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Katerina Kondrenko

Katerina Kondrenko
Content Writer @ UXPressia

How to map a SaaS buyer journey + free template

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More and more people choose SaaS products as an alternative to traditional on-premises software and offering greater access flexibility and ease of collaboration. As a result, today there are lots of SaaS fish in the ocean. So it’s not enough to fulfill three wishes like a goldfish to win customers’ hearts. SaaS tools must run forward simply to stay in place. And the better experience users have with your platform, the more chances for a happy ever after you have with them. 

But how to tell whether users love your software or suffer and accumulate negative feelings if they are gigabytes away? Customer support agents can give you a hint or two, as well as salespeople, researchers, and other teammates of yours. You will better understand your audience by uniting efforts and visualizing the way your customers go through when interacting with your service. Their goals, pains, channels they use, interactions with your product and team, and other things that make sense in your case. That is to say, you need to build a SaaS buyer journey map. 

And we are ready to back you up. Want to learn how to approach creating a SaaS buyer journey map? What typical stages do users go through? What common problems do they face? Which channels do they choose? It’s all there. 

How to build a SaaS buyer journey map? 

First of all, you have to decide on your map scope and whether you're going to focus on an existing or desired experience. Then you proceed to outlining your persona(s) and conducting research, and collecting all available information about your customers. That’s a crucial step that can’t be dismissed ‘cause without credible data to rely on, you will end up with a fictional journey map with no actionable insights. 

To guide you through all mapping steps and give you a visual example, we are going to build a SaaS buyer journey map for a project manager who wants to organize work processes inside a distributed team. Read further to see what will come out.

Create persona(s) for SaaS buyer journey

Depending on your capacity and goals, you may have many, several, or just one persona you will build a SaaS buyer journey around. Be sure to create your persona’s profile with goals, motivations, frustrations, background information, and other relevant information. 

Once your persona is done, it may look like that:

SaaS user persona
The Persona (full size) is built with UXPressia's Persona Tool

Meet Emelie. She’s a project manager in an IT company and has to manage lots of people who work in the office and remotely. Emilie spends a lot of time trying to manage the distributed team, which is hard. She’s a kinda control freak and used to do everything herself using many tools and means like Excel, Google Docs, different messengers, and even physical notebooks. Emilie knows that there are different SaaS products but never gives it a second thought. Until the conference, where a representative of a specific SaaS for project management presents their service so engaging, it sticks in Emelie’s head.

Define SaaS buyer journey map stages

Now, when our persona is ready for her journey, we can define their journey’s stages using the data we have. Each stage potentially contains lots of insights and can show us what to highlight and what is better to be fixed if we aren’t planning to lose users. 

Group actions your persona takes throughout their journey into stages and name them. You may end up with something like this:

Click here to open the full-size image in a new tab

If it’s your first mapping experience, feel free to use the same set of stages. In our example, we covered the process of searching for a SaaS, learning more information about it, trying it out, interacting with the SaaS staff, and deciding to pay for the service and additional features. 

What you may cover at any stage of the SaaS buyer journey

User’s goals. What do they try to achieve at each stage? You highlight what they want (e.g., to keep docs organized and easily shareable). This information will give you hints on how to satisfy your user’s needs.

User’s expectations. To guess what users may expect from you, keep your finger on what people say about your service on the internet and offline. Your reputation matters. But sometimes it has nothing to do with the user's expectations, ‘cause they are guided by their previous experience with similar services. So take this into account too.

User’s actions. What do they do at this or that stage? Try to capture each step to see what can be optimized, what is missing, where the user takes too many steps because they have no guidance, and so on. 

User’s channels. What means and mediums do they use at a particular stage? How can they contact you? On what device do they open your software? Are you sure they are comfortable with the channels you offer for communication? What if your users prefer mobile versions to desktop ones while you focus on the latter?

User’s problems. Here you can define any barrier or negative thing your customer meets at the stage. Don’t sugarcoat: the more troubles you identify, the closer you are to customer experience improvement.

User’s emotions. Here you follow your user’s emotional journey. It’s their emotional experience of interacting with your service. Think of how they feel about people with whom they talk, channels they have to use, steps they take, problems they might face, and so on. 

Sometimes emotions are louder than words and way more honest. So don’t miss important insights. In UXPressia, feel free to use the Quotes section to list your customer’s thoughts or identify the key emotion and create an emotional graph to see at what stages your customer’s emotional experience requires immediate attention. 

SaaS buyer journey experience section

User’s interactions. With whom do your users interact during their journey? Include everyone who affects their experience and whose behavior can make a change. 

Ideas and opportunities. This is the point of building a customer journey map. Be sure to involve your teammates in brainstorming and see what to do to enhance users’ contentment and decrease their discontent. This section will be the ground on what actionable strategies grow. 

It’s far from everything you can cover when filling in the journey map’s stage. You can also identify touchpoints.

Or use a storyboard to tell your user’s story with just a few images:

SaaS buyer journey stages

Or specify KPIs that matter at different stages:

SaaS buyer journey KPI section

Now you have a general overview of a journey mapping process and what information it may contain. How about checking out the stages we chose for our SaaS buyer journey map and what else can be addressed at each? In many cases, your persona will go through the same, but feel free to tweak the following information.

