Creating a Customer Journey Map Step 2: Understand Your Ideal Client

Nov 21, 2022

Do you know who your ideal client is?

I mean, really know her… as in, you know whether she’s married or not, where she lives, what she likes to do in her free time, and whether she has kids or not?

Do you know what keeps her up at night (and how you solve that worry)? What sparks a little joy in her heart? What her biggest fear is?

If you answered YES to those questions, awesome! You can skip ahead. But if you have vague ideas, no clue at all, or it’s been awhile since you’ve thought about it then you need to spend some time on this step.


Understanding your ideal client at her core level is the difference between your ideal client landing on your website (or your social profiles… or your sales page…) and knowing she belongs or she doesn’t. So… let’s get to it.

Why you need to understand your customer

When you understand more about your customer beyond things like “50 customers purchased red notebooks in August”, you can extrapolate things like…

  • What motivates my customer to click the “buy now” button?
  • What does my customer need from me when they land on my About page?
  • How long does my customer think about purchasing before actually doing so?
  • What does my customer expect to see when they view my Instagram feed?

And when you understand those things, you can make better business decisions.

It can help you decide whether an email marketing campaign on X topic will really resonate with your customers, or if it needs some further tweaking. It will help you figure out if you really need to overhaul your entire website, or just adjust a few menu items here and there. It can help you vet potential product ideas, or improve existing products.

It can even help you down to the smallest details like how to write social posts, or what type of vibe your Instagram feed should have.

Gather information about your customers

Chances are, whether you’re starting this exercise from scratch or going off something that’s already been completed, you have existing data to analyze that’s going to make your entire job way easier.

The most basic of these are your analytics.

You probably have at least two types of analytics available to you:

  1. Website Analytics – through something like Google Analytics. This service deserves a deep dive post all by itself, but at its most basic Google Analytics provides demographic, behavioral, and purchase information to you about your customers (or visitors).
  2. Email Analytics – through your email platform, you will have information about click-through-rates, email opens, unsubscribes, and subscribes. This information tells you what content your subscribers care about.

Other types of analytics you may have available to you include:

  • Ad Analytics – if you run any type of paid promotion, you’ll have analytical information about audiences you’re targeting. You can align this information with conversion data to see which audiences care about what you’re doing.
  • eCommerce Analytics – if you’ve got an online storefront, your ecommerce platform will provide you with demographic information, as well as info about popular products. This will give a snapshot into what your customers are looking for.
  • Google reviews or other web-based reviews – you may not think of this as pure “analytics” but the reviews left of your business by consumers contains valuable information.
  • Responses to surveys or quizzes – if you’ve ever run a survey or a quiz, you have responses you can review for information that will tell you specific things your customers expect of you, are looking for, or perceive about your company.
White house with blue door and blue window shutters.

Analyze the data.

We’ve just gone over a myriad of ways you can collect information about who your business interacts with, but it’s meaningless unless you actually do something with it.

It can be overwhelming to know which datapoint matters and which one is just noise.

Here are some quick ways you can get started with this step:

  • Look for patterns in demographic data. You should see a few “types” of customers emerge. Maybe your primary one is a married woman between 35-44 who lives in a major suburb. A secondary one may be a woman 25-34 who is single and lives in an urban center. Make note of these groupings.
  • Look for patterns in content. What content is most popular on your site? What are the themes of that content? What keywords are bringing people to those pieces of content? Which headlines in your recent email campaigns resulted in high open rates? Answers to these questions will reveal the motivations and emotions a customer has when trying to gather information related to your niche.
  • Find commonalities in survey responses, testimonials, quiz results, and/or reviews. Are there common references, phrases, or words repeated over and over? Are there areas where many people seem confused, or excited? Note these things.
  • What imagery in your ads seems to resonate most? This is important, because people respond more to imagery than copy initially (we first notice the picture then decide if we’ll read the ad). Try to nail down themes, either through the subject matter, colors, or a mixture of elements.

Use the data to build customer personas.

This is the most interesting and fun step, in my opinion.

Using everything you’ve uncovered, you’re going to create customer personas.

A customer persona, also sometimes called an avatar or archetype, are blends of datapoints that, when put together, give a snapshot of an average customer for a business.

