Journey Mapping Fail

leahvanzelmData-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Leah van Zelm, vice president at Merkle.

Those in the people-based marketing business know that customer journey mapping “quick guides” abound. But beware: Their overly simplistic nature can lead marketers astray.

The term “journey map” is used to mean so many different things that marketers must be very clear on their objectives and expectations before getting started. Journey maps may refer to any depiction of the progressive relationship between a customer and a brand. They can be very high-level or incredibly detailed.

Until a marketer’s objectives are clear, aligning on the optimal approach and output will not be possible. Many people are leveraging journey mapping, but they aren’t all doing the same thing and many are quite superficial in nature.

Over time, as I’ve studied many of these guides, feature articles, white papers and other types of thought leadership, I have discovered a number of myths and potential pitfalls. Inattention puts marketers at risk of building a flawed experience, creating inefficiencies and experiencing a great deal of frustration.

A ‘Tool To Improve The Customer Experience’

Journey mapping is not a tool; it’s an activity to align a brand vision with customer needs. Journey mapping itself does not improve the experience – it takes a coordinated effort to truly improve the customer experience. Sounds pithy, but many organizations start and stop with a journey map, failing to activate it.

It’s critical to consider adoption and activation once journey mapping is complete. This may come in the form of socialization efforts, business requirements, message playbooks, interaction maps, business rule refinement or a host of other follow-up activities.

‘Let’s Walk In The Shoes Of Our Customer’

While it’s valuable to assume the customer’s perspective for many tasks, building a journey map solely based on employee empathy is dangerous. In a 2014 study, the more employees were asked to “walk in the shoes of the customer,” the worse they became at predicting consumer preference.

Moral of the story: Use data, analytics and research to inform the journey.

‘Start With A Persona’

When developing a journey, marketers should start with understanding the demographics, income, psychographics and attitudes of their core customer, right? These items are great for painting a picture of the customer. The problem is using that picture to make inferences on the ideal journey can be plain wrong because it requires us to rely on conventional wisdom.

Don’t make these inferences. Instead, marketers should start with a persona that illuminates their customer’s motivations of decisions across the brand relationship.

Moral of the story: Use data, analytics and research to inform the journey.

‘Journeys Aren’t Linear’

While brands would like consumers to think and behave linearly across the marketing and sales funnel, consumers are human. However, depicting a nonlinear journey can get messy. It’s best to simply agree that the customer can progress or digress at any point rather than depicting each loop back.

‘Journey Maps Are For B2C Brands’

Business buyers are human, too, and while a B2C decision impacts people personally, B2B decisions impact people both personally and professionally.

“Personal value has two times as much impact as business value does,” according to research from CEB and Google, and “68% of buyers who see a personal value will pay a higher price for a service.”

Journey mapping activities are important to organizations that are committed to aligning consumer and buyer motivations with experience components to support objectives across the life cycle. Like any other initiative, brands must be clear on their specific objectives, the inputs, the outputs and follow-up activation work needed to get value from journey mapping. In particular, brands should consider the level of depth needed.

Regardless of how high level or detailed the focus, use data, analytics and research to inform efforts and to take the guesswork out of the experience design.

Follow Merkle (@merkleCRM) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Great article! Two important points to take home: (a) Journey mapping is important to fully align with buyer expectations. (b) Journeys are non-linear since marketer cannot predict a human behavior accurately.