Journey maps are a key component of building a strategy. But when we talk about “strategy” it can mean a lot of different things:
- Creating a set of plans for creating and promoting content over time
- Setting up a plan for a content migration and content governance
- Defining the content touch points for a user’s experience with an application or site
The first two fall clearly under the guise of “content strategy.” But the third falls in that nebulous “user experience.” Let’s explore the value of a content strategist on a UX project, specifically when it comes to identifying audience touch points through journey maps.
What’s a Touch Point?
A touch point is any time that the user and the organization interact. It might be in person, or on the phone, via social media, or through email. But the real question is: who cares?
Well, any time that the organization interacts with a person, be it a prospect, customer, member, or other, there’s communication; and where there’s communication, there’s content. Ideally, we want to be able to list out all the touch points, organize them in some way, and then create a strategy that makes all those communications feel connected. We want the content that people see or interact with to be representative of the larger brand and experience. On a practical level, we also want the people creating the content to be able to see the overall strategy, so that they can align their work with it.
Why Journey Matters
When we talk about user journeys, a common concern is where the journey begins, and when it stops. In my opinion, the full journey begins when someone first hears about your brand, and ends when either they die, or you go out of business. So when we outline a user journey, we’re taking a subset of that: it could be as limited as beginning when they reach your home page and ending when they check out, or it could begin when they realize they need to buy a hat, and end when they wear the hat they bought from you.
A journey matters because whatever subset we focus on is the user experience. This thing we’re designing? This UX thing? It’s a journey. It’s a series of steps, punctuated with interactions (i.e. tough points) between user and organization. The journey matters because it provides context, structure, and a frame of reference.
From Journey to Strategy
No part of mapping the user journey, identifying the touch points, and building a strategy that connects them is complicated. But it is a lot of work, and it can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to get started:
- There’s no wrong journey – it’s a starting point, and can always be revised and updated.
- When looking for touch points, add as many as you can. You can always remove later.
- Visualizations are helpful for some people, frustrating for others. If the “journey map” is confusing, try writing the journey out as a bulleted list of steps and touch points.
- A strategy is made up of a goal and tactics. Don’t forget to create that strategy, which will help you accomplish goals at the touch points.
- Look for opportunities along the way – touch points that don’t yet exist, pain points along the journey, and places where the user has a choice to make.
- Have fun! Creating the journey is a part of getting to know your user and kicking off your content strategy. It shouldn’t be a painful process.