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B2B customer journey mapping: 5 steps to follow

It’s tricky to effectively map all the different personas and purchasing processes in the B2B customer journey. But understanding your customers’ experiences is key to improving conversions and retaining users.

Last updated

15 Jun 2022
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That’s why it’s important for B2B companies to follow effective customer journey mapping steps. Use our guide to create a map that tracks your users’ unique journeys, giving you key insights into your customers and their needs. 

Get valuable insights into your B2B customer journey.

Use Hotjar to understand how buyers interact with key web and product touchpoints—and improve their experience.

How to map out the B2B customer journey in 5 steps

Mapping the customer journey is essential to understand your buyers and turn them into loyal customers. 

Follow these steps to create an actionable B2B customer journey map that gives you insights on who your customers are and what kind of experience they want. 

1. Set goals that are unique to your business

Before you start to map out the customer journey, define your larger business and customer goals. 

To begin, ask yourself what you want your customers to do. Does your business depend on repeat customers, or are your products one-off larger ticket items? Your customer journey will look different if you sell business clients a one-time-purchase product, like a hardware device, versus a subscription service.

Different B2B businesses—like GE Renewable Energy and Hubspot—will have very different objectives. A company like GE Renewable Energy that sells large equipment to B2B customers may prioritize goals like generating more website conversions and creating brand advocates who will recommend GE products to other businesses in the industry. 

On the other hand, a software company like Hubspot will need to emphasize on the onboarding and renewal components of the customer journey to increase customer retention. 

Know what your goals are before creating your B2B customer journey map so you can keep your focus on the most important steps for your customers and your business.

#HubSpot’s customer journey map focuses heavily on onboarding and renewal, two parts of the customer journey that are essential to the company’s success
HubSpot’s customer journey map focuses heavily on onboarding and renewal, two parts of the customer journey that are essential to the company’s success

2. Identify your customer segments

The purchasing process is an especially complex, nuanced cycle for B2B businesses, because the end users of your product or service are often not the same people making the purchasing decision.

John Forberger, Founder of Forberger Communications, highlights this complexity: 

Typically, multiple people have influence over a deal. Maybe one person researches how to replace a current tool, then a second person does a demo, and a third person actually cuts the check.

That means you can’t focus solely on the users who’ll try out your product or service, or on the C-level decision makers: you need to understand every stakeholder involved in the purchasing process to map out an accurate B2B customer journey

As well as considering the different needs of end users versus purchasers,  think about how your user personas may differ depending on company size and type. 

Take Canva for example: the design tool is used by a variety of businesses, from small freelancers to large corporations like PayPal and Danone. By understanding these different user profiles and needs, Canva designed their homepage to let different B2B customer types can choose their own adventure and head off on the most relevant user journey.

#Canva customers can choose between the Free, Pro, and Enterprise plans so they get started on the right journey for them
Canva customers can choose between the Free, Pro, and Enterprise plans so they get started on the right journey for them

Pro tip: once you define your user profiles, learn more about different buyer types by asking the right survey questions. Dive into users’ goals and jobs to be done so you can better design the customer journey. 

3. Define the B2B customer journey stages

Once you have clear goals and user personas, it’s time to define the stages of  the customer journey. Let’s take a look at a typical 7-stage B2B customer journey, using the popular SEO tool Ahrefs as an example.

  • Awareness: a buyer becomes aware of their problem and begins to search for solutions, which is when they discover your brand. In our example, a buyer knows they need to improve their website’s SEO performance, so they Google “best SEO tools” and come across Ahrefs. They visit the homepage, where the tool’s value proposition entices them to learn more.

  • Consideration: customers are considering your product or service as a potential solution. Here, the buyer visits Ahref’s website and learns about the brand’s unique selling proposition, reads about features, watches a demo, explores resources like the Ahrefs blog and SEO guide, and weighs up whether Ahrefs or a competitor is the right fit for them.

  • Decision: the buyer makes a decision and purchases the product or service that best fits their needs. In the case of Ahrefs, the buyer purchases the subscription (Lite, Standard, Advanced, or Enterprise) that’s right for them. The Ahrefs website guides users in the decision and purchasing process by displaying clear CTAs that encourage visitors to become customers.

  • Onboarding: the buyer starts to use the product, goes through the onboarding process, and gets familiar with the tool by reading guides and watching demos. They (ideally) start to adopt it into their everyday workflow. 

  • Support: users reach out as they need support. In our example, customers have easy access to customer support agents and the Ahrefs help center, so they can resolve issues and questions and continue to use the tool smoothly.

