Our Process: Experience Mapping

The Old Purchase Funnel Isn’t Dead…Yet

If you follow our company on LinkedIn or read our blog at all you’ve probably seen something about mapping the customer experience across their engagement with a brand. “Experience Mapping” is part of the strategic process we developed to help us get to ideas that work in today’s technology-fueled marketing ecosystem.

Technology has turned lots of industries on their heads, perhaps none more so than the marketing industry. In fact, that upending is the reason we started our company in the first place. As consumers interact with brands and experience them in completely different ways, marketers have a lot more choice, more decisions to make and a whole lot more information about who our customer is at any given moment in time. All of which adds up to complexity.

Engaging consumers across their experience with a brand meant we needed to think and develop ideas differently. We realized that UX was wrestling with similar challenges involving systems, complexity, user-defined choices and time and location.

One of my favorite concepts from my past Proctor & Gamble days is “Learn and reapply”. And that’s just what we did. Our process borrows heavily from user experience design principles and combines some of the old techniques we’ve always used in developing communications – things like the purchase funnel, insight gathering, etc. – with a more systematic way of identifying all the ways that someone might engage with a brand.

Here’s how it works…

We begin by identifying the stages our consumer goes through in the process of purchasing a product, from getting to know the product in the first place all the way through to purchase and repurchase. This is very similar to the way we always thought about the purchase funnel, only now we’re tailoring the stages to concepts that are unique to the product we’re planning for.

For instance, in a recent Experience Mapping exercise we did for an e-commerce fashion brand, we identified an easy to overlook but really important stage of the experience with the brand. After the credit card is entered and the “purchase” button is hit, the waiting begins. “Will it fit?”, “Is it going to be the right color?” We realized that a simple email communication during that “Waiting” stage could answer those questions and positively impact the overall experience.

Example of a completed experience map

Example of a completed experience map

With the Stages identified and laid out horizontally across the map, we then plot the course, developing the insights about what our buyer is experiencing in each stage to help us figure out tactics and messaging strategies. We consider emotional and rational needs as well as all of the ways the consumer might engage with the brand across each of those stages (advertising, shopping, mobile shopping, waiting, etc.).

We use three simple questions to get the information we need; What are they feeling?; What are they thinking?; and What are they doing? When we were working to develop ways to help beauty salon Gene Juarez build its appeal among a younger audience, EM helped us uncover the emotions and power behind the moment one sees their new cut and color in the chair at the salon. We realized that that was THE moment of highest satisfaction and presented an opportunity for us to build WOM. We framed the Facebook Beautification Project around that specific emotion in that Stage of the brand experience.

While it may sound complicated, it’s actually a fairly simple process. The result is a very visual “map” of our customer’s experience across the entire engagement. The Map becomes the basis for the “media plan” and the basis for the creative brief, providing us with a clear understanding of the messaging we need to convey across the experience we’ve defined.