As a professional marketer, you’ve likely seen the thousands of “how to” and “best practice” articles that promise to help you navigate the challenges of an ever-changing field. The amount of information out there on the best marketing strategies can be overwhelming — not to mention conflicting.
While it can sometimes seem as complicated as rocket science, the truth is that effective marketing can all be simplified down into one single concept: focusing on your customers. Those customers are at the heart of your business’ success — something many are now realizing, as two-thirds of 3,500 companies surveyed indicated they were working on new customer experience initiatives.
A customer-centric approach builds meaningful relationships, which will help your clients and your organization thrive – and it starts with understanding your customers. Improved knowledge of your customers and customer groups can help you improve your marketing strategies, choose the right marketing channels, and deliver the right messages to the right leads.
Knowing your customers allow you to better map their buyer’s journey from that initial contact to the purchase and beyond. From there, you can review how their experience at each stage can be improved and where potential blocks can be removed. At the same time, understand where your most loyal buyers spend their time — online or in-person, allows you to focus your efforts on the right platform and avoid wasting time and resources on the wrong ones. Finally, getting your customer’s language right is essential to creating ads and marketing materials that truly speak to their needs.
All of these contribute to a better customer experience overall and can even lead to the development of new products or service lines that better fit your audience’s unique needs. In turn, the larger customer base and greater loyalty mean greater revenue for your organization.
There are many different approaches to getting to know an audience, each of which demands a different amount of time and effort. To get the best possible understanding of your customer, you will likely use a combination of the following methods.
Customer Surveys – These are a common tool business use to measure a range of factors in brand effectiveness, including the customer experience and customer satisfaction. Carefully planned survey questions can reveal new insights into your ideal customers, helping you craft more effective campaigns and optimize the sales process. Surveys can be delivered through email, a website contact form, or pop-up feedback requests through the purchase process.
Customer Interviews – While more time-intensive, interviews can provide the clearest information on what your particular audience is looking for — and whether or not your brand is meeting that need. In-person or over the phone, a one-on-one conversation shows your customers that you are truly interested. Open-ended interviews work best because their lack of tight structure allows room for unexpected and more detailed information.
Social Listening – Whether or not your brand is active on social media, your customers are likely having conversations on these channels, including conversations that concern your brand. These online discussions are less formal, and customers or potential customers may feel freer to fully speak their minds on Twitter and Facebook than they would in a survey or interview. By following mentions of your brand name and other keywords across these channels, social listening will provide you with more information about your audience and how they feel about your industry and your organization.
Your audience should be the foundation for your marketing – from the channels that you use, the messaging of your marketing pieces, and the methods that define your strategy. With this focus in mind, it will be much easier to sift through the massive amounts of advice on marketing strategy and find a solution that best meets your customers’ interests and needs.