The lead generation makes up for a very crucial part of the B2B sales process. What happens after you’ve captured your newly generated leads is the part that’s often overlooked. For instance, a lot goes into qualifying and identifying a lead’s persona, before you can nurture and sell to them. This is achieved through tracking and identifying your lead’s activity and usage of your product. 

A unique series of your lead (or customer’s) activities across your product is what makes for a ‘journey’. Customer journeys are at the heart of user experience and lead nurturing processes.  

Leads generated from your top funnel need to seamlessly transition into being nurtured and converted through these customer journeys. As per McKinsey, Better performance on journeys correlates strongly with faster revenue growth,  complementing a strong lead generation engine and enabling soaring, sustainable revenue growth for your team.

Before diving deeper into the ways how mapping customer journeys contribute to B2B lead generation, Let’s start off by knowing what customer journeys maps are.

What are Customer Journey Maps?

The customer journey map, as the name says, is used to draw out and manage journeys of a customer with your product. This journey map is used to follow a sequence of events and touches that make up for your product’s customer experience (CX). In simpler words, it’s a visual representation of your customer’s journey from discovering you, to sign up and eventually paying and using your product in ways it’s intended to.

So you might be wondering — how does this impact your lead generation process? 

As per Aberdeen Group’s studies, managing the customer journey improves the average sales cycle times from 0.9% vs. 16.8% (18x growth).graph showing reasons to manage customer journey

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A slower sales cycle not only delays closures but also bottlenecks the flow of leads to your sales funnel, risking freshly acquired leads to go stale. 

That makes it absolutely essential to map your customer journeys before you can scale your lead generation processes, to make sure you can make the most of your marketing efforts.

Let’s now dive deeper into the ways in which customer journeys map are crucial for your B2B lead generation process.

How Mapping Customer Journeys are Crucial for Lead Generation

1. Nurtures and qualifies your leads

As mentioned earlier, a customer journey map is centered around your product’s user experience. These journeys are built to introduce, educate, and get your leads to use your product in the intended ways.

Lead generation, onboarding, and nurturing flows are the first part of your customer’s journey. For example, your lead’s first touch can be a cold email, Linkedin invites, or Google search. These steps are all laid out to be part of your customer journey map. Steps following these first few touches are meant to meaningfully guide and nurture your leads further into the sales cycle.

Altman Vilandrie & Co found that laying out a detailed journey map has been observed to increase MQL (Marketing Qualified Leads) to SQL (Sales Qualified Leads) conversions by up to 25%.

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This increase in conversion is enabled by passive content-driven interactions (i.e. not requiring human intervention), which deliver your marketing messages to educate and nurture your leads. 

Hence, defining a customer journey enables you to seamlessly nurture and qualify your leads by using marketing channels and content to passively educate and convert them. Nurturing leads this way is an extension of your lead generation process, helping you qualify and generate quality leads from your top funnel.

2. Enables measuring conversions and quality

Depending on how you’re maintaining your customer journey map, you’ll be able to track incoming leads to the channel they originated from. Apart from this, you’ll also be able to trace back the path they took before being qualified. Mapping the journey will enable you to measure conversions at every touchpoint. This engagement data will then help you narrow down and eliminate/improve your content and messaging playbook. 

You’ll also be able to track details like which channels generate the best converting leads, or which channels bring you the leads that stay with you the longest. This will help you measure the quality of leads being generated in the top funnel and where they’re coming from. Ultimately, the customer journey map keeps track of trends and changing behaviors, helping you shift your focus on channels that bring you the best results. 

Without being able to keep track of your lead generation channels with the customer journey map, you’re likely to miss opportunities to optimize and improve them. 

3. Helps you know your leads better

Like we just discussed, building a customer journey maps help touch-level data on your leads’ engagement with your product. Apart from being able to optimize your lead generation channels with this data, you can also use it to know your leads beyond the usual variables. 

A lead will use multiple touches to become a qualified lead — each path taken through the customer journey map says something about your lead.  Each touch could be mapped to an underlying need or character trait, which could be used to serve them better.

As per McKinsey research journeys are more predictive of desired outcomes. Performance on customer journeys is significantly and strongly correlated with business outcomes such as revenue, churn, repeat purchase, and customer satisfaction. 

These improved business results eventually scale depending on the number of leads you generate. Hence it makes sense to map out customer journeys — they help you to get more data on your leads which in turn enables you to offer a personalized customer experience.

4. Uncovers and helps scale new lead generation channels

A customer journey map helps you keep track of your lead generation channels, as they will be a part of the customer journey map. Oftentimes, new and undiscovered lead generation channels get combined with an existing channel or ignored altogether. With having to update customer journey maps on a regular basis, this wouldn’t be the case.

Updating the customer journey map also makes way for new touches for your existing channels to traverse through. This gives your leads more ways to use your product and improves their experience. Thereby, making your lead generation and nurturing process user friendly and efficient. New lead generation channels can be also measured and optimized for conversions using your customer journey map, helping you scale and grow your customer base and bottom line.

5. Enables low-touch conversions

A customer journey that’s optimized for great user experience and minimum sales intervention brings in more low-touch conversions. With low-touch conversions, you’re able to convert your leads into customers without major sales or customer service support. This drastically reduces your overheads and operational costs, while growing your customer base at the same time. 

While not necessarily reducing the number of touches required for a lead to convert, a well-optimized customer journey map reduces the amount of human intervention needed to make a sale. This reduces the sales cycle times and brings in revenue earlier in the cycle.

A journey map enables salespeople to focus on bigger priorities, and marketers to generate more quality leads that can occupy the funnel more efficiently. 

Don’t generate leads without mapping your customer journeys

After you have captured a lead, they’re yet to be nurtured and onboarded for sales to be able to convert them. A journey map makes sure your leads are following the right path to discovering, trying, and adopting your product, while your funnel gets a continuous supply of leads. A journey map also offers you critical user data based on their journey, thus helping you measure and qualify them.

If you aren’t keeping your journey map updated and optimized – you’re missing out on leads who might have qualified and converted otherwise. 

Without journey maps, your lead generation process is incomplete and incapable (similar to an airplane with no runway to land on).

Mehdi Hussen

Mehdi Hussen is the digital marketing manager at SalesHandy. He is passionate to help B2B companies achieve organic growth and acquire new customers through data-driven content marketing. Mehdi writes about startup growth, digital marketing strategies, sales email productivity, and remote work. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.

John Davier
Author

Content marketing guru at MailMunch. I’m passionate about writing content that resonates with people. Live simply, give generously, stay happy.