Alexei ChernobrovovConsultant on Analytics and Data Monetization

How to build CJM: 3 ways of developing customer journey map

In this article a theory about Customer Journey Map (CJM) and its practical implementation would be considered: why customer journey map is needed, how to build it and where to use, moreover we would analyze popular approaches, methods and instruments of developing CJM: their advantages and disadvantages as well as the examples of implementation. 


What is CJM: definition and its meaning

Customer journey maps (CJM)are visuals or graphics that depict the customer relationship with a company, their service, and their product over time. At the core of a great customer experience is the customer journey, and how an organization's processes, systems, and people interact with its customers. 

In fact, CJM is a state diagram - a directional graph, the vertices of which shows the contact with the consumers, and the edges indicate the probabilities of the transition to the next interaction (Fig. 1). 

Схематичное изображение CJM

Fig. 1. Layout view of CJM


For raising the informative value this graph could be marked or painted, for example, if it is necessary to show in one picture several customer or product segments (fig.2)

Пример CJM с учетом цикла готовности потребителя к покупке

Fig. 2. The example of CJM given the cycle of consumer's willingness to purchase


CJM can be used not only in the classical marketing sense, to lead the consumer to purchase or increase user loyalty. With the help of this visual tool it is convenient to plan the organization of mass events, marking the points of interaction with visitors in advance (Fig. 3). 

Пример CJM для музейной выставки

Fig. 3. The example of CJM for museum exhibition 

Why and when you shoud build a marketing CJM 

A customer journey map is a visual representation of every experience your customers have with you. It helps to tell the story of a customer's experience with your brand from original engagement and into hopefully a long-term relationship. Thus, CJM is a marketer's roadmap that helps determine a marketing strategy and develop tactics for its implementation: the objects of the proposal, the frequency and channels of interaction with the consumer, as well as plan the advertising budget, paying more attention to the most effective episodes.

Several main tasks of creating CJM could be highlighted for improving interaction with customers:

  1. vizualisation and analysis of customer behavior – mapping contact points of a client with a product or company;  
  2. underastanding and formalization of client motives, needs and expectations, taking into account user preferences predict with a high degree of accuracy a product that is interested for the customer and promtly offer it; 
  3. detailing the portrait of the target audience – a detailed selection of consumer segments and product categories of interest to them;
  4. formation of the 'ideal path' of the client – the least expensive trajectory of consumer interaction with the product that brings the company the greatest benefit; 
  5. the search for barriers and 'bottlenecks' - ineffective points of contact that interfere with the operational advancement of the client to a business goal or are characterized by low conversion; 
  6. definition of indicators of applied that allow to evaluate business efficiency as accurately as possible, for example, cost of attracting visitors (cost per lead - CPL, cost per order - CPO) or total profit per client (life time value - LTV);  
  7. analysis of the success of current marketing strategies through evaluating the effectiveness of each point of contact with the consumer, from getting to the site to a live conversation with the seller; 
  8. designing new marketing strategies and developing detailed plans for their implementation - landing page templates, serial e-mail newsletters and other elements of advertising campaigns. 


If it is necessary to solve one or several tasks at once, than CJM is required. The task can be brought about if there are the following facts:

  • information about customer behaviour or sources that have this information; 
  • information about interaction and impact points with the consumer;
  • audience-segmentation with different categories that are different in nature of conduct,на несколько категорий (сегментов), которые различаются по характеру поведения/потребления и/или отношения к бренду.


Approaches and instruments of developing CJM 

We can use the following ways of building CJM:

  1. manual;
  2. automated;
  3. hybrid.


The choice of approach will depend on the task in terms of business and initial conditions, where is an explored interaction with customers: 

  • information about points of contact and the nature of the presentation of this data (informal knowledge or a set of structured documents);
  • the volume of the target audience and product range (the number of customer segments and product names).


Advantages and disadvantages of each approach with examples would be considered below. 


Manual method

This methos is based on expert knowledge of the subject area and is suitable for those cases where the history of interaction with the consumer is not too complicated, i.e. can be described by a person independently without the use of additional automation tools. Moreover, to build CJM you don’t need any complicated techniques and special support: you only need expert knowledge and the simplest formalization tools - a sheet of paper and a pencil or a spreadsheet editor - Excel, Google spreadsheets, etc. (fig. 4). You can also use various plotters for diagrams, charts, and mental maps, for example, XMind and similar services.

Формализация знаний о потребительских сегментах в Excel-таблице

Fig. 4. Formalization of knowledge about consumer segments in the Excel table.


