Mapping Your User Acquisition Journey

A workshop for new founders and marketers

If you’re working on a marketing plan for your new startup, I recommend taking a moment to consider how your campaigns fit into the greater picture of the“user journey”. The intersection between marketing, UX, and product can be hard to map sometimes, so having a method for understanding how these elements coalesce is important.

This article outlines a workshop that you can conduct with your team, fellow cofounders, or even solo, using a whiteboard and Post-It notes. If you don’t have either of the aforementioned, you can also do it on pen and paper, but the point is to make something very visual and “tangible”.

Step 1: Draw 3 Columns on the Whiteboard

The columns should be labeled: (1) “User” (2) “Journey”, and (3) “Website/App”. For our purposes, the definition of these terms is as follows:

  • User: the defining characteristics of our primary target audience.
  • Journey: the steps that the user potentially takes before visiting your website/webapp or downloading your app.
  • Website/App: your website/webapp or mobile app.

Step 2: Use Post-It Notes to Define your User

Who is is your target audience? Envision them as a real person. Empathize with them, and try to put yourself in their mindset (this is often why entrepreneurs solve their own pain points). Here are some basics that are often used to define consumer personas:

  • Gender
  • Age Range
  • Location
  • Income
  • Interests/Why is your startup interesting to them?
  • Technology Fluency/What websites/apps do they use?

Take each of these individual characteristics and create a separate Post-It note with the characteristic written out. Make sure to use the same color for each of the notes, as this exercise uses color coding.

This same approach can be used for B2B persona creation and targeting as well, with different parameters for definition. Here are some basics that are often used to define business personas:

  • Position title or primary responsibility
  • Company type/Industry/”Vertical”
  • Location
  • Annual Revenue
  • Number of Employees
  • Technology Behaviors/What software do they use?/What websites do they visit?

As you create the Post-It notes, put them under the first column titled “User” on your whiteboard. When you’re done doing this, your board should now look like this:

Step 3: Create Post-It Notes for the User Journey to your Website/App

This is where the exercise gets really interesting. Again, envision your user, and put yourself in their mindset. Now ask yourself: “What could they possibly be doing before they come across my website/app?” and more importantly “Why?”.

People generally do things for a reason: they have a motivation. Even if someone is sitting around randomly Googling things, they are doing that because they are motivated by boredom. So what is your users motivation as it pertains to your company?

If you have a healthcare startup, a user’s motivation to learn more about their symptoms is interesting. So is their behavior of Google searching their symptoms.

If you have a SaaS solution for handling shipping operations, a user’s motivation to discover a shipping solution that integrates with their eCommerce platform is interesting. So is their behavior of reading Blog articles about their eCommerce platform.

Get the gist?

So knowing your user’s motivations and potential behaviors that could lead them to discovering your website/app, write out the exact individual steps that the user would take in this “journey”, ultimately ending in a visit to your website/app. Use different color Post-It notes for different possible journeys.

Place each of the user “Journeys” into the second column on the Whiteboard sequentially, and aligned horizontally. Draw arrows between the steps to indicate the linear progression of the actions taken.

Step 4: Create Post-It Notes for the User Journey on your Website/App

Now that the user is on your website or on your app store page, you have won the battle, but not the war, of user acquisition. For website or webapp visitors, if you have placed a Google Remarketing or Facebook tracking pixel that tracks your visitors, you can now serve re-targeted ads, but that’s not quite enough traction for our purposes.

For purposes of this exercise, let’s say that the end goal of user acquisition for websites and webapps is either account creation, or having a user enter their email address. If you’re a mobile app, downloads/installs are the end goal, and I would think about your app store page like your “website”.

With this in mind, think of the possible actions that the user might take on your website to trigger account creation, email address entry, or download, based on their respective “Journey” entry point. Use different color Post-It notes for different possible journeys.

Place each of the user journeys for your “Website/App” into the third column on the Whiteboard sequentially, and aligned horizontally. Draw arrows between the steps to indicate the linear progression of the actions taken, including arrows between their “Journey” to, and subsequent journey on your website/app.

Step 5: Make an Actionable Plan

Now that you have a birdseye view of your user acquisition strategy, you can apply this information to your marketing and product strategy, including:

  • Analytics event tracking
  • Paid advertising campaigns
  • Content creation
  • SEO efforts
  • Landing page design
  • Product design

For more frameworks on User Acquisition for early stage startups, check out How to Acquire Initial Clients for your B2B Startup and 10 Ways to Get Early Users for your Consumer Startup.