting our work
  • Logos of those who were using you and loving you

That was a great start. That could get you through. But not anymore.

I like to think the consumer has evolved past 1-800 numbers and carousels of logos. That doesn’t mean you scrap the list above altogether; it just means that, as marketers, we are expected to deliver more. The bar around trust signals has been raised.

Now what?

If I have to sum up today’s expectation around trust in one word, it would be: people. It might seem obvious, but in today’s hyper-connected world, consumers are seeking out other consumers more than ever.

This has manifested itself in some trust signals that we might not immediately think of, depending on our business model. Here are a few to consider:

Social count buttons and widgets: Yup, ’tis the time. It’s time for you to embrace the different buttons and widgets the platforms have given us. Many marketers are still trying to keep this only on their blogs or community pages, but it’s time for the full site roll out. Whether it is social buttons (around how many people “like” your company page, or how many people tweeted out a big content piece), or the actual Facepile widget – get it up there. Test these widgets on your product tours and across your resource sections. Don’t be afraid to go bold here, because those social signals are some of the strongest trust triggers available to us.

Faces: Get them up. Wherever you can. Before, it was enough to get up logos of the clients you work with, and maybe a name and title. Now, we should all be giving more real estate to the faces of the people endorsing us. In addition to getting up a picture of the testimonial giver, you should test it on bigger, fun formats. Should you get a full-length picture of them? Should you get a picture of them at their own desk? How can you best represent the person who is endorsing you? The sky is the limit here.

Wistia does a great job of showing off happy customers through candid images of those customers using video to grow their company.
Wistia does a great job of showing off happy customers through candid images of those customers using video to grow their company.

Stories: We are still riding the story revolution. Consumers want to read more than boring case studies; they want stories with flavor. It’s time for marketers to deliver beautiful stories around the clients we’ve worked with, and deliver everything that entails: great images, great data, great feedback, and something more sensational than, “We worked with them and here is what it looked like.” Jump  outside of your comfort zone and rethink how you present those customer stories on your site.

Pictures and visuals: I believe in the power of a beautiful picture. I believe in it so much that I would go as far as to say that today’s consumer absolutely sees your picture/visual choices as a trust signal. Are you still using stock images? Are you using iconic representations that fall short? Give your consumers something to love. Give them an image they comment on, share, or simply visit often. Build trust by reminding them you are putting time into their experience. Visuals are a great way to do this.

Instead of just logos, Squarespace shows off the big brands using their platform through images of the beautiful sites they've built.
Instead of just logos, Squarespace shows off the big brands using their platform through images of the beautiful sites they’ve built.

Your team: This is one of my favorites. Back in the day, we covered our About pages with leadership photos and company timelines (in fact, if you look at our current site, that is very much the case), and we owe our consumers more (expect a BigDoor redesign soon!). We owe them the faces of our team, and the reasons why they work here. We owe them bios and words that describe the culture of the company they are investing in. Seeding trust with a consumer now includes pulling back the curtain on who is building what they are buying.

Instead of a boring About section, Pinterest uses team images and stories to explain why they believe in what they are doing.
Instead of a boring About section, Pinterest uses team images and stories to explain why they believe in what they are doing.

Whoa, that’s a lot of stuff

It might seem like a tall order, but customers expect these trust signals as the new standard. Today, trust between brands and consumers is built on social proof, people, stories, and visuals. Marketers need to be testing how these are laced throughout their sites, and start investing in optimizing them with the same zeal they do their purchase funnels.

Building brand loyalty is a big deal, and the first step in that is establishing trust between that brand and consumer. Hopefully this gives you some ideas on what to test next. I’d love to hear what other trust signals you guys are exploring these days. How are you capturing the attention/trust of consumers on your sites?