The manual CJM development algorithm is described in this article using the store as an example. The main advantages of the manual method are its speed and simplicity - the absence of special requirements for methodology and tools, which makes it applicable to almost any business. However, these positive qualities are associated with the following disadvantages:

  • the impossibility of using in cases of complex non-linear interaction with the client, a large volume of the product range and a large number of user segments with different consumer behavior;
  • dependence on expert opinion - since the method is based on the individual knowledge of one person or a limited group of people, it reflects the subjective experience of an expert, which may not cover absolutely all points of interaction with a client.
    In addition, the results obtained using this method are not scalable and difficult to automate. In particular, when new paths appear on the CJM graph, for example, in the case of new products or entry into new markets, it will be necessary to develop the map again.

Nevertheless, despite the above disadvantages, the manual CJM development method is convenient to use in conditions of limited time, when it is necessary to quickly display the main points of interaction with the consumer. Also, the manual method is useful either as a primary material for more complex approaches, automated and hybrid, which would be described later. 


Automated method

This method is perfect for a large volume of the product range and many consumer segments, when the trajectory of the customer’s interaction with the product or brand is known exactly or can be objectively tracked. For example, traffic on a site or mobile application, visitor paths inside a shopping center, etc. By collecting this information from user log files or recording cameras, building CJM can be reduced to the task of text analysis. In this case, each client’s action is encoded by a letter from a previously developed alphabet (Fig. 5), then the words are clustered and the consumer segments are further classified based on similar behavior.

Кодирование действий пользователя

Fig. 5. Coding user actions


The practical example of approach implementation is described in the article.

The undoubted advantage of this method is its objectivity - independence from expert opinion. It also scales well - when a product or sales policy changes, CJM will rebuild automatically. However, this approach is quite complicated from a technical point of view (knowledge of Data Science is required) and its results strongly depend on the selected alphabet, the development of which takes a lot of time and effort.


Hybrid method

This method, combining expert and automated approaches, is applicable for the tasks of predicting consumer behavior and shows excellent results in the case of a single-brand business with a wide, but the same product line (manufacturer of mobile phones, car dealer, etc.). At the same time, the task of building CJM is reducing to segmentation of the target audience based on client preferences that are not known in advance and are not explicitly regulated in any way.

Having collected data on consumer behavior from formal sources (log files of site visits, videos, profiles, etc.), they should be clustered according to the principle of maximum similarity. Further, on the basis of this information, the subject expert identifies consumer segments (Fig. 6), and the marketer develops a strategy for improving interaction with customers of each category.

Выделенные экспертом исходные категории пользователей и вероятности их изменения

Fig. 6. Initial user categories highlighted by the expert and the probability of their change


It is advisable to use a system of clear rules or machine learning algorithms (Machine Learning, ML), as described in this article, in order to determine automatically whether a user belongs to a particular consumer segment.

This approach to building CJM allows you to create a very detailed portrait of each segment of the target audience and predict the needs of customers. It also scales very well and is applicable for single-brand businesses as well as for a wide product line. Among its shortcomings, it is worth noting some dependence on expert opinion, high requirements for the initial level of automation and formal presentation of data on consumer behavior, as well as the need to attract expensive ML-specialists.


The results of the use of CJM

Ready-made CJM allows you to develop an effective marketing strategy and a detailed plan for its implementation, which, step by step, will lead the customer to a purchase based on his needs and consumer behavior. In particular, this will help to obtain detailed answers to the following questions of the marketer: 

  • how to attract the attention of the client (colorful banners, contextual advertising in search engines, pop-ups with personalized advertising, emails or SMS messages);
  • how and with what to add content on a corporate website or blog;
  • how to divide the advertising budget by various channels of attracting users (SEO, SMM, e-mail, push, price aggregators, context, remarketing);
  • how to create auto funnels for each consumer segment by setting up a series of e-mail newsletters;
  • which KPIs will make it possible to objectively evaluate the effectiveness of the employees involved in the promotion processes (SEO traffic from search queries, CPC in contextual advertising, conversion of conversions by email newsletters, etc.).


From the point of view of optimizing business processes, CJM visualization will help to identify organizational or technical barriers that impede the further movement of the client towards the goal. For example, crowded places in a narrow entrance zone, an excessive number of required fields when registering on the site, etc. Thus, CJM is an excellent working tool not only for a marketer. A client interaction map is needed for the business as a whole, so that each participant in the application process sees his role in achieving the overall goal of the organization.



Having analyzed the essence, features of application, advantages and disadvantages of the basic methods of building CJM, we will draw the main conclusion about the choice of approaches to improve interaction with the client. First of all, means used are determined by the applied problem statement from a business perspective. It is important to choose the approach for building CJM that will achieve your goal as quickly as possible and with the least effort. For example, if in a small business with a small number of products or services sold, it is necessary to increase sales conversion as soon as possible, a manually built CJM will help to draw up a detailed plan of targeted activities. In the case of a large online store with hundreds of thousands of different products, an automated approach is suitable. A hybrid method will show excellent results in the segmentation of visitors to the shopping center or users of the site with monobrand products. In any case, no matter what method of CJM development you prefer, you should remember that this is just a business planning tool that simplifies the work on the strategy, but does not execute it on its own.