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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Customer Journey Mapping in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Customer Journey Mapping in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

In today’s digital world where customers are smarter, better informed and more likely to switch brands than ever before, smart brands realize that customers drive their business and that customer retention is the best way to measure success. Smart brands make customers their #1 priority. And to help them do this, they always start with Customer Journey Mapping.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) provides marketing managers and brand strategists with all the tools and capabilities they need to design a powerful customer journey strategy and to create effective customer journey maps. With SFMC Journey Builder, they can tell the story of the customer’s experience as they progress through their journey along many touchpoints – all the way from initial contact to purchasing and beyond.

and brand strategists with all the tools and capabilities they need to design a powerful customer journey strategy and to create effective customer journey maps. With SFMC Journey Builder, they can tell the story of the customer’s experience as they progress through their journey along many touchpoints – all the way from initial contact to purchasing and beyond.

In this comprehensive article, we will tell you all you ever wanted to know about customer journey mapping in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

What is a customer journey?

A customer journey consists of multiple stages and touchpoints including:

  • Marketing
  • Social media
  • Word-of-mouth referrals
  • Customer service enquiries
  • Above-the-line campaigns

Each of these touchpoints can increase the customer’s awareness and has the potential to convert them into a brand advocate. That’s why a customer journey strategy should take all these touchpoints into account. Here’s where customer journey mapping can be a powerful tool.

What are the benefits of customer journey mapping?

By visually representing every interaction that a customer could potentially have with your brand along their journey, you can glean valuable, actionable insights about these customers. Then you can use these insights to drive their Sales, Marketing and Branding initiatives and ultimately, to better serve these customers.

And why is this important? Because with today’s digital and social media landscape, telling customers what to buy is simply not effective anymore. It’s critical to create individual customer experiences. Only then can brands successfully scale the Everest of long-term brand loyalty and ‘stickiness’.

How brands map the customer experience

Customer journey mapping is about creating journeys across different stages of the customer lifecycle. This is fairly simple if you use SFMC Journey Builder. But in general, customer journey mapping involves a series of steps based on an understanding of the customer and collecting relevant data about them.

  • Step 1: Do research about the customer
  • Step 2: Create customer personas and craft a story
  • Step 3: Collect data with anecdotal (qualitative) and analytical (quantitative) research
  • Step 4: Create the customer journey map with timelines, customer stories, touchpoints and any other relevant inputs 

The form or actual design of the customer journey map is not as important as what it reveals about the customer, and how clearly and logically this information is presented:

  • Where do customers interact with your brand as they move through the sales funnel?
  • What is the quality of the experience the customer receives at each touchpoint?
  • Are there any discrepancies between the experience they desire and the one they actually receive?

Why use Salesforce Marketing Cloud for customer journey mapping

In the past, marketing was more concerned with customer engagement and campaigns, while Sales dealt exclusively with leads. This ‘siloed’ way of working meant that Marketing had little – if any – knowledge of how they impacted Sales. The reverse was also true. And when the right hand didn’t know what the left was doing, it was the customer who suffered most. And of course, this also impacted the organization’s topline and bottomline.

SFMC helps bridge such operational and functional gaps. By using its comprehensive ecosystem of applications including Journey Builder, businesses can accurately and cohesively map the customer journey. Marketing, Sales, Customer Service and other departments can share customer data and use that data jointly to understand customer paths, chart customer personas and touchpoints, identify breaking points and gaps, and ultimately decide what prescriptive action to take.

Benefits of customer journey mapping using SFMC Journey Builder

Marketing professionals – even those who are not SFMC experts – use Journey Builder to take each customer on a journey that’s personalized and relevant, not to mention at scale. With powerful customer journey mapping capabilities, Journey Builder helps brands:

  • Know their customers better
  • Get a unified view of their customers across every function and touchpoint
  • Create relevant, personalized experiences with Artificial Intelligence
  • Engage with consumers consistently across the entire journey

From onboarding with a rewards program and signing up for a newsletter to re-engaging with an abandoned cart and increasing loyalty with a mobile app, Journey Builder can help improve engagement at every step of the customer journey.

