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Customer Experience

How To Create a Mobile Customer Journey Map

Ashley Sefferman  //  March 7, 2017  //  7 min read

How many customer funnels have you created as a digital marketer? If you’re anything like me, the customer funnel has been a diagram constantly iterated upon throughout your marketing career. Funnels are what marketers have relied on for years, but they have one big problem: Funnels are linear, and thanks to mobile, customer journeys are no longer so. Today’s customers experience brands uniquely, skipping ahead and looping back whenever it makes sense for them personally, and using a traditional sales funnel to understand and predict their behavior just doesn’t cut it anymore.

What does this change in direction mean for marketers? Enter the customer journey map, a better way to understand how your customers interact with your brand, allowing you to improve your overall experience and product. A customer journey map is meant to accomplish the same thing a traditional sales funnel does: It is a diagram that illustrates the steps your customers go through in engaging with your company (HBR). But it’s so much more than that.

Customer journey maps are based on a flexible framework that not only helps you understand how customers experience your brand, but also offers insight into who they are based on detailed behavior. This post explores the benefits of leveraging a customer journey map for your mobile product over (or in addition to) a traditional marketing funnel, complete with step-by-step instructions to aid with your set up.

Let’s begin!

Do I really need to use a customer journey map?

Short answer: Yes!

Here’s why: Marketing teams are tasked with understanding customer behavior to assess needs, and empathizing with customers is crucial to mirroring customer behavior—and ultimately, building a better mobile product. Customers engage in unique ways depending on the channel, and understanding mobile engagement will help your customer journey become more accurate.

As we discussed above, there is a problem with marketing funnels when it comes to the mobile customer journey. Traditional marketing funnels are linear, and customer journeys—especially over mobile—are anything but. Funnels show a perfect example of how a person may move through the stages of your sales process, but leaves very little room for interpretation and parsing true customer behavior.

Take a side-by-side example of a marketing funnel vs. a mobile customer journey. The traditional marketing funnel looks something like this:

Traditional marketing funnel

When in reality, mobile customer journeys tend to look more like this:

Complex customer journey

As you can see, the traditional funnel does not allow for as much individual experience as the customer journey map. Both exercises exist to help marketers accomplish the same goal, but the customer journey map can get you much closer to how customers are actually engaging with and behaving in your mobile product.

In addition to allowing for flexibility in the way customers enjoy your mobile experience, customer journey maps help drive three important marketing initiatives. Mobile customer journey maps:

  1. Help you build a better product. Customer journey maps exist to explore behavior within your mobile experience, which yields learnings around how you can improve. The more you know how people actually engage, the better you can understand what pieces of your experience hit the mark or need adjusting.
  2. Put the customer at the heart of your business. Using customer journey mapping, you can design a marketing strategy that puts your customers first. The more you know about how customers use your mobile product, the more one-to-one your messaging with them can be. Personalized messaging is the manifestation of how we incorporate everything we know about our customers’ loves, likes, and dislikes into their mobile experience.
  3. Ensure your marketing team’s efforts are in the right place. Marketing’s efforts should be driven not only by the company’s product mission, but also by the customer. In order to provide the best digital experience, it’s imperative to learn from your true customer journey—as complex or straightforward as it may be—in order to be sure you spend marketing dollars in the right place.

Putting together a customer journey map for your mobile product is worth the time and effort you put into it. The insight you’ll gain is priceless, and can help shape your product roadmap and marketing strategies to level up your brand.

Learn your customer’s mobile journey

Now that we’ve covered the importance of a mobile customer journey map, it’s time to create your own. Below, we’ll walk through each piece of the mobile customer journey map exercise so you can easily implement it with your team. Let’s begin!