SaaS buyer journey stages

Aware

SaaS customer journey aware stage

Emelie understands she has a problem and starts searching for the solution. Here you can check how easy your SaaS to find among other options, what first impression you make, and how accurately you aim at potential clients’ pains and goals. In our example, Emelie learns about the SaaS tool at the conference. It’s not that she’s never heard of any SaaS before, but this particular presentation hooks her and motivates her to move to the next stage. 

Research

SaaS customer journey research stage

At this stage, Emelie does research. It’s very important what reputation your tool has. Also, pay attention to how achievable and accessible information is on your official pages. How many questions can a user answer just by checking out your website? Emelie talks with her friends from the IT industry to be sure the tool is really great and check other options, just in case. 

Registration

SaaS customer journey registration stage

Emelie decides to sign up. What's essential for her at this stage? What about the registration process? Is it painfully long? Does it require too much information? Maybe you have to provide an opportunity to sign up via social media accounts? In our example, Emelie’s annoyed with filling in her payment information ‘cause many services stopped asking it at the very first steps of a user’s journey, and she doesn’t plan to pay with her own card. 

Trial period

SaaS customer journey trial period stage

Emelie is excited about the trial period. She wants to understand whether the service eases her work, whether it’s handy, and fits her teammates as well. Yet, the trial period is rather short. 

Emelie also would like more short tips instead of long articles in the Help Center. Think of your support agents’ availability at different time zones. Can Emelie ask a question anytime she wants or just in particular hours? And how can she solve a problem if there's no one around to guide her? 

Live Demo

SaaS customer journey live demo stage

Emelie calls her teammates and somebody from top management to watch the Live Demo together. The decision to pay for the tool is often a collective one. So you have to impress not only Emelie but all who attend the demo. Ensure that your salespeople know the tool better than anyone else and treat users well. 

Billing

SaaS customer journey billing stage

Emelie’s team says ‘yes’, but Emelie isn’t happy. What happened? She forgot to delete her payment information and request the invoice. Moreover, it turns out that this option isn’t available. How flexible are you when it comes to collecting payments?

At this stage, you can also analyze how diverse your paid plans are. Is that clear what is included in each? Do you provide special conditions for teams? Or discounts for startups? 

Support

SaaS customer journey support stage

It’s an essential part of your persona’s journey. Just like the Live Demo stage, where users directly communicate with your SaaS’s representativity. For instance, Emelie spends a lot of time getting her answer from the support service. She can’t say that somebody acts rude or disrespectful, but can’t help her anger. 

Are you support agents ready for all possible cases and questions? How fast do they answer and react? Does your persona enjoy this interaction? How to sweeten unexpected hiccups? These are the opportunities to improve the customer experience at this stage.

Feedback

SaaS customer journey feedback stage

Sometimes you don’t need to ask somebody to leave feedback, but more often you have to do it. Emelie gets the email from a Customer Success agent who asks her to write a review. She also sees a pop-up notification with a short NPS form when using the SaaS. Both “invitations” hit the target and Emelie shares her opinion. Yet, she has some problems with submitting her review on a third-party site. 

In our example, the channels to contact persona were chosen right. But when you ask users to write reviews on third-party sites, try to do it yourself. The challenges of other platforms aren’t your fault, but the emotional outcome of a user will affect your customer experience. 

Also, think of how to simplify internal feedback collecting. How often should you do it? How to establish more trust between you and your persona to get honest answers instead of a formal reply?

Cross-selling

SaaS customer journey cross-selling stage

When you practice cross-selling, you should know how your persona feels about it. What if you’re annoying and force them to leave your service for good? Or what if they don’t mind additional functionality, but you’re too humble to offer some? What channel is the best to do it? What touchpoints work out well? 

Emelie’s experience with cross-sales is controversial. On the one hand, she’s annoyed with the functionality she expected to be in the paid plan and that she has to buy separately. But, on the other hand, she, as a currently paid user, gets an opportunity to buy new features with a huge discount, and that cheers her up. 

Prolongation/leave

SaaS customer journey prolongation/leaving stage

During any user’s journey, there’s a moment when they face the choice and must decide whether to pay again or say goodbye. Emelie’s curious about other SaaS platforms, but she doesn’t want to get back to the start and go through the same journey with no guarantees that another tool will be better. But other customer personas may come to this point with another mindset.

You have to consider your users’ experience not only at this stage but at the previous ones too. What general impression does your SaaS make? Can it maintain high standards, compensate for negative moments, and highlight strong points? What about pricing changes and feedback from brand representatives? 

Everything’s matters, even when the persona prolongs the usage. There always can be a place for doubts, as well as for opportunities for improvement. 

The Saas buyer journey map

After all, you may end up having a map looking like this:

SaaS buyer journey map template
Click here to open the full-size image in a new tab

When checking out our examples, make sure to turn your attention to the Interactions section. You can do the same, putting the processes, channels, and interactions of your persona together.

So, now you have an idea of how to build a SaaS buyer journey map and won’t be overwhelmed approaching this initiative.

And you know what day is the best to start doing it? Yeah, it’s today. And we are happy to share with you our SaaS buyer journey map template, so you can build your case upon it:

PS: We also have a source for inspiration in case you need to build a map for a particular SaaS buyer journey’s part, which is SaaS support.

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