Mapping Out Your Next Marketing Activation Plan

As marketers, we tend to get overly excited about how a creative idea can be brought to life and released into the market place — and who can blame you? Everyone should be thrilled to get the word out and make a big splash, especially if it’s a brand you truly care about. But the one area that we can all improve on is how the full customer experience connects from all ends of the spectrum — in-store, web, apps, social media and beyond. Say goodbye to the days when marketers made PowerPoint slides with a list of supporting tactics for the big activation idea without truly understanding how they all work together, connect, and create a successful customer experience (CX).

Sal Bolaños
5 min readNov 2, 2018

Introducing CX “Marketing” Maps (A Different Map Made for Marketers)

Knowing that Customer Experience (CX) Maps already exist for website and app builds, the CX “Marketing” Map plays a different role in the activation world and are defined as a strategic process for connecting tactics from discovery to conversion. This map allows marketers, designers, strategists, clients, and other stakeholders to understand how a customer will journey across their program based on the retailer or brand ecosystem.

For those in marketing or with a familiarity to how traditional CX Maps work, you will understand that key phases like pre-shop, shop, and post-shop are usually the typical sectors of the CX journey.

In case you need a refresher, here is a quick breakdown of those three sectors:

  • In PRE-SHOP, discovery tactics are recommended in order to drive awareness, education and consideration.
  • The next sector is SHOP, where customers begin to interact with the product whether that is online like a retail product page or in the aisle at shelf.
  • The final sector is POST-SHOP, where the CX is coming to an end or has an extension/reoccurring action that funnels the customer back into the entire journey also known as RETAIN.

Here are 5 Advantages of using and/or Introducing CX Maps to Your Next Activation Plan:

  1. Helps Push Alignment on the Communication Journey

For every platform and program must come a communication strategy plan that guides the customer through key communication points per each sector and what better way to reveal that story with a CX Map. Every CX Map must have key objectives that define each sector and which help explain the purpose and placement for any tactics (example shown above). When those key objectives are inserted within the CX Map your activation plans become helpful in understanding on how the whole program will speak to customers at every touch-point.

2. Shows the Value of the Recommended Tactics

To go along with the understanding of each tactic comes the value proposition each recommended tactic has along with the ability prove that your concept works. When everyone knows the what, the how, the when, and most important the why it allows the plan to sell itself (example shown above). When the CX Map is used as a tool to display how your creative idea cannot live without your recommended tactics and key objectives, then the value of your solution becomes much more clear and confident.

3. Validates for a Clean User Experience

Broken links, dead-ends (example above), communication disconnections, redirects are all unfortunate events that can occur within your CX, and the best way to prevent them are by carefully studying your CX Map and doing the necessary homework to make sure each touch-point has an entry and exitpoint. During the creation of the CX Map, every possible scenario that can happen must be thought out and planned for.

Pray the best, prepare for the worse is never a bad thing to remind yourself of when building and connecting your tactics.

4. Gives the Client Something to Easily Follow

One of the most beneficial things about the CX Maps are that they are easy to follow along especially if you are on the other end of the table, like the client. The CX Maps should always be the most digestible slide in your presentation deck. At the end of the day, it’s always important to make sure the client is clearly following along and understanding what they are paying for within your plan. If a CX Map is created correctly, it can easily become the client’s one-sheeter, key take away, tactical menu, and road map for success.

5. Drives Deeper Collaboration and Education Across Omni-Channels and Departments

The creation of the CX Map should not fall on one person to think through but rather a collaborative effort within all departments driven by an Experience Design or Strategy Lead to ensure the strategic vision comes through. When CX Maps are developed it usually starts with a brainstorm including representation from the Creative side (digital and traditional), Experience Design, Ecom, Targeted Media, Social Media, and Technology. With all parties in the know about the true business problem, strategy, chosen creative idea and the total budget everyone can make recommendations on how to activate the creative idea. The main goal should be to successfully identify supporting tactics to place under each sector of the CX (Pre-Shop, Shop, Post-Shop). With more and more different disciplines contributing the more knowledge the team can gain in order to continue to impacting future CX plans.

If you’d like more information on this topic or would like to get in contact with me drop me a note at or visit my website at



Sal Bolaños

Sal Bolaños is a Creative & Design Director who specializes in Experience Design and Strategy. He currently is the Head of Design at TransUnion.