User Journey Map: The Ultimate Online Guide
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Understanding the user journey can be a painstaking task at your business. You’ll need to harness the data from your analytics and tap into some creative thinking to map out the path of your user’s customer’s journey.
In this guide, you’ll get a crash course on giving your business the upper hand by learning how to create a powerful conversion focused journey.
- What is a User Journey?
- Challenges + Benefits of a User Journey
- How to Create a User Journey Map
- Example of User Journey Map
- Start a Conversion Focused Journey
01. What is a User Journey?
User Journey is the experience a person has whenever they visit your website, online store, or application. It also involves a series of actions that a person must perform in order to achieve a specific goal.
In other words, these are the steps people must take from the moment of arrival to point of sale (but not always).
When you begin to understand the sequence of steps those users take, you can identify different pathways those users can follow to achieve their goals.
This what User Journey Mapping is all about. And, the better you can map out your user’s journey, the better you can enable them to achieve their goal as quickly and easily as possible.
02. Challenges & Benefits of a User Journey Map
In order to create realistic customer journeys, there are many things you need to know about the people who are visiting your website, e-commerce store, or application.
Every user is unique and discovers your business through different channels, pages, and platforms. They will have their own motivations and decisions to make as they navigate through your online experience before they reach their goal.
Your users’ goals may be purchasing a product, finding opening times, or canceling an order. These are just a few of the journeys you should try to understand to create a user journey map at your business.
- Understand what makes a memorable first impression when a user arrives to your website, e-commerce store, or application.
- Understand which content is leading to a buying experience online.
- Understand how your customers are making their purchases online.
- Understand what are the most influential channels and touching points throughout the entire customer journey (and how can you enhance these factors).
- Understand how your prospective customers will react to any new products you plan to launch.
- Obtain a comprehensive overview of the entire customer journey and buying experience.
- Provide marketing teams and other team members with information to resolve customers’ problems by quickly identifying where they are on their journey.
- Increase your conversion rates and customer retention by minimizing negative customer experiences.
- Identify critical steps and decision-making moments in your journey.
- Offer above and beyond information to ensure your customers have access to any answers that may inhibit or prevent them from buying.
- Zoom in on unique customers at your business and modify the individual customer journey to improve conversions for a specific goal.
- Analyze data and metrics to minimize customers’ from falling out of the buying experience or considering one of your competitors.
- Take strategic actions to prioritize specific actions that ensure the customer experience is positive.
- Target and reduce gaps between your various methods of marketing and team members involved in customer acquisition, sales, and support.
Example of a user journey throughout a website – try to visualize your user’s pathways
03. How to Create a User Journey Map
Having a user journey map will provide you with an in-depth timeline of all the decision-making steps, or touchpoints, a customer has with your business. This also includes all the channels your business makes its services available, such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so on.
A simple example of a user journey map for travel booking app might look something like this:
- User downloads app and uses it for the first time.
- User tries to book a flight for an upcoming trip.
- User can’t figure out how to choose a multi-city flight itinerary.
- User navigates to the FAQ page to learn how.
- User starts browsing multi-city flights
Having the ability to create user journey maps at your business can guide you toward critical decisions that improve the overall experience as well as drive more conversions.
For example, you may find that your onboarding process is too long and you need to remove a step; you may need to create a new batch of emails to nurture a specific sub-group of users who visit you online; or, you may try adding different tooltips and price tags on your pricing pages to serve as much information as possible to make a decision before checkout more rational.
Question & Analyze Your Business
Before creating a user journey map, you should start by asking yourself some questions about your business:
- How did a user arrive to your website in the first place?
- Why did a user download and user your app?
- How often are users visiting your FAQ pages and support pages?
- How much time is spent on your website before they achieve what they came there to do?
Creating a list of questions like these related to your business will help you understand what is motivating users to visit you online, experience what you have to offer and direct them toward their goal. The more you understand about this journey, the better you can dial in on specific steps and modifying them to really hook them in and keep them longer.
Next, let’s go through each step you can take to start creating your own user journey maps.
Create an outline of your User’s Persona (Image Source)
Step #1: Understand Your User’s Persona
User personas are a generalized profile of the interests, behaviors, and demographics of your most common users. Understanding this can help you build most specific maps and identify how and where and why and when your users are taking certain actions with your business.
You can get to know your users better in a variety of ways:
- Engage current and past users with tests and quizzes
- Review your analytics and analyze the data
- Conduct market research through a third-party
Try to accurately identify the persona of your users. If you need help, CEO Patrick Campbell of Price Intelligently has created this strategic approach to quantify your buyer’s personas.
Going back to the travel app example, some of the user’s personas may be:
- The Budget Traveler
- The Business Traveler
- The Family Vacationer
Identity as accurately as you can each of your user’s personas. This way, you can map out each of their own journeys and identify the unique pathways and steps they will take throughout their interaction with your business online.
TIPS FOR CREATING A USER PERSONA:
#1. Collect extensive data on your target users.
#2. Create a hypothesis from your research and determine the qualities and differences between users.
#3. Check with stakeholders and other team members to see if they agree in the hypothesis on your users.
#4. Determine the number of personas visiting your website and focus on each one, individually.
