3 ways to use CRM data in building customer journeys

Data & Reporting

Understanding the customer journey is an essential part of helping people realize their goals. That’s why many companies attempt to build customer journey maps that represent their buyers’ behaviors and decision-making processes.

Unfortunately, in today’s omnichannel business landscape, creating one map that represents the entire customer journey can seem daunting—if not impossible. After all, some customers are very candid about their motivations and desired outcomes, while others are less willing to open up. Some customers prefer to interact through face-to-face conversations, while others rely on non-verbal forms of communication, such as email, social media, or text message.

With so many personas, goals, motivations, and communication styles to consider, how can you ever develop a single document that represents the customer journey? One way to do it is to start small and develop your customer journey map over time.

Here are three mapping exercises to help you use CRM data in developing different types of customer journeys for your business.

1. Define your ICPs & personas

Customer journey mapping is a waste of time until you have developed a very specific understanding of your ideal customer. Start by clearly defining your ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and personas before spending any time on journey mapping. If you do not have an ICP or personas, consider the following questions:

  • If you could only sell to one industry, what would it be?
  • Within that industry, what is your primary niche?
  • Within your ideal industry and niche, what are the firmographic characteristics of your ideal customer ? (i.e., revenue size, line of business, number of employees, etc.)
  • Of the companies that you’ve served in the past, which were less than ideal? Why?
  • Who are the types of people (job titles, responsibilities) that your company interacts with?
  • Which job titles tend to make decisions about your products or services?
  • Which gatekeepers and other stakeholders are involved in the buying process?
  • Who will be the actual users or consumers of what you provide?

There’s a lot to think about when developing your ICPs and personas. You may not have all of the answers, and that’s normal. Use your CRM data and build reports that help you answer the tough questions. Your sales team is also a reliable source of first-hand knowledge to help you check your assumptions. Collect all of the feedback and begin simplifying it for the next step.

Example: A manufacturing business that makes and sells assembly line equipment could theoretically have numerous ICPs and personas. However, for customer mapping purposes, it may be beneficial to focus on one industry at a time—especially if buying patterns and customer service requirements vary significantly by industry. Instead of trying to force all industries into a single map, the manufacturing company would be better served to develop one map for automotive, one for healthcare, and so on. The first step would be to itemize each industry’s ICP and persona(s) as follows:

2. Analyze CRM data for closed-won deals within each ICP

Once you’ve defined your primary ICP(s), it’s time to use data from your CRM to identify trends that are common to each journey. Drill down using tags or custom fields and quickly identify won deals that fall within your target ICP. Be sure to set a date range that provides enough meaningful data.

Do you notice any similarities? Things to look for may include:

  • Similar interactions in the journey from awareness to close
  • Content that was frequently downloaded or viewed on your website
  • Marketing emails that helped move deals forward
  • Lead sources that were responsible for a sizable percentage of closed deals
  • Typical customer buying processes and the personas who were involved
  • Objections that were noted during the sales cycle
  • Average amount of time that was required to close each deal
  • Post-close and implementation details

Note: Looking at closed-lost deals can also be instructive, but you may not need to do it if you have enough closed-won data.

Use actual deal data to build a more complete view of the customer profile. Going back to our previous manufacturing example, the company’s automotive ICP may look something like this:

3. Start building your customer journey map

Having enriched your ICPs and personas with reliable data from your CRM, you’re now ready to begin constructing a basic customer journey map. What’s the best format for your business? There’s no one-size-fits-all template that works for every industry and use case, so here are a few tips for designing a simple, yet effective customer journey map:

Grid layout

Most customer journey maps are built using a graph-based design and have horizontal and vertical axes. Above the grid, it’s important to have your ICP and persona clearly defined. If you’ve developed fictitious personas with names and photos, this might be a great place to use them. Remember, each map should be specific to one persona / ICP combination. If you have several customer journeys to map, start with the most important persona. If certain maps are very similar, you can always combine them or eliminate some later.

Horizontal axis

The horizontal axis of your graph will most likely align with specific stages that customers go through from pre-awareness to satisfied customer. Using your internal sales pipeline terminology could work, although it is better to describe the stages from the perspective of your customer. So, instead of “initial discussions,” you might use the phrase “research vendors.”

Vertical axis

Some customer journey maps try to squeeze as many criteria into the vertical axis as possible. This can lead to an overwhelming experience that defeats the original purpose of mapping. Decide on three to four important criteria as a starting point for your y-axis. Customer actions, customer feelings and thoughts, and common objections are good examples. You can always add more later.

Example customer journey map

Based on our previous example, here’s what a simple customer journey map might look like. You could build this in a document or spreadsheet and hand it off to a designer to pretty up later. The main goal is to get your basic facts on paper as quickly as possible:

Persona: VP Process Engineering – Plastics (Automotive ICP)

Notice that the map’s last row provides space to collect notes and ideas for streamlining each stage of the customer journey. In this example, developing “automated onboarding workflows” is listed as one opportunity to help the customer achieve his or her goal during implementation. Using a tool like Insightly Marketing can be an intuitive and effective way to automate various aspects of the customer journey—from initial awareness to repeat buyer.

Build better customer journeys

As the business world evolves at an even faster pace, smart companies are realizing the importance of building accurate and actionable customer journey maps.

Not sure how to get started? Keep it simple. Rely on data that already exists in your CRM. Focus on business impact rather than worrying about design effects. And, once you’ve built your customer journey map, use it!

To learn more about Insightly Marketing and CRM platform, request a demo.

Request a demo