  • Retention: customer retention is a key part of the B2B buyer journey, and in this stage, buyers decide whether or not they’ll become repeat users. Ahrefs offers a range of subscription models and gives two months free to users who sign up for an annual subscription rather than the monthly option. 

  • Advocacy: the final stage in an ideal customer journey is turning customers into brand advocates. Ahrefs has done a good job of this: the homepage shows reviews from real users who recommend the tool, including pro SEOs, content marketers, and agencies.

#The Ahrefs website helps visitors move through customer journey stages with a clear value proposition and prominent CTAs
The Ahrefs website helps visitors move through customer journey stages with a clear value proposition and prominent CTAs

Ahrefs is a great example for mapping a B2B SaaS customer journey. But your brand’s user journey may look different depending on your company and customer types: a business customer purchasing a one-off product will have a very different journey from a company subscribing to a service. 

Oleg Donets, Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Real Estate Bees, points out how the stages of non-SaaS B2B customer journeys can differ from SaaS journeys: 

Since the vast majority of SaaS companies utilize subscription revenue models, this directly impacts the customer journey. B2B customer journeys often scale back a notch shortly after a sale has been made, but that’s when the customer journey of a SaaS company just starts kicking in.

4. List all possible touchpoints 

Once you map out the steps in your users’ journey, identify each ‘touchpoint’ where they interact with your company, from social media posts to your homepage CTAs and your product itself. 

Let’s go back to the Ahrefs example. 

A key touchpoint in the early awareness, consideration, and purchase stages of the customer journey is their homepage and clear call to action (CTA) button. These onsite touchpoints show customers what their next steps should be and give them the information they need to make a decision. 

In the next phases (onboarding and support), follow their example by making it easy for users to connect with you, resolve their issues, and upgrade. On the Ahrefs help center page, customers can reach out to an Ahrefs representative and receive support within minutes. 

Make sure you continue to map out how your users interact with you after they have become customers (in the retention and advocacy phases). How can you make it easier for them to renew their subscription? Do you offer any rewards for referrals?

#Making it easy for customers to contact an agent enhances onboarding and support touchpoints
Making it easy for customers to contact an agent enhances onboarding and support touchpoints

As well as mapping out touchpoints by customer journey phase, consider the different touchpoints experienced by different user personas. 

For example, high-level executives who make the purchasing decision may not interact with your brand in the same way as their employees who are your end-users. 

By identifying key B2B customer journey touchpoints for different customers and purchasing stages, you can improve the user experience, making brand advocates out of your buyers.

Pro tip: use Hotjar Heatmaps and Recordings to explore how your users interact with key touchpoints on your website and product—and get the insights you need to improve the customer journey. 

#Hotjar Session Recordings are a great way to remotely research how people engage with your site as part of their customer journey.

Hotjar Session Recordings show you how users experience your page to improve low-performing touchpoints 

5. Analyze the success of the customer journey

One of the most important customer journey mapping best practices is measuring the success of your customer journey. 

Use the right customer journey mapping tools to help you evaluate the impact of your touchpoints. For best results, combine website analysis tools with tools that offer more in-depth product experience insights and user feedback. 

Use Hotjar Observe tools to track how customers are interacting with your touchpoints. Then use Hotjar’s Ask tools, like Surveys and Feedback widgets, to learn what your users really think and feel about their experience.

#Measure the outcome of the customer journey with the Hotjar Feedback widget
Measure the outcome of the customer journey with the Hotjar Feedback widget

Analytics tools, like Google Analytics, can also help in mapping and analyzing the customer journey, by giving you more general information on the types of users that visit your website and whether they convert or bounce. 

Combine Hotjar with Google Analytics to dig deeper into customer touchpoint insights, so you can improve conversion rates and enhance the customer experience.  

After you’ve mapped the customer journey, regularly refresh your memory on your key goals and what’s most important to your customers. Keep measuring the outcome of the customer journey to understand what’s going well and what needs improvement.

Create a better user journey for happier customers

Successfully mapping the B2B buyer journey requires a deep understanding of all your buyers and how they interact with your brand and product. 

By adapting these steps to your customers and company, you can create a customer journey map that identifies what your users need at each stage of the buying cycle, so you can provide them with the best possible experience.

Get valuable insights into your B2B customer journey.

Use Hotjar to understand how buyers interact with key web and product touchpoints—and improve their experience.

FAQs about B2B customer journey mapping