Last year I put together Econsultancy’s practical guide to account-based marketing (ABM). With many B2B marketers frustrated and exhausted by generating lots of leads for sales, ABM has emerged as an alternative approach.

While putting the guide together, one area I wanted to address is the need for marketers to ensure they match the right content with the right stage of the customer journey – including the post-purchase journey.

Having used a number of B2B marketing personas and templates in the past, I wanted to create a framework that was more than just a good looking stock photo and details of hobbies. Even though detailed market research should be used when possible, I wanted to create a framework that would allow B2B marketers to get stuck in without the need for too much introspection.

I wanted to answer the following questions:

  • What activities does the customer do in their day-to-day work?
  • What pains do they experience?
  • What gains are they looking for?
  • Who do they influence in the customer journey?
  • Who influences them at each stage of the customer journey?
  • What are their key questions or concerns?
  • What actions do they need to take to take to progress in the customer journey?
  • What actions do you need to take to nudge them along the customer journey?
  • What key messages do they need to receive?
  • What formats or content types might they want?

The result was this on one page (click to enlarge):

customer journey mapping canvas

So how should you start to fill in the details? My advice is to either print it out large and stick it to a wall, or project it on to a blank surface. Then call your team together, bring Post-Its and Sharpies and follow the below. Go for quantity over quality in the first stage:

1. State who you are targeting

Start by listing their job title and what they do in the Persona box.

Find a photo that best resembles them to bring the persona to life.

2. Detail their day-to-day activity

Paint a picture of what they do in the Workflow area. List their typical activities, the pains they experience, the gains they long for, and who they influence on a day-to-day basis.

Don’t forget to focus on the minutiae of their day-to-day life, including answering email, creating PowerPoint decks, or any of the other admin that typically happens.

3. List the information they need along the customer journey

This part is about filling in the top row of the main grid.

4. List the actions you want them to take at each stage

This is the second row of the main grid. If you have any qualification criteria before leads become MQLs (marketing-qualified leads), this is what you should be looking at for the awareness and consideration stages.

You should also think at the point of purchase and beyond. Part of the focus of ABM is to treat each account as a market of one, so the opportunity doesn’t simply stop either at the point of handover to sales or once they’ve signed the dotted line. Think about how you can help your colleagues in sales or customer success.

5. List the actions your company should take at each stage

Complex buying journeys don’t happen on their own. On the third row you should think about what you need to provide the customer to help them proceed.

As well as the obvious hard elements (e.g. send out a contract), pay attention to the information needs they will have in order to get over the line.

6. Specify the key messages and proof points

In a world devoid of attention, it’s important to focus on what they key messages should be that underpin your content and messaging. Fill out the fourth row while thinking: if there is just one key message I want them to receive, what would that be?

While strong and stable soundbites have become the source of much amusement, it’s unlikely your B2B product or service will be repeated ad nauseam – it’s much more likely to be missed among the noise. So try and bring the key points to the forefront.

7. List the influencers

You will not be the only source of information your customer turns to. On the fifth row, detail what sources they will be investigating to make up their minds.

These ideas can provide the foundation for both content targeted at other decision makers and also some specific PR or influencer marketing activities. In technology for example, analysts play a significant role so should not be forgotten about.

8. State the content types

The final row details in what format you will package the information. If in need of inspiration, the periodic table of content marketing can help.

Once this is all done, you should end up with something like this (click to enlarge):

customer journey mapping canvas completed

9. Sense check your work

Before finalising your canvas, share it with some trusted customers to get their feedback. Is this reflective of them? Did they have these questions? Is anything missing?

What do you think of the Customer Journey Mapping Canvas? Have you used a similar approach in the past? Let us know in the comments below.

Econsultancy subscribers can download Account-Based Marketing: A Practical Guide now.