Before we start, here is what a typical customer journey map for a web-based product looks like:

Average digital customer journey

What makes mobile different from other digital channels is the ability to impact customer behavior early in the selling process. Our mobile devices are incredibly personal—we carry them everywhere we go, and use them to connect and share with the people we’re closest with. The personal nature of mobile also extends to brands as customers continue to expect the level of respect and personalization from brands they engage with over mobile as they would with any other interaction. Our brains are conditioned to see mobile as a personal, emotional channel, and brands who create mobile experiences with this goal in mind are primed to stand out.

In a customer journey, introducing the mobile channel affects the “discover” and “compare” stages by allowing for personalized communication opportunities, like in-app messages, mobile surveys, intelligent prompts, and personalized notes. No other digital channel allows brands to connect in a one-to-one way like mobile.

Mobile allows for more in the customer journey

Let’s take the mobile customer journey and break it down piece by piece.

1. Identify customer behaviors

To start, you must identify general customer behaviors across your mobile experience.

Identify customer behaviors

These behaviors might mirror the stages you see in your traditional sales funnel, or they may be totally different—it all depends on your product and customers. Set time aside with your marketing team to dig deep in order to set your mobile behaviors as they serve as the base for the rest of your customer journey map. If time allows, consider pulling a handful of new customers who have closed within the last month and trace each of their journeys back step-by-step to understand exactly how their experience went. By looking at real, individual customer journeys, you’ll learn more than any survey or research can tell you!

2. Understand customer goals

Customers generally want the same thing from your brand, and each behavior in your mobile customer journey is usually driven by a common goal.

Understand customer goals

Note that in the image above, the goals change depending on their matched behavior. In the beginning of the mobile customer journey, the goals are much broader than they are at the end. Again, the goals may align with what you’ve used for your traditional marketing funnel, or they might be different. Neither is right or wrong so long as you take the time to understand the real drive behind why customers take the actions they do within your mobile experience.

3. Identify touch points

Touch points are engagement points for you to interact with your mobile customers.

Identify touch points

This stage will look very different than your traditional marketing funnel, and should take the most time in your customer journey map exercise. Start by putting together a master list of all of the marketing and sales activities your team uses to engage with mobile customers. From there, assign each activity with the customer behavior it’s meant to encourage. Your touch points may have more than one intended customer behavior depending on your mobile product, or they may have just one. Either way, list each touch point below the customer behavior it is intended to drive. Let your lists get as long as they need!

Pro tip: As you consider all of your touch points, use the time to evaluate them, as well. You may be leveraging a strategy that does not align with any of your encouraged customer behaviors, which means it’s probably time to remove it from your process. Keep the concept of “cleaning house” in mind as an added bonus as you work through this phase in your map.

4. Gather data and make changes

Once your mobile customer journey map is in place, it’s time to put it to work! Start by looking at all the data you currently pull to understand how customers move through the stages of your funnel. From there, identify data gaps (there will definitely be gaps) between what you pull today and what you need to pull in order to understand movement across your new mobile customer journey map. Move as quickly as you can to set up recurring reports around the info you need in order to gather a starting point.

Remember, the data you can pull around mobile customers is endless—take advantage of it! You know what device they use, how long they’ve had your app, and you may even have demographic data if that’s associated with their login. This means you can ask your audience for the exact explicit data you need in order to expand the customer profile data you already have. Gradually, you can ask them for more data and combine that with their behavior and actions they take in the app to create a comprehensive customer profile and improve your personalized marketing and sales strategies.

Now it’s your turn

You now have the tools to create your own customer journey map for your mobile product. No matter what stage in the sales process you’re at, this exercise will help you better understand your customers’ behaviors to help improve your product, personalize your marketing, and most of all, drive customer love.

Have you leveraged a mobile customer journey map before? Have additional tips or thoughts? I’d love to hear them! Leave your thoughts in the comments below so we can get a discussion going.

About Ashley Sefferman

Ashley Sefferman is Director of Marketing at Apptentive. A digital communication and content strategy enthusiast, she writes about multichannel engagement strategies, customer communication, and making the digital world a better place for people. Follow Ashley on Twitter at @ashseff.
View all posts by Ashley Sefferman >

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