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What is Customer Journey Mapping?

Customer journey mapping is the process of laying out all of a customer’s possible interactions with your brand to get a deeper understanding of their buying journey. Customer journey mapping can help you identify characteristics of individual customers as well as help you discover trends across multiple groups of customers for more granular personalization.

Customer journey mapping focuses on how your brand fits into a customer’s life. Essentially, this exercise should help your team create a roadmap for the customer to navigate their shopping experience. Each interaction your customer has with your brand within this roadmap should be advantageous to them.

The Key Stages of the Customer Journey

Customer journey mapping requires plotting out potential touchpoints at each stage of the customer lifecycle. At each stage there are different ways for your brand to connect with customers and vice versa.

As you read through the different stages below, it’s important to note that your customers can enter your customer journey at any stage. Some start with a purchase, some may read a review first. The best thing you can do when customer journey mapping is create a roadmap that is cyclical and allows customers to enter seamlessly at any stage.


Touchpoints in the awareness stage are what we traditionally would consider to be top-of-funnel. It’s possible your customer hasn’t heard of your brand before so channels that broadcast information are often used in this initial stage.

Possible touchpoint channels for this stage of your customer journey mapping include:

  • online ads
  • outdoor ads
  • radio/TV
  • print ads
  • word-of-mouth

Because this stage is all about making an initial impression with a customer, these channels cast a wider net than the channels featured later in the customer journey.


At the consideration stage in customer journey mapping, you need to think about the channels that a customer may use after being introduced to your brand. Think of the channels customers will use when they want to learn more about you.

This includes:

  • organic search
  • blog posts
  • YouTube
  • social media
  • email

Touchpoints at this stage require a curiosity from your customers. Instead of passively absorbing a message like they might in the awareness stage, they are actively participating in trying to connect with your brand.


In the purchase stage, unsurprisingly, the customer makes a purchase. However, when customer journey mapping, remember to consider the various channels through which a customer can make that purchase.

Did they buy online? In-store? Through your app?

Understanding where your customers are buying your product is helpful for understanding what paths they may take before and after the purchase.


The advocacy stage is where the customer voices their opinions about your brand. When customer journey mapping, think about all of the places a customer could share their shopping experience.

This may include:

  • testimonials
  • reviews
  • surveys
  • social media
  • online forums

Customer journey mapping revolves around how your brand can fit into a customer’s life—it’s about convenience. Therefore, thinking about where they made their purchase may inform you on which channels they’ll use in the advocacy stage.


The loyalty stage is where a consistent stream of communication between your brand and the customer is solidified. The customer has learned about your brand, made a purchase, recommended your brand to a friend and they know they’ll buy from you again.

Channels in the loyalty stage may include:

  • customer support
  • rewards programs
  • a newsletter and/or blog subscription

Up until this point, the lifecycle stages either require action from your brand or action from the customer. When customer journey mapping, think of the loyalty stage as the opportunity for a back-and-forth. There’s action from both parties.

Getting granular information about every touchpoint could be an overwhelming task for some, but customer journey mapping can be simplified by having the right tools in place.

Tools for Better Customer Journey Mapping

Having the right infrastructure in place before you begin customer journey mapping is a game-changer. Be sure your marketing tech stack is set up to gather and store centralized data from customers at various touchpoints across all relevant channels. This will allow your team to create holistic pictures of their unique customer journeys.

Enabling a modernized tech stack before customer journey mapping is especially important because customers can enter and exit the customer journey at any point—it isn’t always linear. When faced with a non-linear journey, brands need the right tools in place to create a cohesive experience with consistent, relevant engagement.

Data Integration and Management

We mentioned the importance of having centralized customer data, but what are the specific tools that can help your brand achieve this setup?

Marketing automation platforms like Iterable, for one, allow you to leverage your data’s potential with attributes, events and metadata. Attributes tell you information about who your customer is; events tell you what your customer does.

When your marketing automation platform is integrated with a variety of data management partners, the data that’s centralized becomes instantly actionable.

While implementing these various tools may sound like a bandwidth breaker, customer journey mapping doesn’t need to be a painstakingly manual process.

AI Journey Mapping

At the core of customer journey mapping is the desire to understand how customers feel about your brand at each touchpoint and, based on that sentiment, which channel they’ll use next and when to contact them via that channel.

AI journey mapping, using previously collected data, can predict the next steps your customer will take and their affinity towards your brand. In addition, your AI journey mapping toolkit can optimize for send time.

Using AI, send time optimization can determine the best time for you to deploy your marketing messages, based on behavioral data. With AI added to your customer journey mapping you’re not only understanding how customers feel at each touchpoint, but when and where to engage with customers through those touchpoints.

Adding artificial intelligence to customer journey mapping removes the guesswork in understanding how your customer will connect with you. Your team will have more time to strategize and plan and can worry less about the nitty gritty while still gaining invaluable customer insights.


Customer journey mapping is an exercise meant to highlight all of the possible ways a customer might engage with your brand. To create an effective customer journey map it’s vital to have the right tools in place that allow you to automate this process, when possible.

To learn more about Iterable’s data management capabilities and Brand Affinity, schedule a demo.

Iterable is a cross-channel marketing platform that powers unified customer experiences and empowers marketers to create, optimize and measure relevant interactions and experiences customers love. Leading brands, like Cinemark, DoorDash, Calm, Madison Reed, and Box, choose Iterable to power world-class customer experiences throughout the entire lifecycle. Discover our growth marketing solutions for personalization, increasing customer engagement, and more. Discover our platform and schedule a demo today.