Some people like to keep them very straightforward and in a bulleted list. Others write actual stories, even assigning names to the avatars. Yet others simply put together a visual collage to represent the avatar. You can get as detailed as you’d like.

Whatever method you choose, don’t skip this step because infusing some personality and realness to your customer avatar will help you visualize someone real when you’re working on every other aspect of your business.

Here’s an example for a business that sells a children’s clothing subscription box:

Let’s say the data revealed one of the demographic groups of customers was a married woman, around 37 years old, who has two kids and lives in the midwest.

You learned website content you’d created about upcycling clothing seemed to get pretty high view rates from this demographic, as did email campaigns with discount codes so you’ve made a logical guess that this type of person is budget-conscious.

By reading reviews and testimonials (sometimes also called user generated content), you learned that quality materials that don’t wear out quickly is important to this demographic.

Last, in checking out the social profiles of some customers you currently have in this demographic, you learned they’re usually members of Facebook-based mom groups, are fans of healthy eating websites, and enjoy listening to country music.

Putting all of these data points together, you wrote this story:

Sarah is a 37 year old married mother of 2 school-aged children who lives in a midwestern suburb just outside of a major city. Sarah loves cooking healthy meals for her family, and often gets product recommendations from her fellow mom-friends in Facebook groups. She is motivated by budget-conscious brands and appreciates when businesses use quality materials that will last – so both of her children can get use out of what she’s purchasing. She doesn’t mind a recurring subscription fee because it means she’s being saved both time and money. When she isn’t spending time with her family, she’s catching up on her favorite shows and listening to country music.

When you have a narrative like the one above, you can extrapolate and expand on it to create other personas. Or, you can start over with a fresh one if your customer groups are pretty different and varied.

blue necklace, blue notebook, blue bracelet, blue ribbon, blue nailpolish, blue flowers

Use personas as your foundation for the customer journey and the overall customer experience.

If you chose to stick with Sarah as the example of your main, core customer, let’s explore how Sarah’s information can be leveraged to create more detailed personas.

Sarah can become a working mom just by assuming she has a full time job. When we make this assumption, here’s how Sarah’s story can shift (remember: keep the details backed up by hard data gathered from your various channels)… and we’ll change her name to Jennifer just to keep things simple:

As a married mother of 2 school-aged children, Jennifer often feels her life is split between her duties as a full-time employee and a mother. She doesn’t have time to do extensive research on what brand of clothing is best for her children, so she relies on recommendations from her family and friends as well as reading reviews online. She trusts brands that use quality materials, because it saves her time and money by having to buy things only once – saving time and money are her main motivations when making purchase decisions. She is willing to pay a little extra if it means she’ll be freed up to spend more time with her family and less time researching what to buy. A subscription box would appeal to Jennifer because it fulfills both motivations.

Now let’s pretend our core customer, Sarah, is a stay-at-home-mom and is not currently looking for employment. We’ll change her name Brittany.

Brittany is a stay-at-home-mom with two school-aged children. Her days are primarily spent keeping her home in order and taking her children to their activities. She has a limited amount of time to research clothing brands (typically when she is waiting in a pickup line), so she prefers to get that information from her mom groups on Facebook. Because her family operates on a single-income budget, she’s mostly motivated by companies that are sensitive to cost and offer reward programs or discount coupons. She would consider a subscription box because it provides a discount on the individual items of clothing, and it saves her time from browsing a site to piecemeal outfits for her children.

Do you see how these two very different versions of Sarah really come to life when you add in a little more detail? Can you also imagine how you can use these details to craft content and experiences for both Jennifer and Brittany that would really resonate with them?

For example, a targeted email newsletter for Jennifer should call out recent reviews + how subscription boxes mean more time spent with family… whereas an email newsletter targeted to Brittany should focus on how subscription boxes help the family budget and were recently spotted as being recommended on [fill in the blank with a popular mom-focused Facebook page, like Scary Mommy].

You could still target Sarah with more generalized emails, giving her the option to refine her interests at some point with an invite to participate in a quiz.

If you imagine Sarah as your customer at the start of the journey, and Jennifer & Brittany as your customers at the end of the journey, you can fill in the points in between.

In other words, your customer personas help you in plotting out the customer journey map, and further help you in organizing and refining everything – from your email list, to your content, and beyond.


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