If you’ve been tasked with creating a customer journey map, or if you have heard that creating one would be useful, you may be asking “What is a customer journey map anyway?”. Here is your answer.

Customer journey map definition

A customer journey map is an outline of all of the different touchpoints customers have with a particular business, brand, service, or product. The outline usually covers every stage, from when the consumer becomes aware of the product or business, to the point at which the consumer makes a purchase, and through to subsequent purchases or other transactions until the customer churns. Generally, customer journey maps outline the entire customer lifetime; however, they can focus on a particular stage in the journey as well.

Why are customer journey maps useful?

Most journey maps include interactions that involve marketing campaigns, websites, or physical locations, but they could include call center interactions, support services, and more. Best-in-class journey maps also include events outside of the business’ control that might impact the journey. For example, a word-of-mouth referral to the business, or a life event that might drive interest in a product offering.

In a typical organization, different teams are responsible for different areas of the customer experience. Since the various teams are working on their own initiatives, their programs can overlap and conflict, causing the customer experience to become disjointed. Worst of all, these teams are often unaware that the customer’s experience has become complex or disconnected.

Customer journey maps help marketers understand all of the different interactions a consumer has with their business, regardless of channel, format, or department. Organizations can then use the map to identify gaps and make improvements that enhance the journey.

Three components of a journey map

  • Stages
  • Goals and Milestones
  • Touchpoints

Stages of a customer journey map

The elements of a customer journey map typically fall into three general categories; acquisition, conversion, and loyalty.

  1. Acquisition

In most organizations, marketers direct their efforts toward customer acquisition. Activities in this phase typically focus on building awareness and interest in the business or brand.

  1. Conversion

The conversion stage is usually defined as the point at which the consumer becomes a customer by making a purchase. However, conversion can mean different things at different organizations and for different business models. For a retail organization, a conversion is almost always a purchase. At a performing arts organization, however, a conversion could be a subscription or donation. Businesses also may have different types of conversions for different customers.

  1. Post-purchase loyalty

The post-purchase stage is where converted customers become loyal to the brand or business and make further purchases or donations. It is a critical stage for driving recurring revenue for the business and it is often the stage at which the most valuable customers are found.

Goals and Milestones

How organizational goals align with the customer journey map

Once you’ve outlined the stages, you can list your organizational and team goals. Including your goals in your customer journey mapping process helps to frame the journey in the right context and reveal gaps where activities do not align with company objectives. It is vital to designate at least one goal for each stage of the customer journey (acquisition, conversion, loyalty) to help frame activities around a specific objective. Be careful not to include too many goals for each stage, however, as this will leave you confused about what you are trying to achieve. We recommend limiting the number of milestones to six (i.e., two per stage).

Note that goals need not be revenue generating, but they should be relevant to both the organization and the consumer. An excellent example of a non-revenue generating goal is an e-mail subscription: it shows a customer cares deeply enough about your business to get regular e-mails, but it does not directly lead to a purchase.


What are customer journey touchpoints?

The term “touchpoints” refers to any point at which consumers make contact with your brand or business. Contact can come in many forms, it can happen before, during, or after a purchase, and types will vary from business to business.

Identifying your customer journey touchpoints requires you to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Consider all of the different ways in which they interact with your brand, including touchpoints that may not be a direct result of your business’ activities. For instance, your customers may interact with your brand through an online ad, an email, a store or booth, and the phone, which are all channels you control. However, they may also read reviews, get advice from influencers or experts, or hear about your product through word-of-mouth. All of these channels can be considered “touchpoints” depending on your particular business and customer journey.

Touchpoints in the customer journey

Map out all of the different touchpoints to understand the complete customer journey during each stage. For the Acquisition stage, be sure to consider and include:

  • The activities you are using to acquire customers (ads, direct mail, email)
  • The messages you are using at each touchpoint (personalized, mass marketing)

When mapping the conversion stage of the customer journey, consider:

  • What does a conversion (first conversion) look like in your business?
  • What happened before, during, and shortly after purchase?

For the loyalty stage, outline

  • Activities that happen after the customer has purchased (satisfaction survey, email, phone call)
  • Programs to keep converted customers coming back

How to use a customer journey map

The purpose of the customer journey map is to help you understand how all of the different touchpoints along the customer journey work together to drive your KPIs. Once you have mapped the customer journey, you need to analyze it to identify gaps where new activities or touchpoints are needed, problem areas where touchpoints conflict or fail, and effective activities that can be carried over to other touchpoints. It is vital to consider your goals, since understanding your customer journey in the context of your goals ensures that you will correctly identify the touchpoints that need to be optimized.

Evolving from general customer journey mapping to individual customer journey mapping

Mapping the typical or ideal customer journey is the first stage of understanding and optimizing your customer experience. However, the reality is that each customer interacts with each touchpoint differently and has a unique journey. It would be impossible for a typical organization to map and optimize individual customer journeys because there are so many data points and possible iterations; however, new technology is making this possible. Using predictive modeling and AI, these systems are able to merge all of the data from different touchpoints, track each customer journey, and personalize the experience for individual customers. Using this type of platform, you can derive the full value of a customer journey map.


Interested in learning more? Get in touch with us to find out how Canopy Labs can help!