5 Steps to Build Your Customer Journey Map

customer journey

customer journeyHave you figured it out?

I suspect you’re like most business owners and you spend virtually all of your time taking care of your current customers.

Then, in the time you have left over, usually in the evening, you write articles, make videos, make some phone calls, and spend some time focused on closing any new customers or clients.

You may take a few extra minutes and look at your analytics about your website, email opens, social media followers…maybe even website clicks.

You know that you need to increase your customer base, and and that a focus on generating leads and traffic for your business is important.

There are so many places you can spend time to acquire customers:  Content, technical, automation, webinars, email, referrals, customer service, and more.

But…are you sure that where you are spending your time is making the biggest impact?

What is a Customer Journey Map, and why Should I Care?

When a potential customer visits your site (or your business) what do they see?  Do they know what you want them to do?  How do they know what that next step should be?

Are your articles and content built in a way that helps them see how your business meets their goals or objectives?  If it is, you have moved them closer to becoming an actual client.  If it isn’t, you have likely lost that potential client to your competition.

A Customer Journey Map is a visual representation of the process that a person goes through when they interact with your business.  Here are a few examples of a small journey:

  • The first introduction to your business until a prospect buys and becomes a customer.
  • From the time a customer buys until they use/deploy/consume your product or service.
  • From the time a customer has consumed your product, until they recommend your business to another who has a similar need or desire.
  • From the time a customer buys until they buy another product.

The primary benefit is that the map enables you to focus your energy and efforts on the activity that will impact your business the most.

There can and will be multiple maps within your business.  You want to spend your time building the information that supports your (potential) customer as they move through their journey.

If you don’t understand your customer journey, you will always be sending (DRIVING) potential clients away from your business.

The Tried and True 4-Step Customer Journey Map

NOTE:  Although tried and true, this isn’t how I recommend building your map.  However, understanding this model will help you in build yours more effectively. Read on!

The traditional customer journey map, also commonly referred to as the AIDA process, is designed to take a customer from their first interaction with your business through a purchase.

The Four Phases are:

  • Awareness – What a customer is just learning about you or your product.
  • Interest- A customer understands who you are, and is now showing interest in your product or service.
  • Desire – Moving a customer from “that’d be cool” to “I want that”
  • Action – Finally, the stars align and a potential customer buys your product or service and becomes a buyer.


The other term that you’ll frequently hear for this type of map is called a funnel.

Keeping this basic funnel in mind as you are building/refining/adding to your website, email, social media, etc. ensures your focus remains on increasing the value you deliver to your customer base.

A look at your Current Business

Let’s do a 32 second mental exercise!  Think about all your articles, videos, social media posts, brochures, sales pages, offers…everything.  Now mentally align each piece of content with the AIDA phases.

If during this 32 seconds you realize that you have a gap, meaning you don’t have some content that aligns to each of the phases, you now know one piece of the puzzle that still has to be built.

Why only a mental exercise?

Although aligning your content with the AIDA funnel is valuable, it assumes a very step-by-step approach to a customer journey.

The ADIA model is a traditional sales and marketing approach that is based upon “old-school” communication media, like newspapers, magazines, radio, and television.

When you consider your webpage, your online presence, and how the customers buy today that interface has changed…a lot.

Modernizing the Customer Journey Map

We have so many choices now, and the internet, media, and technology continue to change.  This has also impacted the customer journey.

  • 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally (SirisDecisions).
  • 91% of consumers check their email at least once a day on their smartphone (Salesforce).

The AIDA model is based upon the business controlling the customer touchpoints, but today the customer controls those interactions.

In plain language, we need to update our approach to the customer journey and move it away from how we want them to proceed.  We need to build the map based upon their goals and objectives.

Turning the Customer Journey Upside Down

In order to help the modern buyer, we have to ask a different question and change our perspective.  What does the customer want to accomplish as they interact with my business?

89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago (Gartner).

Translating this to the small business;  your content, products, and services all need to align to allow the customer to proceed through their journey at their pace and timing.

Each person gets to choose how they want want to engage with you and your business, and they will likely do so electronically.

This engagement can take many forms: email, webpages, webinars, videos, ebooks, articles, testimonials, press, and/or social media.  Much depends on your business, and your customer base.  If you neglect any phase of the journey, you are building leaks and weakness into your business.

When you map out your customer journey, it becomes obvious where the sticking points are, and what content, questions, or objections that you need to address.

Moving Beyond the Initial Sale

For most businesses, between 70-80 percent of your year-over-year revenue will come from your existing customer base.

The most common customer journey map tends to focus on acquiring new customers, and marketing and sales funnels stop at that point.

This creates an obvious situation where how you deliver your product or service will impact your future business growth.  There is a tremendous amount of opportunity packed within the customer journey of your existing clients:

  • Are you documenting the most common questions (FAQ) that are being asked by your current customers?
  • Are you ensuring that your product or services is being used?
  • Are you creating testimonials from happy customers?
  • Are you looking for patterns and sticking points in your product or service?
  • Are there new products or services you could be offering to your existing customer?
  • What are you doing to retain your customers?
  • Do you have a way to encourage or ask for referrals?

