Journey Mapping

An online retailer has been stocking the newly developed 'SpeedVac' vacuum cleaner for some time. Although sales of the vacuum cleaner have increased since its launch, one thing has been noticeable: Many potential customers decide against this new purchase just before signing the contract and remove the 'SpeedVac' from their shopping basket. In order to increase sales of the product, it is crucial to analyse the factors that ultimately influence the customer's purchase decision. This is where the marketing tool journey mapping is a reliable partner.
A map shows a route with black lines.


What is journey mapping?

Generally speaking, journey mapping analyses the interaction of a target group with a product or service. In this way, the process that a person goes through to reach their goal can be tracked. A distinction is therefore first made between the process and the goal: While the purchase of a product or the selection of an app can be defined as a goal, all actions that prepare the achievement of the goal are conceptualised as a process. This includes, for example, the decision to search for a new product, read reviews or decide in favour of a particular provider. Actions, emotions and thoughts are recorded for each interface that arises between the user and the product during the process up to the actual goal in order to identify difficulties and needs. All of this collected information then forms the basis for correctly processing the user's journey and various interactions. In this way, requirements for a product or service can be defined that ultimately make it easier for the customer to achieve the goal in the interests of the provider.
Journey mapping can therefore help to identify different influencing factors that favour a purchase decision. However, so-called pain points - obstacles that stand in the way of a goal-oriented interaction - can also be uncovered and eliminated to ensure a smooth and user-friendly process for the customer. Ultimately, this can even strengthen the customer relationship.
Good to know

Two different terms are often used in literature and practice: user journey mapping and customer journey mapping. However, as both terms describe an identical process, they can always be used interchangeably.

Creating a journey map

Successful journey mapping consists of several steps that build on each other. At this point, think again of the online retailer who wants to increase sales of the new ‘SpeedVac’ and a customer whose goal is to buy a new vacuum cleaner. In order to guide this customer through the decision-making and purchasing process in a user-orientated way, information about the customer and their process of achieving the goal must be systematically collected.
Collecting information

The first step is to collate all known information about the target groups, their needs and wishes. The more of this information is available, the clearer the picture of the specific target groups becomes. It is therefore worthwhile to expand the information already available by using interviews, online surveys and newsletters in order to create a customised target group analysis.
Create personas

In the next step, the previous analysis is used to model so-called personas. These are fictitious persons as representatives of the respective target groups, in which certain characteristics and features of real customers are reflected. In this way, several users with identical needs, goals, problems and characteristics are summarised in the descriptive model of a persona. It is important to ensure that personas and target groups match as closely as possible in order to generate meaningful and therefore promising data.

For a customer who has set themselves the goal of buying a new vacuum cleaner, a variety of situations arise throughout the entire process that are linked to certain experiences and expectations. Each of these experiences can influence the final purchase decision. In the context of journey mapping, some of these scenarios should therefore be thought through in order to steer the purchasing process in the desired direction. The questions of positive influence and usefulness are always at the forefront: How can you respond to the potential customer within each scenario in such a way that positive emotions are aroused through positive experiences? And how can the product be better customised to the customer's needs?

The following scenarios are conceivable for our example:
Becoming aware of the problem with the current vacuum cleaner

A customer has had the feeling for some time that the performance of his old vacuum cleaner is declining. His impression is reinforced by an online advert promoting a particularly powerful vacuum cleaner. The customer is initially pleased with his own realisation.

Opportunity and possibility: Attractive and eye-catching advertising is therefore crucial to draw attention to the product. This ensures that it does not get lost in the crowd.
The search for a new vacuum cleaner

With this knowledge in hand, the customer now begins to do their own research. Information from various websites is collected and compared: Brands, models and functions are thoroughly scrutinised. Reviews are also often read. If these are good, the potential customer assumes that the appliance will also win them over. As a result, they experience positive emotions.

Opportunity and possibility: The development team should regularly respond to customer feedback in order to improve the product. In the event of critical comments, customer service should identify and respond to user needs. This not only improves the product, but also conveys the impression of first-class customer service.
Weighing up the options

Once all this information has been collected, price, features and availability are taken into account. However, the overviews on the website are not always good. This leads to mixed feelings in the buying process.

Opportunity and possibility: A clear presentation of the functions, possibly with pictures, is important to promote understanding.
The purchase

After careful consideration, a decision is finally made. The vacuum cleaner is placed in the shopping basket and ultimately purchased. This decision in turn triggers a good feeling.
Points from 1 to 5 can be awarded for each feeling, for example. These are then entered into a diagram to recognize emotional highs and lows, i.e. where the customer was satisfied or even unhappy.

Advantages and disadvantages of journey mapping

Journey mapping makes it easier to understand what users are thinking and what problems may occur along the way. However, it is difficult to visualise the multitude of different situations, thoughts and actions in a single map. In addition, a balanced distribution of users is necessary to avoid biased decisions. Due to the large number of decisions that a user could make, representatives from different departments must work together as a team. Although this can make implementation more difficult, it also offers the opportunity to gain a comprehensive understanding of the user experience across all departments and derive a concrete need for action.


Even if the effort involved in journey mapping may seem relatively high at first, there are convincing advantages to carrying it out. If a user is aiming for a specific goal, the individual scenarios can be used to consider which experiences motivate and influence their actions. In this way, the achievement of the user's goal can be significantly optimised. In addition, the product can be further developed in a user-orientated manner with the help of the data obtained. This means that the product not only ends up in the shopping basket, but also travels along the virtual checkout conveyor belt.

Journey Mapping - the IAPM logo
Author: IAPM internal
Keywords: Project management, Journey mapping

The IAPM certification

The certification can be taken via a reputable online examination procedure. The costs are based on the gross domestic product of your country of origin.

From the IAPM Blog

Become a Network Official

Do you want to get involved in project management in your environment and contribute to the further development of project management? Then become active as an IAPM Network Official or as a Network Official of the IAPM Network University. 

For better readability, we usually only use the generic masculine form in our texts. Nevertheless, the expressions refer to members of all genders.