#5. Name and describe each persona (1 to 2 pages), include:
b. User’s values, education, interests, lifestyle, needs, attitudes, desires, goals, limitations, and behavior patterns.
c. Additional information about the persona (try writing a story to make them more real, relevant, and relatable).
#6. Describe situations/scenarios why this persona would visit your business, anticipate their problems, and create contexts with problems which include the ways they overcome it.
#7. Get feedback and other ideas for your team.
#8. Keep your personas and make ongoing adjustments overtime (add new features; discard outdated personas; etc).
Step #2: Research Your Users
The next step involves comprehensive research to understand your users more precisely. And, what better way to understand your users than from the feedback they provide you themselves.
Use this information to begin mapping out key areas that:
- Motivate them to make a purchase
- Cause conflict in their decision-making
- Create questions about your business
Each user experience, segmented by your user personas, will have a different set of problems or challenges throughout their journey. If you can recognize as many of these as possible, you’ll be able to generate critical steps to either solve their problems or make the overall journey to their goal quickly and more easily.
Here are a few points to consider when you are researching your users:
- Context. What is happening when your users visit your business? Is it a cold winter day and they are searching for a jacket? Are they planning an adventure and looking for a last minute deal?
- Motivation. What is driving your users to interact with your business? What are they trying to achieve? What might be missing that is causing them to leave and search for a competitor?
- Mentality. What does your typical user see your business providing? What problems do they think you solve? What elements are resonating with them and giving them a feeling of connection to your business?
- Pain Points. What are your users struggling with? Does your products or services alleviate this or cause them more frustration? Can they see the solution clearly or resort to support pages before abandoning your business entirely?
Let’s put this into perspective by looking at the family traveler:
- Context. Wants to take their family on vacation.
- Motivation. Needs an affordable flight for 4 people (including two children).
- Mentality. Has a flexible budget and open to various locations. Prefers a family-friendly location for the kids to enjoy. Wants to be able to cancel the flight in case of last minute changes.
- Pain Points. Has a limited window to book flights due to work/vacation schedule.
Breaking down your users accurately will depend on the amount of detailed research you have obtained already. Don’t forget, your feedback and customer testimonials will be your best source of information.
Step #3: Mapping the Journey
Ultimately, you want to have a user journey map for each and every persona that interacts with your business. This can help you make strategic changes to individual products or services that lead to move customer retention and conversions.
If you are new to creating user journey maps, try starting with a general user journey. You can always make more once you become more practiced in the process.
Using all the information and research you have, you can begin creating timelines of how your user interacts with your business. Some interactions you could focus on include:
- Benchmark actions & achievements
- Common activities & responses
- User emotions
Here’s what this could like like using the travel app example:
As you create your maps, remember to include which channels and platforms your users are having these interactions. For example, an interaction from Facebook Messenger might be entirely different from the live chat on a website. Perhaps those who are using Facebook messenger lead to higher conversions while your live chat results in missed leads whenever automated replies are turned on.
04. Example of a User Journey Map
When you create a User Journey map for your business it will be highly specific for your unique products, services, and users. The examples of User Journeys below is to provide you with ideas to design and implement a style of your own.
Let’s look at a User Journey involving an upsell to a paid account and how that might look for a company like Trello.
Trello uses a freemium revenue model to onboard new users and converts them later to a paid subscription.
Upsell to paid subscription
Trello is a project management app that offers users a free subscription to use their platform. You can sign up without entering a credit card and can upgrade to a paid account at any time. This is called a “freemium revenue model” which gives away the core product or service for free then targets users to upgrade at a later time.
In order to achieve high conversions from a free account to a paid account, it must be simple to understand the differences. Why pay money if you can already use the platform for free?
The best way to maximize these conversions would be for Trello to create a journey map to find the best paths to optimize.
To get started, Trello might want to investigate their user’s experience:
- Context. My company involves hiring various freelancers and contractors around the world. I need a better way to communicate tasks and stay organized when working on complex projects.
- Motivation. Organizing projects into units and boards have increased productivity. We are able to initiate and complete a project in more time than before.
- Mentality. “My time is better spent when I can work on my tasks for a project instead of delegating and responding to various messages across different communication platforms.”
- Pain Points. I’m having issues with issues with some freelancers who abuse their accounts and share passwords with people who should not be on the channel.
If security was the biggest issue, Trello can target users who are dealing with security issues with their account. It would be beneficial to have a paid account since they could up security with two-fold authentication and deactivate members who misuse their accounts.
With so many features already available for Trello users, it can be difficult to see why a paid account would be any different. To help clarify this, Trello adds a big green learn more button so users can find information about upgrading.
05. Start a Conversion Focused Journey
When you start creating user journey maps, you’re essentially optimizing your business into a conversion focused experience. You’ll be able to produce a practical model based on real people who are visiting your website, e-commerce store or application.
The information you obtain throughout the process allows you to provide valuable tools to your marketing team and UX developers. It also gives you an opportunity to improve your overall customer service by focusing in on key areas that can enhance your relationship with a customer.
Diving into your analytics, social media insights, and customer feedback is going to reveal secrets to help get your users closer to achieving their goals. And, the most readily they can achieve their goals, you’ll be able to ensure they keep coming back to you for more (and not any of your competitors).