The Journeys Dashboard

In Journey Builder, the dashboard provides an overview of all the journeys created in SFMC Journey Builder. The overview includes:

  • Journey type
  • Status
  • Date of last changes

The dashboard can be sorted by journey, status, performance by entry total and goal attainment, or last modified date. You can also filter the list of journeys, open a journey and access the journey creation workspace.

To view the dashboard:

  • Navigate to Journey Builder
  • To view details or edit a journey, click the journey title
  • To narrow the list of journeys shown, click the corresponding view

Salesforce templates for journey maps in Journey Builder

Journey Builder is so versatile that marketers can create different types of journeys for different types of marketing campaigns. Here are 4 such journeys.

1. Welcome Journey

A welcome campaign greets new customers when they sign up or opt in for marketing communications. With Journey Builder, you can improve the customer experience by expanding from a single email to a series of messages. This welcome journey uses a data extension entry source to start the journey and create a timed sequence of emails to promote the brand’s features or services:

Welcome Journey in SFMC

2. Abandoned Cart Journey

An abandoned cart journey helps marketers create re-engagement campaigns for customers who left without a purchase. This below template can be quite effective for creating an abandoned cart campaign with a sequence of reminder messages.

Abandoned Cart Journey in SFMC

3 & 4. Anniversary and Birthday Campaign Journeys

Anniversary campaigns focus on a special date for a customer like the birthday or anniversary. Such a campaign in Journey Builder can help build a relationship with clients and increase brand engagement.

Template to create a journey map for anniversary campaign:

Anniversary Campaign Journey

Template to create a journey map for birthday campaign:

Other available Salesforce templates in Journey Builder

  • Event Follow-up
  • Behavioral targeting (with Audience Studio)
  • Re-engagement
Journey Map for Birthday Campaign

To find a template in Journey Builder

  • Log into SFMC, select a template from the gallery on the homepage OR
  • In Journey Builder, click the Templates tab OR
  • In Journey Builder, click Create New Journey, click Journey Template

Use each template as-is or modify it to meet your use case.

Customer journey mapping using template 

  • Select a template from SFMC home page or in Journey Builder
  • Click Get Started
  • Configure the journey settings
  • Set a goal
  • Set an exit criteria
  • Configure the entry source
  • If applicable, configure each canvas activity
  • Click Save
  • Click Validate
  • Click Test
  • Click Activate

Best practices for using SFMC Journey Builder to create customer journey maps

With Journey Builder, you can plan, personalize and optimize marketing programs for each customer based on who they are, what they like, where they are in the customer lifecycle, or how they respond to communications from your brand. These best practices can help you make the most of Journey Builder for customer journey mapping:

  • Keep journeys focused on a single marketing objective, e.g. welcoming new customers
  • Plan your data and content needs, and create an outline before you create the journey
  • Create the messages you want to send before creating a journey
  • Use a simple journey to test your approach and gather baseline metrics before you add complexity to the map
  • Use Goals and Exit criteria in Journey Builder to measure success and to remove contacts from a journey
  • Limit the number of activities to 150-200 in a journey to prevent slow load times
  • Stagger scheduled journey start times to reduce the demand and increase the processing speed of individual journey
  • Personalize your messages with AMPscript o achieve targeted communication with your audience

Wrap up

Today’s customers expect personalized brand interactions. Brands that fail to provide these interactions and experiences will fall by the wayside – quickly. And delivering these experiences should always start with creating a customer journey strategy followed by customer journey mapping. Use SFMC Journey Builder when you’re ready to automate and build cross-channel customer journeys that can empower you to design and automate responsive campaigns. And with this guide – you have a great place to start!

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Kevin is the Head of Marketing at Email Uplers, one of the fastest-growing email design and coding companies. He loves gadgets, bikes, jazz, and breathes ‘email marketing’. He is a brand magician who loves to engage, share insights with fellow marketers, and enjoys sharing his thoughts on the latest email marketing best practices.

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