If you ask a stakeholder or business owner to define the steps a customer takes to throw a BBQ, chances are they’ll walk you through the pages of their website that lead to purchasing a grill.
But when you ask a customer for that same process, the answer is very different. It might include conversations with family members, Facebook posts, grill research, checking the weather, and even looking into rain plans. The steps the customer takes are the user’s journey, and the process of documenting those steps is journey mapping.
What’s amazing is that many of those steps can become opportunities to communicate with the customer. Creating a journey map can help a business identify the right time and the right place to provide relevant content, thus outlining many of the tactics that make up the content strategy.
Let’s take a look at how.
How journey mapping works
At its core, a journey map is any documentation of the path the end-user takes to accomplish a goal. However, that path can be as overarching as a lifetime, or as short as a 5 minute activity. As a result, we have to choose the type of journey map best suited to the task at hand.
In addition, journey map types range from the very personal, like persona narratives, to the business-focused, like service blueprints. In her talk at Big Design 2016, “Don’t Make a Journey Map
” (don’t let the title scare you off), Sharhzad Samadzeh of Visa, and formerly of UX agency Adaptive Path, outlines six common journey maps:
1. Product/service experiences
2. Channels and touch points
3. Persona’s narrative
4. UX flow
5. Emotional journey maps
Without going into too much detail (her transcript and notes
on Medium does a great job of that), these 6 maps represent archetypes of the types of journeys UX practitioners tend to be interested in documenting. However, most projects require a combination of maps, such as creating a UX flow with elements of the persona’s narrative to understand how a specific persona responds to the screens of a website. Or creating a product/service experience that also highlights channels and touch points, in order to connect relevant content to appropriate moments.
Journey maps for content strategy
Let’s walk through the process of creating a journey map for the purposes of fleshing out a content strategy. In our example, let’s pretend we’re crafting a content strategy for a hospital, with three primary objectives:
1. Increase brand recognition
2. Encourage potential patients to associate us with quality health care, and
3. Decrease the likelihood of patients seeing providers who aren’t covered by their insurance
For each of these goals, we want to identify appropriate tactics, and tie them together with an overarching strategy. And most importantly, we want to make sure that our tactics are specifically targeted to the current and future patients a Hospital X.
If we create a journey map for a newly pregnant couple, following their path from purchasing the pregnancy test to giving birth, we’ll identify tactics specific to that situation. The same is true if we create a journey map for a local college student searching for a primary care provider, or any number of other key personas. In each situation, the journey map will showcase the spaces where the hospital could advertise, such as at the drug store where the couple bought the pregnancy test, services the hospital might offer, such as running a blood drive at the local college, and content these personas are likely to seek out.
Without the journey map, we will likely be guessing at tactics, or limiting ourselves to tactics that patients specifically shared with us during interviews. The journey map connects that persona information to the larger ecosystem, expanding our options and making it more likely the tactics will connect to an overarching strategy.
Journey mapping doesn’t have to be difficult. Just keep in mind these guidelines, and you’ll be ready to map.
1. Don’t map alone
. Two heads (or four or five) are better than one, whether you’re collaborating with team members, clients, or end-users.
2. Set your scope
. Journeys can be expansive, but a useful map will limit itself to a shorter period of time.
3. Consider the context
. A good journey map provides context for where the end-user is, and what he or she is focused on.
4. Test and iterate
. Don’t let your map become a bible or cobweb-collector. Use it as a living document to record information, and test out ideas with real end-users.