Take advantage of your hard work, excellent performance,  and your current customer base.

It’s critical to your current success as well as your future so spend some time focused on more than just that initial delivery.  Think about referrals, testimonials, and other products and services you can provide and you may create some additional revenue streams.

It’s much simpler to keep a current customer, than to convert a new one.

Building your Customer Journey Map

First, I want to give you a view of the modern customer journey map to set your mind.  Remember that this is an ongoing process, and it’s really easy to begin to think “beginning to end”.

In order to make this process clearer, I created a process flow so we can clearly build out the questions, goals, and touch points that you will have available for each phase on your map.

Step #1:  Select your Avatar (Ideal Customer)

If you are unsure of the Avatar that you are focusing on, take the time to go to this article which will you you build your Ideal Customer Profile.

Once you are clear on a specific avatar, you will begin to focus on this person’s journey.

This is an important step, as the insights you gain from your avatar (experience, frustrations, objectives) provides the data and information that will make mapping much more effective.

[FREE DOWNLOAD] Ideal Customer Profile Worksheet

Is 30 minutes worth knowing what to say to stop wasting your time and money?

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Step #2: Create Your Customer Stages

This is probably the most important pice of the mapping process for you to decide.

Here is where you create the step-by-step for your avatar.    Remember that this process view includes the whole customer lifecycle from their initial want/desire/need (not pictured), all the way through providing recommendations for your business.

Keep this simple.  As you collect data, the phases will become more clear and you can refine them later.

As an example, I have included the 6 stages that I use when I work with companies so you have a starting point.  These are broken down into 3 phases of customer acquisition (a funnel), and 3 phases from customer delivery to recommend (another type of funnel).

Process View

Keep in mind that there isn’t a “right” answer, and there is definitely more than one way for the process to be documented effectively.

Lastly, ensure that the stages represent your business, or the piece of the business you are focused on right now.

Step #3: Document Your Customer (Avatar) Goals

A quick reminder.  Your customer journey map isn’t about you, or your goals.

It’s about them, it’s about the specific avatar you are mapping.  What is your avatar’s goal?  What’s their intent when they visit your business?

By focusing on your avatar’s goals, or on their intent, the touch-points that are needed to keep the journey progressing will become more evident.

The simplest and quickest way to identify your avatar’s goals is to document the questions that they are asking in each stage of your map.

When you understand your customer’s goals, moving them from one phase to the other is much smoother.

Here are some of the sources of information where you can get the questions and goals of your avatar:

  • Survey feedback and answers
  • Customer feedback, on why people bought and why they didn’t
  • Interviews/Discussions with your avatar
  • Customer service emails, phone calls, FAQ’s
  • Comments related to content that has been published
  • Comments on content from your competition

Step #4: Identify your Avatar Touchpoints

Within each stage of your customer journey there will be touchpoints, or interactions with you and your business.

These touchpoints are your opportunity to connect and engage with your avatar.  Some stages are more important than others.

For example, the Discover stage is very early in the journey and there are many touchpoints, methods, and channels available.  However, by the time you are in the Commit phase, the relationship is more mature and the engagement and interaction is much more critical.

Through each touchpoint, the end objective it to get another interaction and mature the relationship.

Here are a few touchpoints to get you going…

  • Blog Posts
  • Demos/Free Trials
  • Customer Stories/Case Studies
  • Comparison/Spec Sheets
  • Webinars/Events
  • Mini-Classes/In-Person Meetings

Step #5:  Pulling the Journey Together with Your Content

Now’s the time to pull it together and look at the whole picture.

You have identified a specific avatar, spent time to understand the questions and goals they are trying to accomplish, identified a number of potential touchpoints that are available for each stage.

As we begin to link all the pieces, work backwards from the critical phases.

Work Backwards Finish the Map

In the example provided, begin with the Commit Phase since that is the bottom of the acquisition funnel, and provides the most significant impact to your business.

What are the specific content pieces you need to address your avatar’s goal and questions.  Use the touchpoint you documented, and identify the content that will enable them to continue on their journey.

Do you already have some content? Great. What are the gaps between anything currently existing, and what is needed based upon your map?

You don’t have the time, energy or resources to build content for the sake of content.  Each piece of content should have a purpose related to moving your avatar further along the journey.

Once the Commit Phase is done, proceed to the Research Phase, and then to the Discovery Phase.

Keep that focus and you will covert more prospects to clients and increase your sales.

Congratulations!  You have now completed your first customer journey map.


Well, there you go.  I know that there’s a lot of information here.  It gives you the framework to get started.

I understand the feeling of frustration that this process can give.  It can feel very complicated.  The key is to start simple, and make it easy to update.

Avatar’s and customer journey maps are some of the most critical pieces of your business foundation.

Enjoy the journey!

[FREE DOWNLOAD] Ideal Customer Profile Worksheet

Get clear on who you’re talking to, and how to talk with them.  Stop wasting your time and money…

CLICK HERE for Instant access

I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment below, and type “On my way”.

Which phase and goal was the most challenging for you figure out?

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